The two of us sat on the small bench and waited for the train to arrive. The platform was a pitiful sight, only one bench and a shack where they would hand out tickets. Of course, there was nobody handing out tickets for this train, but I knew the driver. While we listened to the night sounds she slowly leaned against me and we tried not to fall asleep.
Eventually the sound of crickets and rustling trees was broken by the sounds of screeching wheels. We both roused ourselves awake and collected our luggage. Sure enough we saw the old train turn around a corner and it approached us a full-speed. I wished I had free hands to cover my ears because the old train made a terrible broken noise as it came to a stop.
“It looks charming enough,” she told me.
“I’m surprised it is still going,” I told her with genuine awe. “Well, somewhat in working order anyway.”
“How long has it been since you visited home?”
“Almost a decade,” I replied sadly. “I should have come home years ago to see how the old man was going, but we didn’t exactly leave on the best of terms.”
“You had a strange childhood…”
“That’s putting it lightly.”
Once the train had come to a full-stop a familiar face popped out. It was an old man from my youth, Mitch Larson or simply Old Mitch. He was small and frail, but his movements were eccentric and youthful. He bounded out of the train.
“Nevermind, I’m surprised he is still going,” I murmured softly. She slapped my arm in response.
“All aboard!” Old Mitch called through a laugh, but paused when he saw me. “Adrian? Lil' Adrian, is that you?”
“Yes, Mitch. How have you been?” I asked.
Before I could even react he bounded forward and grabbed my hand in his and shook it vigorously.
“You have changed so much!” Mitch exclaimed.
“I suppose I have grown...” I began.
“Not grown, you changed. You seem different…sadder.”
“Uh…yeah; did you hear about the old man?”
“I did, I did. It is a terrible business, but one he knew he was getting into.”
“Yeah…sure it was. How are you getting on?”
“The train has a job to do, so I do as well,” Mitch replied simply. “Now that you mention it, let’s get you two seated. Hello, Miss..?”
“Sarah Black,” my wife replied shaking Mitch’s hand. Mitch looked at me with a small gleam in his eye.
“Ah, Adrian, you’ve chosen a strong one,” Mitch noted. He collected our luggage despite our arguments, but he carried it simple into the single compartment train.
Sarah looked over at me with a surprised smile.
“No stranger has ever called me strong,” Sarah whispered.
“Mitch has a wonderful way of reading people,” I replied. “Come on, let’s get on and get moving. I want to sleep in the old bed before this night ends.”
“Hey, don’t be like that. I know you’re upset with the town for having the funeral before telling you…”
“At his request as well, Sarah. I don’t know what was going through his head.”
We boarded the train and Old Mitch bounded into the engine area. It was incredibly noisy, but that suited us. We found our seats in an old booth and tried to ease our discomfort with old cushions.
“What did Mitch mean when he said ‘it is a terrible business’?” Sarah asked me. I was hoping she didn’t hear that part, but she was always one to pay close attention to conversation.
“The Old Man had his beliefs, crazy beliefs about Cold Steel Lake,” I explained scornfully about the Old Man. “He said he was protecting the town from dark spirits and Mitch was one of the few who believed him.”
“Are you serious?”
“As a heart attack,” I murmured, referencing the Old Man.
“You need to stop that right now. You have been in this angry mood ever since we heard what happened.”
I took a deep breath. She was right, of course. I wasn’t making things any easier, especially for her. The Old Man knew about Sarah. It was the only thing I wrote to him about, that there was a new member in the family. Once the will was delivered to us with the news we found out that he left Sarah everything; the house, the money and the books, to her delight.
Despite my arguments, Sarah wanted to move. It would be distasteful to say that the Old Man’s death saved us from financial struggle, but it did. We were on our last days in the apartment and jobless in a city. Sarah had no family and now, neither did I. We just had each other.
So, when push came to shove, we knew that making the move to Cold Steel Lake would be a smart one. Now here we are. I felt incredibly tense about this, but I’m also not one to disappoint Sarah. Despite all the factors at hand she leaned against me and rested her eyes. I think she heard my apology before she drifted to sleep.
I watched the trees pass us by and sighed deeply. It seemed that the night would never end. I could also feel when we got closer to Cold Steel Lake. Like the name implies it is in a cold snap zone which never seems to cease, this is due to the lake. It was like black ice. You didn’t swim in the lake for pleasure, no way in hell; which is why when I saw fog began to mingle amongst the trees I knew we would soon arrive. The lake was always clouded by the same fog.
I felt a strange sense of fear come over me. The world that my father lived in was his own, that was what I always believed, but as I stared out into this darkness I could feel thousands of eyes on me and not all of them were friendly. I wished I had more time to prepare, but then again, how could I have ever known?
Be sure to follow!