The hooting started at dusk. A dismal, unhappy sound that echoed from the hills and sent shivers down the spine. It was a faintly pleasant sensation. With no telephone calls or knocks at doors, the town gravitated en masse to the station that hadn't been there as anything more than charred beams and blackened piles of bricks even twenty-four hours before. In huddled groups, the citizens waited. The hooting came closer, joined by a gargantuan, rhythmic snorting and a mechanical clanging of metal on metal. Somebody saw the smoke first and pointed, speechless. The huffing plume grew closer and closer, and the people there didn't know whether to run or to wait. They waited because it was less effort.
And then it appeared: a great, monstrous beast of steel and fire. Sparks flew from its smokestack as they once did from the pyres of martyrs and witches, swirling into the darkening sky like fiery gems on deep-blue brocade. The train's whistle blew, the triumphant shriek of a great predator that has found the prey. And the hooting grew louder and clarified into a horrid, disjointed tune played upon the steam calliope in the fifth car, a death dance for skeletons to spin and stagger to.
The train drew into the station and spat steam across the platform, making everybody skitter away. The engine made a noise that, to Barrow's ear, sounded like a contemptuous "Hah!"