Okay, here is this section with some large changes based on recommendations from my readers. I really appreciate the information especially on trains and on the Russian rail system at the time. I think the additions improve the work. In any case, they are fun…
They all three entered the train Asmodeus indicated. It was a mixed freight and passenger train. The boxcars were painted a dark red that look black in the darkness. The car the demon led Aksinya and Natalya to was not much different from the freight cars. It was painted a lighter red to indicate it was the lowest class of passenger transportation. The other passenger cars were painted in lighter primary colors. None of them were red. The door near the front opened inward on hinges instead of slid to the side, but like a box car, no windows, only vents near the roofline allowed air or light within the car. A heavy wooden partition split the car down its center. On either side of the partition and on the walls of the car, four railless long wooden seats ran from one end to the other. The demon led them to the back of the car as far away from the doors as possible. It was the darkest and dirtiest part of the passenger car. Though the rest of the car was full, no one sat near them. Aksinya and Natalya huddled together. Asmodeus sat directly across from them. The space was so small his knees almost touched Aksinya’s. She twisted to the side to keep as far away from him as possible. Aksinya gave into temptation while the dim light of the station still came through the high vents. She mouthed some Latin words under her breath, and saw the demon as he displayed himself. He was a man as ancient and careworn as they. Aksinya smiled to see him. The demon grinned at her. She ignored him and continued to tell her phantom rosary. Her prayers obviously disturbed the demon and that pleased her immensely.
Eventually, after a typically long Russian delay, the train started with a bump that pressed Natalya against Aksinya and began to slowly accelerate down the tracks. Aksinya and Natalya spoke together quietly. When Aksinya felt a twinge of desire, she prayed. She dared not think too much about the demon or how she might thwart him. Still, she could not help but think. Asmodeus sat alert across from them.
In the morning, Natalya found breakfast for Aksinya and herself. A man near the front sold to the passengers. Asmodeus provided the rubles. Aksinya and Natalya ate dark bread and sausage and drank weak lukewarm tea. Asmodeus did not eat, but he must have given the impression of eating because Natalya didn’t remark about it. At noon, they had nothing. Supper added cheese to the sausage. No one on the train bothered them. No one spoke to them. Certainly, they didn’t interact with anyone except when they needed to. Aksinya wanted to speak to Natalya about many things, but the demon kept his silent vigil on her, on them.
Finally, bored, Aksinya addressed Asmodeus, “Creature, get us books. The ones from my room.”
“This trip is nothing but tedium. I want to read. We have nothing else to do.”
Asmodeus raised his brow, “I will get your books, but not too many.”
A little later, a stack of ten books lay on the bench and Aksinya and Natalya could read. Their travel went much more quickly after that.
The added information on Russian trains is unusual and accurate. The rail system wasn’t that great, but was under extra stress due to WWI and the Russian Revolution then civil war.
The details with Aksinya and the demon just are a counterpoint to her problem and his delight in her problem. There isn’t much entertainment on the train. Aksinya and Natalya in their disguises as old women can stay hidden. No one bothers them. They look to poor to steal from. Aksinya demands the demon get her some books. He does. I suspect just to placate Aksinya. This was a simple piece with some fun description from history. Tomorrow, we see more of the travel by rail.