I never really knew what to say to her when she was like this: all huffy, red in the face and downright furious. I tried to sink backwards into my seat as the rather dazed Valet stumbled backwards out of the door and Milly turned her devastating blue eyes back to me.

"Who do these people think we are, Michael? Some snotty bigwigs with more cash than brains? We're not that stupid!"

I winced. The sleeper had several handmaidens and valets on call throughout the journey, and although it was not supposed to happen, it was understood that second class passengers could use their services as long as there was a small... offering left out for them in return.

Milly, however, had yet to grasp the idea of social politics. I'd left out a few shillings for the valet so he would tidy the room while we were in the dining car, but Milly had left behind her shawl and walked back in to find the poor man about to pocket the coins. She had screamed at him for a good ten minutes about the sins of thievery and 'purloining', as she had put it, before I'd managed to partially distract her with the notion of returning to dinner, letting the valet escape.

"Milly-" She glared, and I sighed. Offering my arm I said, "To dinner?"

Tucking a loose blond curl back behind her ear, she nodded curtly and allowed me to accompany her back down the corridor to dinning cart. The smell of roast pork loins drifted to meet us. I didn't really like pork loin.

As it turned out, I wasn't keen on the wine nor the heavy gravy that was served with it, either. Perhaps I had caught the flu while we stopped in Warsaw, because tonight the food seemed to turn my stomach. The way Milly tucked in with hearty abandon just made me feel even worse. When she noticed me picking at the food on my plate she stopped spooning gravy into her mouth and, in a way that was so at odds with her eating habits, daintily wiped her mouth with a napkin. "Michael? What's wrong?"

I gave her a half-hearted smile. "I'm just feeling a bit queazy, love. Nothing to worry about."

She just gave an un-lady-like snort and went back to her meal. I swallowed another heavy sigh, set my knife and fork down gently and leant my head against the cool window. From behind me I could hear the shrill voice of the old countess that had been traveling with us since Berlin, the one whose handmaid (a small, nervous thing) never seemed to get anything right, or even be given a chance to. From my left I caught a whiff of cigar smoke and grimaced when a vigorous laugh rumbled around the carriage. George Lovedale was, from what I understood, a texas oil baron on a business trip to Moscow. Although it was quite hard to tell, because his accent was so broad and he spoke so fast, it was all I could do to nod and add an 'indeed' when he paused for breath.

I caught the eye of the man across from the loud American and gave him a sympathetic smile; he rolled his eyes, a grin of his own tugging at the thin lips beneath a grey mustache. Colonel William de Arrine was an old, old friend of my fathers and that we had met on this train was purely chance. He was a military man through and through, apparently straight-laced but with a wicked sense of humor. After he'd gotten over the initial shock of meeting Milly for the first time, he promised me that his lips were sealed on the matter of out whereabouts.

You see, I'd gone and done the romantic (see: stupid) deed of eloping with my one true love. Hah. I told myself it was heroic to defy my father's wishes in favor of fairy-tale romance but after several weeks of cold snow, bitter winds, late trains, sickeningly heavy food and irritating traveling companions- Milly herself included- I was feeling pretty damn miserable. Back home I could have have been sat by a blazing fire, my nose tickled by the smell of worn paper, while a candle burned low and cast the room in a warm glow. But no, here I was breathing other people's smoke, listening to other people's raucous chatter and watching my fiance devour a pork loin in a manner that was something for the aristocracy on the train to behold.

I wanted to go home.

But we were hundreds and hundreds of miles away, in the middle of a frozen wasteland somewhere between Minsk and Moscow. On the other side of the window, beyond the icicles that clung bravely to the overhang of the roof, snow swirled, tumbled and surged in a melee of white flakes. Shapes formed and faded all in a moment. Above the incessant rattling of the train the wind outside was blowing a gale; it seemed to me like the undulating howl of some great invisible beast that loped alongside the train without leaving a track on the unblemished white ground.

Both Milly and my father, of course, would say it was nonsense, a product of my over imaginative mind, but the wind did, in all honesty, seem to be alive and sentient. I swear that outside in the darkness, beyond the island of light and civilization that the train created, something wild and untamed watched as these intruders crossed it's land.

The train must have crossed this particular bit of land a hundred times or more. The snow was really quite beautiful, in a sinister way, I thought, and my eyes began to close against the gentle rocking of the carriage. Cold, though. Very cold... very... dark...

The next thing I knew I was being thrown forwards over the table and people were screaming and the lights were out, glasses smashed and the world was suddenly the wrong way up. There was the most horrible, tortured screeching sound and the unspeakable sense that time had slowed to a standstill. Milly's mouth made a perfect 'o' and her wide eyes met mine as I tumbled into her and we both went crashing into the gangway. I felt blood running down my cheek, but whose it was I couldn't tell. Metal grated on ice and we were still hurtling forward but I couldn't for the life of me understand why the wall was now the ceiling and I could see the tracks out of what used to be the skylight, a meter away from us. Another, larger body hit mine, and then another, and I was tangled up in limbs and seats and couldn't breathe, couldn't see, couldn't think and then, quite suddenly, everything was still once again.

I thought, for a moment, I had died. The silence was so absolute that even the wind seemed to have subsided in reverence to it. Nothing moved. Nothing breathed.

And then the screaming began.

Something inside me seemed broken. I couldn't draw air into my lungs to even whisper, let alone yell. Every limb felt battered and bruised. The weight across my chest shifted slightly, and a tiny bit of air managed to find it's way in. Dimly I could hear a male voice calling out- it sounded vaguely like the Colonel, but I couldn't be sure. My ears didn't seem to work properly.

"Michael? Michael?" Someone was patting my face, rather harder than necessary. I tried to tell them to stop, and even if it sounded more like a pained groan it had the desired effect. The weight was suddenly gone from my torso and I wheezed and coughed. I was lying on the window (miraculously unbroken) opposite the table we had been sat at and which was now, mystifyingly, above me. A hot hand fluttered over my face again, gentler this time. "Michael, say something!" Milly's over-strong perfume assaulted my senses.

I was mildly surprised to hear genuine concern in her sob-raw voice, so I said "Ungh," to reassure her. It was pitch black, but I could hear people picking themselves up, glass and ice crunching underfoot, and the quiet, terrified sobs of women.

"Please could everyone remain where they are for the moment!" Someone shouted, and then a muttered, "Let's get some light in here." A storm lamp spluttered and flared into life, revealing the chaos into which the carriage had been thrown. Frightened people blinked at the Colonel as he held up the lamp. Bodies, probably alive, had been tossed and flung this way and that and lay in jumbled heaps on the floor- wall?

The big American was slumped down beside me. "He fell on you." Milly saw me looking and her hand was once again on my face. "You're bleeding." I raised my had to my cheek and it came away slick, my fingers coated in blood turned orange by the lonely light of the storm lamp. Ew. Blood. Normally I'd squirm and feel quite ill, something which made me unsuitable for a profession in medicine and disappointed my father no end, but now I felt oddly detached.

"Oh. Yes, I am."

"Michael? Milly? Are you alright?" The Colonel was picking his way over seats and tables, coming to kneel at my side. "Here, how many fingers am I holding up, Michael? Out of the way if you please, miss. Go see if Mr. Lovedale is fine." Milly looked affronted but moved to do as she was told.

"What happened?" I rasped, as he propped me up with his own dinner jacket.

"We came off the tracks." A frown creased his forehead.

"That's not supposed to happen?"

"No." The frown deepened. "No, that should not have happened at all. They have measures to stop that sort of thing."

"Ice on the tracks?" I tried to laugh but started coughing, so the Colonel laid a placating hand on my chest.

"Sit tight, Michael. Let me get everyone more organized and we'll take a look at you. I think one of the young men was a doctor. Wagon Lit! Where do you keep your spare lamps?" He strode off and I was left sitting on my own. A few feet away, through the broken skylight (now on the wall) snow was starting to find its way in. Already a light dusting covered the floor around it and the body of the young valet who was slumped beneath it. I stared. A large slither of glass was lodged in this neck, and although his eyes were open, they stared unseeingly at the far wall.

I looked away. My own body was screaming its agonies at me but none louder than my head. I think I dozed again because when I next opened my eyes the carriage was glowing dimly and the Colonel was once more crouched beside me, along with Milly and a young, well-dressed (albeit slightly rumpled) man who I assumed was the doctor. Silently he examined my eyes, the cut on my cheek and a large lump on my head that had developed when I wasn't looking.

"He has a mild concussion." He mumbled at last.