Chapter 1

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Ezra's own friends he found by being in the same place as they were. From time to time new friends would emerge to replace old ones after they moved on to better things, though not always, some returned less happy than they departed. If their orchestra disbanded, or the instrumentalist wasn't up to the required level of competence they came back to where they started. 'Are you really on a mission to find friends?' asked Ezra, his face lit up with excitement. Ting thought it best to agree, the terminology might not be accurate but in essence it was. 'We have to go back to the signal box.' insisted Flakey. His dislike for the impudent Ezra didn't mean his friends should suffer. 'The signal box is gone.' Ezra started crying. Ting asked Carole if she knew how to make the train go back the way it came Carole put her head out of the window, 'There's a turntable ahead,'I can do it there.' 'Carole's plan is correct but not helpful because there isn't a turntable the other side of Astringham Vale.' Ezra could picture the train line with all its twists and turntables. 'How do you know?' Flakey asked, 'Have you travelled here more times than Carole?' 'No. My friends and I usually travel on fast trains,' 'So how do you know?' Ezra explained he was referring to a map he saw in the station masters office near the Middleseton Fuel Distribution Centre. 'I loved the spider's web of coloured lines, in particular the royal blue of the Astringham Vale rural line' In his mind. Ezra ran his fingers over the curves, the junctions, the turnaround points all the way round the circular track, 'I keep them to in a separate gallery in my photographic memory.' 'Where were you when the rain started?' Ting spoke in a gentle voice. 'Who were you wit... ... middle of paper ... ...locker attached to the coal tender. 'The rain's getting heavier. We all should get underneath the cover.' Carole stayed on duty. Being wet didn't harm the Sounds nor did the toxic material it carried. Music doesn't mix well with rain. When clouds open music always runs for shelter. Leaning out the engineers window Carole see just make out the dim light shining above the Platform 7 sign as it came into view. A thought crossed Carole's mind, it wondered if the direction the engine was travelling in would have any effect of the electronic decisions made in the Track Masters office. But all was well, the train gradually slowed to a halt where the signal box used to stand. Under the tarpaulin the Sounds slept. Exhaustion, combined with mental and physical fatigue caught up with them as soon as the train began its reverse journey to the where Ezra last saw his friends.

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