You are at the station, waiting for your train. The train is delayed by some time and you begin to-day dream. You are lost in the midst of your imagination and in this haze you lose track of time. By the time you come around you see your train leaving the station. You run after it, but it is a futile gesture. Checking the times, you notice a freight train on the other platform. It is a huge freight train, stretching back what seems to be miles. With curiosity killing your inner cat, you ask the driver where the train goes.
“Here, there, everywhere”, the driver says, “this train has seen oceans, deserts, forests and plains”, he adds. “Gone through some cities and rail yards too”, he ends on.
“Really?”, you say, before you are interrupted.
“Mountain ranges too. Lotta mountains”.
You are forgetting about your original journey and deeply considering taking a ride on this enigmatic freight train. You ask the driver where it stops, and when.
“Stops when a stop comes up and when repairs are needed. Can’t say when they come up, but they do. Sometimes they take a while too.”
You decide to throw caution into the wind. You ask where do you get on.
“Just find an open box car. Might take a while though. Transporting alotta goods, and this is a long train. Some say its infinite in length. Never measured it though. Anyway, you’d better hurry up. Trains leaving soon.”
And with that you search for a box car. Drivers right, this is a long train. Eventually you find an open box car with passenger room. And with that the engine starts and the train begins to roll on the rails. Eventually hitting top speed the train escapes the confines of the city and emerges on a prairie, backed by mountain ranges. As you have been admiring the scenery from your open air compartment you have not realised the presence of other passengers. Bums and hobos seeking second chances and new beginnings. Poets working on rail track rhythms and writers engineering locomotive narratives. Music can be heard coming from some of the other carriages. Jazz and blues, in synch with the beat of the engine of the train. After these people are the rucksack insurrectionists looking for adventure, discovery and the sublime experience.
The train passes over a bridge. A metal construction hanging over a river, a preclude to a stop. At this stop two men leave the box car, going fishing for trout in the river. You wish them good fishing and they complete the exchanging of pleasantries on their way down to the trout river. With the two men fading into the landscape the train starts up again and the journey re – commences.
This encounter with the two men gives you the courage to speak to the other members of this box car navigation. You ask some of the hobo’s how long they have been riding the rails on this train.
“Since 67”, one responds.
“1959, good sir”, replies another.
“Just last week!”, shouts a third.
You ask why so long and what are you looking for.
“Feature of this particular train,” the first says “strange way of making days turn to months and then to years.”
The second guy nods in agreement and adds “Just looking for somewhere to start fresh…its hard to find.”
The third man remains quiet.
Do you like the train, you ask.
“Yeah”, the second one responds “new surroundings everyday, roof over our heads and somehow, there’s always food.”
The first man agrees “Perhaps this is the fresh start, for we do feel happy here.”
We all nod.
In conversing with the authors, they all agree they are waiting for one moment that will finish their work. Previous authors have taken this journey and have left. Some have taken their work with them, and some have left it here for it was conceived on the rails and so it must continue to be on the rails. Some authors have finished their work but keep on riding for it is the only thing they know now. Some are getting ready for the next stop, having finished their pieces. The ruck sack revolutionaries all agree that they are looking for the sublime experience. Some have had it and are ready to get on with their lives. Some just want to leave and some are still waiting, still journeying. But by looking for this experience, they may miss their own lives. For them it is a risk worth taking. All the while the music from the other carriages plays on.
The hobo who spoke about time on this train was right. Numerous nights have passed. You have seen snow, deserts, rivers, oceans and plains. Right now the train is twisting through some mountain track, its enormous snake-like body following behind it. You wonder, maybe this is an infinite train, on a journey without end, or purpose.
The train keeps on going until it stops abruptly in a desert. The music has also stopped. Some carriages have become uncoupled and need to be reattached. So the driver and maintenance crew try to find the fracture in the trains tail. It may take a while. Also it is night-time, making this process that little bit more time-consuming. But in the dark of night you look up from the box car and see the night sky. Away from the glare of the city lights all the stars shine brightly, illuminating the void of space. The Milky Way is also visible, along with some planets although you don’t know which. And you realise that this is your sublime moment and that now, its time to leave the train. The train is now fixed and it is once again moving. And as the train begins moving again, the music begins playing once more.
The day after the train pulls into a station. It is now that you disembark, saying good-bye to your new-found companions. You seek out the driver and thank him for an amazing journey.
“You’re welcome. You at the right stop?”
Honestly you have no idea but you nod.
“Thats good. This train has to keep on going, but best of luck to you”.
And with that, the driver announces last call for travellers and the train starts up again. And in this unknown city you sit and watch the train leave the station. Even sitting there for an hour the train is still passing. Finally you wander off pondering the journey you had just undertaken. You have no idea how long it was, but also you do not care. It was a voyage incomparable with anything else. As you enter into this new town you still hear the train pulling out of the station. Maybe it is an infinite freight train.
First 1,000 word piece of fiction, and first use of dialogue. Feedback welcomed. Inspired by many of Jack Kerouac’s adventures.