The sounds of clattering and clanking echoed off the tunnel walls as the train rushed through, it’s journey taking it deeper and deeper into the mountain. Esi stepped across the dark gap between the train’s carriages, closed the door, then she sighed with relief as the cacophony was muffled.

The gentle hum of nixie lanterns filled the air. The lanterns’ harsh orange glow made the carriage look much warmer than it was – Esi could see her breath puff out in front of her. You could tell this was a third class carriage: the wallpaper was faded, and it was crammed full of people dressed in many plainly-coloured layers of fabric.

None of the passengers moved, but all eyes were fixed on her. A tension filled the air, thick like the air before a storm. Then a young lady standing nearby cleared her throat.

:ren:“Hunter, is… is there something in here?”

:esi:“Perhaps,” Esi said, “do you think there is?”

:ren:“Something feels… wrong…”

The ghost hunter’s scales shimmered in the light as she walked up to the young lady, who shrunk away.

:ren:“I’m scared…”

:esi:“That’s good. Don’t ignore that feeling. Think about it more.”

:ren:“I don’t want to, I–”

:esi:“What’s your name?”


:esi:Esi leaned in closer, and whispered, “You know what makes you different from everyone else, Ren? You know there’s a ghost here. Even though you won’t say it, you know. And thanks to you, I know exactly where it is.”


:esi:“Because there’s only one place in this carriage you won’t look.”

Esi walked to the front of the carriage, pulled open a maintenance hatch, and yanked free a power cable. The lanterns all went dark — except for one, which began to get brighter and brighter. An echoing hiss filled the air, and then the lantern burst with a crash. An orange mist seeped out and coalesced into a quadrapedal shape near a young passenger, who shrieked in horror.

As quick as it takes to blink, Esi had pulled out a net and leapt into action, slamming the net down over the gaseous spirit. It made a sound like two bricks being smashed together and thrashed against the net, but was quickly silenced when she dragged it into a glass capsule.

The ailing passenger whimpered and curled into a ball.

Esi inspected the capsule carefully, trying to ensure that the spirit had been properly caught. Then the lanterns quickly flickered back on. She span around, alarmed… and saw that Ren had fixed the cable she had broken.

:ren:“I thought you might like some light, Miss.”

:esi:“You fixed that very quickly! I could use someone like you, out on the rails…”

:ren:“Oh, no thanks… ghosts terrify me.”

:esi:Esi walked over to Ren, and, in a hushed voice, said “you want to know a secret…? They terrify me too.” Then she grinned and opened the door to the carriage. “Thankyou all for your co-operation in this incident!” she announced to the stunned passengers, “and thankyou for travelling with Preitly Rail.”

Esi closed the door and disappeared into the darkness between the carriages. Ren stood there for a moment, then quickly ran past the ailing passenger and picked up her luggage.

:generic:“You’re not seriously thinking of going out there with a ghost hunter, are you?” said the passenger who had been attacked, still obviously distraught.

Ren rolled her eyes, and stepped out into the darkness.