Klaxon City (part 36) 

Klaxon City (part 36)

The first regathering of its steam by the train within Inner Earth was at Parismony. It would be folly to pretend that this was anything other than a short cessation for reprovisioning or renewed fire-cranking or water/ carbonised-angevin re-stocking. The passengers were intended to stay in the vicinity of the station awaiting announcements from the mini-tannoy system that had been set up merely within the hearing-range of the station itself. Parismony had no ambition to become another Klaxon, it seemed. Parismony’s tannoys could hardly be heard, except for a pitiful cartoonish squeak punctuating the steam-burnished hiss of the mighty iron beast that still billowed visible smoky off-detritus into the crowded atmosphere.

It is also folly to use the word ‘station’ – as it was more like an old-fashioned halt from that idyllic period in English history depicted by ‘The Railway Children’. Greg and Beth, together with their own two children, stretched their legs along the dark-roofed platform – amazed that a cavé was provided, one not dissimilar to the buffet used in the film ‘Brief Encounter’. Steaming samovars of freshly-infused concoctions of Indian leaf, plus various tiers of cream or coconutty cakes. And a large old-fashioned clockwork clock that told surface time, for the benefit of the smooth throughput of surfaceers such as Greg and his family. Amy and Arthur shuddered in their thin-limbed smocks, because the station was merely a dank, troublous tunnel – such as those tunnels punctuating the canals of surface England whereby Narrow Boats plied their own ancient, sluggish, chilly, gloom-filled, chugging paths of broken water – and the shyfryngs were almost second nature. Even Beth felt the gnawing to the very bottom bone. They were all relieved to get into the relative cosiness of the cavé, where they could replenish their stock of good-will and pluck.

Upon their alter-nemos’ first visit to Parismony, they had not been able to explore the city at all. In fact, a passing subterfuge of memory seemed to tell them that they had by-passed this city altogether in the Drill, just as, on this journey, they had by-passed Klaxon. Therefore, there was a temptation to leave the jurisdiction of the squeaky tannoys in the station and just poke their heads out for a moment and view the vistas available, including the famous pyramid on the hill (equivalent in historical interest to Klaxon’s Canterbury Oak or, on the surface, the Colchester Tree) – and, having discussed the chances of managing this without missing the train’s departure (ie. discussing these chances with the buxom white-overalled tea-lady behind the cavé’s counter) – they took off on Poliakoff-type adventures within the purlieus of Parismony and beyond the catchment area of the station premises, let alone just its tannoys. And perhaps those adventures are worthy of a whole book in themselves.

They were surprised, for example, that there were many other passengers on the train – judging by the very short queue of them that had alighted on the train’s first inward outward-journey. Many of these shadowy individuals eschewed a trip round the city, but a number did take the same risk as Greg and his family took. How many managed to get back to the train before it departed remains an exciting conundrum of rushed running and panting moments of dire stress. Each a book in itself.

The city was rather Eastern European in atmosphere, with a mighty cathedral on huge stilts that seemed to be around every corner they turned. No sign of the famous pyramid on the hill and there were rumours that it had toppled a few years before – killing three million citizens in the process. The city was a strange contrast to the close-ordered darkness of most of the erstwhile train journey – with muffled sirens from the front pullman – as well as being an equal contrast to the fleeting vistas of Sunnemo-lit dunes or lobes that took the continuously curving railtrack upon their backs. For something to be a contrast to two quite opposing contrasts simultaneously said a lot for the power of Parismony as a contrast.

By-passing the various books that will one day be available to tell of the adventures of Greg and his family in Parismony, they returned to the station just in time to hear the tannoy’s announcement of their train’s impending resumption of its journey to the Earth’s Core.

(to be continued)

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