If You’re On an Overnight Train to Moscow, Don’t Look Out the Windows
I’m a businessman that regularly commutes by train between Warsaw and Moscow. I could fly, but I’ve found that taking an overnight train allows me to do far more work while traveling. If you factor in the cost of a night in a hotel, it costs about the same as a flight.
I hopped aboard a train departing Warsaw in the early afternoon. I always book my sleeping car to be the last car on the train so that I can watch the country fly by as the train moves.
I started working on my laptop, occasionally looking up to stare out the window that spanned the back of the car. The sun began to set as the train wound up into the mountains. Soon the thick forests on either side of the train were covered in a few feet of snow that reflected the red light of the setting sun.
I was starting to get hungry so I closed my laptop and made my way to the dining car. It was empty except for a single mother and her four-or-five-year-old daughter; they were sitting at a table in the middle of the car.
I took a seat at a table and soon a young Russian waitress came by with a menu. I looked over the selection of drinks and the three entrees that were serving. I ordered a scotch and steak, then turned to stare out the window at the trees whizzing by outside. The sun had set, so it was easy to see the reflection of the dining car through the window. The young girl was staring at me through the window’s reflection.
I made a face, raising my eyebrows and sticking out my tongue. She gave me an extremely concerned expression and tugged at her mother. Her mom turned around and shook her head.
“Sorry,” she said. “Lena is always staring at strangers. I’m Amelia.”
“No problem,” I said. “I’m Jakub. I’ve got a niece her age back in Warsaw.”
We continued to chat as the waitress brought back my meal. I’d just started to eat when the girl began shrieking.
Her mom jerked, staring down at her girl. She’d shielded her eyes with her hands and was continuing to scream at the top of her lungs.
“Lena!” she said. “Lena, what is it? What happened?”
It took her a few minutes to calm down, but she refused to pull her hands from her eyes.
“Out…. out the window,” she said between her sobs.
We looked out the window at the trees whizzing by. I almost didn’t see it.
There was a handprint on the frost that had built up on the window. I stood up and wiped at the glass, expecting it to slide off. That’s when I realized that all the frost was on the outside of the car.
Amelia stood up, pulling her daughter away. “I think she should get some rest,” she said.
“Of course, I’m sure she’ll be fine,” I said, still shaken.
I forced down the rest of my meal in silence, ordering another scotch before heading back towards my room at the back of the train. The train had entered quiet hours, so most of the lights in the hallway had been dimmed to their lowest setting to help people sleep.
I was just a car away from my room when I heard the unmistakable sound of footsteps on the roof of the train right above me. Whoever was on the roof had a noticeably strange gait. The sounds moved back down the train.
Towards my room.
I reached the end of the car and paused with my hand on the door. Something about the sound, something about that child’s scream, something about how dark the forest had looked out the window gave me pause. Then I turned the handle and walked into my room.
A humanoid creature with no mouth was hanging outside my window, staring into my room. It was pale white and had long claws coming from each finger. Its eyes were staring directly at me with a hungry expression.
I threw my hands over my face and my knees buckled. When I came back to myself I realized that I was on the floor, screaming and still covering my eyes. Several concerned passengers were crowded around me.
I couldn’t bear to look back out the window. I didn’t sleep that night. I’ve been having a hard time sleeping ever since.
If you’re ever on a midnight train to Moscow, don’t look out the windows.