Copyright Oggbashan August 2005
This story is based on a 220-word story in German starting 'Mir gegenuber' and the author has adapted the basic translation to form a new story. The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of those parts of this story that are his original work.
This is a work of fiction. The events described here are imaginary; the settings and characters are fictitious and are not intended to represent specific places or living persons.
As the train chuffs through the darkening countryside I covertly study the ladies sitting opposite me. Both are wearing long black leather coats trimmed with dark fur and matching fur hats. Each has a beautiful white silk scarf caressing her throat. I don't think they realise how closely I am studying them but I can't be sure because their eyes are hidden behind tinted glasses.
On one of them the silk scarf shimmers in the last rays of sunlight. I wonder who they can be. They seem important, almost as if they are managers or senior politicians. If so they are very unusual for that time and country.
I begin to relax as the train takes me further away from the port where the police and who knows else are hunting me. Soon this country will be at war with mine. It may be days. It might be hours. My task was completed. I had obtained up-to-date plans of the port and its fortifications, copied them, and sent them to England by several different means including the diplomatic bag that should now be on a plane landing near London. All I have to do is get out of the country safely. This train should take me close to the border with a country likely to be neutral.
I had been surprised how easy it had been to get on the train. The platform had been crowded with refugees when the train pulled in. Armed police and soldiers kept the refugees away from the train. Only a few people with special papers had been allowed to board. I had seen these two ladies struggling with a large trunk and a suitcase each. As a gentleman, even if apparently a local gentleman, I couldn't refuse to offer my help, could I? They had accepted my offer and I had carried the two suitcases while they brought the trunk. They told me that it was empty. I believed them. They lifted it into an empty compartment and slid it along the floor. I followed them with the two suitcases.
"Do you mind if I join you?" I asked. "The other compartments are full."
"Not at all," one of them said. "Help yourself."
I sat down with my back to the engine. They sat facing. Their trunk blocked the door to the corridor and their suitcases were on the seats at that end. Just before the train moved off one of them opened the window a few inches. She seemed to take slightly longer than necessary. I was distracted by her silk stockings exposed beneath the hem of her long coat.
I settled down for the long journey. Although I am fluent in their language I didn't want to start a conversation. I could easily say something that might arouse suspicion. I closed my eyes and pretended to sleep.
The engine whistle sounded. I opened my eyes. The first lady addressed me.
"Sir, could you please shut the window? We are approaching a tunnel. If the window is still open smuts and smoke will blow in."
"Of course," I replied, standing to push the window up. Behind me I heard one of them click open a bag. The window refused to shut the last few inches. I braced myself and strained hard as we entered the darkness of the tunnel. The lights should come on but hadn't.
That was my last coherent thought before a gloved fist hits me between my legs. I slump in pain, my mouth gasping open. A silk scarf is firmly stuffed in as my wrists are simultaneously grabbed and lashed together behind me. A sharp blow in my back brings me to my knees. One woman wraps a scarf tightly around my mouth and yanks it tight while the other binds my ankles. The pain between my legs is still acute as more ties bind my elbows and knees.
The tunnel ends. The first woman reaches up and removes a small strip of wood from the window frame. She pushes the window shut with little effort. She removes her fur hat, shakes out her golden hair then pulls her silk lined hat down over my head, hooding me into darkness, breathing her expensive perfume.
My feet are pulled backwards and I slump to the floor. A hand raises my slightly wriggling legs. Something silky slides up around my legs. They are dropped to the floor and the silk is dragged past my hips and up over my chest. The bag, for it must be a bag as I am completely sheathed in it, is fastened around my neck. A sharp toe kicks me in the stomach. I curl instinctively. The two women tie the bag so that I am still bent.
I hear the trunk being dragged across the compartment's floor. They heave my body up and over the side. I am dropped a few inches and then pushed and pulled to the position they want. Strong leather straps are fastened around me.
"Well, Mr. Smith," the lady who had spoken before said, "you should choose your train compartment more carefully if you want to succeed as a spy in our country. It was not very sensible of you to choose an official train, nor to enter a ladies-only compartment was it? Unlike in your country we don't put signs on Ladies' compartments. The doors are painted a different colour. One of our countrymen would have known that. Then you selected the one with the secret policewomen. Our uniform would have made anyone else stay well away from us. We were waiting for you. Our pantomime with the trunk was just for you. A soldier would have helped if we had ordered him to. No one else would do so willingly – except perhaps an English gentleman pretending to be what he wasn't. Our trunk is adapted to carry a concealed prisoner. Enjoy your silken bonds and the embrace of my fur hat. When you next see the light it will be shining directly into your eyes – in the cellar of our headquarters. Sleep well."
The lid of the trunk slammed shut. The lock clicked. They dragged the trunk back against the door to the corridor. I was left helplessly chewing a silk scarf and panting to breathe through the silk lining of a fur hat. I thought I could hear the two women laughing in the compartment...