The darkness outside the train was absolute. Occasionally clouds parted across the full, glowing moon, but they would soon envelope it again, leaving the night even thicker than before. Emily shivered and wrapped her coat further around her.
The carriage was very modern. The seats – made of some scratchy material – were a bright blue with an unattractive orange line running through them. The train was almost empty. Apart from her, there was a man a few seats down and two girls leaning against one another at the back of the carriage, dozing lightly. Every so often one would jerk forward and her eyes would jerk open, glancing around absently before slowly closing again.
Emily was sitting alone at a table, three other seats clustered around her. She shuffled around until her back was against the window, stretched her legs across the seats and closed her eyes.
She was just starting to drift when she heard a noise. Her eyes flew open. Of course, it was only one of the other passengers, moving towards the toilet. The man. He was a little older than her, maybe late thirties, with thick dark hair that was just starting to grey to match his eyes. Emily had always found grey eyes soft, but these were nothing of the kind. They were fixed on her, and they were hard, unforgiving.
He stopped by her seat, looking down at her.
‘Can I help you?’ Emily asked without enthusiasm.
He smiled, but it wasn’t very friendly. ‘Perhaps.’ He reached down and took hold of both her ankles in one hand. His grip was strong, just on the right side of painful. He lifted her legs up, sat in the seat next to her and replaced them on his thighs.
Instinctively Emily tried to gather her legs back but there was no room, and the man’s hand was still shackled around the ankle. She opened her mouth, but all the easy phrases that she used in bars when someone unwelcome approached had escaped her. A heat of rage and fear spread across her face and body. She felt utterly captive.
The man wasn’t even looking at her. He was looking at her feet, running an idle thumb along the sole. Emily wished desperately that she’d kept her shoes on. She looked away from him and down the carriage willing the two girls to look up towards them. They continued sleeping.
Without loosening his grip on her ankles he started to run his other hand up her leg, very slowly. He was looking at her face now, she could feel it, but she couldn’t bear to look up at him. If she ignored him, perhaps he would go away.
His hand found the bottom of her skirt, and stopped for a second. Reluctantly she looked up towards him. He was looking straight at her, an unfriendly smile on his lips. She felt an unexpected jolt in her stomach, and the heat grew ever stronger.
The hand continued.
‘Emily.’ His voice was rough yet clear, emotionless and firm. ‘Something is about to happen. Do you trust me?’
Her tongue had become large and heavy. She tried to speak but it stuck to the sides of her mouth, furry and gelatinous.
‘I can get you off,’ he said. ‘I can save you.’
The glow of the moon suddenly burst into the carriage again. In the distance, a wolf howled.
‘Do you trust me?’
Emily forced the creeping hand from her mind.
‘No,’ she said clearly. ‘No, I don’t.’
The girls down the end of the carriage lifted their heads sleepily at the sound of her voice. The man’s smile grew larger.
‘What a shame.’
He stood up, and left the carriage.
Breath shot out of Emily’s lungs and her whole body suddenly felt exhausted. She closed her eyes, willing back the tears that were threatening.
‘Are you all right?’ one of the girls called. Emily opened her eyes to see them struggling out of their seats, complete with baggage, and hurrying down the aisle towards her.
‘What was that?’ the other girl said, plonking herself into the seat opposite and reaching out a hand.
‘Creep,’ said the first girl definitely.
The feeling of safety washed over Emily like a tsunami and she started to cry properly. It was going to be ok. It had been a horrible few moments, but it was going to be ok.
Suddenly the train lurched, and stopped. Another howl echoed through the darkness, closer this time, and not alone. The lights flickered out, but it wasn’t dark. The moon lit the carriage like it was day.