“It was the story of a man who, in childhood, long ago, had chanced upon a book, in which there was a picture that frightened him.” – Narrator, The Midnight Express
Midnight Express is a dark short story which tells the tale of a twelve year-old boy’s fear of a battered old book, bound in read buckram. The old book names “The Midnight Express” had the strangest fascination for the boy even though he had never quite grasped the story itself, having tried to read the book night after night but keeps falling asleep, and never remembering its details the following day. The fear lay in the illustration on the fiftieth page, an illustration at which he could never bear to look at. “It showed an empty railway platform at night lit by a single dreary lamp. 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. Eventually he forgets about the book, but recalls it suddenly thirty-eight years later when he finds himself one night in a dark railway platform facing a shadowy figure standing beneath the single lamp post.
This is an astounding little story which made every hair on the back of my neck stand up as a very real chill ran down my spine. It has a symmetry that cannot fully be explained, it has to be discovered for oneself. The horror comes from something primal, from a deep rooted nightmare that you one day wake up to find you are living. Very few tales of horror have been able to bring a satisfied smile to my face at being so frightened. I could discuss this story all day with someone, and I am happy to have discovered it!