Every so many days, I find myself glancing back through the many story files I have on the various drives and “clouds”. I find bits and pieces that I still enjoy, but that haven’t triggered my Muse to go any further. I like to think of these bits and pieces as my insurance against ever running out of ideas. Should the world suddenly discover me as a writer and I end up with one of those multiple book deals (HINT, Universe), then I’ll be sure to have something to fall back on for development.
Anyway, I wanted to share one with you today. Not sure what sparked this particular dystopian vision, perhaps it was the lonely sound of a train’s horn heard in the distance on one of the many nights I found myself enjoying a bout of insomnia. Who knows for sure, eh? Either way, dystopias seem to be “in vogue” these days – especially with the younger set. I can certainly see how a child / young adult growing up in this society might see things as being less than idyllic now. Hmmm.
That’s a blog post for another day, and another writer. Meanwhile, from the files, I present this snippet…
I can see the trains out my window as they pass by the factory. The passenger trains go slow, about 25 miles per hour through the warehouse district. It’s pretty crowded down here and you can’t have the passenger trains delayed because of a hit and splatter. That’s what we call it when one of the workers gets hit by a service train. Those don’t slow down until well after they’ve already ground the poor slob to unrecognizable chunks. And even then, they slow just enough to clean the wheels of the train so the machinery doesn’t get jammed. After the train passes, the clean up crew shovels up what they can, then power wash the rest away. I’ve only heard the stories, thank God I haven’t seen one of those myself. I couldn’t stomach another set of nightmares.
I don’t know how old I am. Some of the old-timers around the factory – the folks that were here before the world went to shit – they remember having birthdays. Some kind of celebration to mark the passing of each year since they’d been born. Poppa probably remembers when there was time and could tell me how old I am, but he hardly remembers his name most days. And the days he seems to have his mind about him, well, the things he chooses to remember don’t make any sense to me. Books, movies, something called television. I listen to him rant about these long ago things and none of it sounds real. I think he makes up these stories to impress me. But I’m not impressed. Nothing impresses me.
There goes another train. This one is a service train. No slow go for this one, it just barrels down the tracks. Horn blowing as a warning. Sometimes I think I want to stand on the tracks and let one of those service trains just blow me to so many pieces of meat. Other times, I think of just walking out and stepping onto one of the slower moving passenger trains. They go slow enough that a light jog would bring me to one of the door platforms. A good jump and bingo, riding the rail to freedom. Or where ever it is those trains go. I don’t know what lies beyond the factory housing. We’re not allowed past the gates. The passenger trains pass through with ease. Two in the morning, one at twilight. I could drop my factory uniform, step onto the train in my tee-shirt and shorts, and just disappear into whatever future the train took me to. Then I sigh, and get back to work. No need in day dreaming my shift away.
One of the old-timers said this was like being in prison. I don’t know what prison is. From her description though, I guess this could fit. We’re confined to the factory district. We’re given jobs, fed, clothed and housed; there’s Arcade, Scourge to drink on our days off. It’s the confinement that she was talking about I think. Not being able to go beyond the gates. Few of the old timers remember what it was like out there. I wouldn’t know. I’ve been here since I was born. I don’t know any different. If it weren’t for Poppa and his fantastic stories, I doubt I’d ever have wondered what lie beyond the gate or what happened before.