Car 23

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic


Prepare for a journey trapped in a conspiracy, within a Greek myth.

Submitted: August 10, 2018

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Submitted: August 10, 2018

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Growing up my father had many adages. Most of them in regards to the American railroad. I honestly can’t remember half of them. Nevertheless, I do recollect when he pontificated, “a railroad is like a lie; you have to keep building to it to make it stand.” I wasn’t sure what to make of it at the time. I’d come to realize he was quoting the great Mark Twain. Still sage advice and he was making a point I can appreciate in hindsight as I transcribe my thoughts. The pen drops on the floor as my ribs flared like a bon fire on a hot autumn night. Though it comes and goes I swear each time I feel the heat rise, frying my nerves with unforgiving heat, it feels as if it will last for an eternity. But as the pain fades, the grim thoughts endure. Have to stay focused. I’m chronicling the events that diverted my life on a route I can no longer change. After, I’ll send this report to the authorities. When my family reads this, I hope they can understand why I had to stop building.

It all started with a late call to my father. It had been a year since I’d graduated college and my prospects were barren. Employers didn’t seem to care for my communications degree, which came to the surprise of no one, including my father. If I’m being honest with myself I suspect, I always knew he wouldn’t agree with my career choices. But to his credit he managed to keep his opinion to himself, though he did manage to shoot me a subtle look of disappointment during family reunions. Failing my dad was a bitter pill to swallow. Growing up I couldn’t help but look up to the man. Literally and figuratively, as he’s 6’5” and still in remarkably good health for a man in his late 60’s. You see he worked as a Train Engineer for 40 years and provided our family with a beautiful home.

Our family wanted for nothing. He even bought me a sports car the day after graduation. That had blown my mind because I didn’t know he had that kind of money and I wasn’t sure he was that happy about my achievement. But even with all that said I tried to find my own route to follow his example. But here I was jobless and at my lowest point post college. After some pleasantries my father faked coughed and slyly floated an idea. “You want to try rail coordination? You’d be doing me proud and you’d be putting that degree to good use.” My thoughts circled around the fact that I didn’t particularly care for trains and my ineptness with tools bordered on special needs. Fortunately, I was respectable with numbers. I swallowed my pride and before I knew it I was tracking trains for a living. I suspect most people would have found my profession boring. It was 40 hours a week at desk, staring at a screen, but I always found it fulfilling. I assisted clients though the tracking of supplies and aiding hospitals by making sure they were stocked with lifesaving medications.

Though it wasn’t all about being altruistic. The job paid well, if you knew how to keep the cars running without delay. My efficiency was notable to management as I was able to save millions of dollars by finding cost-effective routes for the hundreds railcars associated with my assigned fleet. Maybe it was egotistical but I though myself as a Rail Maestro. The trainmasters were my orchestra, the trains the instruments and my computer system was my baton. Every day I would construct beautiful rail music across the county. Though oddly enough I never interacted with trains, nor did I see the trainmasters, but I held the utmost respect for trainmasters. If they didn’t do their job, I couldn’t do mine and that symbiotic relationship was the foundation of rail coordination.

Another dose of pain radiates throughout my body. Having to conjure the events of that night the swelling on my ribs inflames as through threatening to consumed me entirely. I rub my temple, trying to relieve pain but if I have to relive the psychological scars that matched physical ones from that fateful night, so be it.

A typical Friday was ending and I was updating the rail system’s latest train diversions and spotted a few trains in Florida that had veered off route, I fixed them without much effort. When I began cleaning my desk area a bright red alert notification flashed on my screen. They system identified a deviation related to a local high priority shipment. This was atypical since I had been monitoring all high priority shipments and this railcar was absent from my list. Upon additional research of the railcar I surmised that the car’s destination indicated Buffalo, NY yet the railcar indicated a current location of Adler, Delaware, 4 miles from my office. At the time I brushed it off as a system error. I was better than this. The customer was a big freaking deal; the product was expensive and a shutdown situation loomed for the customer. Which meant the plant would shut down by Monday for lack of product. It’s rare when you see a critical situation that could cost the company millions of dollars. My entire reputation, fuck, my career was on the line.

Contacting the trainmaster was my best chance to get the train moving. I dialed the listed number for yard and someone answered immediately.

“Travis, how can I be of service? Anything you need I can provide”

 He had the gruff voice of a seasoned operator and his relaxed attitude gave me hope that he could resolved the situation.

“Hey Travis, I’ve noticed we’ve got a railcar destined for Buffalo, but still in Delaware. The Buffalo customer is in a shutdown situation. What can we do to remedy the situation?”

 Travis remained silent for a few seconds.

He then responded with a calm “That depends. What are you willing to do for these people?”

The question was a peculiar one. Did he mean additional payment? I’d heard rumors of under the table dealings but I didn’t want to have to do anything morally questionable. I run a clean ship.

“I don’t know man. What’s the issue?” I exclaimed

A sharp screeching feedback forced my head to jerk back from the phone. Fuck, my friend tinnitus would be camping in my head this evening. When I brought the phone back to my head. Travis hadn’t skipped a beat “Well, we ran into some issues with one of the cars. Sorry, my man. We’ve shopped your railcar until Monday, the train will move Saturday” I cursed my luck. “So, there’s nothing you can do? Silence for a good 10 seconds, but it felt like an eternity

He finally answered. “I tell you what, you come down here and check the car and I’ll get the train moving immediately” I pondered this, though This task had never been my job I didn’t want to let down the Buffalo plant. But in the back of my mind there were selfish motives.  I thought by taking initiative and showing effort on getting this car moving I could perhaps get a raise on my next evaluation. “Fuck it”. I’ll see you in 15. Keep the train warm.” I could hear a low chuckle and he said “Terrific.” That chuckle rubbed me the wrong way, I suppose I should have felt insulted. But instead I just felt a little shaken. Before I could say anything else the dial tone died. I grabbed my personal belongings and texted my supervisor that I was going to meet Trainmaster Travis at the Adler Yard to make sure high priority train to Buffalo got moving tonight. I’d call him after I confirmed the train move. Then I departed like so many trains I’ve guided throughout my short career.

My drive consisted of heavy congestion until I hit a secluded dirt road, which lead to tracks outside an enclosed rail yard. Dark grey clouds obscured the crescent moon, which illuminated the yard enough to perceive the surrounding forest and highlight the long chain fence that connected to a wide metal gate. Exiting the driver’s side, I could observe the gate ajar. A low vibration radiated from my pocket. My supervisor had sent a typo filled message “I asked Rey if your after-hours trip could get approved for overtime. It’s a no. It’s the customers fault for poor planning on the shipment and Rey was a real dick about it too. Better head home.” Fuck. Rey was the Vice President of Logistics, with enough pull to make my life difficult. Pride overrode fear and I rationalized that finishing the job was worth the heat I’d get from Rey. Furiously, I texted back “I’m already here”. Rey could yell at me on Monday, tell him I care more about the customers than some big wig who’s afraid to get showed up by a coordinator.” I pocketed my phone as I ambled through the gate.

Immediately my eyes averted to the large pilot car leading the train. A bulky flat black metal below the dark windshield, which protruded like a Rhino’s horn. An efficient design created to destroy obstacles that threatened the trains with derailment. Black and yellow paint covered the exterior. Past the pilot car attached rail cars which seemed to stretch down endlessly. Darkness surrounded the train and seemed as if it devoured the light. If other trains resided in this yard I couldn’t see them. The thick aroma of motor oil was rich in the air and it brought back memories of handing tools to my father as he repaired the family car. They weren’t the best memories. Since I’d preferred reading comics over trains, endearing myself to my father was a challenge growing up. But to my indignation he found creative ways of getting me to help him in any project he was working on. Like naming the tools after Justice League characters. Though I didn’t enjoyed thinking of Batman as a screwdriver. Sigh.

The yard looked abandoned, save for yellow light gleaming from the office which created the resemblance to a jack-a-lantern, smiling in the dark. Suffocating silence filled the air. Complete stillness, like time had stopped. I did my best to shake the unworldly feeling and in an effort, attempted a bee-line to the office, but as I took a step, a sudden pressure clutched my shoulder.

My heart froze and with a quick jerk jumped back, yelling “fuck!” as I turned to my assailant, falling back against the gate. A tall lanky middle-aged man, wearing a russet duster coat and a cowboy hat stood before me. “Fuck me, Are you Travis? Silence for a few seconds as he appeared to consider me. “Yes, sir “he said coolly. Was he always so freaking calm? It was like he had ice water running through his veins. “Jesus man, I need a minute. You can’t be sneaking up on people!” He didn’t respond. He simply nodded and shrugged. I started wondering if all Trainmasters resembled old spaghetti western rejects.

 With an exasperated tone I asked, where’s the car? Travis turned his head and pointed to the shadowy path towards the back end of the rail cars.” It’s the 23rd car down. You’ll notice some tasteful graffiti on the carriage, a small smile appeared on his face. This wasn’t amusing and as I squeezed the bridge of my nose and sighed. Of course, it does. I’d have to report that. “It’s probably some racist bullshit”. Travis, ignoring my comment, continued, “make sure to stay on the left side of the tracks. You can’t miss it” His smile collapse into a melancholic frown. “You sure you want to do this? Is it that important? Maybe you should go home. Your people would understand” In hindsight this should have raised red flags but at the time I wasn’t having any of it.

 I’m good, but I appreciate the concern. With a disappointed expression, The Trainsmaster turned to the office and whispered, “You better get going then”, I was a little thrown back by this response. I thought we were both going to do this. He anticipated my question and said “I have to deal with the office. Clean up some things and get the paper work in order. Check out the coupler and if it looks stable I’ll sign off on departure.” Here’s a fun fact about me. Not a big fan of dark. My phobia became multiplied exponentially in the creepy ass rail yard. “Do you at least have a flashlight?” I whined. The lanky trainmaster seemed to consider this as he walked to the office door. Pushing the door ajar he said, “I got you” and a flashlight appeared from the doorway. Travis tossed it over to me. After catching it I looked back at Travis and he gave a half salute. An empty ominous feeling would be my final warning, and with a vexed mind I turn and walked towards rail car 23 with the cold breeze at my back.

I feel like it’s happening all over again. The burning and ripping of flesh in a staccato of sweet agony. I can still hear the screams and I know it’s going to keep revisiting me until the earth burns and I suffer a million deaths. But as quick as the pain comes it vanishes into the night. Now, where was I?

Clouds had engulfed the moonlight which forced me to turn on the flashlight. Freezing temperatures seemed to appear from nowhere as my breath became visible in small white bursts of mist. Regret for certain life choices began to spread through my mind. That old internship at the airport suddenly didn’t seem like the worst idea ever. The introspective ended abruptly by the strange appearances of peculiar railcar wagons. Inadvertently I had been surveying the railcar styles gradually as they changed from the front office garage to this point. What were modern rail cars, carrying freights were making way to archaic and obsolete wagons with boxed cargo. With each subsequent railcar I passed It was like traveling back in time.  When I reached car 15, the wagons seemed built resembling cars from industrial revolution. This was absurd, and something wasn’t adding up. A faulty coupler was the least of the issues that I could see. A swishing noise broke my inquiring thoughts. It was coming from across the rail tracks. A spray can maybe?

Tiptoeing I sandwiched in-between the cars, near the sound. I stepped over the coupler on the 16th car. Before I could peek a large screech exploded my senses and seemed to shake the earth. My hands covered my ears as I knelt in pain. When I was sure my ears would explode silence crept back into existence. “What the hell was that?”  I leaned over and saw no one. Whoever had been there bolted during the shriek. Two spray cans lay in dirt. As I advanced on the cans, my flashlight illuminated the unfinished tag. German words I couldn’t comprehend at the time “Welkom terug,” but my assumption was racism.

The scene added up. One sneaker by a spray can and two hats on a bush near the fence. With righteous indignation I yelled “cowards!”  and chucked the sneaker over the fence into the brush. I’d squandered enough my time. I turned back towards car 23 and felt an icy shiver run down my spine. In my peripheral I swore that I could see a large shadow, darting behind the rail car ahead of me. I took a deep breath and rationalized it. It must be a tarp or a deer. Its fine.  “Get your shit together” I hissed underneath my breath as I crept towards car 17.  Light from my flashlight illuminated the suspected area, revealing nothing strange. No tarp, just a tank on a black and blue railcar, filled to the brim with sulfuric acid, a common product I tracked. Cursing my nerves, I refocused myself and picked up my pace towards car 23. My self-imposed chore was coming to an end.

As I sit in my cubicle, my stitches scorch my body as though somehow sentient and capable of comprehending the appending horror. It was like I was literally reliving the dark journey into the abyss. I pause my thoughts and realize I’m alone. This wasn’t so unusual. I tended to be the last one out. But it felt different this time. Most of my co-workers left at 4:30pm but when they had, not a one looked my way. They knew it was my last day. Not a single acknowledgment. My supervisor didn’t email me. I suppose my actions had come to light. In a sense I’d become a proverbial leper. That was fine by me.

Moonlight cut through the darkness as I approached Car 23. This was not a typical container. A large dark purple blanket covered the front end of the car. I could recall seeing a similar sight at the circus when I was a child. My father had brought me to the show to so I could see my favorite animal. The majestic tiger. The tag Travis had previously noted decorated the far end corner of the rail corner in dark illegible red letters. A sudden dose of adrenaline makes my neck hair stand up, I can feel eyes staring at me from the darkness. As I fought this irrational fear I peered over at the all-important coupler. Something told me to keep my flashlight off and I can’t explain why, but I didn’t want to bring unsolicited attention to myself. The darkness obscured my view as I moved between the cars. For all intended purposes the coupler linked to car 24 appeared untouched and intact. I jumped out my skin when my pocket vibrated.

As I read the message from my supervisor, I lost my breath and my heart fell to my stomach.  “WTF? Travis? That’s not the Trainmaster. The Trainmaster is Randall. He left an hour ago! I spoke with Randall and he doesn’t know a Travis! I went pale. Who the fuck is Travis? I thought. This is insane. A second text arrived: “The police are on the way! Get out of there!” My hands began to shake and then I froze when I heard large thud in front me.

My mind tried to imagine what kind of large animal could have made that sound. Maybe a large bear? Would movement get me thrashed by said animal? When I decided Jurassic Park tactics wouldn’t help I managed to slowly move my hand, holding the flashlight ever so slightly up. I turned it on. Something small and black sneaked behind the tire. It was quick and I wasn’t sure I’d seen anything. But I must have because there was a dark red stain in the disturbed dirt. The stain made the shaped of large bloody snake.

 I jumped back tripping over my own feet. I was on my back for second before I pushed up and scrambled to my feet. Luckily I still had my flashlight and used it to scan my surroundings for whatever the hell that was. I brought my attention back to the railcar and realized that it didn’t look like any car I’d ever seen. It was an older model perhaps. But no, it wasn’t the make or model but it was the cargo container. Unlike the other cargo’s I’d seen to this point this didn’t look like a tank or a freight. This rail car was hauling a cage how didn’t notice this right away I don’t know. Iron bars made up the exterior and hay padded the floor. The cage door was partially ripped off and hanging. What in the hell had they been hauling?

 There was metal plate below the bar; It read “Property of Olimpo Co.”  I wasn’t familiar with the customer, but before I could even ponder this, my eyes went back to the graffiti tag. I could now read the tag on the side of the railcar. A cold sensation crawled up my spine. That wasn’t paint, it looked like blood. It read “Witness” and the bottom part of the final “s” smeared down to the bottom of the car, where a man sitting lifelessly with his face away from me, slumped over.

There was something wrong with him. It took me a few seconds to see it. His back was being propped up by the front tire and he was leaning to his right. I could see dry blood soaked in his dark green hoodie. The man was missing most of the left side of his neck and his head dangled down like a large leaf connected to a thin twig.  I gagged and nearly retched out my guts. I tried to gather my faculties, but my mind was scattered and I tried to concentrate on what I should do next. I’d never seen a dead body before. But a shining thought appeared among the chaos of my mind. “Run!” But before I could move or fully process the moment, the body was suddenly jerked and the torso and what was left of his head was forcibly laid straight on the ground and pulled behind the back tire of the railcar, away from my view, leaving only a red stain.

I broke into a sprint back the way I came, I didn’t want to see what the hell that was, after a minute of running back towards the office, I heard a heavy rustling and the clanking of something banging the railcar parallel to my location on the other side of the tracks. “I’m fucked! It’s chasing me!” Than a thunderous boom filled the air and force of the winds nearly knocked me over. The rail car ahead rocked forward and fell on its side with such a rumble that it knocked me on my ass. It felt like my heart was going to explode and then I realized the downed car was blocking my path. Jesus, what kind of creature could be that powerful? In a panic I started looking everywhere for it. What I found was a dark figure standing behind me. I tried to get to my feet under me, but before I could I felt a sharp pain at my neck. I lost consciousness.

A cutting pain spread throughout my neck and back. My eyes opened to the view of railcars 21 and then 22 moving away from me. I was face first to the ground and my wrists were tied together and somebody was dragging me. I assumed it was someone and not a creature because it sounded like he was struggling. I’m not a big guy but I can imagine dragging me by my feet is not easy for an average person. Obviously my first thought went to “What the hell is going on?”. My neck throbbed where I assumed he had struck me. I was about to start struggling when I noticed the darkness around begin to dissipate. The smell of something smoldering attacked my nostrils and I couldn’t help but cough. My assailant spoke with a deep gravelly voice. “Oh, I see you’re awake. Well, welcome back. We are so happy you were able make it to our little shin dig. You’re the guest of honor”.

 Then man grabbed my shoulders and turned me over so I could see my surroundings. Before me stood at least 20 individuals. Each person brandished a Tiki torch and wore dark red hooded robes. Their faces looked inhuman in the dark. But when they moved you could see they wore animal masks that concealed the upper halves of their faces. There stood about 10 masked assailants on each side that led forward to the side of railcar 23. So many questions ran through my mind and I can’t recall them all. But this thought kept coming me. “What the fuck was I doing at this sadistic masquerade ball?” 

I could see two shirtless men with there arms legs bound with metal chains, connected to the cage. The man to my left looked middle aged, maybe 35, had short black hair and what looked to be a broken nose. There was dry blood on his mouth and jaw. The man on my right was bald with numerous piercings on his ears and nose. His eyes were so wide. Like a someone who had taken 10 red bulls. I could see the terror in their faces. The bald man was crying and other was speaking to himself, probably praying to a deity. I think I called out to them. I honestly can’t remember. Maybe I wish I had.

Two large men lifted me off the ground and carried me with-in spitting distance of the two men in chains. They forcefully propped me up on my knees. A hooded figure, who’s masked resembled a demonic eagle, sauntered over to the first chained man, who was still crying. He reached into his cloak and brought forth a curved dagger that seemed to have dry blood splattered on the edge of the blade. I tried to yell “Please no! Let him go!” but all I could manage was weak whisper “no”. The hooded eagle thrust the blade into the man’s calf. He yelled in pure agony and horror. The hooded eagled spoke some words that I couldn’t understand. It sounded Greek.

I had been doing my best to loosen my restraints. Whoever tied me up hadn’t done a great job. I was almost when I heard it. A monstrous shriek nearly burned my ears. All the hooded figures drop to their knees and tilt their heads. The torches that had bene illuminating this horrifying ritual extinguished in an instant. In the darkness, and from the silence came a faint rustling of trees from behind me. I dare not move an inch. The faces of the prisoners had gone pale white. The crying one rolled his eyes and his head hung motionless. The other man’s face was twisted in horror. I could feel the unseen thing right behind me, its breathing was strong and hit my bare neck like a hot iron. I could smell rotting meat and became momentarily light headed.

The deathly presence slithered past me towards the two men.  It’s back showed a black scale like skin. The figure looked at least 15 feet tall, even as it lurched over and because it was lurched I couldn’t see the neck or head from behind. Its arms were long even for its body. As it passed me completely I could view the creature had no feet. It had a snake like lower body but a torso like a very large man, that barely handle its own weight like an elderly old lady.

The creature slithered with murderous intent to the man who was still conscious. This movement blocked my view of him. But his I could hear the man’ screams and then a loud tear of flesh as it separated from bone. A large blood puddle formed below them. The screams stopped but the creature was still tearing and chewing on the body that remained. Even now if I close my eyes I can hear the crunch on his bones. It paused with a thump and a metallic clank. The man’s legs were now dangling from the chains, but the creature didn’t seem done. It inhaled as if to regather itself and continued to devour more innards of the man. The biting and ripping of flesh filled the open air.

Perhaps this had awoken the poor soul who had fainted. He screamed with a pitch I didn’t think a man could reach, He struggled frantically against the unforgiving iron. A small pop could be heard his shoulder now disfigured against his skin. The creature turned its head revealing a large extended jaw with sharp jagged teeth, blood dripping from its maw. The monster jumped against the cage, It’s hands gripping the bars and shaking the railcar. I heard a large spine tingling crunch. This brought me out of my daze and with a few tugs I was able to squeeze out the restraints.

One of the hood figures spotted me and stood up and began walking towards me but then he froze. The man had his mouth opened and seemed to try and get back down his knees, but before he could, the creature extended its long right arm and pierced the man’s throat with an elongated black claw, the size of a small spear. The man’s body went limp and the creature started to slog the still twitching cultist toward it. I was loose but frozen in the moment watching the man. His eyes still on me, his mouth didn’t seem to be capable of making any sounds but he did mouth the words “Help me” just before he was suddenly wrenched off the ground. A familiar voice shouted in a desperate tone “Run idiot!” The creature seemed confused and looked away from it’s current meal. I sprinted like a man on fire. The remaining kneeling cultists did not try to stop me.

As I ran the torch light completely faded into darkness. I had trouble navigating as my eyes had not adjusted yet and without my flashlight or phone I was almost blind. I knew I just had keep pushing forward and stay on the path. When I returned to the impasse created by the creature when it wrecked car 16. I peered at the fencing which had previously closed off the yard from the forest and for a second I contemplated running into the unforgiving darkness of the woodland. But then a primal fear of the unknown led me to make my way to the other side of tracks.

I moved to cross over the track and as I passed the front of railcar 17, control of my body was surrendered to something that grabbed hold of my upper torso. I was being suspended off the ground, my head went light, like I’d just rode the tilt-a-whirl at Six Flags. My eyes close, and tears are flowing as It slams me against the wall of the railcar. I feel a crunch and assume it’s my spine breaking. But I still felt the searing pain all over so perhaps not. Loud inhaling of air could be heard from the beast. I opened my eyes and looked up at its face.

The eye sockets were empty and glowed a faint glow of yellow. In my minds eye I can still see the yellow trying to draw in my soul like a lonely siren at sea. I tried to scream but my voice was gone, stolen by the by the deep piecing of my flesh. It had stuck a long sharp claw into my stomach and slowly moved the machete thick talon up and tore towards my chest and I was able to find my voice. But my screams seemed to only encourage the beast. It took it’s claw out of me and unfurled a long dark blue tongue, that glistened in the moonlight, and licked the blood off it.

I could see thick detergent like fluids secreting from its mouth. It raised me up to its eye level and the pain grew to incredible levels. The hot air of its breath threatened to suffocate me. It smelled of rancid garbage and dead meat. Its mouth moved with blinding speed and skewered into the same area the claw opened. It dug into my upper abdomen and wrapped its jaws on to something inside of me with a disgusting rip I went made numb. The creature took out its mouth and slurped in a black piece of flesh. The entire time I couldn’t force my attention away from its eerie yellow glow and I was sure it would be the last thing I’d see before I mercifully left this world.

There was a moment in which I felt the monster pivot its body and turn its head to the left. Though my vision, partially obscured by tears and blood. A blurry white light shown on the creature which highlighted its grotesque slimy skin. The dark ghoul like creature screeched. I used a small burst of adrenaline to jam my hand into its left eye socket. I had expected my hand to be meet by bone. But I was mistaken, I only felt a fleshy substance that resembled pig fat. Time seem to slow to a snail’s pace and I could see it all happening in mind numbing detail. The monster reared is giant skull back I could see it’s giant hand move at rapid pace towards my face.

The monsters aim was off. With the miss the creature dropped me and as I fell to the ground I witnessed a clear liquid shoot out from the railcar tank and shower the beast. White vapor released from it’s black skin and it let out another scream that chilled me to the bone. The monster turned away and moved from my vision. Oil and blood surrounded me. There was something burning through my jacket’s left sleeve as I laid prone convulsing. The clouds had dissipated by then revealing hundreds of white eyes looking down at me from the dark heavenly abyss above.  I couldn’t feel most of my body. Though I could still feel my left arm burning, but the pain was negligible, and I suspected that my nerves were dying or perhaps I was in shock. My last thought is still crystal clear in my mind today. “So, it can feel pain.” I lay on the ground bleeding like a stuck pig waiting for my final journey into the next world to begin. I faded into a red hazed darkness.

What happened next is still blurry. But when I awoke in the hospital the doctors explained that I had been in surgery for 6 hours and I had died on the table for about a minute. They also had to remove what was left of my partially devoured spleen. Though they assured me that even though it was a miracle that I was alive that I could have a normal life with enough work and rehab. I remained hospitalized for several weeks as I adapted to my new normal. Eventually I was able to go home and in the proceeding days I spoke with my management rep. I gave my two weeks and prepared for my final days at the company, I once thought I’d retire at.

When I returned to work I decided I needed a few answers on a working theory rolling around in my mind since I had awoken in the hospital. I tracked each Olimpo Co. rail car and to no surprise I found those bastards had a fleet of 300 railcars, that traveled on small local short railroads and most of the destinations were rail yards in secluded areas. The next step I took involved finding correlating events with each service repair. This info wasn’t easy to find because some of it dated back to the creation of electric rail services in the 50’s, though I suspected these rituals dated back hundreds of years.  With each repair stop people would go missing in the local community. Usually three people, and it didn’t seem to matter what age, sex or ethnicity and they remained undiscovered for typically a week after the corresponding repairs. You’d be surprised how long it takes for people to realize you’re gone.

But it was unbelievable how often this happened. I had suspected the entity or entities needed to be fed daily. I’d seen enough. The final step of my plan was the easiest. I cracked my knuckles and entered in over 300 hundred diversions through copy and paste. They technically needed supervisor verification but my supervisor hadn’t cared and had given me the approval code on the first day. A sudden electricity passed through my body as the ringing of the phone demanded my attention. I answered and discerned a familiar voice. The same voice that had saved my life on the night of the rail incident. “You don’t want to do this. They will come for you and they will come for the entire family” I was ready for this call. However, hearing his voice caused a deep burn in my heart and emptiness in my stomach. Of course he’d call. “I’m just doing what I do best. Finding the best way to move forward. Sometimes people can’t be told what the best route is, they have to feel it. This feels right. A man once told me that” a railroad is a ravenous destroyer of towns”. He responded with a confused “what?” I typed in the code and I brought down my finger down on the enter key and whispered “No more.”

My eyes focused in on the clock as it struck 5pm on my final day in the rail industry. The office is as silent as a mime at a funeral. Silence means I merely have the pain to pay attention I needed to find something to numb it. Fortunately, my favorite drug was media so I prop myself up and hobble over to the breakroom. I switch the small TV on and a Breaking News headline covered most of the screen with loud trumpeting music. You can hear the belabored breathing of the noticeably rattled anchor as he struggled to compose himself. He wipes the sweat from his brow and reads off a teleprompter. Another attack is devastating another community tonight. Details are still coming in but our sources can confirm 3 casualties at the scene. This is the 15th attack by an unidentified wild animal this week. Police and animal control are patrolling communities across the country.  News stories scroll on the bottom half of the screen “There have been families torn to pieces What’s going on? The 7 pm curfew is still effect for the following localities. The news feed also notes the National Guard have been able to severely wound several animals forcing them to retreat. “Well, will you look at that.”

A ringing pierces my thoughts. Despite my better judgment I answer the phone.” Hello? A cool calm voice oozes into my ears and chills my spine. “Hello, old friend. Corporate thought it important that you know that we cherish your service. Hence, why I’m here. A groovy cat like yourself merits a magnificent exit and as my papa said every ending is a new beginning. Can you your minuscule mind fathom experiencing infinite beginnings? And yes that requires a vast amount of effort on our part. But that’s how special you are to us and I’m sure you have questions swirling in your mind. Answers await you. But first you have to exit the building. Don’t make me wait” His voice had gone from calm and relaxed to a deep animalistic growl. But even more unnerving is that I could hear his voice echoing outside the office. A groan escapes me as I limp to the window and pull up the blinds; I can see a male figure, leaning his back against my car. He’s wearing a stylish black cowboy hat with a dark brown duster. I can’t decipher his face, but I can see the cherry of his cigarette as it illuminates bright red in the night. There’s a smoky yellow glow where his eyes would be.

 

 


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