Prologue

Time- the 1950’s                     Setting-

Narrated by the murderer: –

 

KER-RUNCH!

There!

That’s it!

 

            Guard Carey was suspecting nothing when I came in from behind and hit him over the head with my iron bar. His skull was smashed, but just the same I checked to make sure he was dead. He was, collapsed against a heap of parcels piled in one corner of the van.

            Next step- I took from my pocket a small rubber wedge and stuck it under the door from the corridor, jamming the door shut. This being a long-distance express, it was of course a corridor train, and I couldn’t have some passenger wandering along the corridor and accidentally coming into the guard’s van at the back of the train, well not while I still had the guard’s corpse lying in it. As you may guess, this whole thing took some planning, and I was still only just starting.

            Now, from under the floor, came an irregular rattling of rail beats as the wheels ran over the points. Good! It was dark outside, but that would be Blisbourne Junction. All going according to plan.

            I pulled open the door of the van, dragged the body across the floor (God, he was heavy!) and threw it out into the dark night, tumbling head over heels, to fall on the other track. We were traveling fast on a falling gradient- oh yes, of course I do understand about railways; after all, it’s my job. We must have been doing the best part of 70 M.P.H. or so, which, in the 1950’s, ranked as really fast. So the fall would account for the state of his head. I left the door open.

            The whole thing was obviously an accident.

            The guard just fell out of his train.

            And accidents do happen, even on British Railways.

            Actually, it was easier than I had thought. Maybe it’s right what I have sometimes heard it said, that once you have killed, you get used to it, and the second time comes easier than the first. But I still sometimes can’t believe that I ever got into this mess. Not that I had any choice, of course. The bastards! They made sure of that, didn’t they? I had to do it. And anyway that little prick Guard Carey had it coming to him. No regrets there. Oh, I could go on about it all, but beneath the floor the rail beats of the wheels changed, and suddenly began to sound with an echoing, metallic ringing. Maybe you couldn’t see in the dark just where we were, but naturally I could tell pretty well from the noise. The train was crossing the ironwork of the Soar River Viaduct.

            Right: Ready for the next step, getting rid of the evidence. When the guard collapsed against the parcels some blood got on them, so they had to go. I opened the door on the other side, and out they went, over the parapet of the bridge and into the River Soar below. My iron bar went with them. : Luckily the bridge is a long one, so I had time to do it. Splash! Close the door! End of evidence! And the door on the side, the scene of the guard’s exit, was still hanging open.

            The express ran on through the night and soon, as per regulations, a whistle from the engine, then the sound changed again, to a dull, echoing roar. We had entered Vinley Tunnel. From under the floor, a rasping, grinding. The brakes had gone on, for the Vinley stop. Fine. I had got on board at Leicester, and I would leave the train at Vinley, ready to go off and fix for myself an alibi, while the train went on to Nottingham.

            Oh! I almost forgot! I removed the rubber wedge from the corridor door and put it back in my pocket. It had done its job. Nobody, so far as I knew, had tried to get in, but it’s better to play it safe. There must be no sign that anybody but that man Carey had ever been in the guard’s van. He fell out by himself, alone.

            And now, as the train was slowing down to take the points into Vinley station, I moved over to the offside door, still hanging open. Another whistle, and we were out of the tunnel. I sit on the edge, with my legs hanging down. We were now down to a walking speed, and JUMP! I didn’t even fall over on landing, just staggered a bit. There! All done!

            Now all that was left for me to do was to establish an alibi, faking it so that everybody could be sure I was really somewhere else. Purely a precaution, just in case. And after all, if they were ever looking for a suspect, now that I had unjammed the corridor door, anybody from the whole length of the train could have got into the van, so you had a whole trainload of suspects, all by now scattered and gone their way, and you didn’t even know who they were. Of course, it was a pity about Carey, and what he knew and what he threatened but after the other one, and burgling that damned office, what else could I do? But not, I’d have a good alibi, not cast iron, but nobody was going to check, and for sure they’d never guess why I had to burgle that office, and for sure what it was all about.

            So now I had to stop the Oxford parcels train, without it looking suspicious, so that I could get on to it an away out of here. That would be my alibi. Stopping it would be no trouble. I had a lump of coal in my pocket, and it’s easy enough to stop a train with a lump of coal, if you know how. And I did.

            A sigh of relief.

            That’s it. I’m done, and I’m in the clear.

            I picked my way carefully across the rails and tracks between the bright lights of Vinley station and the dull, smoky darkness of the mouth of Vinley Tunnel, carefully keeping away from the South signal box, just in case the signalman was looking out.

            And so I got to the tunnel safely, and shelter at last.

            Hidden inside the shadows of the tunnel, which in any case was still billowing smoke and steam from the train I had just come in on, I had nothing more to do except flatten myself against the side wall and wait for the arrival of the next train, which would assuredly, if unexpectedly, stop. My lump of coal would see to that. And when the train re-started, I would be on board it and off and away.

            Job done.

Leave a Reply