The Impossible Train Ride

I wasn’t quite sure what had happened. Images flashed through my mind and I tried to pull them all together, tried to make sense of them. There was a face: a man, beefy and strong and he would’ve been quite handsome if it weren’t for the awful snarling smirk hanging in his black eyes. And this was all ignoring the sickening lurch in my stomach when his face flashed through my memory. There were other men, just as beefy and all with the same snarls and smirks. There was some sort of dump. I focused on that memory for a moment, trying to figure out what the place was. An old forgotten rail yard, maybe. But that didn’t seem to make any sense. I pushed the image aside and focused on the others. Fire. There had been fire. An explosion. Now that I thought of it, my ears were still ringing. The explosion had been right next to me.... How was it that I was still alive?
  Finally, finally, I opened my eyes. At first I thought I had gone blind: I couldn’t see a thing. But after a moment, my eyes began to adjust. What I saw confused me even further so I closed my eyes again and let my other senses become aware.
  First came my hearing. Past the ringing from the explosion there was a loud rumbling. I knew somehow that I recognized the rumbling but my befuddled mind couldn’t figure it out right now. Every now and again there was a painful screech like metal scraping against metal. All right so my sense of hearing wasn’t helping me at all.
  I focused on smell. There was definitely mildew in the air. And something bitter.... Gasoline, maybe? Something was burning. Or had been recently. Finally I could put two and two together: the burning smell had to have been caused by the explosion.
  I took a chance and opened my mouth to see if I could taste anything in the air. Immediately I closed my mouth. The mildew was so strong that as soon as I breathed in through my mouth I could taste it. Foul was the only word that could possibly describe it.
  It was only then that I started to feel. Or, maybe, it was only then that I allowed myself to feel. Whatever miracle had saved my life from the explosion had not saved me from the pain. My entire body ached more than I ever thought was possible. I could feel bits of my skin that had been burned off: the entire back of my right hand felt like muscle was now exposed to the dank air. That burn seemed to continue up the full length of my arm and even up my neck. Another two and two was put together: a good deal of the burning smell was my own flesh and hair.
  Once I was able to take an inventory of all the pain I was feeling, I tried to feel what was around me. I was wedged somehow in a very tight space. There was an oddly shaped constriction around my middle and I was laying on my stomach on what seemed to be old, damp wood. But if I rolled over to my left side I might be able to pull myself out of whatever I was wedged in to. Slowly, I opened my eyes, let them adjust and looked back to get a good look.
  I was indeed on a damp wood floor that was vibrating along with the rumbling. Two wooden beams made a triangle around my midriff, connecting to the equally damp ceiling that was a mere foot and a half above my head. I looked back ahead of me. Several more of these triangular shapes held up the ceiling. Gritting my teeth, I rolled to my left side and began pulling myself through the beams.
  As I did so, I fought hard against the panic rising in my throat. What was going on? Where was I? How had I gotten here? Why had I been so close to an explosion? Who were those men and why did I feel like I should know the answer to most of these questions? I stopped scooting across the floor for a moment, blinking back tears and swallowing against the panic. I tugged my body against the final pair of beams, the panic only rising again when the attempt went in vain. I tugged and tugged, the wood rubbing against my already raw skin, before finally stopping, closing my eyes and forcing myself to breathe deeply. Then, slowly, carefully, I pulled myself through.
  Relief forced the tears I was fighting to the edge but I pushed them back again, telling myself I wasn’t out of this yet. With some difficultly, I pulled my legs around in front of me, resting them against the wooden wall. I curled up, putting my back against the beams, and gave the wall a great kick. To my amazement, the wall broke cleanly off, falling out into the open. A great rush of wind filled my senses accompanied by more smells and a burst of weak white light. Blinking against the light, I pulled myself back around, realizing that the place I had remembered had indeed been a rail yard and that I was somehow in the belly of a train. I poked my head out the hole I’d made to scout the terrain before jumping out. I was almost out of here, I was almost safe.
  What I saw, however, seemed to make a lead weight replace my heart and the panic seemed to have decided it would like to make a permanent home in my throat.
  The ground itself was not bad of a landing spot. It looked hard, yes, and we were definitely in some sort of desert, but a rolling landing would minimize the damage. This is, if the train weren’t thousands of feet into the air and moving hundreds of miles per hour. I couldn’t tell if the tears that were now streaming freely down my face was because of the panic and fear or because of the incredible speed at which the wind was whipping past.
  I pulled my head back into the belly of the train and leaned against the wall next to the hole, panic threatening to make me burst into just as a fiery explosion as the one that had left me with all these burns.
          What was going on?

No comments:

Post a Comment