Carnesky's Ghost Train


Written by Rasp Thorne, Natasha Davis and Marisa Carnesky
I remember the cruel soldiers who came to our borders to kill and rob and raid as they pleased. I remember them well and will never forget any of their faces. But there was one out of the throng of swine who was handsome and kind and he protected by ailing father when he was accused of hiding food from the king.

I embroidered my bridal gown with tears collected from my pillow at night and escaped for a secret wedding. We were different in almost every way but I nurtured the hope that our children could one day bring peace and goodness to our countries. Perhaps our children would help heal the bitterness that divided neighbour from neighbour. His people, the guards, apprehended me as I stole to the alter and locked me in a windowless room.

When the dawn arose they took me from my barren wedding chamber and strapped me to the railroad tracks leading out of the village. What was supposed to be my bridal morn became my execution, ad my womb, which was meant to unite persecutor with victim, was forever ripped in two.

My soul rose up into the train, it is this ghost train I ride still. Sad that the world wants mongrels no more, that griffins are no longer magic, beautiful creatures, but monsters...
Forgive me my sisters for what I have done - I claim not ignorance - only misdirection - they fed me with lies when I was starving - I grew fat with their power - when we crashed into their country the borders were created - places between worlds - the lines on a map - keeping broken winged birds in - fractured lives - I would not let you out - forced you to flail and limp over chipped cobbled stones crushed by our tanks - we came to create scorched vineyards - poisoned wells - we were jealous of your beauty - preferred bodies and souls marred with flutters of worry - endless terrors - I knew not what to do - I was the border guard - to become tangled in red tape - to drown in sorrows poured forth - my sisters come onboard - I will now let you in - I will take your tickets - come through the floor - the secret compartment - one night my soul too will board its eerie carriages - to protect you - the meat of my desire to live is gone and only its skeleton remains - dancing a creaking dirge to a funerary violin - forgive my sisters - I claim not ignorance - only misdirection...
We heard that the King of the soldiers at our borders was seeking a pair of twins, to build them alive into the foundations of a faraway fortress. He needed twin pillars so that it never would fall.

We escaped in the night of shrieking winds and creaking wood. We heard the train whistle sound and the bells go silent. We ran with our bundles and jumped onto a cart but my sister slipped, her torso only halfway on board. I held onto her arms and pulled with my might but her scarf got caught underneath. Entangled in wheels, incessantly turning, she was ripped from grip and I lost her forever. Down on the tracks, down on the tracks, under the iron wheels...

The King was enraged when he couldn't find any twins. He took our queen's daughter, the Princess of Pearls, took her and her baby son, far, far away, and built her alive in a single pearl pillar. But he agreed to build the pillar around her breasts to provide milk for her son. There was no sound from her after a week, but her breasts continued to pour milk and the baby was fed until he had his fill.

The legend says that even today, when a baby loses its mother to treachery, there will always be milk within the pearl pillar to feed upon.
used to pirouette to piano music in front of a wall sized mirror embroidered by paisley patterns cast over in gold. Cut with the war, our village became poor.

When the electricity and heat ran out, we chopped up the piano and the dancing floor to cook mucky porridge and boil the mould off decaying vegetables., the smell of fire and sludge mixed with the scent of piano twine and bacteria.

Fears trickled down men's and women's once fresh faces, carving rivulets of wrinkles, turning them old before their time. I could not take it. This was misery, and with no music, my tights became tattered and I had to take flight.

I boarded a night train to escape the hunger and poverty, to earn, I said, some money to send back into the village. But I was caught by the border guard, that wench, and turned over to the king for my firm dancers legs to entertain him and the brutes who were endlessly swilling mead.

I was a prisoner of war there, a dancer with no floor, and now I am a prisoner condemned to the boards here, tolerating my tyrant's moods and gentle sporadic maltreatment - there is nothing I can do to stop it.

They call me babooshka, they call me their love, but I am nobody, I dream of being a dove. I must be a bird of some sort, travelling long journeys in my dreams, for I feel tired and beaten each morning when I wake. I wish I could remember where I'd flown to, for those places are surely better than this decrepit castle where I am now, on the dark side of the world, dancing to instruments I do not know or want to know.
I am not from Invisa. I never belonged there, inside the city limits, too many people for my village-like ways, I told myself. But when the bombs started dropping, there was still peace in the country, so I went to the city to help.

Although my talent presided primarily in the healing of horses, I thought what little skill I had could help in the midst of that hideous turmoil, in that messy carnage of innocents screaming, that piteous struggle where the lines were drawn and re-drawn like schoolyard bullies rigging a game.

With my nurses satchel crammed full of gauze and horse tranquilisers I entered the fray and learnt quite quickly that although my intentions were noble, they were ultimately futile and that no amount of gauze or tourniquets could stop the gaping wound of this war.

The city dwellers who once scorned village folk like me, discarding us as small minded creatures full of superstition, became so grief-stricken and hopeless they took on absurd superstitions of their own.

There were rumours of a night train, of a way to cross the borders. I naturally passed this off as a frantic aberration, as a dream of escape from our squalid and captive surroundings. That was until I was summoned out to the tracks in the middle of the night. There'd been a terrible accident that could not be explained. A girl, one of a pair of local twins, had somehow been beheaded and run over by a train. "What's strange about this?" one might ask. "The girl was trying to escape and fell under the train", one might suppose. This might be a natural conclusion except for one fact: the train track had not been used for 17 years.
If Bruju were here he'd keep me warm. If Bruju were here he'd keep the rats away from my feet. Many is the night when I hear the train passing, many a night when I run to the barrier of the tracks, screaming at the conductor to stop for me, but then the whistle screams louder, echoing against the walls, battering my ears, in the dark it passes, no one hears me, no one sees me and now I truly believe that there is no way out.

Believe me I have tried to walk out many a time but with every step I take towards either entrance it's as if one recedes with each footfall and now I'm trapped. Trapped like these rats with nowhere to go. I can't stand for this! I am a gypsy after all. I am meant for the field sand craggy roads, each day a new journey each night a new show, a new town, new boys to hold close, a new life ever changing, not this inescapable dungeon, this tunnel of treachery.

My bear, my hero, my dancing partner Bruju, he's the one who brought me here. When we saw the soldiers charge towards our caravans with blood in their eyes it was Bruju who stooped down for me to mount him, it was he who ran down the steep incline as I clutched to his back, it was he who hid me here in this overlong tomb. He licked my face and charged back out the entrance, to defend our people, but though he is strong the soldiers had guns and he has never returned.

Some nights, just before the train barrels through, I hear feint voices calling to me. It is hard to hear but I'm sure I'm not mistaken. They say: come to us Katja - come join us - come join us on the train. It's too cold and I am starving and I believe tonight I will.

Whether it stops or not, I am coming to the train...
The women of our town were known not only far and wide for their beauty, but also their temperance. There was a time of peace, when the men were alive and hardworking, when the women were shining and fertile, when the cycle of life would renew itself as the seasons steadily turned.

But then, out of nowhere, out of a crack, an abyss, there arose a terrible war, now all but forgotten, waged between darkness and light. Quiet nights were interrupted by roaring aeroplanes and cannon fire. Sinister looking pilots with gas masks on their faces dropped bombs on our houses, churches, hospitals, schools, rivers and fruit orchards.

Every night we braced ourselves for the destruction, every morning we arose to ashes of what had been. Soldiers roamed our streets like wild dogs. We were vexed with worry and aged overnight, our faces wrinkled and we lost sleep.

When life became too dangerous, our daughters escaped the town by boarding a night train with a destination unknown.

We, the mothers, are the only witnesses of their mysterious disappearance. One day, when my words stop, they too will be forgotten. This is why I am telling you this story, so that all traces will not vanish, so that our daughters will continue to live in memory, so that some day one might find them and save them from their endless train.

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