An Incoming Train

The woods were peaceful, which wasn’t out of the ordinary for a warm summer night. The crickets were chirping and a slight breeze was blowing through the air, giving it a welcome relief. The moon was full and shining through the cloudless sky, almost like a second sun. A train’s horn broke the peace and was followed by an ear-piercing scream.

The man was thoroughly upset by the scream disrupting his tranquility, so he kicked his prisoner in the face to shut it up. Then he continued forward, dragging a restrained and struggling body behind him.

“Stop! Please!”

Great, he thought. We are at the pathetically begging for life phase. Why do they always do this? And it happens the same way every time. First comes the feeble shout to stop. An intelligent man should never respond.

“Please stop! I’ll do whatever you want! Just please put me down!”

And here comes step two. The “I’ll do whatever you want if you let me go!” stage. What these sacks of meat really need to understand is that they wouldn’t be bound and dragged places if someone wanted something from them. Never respond to step two. A response should only come after stage thr—

“Please let me go! I have a family! A wife and kids!”

Ah. Stage three. This stage always should result in a response so it can lead to the final step four. The response should be quick and to the point. Something like “I don’t care about your family” or something along that line. Just don’t let it get personal.

“No one cares about your family,” the man said. “And your family probably doesn’t care about you.”

The body stopped screaming and struggling and the man smiled. Finally, stage four. The victim gives up hope. It realizes that there is no use pleading with the captor. This leads to some much needed and appreciated peace and quiet.

The man continued walking, scanning the horizon for his destination. The darkness, as well as all the trees, made it very hard to look ahead long distances. The sounds of the woods added to his newly acquired peace that wouldn’t be disturbed until he was ready for it to be. He was controlling the situation. And he enjoyed it.

The man came upon the tracks after 5 minutes of continued walking. He had stumbled over a few loose roots and was generally having a hard time dragging the body through the woods. He threw the body onto the ground and strode over to the tracks. There was no sign of the train, but he could hear the whistle in the distance.  He figured he had about five minutes to do what he wanted to do before the train arrived.

He looked back at the body he left on the ground. It was trying to crawl away, but not getting very far. He frowned as he saw this. Then he smiled and almost laughed, before he stuffed it back down his throat like a parent shoving broccoli into a little kid’s mouth. Stop laughing, he thought. You can laugh when the job is done. But for now, you still have work to do.

He calmly walked over to the body, which was moving about as fast as an inchworm. He wound up and kicked it in the stomached, effectively stopping the pathetic getaway attempt. He dragged it back over to the tracks and held it out in front of him.

“What do you want with me?” it asked.

“Don’t worry,” the man responded.  “All will be clear in time.”

He could see a light in the distance coming closer. He was running out of time. He needed to wrap up this conversation quickly.

“Please mister, I have a family!”

“Oh yeah, that reminds me of a wonderful story.”

“What?”

“My wife and I used to take trips to the Caribbean every winter to get away from all the snow and ice. We would walk down the beach and look at the sunset every evening before going to dinner at the hotel restaurant. It was wonderful. But, of course, we can’t do that anymore.”

“You’re nuts!” it yelled

“Of course I am!” he responded. “We are all a little crazy in our own little way. My crazy just happened to get drawn a little more to the surface thanks to you.”

“I didn’t do anything to you!”

The man shook the body as hard as he could.

“Nothing?” The man was yelling in between shakes. “You did NOTHING?”

“I didn’t anything to you, man,” it yelled, barely audible between shakes. “I don’t even know you!”

The man stopped shaking the body and looked at its eyes, completely stunned.

“You mean you don’t remember me?”

It shook its head. The man reached into his pocket and grabbed out his wallet. He pulled out a picture from behind the protective screen: a picture of himself before the accident. Before the scars. Before the body’s bullet entered the gas tank of his car. Before his wife was killed.

“Are you sure you don’t remember me?” the man asked innocently. “I’m sure I remember you.”

The body looked down and the picture and then back up at the man.

“Oh my god—”

The man threw the body into the incoming train and watched the head get bashed in like a cardboard box. He turned around and started walking away, an enormous burden lifted off of his shoulders.

“Say ‘Hi’ to my wife for me, okay?” he called as he walked back through the woods, a laugh escaping from his mouth.

– Jack Biddle, The Haverford School, Class of 2017

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