Roger and the Train

Roger was excited. It was the first day of his school holiday and he was going to stay with Aunty Florrie who lived at the seaside.

He got up early in the morning and had breakfast. Mummy drove him to the station and he got on the train for Pippin.

“You’d better get your book out of your bag”, suggested Mummy, “Pippin’s a long way and you might get bored.”

Roger waved goodbye to Mummy as the train pulled out of the station. He looked at the other passengers. There was a businessman working on his computer, an old lady reading a newspaper and a teenage boy listening to music with headphones.

Roger started reading his book about William the naughty rabbit, but the clickety-clack of the train soon made him feel sleepy. Try as he might he just couldn’t keep his eyes open.

Roger woke with a start. He was on a different train. The carriage was made of wood and the adverts for mobile phones had gone. Instead there were black and white pictures of the countryside and seaside. But even more strange were the people. They were all dressed in old-fashioned clothes, like Roger had seen in his history book at school.

The train started to slow down and then came to a stop at a station. A porter on the platform was walking along calling out, “All change. Mabey, all change please.”

Roger followed the other people onto the platform. This wasn’t Pippin. The station sign said “Mabey”.

Roger was just about to ask how to get to Pippin when he decided to take a look outside the station. He knew Pippin couldn’t be too far away, and everyone seemed to be happy so he wasn’t scared.

Outside flags and balloons were flying in the street. Then a carnival parade began to pass by. Roger joined the other onlookers in cheering and waving the parade came along. There were bands, and singers and dancers. There were clowns and elephants. There were monkeys and even a dancing bear.

After the parade ended Roger walked to the end of the street. There was a beach. Mabey was seaside too, so Pippin must be near.

Some people were swimming in the sea, others were paddling. Children were making sandcastles while their Mummies and Daddies relaxed or dozed in the sun. They were all enjoying themselves, just like Roger did when he visited Aunty Florrie in Pippin, but like the people on the train there seemed to be something different about these people. Their bathing costumes didn’t look like the ones he and the people in Pippin wore.

Roger also wondered why there were no cars, or lorries, or buses in Mabey. At first he thought the roads might have been closed for the carnival, but it was unusual not see a car anywhere.

Roger noticed an ice cream stall. The ice cream looked delicious so he decided to have one.

“Ice cream, ice cream, get your ice cream”, yelled the ice cream man.

“Vanilla ice cream, please”, said Roger. But the man ignored him. Again he asked, but again the man ignored him.

Next Roger tried to buy some candyfloss, but the candyfloss lady also ignored him.

He was starting to feel a little angry and a little scared. Why were these people so rude? Or was it that they couldn’t see or hear Roger.
It was a warm day and he was feeling thirsty so he decided to have one more try at the drinks stall.

“Coca Cola, please”, said Roger. But just like the ice cream man and the candy floss lady the drink stall man couldn’t see or hear him either.

Roger sat on a wall and put his head in his hands.

He was starting to get really scared. How had he got on the wrong train? How had he got to this strange place with all these old-fashioned people? But most scary of all was how would he get back to Pippin if nobody could see or hear him?

Just then a little boy tapped Roger on the shoulder.

“Hello. What’s wrong?” said the boy.

Roger was pleased that at lease someone could see him. He told the boy about the ice cream, candy floss and drinks stalls.

“Well, I can hear you”, laughed the boy.

He told Roger his name was Arthur and together they went back to the drinks stall.

“What would you like?” asked Arthur.

“Coke”, said Roger.

“What?” said Arthur. “They haven’t got any drink called that”.

Arthur suggested Roger try some lemonade. The man poured two glasses from a big jug. It didn’t look like the fizzy lemonade Mummy bought at the supermarket. Roger tasted it. It was delicious. “This must be made with real lemons”, he said.

“Of course”, laughed Arthur. “How else could you make lemonade?”

“Have you been up Beach Tower?” asked Arthur, pointing at the huge iron tower overlooking the beach.

“No”, said Roger.

“OK, come on let’s go,” said Arthur, racing towards the giant structure.

They went up to the observation platform in the lift and looked down. The people on the beach looked like little dots.

“That was fun”, said Roger when they got back down. “But I really ought to be going. My Aunty’s waiting for me. Do you know how I can get to Pippin?”

“Oh dear”, sighed Arthur. “Just when we were starting to have fun. But if you have to go you can take a bus to Pippin from the stop over the road.

“Thanks”, said Roger. “I hope I can come back here again. Mabey’s strange, but I had fun too.”

Roger waited about five minutes before the bus arrived. He was amazed to see it being pulled by four horses.

He got on the bus and took a seat. Soon the conductor started coming around saying, “Fares please”.

Roger took some change from his pocket, but like the people in Mabey the conductor just ignored him and moved on to the next passenger.

Roger tried to look out of the window to see where the bus was going but the clickety-clack of the wheels on the cobbled roads made him feel sleepy. Try as he might he just couldn’t keep his eyes open.

He woke with a start. He was back on a train, a modern one like the one he’d started out on in the morning. The beautiful pictures of the seaside and countryside had been replaced with adverts for banks and mobile phones. Opposite a family with two children were eating burgers and playing cards.

Soon the train arrived at Pippin.

Roger got off to find Aunty Florrie waiting anxiously on the platform.

“Roger, where have you been?” she asked. “I’ve been so worried. I called your Mummy and the train company. You were supposed to be here at two o’clock, but now it’s six o’clock.”

Roger told Aunty Florrie about his strange dream adventure.

“You couldn’t have been to Mabey”, said Aunty Florrie.

She explained that many years ago Mabey had been a very popular seaside town. Every year thousands of people traveled there for their holidays. Aunty Florrie’s Nanny and Granddad used to go every year. But one winter, a long time ago, there was a big storm and all the buildings were blown down. After that people stopped going to Mabey and started coming to places like Pippin instead. The train stopped calling at Mabey and they built a big factory there.

Aunty Florrie took Roger home. On the way the bought fish and chips for their tea.

After they had eaten Aunty Florrie went upstairs and looked for her Nanny’s old photo album. They looked at the pictures together. Some were taken in Mabey. Roger recognized Beach Tower in the pictures.

Then he and Aunty Florrie had a big surprise. One picture showed Granddad eating an ice cream. But in the background, very clearly, were Roger and Arthur drinking their lemonade.

Next Roger and the shadow