H. M. L. Swann
Day 20: Train
300 Days of Writing
Day 20 Train:
He still hears the train.
In his sleep, he is screaming at it. Sounds that were once words have transformed into guttural noises: instinct, spittle, and hope flying from his tongue as he pulls the horn.
A blaring honk fills up the sleepy North Dakota scenery. The plains stretch in either direction. Plenty of space to run, but nowhere to hide.
The man is standing, waving, on the tracks. There's a smile on his face. A smile that says thank you. A smile that says take me. A smile that says I’ll never leave your mind, so long as you let me die.
He still sees the man.
Sees his brown hair. His hazel eyes. The stubble across his cheeks. His tall frame and malnourished limbs. He’s dressed in plaid. He looks like a lumberjack, or an all-American diner boy grown up, outdated beyond the time of rollerskates and cash payments.
Now he’s gone.
He can still smell it.
Smell the burnt aroma of blood and oil and metal. The tracks steaming with gore and sand wet with blood, a tacky mud caking on the wheels.
But what can he do? He thinks to himself as a train rattles the window above where he sleeps. This is his job, to be a conductor, not an orchestra conductor, but a proper, engine conductor.
And that man, that ill man. Slaughtered at his hands, at his speed, without consent, has ruined the conductor.