It has sometimes been said of the railways, that depending on circumstance certain locations have a certain presence or feeling associated with them. When deep under the heavy hub of London itself, such presence can be explained due to the physics of a the tunnel environment.
In the rural extremes such a presence can be the wind, or merely the age of the infrastructure itself.
This aside, it is claimed that many parts of the tube are haunted.
I myself am I dedicated sceptic, but once I had the misfortune to be on the late train which due to a tree on the line, had to return to Chalfont Hill, being unable to reach Boismoor one Halloween. Some years later, the driver of that train, on which I was the sole passenger had the kindness to share the odd tale related below connected with that service.
It was late Autumn when the events occurred, and although modernisation had settled some still remembered the roar and hiss of the steam that had accompanied the trains. The sparking and hum of sparkling silver that had replaced them was becoming the norm.
For George, the branch between Chalfont Hill and Boismoor was known territory, and with reason uneventful... There was the usual hassle of adhesion, but this was as George put it a hazard of the view through the beeches as the twilight trains returned tired commuters. George knew most of his colleagues as well as David whose lively welsh commentary added a merry song to the works that sought to place disruptions to the service..
A fortnight before Halloween George had came into Chalfont Hill, to find David in a confused state. The impromptu medical found some hours later that David had suffered from some form of limited stroke, and despite Fred's protests, he was unceremoniously declared sick and sent home to rest. George figured that retirement for David could not be long coming.
The leaves had fallen during the next fortnight, and by Halloween itself, the leaves often blew as the cold purple of the winter night intruded upon the failing daylight. The last duty of George's shift was normally to take the train from the Chalfont Hill bay, to Boismoor where the train was to stable overnight in the Sidings. As George lived close by in the terrace below the line a short distance from Boismoor this was convenient.
Chalfont Hill was quiet, as George stood on the platform. It was raining heavily, and over the low din of rain on the canopy, was the approach of a howling gale. In the distance beyond the Signal box, entire beech swayed in the gloomy night. A sole passenger boarded, wrapping their scarf around them against the chill.
Take it Slow, George thought as the glow ahead changed from a red to a dim green. Take it slow. Soon be home, Soon be home.
George, ever the careful type took his care as he passed down the line towards Boismoor, and although cautious, was making good time. Then up ahead, a lantern, a single red fire through gloom.... but from no signal this glow came....George was apprehensive, with Weather like this all was possible.
"What's the...?" questioned George as pulled to a halt. Out of the gloom stepped the figure of David, pale, calm but recognisable, under the cape he was wearing..
"I suggest you take it back" said the figure...
"You won't pass through here till the dawn"
"The train? But why? Boismoor would have said if the line..." George replied. He hadn't expected to see David back so soon.
".. was blocked.. I know, but the lines be down as well, see.." the figure continued shining a second lantern into the gloom ahead of train. In the distance a tree lay across the tracks and underneath lay what was clearly the twisted wreckage of what appeared to have been the pole of the railway telegraph...
"I'd be going if was you, a night like this and all manner could be roaming, they say"... the figure stated.
"You'd best be going yourself" said George. "I'm the last due tonight.."
"Well, I bid you night, may be God be with you on your return.." the figure continued
With that the figure of David, returned to it's pose with the red lantern, solidly facing into the night, a beacon to those that would pass the line, even though George was the last scheduled. As George took his absence, in the distance despite the wind he was sure he could hear a lone hymn sung low against the storm. Far in the distance the chimes of All Saints also echoed briefly as midnight passed..
George's sole passenger, although not amused was understanding and it was not long before both were seated around a fire in the Station Master's office at Chalfont Hill. The formalities of reporting a blocked line aside each was relieved that nothing more serious than a delay had occurred.
"Well, It's certainly a good thing..." said the Station Master... "without that lantern you'd have gone straight into the tree." George replied. "But, David was technically sick, I'd back you up on a commendation for him if he's been dragged from home on a night like this."
"Indeed, but you know of his commitment to the Job and all.." the Station Master replied.
At this point the phone on the Station Master's desk rang.
"They've restored the line?" queried George, assuming a railway call.
"No, that was the senior clerk at the Memorial Hospital..." replied the Station Master... "It seems David Jones collapsed at home sometime between eleven and midnight, his wife in attendance. He was taken to the hospital but didn't wake up.. It seems he died a few moments ago."
"But if he collapsed at eleven?..." remarked George suddenly agitated. "Then..."
"Well, I'm sure you'll both be asked some questions in the morning.. I'd best be getting you fellows home, A Taxi's OK?" The station master replied in calm fashion. George nodded as did his passenger...
The questions as the Station Master remarked were both asked in the morning, yet despite George's tale, the luck in not hitting the tree was put down to non supernatural factors. David's apparent intervention being dismissed as something the stress of missing the tree had caused.
A week after David was buried, the PW stores at Boismoor were inspected, Although the senior manager was convinced he'd made an error, neither he nor the permanent way staff could account for the inexplicable loss of, two lanterns, a rain cape, one pair of size 12 work boots and out of all the lenses normally held a single red filter...