Comments for The Night Train
The Night Train: 12/18/11
"The Night Train" by Kate Wilhelm is one of the last stories in the Jan/Feb issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Like her other stories it deals metaphorically with death, loss and broken families.
The last remaining child, the youngest but adult, is visiting his parents. He wants to offer his mother a way to escape from her abusive husband. He wants to do it without running away like his brother and sister have both done.
That chance seems to be in the form of the night train. Here I am reminded of Robert Bloch's "That Hell-Bound Train" reprinted in the March 2009 issue. There the train is a moving extension of Hell itself.
I take, therefore, the mother's note at the end of taking her husband to the late night train as a metaphorical murder / suicide. Whatever the actual ending, I doubt the son will be seeing his parents again.