I look at it for a while, not really reading, just taking in the same slogan again and again in my head. It's a valid question I suppose. Why am I here when I could not be? Train Tours? I didn't know they existed, they probably don't, but for the purposes of this story they do, and this one looks intriguing. The leaflet isn't very well illustrated, the front page is just some shoddy clip art of a steam train on a black background with the words Train Tour written on it with the rhetorical question. Simples. Maybe thats why it sticks out from all the other post on my welcome mat. Clever strategy but it's not going to work on me. I have enough money I suppose, but what would be the point in spending it?
I turn the leaflet over to look at the other side. It just has two boxes, one labeled yes, one labeled no. For a second my mind leaves me and I reach for the pen on the window sill nearby, casually putting my initials in the yes box. I don't know why, I just did. Not that I intended to go and not that I could see this rather useless leaflet leading to anything. I probably should have thought a bit longer. After that I just continued on to bed and I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
I was on a boat in a green, lush lake. The water was clear, shallow and warm, and for the first time in a long time I felt contented and happy. But then I was gripped by something else, fear. I ran out of the boat in an attempt to escape the water but it was like running through treacle! I suddenly woke with a jolt, as though I had just been thrown back to Earth from somewhere very far away. I don't normally dream, it must have been a sign that reading is bad for you, I'll bear that in mind.
As I walked down stairs I heard knocking on my door. It was the first and last time anyone had knocked at my door for a very long time indeed.
I ran back upstairs to throw on my number two jeans and a T-shirt with Hello Kitty smiling proudly on the front. Ok, maybe it wasn't the most suitable outfit for a woman of my age, but if whoever it was expected me to make an effort they could have called ahead. Then again, if they had done that I would probably have found a reason to turn them away. I toyed with the idea of putting make-up on, then became depressed that a knock at the door was so astronomical an event in my life that I felt the need to do so.
I answered the door expecting to find a salesperson of some kind, and was instead greeted by a menagerie of different people all crouded onto my doorstep. An elderly couple stood at the back, linking arms and chatting about whatever it is that they do, their matching white hair catching the light of the sun. There was a single mother trying to hush two young twins that were about 4 years of age as they play fought, begging the help of a sulking teenage boy who stood watching his mothers plight with folded arms and a pout. There was an American man in a suit talking as intrusively as possible to his phone so that everyone knew he was more important than them, but his over sized glasses and comedy tie weren't helping his case. He was being glared at by a guy a bit younger than myself with pale pock-marked skin and very blonde hair. He was wearing a black t-shirt exactly the same as the one being worn by a taller red-headed man beside him; both of which were identical to the one being worn by the ancient figure now standing right in front of me.
"Well, we recieved your application, and you were succesful! Come with us now on the journey of a lifetime, but hurry up we're running late!"
His voice was a raspy bark that didn't suit suit his short and frail stature. He had a nigh-on bald head with only a few wispy strand of hair clinging to his folicles and dancing about like eels in the light breeze. I found it almost frightening that despite his clearly very advanced age his skin clung to him like cling-film, making his skull a disturbingly prominent feature and his skinny arms appear almost inhuman. He had the look of a man that had given up a very long time ago.