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Where the Railroad Ends

by Justin Lagle 11 months ago in Adventure
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A purpose within

It had been two days and Sayeh hadn't thought about the direction she was heading. There was no point in thinking about such things. The depth of her decision to continue walking centered entirely on the winding railroad, that in her mind knew where it was going. She hadn’t known that kind of certainty for a long time. Not since before Eona; an ecliptic anomaly that forever changed the planet. She didn’t know the science of what had happened, only the outcome. The sky changed color on the hour, and the Earth shook violently for days. Eona’s destructive reign lasted for weeks; Sayeh wasn’t sure exactly how long, as time wasn’t a factor in surviving the catastrophic event. When it was over, the world was unrecognizable. Sixteen years had passed since Eona reshaped everything. A long time to be alone.

Rust colored rain spattered at Sayeh’s feet. She clawed at her memory trying to recall when such precipitation was clear and pure, but the memory was no longer there. Remnants of the old world surrounded her, but it’s relevance was in ruin. She liked to think that one day, humanity would recover from the devastation. Although there weren’t many people left to do so. Such thoughts were fleeting, as hunger and thirst painfully wrought through her. The rain was warm, and it’s metallic scent made it feel as if the sky itself was bleeding. She crossed her arms tightly across her chest, and looked around to see if there was a place she could take shelter from the downpour. She saw up ahead an underpass, partially collapsed, but still providing enough cover to take shelter from the rain.

As Sayeh approached the underpass she saw a figure sitting with their back against the wall. “Hello?” she called out to them cautiously, but was met with silence. As she moved closer she found that it was the skeletal remains of someone who had long since passed. Sayeh looked around the area and saw a pile of wood stacked. She immediately began to place the wood in a small circle, along with some paper that she pulled from her bag. She struck a lighter from her pocket and carefully nursed the fire to life. She looked over at the skeleton propped against the wall. “Thank you.” Sayeh’s words were filled with empathy and kindness toward her lifeless host. As Sayeh positioned her bag to sit on, she noticed that there was something clenched in the skeleton's hand. She leaned over and gently pried the fist open. Inside was a bronze locket, heart-shaped, with a strange symbol of a withered tree on the cover. Sayeh opened the locket, to find a broken watch face. The hour hand rested on ten, while the minute hand was frozen on thirty-one. Sayeh sat against the wall next to the stranger who had long been gone. She stared at the locket, wondering what it meant to the person whose bones still sat strongly upon the earth. She turned the locket over and saw that on the back was an engraving which read, “Where the Railroad Ends.” The words meant something to her, but she didn’t know what. It was like a small light in the distance that you’re not sure whether or not it’s really there, but you want to believe that it is. Such a short phrase, the depth of which echoed across time itself. The irony was not lost on her that she herself had been walking along a set of railroad tracks. But it was deeper than that, there was purpose, and a past behind it. The artifact had history, and so did she, something that she thought she had lost with the ruin of the world. It felt as if a torch had been passed to her. There was finally something ahead of her. Something she needed to find, it was hers to find, and she knew that now. A new purpose in a new world. She would continue walking with a strength she had thought was forever lost. Following the instructions she had found on the heart-shaped locket, Sayeh would continue onward with fervor toward where the railroad ends.

Adventure

About the author

Justin Lagle

The first word I ever spoke was "why" my Mom said that I was curious about everything even as a child. I wanted to know why, not how, but why. This is the heart of where my writing comes from.

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