Need a holiday? Hop aboard... adventure awaits!
by Elizabeth Newton
“Next patient please,” said a tall, young woman emerging stiffly from a dimly lit consulting room. Glasses, modest white blouse, black pencil skirt, hair in a loose bun.
Another woman, awkward and unsure of herself, stood up from a chair in the waiting room and followed the consultant into the room. When the consultant sat down behind her desk, she could hear her boss’ words in her head: “Remember, it is important not to refer to them as patients. They are clients. Clients.”
“Why don’t you tell me what’s on your mind?” she said after settling the visitor into a comfy chair.
“Well I, suppose I’m just so stressed at the moment, what with work–the extra hours they’ve given me. My husband isn’t able to get any time off work at the moment so he’s not able to stay home with the children. I would normally of course but we need the second income because of all the fees and bills and tax and just... everything! Cindy, my youngest has just had some tests done and we’ve been told that she should go to a special school, which means higher fees and costs for equipment and learning materials and private tutoring. Max wants to start learning the guitar and I haven’t the heart to say no. I always wanted my children to be musical. And Caleb, my eldest is supposed to be going on this trip with his football team up to the Gold Coast–I just don’t know how I’m supposed to cope. We’re running out of money fast!”
The consultant was nodding sympathetically.
“George–that’s my husband–is trying to get a pay rise, but I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon. You see, I need the extra hours at work to pay for everything, but it only means I’m going to have to get a baby sitter in for the evenings after school, which means more money.” She sighed a big, stressed, sigh.
The consultant nodded again and spoke in a calm, breathy voice. “Yes. I understand your predicament.” She got up and walked around to the front of her desk. “It is very stressful isn’t it?” She looked at her client with kind, caring eyes. Her voice was smooth and velvety–like she was trying to calm a spooked horse. She put her hand up to her glasses and slowly slipped them off the end of her nose.
The worried woman continued. “Sometimes I wish it could all just go away. For all of it to just sort itself out without me having to do anything.”
“Or even... escape it all. Get away.”
“Oh if only it could be that simple. If only there was a quick solution like that. But I know that’s not possible. I just came here so that I could have a good chat about it. Today’s my one day off for quite a while.”
“Let your stress go, right now in this room.”
The woman let out a big breath of air and closed her eyes.
“Imagine, you’re free. You have no responsibilities. No one is relying on you. You have nothing to do. You don’t need to feed anyone. You don’t need to drive the car anywhere. In fact, you have no car... you don’t need one.”
The woman sighed again and smiled. “Oh, that sounds good. Problem is, all my problems are back as soon as I jump back in the car.”
“You have no car. Remember?” The consultant smiled and looked to the floor for a second. Then she said in her soft and gentle voice, “Come through.”
The woman opened her eyes and looked up. “Through to where?”
The consultant was indicating an adjoining room with her outstretched arm and a kind, welcoming smile. “Another consulting room it’s, more private.”
Odd, thought the woman, but she wandered through all the same.
Once the client had walked through the inner door, the calm, sympathetic consultant stepped in with her and quietly closed the door behind her.
And that’s when the blinding light and the terrible screeching started. That’s the moment when Linda Patterson’s life slipped through her fingers like sand.
* * *
The Captain and Paulo were standing around on a grassy hill top, gazing around at the beautiful vast expanse of countryside. All there was, as far as the eye could see was bright, lush green grass, blue sky... and nature. Just nature. The smell of nature, the sound of nature, a perfect picture of clean, refreshing nature.
Evie Bamford was soaking it all up, wandering off and enjoying the sunshine. She seemed unaffected by the fact that the three travellers had no idea where they were. That something had gone wrong with the controls of the Train.
“So if we’re not on your planet Captain,” said Paulo, “where are we exactly?”
“Well I hate to fill you with anxious doubt and insecurity,” replied the Captain, “but I have absolutely no idea. I mean, usually when I land on a strange planet, I could give you a rough idea of at least what galaxy we’re in. But I regret to say, I can’t for the moment. We were meant to have landed on my home planet but... this is nothing like my home.”
“This place is beautiful though.”
“Exactly. Definitely can’t be my home.”
“But this kind of landscape...” began Paulo, “well it could very well be Serothia.”
“It could very well be Evie’s Earth too. It could very well be any number of different planets. That’s why it’s so hard to say where it is we are.”
“I see what you mean. So what do you reckon? Those three days Mallory was stuck inside the Train, he battered up the controls a bit?”
“In a fit of rage probably, trying to get free.”
“What do we do then, look for him or what?”
“No, since he’s decided to run off–never to be seen again, he’s no longer our problem. He’ll be stuck here. Come on, let’s get back inside the Train and see if we can get it back on track. It’s time I got Evelyn home.” On his way to the Train door, he called out, “Evelyn, come on, let’s go!”
There was no reply.
“Evie?” called Paulo.
They looked at each other and the Captain stepped down from the Train to look around.
“You don’t think Mallory...”
“No, look,” said the Captain, relieved but slightly perplexed. “There she is.”
“What’s she doing?”
Evie was walking down the hill, taking slow, even steps. In between her hands in front of her chest, she was holding a white flower that she’d picked from the ground.
It’s so beautiful here, she was thinking. I think I want to stay here forever. So peaceful. Quiet. Tranquil. Peaceful. What’s that beautiful sound? I want to be near it.
“Evelyn!” the Captain called, cupping his hands to his mouth.
There was no way she could have not heard him. But she kept on walking, like she was in some kind of trance.
“I’ll go get her,” said Paulo and took off with a jog down the hill.
Not long after that, the Captain stopped him abruptly and yelled, “No, stop Paulo! Get away!”
Paulo’s eyes widened with terrified alarm. They were both looking at a strange sort of glow, pulsating all around Evie’s body. With every second, it was getting larger and larger and then there was an ear-piercing screeching sound.
What a perfect place. The air is so fresh. The ground is so soft. I want to live here. I want to touch that sound. I want to drink it!
Both the Captain and Paulo were covering their ears. The light around Evie was almost blinding them, and so they had to cover their eyes too.
But Evie was captivated. How can a place be so lovely? I love it. I love it. I want to get closer. Closer. I want to dance. I want to bathe in this place. Let me closer. Closer!
The sound stopped. Paulo and the Captain, cowering on the ground and shielding their eyes and ears, slowly looked up. The light, the sound, everything was gone. Including Evelyn. All that remained was the beautiful blissful landscape.
“Where did she go?”
The Captain got up onto his feet, frowning worriedly. He looked all around them. The Train was still there, but this beautiful, calm, peaceful place now had an eerie, disturbing silence about it. There was one thing terribly wrong with it. It seemed to have just swallowed up Evelyn!
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Others in the series so far…
Book 1 – “Moon Man”
Book 2 – “The Birth of Salvation”
Book 3 – “The Sanctuary”
Book 4 – “Furry Friends”