Another world: Episode 4

Night. Somewhere in the wilds of Northern Rompshire, Tuesday, 15th

Barry Plumb sits in his car at the crossroads in the rain, just where we left him, cold, tired, wet, and lost. He is now impossibly late for his dinner appointment at Ms. Pettigrew’s.

With difficulty he turns the Alvis around in the narrow lane and heads back up the track he has just driven down.

The rain ceases, the wind stills, and fog descends as the road twists up toward the moorland. He finds a flat area and pulls the car over to search for his map, but it must have blown from the car when he got out to read the wooden road sign.

The moon is up because it’s lighter now. His watch says 10:14. He looks out of the car window to see a tall figure in a cap and long overcoat appearing through the mist.

The man tips his hat opens the car door, and Barry gets out and follows him as if doing so is the most natural thing in the world.

The uniformed attendant opens a door, and Barry finds himself in a changing room; green tiles and steam with a claw-foot tub. He discovers it’s just been filled. He discards his clothes and gets in.

Time passes.

Barry is now ascending the steps of a railway station. A moment later, a porter is by his side with his luggage. Barry wears a new suit. He follows the porter into the ornate compartment of the waiting train and sinks into a deep plush seat, curtains at the windows, and landscape oil paintings on the wood-paneled walls. The luggage rack above him is stuffed with travel bags. They’re all his, for there is no one else in the compartment. He is quite alone.

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