For a moment Turtle couldn't understand what he was seeing. Standing in the middle of the car, framed by the open train car door, was a tall, thin creature with long legs and arms. The air in the room seemed to fall still as they all took in the sight.
It had long, thin fingers and skin that was almost pearlescent. In the gas lamp, glints of yellow reflected on its long, thin face. It had dark sockets where its eyes would be and small holes where ears would be. There was no mouth.
But it spoke to them.
Do not be afraid, it said. The voice was a sort of buzzing rattle, like a train rushing to a stop and then chugging up again. It was the voice of the rails.
The thing reached through the car door and pulled the children away from Mr. Martin and Mr. Goode. The two men stared silently as the children were drawn farther into the car and the door began to close. The men were as stunned as Turtle was, he realized. The thing had a hold of him and Turtle felt a buzz, like electricity, ride his arm through his spine and out his feet.
The thing's long arms enveloped them, and Turtle smelled something like dust and something else like oil.
They were inside the car now, and he just had a few moments to take in the station itself. There was something written over the platform in what Turtle recognized as Hebrew. Then the train door closed in front of him, trapping the three men on the outside. He
heard pounding on the other side, and shouting. He could see them gesticulating through the doors.
Immediately, it all became clear.
"What's happening?" screamed Agata.
"You mentioned the Nayzuns, remember?" said Turtle. "I think
this is one."
The thing looked over at them. The train dinged twice and
prepared to roll.
The thing pointed at the seats.
"Stop them!" yelled Mr. Goode, but his voice was drowned out
by the rising pitch of the wheels as the train began to exit the station. Mr. Adams lifted his gun to fire, but he shot wildly and it hit the back wall of the train with a thud. Inside the small station the blast from the gun's muzzle was deafening, and all Turtle could hear was a high-pitched whine and something grating and metallic. Mr. Adams fired again, but by now the train was far away from them,
floating in the dark that enveloped it as completely as water. "Nayzun," she said.
Yes, said the thing, his face immobile, the voice coming from
nowhere and, at the same time, seeming to come from inside their heads. I am a Nayzun, a Nameless One. I am 411.
"Is that your name?" asked Turtle.
No, but it is sometimes easier to have an identifier when your charges tend to require them. It is not a name like yours, but it is sufficient. But let's not talk of that now. Those men are sent to hurt you.
"Yes, I suppose," said Turtle.
Then you are safe now, said the Nayzun.
The train rattled on through the dark. They weren't stopping, it
seemed, and the Nayzun relaxed slightly, its long spine arching a bit as it turned to address them.
You are the children, it said in a way that suggested it wasn't a question.
"You knew about us?" Agata asked.
The rails spoke of you. The Mytro knows you are important. We do not know the mind of the Mytro, but we are aware of its desires.
YOU ARE READING
Imagine if, right now, clattering underneath your feet was a secret train system that could take you anywhere in minutes. Imagine a trip full of mystery and excitement from New York to Barcelona to the wind-swept coast of Italy to the edge of space...