Chapter 4- Train to the Unknown
Far from Bowser's Castle Callista sat looking at the night sky for the first time.
She sat under an ancient oak tree on top of a field next to the Koopa Station. Next to her sat BJ, her only companion.
Callista's eyes twinkled as she looked at the stars.
Heavenly lights. That's how all the books described them. But no words could describe the beauty Callista saw that night under the tree. She gazed in awe at the dots of light which filled the sky. She wanted to hold out her hand and grab a star from the sky and keep its light close to her chest so her heart could be warm.
Tears began to pour from her eyes. Not from pain. Not from fear. But from joy. For the first time Callista cried tears of joy. She wished she could stay there for the rest of her life, under that oak tree, watching the stars, with her only friend beside her.
"We have to get going now."
Callista turned to BJ and smiled. "Just one more minute, please."
"Alright." BJ knew they had to leave. But he couldn't say no to his only true friend.
"ALL ABOARD! ALL ABOARD TRAIN 1517 TO THE MUSHROOM KINGDOM!" The conductor yelled.
"BJ, that's our train!" Callista jumped up from the bench she was sitting on.
The station was bustling with people. From inside a person would have never guessed it was one o'clock in the morning. Callista and BJ had been lucky they found a bench in the midst of the crowds.
BJ jumped off of the bench too. "Come on, then." he pulled her hand and ran up to the train with Callista in tow. The conductor stopped them before they got on.
"Tickets, please." He ordered.
BJ and Callista handed him their tickets. He looked at them then tore off the bottom half. He kept the top and gave the bottom back to them. The conductor then gave BJ a funny look.
"Any good reason you're going to the Mushroom Kingdom, Master Junior?" he asked.
"Just for a vacation, nothing interesting." BJ smiled nervously. He tugged on Callista's hand. BJ began to walk into the train but the conductor stopped him.
"Who's this young lady?" the conductor stared intently at Callista. Callista started to feel uneasy. She opened her mouth to say something but BJ stopped her.
"She's my friend." BJ answered quickly and with that he pulled Callista onto the train.
Inside, the train was full of people. Most of the seats were taken. The line to the dining car in the front went nearly to the back of the train. All sorts of creatures were on the train. Callista knew what the Koopa-Troopas looked like but she didn't recognize the rest.
"Wow," Callista gasped in amazement. "I've never would have guessed a train could hold this many people!"
Callista looked down at BJ. He was staring into the distance with a worried look on his face.
"What's wrong BJ?" Callista bent down so she was face to face with him. "You look upset."
"That conductor…he…" BJ stuttered. His lip began to quiver.
"What about the conductor?" Callista asked, confused.
"Listen Callista!" BJ cried, tears streaking down his face. "There are a lot of bad people in this world. You need to be more careful around people. Not everybody is as trusting as you think. You were lucky to have me there or else that conductor guy…" BJ turned away from her.
Callista gave BJ a warm, knowing smile. She took him into her arms and held him close.
"Don't worry BJ; I can take care of myself. But I know as long as you're right there beside me I'll always be safe." As she cuddled BJ an aged memory resurfaced, from a time when everything was peaceful.
It was about ten minutes after lessons concluded. Callista had pulled out her sketchbook and was ready to start drawing when she noticed Mr. Karlson was still sitting in his chair. But even though he was physically in her room, Callista could tell he was miles away.
"Mr. Karlson? What's wrong?" Callista asked nervously, cautiously approaching him.
"Wha…" Mr. Karlson snapped back into reality. "Oh, sorry. Today's my daughter's birthday."
Callista perked up. "Wish her Happy Birthday for me!" she beamed.
"I…can't…do that." Mr. Karlson sighed, closing his eyes.
Callista felt a pang of anger strike in her stomach. Tears welled up in her eyes.
"You're so mean Mr. Karlson! You won't even tell you daughter I wished her happy birthday!" Callista cried.
Mr. Karlson was taken back by Callista's fury. Then a sad smile appeared on his face. He put his hand on Callista's shoulder.
"I can't do that dear because… my daughter's gone." Mr. Karlson explained.
Callista gave him a confused glance. "What do you mean?"
"Miss Callista, I think it's time to teach you a very important lesson."
"But we just got through all the lessons."
Mr. Karlson laughed a hearty laugh. Then his face grew serious.
"Miss Callista, do you know what death is?"
Callista shook her little head, she had never heard the word until now.
"Death is when someone goes away…" Mr. Karlson sat Callista on his knee.
"But when you go away, you always come back." Callista interrupted.
"No, death is when you don't come back."
"Like when you move somewhere else?"
"No. Death is when a person leaves this world forever."
"Where do people go when they die?"
"No one knows for sure, but some books tell of a wonderful place, where everyone is happy and everything is perfect. But that's a lesson for another time."
"But what does this have to do with your daughter?"
"My daughter died a long time ago, before you were born."
Mr. Karlson gazed at Callista and took off his glasses. "Miss Callista, I'm going to tell you a scary story about what happened to my daughter. When you're older you will understand why I told this to you. It begins like this…"
It had been years since he told her that story and she still could remember every little detail.
"C'mon, Callista, we've got to take our seats." BJ broke away from her embrace and walked down the aisle. Callista followed suit.
There were four empty seats in the first car, all facing each other. BJ quickly claimed the seat by the window. Callista daintily sat into the seat next to his. She stared at the two vacant seats in front of her. It was odd, staring at the unfilled seats. It was almost as if she had opened a treasure chest and found nothing inside.
"Excuse me, are these seats taken?"
Callista looked up to see a young Koopa Troopa staring at her. His shell was a brilliant scarlet. He seemed too old to be a kid but too young to be an adult.
Callista shook her head. He seemed nice enough, no sense in lying to him anyway.
"Whew! Almost thought I had to take the next train." The Koopa Troopa took the seat across from Callista. "I promise I won't get sick on you."
Callista didn't quite get his humor but she giggled in spite of herself.
The Koopa Troopa carefully examined Callista's traveling companion. "Bowser Junior?! Er…Master Bowser…I mean, Master Junior…"
"BJ." He answered too busy looking out the window to notice him.
"I recognize your friend here, but I don't recognize you, miss."
"Callista. I'm not from around these parts. And you are?"
"Charlie, Charlie Bosco. I'm going to the Mushroom Kingdom to get some records for my father. He's a doctor. Um…if you don't mind me asking, how old are you?"
"Sixteen as of yesterday. And how old are you?"
"Sixteen. This is so weird."
"Yesterday was my birthday too."
A/N: Sorry this is sooooo late! I've been busy with school work and then when I finally got a chance at writing some more I got very sick. But here it is, better late then never as I always say. I'm sure some of you think this is an odd way to end the chapter but if you read the prologue carefully it should make sense. I'll definitely try to update this sooner.