Saturday, September 7, 2013

Prompt: Foreboding

Carla couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad was about to happen. She looked up from her book, not lifting her head so her hair still carefully hid her face. Three hours into the train ride, and the passengers had settled down into the stillness of the sub-Pacific trip. Even at 500mph, it was a good 15-hour trip. Even the kids had gotten tired of looking out at the ocean once they left the sealife of the Continental Shelf far enough behind. The creatures swimming past now were few and far between.

Peering around, Carla relaxed as she saw no sign of anyone watching her. She had been so very careful to hide herself before she ever reached the port and bought the last-minute ticket as they were calling final boarding. She missed the connectedness of her slate, but it went both ways, and she needed to be completely off the grid for awhile. It was kind of fun to hold an old book, thumb the pages. She had picked up a deck of cards and a couple of old travel games at a novelty shop in Portland before she headed down the coast to the Fresno Port.

It was still hard to think of Fresno as the highlight of Southern California. She’d been in Los Angeles just months before the fault blew in ’37. If only Andy had come with her to Vancouver for that stupid movie. She pushed the thought away, and all the ones that came with it.

She decided to stretch her legs. It took almost an hour to walk the length of the train and back, so she locked up her duffel in her seat storage and palmed some cash for the bar. As she stood and stretched her arms up, ignoring the crackling pops along her back, the train passed under a colony of nesting worms that lived on the tunnel. She watched them wave overhead in the darkness. She imagined swimming out there in the cold, still waters, resting on the heat of the train tunnel, seeing the lights from an approaching train fill you vision and the rushing thrum of its passage, until darkness swallowed it again.

Smiling at the idea, she started the trek along the train. At the end of each cabin, you had to pull the iris open to climb into the middle airlock, then close it, then open the next cabin’s iris and climb through. The alarm was deafening if you did not securely close each one. It wasn’t a mistake most passengers made more than once.

Fourteen cabins, and the most notice Carla got was from any children still awake. The adult passengers studiously avoided each other, sleeping or staring at their slates. No one talked above a whisper, and the lights were dim. Each time she entered a cabin, she paused at the back to study the passengers, but no one triggered her alarm sensors. She still had that tickling feeling at the back of her neck, but she was about ready to chalk it up to being over two miles underwater.

She walked down the cabin to the front airlock and climbed in. As she pulled the iris shut, the other side opened. She whirled around as someone climbed in and pulled it shut behind him. She felt frozen in place. She knew that hair, those shoulders, that back, those legs. Her eyes widened as he straightened and turned around. Her mouth opened a couple of times ithout any words coming out. He stood calmly, watching her struggle. “You? You can’t be here! How? What—”

“Hi Carla,” said Andy. He might have said more, but her head filled with buzzing and she felt herself falling into darkness.

Dogs in house
Houdini, Brindle

Time writing:
35 minutes

September word count:

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