The Last Train
Bobby Wiggins hated the late shift, dreaded it even.
Hated the rota that put him on the Northern Line at midnight. He knew she would be there. Always was, always would be, he supposed, probably always had been for all he knew.
He actually enjoyed his job, nice enough bunch of lads and lasses, easy enough workload, and not much in the way of passengers at this time.
Most had completed their nighttime journeys. Some would be in pubs and clubs, taking taxis and the night busses home, or staying out on the pop til the early trains began.
The middle cars were almost empty when he got to Formby. A young couple snogging at the rear, an old girl reading yesterday's free paper and two scallies, hoods pulled up, trying to look tough at the front.
He'd checked their tickets and knew he'd have an easy ride for the last hour, maybe a few drunks or some lost property to sort, but he wasn't worried about that.
He was worried about her.
No matter how many times he tried, (must be in the eighties by now) it always ended the same.
The first few times he'd pulled the emergency tag. Spent hours with the BTP searching the tracks for anything that would've survived the impact. Nothing. Not a scrap of hair, piece of clothing, not even a bloody smear on the bodywork.
The following times he'd asked the driver to slow on the approach, way before the markings and signals indicated. Made not one bit of difference.
The next few months he'd simply shut his eyes and sat trembling until they'd passed through the station, but he knew, he sensed she was there.
His Days Off we're usually spent researching the archives, old reports from long dead staff, police incidents and library microfiche of ancient local newspapers. Nothing. No hint as to who or when she died.
And died she must have. No-one could've fallen onto the tracks and survived the oncoming train. Not in one piece, anyway, but for now he could find not a single mention of her on this part of the network in the hundreds of fatalities and injuries he'd trawled through.
Bobby took to the drink. Knew it was an absolute, definite, sure thing he'd be sacked if the bosses found out, knew he'd probably end up in jail if, God forbid, someone got hurt and he was found to be half cut.
But the Scotch helped him get through what he knew was coming. That sickening moment when her gaze met his and she looked through his soul with those dreadful, beautiful, beseeching eyes.
Hopeless and heartbreaking. He'd screamed out before now, prayed to God she'd be saved, but now he simply sat in the Guard's compartment and drank.
Then, miracles of miracles, he'd been asked to re-roster his shift. Platform duty too! A cushy shift, checking for compliance with the health and safety audit.
Two minutes to midnight. One hundred and twenty seconds to finally do something.
His mind swirled with hope and alcohol as he stumbled out onto platform two. The electronic signs showed the next train, the last train, was on time.
He risked another swig, putting the bottle into his fluorescent jacket and squinting at the yellow line on the edge of the platform.
And there she was! Beautiful girl too, the young woman smiling and full of joy as she skipped along the line. Far, far too close to the edge.
The air buzzed with the imminent arrival, electricity and wind coming from the tunnel. Lights changing to green along the track. The roar of tons of death approaching.
Bobby swallowed hard and rushed towards her, hand outstretched. He'd grab her flowing, old fashioned dress, and pull her to safety. Change the awful inevitably of the midnight horrors he'd witnessed for months.
The train appeared from the tunnel, brakes squealing, air rushing around him as he reached out, grabbing thin air, momentum taking him over the edge, eyes recording his feet breaching the yellow line, seeing metal tracks and gravel rushing up to meet him, felt the presence of the train.
Closed his eyes, wishing for one last drink.
Then all was still.
Bobby opened his eyes. The beautiful young lady smiled a beautiful smile.
'Don't fret, my love, there'll be another one along soon, they're always on time!'
Bobby held her cold hand, happily waiting with her until the next train.