Highly Commended Story - Undiscovered Corpse
“Undiscovered Corpse” by Vaishnavi Dhaval Shah, Rustomjee Cambridge International School, India, is the Highly Commended story in the junior category of the second biannual Short Story Contest 2019.
Vaishnavi Dhaval Shah is a student of 8th grade at Rustomjee Cambridge International School And Junior College. Her avocation is to read and write stories. She also likes to do painting and quilling that helps to keep her mind calm. Besides studies she also likes to dance and have also completed her Aarangetram of Bharat Natyam dance form in December 2018. Her favourite subjects in studies are Maths and Physics. Her favourite sport is Badminton.
The sun had almost set. I was urging my taxi driver as the chances of catching the last London train were looking increasingly bleak. On reaching the station, I threw the taxi fare at the driver's face and raced towards the deserted ticket counter of the morose looking railway station. With a quick sprint, I managed to board the last coach of the train.
I had never really intended to take up the investment banker job, but certain unavoidable circumstances had left me little choice but to take up the job. I had made a rare trip out of London this morning to ST. Durswich, to dispose the pending business. I was not used to sprinting and jumping into the train. As I sat on the train I realised that I was not only the one in my compartment but there was an old pleasant-looking gentleman.
He introduced himself as "Mr.Castleman". I too introduced myself with customary politeness. "Nice day isn't it!" asked my co-passenger. Even though it was no longer daytime not that my day had been particularly memorable, I muttered something in response. As I was in no mood to start a conversation, my partner realised it and started reading the newspaper. I noticed that he was dressed in a rather old-fashioned way, for he wore a tailcoat and had a top-hat lying beside him.
Mr Castleman asked me, "What work do you do!" I replied by telling him that I was an investment banker and had come here to settle business. Mr. Castleman told me that he was also a banker and now was involved in some railway project. I was in no mood to ask what type of project he was involved in.
The ticket checker entered the compartment with a polite knock. I handed my ticket, and he checked it off on his clipboard. Mr.Castleman handed his ticket too but he did not check it, so I guessed that he must have boarded the train before me. "I see you are intrigued by this by this railway business, "he said .this was exactly true but I asked in affirmative to what more he had to say.
"Well then come on with me and I will show you," he said and with that, he sprang to his feet like a cat.
Though I did not feel like leaving the comfort of the seat, I somehow felt compelled to do what he had just asked me, and so, I got up and followed him out of the compartment. Suddenly he turned towards me and said, "Fetch your briefcase, we will need it". Oddly enough, I complied with this and accordingly fetched my briefcase.
We made our way to the door of the coach. Mr.Castleman threw it open and looked out at the scenery flying past. Then I stepped into the doorway and poked my head out. As I turned to ask him what it was that he wanted me to show, I felt his long fingers grab me by my shoulders, and, with a mighty heave, Mr.Castleman pushed me out of the train!
Thankfully, I landed softly on a bush and was not hurt, apart from a few bruises. I could just not believe what had just happened. I was completely bewildered and had no idea what the situation was .my mind was paralysed and decided to follow the railway tracks to the next station, and this is what I did with a confused mind and a limp in my steps. As I trudged on, I suddenly heard a loud bang, and as I walked round the bend in the tracks, I set my eyes on a sight which froze my heart and made me jump with shock.in front of me, it was the train which I had just been shoved out of. Only now it was burning in a terrible blaze, presumably, a terrible explosion!
It took me an entire day to realize how narrow an escape I just had. I was curious about what happened to Mr.Castleman but then logically concluded that there was no way in which he could have survived the terrible blast on the train.
The next day, I decided to go to the station office and saw a list of people with their status, but did not find Mr.Castleman's name in the list. With the confusion, I made my way back to the car. On my way I bumped into the ticket collector from the train. I asked him what had happened of that old gentleman. He said “I am afraid you must be mistaken, sir. You were all alone in your compartment that day, though heaven knows what made you get off the train two miles before it burst".
A couple of days later, I stopped at a railway junction. I saw through the window a sight that sends chills down my spine every time I think of it. It was the unmistakable face of mysterious Mr.Cstleman. It then dawned on me that Mr.Cstleman could not have died in the crash, because he had been dead since long before. Mr.Castleman had not only saved my life, but he had also instilled in me the enervating habit of jumping at shadows.