Penny Dreadful

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John felt a rush of steam once the locomotive started down the line. The mechanical mammoth clinked and clanked, pulling the myriad of boxcars with it. With apprehension he eyed the mechanical wonder until its lights were consumed by the night.

For a split second he questioned his decision to come here. When no one else had gotten off, which said a great deal about the importance of this outpost. It certainly made him wonder what to expect once he reached town.

Even in early May, a bitter wind blew through his coat. Easily explained by the sight of a silvery glow emanating from the snow covered peaks. The sheer difference in scale made him feel small and insignificant. He had been in cities where buildings were over a hundred stories high, but here such buildings would appear diminutive and insignificant. At this elevation trees could not grow near the peaks, instead they were barren as they pierced the heavens.

"Mister Cabot? John Cabot," Joshua asked.

John turned around to find a lone figure approaching from the station. While well-dressed, the man appeared pale and sickly, so someone who never served in the war. It took all that he had to conceal his disdain for someone who never heeded the call of the piper.

He mulled over the cable he received a few days back and said, "Yes I am, and you must be Joshua?"

Joshua relaxed visibly, leaving John to wonder how his nervousness was out of place for someone living far away from the big city and its inherently big problems. Joshua worked for the municipality, land deeds and holdings which made his choice to dabble in real estate awkward. He assumed that in a town with a population of five to ten-thousand there were bound to be some who wore more than one hat. Should he expect to find the barber dabbling in dentistry?

"Yes, I am. My car is parked out front. So please follow me," the realtor said without making an offer to help with his luggage.

The barrister picked up his duffel bag. It may not be as professional or high-class as matching luggage, but this contained all he needed.

Once caught up John said, "I see that you got my cable to meet here tonight. Thank you for being here."

"De nada," Joshua replied while his words quivered with a hint of nervousness.

What was the source of this fear? After all, John was not dressed like a thug, rather the opposite. Though John noticed how Joshua's words became more confident as he approached the car.

"All the paperwork is ready for you to sign in the morning," Joshua said. "Took the liberty of booking you a room at an Inn in town. Told them to expect a late arrival," Joshua added.

"Thank you," John said before he reached the passenger side of the car.

Once the door was unlocked the barrister then crammed his duffle bag into the back. Why would someone lock doors in this town? He sat down then watched the headlights shine a swath of light over the road.

His driver was not interested in small talk, so John let it pass. There were other things to worry about and questions might send him over the precipice. John would need to wait for an opportunity before getting Joshua to cough up some answers.

* * * *

They pulled up along a multi-storey stone structure, which had a few windows that lit up the night. He figured they were there when he noticed the couple waiting in the first-floor foyer.

Before he had the chance to read the establishment's name, Joshua spoke, "Here we are. Pick you up at eight o'clock?"

John thought it over then agreed, "Sounds good. Will meet you at the curb in the morning. Thanks again."

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