Monday, 10 November 2014

Mothballs: Iron Path to the Black Forest (part 2)

Septimus swung the makeshift hook and straightened the rope, grinning. He stretched out his foot and kicked the window open, tossing the hook out and swinging it. The first swing, it failed. He swung again and failed to catch it. He tossed it up and heard the piece of metal from the spade clank onto the roof. He pulled the rope till it was fully stretched and then edged his way out of the tiny window. He thanked God for his makeshift goggles as they prevented a large pebble from piercing his eyes.
With all the skill and grace of a paralysed barnacle, he clambered onto the roof and dug his fingers into the roof. Verity came next, almost falling from the window, but one of Septimus' long, muscular arms grabbed her and heaved her up. She struggled on and glared at him, as Aksel wormed himself up as well. The wind pulled at their clothes, ripping at their hair and spattering against their goggles. Septum struggled to clamber to his feet, but as he moved, a gust of wind nearly made him fall back down. With his long fingers, he began to pull himself forwards and then climbed up, staggering through the darkness. He could hear Aksel and Verity's footsteps being pulled away by the wind.
They ran quickly but suddenly the train turned in a strange direction, sending them tumbling. Aksel flew off the side of the train but threw the hook quickly, tugging into the train and smashing into the side. As the passengers in the side of the carriage turned to look, they saw two pairs of legs scrambling up onto the roof. His body ached as he climbed up and he imagined that without Verity's childish lack of strength, he wouldn't have been able to get back up again. They continued down the train until it suddenly jolted onto the bridge and they all fell forwards. Verity stumbled down a gap between two carriages and merely her screams of terror, apprehension at being lost forever from her brothers, warned them that she'd fallen.
"Where is she?" Septimus cried, the howling winds ripping at his voice.
"I think she fell." Aksel replied, water beginning to dampen the interior of his goggles. "We need to go back for her."
Another twist in the bridge sent them both tumbling, cracking one of Septimus' lenses. "We can barely make the way ourselves." He thought a second. "Verity can you hear me?"
A muted shout replied, "Yes, I'm down here!"
Septimus cupped his hands around his mouth. "You need to make your way through the carriages. Your rucksack should have some tools in it. Use them how I showed you."
"Where should I go?"
Septimus had noticed when they first boarded that the number of each carriage was in the back right corner of the carriage painted in white numbering in the middle of a crimson square. He quickly checked it, carriage 24, and he shouted, "Carriage 15. That's the beginning of First Class, so that's where we'll meet you. Good luck."
"Thanks!" She shouted and was gone. Septimus and Aksel clambered up, the wind stinging at their now exposed eyes, and blistering their faces with salt. They began to run but found their selves weighed down by the wind and the cold. Aksel overtook Septimus and felt the tip of his toes pointing over the end of a carriage. Septimus ran into him and cried in shock as Aksel flailed his hands in a mad attempt to balance. Septimus put his hands on Aksel's shoulders and steadied him, and Aksel felt a tear trickle from his eye. His father had done that once, before it had all got too much. Septimus was similar in so many ways, the jutting chin, insatiable curiosity and tinkering. Too similar.
Steadied but not as aware as they'd want to be, the two Laurisden's continued across the train in the darkness, the shadow of the Black Forest far in front.

Below them, Verity stumbled through the carriages, avoiding the curious glare of the seated passengers. Every time she opened the door at the end and stepped into the next, she looked up into the dark chill and wondered whether Aksel and Septimus were jumping over head, progressing through the dark. She opened a door and stumbled into the next carriage, the lull returning and light burning her eyes. When the fizzles of light broke away, her sockets opened wider and wider. There in front was Sebastian. That was the good news which made her smile. Immediately her grin died as she saw the bad news. The White Hooded Men who guarded him.

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