The kettle clicked and Troy busied himself making cups of tea. Marcus sat at the kitchenette table, dozing. Hitesh sat opposite flicking through a dog-eared health and safety manual.
‘I saw a documentary about some cargo trains in China,’ Troy said, putting a cup of tea in front of Hitesh.
‘You still going on about this?’
Hitesh cupped the piping tea and glanced at the electric radiator panel. The orange light was on but Hitesh had yet to feel any heat.
‘Yeah. Of course. I get scared thinking about it. It was huge. I’ve never seen anything like it before.’
‘All kinds of companies run trains up and down the track.’
Troy shook his head and slumped in a plastic chair. Marcus plucked his mug from the table. They drank their teas and went through a brief plan. When they were finished they cleaned their mugs and headed back out into the cold.
Marcus stuck a key in the lock of a large storage container, opened the doors and flicked on the light. A dull bulb eeked yellow and stained the space with shadows. Marcus pulled out a generator and wheeled it outside.
‘It’s fucking freezing,’ Troy said. He rubbed at his arms and jogged on the spot.
‘Let’s get working then.’
They rummaged and pulled out two work-lights from the racking and headed out. The generator stood in the weak glow beyond the doors.
‘Where’s Marcus?’ Troy asked. Hitesh looked over to the toilet cabin. There was no light on. He turned and looked down the sides of the container whilst Troy looked through the kitchenette window. ‘Not in there.’
Hitesh cupped his mouth. ‘Marcus!’
Only the sway of the unseen trees and wind brushing against the small compound answered. Troy walked over.
‘Maybe he’s taking a piss.’
‘Marcus!’ Hitesh called again.
‘Or playing a prank.’
Hitesh doubted it. Marcus wasn’t a joker. He was grumpy to the point of morose and the only time Hitesh had known Marcus to laugh was when his ex-wife asked for a divorce.
‘There,’ Troy said, pointing to the mass of shadows that was the treeline. Marcus’ orange clad form could just be seen slipping between the trees, away and up the steep incline.
‘Marcus! What the hell are you doing?’ Hitesh called.
‘We can see you, you bellend!’ Troy shouted through laughter. Hitesh wasn’t laughing. The orange form didn’t turn. Didn’t react. Just trudged upwards. The darkness swallowed him a few seconds later. Hitesh pulled his torch from his pocket and clicked it on.
‘He’s just pranking us,’ Troy said.
Hitesh’s beam caught something moving. Another. And another. Everywhere he pointed the beam was another one. A man carrying a dog lead and clad in a heavy wax jacket. Another man in pyjama shorts and a T-Shirt. A woman wearing a nightie turned transparent by rain. An old lady with a bend at the top of her spine pushing her almost double stomped the ground as she ascended.
‘Jesus fucking Christ,’ Troy whispered.
All the people were heading toward the top of the ridge.