The 31 Days of Hallowe'en - That Hell-Bound Train
- View SourceT h a t H e l l-B o u n d T r a i n
by Robert Bloch
WHEN MARTIN WAS A LITTLE BOY, his Daddy was
a Railroad Man. He never rode the high iron, but he
walked the tracks for the CB&Q, and he was proud of his
job. And when he got drunk (which was every night), he
sang this old song about "That Hell-Bound Train."
Martin didn't quite remember any of the words,
but he couldn't forget the way his Daddy sang them out.
And when Daddy made the mistake of getting drunk in the
afternoon and got squeezed between a Pennsy tank car and
an AT&SF gondola, Martin sort of wondered why the
Brotherhood didn't sing the song at his funeral.
After that, things didn't go so good for Martin,
but somehow he always recalled Daddy's song. When
Mom up and ran off with a traveling salesman from
Keokuk (Daddy must have turned over in his grave,
knowing she'd done such a thing, and with a *passenger*, too!),
Martin hummed the tune to himself every night in the Orphan
Home. And after Martin himself ran away, he used to whistle
the song at night in the jungles, after the other tramps were
Martin was on the road for four to five years
before he realized he wasn't getting anyplace. Of course he'd
tried his hand at a lot of things - picking fruit in Oregon,
washing dishes in a Montana hash house - but he just wasn't cut
out for seasonal labor or pearl-diving, either. Then he graduated
to stealing hubcaps in Denver, and for a while he did pretty well
with tires in Oklahoma City, but by the time he'd put in six
months on the chain gang down in Alabama, he knew he had no
future drifting around this way on his own.
So he tried to get on the railroad like his Daddy had,
but they told him times were bad; and between the truckers and
the airlines and those fancy new fintails General Motors was
making, it looked as if the days of the highballers were just
But Martin couldn't keep away from the railroads.
Wherever he traveled, he rode the rods; he'd rather hop a
freight heading north in subzero weather than lift his thumb
to hitch a ride with a Cadillac headed for Florida. Because
Martin was loyal to the memory of his Daddy, and he wanted to
be as much like him as possible, come what may. Of course, he
couldn't get drunk every night, but whenever he did manage to
get hold of a can of Sterno, he'd sit there under a nice warm
culvert and think about the old days.
Often as not, he'd hum the song about "That
Hell-Bound Train." That was the train the drunks and
sinners rode: the gambling men and the grifters, the big-time
spenders, the skirt chasers, and all the jolly crew. It would be
fun to take a trip in such good company, but Martin didn't like
to think of what happened when that train finally pulled into
the Depot Way Down Yonder. He didn't figure on spending
eternity stoking boilers in Hell, without even a company union
to protect him. Still, it would be a lovely ride. If there *was*
such a thing as a Hell-Bound Train. Which, of course, there
At least Martin didn't *think* there was, until
that evening when he found himself walking the tracks
heading south, just outside of Appleton Junction. The night
was cold and dark, the way November nights are in the Fox
River Valley, and he knew he'd have to work his way down to
New Orleans for the winter, or maybe even Texas. Somehow he
didn't much feel like going, even though he'd heard tell that a
lot of those Texans' automobiles had solid gold hubcaps.
No sir, he just wasn't cut out for petty larceny.
It was worse than a sin - it was unprofitable, too. Bad
enough to do the Devil's work, but then to get such miserable
pay on top of it! Maybe he'd better let the Salvation Army
Martin trudged along, humming Daddy's song,
waiting for a rattler to pull out of the junction behind
him. He'd have to catch it - there was nothing else for him to
Too bad there wasn't a chance to make a better
deal for himself somewhere. Might as well be a rich
sinner as a poor sinner. Besides, he had a notion that he could
strike a pretty shrewd bargain. He'd thought about it a lot,
these past few years, particularly when the Sterno was
working. Then his ideas would come on strong, and he could
figure a way to rig the setup. But that was all nonsense, of
course. He might as well join the gospel shouters and turn
into a working stiff like all the rest of the world. No use
dreaming dreams; a song was only a song and there was no
There was only *this* train, rumbling out of the
night, roaring toward him along the track from the south.
Martin peered ahead, but his eyes couldn't
match his ears, and so far all he could recognize was
the sound. It *was* a train, though; he felt the steel
shudder and sing beneath his feet.
And yet, how could it be? The next station
south was Neenah-Menasha, and there was nothing due
out of there for hours.
The clouds were thick overhead, and the field
mists rolled like a cold fog in a November midnight.
Even so, Martin should have been able to see the
headlights as the train rushed on. But there were no lights.
There was only the whistle, screaming out
of the black throat of the night. Martin could recognize
the equipment of just about any locomotive ever built, but
he'd never heard a whistle that sounded like this one. It
wasn't signaling; it was screaming like a lost soul.
He stepped to one side, for the train was
almost on top of him now, and suddenly there it was,
looming along the tracks and grinding to a stop in less
time than he'd ever believed possible. The wheels hadn't
been oiled, because they screamed too, screamed like the
damned. But the train slid to a halt and the screams died
away into a series of low, groaning sounds, and Martin
looked up and saw that this was a passenger train. It was
big and black, without a single light shining in the engine
cab or any of the long string of cars, and Martin couldn't
read any lettering on the sides, but he was pretty sure this
train didn't belong on the Northwestern Road.
He was even more sure when he saw the man
clamber down out of the forward car. There was something
wrong about the way he walked, as though one of his feet
dragged. And there was something even more disturbing
about the lantern he carried, and what he did with it. The
lantern was dark, and when the man alighted, he held it up
to his mouth and blew. Instantly the lantern glowed redly.
You don't have to be a member of the Railway Brotherhood
to know that this is a mighty peculiar way of lighting a
As the figure approached, Martin recognized
the conductor's cap perched on his head, and this made
him feel a little better for a moment - until he noticed that
it was worn a bit too high, as though there might be
something sticking up on the forehead underneath it.
Still, Martin knew his manners, and when the man
smiled at him, he said, "Good evening, Mr. Conductor."
"Good evening, Martin."
"How did you know my name?"
The man shrugged. "How did you know I was the conductor?"
"You *are*, aren't you?"
"To you, yes. Although other people, in other
walks of life, may recognize me in different roles. For
instance, you ought to see what I look like to the folks out in
Hollywood." The man grinned. "I travel a great deal," he
"What brings you here?" Martin asked.
"Why, you ought to know the answer to that, Martin.
I came because you needed me."
"Don't play the innocent. Ordinarily, I seldom
bother with single individuals anymore. The way the
world is going, I can expect to carry a full load of passengers
without soliciting business. Your name has been down on the
list for several years already - I reserved a seat for you as a
matter of course. But then, tonight, I suddenly realized you
were backsliding. Thinking of joining the Salvation Army,
"Well - " Martin hesitated.
"Don't be ashamed. To err is human, as
somebody-or-other once said. _Reader's Digest_,wasn't
it? Never mind. The point is, I felt you needed me. So I
switched over and came your way."
"Why, to offer you a ride, of course. Isn't it
better to travel comfortably by train than to march along
the cold streets behind a Salvation Army band? Hard on the
feet, they tell me, and even harder on the eardrums."
"I'm not sure I'd care to ride your train, sir," Martin
said. "Considering where I'm likely to end up."
"Ah, yes. The old argument." The conductor sighed.
"I suppose you'd prefer some sort of bargain, is that it?"
"Exactly," Martin answered.
"Well, I'm afraid I'm all through with that sort
of thing. As I mentioned before, times have changed.
There's no shortage of prospective passengers anymore.
Why should I offer you any special inducements?"
"You must want me, or else you wouldn't have
bothered to go out of your way to find me."
The conductor sighed again. "There you have a point.
Pride was always my besetting weakness, I admit. And
somehow I'd hate to lose you to the competition, after
thinking of you as my own all these years." He hesitated.
"Yes, I'm prepared to deal with you on your own terms,
if you insist."
"The terms?" Martin asked.
"Standard proposition. Anything you want."
"Ah," said Martin.
"But I warn you in advance, there'll be no tricks.
I'll grant you any wish you can name - but in return,
you must promise to ride the train when the time comes."
"Suppose it never comes?"
"Suppose I've got the kind of a wish that will
keep me off forever?"
"There *is* no such wish."
"Don't be too sure."
"Let me worry about that," the conductor told
him. "No matter what you have in mind, I warn you that
I'll collect in the end. And there'll be none of this last-minute
hocus-pocus, either. No last-hour repentances, no blonde
*Fruleins* or fancy lawyers showing up to get you off. I
offer a clean deal. That is to say, you'll get what you want,
and I'll get what I want."
"I've heard you trick people. They say you're
worse than a used-car salesman."
"Now wait a minute - "
"I apologize," Martin said, hastily. "But it *is*
supposed to be a fact that you can't be trusted."
"I admit it. On the other hand, you seem to think
you have found a way out."
"A surefire proposition."
"Surefire? Very funny!" The man began to
chuckle, then halted. "But we waste valuable time,
Martin. Let's get down to cases. What do you want from me?"
"A single wish."
"Name it and I shall grant it."
"Anything, you said?"
"Anything at all."
"Very well, then." Martin took a deep breath. "I
want to be able to stop Time."
"No. Not yet. And not for everybody. I realize that
would be impossible, of course. But I want to be able to
stop Time for myself. Just once, in the future. Whenever I
get to a point where I know I'm happy and contented, that's
where I'd like to stop. So I can just keep on being happy forever."
"That's quite a proposition," the conductor mused.
"I've got to admit I've never heard anything just like it before -
and believe me, I've listened to some lulus in my day." He
grinned at Martin. "You've really been thinking about this,
"For years," Martin admitted. Then he coughed.
"Well, what do you say?"
"It's not impossible in terms of your own
*subjective* time sense," the conductor murmured.
"Yes, I think it could be arranged."
"But I mean *really* to stop. Not for me just
to *imagine* it."
"I understand. And it can be done."
"Then you'll agree?"
"Why not? I promised you, didn't I? Give me your
hand." Martin hesitated. "Will it hurt very much? I mean, I
don't like the sight of blood, and - "
"Nonsense! You've been listening to a lot of
poppycock. We already have made our bargain, my boy. No
need for a lot of childish rigamarole. I merely intend to put
something into your hand. The ways and means of fulfilling
your wish. After all, there's no telling at just what moment
you may decide to exercise the agreement, and I can't drop
everything and come running. So it's better to regulate
matters for yourself."
"You're going to give me a time stopper?"
"That's the general idea. As soon as I can decide
what would be practical." The conductor hesitated. "Ah,
the very thing! Here, take my watch."
He pulled it out of his vest pocket: a railroad
watch in a silver case. He opened the back and made a
delicate adjustment; Martin tried to see just exactly what
he was doing, but the fingers moved in a blinding blur.
"There we are," the conductor smiled. "It's
all set, now. When you finally decide where you'd like
to call a halt, merely turn the stem in reverse and unwind
the watch until it stops. When it stops, Time stops, for
you. Simple enough?"
"Then, here, take it." And the conductor dropped
the watch into Martin's hand.
The young man closed his fingers tightly around
the case. "That's all there is to it, eh?"
"Absolutely. But remember - you can stop the
watch only once. So you'd better make sure that you're
satisfied with the moment you choose to prolong. I caution
you in all fairness; make very certain of your choice."
"I will." Martin grinned. "And since you've
been so fair about it, I'll be fair, too. There's one thing
you seem to have forgotten. It doesn't really matter *what*
moment I choose. Because once I stop Time for myself,
that means I stay where I am forever. I'll never have to get
any older. And if I don't get any older, I'll never die. And if I
never die, then I'll never have to take a ride on your train."
The conductor turned away. His shoulders
shook convulsively, and he may have been crying. "And
you said *I* was worse than a used-car salesman," he gasped,
in a strangled voice.
Then he wandered off into the fog, and the
train whistle gave an impatient shriek, and all at
once it was moving swiftly down the track, rumbling
out of sight in the darkness. Martin stood there, blinking
down at the silver watch in his hand. If it wasn't that he
could actually see it and feel it there, and if he couldn't
smell that peculiar odor, he might have thought he'd
imagined the whole thing from start to finish - train,
conductor, bargain, and all.
But he had the watch, and he could recognize
the scent left by the train as it departed, even though
there aren't many locomotives around that use sulphur
and brimstone as fuel.
And he had no doubts about his bargain.
Better still, he had no doubts as to the advantages
of the pact he'd made. That's what came of thinking
things through to a logical conclusion. Some fools
would have settled for wealth, or power, or Kim Novak.
Daddy might have sold out for a fifth of whiskey.
Martin knew that he'd made a better deal.
Better? It was foolproof. All he needed to do now was
choose his moment. And when the right time came, it
was his - forever.
He put the watch in his pocket and started
back down the railroad track. He hadn't really had a
destination in mind before, but he did now. He was
going to find a moment of happiness. . . .
Now young Martin wasn't altogether a ninny.
He realized perfectly well that happiness is a relative
thing; there are conditions and degrees of contentment,
and they vary with one's lot in life. As a hobo, he was
often satisfied with a warm handout, a double-length
bench in the park, or a can of Sterno made in 1957 (a
vintage year). Many a time he had reached a state of
momentary bliss through such simple agencies, but he
was aware that there were better things. Martin
determined to seek them out.
Within two days he was in the great
city of Chicago. Quite naturally, he drifted
over to West Madison Street, and there he took
steps to elevate his role in life. He became a city bum,
a panhandler, a moocher. Within a week he had risen to
the point where happiness was a meal in a regular
one-arm luncheon joint, a two-bit flop on a real army
cot in a real flophouse, and a full fifth of muscatel.
There was a night, after enjoying all three
of these luxuries to the full, when Martin was
tempted to unwind his watch at the pinnacle of
intoxication. Then he remembered the faces of the
honest johns he'd braced for a handout today. Sure, they
were squares, but they were prosperous. They wore good
clothes, held good jobs, drove nice cars. And for them,
happiness was even more ecstatic: They ate dinner in fine
hotels, they slept on innerspring mattresses, they drank
Squares or no, they *had* something there.
Martin fingered his watch, put aside the temptation to
hock it for another bottle of muscatel, and went to sleep
determining to get himself a job and improve his
When he awoke he had a hangover, but the
determination was still with him. It stayed long after
the hangover disappeared, and before the month was out
Martin found himself working for a general contractor
over on the South Side, at one of the big rehabilitation
projects. He hated the grind, but the pay was good, and
pretty soon he got himself a one-room apartment out on
Blue Island Avenue. He was accustomed to eating in decent
restaurants now, and he bought himself a comfortable bed,
and every Saturday night he went down to the corner tavern.
It was all very pleasant, but -
The foreman liked his work and promised him
a raise in a month. If he waited around, the raise would
mean that he could even start picking up a girl for a date
now and then. Lots of the other fellows on the job did, and
they seemed pretty happy.
So Martin kept on working, and the raise came
through and the car came through and pretty soon a couple
of girls came along.
The first time it happened, he wanted to unwind
his watch immediately. Until he got to thinking about
what some of the older men always said. There was a
guy named Charlie, for example, who worked alongside
him on the hoist. "When you're young and don't know the
score, maybe you gett a kick out of running around with
those pigs. But after a while, you want something better. A
nice girl of your own. That's the ticket."
Well, he might have something there. At least,
Martin owed it to himself to find out. If he didn't like it
better, he could always go back to what he had.
It was worth a try. Of course, nice girls don't
grow on trees (if they did, a lot more men would become
forest rangers), and almost six months went by before
Martin met Lillian Gillis. By that time he'd had another
promotion and was working inside, in the office. They
made him go to night school to learn how to do simple
bookkeeping, but it meant another fifteen bucks extra a
week, and it was nicer working indoors.
And Lillian *was* a lot of fun. When she told
him she'd marry him, Martin was almost sure that the
time was now. Except that she was sort of - well, she was
a *nice* girl, and she said they'd have to wait until they
were married. Of course, Martin couldn't expect to marry
her until he had a little money saved up, and another raise
would help, too.
That took a year. Martin was patient, because
he knew it was going to be worth it. Every time he had
any doubts, he took out his watch and looked at it. But he
never showed it to Lillian, or anybody else. Most of the
other men wore expensive wristwatches and the old silver
railroad watch looked just a little cheap.
Martin smiled as he gazed at the stem. Just a
few twists and he'd have something none of these other
poor working slobs would ever have. Permanent
satisfaction, with his blushing bride -
Only getting married turned out to be just
the beginning. Sure, it was wonderful, but Lillian told
him how much better things would be if they could move
into a new place and fix it up. Martin wanted decent
furniture, a TV set, a nice car.
So he started taking night courses and got
a promotion to the front office. With the baby coming,
he wanted to stick around and see his son arrive. And
when it came, he realized he'd have to wait until it got
a little older, started to walk and talk and develop a
personality of its own.
About this time the company sent him out
on the road as a troubleshooter on some of those other
jobs, and now *he* was eating at those good hotels,
living high on the hog and the expense account. More than
once he was tempted to unwind his watch. This was the
good life. And he realized it could be even better if he just
didn't have to *work.* Sooner or later, if he could cut in
on one of the company deals, he could make a pile and
retire. Then everything would be ideal.
It happened, but it took time. Martin's son
was going to high school before he really got up there
into the chips. Martin got the feeling that it was now or
never, because he wasn't exactly a kid anymore.
But right about then he met Sherry Westcott, and
she didn't seem to think he was middle-aged at all, in
spite of the way he was losing hair and adding stomach.
She taught him that a toupee could cover the bald spot and
a cummerbund could cover the potbelly. In fact, she taught
him quite a number of things, and he so enjoyed learning
that he actually took out his watch and prepared to unwind
Unfortunately, he chose the very moment that
the private detectives broke down the door of the hotel
room, and then there was a long stretch of time when
Martin was so busy fighting the divorce action that he
couldn't honestly say he was enjoying any given amount.
When he made the final settlement with Lil, he
was broke again, and Sherry didn't seem to think he was
so young, after all. So he squared his shoulders and went
back to work.
He made his pile, eventually, but it took longer
this time, and there wasn't much chance to have fun along
the way. The fancy dames in the fancy cocktail lounges
didn't seem to interest him anymore, and neither did the
liquor. Besides, the Doc had warned him about that.
But there were other pleasures for a rich man to
investigate. Travel, for instance - and not riding the rods
from one hick burg to another, either. Martin went around
the world via plane and luxury liner. For a while it seemed
as though he would find his moment after all. Visiting the
Taj Mahal by moonlight, the moon's radiance was reflected
from the back of the battered old watchcase, and Martin
got ready to unwind it. Nobody else was there to watch him -
And that's why he hesitated. Sure, this was an
enjoyable moment, but he was alone. Lil and the kid were
gone, Sherry was gone, and somehow he'd never had time to
make any friends. Maybe if he found a few congenial people,
he'd have the ultimate happiness. That must be the answer -
it wasn't just money or power or sex or seeing beautiful
things. The real satisfaction lay in friendship.
So on the boat trip home, Martin tried to
strike up a few acquaintances at the ship's bar. But all
these people were so much younger, and Martin had nothing
in common with them. Also, they wanted to dance and drink,
and Martin wasn't in condition to appreciate such pastimes.
Nevertheless, he tried.
Perhaps that's why he had the little accident
the day before they docked in San Francisco. "Little
accident" was the ship's doctor's way of describing it, but
Martin noticed he looked very grave when he told him to
stay in bed, and he'd called an ambulance to meet the liner
at the dock and take the patient right to the hospital.
At the hospital, all the expensive treatment and
expensive smiles and expensive words didn't fool Martin
any. He was an old man with a bad heart, and they thought
he was going to die.
But he could fool them. He still had the
watch. He found it in his coat when he put on his
clothes and sneaked out of the hospital before dawn.
He didn't have to die. He could cheat death with
a single gesture - and he intended to do it as a free man,
out there under a free sky.
That was the real secret of happiness. He
understood it now. Not even friendship meant as
much as freedom. This was the best thing of all - to be
free of friends or family or the furies of the flesh.
Martin walked slowly beside the embankment
under the night sky. Come to think of it, he was just
about back where he'd started, so many years ago. But
the moment was good, good enough to prolong forever.
Once a bum, always a bum.
He smiled as he thought about it, and then
the smile twisted sharply and suddenly, like the pain
twisting sharply and suddenly in his chest. The world
began to spin and he fell down on the side of the
He couldn't see very well, but he was still
conscious, and he knew what had happened. Another
stroke, and a bad one. Maybe this was it. Except that he
wouldn't be a fool any longer. He wouldn't wait to see
what was still around the corner.
Right now was his chance to use his power and
save his life. And he was going to do it. He could still
move, nothing could stop him.
He groped in his pocket and pulled out the old
silver watch, fumbling with the stem. A few twists and
he'd cheat death, he wouldn't have to ride That
Hell-Bound Train. He could go on forever.
Martin had never really considered the word
before. To go on forever - but *how*? Did he *want* to
go on forever, like this: a sick old man, lying helplessly
here in the grass?
No. He couldn't do it. He wouldn't do it. And
suddenly he wanted very much to cry, because he knew
that somewhere along the line he'd outsmarted himself. And
now it was too late. His eyes dimmed, there was this roaring
in his ears. . . .
He recognized the roaring, of course, and he
wasn't at all surprised to see the train come rushing out
of the fog up there on the embankment. He wasn't surprised
when it stopped, either, or when the conductor climbed off
and walked slowly toward him.
The conductor hadn't changed a bit. Even his grin
was still the same.
"Hello, Martin," he said. "All aboard."
"I know," Martin whispered. "But you'll have to
carry me. I can't walk. I'm not even really talking anymore,
"Yes you are," the conductor said. "I can hear
you fine. And you can walk, too." He leaned down and
placed his hand on Martin's chest. There was a moment of
icy numbness, and then, sure enough, Martin could walk after
He got up and followed the conductor along the
slope, moving to the side of the train.
"In here?" he asked.
"No, the next car," the conductor murmured.
"I guess you're entitled to ride Pullman. After all, you're
quite a successful man. You've tasted the joys of wealth and
position and prestige. You've known the pleasures of marriage
and fatherhood. You've sampled the delights of dining and
drinking and debauchery, too, and you traveled high, wide, and
handsome. So let's not have any last-minute recriminations."
"All right," Martin sighed. "I guessed I can't blame
you for my mistakes. On the other hand, you can't take credit
for what happened either. I worked for everything I got. I did
it all on my own. I didn't even need your watch."
"So you didn't," the conductor said, smiling. "But
would you mind giving it back to me now?"
"Need it for the next sucker, eh?" Martin muttered.
Something about the way he said it made
Martin look up. He tried to see the conductor's eyes,
but the brim of his cap cast a shadow. So Martin looked
down at the watch instead, as if seeking an answer there.
"Tell me something," he said, softly. "If I give
you the watch, what will you do with it?"
"Why, throw it into the ditch," the conductor
told him. "That's all I'll do with it." And he held out his hand.
"What if somebody comes along and finds
it? And twists the stem backward, and stops Time?"
"Nobody would do that," the conductor murmured.
"Even if they knew."
"You mean, it was all a trick? This is only an
ordinary cheap watch?"
"I didn't say that," whispered the conductor.
"I only said that no one has ever twisted the stem
backward. They've all been like you, Martin - looking ahead
to find that perfect happiness. Waiting for the moment that
The conductor held out his hand again.
Martin sighed and shook his head. "You cheated
me after all."
"You cheated yourself, Martin. And now you're
going to ride That Hell-Bound Train."
He pushed Martin up the steps and into the
car ahead. As he entered, the train began to move and
the whistle screamed. And Martin stood there in the
swaying Pullman, gazing down the aisle at the other
passengers. He could see them sitting there, and somehow
it didn't seem strange at all.
Here they were: the drunks and the sinners, the
gambling men and the grifters, the big-time spenders,
the skirt chasers, and all the jolly crew. They knew where
they were going, of course, but they didn't seem to be
particularly concerned at the moment. The blinds were
drawn on the windows, yet it was light inside, and they
were all sitting around and singing and passing the bottle
and laughing it up, telling their jokes and bragging their
brags, just the way Daddy used to sing about them in the
"Mighty nice traveling companions," Martin said.
"Why, I've never seen such a pleasant bunch of people. I
mean, they seem to be really enjoying themselves!"
"Sorry," the conductor told him. "I'm afraid things
may not be quite so enjoyable once we pull into that Depot
Way Down Yonder. "
For the third time, he held out his hand. "Now,
before you sit down, if you'll just give me that watch.
I mean, a bargain's a bargain - "
Martin smiled. "A bargain's a bargain," he echoed.
"I agreed to ride your train if I could stop Time when I
found the right moment of happiness. So, if you don't mind,
I think I'll just make certain adjustments."
Very slowly, Martin twisted the silver watch stem.
"No!" gasped the conductor. "No!"
But the watch stem turned.
"Do you realize what you've done?" the conductor
panted. "Now we'll never reach the Depot. We'll just go on
riding, all of us, forever and ever!"
Martin grinned. "I know," he said. "But the fun is in
the trip, not the destination. You taught me that. And I'm
looking forward to a wonderful trip."
The conductor groaned. "All right," he sighed, at
last. "You got the best of me, after all. But when I think
of spending eternity trapped here riding this train - "
"Cheer up!" Martin told him. "It won't be that bad.
Looks like we have plenty to eat and drink. And after all,
these are *your* kind of folks."
"But I'm the conductor! Think of the endless work
this means for me!"
"Don't let it worry you," Martin said. "Look, maybe
I can even help. If you were to find me another one of those
caps, now, and let me keep this watch - "
And that's the way it finally worked out. Wearing
his cap and silver watch, there's no happier person in or
out of this world - now and forever - than Martin. Martin, the
new brakeman on That Hell-Bound Train.
"That Hell-Bound Train," by Robert Bloch. Copyright © 1958 by Mercury Press