The Trains

 


…and I’ll leave you to guess the strong connected metaphorical  transliterating of the next story with the previous story by Marjorie Bowen! And its Zeno-paradoxically sticky distances with ALL the previous stories! 

THE TRAINS by Robert Aickman

“The distance to the road was negligible as the crow flies, but it took them thirty-five minutes by Mimi’s wristwatch, and the crawling train had passed before them almost as soon as they had started.
‘I wish we were crows,’ Mimi exclaimed.
Margaret said ‘Yes’ and smiled.”

Later a train engine whistle ‘crows’, and the two temperamentally, if not actually, Sapphic young-women often concentrate on the sweaty nature of their hiking clothes in the lost ‘trains’ infested wilds; they end up with ‘Food for the crows’… having left a trail of ‘anchoring’ stones with no map stretched between them as an escape route? Every time I read this story, I am amazed how disturbing it actually is. And with each reading it becomes even more disturbing. And now I am able to shout GO BACK AT ONCE! to them, knowing full well what is in the story patiently waiting for them, such as Roper and Beech in their barred ‘trains and railway-tickets and didcotts’-infested lockdown house, later involving a perceived-with-the-go-back-at-once art of hindsight dream, a truly classic covivid dream as experienced here by one of the women. The two women soon to become a new Rapunzel and Lady of Shalott waving at the drivers of the passing trains who in turn wave back…. Meantime 2.26 to 2.27 small hour schedules, this significant work by Aickman himself takes on a whole new ambiance in the context of this book so far — viz. a train chugging, but perhaps faster than light in the opposite direction; a black house without its due dot on the wind-snatched map; the women’s sticky bodies amid humidity as well as coldness and cloying, soaking rain; the ironic Quiet Valley like Blackwood’s; a “baking endless road”; “It was as if the striking of the match had conjured up the means to its extinction”; a “sweetly sensual” wind; the need to avoid fever in their sweaty clothes; a rucksack like ‘the old man of the sea’; Psycho hospitality as well as Go Back At Once; improbable cakes of soap; overlarge food vessels; ‘almost immovable waiting room chairs’; ‘a rampart of mashed potato’; “It’s difficult to leave the rails altogether and still keep going at all”; “The impression of furtiveness”; a book on early fishplates (Cf Margaret’s mört in a different Aickman story and the plate in the M. Bowen); a cake “choked with candied peel”; talking along the length of Mimi’s body; clinging blankets; a narrow suffocating bed; the lengthening intervals between trains…”not yet awake, not yet out of the dream…”

“She struggled to make consistent the consciousness of the nearly endless with the consciousness of the precisely brief.”

The full context of the above here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/05/20/the-1st-fontana-book-of-great-ghost-stories-edited-by-robert-aickman/

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