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The Night Train to Boise

“Why are you headed?”

By Sukie HarperPublished about a year ago 30 min read
The Night Train to Boise
Photo by HARALD PLIESSNIG on Unsplash

“I wonder if it’s snowing in Boise,” Jenny murmured quietly to herself as the train passed by a line of snow topped trees. She shifted the bag in her lap. Partly because her leg was asleep, and partly to check and make sure it was still there.

All she had left in the world was in this bag. A few hundred dollars she’d managed to save up; her tooth brush with some mini toothpaste tubes; a brush with a broken handle; and her paperback copy of Little Lost River, with the cover almost worn off. She hugged the bag tightly to her chest and looked around the car.

She was surprised that there weren’t many people on the train today. She’d expected more. Aside from herself, Jenny had only counted four other passengers when she’d passed through to her seat.

At the very front of the car, was an older man in a fancy suit. She thought he looked like he could be in his thirties, but she wasn’t a good judge of age. His hair was slicked back, and as her mom would say, “it looked like someone had slapped his back and stuck a permanent frown to his face.” When she’d first entered the car, he had been angrily whispering into his phone- probably something about stocks and bonds- she wasn’t sure it sounded boring. Almost two hours later, and five rows back, she could still hear the sound of his thumbs furiously tiptapping away against his phone’s screen.

A bit further down was a couple sitting together in a seat. Now, they were two rows up and one over from her. They had been snuggled together in their seat like lovebugs, when she’d first seen them, and she was sure they still were. They wore jeans and matching brown coats, but the woman had added a reddish orangey colored beret and scarf to make herself look more fashionable. Jenny thought they looked like a more happy version of her parents, whispering in each other’s ears and giggling. She flashed them a quick grin and then sat back two more seats, where she wouldn’t be able to see them.

She had ended up in a seat across from the last passenger of the car, a boy who looked not much older than her. Eighteen, maybe nineteen at best. He sat with his back to the window, facing her with his attention turned toward his own book. She couldn’t see the cover, but it looked to be much newer than hers. It seemed to Jenny that the boy looked familiar. She didn’t think she’d seen him at school, but maybe in passing at the grocery store, or the movies. His sandy blonde hair drooped over his forehead, almost touching the tip of his nose. From the corner of her eye, she would sometimes think she had caught him looking at her. But by the time she had turned her head, he would always have his face between the pages of his book.

As Jenny finished her cursory glance around the car, one of the attendants passed through. The woman, probably the same age as the man in the suit, wore a nametag that only had the letter “K” stamped on it. Jenny had asked her what the “K” stood for, and the woman had only smiled and said “because everybody calls me “K.” She asked Jenny if there was anything she could get for her. Jenny shook her head no and the woman went about her way asking the rest of the passengers. Aside from the man in the suit (who loudly requested a “speedy” cocktail), everyone was fine.

Tired from the long day, Jenny moved her bag between her side and the wall of the train. She leaned her head against the frosty window, and let the slick, icy glass coole?her flushed cheek. She let out a big sigh, and tried to calm herself down, but to no avail. She was too nervous, too excited, too scared.

Jenny watched the forest pass as they sped along the frozen tracks, and wondered what everyone else was doing here on this cold winter evening.

Today was shaping up to be a shit day. Between missing lunch, his secretary losing his Boise itinerary, and his ex-wife filing for an increase in alimony: Robert Hall was nearing the end of his rope. He had spent all day on the phone shifting between his lawyer and her trying to get ahold of the situation.

Ungrateful bitch. They had settled on $15,000 a month for her, and 10 a piece for the kids. MORE than she deserved. He hadn’t even wanted the damn kids in the first place. That was HER decision. She’d been fine with the fifteen for two years, but now that he was moving up in the company, ohhh yeah, now she wanted to take even more of his money.

Never mind that her father owned one of the most lucrative mining companies on the planet, and gave her a weekly allowance that made his alimony check look like skidmarked underwear. No, it wasn’t about the money, it was about her wanting to screw him. She wanted $20,000 now, and $15 per kid. He’d sooner staple his hands to his feet and kiss his own ass, and he’d tell the bitch as such.

God, he needed a drink. As luck would have it, the waitress was coming by. It was about time. She asked him if he needed anything, and he grabbed her arm and told her exactly what he needed. A cocktail. And a SPEEDY one at that. What was her name tag supposed to be anyway, “K,” was that a joke? Just like a woman to tell you something without telling you anything.

While she left to go get his drink, Robert responded to a new text from his lawyer. His thumbs pressed against the screen so hard, he could feel it bending. Cheap ass iPhone, he’d already gone through two this year. For cutting edge technology, it seemed intent on being broken. His razr was more dependable then this Chinese hunk of crap. But, no one was using those anymore. And he’d be damned if he hears another snotty comment from Matt the intern about his “old timer” status. The little punk was gunning for his job, he just knew it.

Just as he finished a scathing text to his attorney (detailing all of the things that could be shoved in response to his ex wife’s request), the waitress “K” returned with his drink. She’d brought him a Jack and coke. Was she serious?

“Why would you bring me this?”

He asked with incredulous disdain.

Her brow furrowed, and an uncomfortable smile spread against her cheeks. Robert thought it made her look even more like a dog.

“You asked for a cocktail sir, would you like something else?”

When a man asks for a cocktail, he obviously means something with bourbon. Had she just walked out of Stupidsville?

“Are you daft? You looked at this suit, and you thought I would accept, no tolerate, some half assed whiskey?”

The waitress, “K,” said nothing. She just stared at him with an unblinking smile. Robert rolled his eyes in a huff,

“Just bring me an old fashioned. That’s made with BOURBON in case you didn’t know.”

She nodded, and turned back toward wherever it was she came from. She’d forgotten to grab the drink from him. Her mistake. He’d drink it at least for the buzz, but he’d be damned if he was going to pay for it. Fuckin whiskey and coke.

To add insult to injury, just as he went to take a sip, the train lurched forward- causing the drink to spill all over the jacket and pants of his out season Armani suit.

Vincent held out his arm to catch the attendant as she stumbled forward. He was worried that she might fall into the floor if the train lurched again; but, the train continued as though nothing had happened. The woman stood, and shook her head with a polite smile. As she passed their seat, Vincent noticed that her nametag only had a single letter stamped into the enamel: “K.” He wondered what it was short for. He didn’t feel like asking.

Behind them, the attendant asked the remaining passengers if they were all right. There was an affirmative grunt from the boy behind them, and a soft “yes ma’am,” from the girl across. The jerk in the front yelled something about remaking his cocktail; one could only hope he’d spilled it on his suit.

Kimberly turned to him, her little hat (“it’s a berraaaay, Vinny”) flouncing as she did.

“I wonder what happened, she asked.

Vincent shrugged, “ I don’t know, but it all seems to be fine now.”

Kimberly nodded and laid her head back against his shoulder to sleep. As she did, the felt top of her hat brushed against his chin, and he could smell the coconut from her shampoo as her hair spilled against his chest. She closed her eyes and let out a content little sigh.

This has become their routine when they went to visit her parents. The train ride would make her tired, so she would sleep until the last twenty minutes, where she would then spend the rest of the ride shaking off the groggy feeling of her nap. Vincent had asked her once why she didn’t just go to bed early the night before, since she hated waking up so disoriented. She had responded “because Vinny, the train just makes me sleepy.”

Looking down and her peaceful face, Vincent knew there was nowhere he’d rather be than right here with her. And with an absent mind, he thumbed the velvet ring box he had in his coat pocket.

He had gone out to to pick it up months ago. It was as much as he could afford, which wasn’t saying much, but he knew she’d love it all the same. He has been waiting for just the right moment, and was planning to bring it out after they had dinner with her parents in Boise.

Vincent had managed to keep the proposal a secret. He had hidden the ring in an old pair of boots he had only worn once, to Kimberly’s office Christmas party last year. She had hated them and therefore would never look at them. It was the perfect place to hide it. He’d wanted to tell her parents (ask for their blessing and all of that traditional crap their generation was so fond of), but those people were so terrible at keeping secrets he may as well have just written it across his forehead.

His heart started to race as he thought about the way he’d ask. Would he wait until after dinner, when they were alone? Or would it be better to pop the question during dinner with her family there? Suddenly, it felt all too hot in the train car.

“Vinny, what’s wrong?” Kimberly mumbled from her spot against his arm.

“Nothing, baby. Why do you ask?”

Kimberly adjusted and glanced up at him, “because you’re heart is beating like, a mile a minute.”

Oh god, does she know? A cold shiver passed down Vincent’s spine. He was so close to the finish line now. He couldn’t spoil the surprise just before they arrived. He swallowed his anxiety and grinned down at his soon to be fiancée.

“Yeah, I’m okay. I guess the train lurching just got me more startled than I realized.”

Kimberly nodded like she understood, and was right back to sleep.

Vincent leaned his head back against the headrest and gazed out the window. He could see the snow coming in the distance as they passed through a tunnel of trees. It was a good cover, he thought: the train lurching forward to explain away his quick heartbeat.

But now that he’d mentioned it, they did seem to be moving faster than before.

Kara was so focused on making the jerk in 3C’s “old fashioned,” that it took her a moment to realize the train was going much faster than it should’ve been.

“Oh well,” she muttered. It was probably just Bobby trying to hurry up and get the route done. She didn’t blame him. If she had to deal with the suit much longer, she would probably be going home unemployed today. Throwing a fit over whiskey, and then asking for bourbon.

“Bourbon basically is whiskey, you moron,” she hissed.

Then the train jolting like it did. She’d almost fallen face first into the aisle; thank god she’d managed to grab one of the seats, or she’d’ve been picking carpet out of her pores for weeks.

At least the rest of the passengers were nice. The guy in 8D had even offered to catch her when she almost fell. Nice kid, but he wouldn’t have had a chance with the way his girlfriend was laid up on him. The teenagers hadn’t caused any problems either. The girl was as polite as she could be, and the boy hadn’t said more than “mmph,” the entire ride. It was just the old suit that was making the trip hell.

Kara was angrily muttering to herself about whiskey and muddling packets of sugar, when she realized that she hadn’t seen Michael for awhile. Sometimes, she could swear she was the only person onboard that did their job.

She set down 3C’s drink, and wiped some of the stickiness off of her hands with a nearby rag, then set off to find her lazy coworker. She’d made it up three compartments before she found Michael sitting in a booth. His face was drained of color, white like he’d seen a ghost. His eyes were lost in the wall across from him. He was sitting so dazed, that he didn’t even realize Kara was there.

“Michael? Michael!” She called out as she shook him back to life.

He blinked a few times as his eyes started to lock on her. Even so, he still didn’t seem to be all the way there.

“Oh… hey Kara,” he whispered.

Kara crouched and grabbed his chin, looking up into his eyes.

“Michael, are you high? What’s going on?”

Michael ignored her questions. His eyes still faded, he murmured, “did you feel the train jerk earlier… you should go talk to Bobby…”

With that, Kara scoffed and left him there, slumped in his seat and staring into the floor. He was stoned. Again.

The railway engine was only two rooms ahead. Bobby typically didn’t care to speak to, or even see, the attendants. He was just an older, ornery man, that just liked to sit in his room with a bottle and wait out the trip. Michael had probably gone to ask what had happened to make the train lurch, and Bobby had yelled and shared with him three or four (or five) choice words before sending him on his way. Michael was just sensitive that way.

As Kara came up to the engine room, she found that she wasn’t able to open the door. It wasn’t locked; she could still turn the knob, but the door wouldn’t budge. It felt like something was blocking it’s way. Something heavy. She peaked through the room’s window, and understood what it was that had stolen the color from Michael’s cheeks.

All Kara could see of Bobby through the fogged window of the engine room, was his outstretched arm on the floor.

Kimberly watched from the corner of her eye as Vincent played with the ring box in his pocket. She had found it when she was reorganizing their closet, almost two weeks ago. He had stuffed it down into those god awful boots from the Christmas party. The ones with zippers AND laces. She hated those boots.

She hadn’t opened the it; she wanted to be surprised. But she knew what had to be inside. They had been dating for two whole years, and they were just as in love now as they had been at the start. She’d been waiting for him to pop the question. It looked like he was going to do it soon, what with him bringing it with them to Boise, or maybe he was just worried about someone breaking in to steal it.

They didn’t leave home often, but they always visited her family around Christmas time. Since his parents had passed away, she could tell that Vinny looked forward to those visits more than she even did sometimes. She bet he was waiting for her parents til he asked.

Feeling his eyes shift toward her, she slid her gaze to look out the window. Everything was moving so much faster now than it was earlier, wasn’t it? Probably not. She always got so sleepy on train rides, and she could never really be sure of anything. That’s what she had Vinny for. She could move in slow motion, while he kept up with the world around them.

But still, those trees seemed to be be moving too quickly.

Up in the seats ahead, the man in the Armani suit started to whine. Even with her face pressed against Vinny’s chest, Kimberly could still hear the man complain.

“I mean really, how long does it take to fix a damn drink?”

He asked that like he expected the rest of them to agree.

“I wonder if he knows we hate him too,” Kimberly murmured as she glanced up to see Vinny’s grin.

When the man didn’t get the response he’d wanted from the rest of the passengers, he raised his voice, attempting to endear himself to the group.

“It really shouldn’t take the bitch so long though,” he said turning toward them, “am I right?”

Feeling Vinny tense up under his sweater. Kimberly gingerly squeezed his arm, sending him a reminder to stay calm. He had always had a penchant for getting involved in… less than desirable altercations. And with tonight being as important as it was, she didn’t want to risk spending it in a jailhouse.

He took a deep breath and spoke.

“Hey maybe, you should lay off the drinks a bit buddy.”

The man looked at Vinny with a stunned expression that quickly turned into a glowering scowl.

“What do you mean by that, PAL,” he said.

Kimberly grew uneasy. As she felt the temperatures between her soon to be fiancée and the drunken businessman rise, she tried to intervene.

“Maybe we should all just go back to-“

“Oh shut up, no one was talking to you,” the man spat out at her.

With that, there was nothing she could do. Vinny was up to his feet and raring at the bit. Within a second, the two men were at each other’s throats screaming and hurling obscenities. Vinny’s fists we’re clenched at his side and ready for action. Kimberly followed and begged for him to come sit back down and to ignore the man, but he couldn’t hear her now.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw movement. The teenage boy that had been seated behind them was coming up to try and stop the fight. He got between them, pushing each one back. It only seemed to escalate the situation. His voice struggled to be heard over the two of them. Eventually, he cracked and yelled out:

“You both need to sit down and shut up! We have at least another hour til Boise, and you can handle it then.”

The boys clear voice rang through the compartment. It seemed to knock the sense into Vinny that Kimberly could not. There was only an hour left until they got to Boise. This was their night, it was her night. She would never get another one.

Kimberly gazed at him forlornly as he looked back at their abandoned seats. His mouth tightened into the grimace she knew as his “I’m sorry, I was wrong,” face. He took her hand and they went back to their seats, ignoring the man in the out of date Armani suit as he tried to goad Vinny back into the fight. Once he realized that Vinny wouldn’t be tempted, he turned his attention to the young boy.

“Who the fuck asked you to get involved, you pansy?”

The boy rolled his eyes and pushed past him, “I’m just trying to read my book man.”

The man grumbled something more about his drink, then an idea struck him.

“I’m gonna go find the waitress and see what’s taking so long about my damn drink.”

The boy, keen to the man’s ways by now, turned back and raised his hand to the man’s chest.

“No dude, let me go check.”

The man in the Armani suit paused, then nodded, and went to return to his seat. It was just now that Kimberly realized that there were dark stains pooling on his jacket and pants.

The boy was passing their seat when Vinny reached out his hand to stop him.

“Hey man, thank you. Im sorry about all of that.”

The boy shook his head and held up his hands.

“No worries, man.”

As the boy walked out the back of the car, Kimberly hoped that he would ask the attendant why the train was going so quickly, and why it had started to shake.

All Michael could see when he closed his eyes, was Bobby’s blue mottled arm.

He had gone to the back to ask about the train’s lurching, and when he couldn’t get the door open he looked through the window and saw… it… just laying there.

Michael had went into shock almost immediately. He couldn’t bring himself to scream, his brain just shut down as his gut started to flip and turn. It hadn’t even registered in his mind that he had gotten to he third cart until Kara found him. She’d managed to shake him out of his stupor just enough for the panic to set in. What we’re they going to do now?

Even sitting there in the booth, he could feel the train begin to jerk and shake as they continued to speed up. They couldn’t get into the engine room, and even if they could, they wouldn’t know what to do. They were screwed.

Why did this have to happen tonight if all night’s? It wasn’t even his night to work; it was Sarah’s. He had volunteered to cover her shift in the hopes she would see he was a nice guy, only to find out after the fact that she was calling in for a date. To say he had gone from a bad situation, to a markedly worse one was an understatement.

Michael wasn’t sure how long Kara had been gone, but when she came back, her face was as cold and her eyes as lost as his. She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out.

Michael just whispered, “yeah…”

She came and sat beside him in the booth. Her arms hung limp between her legs, like all of the strength had been sucked out of them. Like Bobby’s. Michael shuddered and shook the image out of his mind. With great difficulty, he swallowed the foul chunky acid that had started to rise in his throat.

A few more seconds passed, before Kara was able to regain her composure and start a plan. Kara always had a plan.

She turned to Michael, he could see her trying to squeeze the life back into her hands.

“Okay, we’ve got to get into the engine room.”

Easier said than done, Michael thought. There’s a two hundred fifty pound dead man blocking the door.

“How are we supposed to do that, Kara?”

Kara shook her head, her eyes glued to the carpet of the aisle.

“We’re just going to have to push it open. We’ll have to get some of the passengers to help, and we’re just going to have to, we’ll have to bust it open.”

Michael snorted, “the passengers? Do you mean the two teenagers, the newlywed couple, and the old asshat in the suit?”

“Well It’s not like we’ve got a fucking option, Michael,” Kara snapped, “the engineer’s dead body is blocking the door, we’re still speeding up- at this point we are LITERALLY a train wreck waiting to happen.”

“Hey, don’t yell at me okay? It’s not my fault-”

They began to argue so vehemently, that they’d failed to notice they were no longer alone. Michael watched Kara’s eyes grew wide, and his face sank as he turned to see the passenger that had come in.

“The train’s going to wreck?”

Collins heart dropped to his feet and his stomach leapt into his throat as he heard the attendant’s argue.

“A train wreck waiting to happen,” she’d said.

The attendants looked like they’d just been caught by the cops with a lit joint. Their eyes were all bugged and wide, and their jaws kept tensing as they tried to think of some way to explain what he’d just heard. Did they even know how much he’d heard?

“What’s going on? Why is the train going to wreck?” He asked as he came toward them, unaware that his voice was raising.


The attendants stood, arms outstretched and pleading for him to lower his voice.

It was a gesture that he was all too familiar with. The “please calm down and stop yelling.” It was the reason he was leaving his life behind. To go to Boise, of all places, Boise.

“What is happening with the train?” he whispered through clenched teeth.

They looked at each other again, considering what to say.

Collin threw his hands in the air, “I swear to you both I will start screaming, and then you’ll have four other people to explain it to.”

The male attendant looked terrified. He turned to the woman who had come through earlier, checking for what move they should make. The woman, who’s name-tag only said “K” for some reason, was clearly in charge.

She cleared her throat, and spoke very carefully.

“It looks like the engineer has… died, and he’s blocking the only door to the room. If we can’t get in there…then the train is sooner or later- yes the train is going to crash.”

Just then, the train began to shake. The floor quaked beneath them, threatening to compromise their footing and send them all sprawling onto the floor.

“Well what are we going to do?! We need to tell everyone!” Collin cried.

The woman, “K,” nodded- which seemed to upset her partner, who was not wearing a name-tag. Still, the guy followed along as they rushed back into the passenger car.

By the time they reached the car, it seemed that everyone had become aware that something was wrong with the train.

The girl with the beret was the first to speak.

“What’s going on? Why is the train moving so fast?”

Collin said nothing, instead he turned to “K” and waited for her to speak.

Behind her, the man that had been with her in the booth was pacing back and forth, doing a terrible job of trying to appear calm.

“Alright everyone, I need you all to stay calm and LISTEN to what I’m saying,” she started, “I think that when the train first jerked forward earlier, it may have hit a piece of frozen track, which probably caused the train to slip and more than likely is why we’re speeding-”

The loudmouth in the suit interrupted her,

“Okay, so why doesn’t the guy up front do something about it then?”

The other attendant snorted, and started muttering something under his breath. It was probably for the best that no one could hear him.

K’s jaws tightened again as she searched for a way to tell everyone what she had just told Collin.

“The engineer seems to have… passed away.”

There was a collective gasp from the group, and another snort from the man behind her.

“Yeah, that’s not the worst part, tell them the worst part, Kara.”

She shot him a dirty look, “Shut up, Michael!”

So, those were their names. Kara and Michael.

The girl with mousy brown hair that had sat across from him finally spoke up,

“what’s the worst part?”

Her voice was soft, and scared.

Kara looked up, then back at the passengers and sighed, “his body is blocking the door, and we can’t get in.”

“Oh my god!”

There was a chorus of exclamations, gasps, and general sounds of disgust from the group, before the loudmouth had his own bright idea.

“Why don’t we just pull the emergency break line?” He said, crossing to the wall to yank it down.

Kara threw up her hands to stop him, “NO DON’T!”

He froze and stared back at her with wide eyed confusion.

“We’re going too fast for the emergency break, if you pull that we’re going to derail. You’ll kill us all.”

The man jerked his hand away from the line like it was burning hot.

“Well… what are we supposed to do then?”

As if on cue, the train began to tremble, only this time it didn’t stop.

Jenny was terrified. She had essentially leapt out of the frying pan and into the fire. She was never supposed to have been on this train in the first place. She was just a kid. As everyone around her started to talk and formulate a plan, her ears tuned them out until they sounded like TV static. All she could focus on was the way the room seemed to be almost vibrating around them.

Suddenly, the attendant, Kara, turned to her.

“Do you understand? You need to stay here in the center car where it’s safe, okay?”

Jenny’s mouth was too dry to say anything. She nodded yes.

Kara nodded back, and then turned to the men.

“Okay, you three- come with me and Michael to the front.”

With that, they left. Jenny was alone with the fashionable woman with her orange beret, holding her boyfriend’s coat. Tears streaming down her cheeks, all Jenny could think was “I wish I would’ve stayed at home with my mom and dad.”

“What a terrible night to propose,” these were the words that just kept playing on loop in Vincent’s mind, until he began to realize that he may never get the chance to try.

“Okay, you there- come with me and Michael to the front.”

Everything began to move so quickly. If he didn’t come back… he wanted her to know. In one fluid motion he slid off the coat, the ring box still in its left pocket, and handed it to Kimberly.

“I love you, so much” he said, kissing her forehead goodbye. As he turned away to follow the attendants to the front, he knew he may never see her again.

Kimberly took Vinny’s coat from him, and gripped it with white knuckles. It seemed so foreign to her now. This thing in her hands. They had gotten matching coats for the winter. It had been her idea. And now, it seemed unknown to her.

She felt the sinking feeling in her stomach that tonight would never happen. She would never get the chance to call herself the future Mrs. Matterway. The ring box in his pocket would always serve as a reminder for a forehead kiss from the man who loved her, and who sacrificed himself to save her.

The walk to the engine room seemed to be much shorter than Robert thought it should’ve been. On their way, he saw the abandoned old fashioned that the waitress had been making him. She hadn’t even gotten past the bitters. God, this wasn’t how he was supposed to go. What would happen if he died? Would Beverly get the rest of his money, would it go to his kids? He slid his jacket off, and took his phone out of the pocket as they walked. Robert typed one last message to his attorney: the ever faithful Wilbur, before tossing it into an abandoned booth.

“It all goes to Jimmy and Barbara.”

How did she get put in charge of this disaster? She’d only wanted a part time job that would get her through school and now, ten years later, it may be the death of her. She wanted to turn back. It wasn’t fair, she should get to stay with the other women in the center car where it was safe, or at least safer. But looking at Michael, she knew that if there were any chance at all of them getting out alive, it would have to be her.

“Okay, here it is. His body is right behind it so, you’re going to have to push hard.”

They looked at her, eyes full of doubt and fear.

She understood.

“No matter what happens, no matter what you hear or feel or see, you have to keep pushing until the door is open.”

All too soon, Michael understood what Kara had meant. As the men shoved themselves against the door, they could hear the crunching, ripping noises of the late Bob’s flesh and bone.

“What was his name?” The man in the suit asked as they got ready to heave again.

“Bobby,” Michael whispered, out of breath.

“Oh, Jesus Christ,” the suit grumbled.

With each push, they managed to work the door open more and more. They ignored the way the floor grew slick under their shoes, and the smells that came out from the room. Hot and rancid.

Soon there was just enough room for a person to fit through. A small person.

“I don’t understand, why does it have to be me? Why can’t we keep pushing and one of you guys can get in? I don’t even know anything about trains!” Collin shouted, having long arrested any attempts at keeping a calm tone.

Kara put her hands on his shoulders.

“Because we don’t have time, we’re picking up too much speed and if we don’t slow down NOW we are going to crash.”

She was right.

He knew she was right, but god, he didn’t want her to be.

He worked his way between the door and the jamb, careful to not look too closely at what was covering the floor.

He heard Kara behind him:

“I’m staying here, the rest of you, get back to the center car as fast as you can.”

They tried to argue, but she was firm.

“Okay, I’m in,” he called out, “what am I looking for?”

Kara’s face peeked at him through the window.

“Okay Collin, do you see all of those things on the left side of the dash? Those are the emergency valves- you need to open those, and then move all of the levers and handles you see forward!”

Collin quickly opened every valve he could see, and pushed anything that even resembled a handle toward the windshield.

The train made a hissing sound, and started to shudder. He couldn’t tell, was it slowing down?

“What do I do now,” he shouted as he stared into the glowing red dash. He heard nothing, turning around, the crescent of her face had disappeared.


From behind him the door began to move again, Kara was had begun to shove it open as much as she could to make for more room.

His eyes betrayed him with a downward glance, and he could see now why the Engineer had gotten stuck. His body had fallen between two rails and the door, effectively pinning it against them. Now, his corpse was mangled, bending at odd ends, torn away from itself.

Kara stuck her arm through the opening and motioned for him to follow, “Come on Collin, we’ve gotta get back to the center, we’ve done all we can do.”

Collin wormed his way back through the gap in the wall, and looked up to her as they ran through the carts. The train was still shaking, was it supposed to be?

“What happens now?” He asked, the first of tears starting to reach his voice.

She didn’t know.

Young Adult

About the Creator

Sukie Harper

I like to put pieces of myself into my writing. Sometimes it's a finger, sometimes a toe, but it's always something that gets stuck to the roof of your mouth and leaves a lingering feel in your gut.

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