Thoughts clashed and collided, memories from a childhood that was not her own as Marisa dreamed amidst a deep sleep. Marisa was not a fan of the day, of the constant questioning and emotional blackmail she received from her mother.
It seemed on an almost daily basis Marisa would be reminded of her age and how by the time her mother was of that age she had already bore two children to a well respected gentleman. Despite all of this Marisa continued with her own plans of self improvement.
Every night Marisa dreamed of mystical beings, of creatures older than the land itself with a wisdom and knowledge unmatched by any of the frauds she had met through her travels across Europe and Asia. Everywhere she travelled she encountered sages and wise men, all of then claiming to harbour secrets of the unknown. Every one of them were selling their own brand of snake oil.
It was these dreams that pulled Marisa on her current journey. She as certain that her destination was not like those she had been to before, that the settlement of New Fairbank would answer all her questions and all she would need to do was surrender herself to the will of the shadows in her dreams.
The train was dark, all of it's lights extinguished as it travelled it's night time journey across the desert wastes of California. There was only ever one reason anyone travelled this route and it was the same reason for everyone on board the train. They all, each and every one were travelling to the final stop of the line, the last bastion of human decency and civilisation before embarking on the two day long coach ride towards the coast where New Fairbank awaited them with grim foreboding.
The train itself, known by it's operators as "The One-Way Express" consisted of only six carriages towed behind a pitch black engine. No one ever seemed happy to ride on board the train, and only an extreme few ever seemed to make a return journey, earning the locomotive it's name.
The handlers of the train were always very careful. They made sure that the stringent rules were always followed to the latter:
Rule 1: Do not speak to the passengers.
Rule 2: Do not make eye contact with the passengers.
Rule 3: Do not attempt to steal from the passengers.
Rule 4: Never allow anyone to attempt to ride in the 6th carriage.
Rule 5: Under no circumstances attempt to gain access to the 6th carriage.
There were rumours as to what was the function of the 6th carriage. Some thought it belonged to a wealthy aristocrat who paid handsomely for his privacy, others that it was used to transport stolen relics salvaged from the crypts below New Fairbank. If anyone was to ask about it however the most common answer was along the lines of it being used to house the bodies of the last workers who asked stupid questions.
It was from outside the 6th carriage that Marisa stood, her dreaming self speaking with a voice inside. It spoke to her of terrible monsters that awaited her in The Dark Below alongside the wonderful wealth of knowledge she would find.
The voice spoke of many things, including it's love of the modern age, of trains and carriages, of steam and gun powder and of it's many pilgrimages it would take from it's home below New Fairbank, the silent private coach rides while taking great care to avoid the damaging rays of the sun, all so that it could ride on the great locomotive again.
As the One-Way Express pulled in to it's final stop and the automated gas lamps began to ignite themselves Marisa was awoken from her sleep. To begin with she was unsure if she was still dreaming, the sounds of men lifting heavy goods and supplies onto the coaches outside sounding muffled from within her carriage.
Marisa gathered her things. It wasn't much, a small suitcase, an umbrella and a folded envelope, and clutching them tightly she stepped out of the carriage and away from the train. In doing so she found herself catching a glimpse towards the last carriage of the train. Unlike the other five it was not illuminated by gas lamps and Marisa couldn't help but notice the coach that was pulling up behind the train in line with the rear door of the sixth carriage. Like the carriage the coach had darkened windows and the only light being the bare minimum for the driver to see. Straining her eyes in the dark Marisa tried to make out the face of the driver and peering past the dull lights and dim gloom she was sure she could make out inhuman features. It was then Marisa felt a large hand on her shoulder.
"This way me lady" insisted a gruff voice and turning in the direction of the voice she met the gaze of the man who the large hand still resting on her shoulder belonged to.
He was a tall man with red hair and a barrel chest. He was pointing towards the nearest of the three well lit stage coaches that waited for their passengers to move from the halted train into their waiting seats. Marisa noted how each of the coaches were slightly different, the nearest one accompanied by two horses with little in the form of curtains and a very rough looking interior. The second one was nicer, with four horses and apparently un damaged furniture. The last coach, the one furthest away had no horses. It's exterior was gilded in gold and silver while it's brightly lit interior was plump and velvet. In the place of horses a large machine stood covered in gears and pistons all of which were attached to three very large wheels that sat in a row.
Marisa had never seen a Steam-Coach before, and in the back of her mind amidst the awe she felt, she remembered something she had heard before but could not pin point where. Of trains and carriages, of steam and gunpowder and how she too was in love with the modern age.
- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley