Bridge – a lovely picture from KL Caley of New2Writing.com for this week’s #writephoto prompt. It reminded me of a view I saw on my Derbyshire holiday, although I’m sure it’s somewhere further north. I toyed with a couple of other memories before sticking with my first thought.
Since you seem to be enjoying it, I’ve stuck with Roscoe and Neville, although I considered stopping and writing this adventure into a novella or bigger. On the other hand, it is designed around the prompt, even if you think I’m going a long way round to get there! I’ve taken several liberties with train routes in this one, but the inciting incident is a genuine problem at Norwich. It’s 900 words today.
Bridge of Sighs
Roscoe and I were on the train before dawn, rattling across the marshes towards Norwich, where we had to change for the train to London’s Liverpool Street. The man at the station had told us not to waste any time when we got to Norwich, as the train would leave from platform one or two only a few minutes after we arrived. That made me nervous. What if we missed it?
So we were relieved when we saw other passengers making for the same platform, and followed one of them onto another train, a little larger than the one we’d left. I heard the announcer mention Liverpool, and repeated Liverpool Street, so I relaxed, and leant against Roscoe.
“Okay?” he asked.
“I hope so,” I replied. “What do we do when we get to London?”
“I have tickets from London to both Rochester and Southampton. I explained to the ticket man what we were trying to do, and he gave me some special priced tickets that meant we still have a little of our cash from the fish left.”
“Oh, good.” Visions of proper food and an occasional bed for the night filled my brain.
I snuggled up against Roscoe some more, and he chuckled.
I must have fallen asleep, because when I next looked up it was several hours later. Roscoe was frowning.
“I thought we’d be there by now. I’m sure the man said it took about two hours.”
I looked out of the window. Fields and low hills sped past. “Do they have fields near London?”
“No idea. It’s a big city, but I expect they can have fields close enough.”
The green fields and grey sky continued to rush past. We went through a tunnel, which was nice, and when we came out there were buildings and things outside, and we started to slow down. A ticket collector came through and Roscoe produced ours.
“Liverpool Street?” He laughed. “Oh, no, one of those. You’re on the wrong train, mate.”
“But they said Liverpool Street at Norwich.” Roscoe frowned, but I could feel his tension.
“They said the Liverpool Street train was across the platform. This is the Liverpool train. You’re not the first to make that mistake, believe me.”
Roscoe shut his mouth, and swallowed a few times. “Is it a long way from Liverpool to London?”
The ticket man took a deep breath, and smiled. “A very long way. Not used to travelling, eh?”
Roscoe shook his head and showed him the other tickets he’d been given.
“Well,” the ticket man said. “Get off where we’re stopping now, Derby, and get a train to London from there. You may have to change at Leicester.”
Roscoe said nothing as we got ourselves off the train, just looked around, hoping to spot a train to London. I knew he was upset at having made such a mistake, as he always feels responsible for everything. But really, I’d heard the same as him, and thought we were on the right train. I knew better than to say anything, though. He’d process it through in his own time.
We were looking for trains going back the way we’d come, so when we saw something going the way we’d been going, which said Northampton via Leicester, we didn’t get on it.
“Northampton must be to the north, and we want to go south,” Roscoe reasoned. “We need to get to Southampton in the end. Nearly there, at any rate.”
“How do you know where she is?”
“The road signs, Nev. She would drive towards Southampton, but come off the motorway about three stops before it.”
I really admire Roscoe. He’s so observant, so clever. We would surely be able to find her eventually.
We got on the train that was going back the way we’d come. After a while the sun came out.
“What time is it, Roscoe?”
“Nearly lunchtime I think.”
It was my turn to sigh. “If we’re going south, the sun should be ahead of us.”
The sun was behind us.
We got off at the next station, which was called Bakewell. The station was high above the town, and we could look down on a pretty bridge crossing a river, with all the town buildings on the other side.
“Shall we go down and find some lunch?” he suggested.
I nodded, but paused as we approached the bridge.
“I’ve been here before, Roscoe. You weren’t with us when we came to Derbyshire. We had to cross this bridge after going through the town. We then went up that hill behind us.”
“Do you think we should go up there, then?” He peered up the steep hill. I remembered how we’d slid back in our seats when she’d driven up here.
“No, no need. But, well, it took us six hours to get here. It only used to take four to get to Norwich.”
Roscoe sank down on his hips. “Oh, no. We’re further away than ever.”
I sat down and started to reassure him, but was interrupted by a strange sound coming from beneath us, under the bridge.
“I’m a troll, fol-de-rol, I’m a troll, fol-de-rol, I’m a troll, fol-de-rol, and I’ll eat you for supper!”
We stared at each other.
The sound started again.
We turned and ran.
Up the hill.
Into the station.
And onto the first train going back the way we’d come.
© J M Pett 2022