- It’s twilight.
- You’re on a train.
- There’s light snow falling.
- There’s a hostile feel to the place.
I found myself stumbling along the platform; the rosy glow of twilight belied the day’s events. If the mud and filth that covered my clothing didn’t convince you, then the flecks of blood might. He was so far gone, I couldn’t imagine him surviving; by then I couldn’t believe he was even alive. Yet he coughed spraying my face and jacket with bubbly crimson specks, the wound to his lungs frothing his spittle. A sip of water, a comforting lift of his head and his stare fixed on a distant spot over my shoulder; a pink foamy dribble leaked from his mouth like melted strawberry ice cream.
Stepping across the gap and up into the one car with most of its glass intact, I felt the pressure of eyes unseen shift away from the back of my neck. Being hunted left me exhausted. This whole town felt like an omniscience had selected it from dozens specifically to loom over and sneer at. I even avoided glancing up into the grey clouds, now beginning to drift white wet flakes. I’d flick my eyes upward and then snap them down again, wary of that sense of foreboding.
Yeah? Well curse you and all your plans.
Strewn predictably about the car the trash stank less of rat or coyote feces and more of mold, old steamer trunks opened in musty attics. The blue upholstery had rotted where the sun had burned it. The shady side felt moist. A few of the seats were a blend of both and I settled sighing loudly into one of them. All along the car’s length, above the windows, ads and maps gave the impression that the end of your journey, which might be the next stop, promised tasty food, swank clothing and a happy family waiting to greet you. I closed my eyes and imagined hot creamy coffee, the aroma first, both tropical and temperate, then the silky heat as it coated my mouth and slipped down my throat.
I expected to be alone. I hadn’t seen anyone else, aside from the dead guy. How had he been wounded? I thought. A nearly imperceptible rocking motion drained my dream coffee. Someone else had boarded my train. I remained still, somewhat hidden by the high backed seats. Then the whole car jerked, tugged by a god-child yanking on its string. Screaming squeals erupted from the axles. The train, after having sat for decades, began to move down the track. West. The snow fell heavily now.
What the hell I figured, west was fine by me.