That night, Jane was relieved when the timetable still showed the 23.55, her last train home, departing from Platform 17, not its usual one.

Jane boarded the train when a voice addressed her. “May I sit here, please?”

Jane saw a pallid woman, wearing an elegant red cloche, pointing at the empty seat beside her. Jane nodded, pleased to have company for once. The two started chatting. The traveller was friendly, told Jane that she had been catching this same train every night for the last year, while engaging her in a delightful conversation about this and that. Soon, her companion’s gentle voice soothed Jane and she fell asleep.

She came awake with a jolt, realising that the woman wasn’t there anymore, although her red hat was still perched on her seat. Jane took it with her when she alighted. Her phone rang and her mother’s worried voice came through, crying in relief as she answered. “You are safe, love, such good news!”

Realising she was still at Waterloo Station and hadn’t gone anywhere, Jane hung up, puzzled, noticing the worried faces around her. She visited the station guard’s office, intending to ask for explanations about her train, track her companion and give back her cloche. Mayhem reigned in the room. News were blaring on a television about the derailment of the 23.55 train from Waterloo, with many casualties. Jane was shocked but managed to speak to a guard, describing her encounter, her words tripping untidily in her mouth.

“You are mistaken, Madam. After Platform 16, there is only a dead-end track,” the stunned guard remarked, while asking Jane to describe her companion. When she mentioned the red cloche, the man paled and pointed Jane to a paper cutting hanging from the wall.

The article had the same date as the current night of her encounter, only it was from the year before. Jane read only the beginning which stated that a train had run over and killed a woman. She recognised her red-hatted travelling companion in the photo smiling from the cutting. Good news indeed.

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Voice-Team (@voice-team)
24 days ago

A skillfully told tale, with a shivery surprise ending. The visual image of the red cloche is well chosen and put to good dramatic use.

Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
1 month ago

What a great read, Greene. Deliciously mysterious. The red hat sets the whole thing off nicely and provides a memorable reference point.

Fuji
Fuji (@fuji)
24 days ago
Reply to  Greene M Wills

Well, it certainly brought you luck with this story! Congratulations on being selected as a Finalist. A deserving story.

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Margarida Brei
Margarida Brei (@margarida-brei)
1 month ago

Oh Greene, I love the mysticism in your story. Not a case for Hercule Poirot but a great read.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
1 month ago

I do enjoy a good ghost story, as you may have guessed, and this one doesn’t disappoint. A thoroughly enjoyable read. Very nicely done, Greene.

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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
1 month ago
Reply to  Greene M Wills

I do love hearing about other people’s paranormal experiences. Many of the things in my Hell Oh Darkness My Old Fiend happened to me, and there have been a few other things over the years too, which I think is one of the reasons why I enjoy writing ghost stories too.

Allan Neil
Allan Neil (@allan-neil)
1 month ago

Very subtle build up and a great finish, Greene. The location is a perfect setting for your story. Did you know that funeral trains used to run from one of the high-numbered platforms at Waterloo to a large cemetery and crematorium at Brookwood in Surrey?

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
1 month ago

I really enjoyed reading it, Greene. Great read from the beginning until the end. You manage a perfect finish. Very well done.

Last edited 1 month ago by Lotchie Carmelo
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Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
29 days ago
Reply to  Greene M Wills

You are welcome, Greene.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
1 month ago

Jane certainly had a guardian angel that night, Greene. A shivers down the spine story, really well told. And I absolutely loved the hat! I, myself, narrowly escaped the Kings Cross tube disaster in 1987. Your response to Carrie mentions something similar happening to you… do tell!

Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
29 days ago
Reply to  Greene M Wills

I’ve always believed our loved ones are watching over us. 7th July, a date that lives in the memory.

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Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
24 days ago

Congratulations on your finalist place. I loved this story with its little bit of mystery and the ghostly end. Well done 🙂

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