05-31-2019 07:43 pdt

This is the final chapter of our recent short series. Admin is now broken down due to the difficulty in penning this tale. We will continue to reach toward the conclusion of a story which began more than a year ago, and getting that to the production environment thus far has been wrought with issues. Time will tell if that story ever ends.

Aside from the current series wrapping and some backend organization for the future, we have nothing more at this time.


Part Eight

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"I miss Julia like sin. It hurts. For quite a while she supported me and helped my journey with her knowledge and confidence. I quickly learned that I could lean on her with all that I am and she kept up with my issues and worries. The woman never failed to maintain strength of mind and body, constantly holding on toward my future. She said several times that her appearance in the beautiful caboose was as a part of me. A facet of my being which separated and manifested itself as a dream in order to assist my sullen journey. Well, that was accomplished for a time. I exposed her to the past -- as stated earlier, that may have been only to push me into vocalizing the horrible tale -- and she created a scene in which it slammed me and placed the means to end it into my cold hands. Did it help? I feel the same about my childhood so time may tell, however at this point I do not know how much time I have left.

Distraught. Scared.

Rolling with authority on the rails feels good despite my situation diminishing. I need her and she is gone. At the time I had no idea of what to expect but held fast to her telling me that my feelings would lead the way. Now I feel none of it. Not even the cars I am pulling. Nothing. Just fear and concern over being alone with resources running out. I have to keep going and find whatever may be out there. There is no other choice. Still I see just straight rails and nothing else. Snow. Haze. Power poles flying by. The world seems deserted. Alone. No Julia to prop me up like those many beautiful women in the past. Living without such loving care is not easy for me. And just as I dream about Julia, Andrea, and the doll that was Ashley, the pain returns. Ugh. I do not need anything else pressing on my tired mind. Damn it. More pain is not good considering the circumstances of my life at this point. I am heading down a very shaky path with all of the depression, difficulty in finding my things, and the dire feeling that I do not see myself surviving this journey. I just do not know and am running out of positives at an alarming rate. The world looks like I am reaching the edge of everything. My windshield is dry due to the bitter cold not allowing any moisture from the snow. Tiny flakes blowing everywhere after hitting the locomotive’s massive air displacement. The snow behind the rear of the train looks like jet wash in the camera's display. Worried.

Very worried. The EoT behind me might better be called an EoL. Heh. I wish that was funny.

I no sooner giggle at myself sardonically for the reference when an indicator announces the diminished fuel flow. The engine automatically responds with a calculated and preprogrammed routine to gradually slow. Damn it all. I no longer have control and there is still nothing out there. I have no idea what is going to take place once my train ceases motion. I might be completely fucked. Slower. Twenty miles per hour, dimmed lighting, and the main display shuts itself off to save fuel via reduced power drawn from the diesel's alternator. Fuck me. How close is the end?

Slower. Ten. Fuck.

Soon I will be sitting still upon the rails with little hope of getting out of this frozen situation. As the lights dim further, I begin to see the training kick-in. Immediately my brain switches to survival mode. But what does that even mean? Is there an emergency kit somewhere? A blanket? That will only keep me going a short while. I know after living in the Midwest for a few years that the cold will eventually cut through anything short of fire. I have nothing to start a fire, nor any fuel. Hmm. The cab is still warm so all is not lost. Yet. Stopped. Idle. Slow idle. Hmm... Again.

The powerful searchlight leading the way slowly fades and then dies. Darkness.


I step out into the frigid air to look around and realize that nothingness is my new home. Nothing. The rails stare back at me ominously as if calling to go further, but I have no way. I cannot walk through the snow and expect to get far before freezing to death. Nothing. What the fuck can I do without the power and warmth of my train? Julia? Equally gone. My options have narrowed to the point of frightening me into another realization... This may be the end of everything. No resolution, no summary, no satisfaction in learning about the hoppers. Parts of me are in there. Me. My things. They are mine. Where was I to take them? How many more are out there? I was hoping that Julia had all the answers, however her purpose has apparently been fulfilled and had little to do with the cars and my feelings about the journey. That was an entirely different trip into the past and facing my future. But the lesson still eludes my tired self. And then the locomotive shuts down completely. The trailing engine idles slowly and moments later also dies off. Quiet.

The entire train appears lifeless other than small lighting at the trucks. I have become so accustomed to the engines constantly running that hearing nothing other than wind is very uncomfortable. The silence is unnerving. And I miss her. Yes, the woman who appeared and disappeared in the space of two days. She was wonderful, loving, all of it. Just as I began to relax and enjoy being near someone so kind, helpful, and generous, a few blinks and she is gone. And my possibilities are disappearing as well. I have no Goddamned idea of what I am supposed to do without transportation and answers to so many questions. I slowly step around the mass of dead metal and wonder of everything. The streamliner was surreal and haunting, and it housed one of the most compelling and uncomfortable scenes I have ever laid eyes upon.

Attempting to work out the reasoning behind such a stirring series of events has to take a back seat to me living through the more dire need. I have to find something... Anything which can serve as an answer or door. Nada. Alone. The weather is not allowing my mind to work out a solution. The difficulty inherent in dealing with such a life-threatening circumstance is unreal. I am not accustomed to worrying about survival. Usually things are fine, but in this world of uncertainty, sadness, and despair, nothing is easy. Just moving from one part of the train to the next is becoming exhausting because of the bitter cold. I feel as if my blood is like motor oil in the winter... No crankcase motion without external heat. I have none of that. My engines are quickly cooling in the wind and there is no way to ignite them any longer. Not good at all.

I am beginning to see what is going to happen. I am also seeing the manner in which the caboose appeared out of fucking nowhere and contained a goddess who subsequently provided me with nearly every single desire and question answered. Maybe something else will come along before I lose too much more feeling. Soon I will have a difficult time just walking or thinking as the air between my skin and clothing bites me all over. So fucking cold like never in my life.


A flash of the streamliner again. All those people. My safe. That man. Thoughts of everything which played out in that warm car swirl as I try to reconcile all of it. Family members there. I still do not understand, and the inclusion of DeAnn from the past seems the only link. She was ok back then, although I do not know for certain as she did not wish to spend as much time with me after the last time we left school together. My thoughts years later were that she became frightened and hesitated to be with me because the boys who took control were led by the one who liked her. I just do not know, but it makes sense. The cold is not allowing me to concentrate on anything for more than a few seconds before I am reminded that my minutes may be numbered.

So quiet. I need Julia but she is gone. I have no one. The lights above the trucks fade out. Wonderful.

Dead train.

I try to think. The hoppers. How many can be out there? Or do I have all that I need? Julia said I would feel them when close, and she expressed to me that the journey's purpose would also enter my heart when the time was appropriate. Well, I feel none of it. The four cars are right next to me but I sense nothing. No good, no bad, no anything. They seem cold, lifeless, dead. And the quiet is excruciating. All those miles of power and strength on the rails and now everything is reduced to a small area surrounded by a vast wasteland of snow and ice. I cannot even tell where the sun should be positioned in the sky because above me is all the same color. Dim, gray, and thick with ice crystals being swirled by the breeze. The four hoppers are parts of me, yet they feel like only metal. What are the contents? My feelings? Past? Pain? Other emotions? Julia said they are filled with me. Filled. Should I look? The cold is all the way through my gloves and boots. The air feels like little knives all over my exposed skin. I do not even know if I can do anything other than wonder and freeze to death.

Out of the vast nothingness... A thought.

If this is to be my end, I have to at least climb up and see what is actually in the hoppers. One of them. Can I? The last number I gazed at upon the small display in my now-dead locomotive was minus fifty-nine degrees. That is not even remotely survivable. Something has to come along or I am finished. The remaining cab heat is gone. Fuel is gone. Batteries are depleted. My options have narrowed so much that I can see only one. I must look upon my parts in the hopper. I have to. The entire fucking purpose has been my fears, loves, desires, and the rest of me being carried along the rails to an unknown destination and for an unknown reason. I have to know.


Looking up at the ladder which hangs off the car is difficult. The ice wishes to enter my eyes but I need to see. I tighten the fur hood on my parka and think of whether or not going up there and looking will be good or bad. I do not know, but at this point my only other path is to sit down and freeze solid. And that may happen soon. If I am to see, I had better get up there before the ability to move goes away like everything else in this hellish place. I begin to climb, feeling the backs of my knees arguing the point. My legs are so heavy. Do it... Hand over freezing hand.

Finally scraping my way to the top rung, one nearly-dead hand pulls at the hatch but the ice has fused it in place. There is only a lever to release one side. With everything I have within, my stinging palm bashes at it until I see ice break free and fall to the snow. I need breath. Just a moment to rest. One more try at the handle with the force of a man dying to see and feeling as if this is the last operation I will ever perform. Smack! The small hatch pops open and hits the side of my face causing me to react by flinching to the rear and my grip is lost. All the way to the snow at speed and I land on my back. No breath. Wind knocked out. Every attempt at a breath brings pain as my lungs begin to freeze. Push the carbon dioxide and pull more frigid air. Another deep breath as I nearly lose the ability to move the air which keeps my brain alive. I have to see. Roll over. One hand on the cold wheel to pull myself. Up. Slowly. To my knees as I feel throbbing pain all through my face. Further... To my unsteady feet. Now the ladder. I can barely curl my fingers so I wrap my arm to the elbow and hang there until one foot pushes up. Another rung. Back and forth with my lungs feeling as if a locomotive is sitting atop my chest. Another. Getting there. Another. God I am tired. Eight feet off the ground is like running up a mountain. Pain everywhere. Cold. Two more and I can hook my arms inside the hatch. One step. Two. The top. My beard is sticking to the metal as the little breath causes moisture for a split second. I rip free and leave hair on the hopper. Stinging. Up. Over. I can see inside...

A thirteen-year-old boy with blood on the crotch of his pants and a stained shirt is staring up at me in tears. He looks weak, frail, and defeated. Shaking. Cold. He is tiny, frightened, and alone in the huge emptiness. He is wearing clothes from decades ago and with an expression of knowing he cannot win. He will not survive. I hang there with more tears rolling slightly and freezing solid on my bloody cheeks. I cannot help. It is not within me. I feel like letting go and ending this affair which has destroyed whatever was left of my being. And then he speaks in the tiniest, sobbing voice...

'Did you survive?'

What the fuck do I tell him? I do not know. Did I? Life has been wrought with issues to overcome because of that period. What do I say? And the larger question still hangs in midair. The boy stands there with arms out as if I can do something. For the love of God I do not know what I can say. I know that boy. Knew him, rather. I want to tell him about the future but none of it is good. The event which took place back then affected (and still affects) many aspects of my life through adulthood. I do not have the heart to tell him. All I can do is look down and feel sad. I will say nothing. As my eyes well up further, the will to carry on hanging there exhausted and in pain, leaves me for good. I cannot. One nod of my head and I let go. To the soil and snow again after a long fall. My back feels fractured somewhere. Without the cold it may feel worse. I do not know anymore. My affinity for always calculating situations is no longer working. Everything is pain, sadness, despair, cold. I cannot stay here in the snow. Maybe I can try to climb into the cab. Perhaps getting out of the wind will help. Maybe. I have no other ideas. Everything else is gone.


Holding parts of the train as I make my way forward is difficult. My back stings badly and pain shoots through my midsection with every attempted step. Slow. Broken down. Freezing. The flashing again just like in the streamliner... Family. Cars. High School. Women. Pain. Another several yards and I can pull myself up for the last time and get my numbed feet out of the fucking snow. Maybe rest. The last two days of joy with Julia, comfort in the caboose, and feeling that I can accomplish this most difficult of journeys begin to cause me to falter. I have to lean on the wheel and catch my breath. Every inhale brings more pain to my back and lungs. The panic of not bringing enough air into them starts to set in. What will I do if I can get into the locomotive? Will it be warmer without the frigid breeze? The light is waning. My life is waning. I said nothing to that little boy. Not a word. Just a simple nod, but perhaps that expressed enough to him so he could understand my situation. Perhaps.

Perhaps not. I may never know. But I am him. Or am I?

As I try to step toward the trailing engine there is no strength. Cold. No dexterity. I stumble, and righting myself feeling the pain in my back and without anything to grab feels impossible. I stumble again and my cheek strikes the frozen rail. Blood. A tooth dislodged. Head pounding. I can't... I can't get up. The idea of just lying there and ending the struggle of my aching muscles begins to feel like the only possible comfort. I have to lie down. No. Fuck no. One more try. Just try. Find something inside. Push. Halfway up. One knee. Snow and ice. I cannot see the engine. A little further up. Both feet and bent in half. My headache and loss of feeling disallow more. Forward, face first, and I strike the rail again. My forehead. Red on the snow. Pain. Freezing. My pants fill with a warm liquid as my aching brain fails to control bodily functions. More. Now the liquid is cold. Everything is cold. I have nothing left. Eyes open. No more movement, no more trying. I do not have the strength. Moments. Visions. Julia. Blood. My family. Everything, again like a disjointed and broken slide show. No more hoppers. I failed. Just failed. Rest, finally. Fading. I have nothing left. Frozen, bloody tears on my face and a head filled with remorse, regret, and sadness. Fading further...

Eyes frozen, wide open.





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