Train of Thought

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Train of Thought

The rain is so heavy tonight. I’m cold and wet but at least the others can’t see my tears. It’s been all I can think about since it happened. His face, when he realised what he’d done. Apparently they all look like that. They’re there of their own free will, we reckon they’ll have thought about it for months, but that moment, before the impact, they stare at you in abject horror. And that three seconds, his face before I hit him and it was all over, will stay with me forever.

Afterwards, when my driver had been taken away wrapped up in a blanket, they brought me back here, and I haven’t moved since. We reckon my driver will have a lot of support and help until he’s back to his old self. That doesn’t happen for us though. We can’t leave the line, so they just put us out of the way, and leave us to rust. They haven’t even washed all the blood off my face.

I hear a whistling and know that the one they call Graham is coming to hide down here like he does every night. Apparently the stuff he smokes isn’t looked on well by the others with legs. Especially for a Railway Guard. I don’t care though. To me, he doesn’t look any less vacant than the rest of them.

He walks along with his head ducked down, water dripping down his uniform. He squeezes into the doorway of a shed and lights the white paper tube. Plumes of smoke leave his mouth and the smell filters towards me and I feel a little comforted. I feel like Graham would be one of the few who understood me. Always alone and not quite fitting onto the track in life he was given.

He grinds the end of the smoke into the wet ground and it disintegrates under his wet boots. He reaches into his pocket and takes out a peach. He’s always hungry after he smokes. He used to eat brown bars but then he started following round the one they call Angela and since then it’s always been peaches or little coloured sticks dipped into something that looks like the mushed up leaves that clog the lines.

He bites the peach and the juice drips onto his chin. I see the other one before he does. Creeping up through the rain, all in black. He wraps his arm around Graham’s neck and rests a shining sliver of metal against his throat. The peach, forgotten, drops into a puddle.

“Easy now,” this new one snarls into Graham’s ear. “Do as I say and nobody needs to die tonight.”

Graham’s eyes are spilling tears and a dark patch, barely visible amidst the rainwater, forms on the front of his trousers. “What do you want?” Graham stammers through his sobs.

More are appearing now. All in black, all creeping about. I’ve no idea how many there are, all I know is that there is only Graham who is free to move. Was free to move. I’m powerless.

“It’s very simple,” the one with gun mutters into Graham’s ear. “We have a bomb and we’re going to put it onto one of these trains. Then tomorrow,” he laughs now, low and sinister, “when it reaches Kings Cross, kaboom. All you have to do, Mr Matthews, is keep your mouth shut and pretend we were never here. Or, this pretty little thing”, he says letting go of Graham’s neck to retrieve a small black box from his pocket which lights up Graham’s tear soaked face, “will throw herself in front of one of them tomorrow. Understand?”

Graham nods slowly, his chest heaving with sobs.

“Good good.” The man with the shining blade smiles and nods at one of the others who uses something shiny to open up one of the other guys. None of them are waking up. Useless mindless lumps of metal.

If only there was something I could do.

Graham is stood shaking and crying and the others are faffing about inside one of the lads. I think of Angela. The way that Graham looks at her. Then her face is in my head, screaming the way that guy did, fear and terror, another guy rusting away in this yard, forgotten and blood soaked. It wouldn’t even be her choice. The sound of the screaming is filling my head. His screams. Her screams. Then out of nowhere there’s an ear splitting noise. Choo choo! All of the ones with legs jump around yelling and holding their heads. Choo choo! Is that me? Choo choo! It is! I don’t believe it. Then I remember. It’s the trick of our ancestors. Bus surely it’s not possible. The ones with legs took it away from us when it was no longer any use to them. And yet the noise comes over and over again. Louder and louder. Choo choo, choo choo, choo choooooooo! Graham stares at me open mouthed as more of his kind appear running and yelling. The ones they call police come then and the ones who threatened Graham are thrown face down onto the wet ground. All is saved. All will be well. I am a hero. No longer a killer.

Maybe they’ll even let me off the tracks.

*****

The noise fades and Graham sucks the last of the fruit from the peach stone and tosses it into the mud. He walks over to me, the same hazy look in his eyes that he always has. He pats the side of my aching head and smiles. ‘We’ll be getting you cleaned up in the morning old boy, he says. “No good leaving you here any longer. The inquest is done now. Back to work.”

He saunters off, whistling again. I’ve heard the others with legs talk about him. They think he’s weird, speaking to us trains as though we can understand him.

Copyright, D M Day, 2017

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