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Trains arriving Earth into Endra
Doorways 1 -3
Expected wait time 6 weeks
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‘Endra? Where’s Endra?’ Anna said aloud, her voice echoing around the deserted railroad station. And then there was another sound. It was her stomach rumbling and reminding her that she was in need of food and water. That word Refreshments flashed across the front of her brain like a neon sign. Turning around, she could see that the lobby opened out into a small dining area with a doorway that led to a kitchen. Hitting a small bell on the counter with the flat of her hand, Anna called out:
‘Hello! Is there anyone here?’
She stood and listened for any sound of life, but heard nothing apart from the wailing hinges from the sign outside.
‘Hello?’ she called again. Nothing.
Stepping away from the counter, Anna crossed the dining area. The tables were littered with plates which were covered with the rotting remains of half-eaten meals. Brushing away the flies that swarmed around her, she made her way into the kitchen. Expecting to see a sink with taps, an oven and microwave, she was instead surprised to find an old fashioned looking water pump and a brick stove in one corner. Anna rushed over to the pump and heaved down on the handle. It groaned as if it hadn’t been used for years. Forcing all of her weight against it, she forced the pump again. She looked at the nozzle but nothing came out.
She pressed down on it again and again until she heard a gurgling sound come from inside. A trickle of water emerged from the pump, followed by a frothing stream. Bending her head towards it, Anna recoiled. The water smelt foul, like rotting eggs. Working hard on the pump, she forced the stale water out of the pipes until she had a fresh, clean stream tumbling from it. Grinning, she held her head under the flowing water and gulped down mouthfuls of it. Anna let the water splash into her mouth and run across her cheeks and down her neck. The water was cold and wonderful.
Once her thirst was quenched, she continued to pump the handle up and down. With her free hand she splashed the water all over her face and combed it through her matted hair.
Feeling better, Anna released the pump and looked around for anything that might be edible. Slabs of meat lay black and rotten on the counters and her stomach scrunched up as if to say, ‘Don’t you dare!’ She looked about the kitchen for a fridge but there wasn’t one.
Leaving the kitchen ,she went back to the counter. Anna walked behind it and looked at the map that had been tacked to the wall. The paper was ivory coloured as if it had been dunked into a large cup of tea. It was curled at the edges, and across the top someone had written the word ‘Endra’ in black ink.
Spreading the map across the counter, Anna looked at all the place-names someone had written across it. She noticed an arrow on the map, and underneath were the words ‘You are here!’ Bent over the map, Anna could see that the arrow was pointing to a small square, which she guessed was the Railroad Station. To the right of the arrow was the town of Thud and to the left was a row of wavy lines. Scrawled amongst these lines were the words ‘The Onyx Sea’.
As she peered at the wavy lines, Anna noticed another small square next to them and above this someone had written, ‘Piranha Bay’.
Anna didn’t like the sound of it, but she liked the idea of heading back towards Thud even less. That’s where her uncle Fandel was and she wanted to put as much distance between him and her as possible.
Maybe Piranha Bay wasn’t as bad as the pictures that it conjured in her mind. Perhaps it was a sleepy little coastal town like the ones she had left behind in Cornwall? Regardless of that, there would be people there and they would be able to help her.
Rolling up the map, Anna took it with her as she investigated the rest of the Railroad Station. To the right of the counter she saw a doorway that she hadn’t noticed at first. Opening the door, Anna was surprised to find a wooden staircase on the other side that led down into the dark. Reaching behind the counter, she took the box of matches and three of the candles. Lighting one, she held it out before her and stepped into the gloom.
The stairs creaked beneath her blistered feet and the flame licked to and fro casting long, orange shadows along the walls beside her. At the bottom she found herself in a large open room full of bunk beds. Some of them were covered with coarse looking blankets, but others had the bedclothes thrown back as if whoever had occupied them had left in a hurry. Anna passed amongst the rows of beds and noticed that beside each one was a small wooden locker. She guessed that this place was where weary travellers had taken rest from the searing heat of the desert.
‘Is anybody here?’ Anna called out again, but apart from the sound of a breeze whistling into the room through a large, circular grate in the far wall, there was silence.
Placing the map on one of the bunks, she pulled open one of the lockers and inside found a folded pair of blue trousers. She pulled them out and held them against her. They were a bit too long and seemed to be made of some rough, woven cotton. Anna pulled them over her legs and rolled up the ends of the trousers. She tucked her nightdress into the waistband and fastened them.
Clutching the map to her chest, she meandered amongst the rest of the beds until she saw something that made her smile. She crossed the room to a small wooden cot sat nestled between two of the bunks. Inside the cot she found a small, soft child’s toy. Anna plucked the Mickey Mouse from the tangled bedding. It felt soft against her cheek and had that ‘baby’ smell. Sitting on the edge of one of the bunks, she cradled the child’s toy like a baby in her arms. Anna’s eyes began to moisten, spilling tears onto her cheeks.
‘What happened here?’ she whispered, the Mickey Mouse grinning back at her.
‘Where is here?’ she asked the toy.
Then noticing a pair of boots tucked under the bed opposite, Anna placed the Mickey Mouse back into the cot, and pulled the boots from under the bed. She held the soles against her feet and they looked a pretty good match. Pulling them over her feet, Anna fastened the leather straps that ran up the side of each boot. She stood and sighed. They felt soft around her feet and cushioned her blistered toes.
Pacing up and down to get used to her new boots, Anna heard movement from above. Folding the map and placing it along with the candles and matches into her trouser pockets, she went back to the foot of the stairs. At the bottom, she blew out the candle and began to climb.
The noise seemed to be coming from outside and it sounded as if someone were moving about. She stopped at the top of the stairs. Listening, she could hear the murmur of voices.
‘People!’ she cheered, pushing open the Railroad Station door. ‘And they might be able to help me!
Rushing out into the twilight of the desert, Anna froze.
‘My dear little Anna,’ Fandel grinned, striding towards her.
Zach and his two companions approached the walls of the Prison of Eternal Despair. It loomed above them in large slabs of grey stone. At each corner stood a search turret that twisted like a corkscrew into the night sky. At the top of each one, fires burnt, flooding the grounds with light. From the walls high above, human-shaped cages were hung. Each one an iron tomb, some containing the skeletal remains of prisoners long since eaten by crows and baked in the scorching hot sun of the desert. Several of the cages twisted to and fro, but they weren’t caught in any sudden gust of wind – it was the frantic prisoners inside them that made them spin as they shooed away the giant crows that circled them with pointed beaks.
‘Nooooo!’ a prisoner cried out into the night. ‘Pleeeease!’ he wailed as one of the crows plucked an eye from the prisoners face. The crow squawked in triumph as it swallowed its prise and swept away, circling and coming back for more.
From their hiding place behind a mound of rocks, Zach, William and Neanna looked at the huge iron gates that led into the prison. Outside, masked guards patrolled up and down. Each one of them carried a bow and a sling full of long feathered arrows. The guards armour glimmered in the torchlight from above. As Zach spied on them, he noticed that their arms were unnatural looking, their fingertips brushing the ground as they patrolled back and forth.
‘What are they?’ Zach whispered.
‘They’re the Norsori,’ William said. ‘A race of creatures who sold their souls to Throat, to save themselves from a life of damnation.’
‘In return for running the prison,’ Neanna said, ‘Throat lets the Norsori live with their families within its walls. But they are never to leave.’
‘But that makes them prisoners too,’ Zach said.
‘Maybe they prefer a life of captivity to death,’ William barked.
‘What’s the difference!’ Zach said with a grim smile.
‘Their leader is believed to be a ruthless tyrant by the name of Marshall Goth,’ Neanna explained. ‘It was he that struck the deal with Throat.’
Zach stared at her, then back at the prison. ‘So how do we get in?’
Neanna looked at William, who in turn looked at Zach.
‘Well?’ Zach asked.
‘Well, What?’ William said.
‘What do we do next?’
‘I don’t know. I’m making this up as I go along!’ William grinned, flashing his uneven teeth.
‘Great!’ Zach sighed. He stared at the Guards who continued to march up and down.
‘We need a diversion. If we could just get the guards away from the front gates,’ Zach said, getting onto his hands and knees and crawling away from them.
‘Where ya going?’ William called after him.
‘Back in a minute!’
‘What’s got into him all of a sudden?’ William wondered aloud.
Frowning, Neanna said, ‘I think that dream scared him. He’s desperate to save his sister.’
‘Or perhaps it’s something else?’ William said, combing the hair beneath his chin with his long fingers.
‘Perhaps I was right about him after all? Perhaps he is the great leader I saw him to be!’