Nathaniel arrived late at night on the tiny train station platform, tried and dirty from the journey. As the old steam train pulled away behind him, he looked around, loosely clutching his large case in one hand at his side. There was a small hut with a single door and window to his right. A light in an old fashioned black case with a fancy pointed dome on top hung over the door.
He went to the window and looked in, but it was dark inside. He tried the door but it was locked. Sighing, he walked away and back to the middle of the platform. There was nothing else here and no other source of light. For a few moments, he wondered if this was a dream; had he fallen a sleep on the train?
Then from far in the distance came a flash of white light and Nathaniel saw for a few seconds what lay before him. Stretching as far as he could see was a marshland. Large pools of dark water, some of which were half hidden by the giant reeds created moats around islands of tall grass. Unseen bullfrogs croaked loudly and splashed into the deep waters, their sounds the only thing that could be heard.
‘Yes, I’m dreaming,’ he uttered, ‘this can’t really be the place!’
He went back to the hut’s door and banged loudly on it. The lantern above his head swung, creaking on a short chain. No one answered the door.
‘Hello? Is anyone in there?’ Nathaniel shouted, ‘I’m Father Tawny and I’m looking for Mrs. Fitz. She called me to give aid in her dying hour.’
His voice faded and he listened hard but still heard nothing. At a lost for want to do, Nathaniel paced the tiny platform which was actually only a few feet across. His case swung about then he placed it down and carried on walking back and forth. Every so often he would see the flash of white light in the distance and catch a glance of the dark marshland.
‘God, I could do with some guidance,’ Nathaniel muttered, ‘how am I to get over there?’
He quickened his pacing as he tried to think. He went back to the hut again and double checked the door. He rattled the handle hard and without really meaning to give the door a sharp kick. Suddenly, the door handle and lock came away in his hand, the wood splintering loudly. Nathaniel stumbled backwards as the door squeaked open.
He looked down, seeing the handle and lock in his hand. Glancing around he made sure no one had seen him then walked into the hut. The door, he noticed had totally rotted away which had made it easier for the handle and lock to come away. He set them on a small desk and looked around in the gloomy light.
There was hardly anything inside the hut. He found a stack of tickets, a few pens, an empty water bottle, a box of matches, four candles and a large lantern. Upon realising this, he thanked God, collected the last three items and took them outside under the light above the door.
Inspecting the lantern, Nathaniel saw it was a simply made long rectangle with black iron and thick glass panels. The handle was a massive hoop like that of a door handle and seemed quite secure. The door was a latch lock and it took a few moments for Nathaniel to open it. Picking the biggest candle, he placed it inside and lit a match. The tiny flame glowed brightly then become two as the wick caught.
Removing the match, Nathaniel shook it out then closed the lantern door. The candle light made a nice circle to see by.
‘Thank you, Father,’ Nathaniel whispered.
Putting the other candles and matches into his long brown coat’s pockets, he picked up the lantern and his case. Moving the light around the platform, he walked to the nearest corner and looked down at the train tracks which led away from the mash. The distant white light flashed by and he turned his head towards it in time to see something at the opposite corner.
There was attached to the edge of the platform a wooden plank. He approached slowly, letting the light show him the way. The plank was attached to a second one then a third by thinning ropes on either sides. It was a bridge just above the marshland. The planks were dark, but dry and seemed to led towards the distance flashing light.
Nathaniel reached a booted foot out and stepped onto the plank. There was a small groan and slight shifting movement. He put his other foot on and uttering a pray moved on to the next one. The bridge held his weight and underneath him rose the smell of stagnate water with rotting vegetation. A bullfrog crocked loudly close by, startling him and Nathaniel saw the long legs of said bullfrog jump off the bridge and splash into a pool below.
Swallowing, Nathaniel tightened his grip on his case and lantern, started whispering another prayer and walked further into dark marsh.
To Be Continued…
(This story was originally written for Sue’s Thursday Photo Prompt Lantern. However, I decided it was too long and I wanted to divided it up into smaller parts, making it unsuitable for the prompt. Sometimes, my story ideas demand to be longer and I like to do them justice, so that what they want to tell can happen. So, please enjoy this story and if you like it please give me a like and share it with your friends. Feel free to leave comments too, I love hearing feedback and it helps inspire me to write more. Also, if you are not already please follow my blog. I’d love to get up to 500 followers this year! I’m currently at 327 followers. Thanks, Hayley)