31 Shots of Shock: #27 – ‘Midnight Express’ by Alfred Noyes

31 Shots of Shock *Title: Midnight Express by Alfred Noyes
Date Read: 27 October 2009
Available Online?: YES
Briefly: In childhood Mortimer is terrified by an image in a book, of a man standing on a deserted railway at night, looking toward the mouth of an open tunnel. So scared is he that he pins two of the pages together so he no longer has to happen across it. All is eventually forgotten about until later, in adult life, when Mortimer finds himself on a deserted platform, looking towards a lonely figure, who in turn is looking away, towards the open mouth of a dark tunnel.
Afterthoughts: For once I’ve chosen a story that quite short in length. But don’t think that its small size trick you into thinking it’s any less powerful. This story is genuinely creepy and it reminds me very much of one of the better episodes of The Twilight Zone. So if you like that, then you’ll love this. Be warned though. This is a bit strange tale; quite surreal in fact. But I think that this is part of its appeal. With the link to the story I’ve given above, you also get the added bonus of seeing the picture that the young Mortimer was so terrified of. Surely it’s worth clicking the link just to see this? 🙂
Notable Quote: There was nothing in the picture – apparently – to account for this haunting dread. Darkness, indeed, was almost its chief characteristic. It showed an empty railway platform – at night – lit by a single dreary lamp: an empty railway platform that suggested a deserted and lonely junction in some remote part of the country. There was only one figure on the platform: the dark figure of a man, standing almost directly under the lamp with his face turned away towards the black mouth of a tunnel which – for some strange reason – plunged the imagination of the child into a pit of horror.

Rating: ★★★★☆

*Story read as part of my 31 Shots of Shock reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).