Friday 19th January 1923 (pre-dawn)

Dearest Diary, it is about 7 o’clock in the morning and I have just snatched a couple of hours of sleep. The Orient Express should be arriving in Lausanne in a few minutes where we will try to find the mysteries Mr Wellington and see what he knows about our prize. It looks very cold out there.

I am feeling a little drained but it was a wonderful night. It was after midnight when the Express pulled out of Paris and it soon became clear that the passengers were eager full an all-night party. I headed to my room and emerged in one of my finest outfits (the silver one) ready to turn heads and break hearts. Most of the other passengers were men, the only other woman of note was the opera singer Catarina Cavollaro who was looking stunning in a dark blue dress.

At some point in the evening a member of staff brought Albert a telegram that had arrived for us at the stations telegraph office. It must have been from faithful old Beddows letting us know that Uncle Julius was receiving much needed attention and wishing us good luck.

The best looking man in the carriage was a French man called Ronald Lakeby. He proved to be excellent and charming company. He claimed (although I now have good reason to believe he was lying) a salesman. He spoke a number of languages. Considering all the stops we would be making along the way that might have proved useful and I toyed with the idea of recruiting him to our cause. I had been flirting with him for a while when a drinks waiter slipped me a note along with a fresh glass of Champaign. I excused myself from Ronald and slipped away to the powder room to check out the note. I recognised the handwriting, it was grumpy old Detective Meads (who, Dear Diary, I should point out had been hanging around the party with a look on his face declaring that he would rather be anywhere else than here) warning me that Ron was a crook. I can’t say that I was surprised but it was pleasing to know that Detective M was keeping an eye on me (perhaps I should reward him).

As I re-joined the party and found Ron waiting with a glass for both of us. How thoughtful. We were soon joined by Darling Antonio and Albert and they brought Catarina with them. I really did not want to like the woman but she had a charming, open and genuine demeanour that was hard not to warm to. When Catarina learnt that we would be spending some time in Milan soon she generously offered to arrange tickets to see her perform at the Teatro ala Scala as well as reserve rooms for us at The Hotel de la Ville.

 I got a little distracted talking to here and was a little surprised to notice that Ron had gone, replaced by Detective M. He can certainly move quietly for such a large man. The five of us moved over to the corner where Father P had been sharing a bottle of brandy with an old man who turned out to be called Mr. Jean Pourvois, who I had caught casting lingering glances my way more than once while I had been chatting with Ron.

It was clear that the booth was far too small for all of us so I did the decent thing and split off with Jean. We chatted for a while. My word he seemed to have more arms then an octopus and it was hard to keep track of where they all were at any given time. Of course he was far too old and ugly for me to seriously consider letting him seduce me.  Luckily I was saved by Catarina re-entering the carriage; she must have slipped back to her room to get changed as she was now wearing a long silver dress with one of the Egyptian symbols in around her neck and dramatic mascara. She was clearly not the only who had been back to their room as Albert had returned with his faithful travelling companion; no not Pongo but his violin.

Accompanied by The Express’s harpsicord player and our own Albert, Catarina proceeded to enthral us with a transporting performance from Aida. It was mesmerising. The next hour flew by in a whirl of music. Before I knew it it was 3 o’clock in the morning. The end of Catarina’s performance seemed a natural conclusion to the party. Not that I objected as I practically dragged Darling Antonio back to my room.

After we made love I drifted off into a blissful sleep and I experienced the most peculiar dream. I dreamt that I was on board a train but rather than being made of metal and wood it was a living creature. My friends were all there but there were other, stranger passengers too. Some seemed to be from the past while others were creatures that seemed straight out a dream, or a nightmare. Amongst this strange company we went on a long journey through strange lands with nonsense names. At times we had to play the diplomat and at other times we had to fight off faceless horrors. There was a cloaked Sorcerer with mesmerising red eyes who was looking for The Lover’s Heart. The dream ended when the train ran out of land to travel on and cast itself into the void. 

I only awoke about an hour ago. As I was getting ready to greet the day I noticed Darling Antonio sketching away in his journal and was not altogether surprised to recognise some of the phantasmagorical creatures that drawing from last night’s dream.  I have checked with Father P, Detective M and Albert and we all have the same dream last night.


Topics: France, Horror on the Orient Express |

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