At last, back home. The rail journey up from London had been the worst he could ever remember. Stop and start all the way with one delay following another and precious little of anything edible in the buffet car. Three and a half hours to travel 200 miles on what was supposed to be a high speed railway after a business meeting which seemed to go on forever. Never mind, he’d already phoned his wife Jane to tell her of the delay until 7.30pm, and she would be waiting in the car for him. They would soon be off home for supper and a relaxing evening in front of the TV.James Michael Taylor was not one of life’s high flyers, feeling content to be one of the cogs in the corporate machine and happy to draw a monthly salary for a fairly routine set of regular tasks. He and Jane would always have liked a little more in the way of life’s comforts, but they were by no means hard up and now that the children were off their hands there was money at the end of the month these days instead of the other way round. At 54, he had ‘only’ eleven years left to retirement and today was his birthday – Friday 27th October 2006.
He had noticed the weather closing in on his journey north, but the fog had thickened and as he stood watching the train pull out of the station visibility was down to about fifty yards. He looked around him at the now darkened and deserted platform and wondered why he had been the only passenger to alight from the carriage. At first he wondered if he had got off the train at the wrong stop because the station buildings seemed ‘wrong’ but then again oddly familiar. It wasn’t until he approached the exit that he saw the name plate ‘Bardon Hill’ – definitely the correct place, but equally definitely the wrong surroundings.
A cold uneasy feeling crept through his body as he realised that he was standing on the platform of the station closed by Dr Beeching in 1967 and demolished the following year. No, this couldn’t be right, but as the fog started to lift the immediate area became clearer and to his amazement the double glazing warehouse on his right had disappeared to be replaced by the Roxy Cinema which had closed its doors for the final time in 1963. He now knew where he was, the only question remaining was WHEN.
A published collection of short stories by Neal James is titled 'Short Stories - Volume One'
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