Ghost train

ghost train

This dystopian flash fiction was written while out walking, alone, miles from anywhere during the CoVid19 outbreak.

Yes. I hear it. A distant rumbling rising above the clamour of insects. Birds used to keep them at bay, but birds got gobbled up soon after the disaster. Pets and wild animals didn’t fare much better. Disaster? Anger has long since sunk to a dull despair. We were all so blind. Who would have thought a common cold could wreak such destruction? I turn to face the approaching din, attempting to appease the wheezing in my lungs. Alone amidst abandoned fields, a riot of weeds battling crops gone wild, I swat a bug that crawls over my leg in search of food. I can’t complain, gathering up the morning’s pickings, today’s harvest is more than yesterday’s. And there it is. Like everyday. Regular. Trustworthy. Emerging from the hills. Like a mechanical miracle, sidling along the hillside just below the trees some half a mile away. Ducking behind a mound of earth, it reappears briefly, only to dive between derelict houses before struggling up the incline to the tunnel beyond. To think there used to be people in those things. I too rode them once. Off to work jammed tight with vacant others. So many, it’s indecent now nearly everyone’s gone. Or dressed in a neatly-pressed suit, clutching a bunch of flowers, on a visit to departed loved ones. Would that my rags were anything like that clean. Or loaded down with suitcases, in quest of god knows what in foreign parts. Even then dangerous viruses lurked abroad. No. No more such rides. Trains are empty now. There’s nobody to travel in them. Yet, like stubborn old codgers, they continue to ply their way, adhering to long forgotten timetables, piloted by automated systems, unaware they serve no purpose, lest it be to mark the passing of time for a solitary onlooker like me.

Alan McCluskey

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.