After a terrible day at work, Art encounters an enigmatic stranger on his commute home. Clarke Abaddon seems to know all about Art’s colleague Paul – before Art mentions his name. The 6:40 Express is a ten-part mystery thriller serial, initiated by Indian writer Sameer Nagarajan. Each 500-word chapter is written by a different author every week.
You can read my contribution (Chapter 3), below. To read the previous chapters, visit The Story Mint.
My Chapter 3
At 9:55, Art’s boss took a phone call. Through the glass panels, Art watched the colour drain from her face. Then she hung up and redialled. His own phone rang.
“Art,” her usually brisk voice was hoarse. “I need you to take over from Paul on the Brettamol project.”
Art nearly fell off his chair. Brettamol, a pharmaceutical company in Roverhampton, was their biggest client. After a recent break-in by animal rights activists, they had contacted Art’s company and invested thousands in a new security system which was due next week.
“Where’s Paul?” Art asked, his heart suddenly skipping.
“I’m not at liberty to say.”
Art glanced across the corridor. Her face was turned away, but he saw a tiny stream of mascara trickle down one check.
“He’s dead, isn’t he?”
There was a sharp intake of breath. She stared right at him.
“How do you know that?”
Don’t worry. Paul will get sorted out soon.
Art’s armpits felt suddenly moist. He leaned forward in his chair and his shirt stuck to his back.
“Just a…guess. What happened?”
“I told you I can’t say anything yet…his family…they don’t…just start working on Brettamol, OK?” her voice cracked and she hung up.
Art opened his browser and typed in two words. He sat staring at his screen for a long time. According to Google, Clarke Abaddon didn’t exist.
At midday, Art went down to the sandwich bar on the corner and ordered a BLT on rye. He slipped into one of the plastic booths by the front window and tried to eat, but the bread grated like sandpaper on his dry tongue. He attempted to flush it down with a mug of tea, gagging as a piece of bacon became temporarily lodged in his throat.
Art glanced at his watch. 12:25. Good, he thought. He’s not coming. I’ll go back to the office. Paul will be at his desk and all of this will just be a bad dream.
“You waiting for someone?” the cashier asked.
Art stared around. “What makes you say that?”
The girl tilted her head. “A man came in for a double expresso about an hour ago. Think he might have been a film extra because his suit was sort of well… Dickensian.”
Art stood up. “Clarke Abaddon!”
“Is that his name?” She rummaged in the cash register. “Said he couldn’t wait. Asked if I could give this to someone called Art. That you?”
She pushed a silver envelope across the counter and Art slit it open. Inside was a one-way ticket for this afternoon’s 6:40 express. However, instead of his home station, the destination was Roverhampton, the last stop on the line. Art shook out the envelope, but there was no note. He turned over the ticket.
Scrawled on the back in slanting, cursive handwriting was a verse from the Bible.
“They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, who in Hebrew is called Abaddon…” – Revelation 9:11