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THE PHANTOM TRAIN PART 3

Dear Readers and Listeners,


Welcome back to the world of OBSCURUS. In this episode we shall know more about the whistle that our protagonist heard at the Pahari Phatak. Does the legend of 'The Phantom Train' have any semblance of truth in it? Is it possible that the ghost of a train can hit material objects? Regardless of the truth, the legend is popular among the locals and the workers in the unit of the meteorological department at Shyamalpur. Gossips about the phantom train take rounds very often. That's understandable as in the little township there are not many sources of entertainment. Our protagonist is moving through a tough time. Every night he has to cross the unmanned railway crossing minutes before the phantom train could possibly appear. And what was the whistle he heard? Could it have been the whistle of the ghost train?


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Thank you for your constant interest in OBSCURUS and our other creative pursuits.


Take care. Happy reading and listening!


Warm regards,


Biswajit Banerjee,

Author, Screenwriter, Podcaster, Musician, Jurist and Filmmaker


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INTRO 00:00:00


Welcome to OBSCURUS, your weekly dose of paranormal fiction. Every Wednesday OBSCURUS features new short stories and serialized novels written by novelist, screenwriter, and voice-over artist Biswajit Banerjee. The realm of the paranormal stretches far beyond the usual horror story. So, while you will get to listen to lots of ghost stories on this podcast, there will also be many tales of lesser-known paranormal themes. To get us started, here's your host Biswajit Banerjee.


HOST TALK 00:00:47


Welcome back to OBSCURUS, where the line between the known and the unknown blurs with every tale. I'm your host, Biswajit Banerjee, and tonight, in Part 3 of "The Phantom Train," we follow Mr. Shekharan as he grapples with an ever-deepening mystery. If you want to hone your English skills, check out our SPOKEN ENGLISH FOR NON-NATIVE SPEAKERS program. Explore more of our work, and find transcripts and chapter markers at biswajitbanerjee.com and obscurus.buzzsprout.com. Remember to subscribe to my YouTube channel for a closer look into my creative endeavors. Now, let's delve back into the shadows of Shyamalpur.


THE PHANTOM TRAIN PART 3 00:01:57


Written and Performed by Biswajit Banerjee



00:02:21


After about a minute, Mr. Kumar got the information from his friend. He hung up the phone and said, "No, Mr. Shekharan, no train passed through the crossing last night. Rather, no real train passed through the crossing last night. So, it is now clear that you heard the whistle of the phantom train."


"Probably, we can still not be sure of that, Mr. Kumar." Mr. Singh said.


"But according to the railway authorities, no passenger or goods train passed through the junction last night." Mr. Kumar reasoned.


"Well, that's fine," Mr. Singh responded, "but it is possible that what Mr. Shekharan heard was not a train whistle at all."


"But it sounded like a train whistle," I said.


"Well, I know it sounded like a train whistle, but the possibility that it was caused by some other source cannot be ruled out." Mr. Singh reasoned.


"What other source can generate such a sound?" Mr. Kumar wished to know.


"I cannot be sure, Mr. Kumar, but sometimes winds blowing through narrow spaces sound like whistles."


"Umm hmm, that's possible indeed."


"Although the probability that Mr. Shekharan heard the phantom train's whistle is strong, let us not rule out the other possibilities."


"I beg to differ, Mr. Singh," I said, "what I heard couldn't be a whistle-like sound caused by the wind. As far as I remember, no winds were blowing around that time. What I heard was the train's whistle."


As I wiped the sweat off my forehead, Mr. Singh leaned forward thoughtfully and said, "The best you can do is to stay away from the crossing around the time the phantom train becomes visible. Maybe you could look for accommodation nearby."


"But none of the Department's vacant residential quarters is close enough to this office for me to avoid the junction. All the vacant units are far away; to reach them, one would have to cross the Pahari Phatak."


"Have you thought of renting a house from the locals nearby?" Mr. Singh asked.


Mr. Kumar spoke before I could say anything. "That's not a good idea, Mr. Singh. The nearby houses available for rent are small and dingy, and the bathrooms are old-fashioned and have limited water supply. Mr. Shekharan belongs to a metropolis. I do not think he will find any of these houses comfortable. Probably, he should wait for one of the nearby residential quarters to become vacant."


"Given this scenario, my advice would be that you leave the office sharp at 10 p.m. so that you can cross the junction much before the arrival of the phantom train. If you start at ten, you will cross the Pahari Phatak well before the train could appear. And, of course, also request a change of accommodation to the Department, making it clear that you would be willing to shift over to a nearby home and not to some unit in a far-flung area. All the best, Mr. Shekharan," Mr. Singh observed.


***


00:06:01


The next several working days were peaceful as I followed Mr. Singh's advice in letter and spirit. Since I started exactly at 10 p.m., I crossed the Pahari Phatak around 10.10 p.m. That was surely a safe time to cross those tracks.


But the streak of peace ended one evening when my boss asked me to stay a little over ten to collect some additional weather data. When I got free, the time was 10.09 p.m. If I started at that time and rode my motorcycle at the usual speed, I could still cross Pahari Phatak around 10.20 p.m. Though that would be a safe time, I might hear the train's whistle again.

Braving the whistle again was certainly a terrible prospect. The other option was to start from the office much later, say around 11 p.m. However, I wasn't sure if starting late would be a safe option. From what I knew about the phantom train, I couldn't rule out the possibility of the train appearing at any time beyond 10.31 p.m.


So, notwithstanding the possibility that I might hear the whistle again, starting out immediately for home was a better option. Even if I had to hear that dreadful whistle, I would at least be crossing the unmanned junction much before the train appeared.

It would be foolhardy to spend any more time in the office. I put on my helmet and mounted my motorcycle, kicking the engine to life.


When I was about a hundred meters away from the unmanned railway crossing, I heard a loud whistle! Unmistakably, a train was nearby. I braked hard. Within seconds of my forcing the motorcycle to a screeching halt, I heard the whistle again. Then, I also heard metallic wheels on the tracks. As I took the helmet off my head, the noise got louder, and a light-filled the tracks. The light grew brighter, and I watched the goings-on helplessly. A train appeared. It was moving at a deadly pace. The quick succession of unexpected happenings sent my heart racing.


My limbs froze as I watched the coaches rush by. The drafts caused by the train's movement whooshed past my face, and the rattling ground beneath my feet robbed me of my ability to think.


Even long after the last coach had disappeared into the distance, my mind was reeling. When I regained some balance, I was not sure if I should cross the tracks. I looked at my watch. Oh, it was close to 11.30 p.m. More than an hour had passed since I halted the bike!


Going back to the office made little sense. So, there was no way I could avoid crossing the tracks over which the phantom train had moved a while back. Left with no choice, I crossed the junction, braving the fear of confronting the sudden appearance of the phantom train.


Upon arriving at the residential block, I swiftly parked the bike in the space allotted for the purpose and rushed towards Mr. Kumar's apartment. It was close to midnight but the consideration that meeting him at that hour could cause him great discomfort made little impression on my psyche. I simply couldn't get the train and its deafening noise out of my system. Mr. Kumar might be of some help. My mind wasn't working. So, I needed someone to guide me as to what I should do next. With my body still trembling, I knocked on the entrance door of Mr. Kumar's apartment. No one responded. I knocked on the door again. After about a minute, I heard footsteps inside the house.


Mr. Kumar opened the door. His eyes appeared heavy with sleep.


"Mr. Shekharan," He said.


"I am sorry to disturb you at this hour, Mr. Kumar. But a ghastly thing happened a while back. I couldn't bring myself to wait till morning to tell you about it. My body is still shaking.


"Oh, you look distraught. Please come in, Mr. Shekharan.


***


00:10:54


I narrated my experience to Mr. Kumar. After I finished, he thought for a while and said, "Did you notice the time when you saw the train?"


"No."


"So, you can't be sure it was around 10.31 pm when the train appeared?"


"I started around 10.10 pm and was moving at quite a high speed. So, I must have reached much before 10.31 pm. Probably, the time was somewhere between 10.20 and 10.25 p.m."


"But you cannot be sure of the time?"


"Certainly not. Do you think I reached around 10.31 pm?"


"Well, I do not know. Some locals believe the train only appears around 10.31 pm. Sometimes, a difference of a minute or two before or after the usual time of appearance has been noticed by some, but the train never appeared six or seven minutes before 10.31 p.m. But if you started from the office around 10.10 pm, you should have crossed the junction much before 10.31 pm unless you chose to ride slowly."


"I was riding the bike much faster than usual, Mr. Kumar."


"That's what is causing the confusion. How could the phantom train cross the tracks much before its usual time?"


A brief period of silence followed.


"What do I do now, Mr. Kumar?"


Mr. Kumar got into a thoughtful state. He said, pressing and rubbing his chin with his fingers, "Maybe what you saw was ..."


"Please, Mr. Kumar," I said, "please don't say I hallucinated or something."


"No, no, Mr. Shekharan. I was about to say what you saw probably wasn't the phantom train."


"Then what was it?"


He didn't answer my question. Instead, he pulled the phone close to himself and dialed a number. "It's too late to call, but I cannot wait till the morning to find out the truth," Mr. Kumar said.


CONCLUDING REMARKS 00:13:27


Thank you for joining us on another thrilling segment of "The Phantom Train." Mr. Shekharan's night grows darker with each passing moment, and the truth seems just out of reach. What was that eerie train, and why does it torment him? Keep tuning in to unravel more of this chilling mystery. Visit biswajitbanerjee.com and obscurus.buzzsprout.com for more insights and resources, including episode transcripts and chapter markers, and remember to enhance your language skills through our training program. Subscribe to my YouTube channel for videos packed with infotainment and the latest updates. Until next time, stay curious and keep exploring the edges of reality.


THEMATIC MUSIC – STAY AWAY FROM THEM, AN AI MUSIC COMPOSITION BY BISWAJIT BANERJEE 00:14:24

 

OUTRO 00:17:05

 

Thanks for listening to OBSCURUS. If you like what you heard, please subscribe and visit biswajitbanerjee.com for more information about Biswajit's books, movies, documentaries, and other creative pursuits. We shall see you next Wednesday with another episode of OBSCURUS. Till then, take care!

 

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