The Railway in the Sky

by James Michell

Hannah hated geography. Not only was it boring, but everyone else knew so much more about it than she did. Only three other people were still catching up: Hannah, Arthur and Henry. Really it was only two people, because Henry was bad at everything. The only thing he was good at was picking his nose.

Arthur was just like Hannah. His eyes were the same pale blue as Hannah’s, and his hair was exactly the same shade of tan brown. And they both hated geography. Right now, they were fearing that the next lesson would indeed be geography.

Hannah sighed as boring Mr Glump waddled into the classroom. Immediately, Hannah started to fall asleep, but she snapped herself out of the dream. Eventually, Mr Glump started talking … slowly. Hannah thought his voice was droning on and on, which it was.

“Now, Canberra is the capital of Australia. Everyone say this after me: Canberra is the capital of Australia.”

“Canberra is the capital of Australia,” shouted the class.

“Canned brats is the coo-coo foe of Austria,” said Hannah, because she hadn’t been listening.

“Who said that?!” thundered Mr Glump.

“Hannah!” answered the class.

“Detention with me after class!” said Mr Glump, and then he turned to the class and began speaking about the capital cities of Australia once more. It seemed like hours until he stopped talking, well droning in Hannah’s perspective. At last, he raised his hands and dismissed the class. Hannah watched in sorrow as the class ran off, sneering and jeering at her. Everyone that is, except Arthur.

Apparently, yesterday (when Hannah was not there) Arthur had been quietly trying to remember something he had forgotten about geography when another boy, George, said to his friend James, “Mr Glump should change his name to Mr I Live In A Dump!”

“Who said that?” asked Mr Glump, who had superhuman hearing.

Nobody except George and James had heard it, so when they pointed to Arthur, everyone agreed. Meanwhile, Arthur was glaring at George, who just sniggered and turned away.

“Detention!” Mr Glump shouted.

That was how Hannah and Arthur found themselves waiting alone in the geography room for detention.

“I wish our science teacher taught geography,” Arthur said.

“I agree,” answered Hannah.

“Shhh!” shushed Arthur “Mr Glump’s coming!”

 “Arr, you two,” Mr Glump said. “You will be cleaning the unused room.”

 Arthur’s puzzled look told Hannah that Arthur didn’t know what the unused room was. So she told him about the wardrobes, chests and drawers, the trophy cupboard, and the dirty cutlery. And most importantly, she told him about the silver key. The silver key was small and plain. It had a tiny blue jewel and small carvings all around it.

“I can’t wait to see it!” exclaimed Arthur, impatiently.

“All I want is for school camp to come quicker,” Hannah said, with a sigh.

“Anyway, let’s just clean the room,” Arthur suggested.

“Okay,” Hannah agreed.

They walked down the corridor, around the hall and past the playground to a dirty and dusty abandoned room. The first thing Arthur noticed was the key Hannah had talked about. It was sitting on a small table next to a bunch of flowers.

Hannah was not even paying attention to the door, so when she tried to enter the room she smacked BAM CRASH into it. It was probably because she was paying more attention to the key at the end of the room. After thirty seconds, Hannah had picked herself up and was gazing at the key with Arthur. After two minutes of complete silence, Hannah said that she had just thought of a game. Hannah eagerly explained how one person put the key in their pocket while the other person looked away and then, when the other person was allowed, they could turn around and guess what pocket the key was in!

“That’s enough to cure my boredom,” Arthur said.

 After five hours of non-stop playing and cleaning (mostly playing), Mr Glump walked in and said, “Out!”

Hannah suddenly felt overjoyed. Tomorrow would be school camp!


At 7:30am the next day, Hannah woke up so suddenly that she fell out of bed! Not that it mattered, because today would be exciting. Hannah raced downstairs and packed her bag. She only stopped to toast some bread which, annoyingly, took quite a long time. After Hannah had toasted the bread, she ran to her mum and ordered her to drive to school.

“Honey, its only two in the morning!” said her mum.

“Hmph,” said Hannah. She wanted to go now.

Hannah didn’t think it was fair that she had to sit, waiting, on her bed watching the clock tick every time a minute passed. After five hours of waiting, Hannah’s mum drove her to school.

When Hannah got out of the car, she bade goodbye to her mum. Hannah got on the bus for camp and waved to her mum. Then she went to a seat and sat down. One hour passed, and Hannah felt the bus come to a stop outside some sort of area. Hannah jumped up from the seat she was in and got off the bus.

The area they were camping in was very small. Hannah stared around. It was not what she had expected school camp to look like at all. She tried not to be disappointed.

“Well, at least I can explore,” she thought.

So she went over to a tree and was just about to climb it when she heard someone say, “Where’s Hannah?”

 Hannah raced back and found everyone lining up to go and do an activity with a partner. She heard someone say, “Hannah and Arthur,” and next thing she knew she was searching for interesting creatures with her new friend.

Hannah and Arthur ran into the woods and saw a small log cabin with big palm leaves for a roof. Hannah tried to open the door but couldn’t. It was only when Arthur said, “It’s locked,” that she realised there was a keyhole in the door.

Hannah saw the shape of the keyhole and instantly matched it to the key that was in the unused room. “If only I had that key!” Hannah thought. Then she remembered that they were playing a game while cleaning and she had just put the key in her pocket when Mr Glump told them to get out of the room because the detention was finished. Hannah checked her pockets and immediately found the thing she was looking for. Delighted, Hannah got the key out of her pocket and thrust it into keyhole. She gasped when she saw what was inside.


Hannah led Arthur into the smoke-filled room. They couldn’t believe their eyes. There, right in front of them, was a gleaming scarlet train sitting on a railway made of gold. The railway seemed to be floating. Wait! It was floating! It spiralled up and up as high as the eye could see. The train had a big glass screen at the front and lots of control buttons and levers.

Hannah said, “I think it’s abandoned.”

“Mmmm,” answered Arthur.

They were just about to go when the key Hannah was holding flew out of her hand to the train. Arthur ran over to catch it. He clamped it into his hands and Hannah could see he was struggling to hold onto it, so she went over to help him. But even with two people, the key flew out of their hands and to the back of the train. Hannah and Arthur ran around the train and grabbed the key. They were just about to run back around the train when a soft, stringy sort of net fell on them. The net was flying fast towards the train when the train started moving!

Hannah and Arthur exchanged scared and puzzled looks. They were just about to crash into the wall when the whole wall opened! They both came hurtling into the space where the wall was supposed to be.

Suddenly, a man appeared. He hustled them through a door and into a chair that was facing the wall. The man was creepy. His teeth were stuck out and he had a murderous look on his face.

“Well?” Arthur demanded bravely.

 “Well?” the man repeated, over and over again. Then he grinned and said, “Well, you’re now our personal slaves.”

 “If you want people to work for you, you are better off letting them choose rather than kidnapping them,” Hannah said, shortly.

The man spluttered and eventually spoke into a large microphone that he was holding. “What do I say now?”

 Hannah could faintly hear that another person had spoken, but she couldn’t make out the words.

The man pushed them into a cell with large rat bones and one window. Ten minutes passed and Hannah was sick of examining rat bones, so she slouched over to the window and saw that a lightning bolt had struck the railway and fire was spreading all over it! Hannah told Arthur this, just before she passed out. Arthur quickly grabbed Hannah and punched the floor until he had busted a person-sized hole through it. He grabbed the part of the railway that had not been burned and climbed backwards, holding on to the parts that the train’s wheels went over.

A big roar of thunder made Arthur jump.

Rain came pouring down.

“Whata-whata-what!” cried Hannah. She had finally woken up, and she screamed when she saw that she was on the railway.

Hannah and Arthur crawled along the railway, despite the rain, and found a bunch of wheels, a plate of wood, and some screws. They started building a vehicle that could roll back the way they had come. When they were finished, they jumped on their new invention and rode all the way down the railway to the ground.

They found themselves back in the smoke-filled room. They walked out the door and into the fresh forest, recounting their stories. They walked out of the forest, just in time to find James coming out of the camp with George.

“You finished your activity yet?” asked James. “We finished ages ago. Ha!”

Hannah looked at Arthur. Should they tell James and George about the flying railway?