Mr. V. Jarsdel

Stan was always in search of rare and off the beaten paths towns, and the more unknown and forbidden it was the more it made him determine to find them. He wrote about such things in his column at the Star Tribune magazine he worked for. He would spend his days in the library, inspecting maps, studying books of the old country searching for forgotten towns, learning everything he could about the place he had yet to visit. He had a knack for finding the most unfrequented and quaint little towns, with their old history still intact from its cobble stone streets to the architecture of the homes and buildings. I sometimes went along with him. Stan made everything enjoyable. I loved being with him, but when I wasn’t with him, I got lonely and missed him terribly.

When Stan got an idea in his head, it was hard to dissuade him otherwise. He didn’t believe in superstition. I tried not to either, but there was something more than mere superstition people shirked at when the name of Charlestown was mentioned. I could see fear in their eyes, as if mentioning the town alone was a terrible omen. I had to admit to myself, I was curious too. I let Stan lead me the way to the train station where we waited to board a train heading west. It was around this time our trip was becoming unpleasant. To begin with, our luggage somehow got lost, the heel of my shoe broke, Stan’s new suit had ripped in its pocket that when he reached to retrieve his wallet he noticed the tear and his wallet gone. We missed the first train that passed by and by the same bad luck the train booth had closed early as it did every Sunday. We were out of luck.

I thought all this would convince Stan that perhaps traveling to Charlestown was not worth it, but I was wrong. Stan was determined more than ever to get there. We staid a day more in the little town we got stuck in. I found it hard to sleep and my mind drifted to strange places when I closed my eyes. The bed was comfortable enough, and it was a cool night, but the full moon was out and I kept tossing and turning. I knocked on Stan’s door, hoping to find him restless, but I could hear him snoring on the other side of the door. I had to fall asleep on my own. It became a long night for me. When I finally managed to lull myself to sleep I dreamt of a heavy, thick, oak door, opening itself as I floated through it. Inside was dark and drafty. A man dressed in black, cloaked in a black cape that blended in the darkness stood, watching me. I woke up a few times, drenched in sweat. It had felt real, very real.

The next morning, Stan awoke in his usual good moods while I was gloomy and exhausted from the lack of good sleep. We had dark coffee and a light breakfast. Stan was chatting away, planning his next adventure. I tried to listen, but my mind drifted to the dream. He noticed my downcast demeanor and as sweet as Stan was, he tried to cheer me up. I smiled for him. After breakfast, I staid in the hotel room while Stan made arrangements. He was gone for a long while when he returned he had manage to buy train tickets to Charlestown. I didn’t want to spoil our trip and mustered enough optimism to hide my discouragement. Around 3 P.M. we rushed to the station where we caught the afternoon train to Chalestown. We were on the train on time, but the train didn’t pull away from the station until 7 P.M.

The train chugged along a narrow trail, the scenery was bleak and dull, surrounded by a dense forest. The trip was uneventful. The sky was barely visible from where I sat, and the further we went, the more dense the forest became. It was everything, but a smooth ride. The train wobbled from side to side, precariously riding on the tracks as it rocked unsteadily. My heart was pounding throughout the journey, keeping a watchful eye we didn’t plunge into a ravine. There was one time we were crossing a vast lake that had no end to it, while the bridge swayed to and fro one direction while the train followed it perilously. Stan was turning green at one point. I thought he was going to upchuck his breakfast. I clenched my seat, praying we didn’t derail to our deaths. Stan, tried to put on a brave face, but eventually as the train lurched from side to side, Stan couldn’t hide the motion sickness he was experiencing. I was too scared to move. I felt all my senses heightened, my nerves rattled and strained, my muscles tensed and every fiber in my body quiver. My life was in the mercy of the train and I could not stop it.

I would have describe more the scenery, but there was none I could recollect that jumped from my mind. I did observe that we did not come upon any forest creatures like deer which were abundant around those areas. I had seen an owl in our other travels but no bird flew in our view, just tree and more trees, thick trees, thin trees, all very tall trees. As the train hurled down the tracks in a swift motion, I could have sworn at times it went faster and faster. The trees stopped looking like trees and more like blurred shapes. I was overwhelmed by the whole stimuli, eventually my body and mind became exhausted and I was worn down by the whole experience.


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