The glassware of the bar clinked rhythmically as the train rolled down the tracks, the sound keeping time for the snapdragons swaying in rhythm. The flowers adorned each table, sending spikes of colour in the air throughout the antique train car. Sierra was entranced, there are times in life where you pause and marvel, wondering how you ended up here; this was one. Just her, Jayde, and Alaina alone on a Railed Champagne Tasting, on a train from 1895.
They are all successful influencers and inseparable. When Jayde heard of the champagne tasting, she bought all the tickets for one of the evenings, to ensure they would have a private event. Alone, apart from the staff and Todd, their host.
The carpet was deep green with white lines crisscrossing it, creating the illusion of emeralds scattered across the floor. Dark wood made up the walls, tables, and chairs, along with the support beams and pillars, all accented with white ceilings. Brass light fixtures adorned the wall above each of the 8 tables, matching the brass accents scattered throughout.
Sierra shook from her revere, recognizing their short form of ‘quiet on the set.’ Jayde was questioning Todd about the tasting experience and the train, while Alaina worked the camera. “What will we be sampling today?”
Todd motioned to the bar, “We will be enjoying several champagnes, including Cristal Brut, Blanc de Blanc, and a couple varieties of Dom Perignon.”
Jayde quickly finished the interview and sat down, looking pale, sweat beading on her forehead. Alaina set down the camera,
“Feeling ok, babe?”
Jayde smiled, “Fine, hun. Didn’t sleep much last night. Sierra, how are you? You seem… excited.”
Not wanting to seem too excited, Sierra walked over and grabbed Jayde’s hand, “I’m excited about the tasting – yum! – but more excited about that rock on your finger!”
Alaina’s eyes widened, “A diamond?”
Jayde wiggled her fingers, light sparkling off the large stone. “It is! I got it at this adorable antique shop. Ugghh! I got tired of guys thinking they could talk to me, so I got this for protection and made sure it was a big rock. That way guys know I am out of their league, and if they can match it…all the better.”
A loud bang shook the room, and the car rocked violently sideways as though struck by something outside, sending flutes to shatter to the floor, and cameras clattering off tables. Todd ensured all were ok, then went to fetch more glasses as the trio set about righting their cameras and testing light levels.
The first three bottles were sampled with delight as they shot videos for their followers. Sierra focused on the train’s tours and history, and the champagnes. She was one of the top reviewers, soon to be the top after these reviews!
Jayde focused on the group, the private train, and food and champagne pairings. She developed a large foodie following that trusted her opinions on the best eats. It was her multi-million-dollar success that allowed this private trip and her understanding that they all fed off each other’s successes that gave her the idea.
Alaina, the fashionista, loved Boomerang videos; dresses twirling, models posing, and hands toasting. Holding her camera in her right hand, she toasted Jayde, each with a flute of Blanc de Blanc, Jayde’s diamond prominent in the shot. She hit record as ice slid down her spine, she shivered as she reached to clink the glasses, then fell forward as an unseen hand shoved her roughly from behind. Champagne splashed across Jayde; the glass shattered against the table.
Alaina tried to explain that she was pushed while trying to help Jayde clean her dress. Jayde, about to respond, was interrupted by Sierra screaming while pointing at a table. The snapdragons had turned into demonic faces with long winding noses, each gnashing sharp teeth, reaching for Sierra. Jayde and Alaina grabbed Sierra and pulled her away from the flowers, which seemed to be groaning, turning to face Todd.
Todd sighed, exasperated, he knew that doing the tasting with only three people, influencers at that, was a bad idea, too much alcohol. He needed more charcuterie before it got worse. “Hey! There are no demons in the flowers; the seed pods look like evil faces. Please, be careful, we have broken too many glasses. I’m going to get more food; I’ll clean the glass when I get back.” The door closed a little harder than he intended.
Jayde broke the tension with a forced laugh, “Let’s take group pics!”
They posed in front of the bar, Alaina snapping shots with a remote, before checking the images. “What the hell?”
“What,” Jayde laughed.
“An old woman is in the photos with us…”
A wail filled the car, and Jayde doubled over. Alaina stepped toward her and was flung through the car by an invisible hand, slamming against the wall unconscious. Sierra’s cries were stifled by snapdragon blooms filling her mouth as the plant tied her in place. Jayde stiffened, then was pinned against the wall by her throat. Unseen claws raked at her leaving bloody gashes across her face and arms, her face turning purple as an old woman materialized before her.
Jayde gasped for air as the woman’s grasp tightened, fire danced in her eyes as snapdragons held Jayde’s hand, and the old woman inspected the ring. “Cursed rejection, bound to fate, alone as one, ‘til stone unite.” The diamond began to quiver at the odd words, the band heating and melting from Jayde’s hand, the molten metal leaving a trench around her finger. She passed out from the pain as the stone fell into the old woman’s palm. “The curse is broken!” The air cracked, and the old woman disappeared in a flash. Todd, hearing a commotion, dropped the food and rushed back to the car to find the women unconscious and scorch marks throughout the room. He ran for help; she had escaped.