- 03 Jun - 09 Jun, 2023
Grabbing the handrail, Miranda picked up her luggage and climbed onto the train. Pushing her short brown hair back, she entered her compartment. She put her suitcase on the luggage rack and returned to the hallway. Lighting a cigarette, she slid open a window, looking out, enjoying the scenery. Suddenly the door at the end of car slammed opened as a young, terrified girl ran towards her.
Clinging to Miranda, she cried, "Hide me, I can't let them find me."
Miranda looked at her in astonishment and, quickly, shoved her into her compartment. Grabbing her coat, she pushed the girl down in the corner and covered her. Miranda grabbed a magazine and sat down just as someone knocked on her door.
"Come in, please."
Two men, one middle-aged, the other a bit younger, opened the door and surveyed the small room.
"Excuse me, ma'am." Said the older man. "My niece and I were travelling to her father's estate and we, somehow, got separated. She's not well and I'm worried about her. She's 19 years old, has red hair, and is dressed in a blue dress. Have you seen anyone like that?"
Miranda, glancing up, said, "No. Sorry. I just got here."
The man said, "Alright but if you see her, would you let me know? We're in the next car, Compartment B."
"Sure," replied Miranda.
"I'll be glad to."
After the men left, Miranda pulled the coat off the young girl. "What was that all about?"
Sitting up, shaking her red hair, the girl answered, "Thank you for hiding me. My name is Elizabeth, one of those two men is, really, my uncle. He's my father's younger brother and when my father died, he became my guardian. I will inherit all the estate when I turn 21; if I make it, that is. My uncle, his name is Cecil, wants me to marry a friend of his so he can get the money. I refused. Now I think he wants me to die before my birthday, so he'll inherit. Cecil has been keeping me well guarded while he's planned my 'accident'. I slipped away when they weren't looking. I just have to stay hidden until my birthday day after tomorrow."
Miranda looked at Elizabeth, "I'll help you. Rummaging through her huge bag, Miranda brought out a box of brown hair colour and a pair of scissors. "Come into the bathroom."
About 30 minutes later, Elizabeth stepped through the bathroom door, her hair shorter and a rich brown.
"Wow," Miranda said. "That really changes your appearance. Now for your clothes, Wait! I have some things that just might work."
Miranda retrieved her suitcase and opened it. Pulling out baseball cap, sweatshirt
and sweatpants, she handed them to Miranda, "Here. Put these on."
Arriving in London, Miranda took Elizabeth to a friend's flat.
"It belongs to a friend of mine. I planned on staying here, making it a central point while I was sightseeing." Miranda explained, unlocking the door.
Closing the door behind them, Miranda said, "We've made it. Why don't you relax, take a hot bath and I'll order some dinner, you must be starving?”
After eating, they settled in front of the fire, Miranda asked, "Where is this estate of yours? Is it close to London?"
"Yes, it's about twenty-five miles north of here. It's called Watery Meadows because of all the streams running through the property. The house has been in my family for about 300 years. I had a pony, clowns for my birthday parties, beautiful dresses, everything a little girl could possibly want. My parents were strong and loving and cherished me. My mother was killed by a drunk driver last year; my father never recovered. I think he just gave up. He followed Mom about three months ago."
"Do you have any other relatives? Maybe some cousins or aunts, anyone?"
"No, I'm all alone except for Cecil. After my birthday, I intend to travel, hoping to meet someone who will care for Watery Meadows like I do."
"You know," Miranda said. "Now that you've changed your hair colour and length, we kind of look alike. Don't you think so?"
"Yes, I do. You're an American, right? Do you know of any of your family settled in London? Maybe we're related."
"Not that I know of. It's, probably, just a coincidence. Come on, let's go to bed."
They woke to a brilliant English morning.
"We don't have to stay in this flat." Miranda said. "Now that your appearance has changed, no one will recognise you. Let's go exploring. You can show me the sights."
Elizabeth, starting to feel a bit apprehensive about this new friend of hers, said yes.
"Tomorrow is your birthday, right?" Miranda asked.
"Yes." answered Elizabeth. " Well, to be more precise, I'll be 21 in about an hour. Then I'll be free. My uncle can't make me do anything. The first thing I'm going to do is take all my family's assets from him and kick him out."
Miranda said, "Let's celebrate your birthday."
Miranda opened a drink and handed Elizabeth a tall sparkling glass and said,
"To your freedom, Elizabeth. And to mine."
After Elizabeth sipped from her glass, she asked, "What did you mean when you toasted your freedom? Wait a minute. I can't see very well. What's happening?"
"Must be the sleeping pills I put in your drink." Miranda said calmly. "What you don't know is Cecil and I are old friends. He knew you'd try to escape and this train was a logical choice for you. I got on the train and waited. You fell right into our trap. If I dye my hair red and we exchange clothes, everyone will think I'm you. Tomorrow I'll go with Cecil to sign all the papers and I will, officially, become the inheritor of your massive fortune. Later, your body will be discovered alongside of the train tracks where it will be presumed, you, accidentally, fell off. You will have my ID on you and since you look like me, no one will ever guess the truth."
Elizabeth slipped into unconsciousness and Miranda opened the door to Cecil. Together they wrapped her in a blanket and took her into the elevator. They quickly descended and after glancing around outside the building, they bundled her into Cecil's car.
Getting to the train station, they re-entered the train and waited for it to start. When it reached full speed, they pulled a still semi-unconscious Elizabeth out through the door and onto the platform between the cars.
As they prepared to push her off, the conductor, suddenly, opened the door and knocked Miranda off the platform. She dropped to the side of the tracks, hitting her head on a huge rock and, instantly, died.
Looking confused the conductor said, "What's going on here!"
Cecil pulled his gun out of his pocket. The conductor, quickly, reached inside the car and pulled the emergency wire. As the train abruptly stopped, Cecil jumped off and started running down the tracks.
The conductor picked Elizabeth up and brought her back inside the train.
Groggily, she said, "Where am I? What's going on. Where's Miranda?"
The conductor answered, "There's been an accident. Rest now, we've radioed for an ambulance at the next stop."
After being checked out at the local hospital, Elizabeth relayed her story to the police. Eventually, they found him and arrested him for attempted murder. He was sentenced to twenty years without parole.
Elizabeth returned to Watery Meadows, a lot wiser.
She'd be more careful in the future when choosing friends.