As they neared the humming engines at the front, the voice said “we’re going left here, into the carriage”. They turned in, and the arm led the blind man to his seat. “you’re next to the door, facing forward” the voice assured “all the best now, have a safe journey”. “Thank you” the blind man replied. He heard the footsteps leaving the train and disovling into the background drone after a few seconds.
He took his little bag off his shoulder and opened it, briefly rummaging before finding his book. Before he opened it, he paused in wonderment as to why no other passengers had boarded. Perhaps they hadn’t been let through yet, and anyway he was at the front of the train. He opened his book at the mark, and his finger sensed out the top of the page, and he smoothly let it scan the brail, almost automatically. As he neared the end of the first paragraph, hisssssssssss, and the doors rattled shut. But no-one had boarded. Or had they? Would the doors reopen? The man amused himself in the thought that perhaps other passengers had entered in silence, in a bizarre conspiracy to freak him out. Suddenly the train pushed forward and started rolling. But, no-one had boarded? Had the voice led him to the right train? There cannot be an empty train going to
Just then, the door between the carriages slammed open at the back. A deep laugh boomed forward and footsteps set out towards him. In an instant he decided the laugh wasn’t sinister. As he relaxed the grip on his book he noticed his palms were damp.
This is based on a true story reported in today's Irish Times. A wrong signal at Heuston sent the Limerick train off before the passengers had boarded. Only a single passenger, a blind man who had been led to his seat, had boarded. The rest of the passengers were left stranded and the train continued to Limerick. Confusion reigned for a while before the blunder was confirmed. Iarnród Éireann refused a full refund to the irate passnegers who had to make alternative arrangements. The company apologised and offered a 50% refund.