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Tran-Siberian Express



Estimated reading time — 5 minutes

Day 1
After stowing our luggage away under the bottom bunk and taking a few moments to adjust to our new ‘home’ for the next seven days, we turned to face our travelling companion or the random stranger who made the journey work out that little bit cheaper. She seemed pleasant enough. Her name was Elena; she was 25, foreign, Eastern European I would guess, average looking. We could have done worse. After the initial small talk and introductions were over, we took our seats and my wife and I began chatting about the trip and such.

I noticed Elena go to the window and watched from the corner of my eye as she pulled back the curtains. She seemed to freeze suddenly and almost jump back from the window with a gasp. I started to get up to see what she was looking at but she motioned at me to sit back down and returned to her side of the cabin. “I thought I saw something but there was nothing”.

Day 2
I was finding the journey quite pleasant by this point. The scenery was more impressive than I could have imagined and I was getting excited about our first day trip in the morning. My wife, Elena and I would chat now and again but Elena was conscious of the fact that we were newly weds and needed our privacy. I liked her for that.

Come night time, I was pretty tired and fell into a deep sleep almost instantly. I don’t know for what reason but I awoke with a start some time later. I could feel a presence, like someone was where they shouldn’t be. I peered over the side of my bunk and there she was. Elena. Just stood at the window, staring. “Elena?” I whispered. She looked up at me, terrified. She looked back at the window then walked back to her bunk and got in, back turned to me.

Day 3
That morning I had expected Elena to mention the events of the night before but she didn’t. She got up as normal, got ready and was off the train as soon as we were permitted. I wondered if it had been a dream. My wife and I enjoyed the city sites, ate some good food and generally had a good day.
Back in the cabin Elena was reading a book and my wife was resting. I got up to go to the toilet and noticed that Elena’s eyes followed me out, almost as though she was waiting for me to leave. When I returned she was at the window taking photo after photo. She turned to me holding out the camera.”Tell me, please. What do you see?”. I looked down at the camera. “Scenery. Blurred scenery. Blurred trees”. Terrible photos? She looked at me blankly.
“Then… you do not see… her?”. She was shaking violently.
“I just see trees…”.Elena shut off the camera and left the cabin quickly.

Day 4
Elena’s behaviour had become very strange by now. She didn’t come on that day’s excursion saying she was ill and she rarely engaged in conversation. I was past caring. She was weird and I was cursing myself for being so tight with my money.

My wife and I returned from dinner to find Elena by the window yet again. I sat down and looked up at her with disdain. Slowly her head began to turn in my direction until she was staring directly at me. She looked horrific, like she hadn’t slept for years. She was wide eyed and her mouth was open slightly. “The train is always moving but she… she is always there”. Slowly her head turned back to face the window.

Day 5
Early night. The excursion today was tiring. We had spent the day touring a “modern Soviet city” and took a bunch of photos of the Opera House and statue of Lenin. Elena didn’t come again. Like I cared.

A noise brought me out of my sleep, a noise I couldn’t make out at first. My heart racing, I sat up and looked at the source. Elena was pounding heavily on the window over and over again. I leapt off my bunk and grabbed her hands. “Elena, stop!” I held her wrists tightly until she seemed to come round. She looked up into my eyes, opened her mouth and screamed so loudly my ears felt like they would bleed. “Jesus, Elena, what the fuck?” I let go of her and she returned to the window and began hitting it again, relentlessly. “I’ve had enough now, I’ve fucking had enough of this crazy bitch”. I grabbed my wife and went to find someone to get us moved.

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After a lot of talking and persuasion (and some money) we were offered another cabin. We returned to ours to pick up our stuff with a porter. Elena wasn’t there. Good, I thought.

Day 6
I enjoyed this day a lot more knowing that we wouldn’t have to return to Elena that night. My wife and I were looking through our photos from that day, drinking beer. I got up to go to the toilet and kissed her on the head.

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I started to walk down the corridor when I saw a familiar figure standing deathly still by one of the train doors. Elena. I began to turn the other way thinking I would just go use the others when suddenly she reached out and opened the door. “ELENA, NO!” I tried to run to her but she just jumped. Like that , she was just gone. SHIT. I closed the door and ran to get someone. She’d dropped her camera so I swept it up on my way, I don’t know why exactly.

Day 7
The train had been stopped for some time now and I had answered as many questions as I could. We had been told we would continue to the next station at some point where my wife and I would get off. Given the circumstances, I wanted off the train anyway. It started up again. I was relieved.

I sat down on my bunk and reached into my bag to get Elena’s camera. I knew I should have given it to the police but something inside stopped me. I flicked it on and started scrolling through her photos. I felt sad to see the shots she had taken on the station and of the empty cabin on her first day. She must have been as excited as we were, I’m sure.

Suddenly I froze. I’d come to the blurred scenery shots she’d shown me days back, only this time I could see something amongst the trees. I zoomed in slowly. My heart was hammering hard against my chest as my brain tried to take in what my eyes were seeing. There amongst the blurred trees and forestry was a woman, stood there, staring up at the camera, her face frozen in an eternal scream. I flicked to the next picture. She was there again. And the next and the next. She was in each and every photo, no matter where Elena had taken the photo, at what angle, the woman was there. I kept flicking through. I must have gone through over a hundred photos and there she was again and again.

Then, she was on the train. The photo was taken from inside our train and she was there at the end of the corridor, stood at an awkward angle looking at the camera, her face still frozen in a scream. The next photo she was closer. She was walking towards Elena. She was getting closer. I got to the final photo and my blood ran cold. Her terrifying face was right up to the lens.

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I threw the camera down onto the bed and ran to the window, ripping back the curtains. A scream caught in my throat.

There amongst the trees, in the distance I could see her. The woman. Staring up at me from afar. My eyes followed her until she was out of sight then I looked back to my original focus point and there she was again. I repeated these eye movements over and over and she was always there.

My wife came in at this point. “What are you looking at?”

I stared at her, horrified and unable to move. “The train is always moving but she… she is always there”.

Credit To – TheRoyalGame

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15 thoughts on “Tran-Siberian Express”

  1. This was great! I was left guessing, and wanting more. All great things in a story. Id love if you wrote a sequel expanding on this lady just a little…. That’s not a critique just something I really want you to do

  2. I found this to be a little predictable, but I still was glued to the story until the end. The wife was only there for storyline convenience, and I was ok with that, but I would’ve liked to get to know the husband a little better. Overall this was intriguing and fun to read. Well done, keep writing!

  3. A solid logpasta overall; the usage of logs was rather bare-bones, more for convenience than anything stylistic, but it kept the brevity well and wasn’t too obvious in its lack of transitions.

    The first thing that really struck me was the unique setting. I really liked how the train was used to set up a coop; the protagonist and his wife are stuck with this eternal stranger, who is not-so-slowly going insane. The main tragedy was just that, IMO: the protagonist can’t help this stranger, Elena, even though he is so very close. Worse, he is forced to put up with it.

    Plotting was rather tight and well-done. The pasta managed to drop clues early on yet still maintain the mystery throughout, chiefly by keeping the only real evidence in the hands of a stranger. Elena kept the tension escalating, her mounting distraught hinting desperately at the horrors stalking her.

    Elena was characterized well: she was just beyond familiarity, just beyond proper concern. Things were portrayed in a sadly believable way, with the protagonist initially offering help, but becoming more distant even as Elena becomes more frantic – I can’t help but draw parallels with depression. What else could he have done? I liked how the pasta offers a bit of retrospective sympathy for her with her camera, just enough to humanize her a bit more.

    That being said, the protagonist and his wife sorely lacked personality, lacking even names. They were believable in actions, but I couldn’t sympathize with them; I get that the author was trying to paint an everyman, but IMO s/he went too far in making the characters faceless. His wife especially seemed more like a third wheel rather than a character.

    I also couldn’t help but feel that the setting was wasted somewhat, especially with the framing story of a scenic holiday. A description or two of the endless forests would’ve set a haunting, desolate atmosphere, making the reveal even scarier. As it stands, the events seemed to happen in a vacuum of numbered days.

    Overall, the idea was very palatable; the climax didn’t disappoint, keeping with the theme of approaching danger. The pasta could’ve used a couple of touchups, but was otherwise well-done. 8.0/10

    1. Thank you for your feedback, I really enjoyed reading it. I completely agree with your points regarding the character development. It is the first one I have written and I was conscious of it being too long but I can see now that was a mistake. If I were to make this into a short story, I would make a lot more of the scenery and develop both husband and wife much further, as you suggest. You are also correct with regards to the journal style. I kind of wanted it to read that way so you could get the idea that this couple were trapped on a train, day in day out and Elena was trapped in this ongoing nightmare but I could have written it a little better.

      I appreciate the time you took to write this feedback and I will take everything on board for my next one.

      Sophie

      1. Welcome!

        Readers here don’t usually worry about length. We’ve had novellas and one-paragraph stories, so I don’t think they’d object to anything in between ;)

        I would defos develop the scenery. If anything, you can make the characters trapped in a gilded cage; beautiful scenery, yet a stalking horror and a distressed woman. Characterization is always a must; maybe you could also have the main character photograph the scenery? That way you could insert the monster in all his photographs too.

        You’ve got off to a great start, keep writing!

  4. An original concept, pulled off very well. I was thinking through the whole thing that the woman was just a reflection and that she was actually standing inside the train the whole time (which would have been disappointingly cliche), but I guess I was wrong!

    A good, solid pasta. 8/10 from me!

  5. Pretty good pasta! The main character’s wife seemed rather disengaged though. She didn’t react to anything at all.

    8/10

  6. Wow! This story really had me guessing from the first word down to his realization of the woman! Poor Elena, though. *sigh*

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