Penny watched the carriages pull into the station. The train was on time. All along the platform, people looked at their watches in surprise.
She watched the Virgin livery slow and finally stop in front of her. Along with the rest of humanity she made her way to the nearest carriage door. Penny paused on entry to let an old woman on before her. The old woman smiled in gratitude.
She found a seat easily. Another pleasant surprise "Must be worthy of an entry in the Guinness book of records" she thought to herself.
Penny looked up as someone sat opposite her. Half expecting someone from the 'Dirty Mac brigade', she was further surprised to discover that not only was the male in the same age bracket, but also not bad looking. For a bloke, she conceded.
He smiled at her "Well this is a pleasant surprise." He had a rich deep voice.
Penny smiled in return "I was just thinking the same thing" She ignored her conscience, which called her a liar and that what she was really thinking was 'Did he have a girlfriend?'
"I might even get back in time for Eastenders" She was more than willing to keep the conversation going.
"You watch Eastenders?" She asked in amazement.
"GOOD GOD NO! There's a match on ITV"
"I knew it was too good to be true!"
"Oh I can be persuaded away from a match if the distraction... merits it." There was a definite twinkle in his eye
Penny put on an air of coyness and raised her voice a few octaves. "Are you trying to hit on me?"
"Was that an invitation to try?" Damn that twinkle was annoyingly cute.
"I wouldn't want to offend your girlfriend"
"Ah yes, the fishing for information on a potential rival."
"Its okay frauline. The playing field is sadly empty at the moment."
"It was rather inept and about as subtle as a blow to the head"
"Oh don't worry. I don't mind being abused by beautiful women."
She laughed, "Okay, okay. I said I was sorry."
"So what are you doing tonight?"
"Woa! I'm sorry but not that sorry. Well maybe. What about your football match?"
"What about Eastenders?"
She laughed again "Touché"
Silence descended between them as they stared at each other. His gaze was burning her up inside. She spoke again in an effort to take her mind off the heat coursing through her.
"So where do you intend on taking me." She felt herself blush deeper-god dam it would her body stop acting like that of a thirteen year old "If I was to accept, of course" she added hastily
"Of course. I was thinking of a pub"
"Yes. That way if you turn out to be poor company, I wont miss much of the match."
"Aargh!" She snatched up a discarded Irn-Bru can and threw it at him.
Only it turned out not to be completely empty.
She watched horrified, as rivulets of liquid ran down his face.
He looked down at the orange pool on the table then met her gaze.
"I'm sorry," she whispered "So sorry." People in the carriage were staring at her. She wanted to burst into tears.
"Well" he said rather matter of factly "I think you definitely owe me a date now. But only if you swear that you will not throw more drinks at me. For a start it's a waste."
"No I wont. I promise" Her reply was quiet, humble.
"I'll hold you to that. I've got good lawyers."
"I can't believe I did that"
"You can't believe you did that? You're not the one sitting there covered in Irn-Bru. Wouldn't have been so bad if I actually liked the bloody stuff." He smiled to show that no harm or offence had been taken.
"I hope it does not stain your shirt"
Just then the carriage lurched, followed by a continuous, aggressive vibration.
"What on Earth?" She asked.
"Great" She looked at him in askance "We've derailed. Looks like were both going to miss TV tonight." He supplied in response to her look.
Penny looked around the carriage. She wondered if her face had the expression of nervous worry that everyone else seemed to have.
Suddenly her stomach twisted and she felt disorientated. She looked out the window to re-orientate her internal horizon. Something about their forward motion was not right. She could even see the carriages in front. Then the reason dawned on her. The derailed wheels were steering the carriage away from the track. They were still going forward, but going right at the same time. It was a most peculiar sensation. She looked further up the line.
"Oh my God!" She was surprised that her voice did not quaver.
He looked at her pale face then turned in his seat and looked in the direction of her gaze.
They both watched in silence, as the station got closer. The carriage continued to swing further away from the rails. The train was not scheduled to stop.
Helpless they watched, as the station got closer. The platforms, crowded with commuters waiting to get home.
Panic spread amongst the awaiting crowds as they saw the carriage swing slowly, almost gracefully away from the rails. People, old and young were pushed into the path of the approaching express as those behind tried to flee.
The line in front, full of panicked people was the first indication to the driver that some thing was seriously amiss. He pulled on every brake and emergency device but could only watch as the train entered the station at over sixty miles an hour. The people on the line no more hindrance to the train's progress as a fly was to a windscreen.
Penny's mouth was dry. She had no breath to scream as the platform and its doomed occupants got closer. Could only watch helplessly as the distance closed and the terror was visible on their faces. She tried to close her eyes but could not.
The train slid broad side up the station platform, sweeping all from its path.
Penny found herself floating up out of her seat, as if she was in space. As she soared gently through the air she watched as the other passengers equally gracefully left their seats. She watched as the old woman she had let on first, collided with then bounced off the wall. Others were bouncing off chairs, tables, and loose luggage. Her mind likened it to bizarre human form of pinball. She felt herself collide against something. A little voice spoke in her mind that she would feel that later.
She watched as the bulkhead approached her, seeming to speed up the closer she got to it. She was definitely going to feel this later. Penny and the bulkhead became one for a moment then she lapsed gratefully into darkness.
She had a strange dream. She could feel tiny droplets land on her face. Was it Irn-Bru? It certainly felt sticky. Why Irn-Bru? Her body was afire. Was she still aroused? A train. What had a train got to do with anything? She was confused. Nothing was making sense. Why did she want to be sick? She desperately wanted to pee. And would someone stop that bloody woman screaming. She tried to open her eyes but could not, the light hurt. She tried to roll over, away from the light, but her body refused to move.
Darkness took her.
She remembered. Train. Derailment. Station. Floating. Pain. Oh god, the pain!
She opened her eyes. Could only see grey. Was she dead? In heaven? Hell? Or someplace in between? Her eyes slowly, painfully focused. Everything hurt. She looked without seeing.
Did she lapse back into darkness or was she still awake? Why could she not think? Why was it so hard to concentrate? Why was that woman still screaming?
A moment of clarity floated by. It was the carriage roof. She was outside the train, looking at the roof. Had some one carried her out? Why so many questions? Where were all the answers?
She saw movement out the corner of her vision. A face, blurry came into view. She wanted to laugh, tried to, but she hurt so much. It was the Irn-Bru man. What was his name? More questions. Did she know his Name?
"Thank Christ I found you."
She tried to speak but only a gurgle issued from her lips. What was that stringy substance on her face? It tasted horrible.
"Shhh... Don't try to speak."
She watched him look her all over, all to aware that she had pissed herself.
"What a mess."
She was indignant. How come he had come through with hardly a scratch? A little bit of dust in the hair, a smudge on the cheek another stain on his shirt. That combined, only served to make him more rugged, more handsome? Why the bloody hell was she sizing up a bloke when she was on deaths door?
Would the pain ever stop? At least that woman had stopped screaming. Maybe someone had hit her over the head with a brick, or maybe a train.
She tried to laugh but it just made the pain worse.
She coughed up something. She had no energy to spit. She let it slide from the corner of her mouth. Mr annoyingly handsome-walks from crashes without a scratch-and still looks better, tenderly wiped the corner of her mouth.
That served to annoy her even more. Any other day she would have given her right hand to be waited on hand and foot like this. It took the piss. Piss. Why had she emptied her bladder? Wasn't the humiliation enough? Why was she back to questions?
"Its all right, help is on the way."
She finally found her voice
"It's not if I'm going anywhere"
"Shh don't strain. Do you hurt anywhere?"
She tried to put on an expression of incredulity, and failed "You taking the piss?" Piss again, why did she always come back to bladder control?
"All right, is there anyplace you DON'T hurt?"
.... There is more of this story ...