A Series Of Unfortunate Horcruxes, Part 1: The Terrible Train Trip

Dear Reader, I regret to inform you that the story which you are about to read is quite miserable indeed, and I would very much like to urge you to read something else. Perhaps the other entries in this fiction contest, such as the one above it, or below it, or maybe you should find yourself a book about a happy little elf. At very least, this might be a good time to remember a chore that you have been putting off for some weeks, such as washing the dishes, or extinguishing the burning drapes. Because it is were utter certainty that I must tell you that the story you are about to read comes to no good end.

It was a dark, dismal and dreary day at King's Cross Station in London, England. King's Cross Station is a train station, not a bus station nor a radio station, nor a Station of the Cross, no matter what the name might lead you to believe, as a Station of the Cross is an image depicting the death of Jesus Christ and King's Cross, despite the similarity in title, is a place from which trains depart.

At King's Cross Station, there are a number of platforms from which you may alight any number of trains, "alight" being a word which herein means "get onto." There is one platform in particular which is a bit out of the way, "out of the way" being a phrase which herein means "you have to run through a seemingly solid wall in order to reach it." This platform is known as Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.

On the day in question, there were a number of people who were running into the wall at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, although for some inexplicable reason, none of the other people milling about King's Cross Station seemed to notice. This is because most people at train stations are also known as "commuters," a word which herein means "people who try to walk and send text messages at the same time."

The people who were alighting the train at Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, however, were not commuters at all. They were wizards.

You may have heard of wizards in some more pleasant books, many of which you could be reading right now. Alas, you are not, but there is still time to stop before this story becomes truly wretched and you find yourself moved to drown yourself in a riptide, not unlike your lost, dead love.

One of these wizards was a young boy by the name of Albus Severus Potter. But his name is not the chief tragedy of this story, as much as it is a most tragic tragedy indeed. He had just alighted the train for the very first time, as the train was the only way to get to his special Wizarding school, which is known as Hogwarts.

Albus Severus, whom we shall call "Al," so as not to languish in the agony of his name any more than absolutely necessary, had an older brother who was also on the train, but somehow between saying goodbye to his parents and being given a very inaccurate lecture by his father, Al had lost track of his brother, and so he wandered into a train compartment that was nearly empty.

"Nearly empty," in this case, is a way of saying that the train compartment was, in fact, occupied. The single occupant was a very tall, skinny man who was dressed in a Hogwarts uniform that looked much too small, in that it was the proper size for an eleven-year-old boy and not for a man who was somewhat older than ten. The man smelled of old cheese and rotten broccoli, which was rather repugnant (a word which herein means "yucky") to young Al as broccoli cheese soup was one of his least favorite things in all the world.

Al was about to leave the train compartment when the man looked up at him with small, beady eyes, pressed his fingers together in a devious manner, and smiled.

"Hello," said the man, his beady eyes flashing. "Are you by any chance an orphan?"

"Er." Al shook his head, staring at the man's prominent eyebrow, a word which is here used in the singular to mean that the man had one large eyebrow on his face, rather than the two usual ones.

"Do you mean Er-as-in-er-yes or Er-as-in-er-no? Speak up, boy! E-nun-ci-ate!" The man said this with a great deal of dramatic flair. Al was familiar with dramatic flair as he was related to several Weasleys.

"ER AS IN NO!" Al enunciated. He realized, in a panic, that this man might be a professor. "I mean, no, Sir, I am not an orphan."

"Well," said the man, in an interested tone. "Would you like to be one?"

"No, sir. I mean, no thank you, sir," Al said, before realizing that he had just thanked the man for suggesting his parents might die and leave him alone in a cupboard under the stairs somewhere, which is how his father had spent his formative years, "formative years" being a phrase which herein means "time before the main plot of a best-selling children's book series takes place."

"Sit down," said the man, and he patted the seat beside him.

Al took the seat in the far corner, not being able to bear the rotten broccoli-cheese smell.

"What's your name?" asked the man.

"Er. Al. Albus Severus. Potter," Al said. "I'm-I'm a first year."

"Ah!" The man's eyes lit up and he clapped his hands together. "So am I!"

"So are you...er, what, sir?" asked Al. He wondered if this man's name was also Albus Severus, and surmised that it might explain why he seemed to be such a miserable individual. For a fleeting moment, Al thought he might be looking into a damning mirror of his own future, and then thought that perhaps he might actually be better off as an orphan, after all, and if the authorities would let him change his name when he was adopted by his new family. But as we all know, the authorities are largely inept and of course answer the call of the imperiled only moments too late, after they have already been flung to their death over the edge of a perilous ravine.

"A first year!" answered the man excitedly. "Oh, we'll have so much fun together, you and I! I have my copy of Hogwarts: A History and my robes and a pet owl and I would so like to be a Gryffindonk, wouldn't you?"

"Gryffindor, you mean?" Al asked nervously. "Er. Aren't you a little old to be a first year?"

"So glad you asked, so glad you asked!" the man exclaimed, waggling his fingers and knocking his knees together. His trouser leg, which was already much too short, rode up even higher, and Al noticed a peculiar tattoo in the shape of an eye on the man's ankle.

"It so happens that I am the victim of a mysterious aging disease," said the man. "It makes me look much older than I actually am, so I look like I am forty-two when I am, in fact, eleven."

Al suspected that this was not the case, but he didn't want to be rude if it were actually the truth. He had been taught not to be rude about other people's disabilities, like his uncle's missing ear or his father's propensity to talk in capslock.

"My name is Count Young Olaf," said the man. "So, young- err, equally-my-age-man, do you happen to know any orphans?"

"Er...my cousin Teddy?" Al replied, trying to think.

"Does he have a large fortune?" asked Count Young Olaf. "Would he like to be adopted?"

"He has a grandmother," Al said. He was greatly discomfited by this conversation, "discomfited" being a word which herein means, "feeling the way one does when a Dementor passes in your general direction."

"Oh, grandmothers aren't an obstacle," Count Young Olaf assured him. "Why, it's much easier for a grandmother to be suddenly incinerated in a completely accidental fire than it is for two parents, you know. Lack of mobility, and all. Not that I would suggest burning down grandmothers as a hobby but I used to be in the wheelchair rental business and of course we couldn't take them back if they were too badly singed."

Al was quite certain that no eleven-year-old wizard was likely to have worked in the wheelchair rental business, and the way this man spoke so casually about homicide (a word which herein means "the killing of grandmothers through the use of well-timed arson") was giving him a lump in his throat. So he very politely got up from his seat and edged his way toward the door, when suddenly, a very sour-looking girl came barreling into the compartment, dragging another little boy with her, her wand pointed at his throat.

On closer inspection, Al saw that it was not a wand at all, but an ice pick that had been wrapped in a type of silver tape which is correctly called "duct tape," though it is commonly and mistakenly referred to as "duck tape" in spite of the fact that every recorded attempt to use said tape on a duck has led to a most tragic end for both the duck and the tape-user.

"Out of my way, Cakesniffer!" snapped the girl, as she threw the boy halfway across the train compartment, so that he fell whimpering to the floor. "Cant you see there's a Prefect-Werewolf-Animagus-Metamorphmagus-Vampire in the room?"

Al did indeed see that the girl was wearing a Prefect badge, plastic vampire fangs, a pair of furry gloves and toy rabbit ears, and had appeared to have colored her hair in with scented magic markers. He stumbled out of the way, reaching to offer the other boy a hand up.

Meanwhile, the Prefect-Werewolf-Animagus-Metamorphmagus-Vampire threw herself at Count Young Olaf. "Hello, Daddykins!" she exclaimed happily.

"Carmelita!" replied Count Young Olaf, as he embraced the girl. "What have we here?"

Carmelita pointed at the blond boy. "Daddy Olaf, this is Scorpius Malfoy. His daddy has peacocks! I want peacocks! Why don't I have peacocks?"

Scorpius shook Al away, his lip quivering as he stood his ground. "Do you know who my parents are?" he demanded. "My parents are rich!"

Count Young Olaf turned on the boy, a sinister glint in his beady eyes as he rubbed his hands together. "Really?" he asked.

The rest of this tragic story is far too painful for your humble author to recount, or likely for anyone who wishes to lead an ordinary and happy life to read. However, should you wish to continue against my direst warnings, you shall find the next pages of the manuscript in an unmarked envelope in the glove compartment of a flying Ford Anglia in Ottery St. Catchpole, Devon, England.