Amelia still isn’t sure what it was she saw that day exactly but she knows she can’t tell anyone about it. She should never have been down at the trainyard in the first place, and if her father found out he would tan her hide.
He’s always preaching about the dangers; the risk of getting hit by a moving train, or the risks of getting kidnapped by a vagrant (as if people were lining up to kidnap twelve-year-olds in broad daylight).
Her father never warned her about this though. How could he have?
Amelia was looking at her favourite old train carriage, the badly rusted one with all the graffiti. She was looking so hard in fact that she almost didn’t notice the figure behind her, until she heard a wheezing, grunting sound. She spun, excuses for her presence flying from her mind, and then realised it wasn’t a yard worker, a cop or – worse – her father. It was a man, stooped and shuffling awkwardly towards her, his torn jeans, rippling in the cold wind.
“Are you alright?” she asked.
He opened his mouth and made that strange sound again and this time, there was something else too, the smell of something spoiled and rotting. It hit Amelia so hard it made her nose sting and her eyes water.
She took a step back. The figure carried on moving, neither faster nor slower than before, and now she could see the pallor of his skin, the way it seemed to hang loosely from his bones as if it didn’t belong there anymore. Worse still, she could see how the man couldn’t quite close his mouth over rows and rows of pointed teeth.
Amelia can’t remember running home. She can’t talk about it. She thinks he’ll come back if she does.