The Rail Line

An old story I wrote a while back about a character of mine. I’ll be putting up some micro fiction about him in future.

The train line was the only sign of industry out on the wastes. It ran by the town, over the brown dusty mud and off towards the mountains. Trains would rush by about twice a day, shaking and breaking up the dry ground. The edge of the tracks was lined with yellow, sparse clumps of grass that soaked up whatever dripped off the machine.

The village was not far away, nor was it very large. A young girl had made her way way onto the tracks, her bare feet stood on one of the boards. She could not have been older than five, and was waving at a small huddle of very young children who were watching her in awe. She took a long step onto the next board, then the one after. She poked her tongue out as she focused on keeping on the boards, so absorbed in keeping her balance that she didn’t pick up on the slight shake of the ground that was trying to throw her off.

As the rumbling grew louder the screams of the small gaggle of children caught her attention. She turned and stumbled back, landing on the tracks hard and knocking herself into a daze. The violent tremors in the ground pushed down all her attempts to regain her footing.

The screams of the children were cut short as a narrow figure shot past them, sprinting up the bank towards the tracks. He scrabbled for a moment and pulled himself onto the metal bar, just as the train emitted a loud warning blare.

He stumbled, footing barely there as the ground jolted like an earth quake, and threw his arms out to crawl on all fours towards the little girl.

The train was barely a meter away.

He grabbed her into his arms and kicked off the ground with as much force as he could, extending his arms out so the child was pushed way out of range of the tracks. His feet left the ground as his body was thrown forwards, nearly off the tracks, the train barely a foot away.

Something on the metal body of the machine caught his leg and he was jolted sharply away, the child being wrenched from his grasp. She fell and hit the ground with a thud then rolled a few times, covered in scrapes and bruises. Helpless and limp with pain, all she could do was watch as the great engine rolled past and off into the distance.

The metal bars were streaked red.

When the train had passed and the ground was no longer shaking, she pulled herself up and staggered up the bank towards the tangled red heap on the tracks. A lean arm was still hung over the edge, blood dripping from the tips of the fingers. She slowed down, each step feeling like a step across a huge chasm.

The young man was broken. His hips were twisted and one arm dislodged grotesquely, bent out at an angle it shouldn’t have been. His head was tucked between the boards, hair matted with thick red gunk and black gravel. His legs made her stomach turn.

From the knees down, there was a pulp. Very distinct lines ran through the mess of torn skin and flesh squashed and spread out like butter. White bone, shining in the light, stuck out like splintered wood.

She fell to the ground and screamed and screamed until the other children found her. Found what was left of him. Then the adults showed up and took them away, struggled against her efforts to stay at his side until she was too weak to kick and hit any more. All she could do as she was carried away was watch them try to extract the corpse from the tracks as she screamed his name over and over again.



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