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I was doing a browse through TV Tropes, when suddenly a vivid memory of a story I read popped out at me. The male protagonist, for some reason, has habitually memorized train schedules since he was a child. Some part of me wants to say that he does so as a coping mechanism, perhaps to provide a sense of order to the world, or because of a personal trauma related to train, but perhaps just a facet of his personality. This comes in handy later in the story when he (and I think a female companion) are being pursued by some monster or creature, and he uses his memorized knowledge of the train timetables to ensure that he crosses a track at just the right time such that the pursuing monster and hit (and I believe killed) by the train. I believe this was set in the 20th century, and that magic was not a common thing, rather that the male protagonist had been dragged into it after a mundane life.

Unfortunately, that's pretty much all that I can remember about this other than that I think it was part of a larger novel, and that I think it was at least five years ago, probably more than ten.

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  • Memorizing trivial minutia like train schedules sounds very much like Sherlock Holmes. Obviously not your answer, but that was the first thing I thought of.
    – FreeMan
    Nov 3, 2021 at 18:22

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This is Clive Barker's book Weaveworld.

As you remember, it follows a normal human called Cal who becomes involved with a group of magical beings called the Seerkind.

There were a few monsters, but the one that you're thinking of is "The Rake" - as Wikipedia mentions:

A hideous phantasm of a former sorcerer named Domville [...] He is resurrected by Immacolata as a terrifying boneless demon and sent to assassinate the Seerkind which he does, claiming the life of Lillia before being destroyed by a passing train after being lured onto the tracks by Cal and Nimrod.

I don't remember that he memorised the schedules as a coping mechanism, but simply that the train passed very close to the end of the garden of the house where he grew up.

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