The Train chuffed along; Kate thought it chuffed a little faster and more vigorously now that they’d given it more coal. She’d never had a pet, because between them her parents were allergic to every single animal under the sun, but it felt like she imagined feeding a pet would feel. Except that it was a giant metal pet that you rode inside.
Snow drifted down through the trees outside, which was very odd considering that it was supposed to be summer, but not odder than anything else that was going on. The train kept talking to them.
It explained how the throttle worked, and it showed them where the brakes were. Then it told them to look out the window. Something was happening out there. The track they were on split into two tracks. Then it split again, and again, and those tracks split, too, so that in a minute one track had become dozens of tracks curving away on either side, and soon they were in a huge open clearing completely filled with darkly gleaming rails like a giant plate of steel spaghetti.
Kate and Tom carefully reduced the throttle and applied the brakes, and the Silver Arrow chuffed and chuffed slower and slower till it gave out a huge steamy sigh and stopped.
All around them on the tracks were parked dozens and dozens of train cars, maybe hundreds, all different colors and shapes. Some were short and stubby; others were long and lean. Some looked old and dusty and rusty, while others were shiny and new.
It was late, but Kate felt more awake than she ever had in her life…