Until 1941, when an air raid destroyed the special train line from Waterloo to Brookwood Cemetery, funeral parties would travel out of the city to the landscaped location in Surrey. I’ll let you decide whether the following story is fact or fiction.
I sat lifeless on the 8.22 from Waterloo, staring at the electric speckled black beyond the window. My usual commuter friends had long since reached home, which was just as well because I didn’t feel like conversation this night. I’d made the journey for nearly two years but it had never worried me as it did now. It didn’t matter what time I travelled or with whom, no-one else seemed to be aware.
My stop was the last before the train sheds. No danger of falling asleep with my pulse racing faster than train wheels. Only two of us got off. We walked through the empty car park and he turned right while I set off uphill, past the yawning bus shelter till I reached the shortcut. It was just a 100 yards of stony path, edged by common land on one side and scrub on the other, lit at each end by lamps so weak even the moths couldn’t find them.
Leafless bony fingers jabbed the night sky, allowing patches of light to squeeze through. Stagnant water mouldered in pools between creeping bramble and exposed root. I scanned the landscape and continued like a barefoot tribesman in the Kalahari; not sure whether I was hunter or prey.
I really wanted to run but I also needed to resolve this problem. I kept stopping to listen for the usual delayed echo but nothing – no footsteps tonight. It was only when I neared the end of the path, not daring to breathe or turn around that the weeping began. Softly, then rising to a crescendo until the banshee cry startled the sleeping birds again. I looked back towards the railway bridge, in time to see her shadow disappear towards the track beneath. I just knew if I went to look, no-one would be there.
I hope, if I don’t make it home tomorrow, that someone will take the time to find my diary.