Tell A Tale in 500 Words

The Train by AJK By Angela Kecojevic

The Train by AJK



09:56

Four more minutes. The hands on my watch move slowly. Or maybe I’m imagining it. Maybe my vision’s screwed. Maybe that’s what starvation does. Starvation screws up every part of your body. That’s what Reed said. And Reed was all we believed in. Until the train came.

There’s another clock on the wall. Five minutes fast.

Check again.

Cracked glass; bent hands.

Not working.

I take a deep breath. If I miss the train, I’m dead. Or as good as. Once Reed knows I’m gone, he’ll come searching. No one escapes the Bunkers. No yellow-coated mustard fields. No smell of fresh baked bread. No giggling. Dancing. Singing. None of that belongs here. Not anymore. Here we have no voice, no rights.

09:57

Three more minutes.

Breathe, Flinty.

No one knows where the train goes. Or what’s at the end. No one’s ever come back to tell us. I scan the ticket. White card, scrappy edges, clear black type that says Flinty Wells. That’s me. My name. Someone out there knows who I am. This is my golden-hallelujah-ticket-out-of-Hellville. Every month a ticket arrives for one saddo survivors. Cause we drew the short straw. We survived the end of the world.

Pain clenches my gut. The air is unbreathable. Thick pea soup. That’s what we call it. Green and nasty and constant.

09:58

I try to get up. My muscles are tight. I’m slow. But I don’t take my eyes off the track.

09:59

Jeez, I’m so close. So close to going somewhere else, somewhere safe. I bite hard on my lip. Enough to draw blood. If that kinda place exists anymore.

10:00

Lights cut into the fog. I scramble to my feet. ‘The train….’ I check my name again, just to be sure. 'The train's coming....'

‘Flinty!’

Reed -- his voice an ugly roar above the rip of the train. He’s found me. I block out his cruel face, the surly twist of his lip, the raised hand when we answer back. His leadership’s something else. Leadership. Bile shifts in my throat. The word stinks. That wasn’t leadership. That was control, possession, cruelty.

Panic grips me. I won't make it. I won't see yellow fields. If they even exist. But I have to believe they do. I have to believe there’s a future.

The train grinds against the broken buffers. A silver bullet - that's what it looks like. No windows, no air. A long cylinder that's come to take me away.

A door opens. Do it, Flinty. I glance back.

Reed is charging along the platform, crazier than crazed. I beg my feet to move. To find the life they once had. A long, low whistles busts from the train. That's it. My warning.

'Goodbye, Hellville,' I whisper, stepping onto the train. I'm sobbing now, but I don't look back. 'Let the future have a different voice, another passenger.'


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