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The Raven
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04-20-2019 05:32 pdt

Part seventeen of the saga is still not ready as admin pushes forth with the next section of this nine-part series. We have the material in hand but until approval and polishing, it sits there waiting. We have secured the NS workings and moved fully into the new registrar, and that means no more issues in the future. All is smooth and organized.

Other essays are complete but must be published in the order directed.


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Interference

Part Three


"Moving along. Nothing but rails, snowy landscapes, and dim lights in the distance. Not in front, only to each side. I see everything, just as in life. I see all of them because i am always looking. Searching. Seeking. Something. The scenery now is vastly different. Frozen, still, and with cold air hanging like a double atmosphere upon my tired head. Lots of weight. All the worry over my things being out of sight and far out of my control. I need them back. Bad.

My speed is fifty. Being so high off the ground, such speed is not apparent. It feels slow. Every now and then I see signals indicating block section status and all are green. Empty rails. No switches, only the occasional siding. I cannot lose hope. The hoppers are waiting for me but I know not how many nor where they are. The lack of switchgear helps in that they have to be on the mainline, or at least close. Maybe all on loops. Spurs. Stubs. I just need to keep going. I need to grab them and find a hiding place.

Soon I see a red signal and its Vader hood glowing. Three lights. Green, green, red. That means there is something two or more blocks ahead on the main. Hmm. Another locomotive? A load of my emotions? My dreams? Maintenance of way? I have no answers. Keep going, but upon transitioning to the next block I back the throttle off. Thirty-five. I see nothing but shining rails in the massive wash of my powerful headlamps. Slower, still. Slower. Something there. As I approach, nearly crawling, I spy the red glow of an end-of-train device. It is sitting still on the main. No switches that I can see. Stop. Blocked. Fuck. I need to go but having crossed no switches it is not going to happen. Back to idle, safety locked, motionless. I sit in the rumbling cab and await something. Anything. Movement. Nothing. Again I become distressed and dream of the comfort so far away. Yep... Andrea. The Raven. Their loving care and warmth with arms wrapped. Nude. Smothered in love. Neither is available to me as I worry over being at a standstill. What the fuck to do? Deal with it? Give up? Plan B? Hmm.

I decide to stop wallowing and exit the engine to investigate. I set the brake, lock the idling locomotive, and head out into the cold. And holy fuck is it cold. The big train is all tri-level car carriers and God knows how far it might be to the front. Fuck is it ever cold outside that cab. Walking forward to see why the train is sitting idle brings me even more worry over my stuff sitting there without me keeping an eye on it. I keep looking back as if someone it going to steal my shit. Heh. Not likely. Forward along the rails and after a long while the sound of my engine is gone. Quiet. Nothing around for God-knows how far. The cars beside me are unfamiliar. I find it interesting that when I approached the one car of my crap that I located, I could sense that my things were in there. I felt it in my heart. Not warmth, but something akin to just knowing through emotion. I could tell. Next to me is a train unrelated to my journey and I have to move it out of the way. That means locating more switches, power, bungalow, block indicators... Fuck me. Whatever. The compulsion to hide away is overpowering, so it must be done. The mainline is blocked. Period.



528



Will my engine and single car be ok if I'm walking and locating things? No choice. None. Fuck me. Walking, worrying. My things are fading into the haze as I follow a narrow path alongside the obstacle. I do not like leaving them behind, but the other hoppers are scattered around anyway. Knowing that messing around with railroad cars is very rare for the average person, I am able to relax a bit and focus upon moving the mass of train out of my way. I have no idea of where the next switch might be. Walking. Snowy. Concern. I hear no rumble of a mighty diesel as I move along. The train must be enormous. The still air and quiet should reveal the slightest of sounds but there is nothing. Maybe I should have counted the cars? Was it one unit comprised of twenty-five cars and one locomotive? I cannot remember all those railroad-related questions from years ago. I keep thinking that as long as I can move one engine the others will follow. Are they linked to one throttle? Does it work that way? I don't know and will have to figure it out. More walking as my fingers begin to feel the freezing air right through my lined ski gloves. Ugh. Walking. Many cars and still no sound.

Onward along the little path next to thousands of tons of metal. Where am I going?

The time allows me to consider my circumstances. My insides are somewhere, waiting for me to get them together and find some way to organize and perhaps analyze the contents of the hoppers. An analogy pops into my head. Is this train supposed to be blocking my path? Could it be another aspect of my personality? My past getting in the way of the ability to square myself away? Hmm. I do not know. The possibility is there but I will have to learn more about the massive train before drawing any conclusion. Further toward the head of the line and I begin to hear something. Hopefully the engines. Just as I begin to process the sound, an electrical bungalow appears, along with a signal post which is unlit. I wish to know what everything represents. I keep going as the low sound grows. Engines. How many? Three? Four? And then a voice from the past emanating from one of the cars within a carrier...

'Do you know what you have to do?'

Holy fuck. What? Who said that? I become distraught and feel as if someone has invaded my space. The cold car sits there just like all the others, appearing like a mountain of steel in the freezing air. Haloed by the obscured sunlight. Dim, chilling, dead. I approach the forward coupling as that voice repeats in my concerned head. And then I hear it again. Up the ladder to peek inside. New cars. Nothing else and no person in there. I could swear that the words came from one of the vehicles in the front. Further up to look at the second and third levels. Nothing. Upon reaching the roof, I peer down into all of the windshields and see that I am still alone. Damn it. What do I do? Keep walking toward the rumbling diesels? The voice repeats again as I decide that my effort in searching is futile. The voice is everywhere, ghostly, haunting. Back down to the path with a quicker pace. Are these railroad cars mine too? Fuck. The worry escalates as I begin to see a green signal brightening in the haze up ahead. Green? Why is the train just sitting when the block is clear? Too many questions. Further along with those words spinning. The engines are louder now and feel imposing despite my controlling one for many miles. I don't know how they are linked on a long train. That lack of knowledge also causes me worry. I have no idea of the number of hoppers that I need to collect and have been hoping that I will feel them as they are gathered. The voice again, now sounding as if there is reverberation. Echoing throughout the immediate area and pushing at my heart. I need to get this fucking train out of the way and that means a lot of figuring things out again. I made it past the switch hurdle and am hoping to do it more quickly because of the experience. Plus, I will need a very long siding for the obstacle to park. That means more walking in the cold which is already removing dexterity. Ugh. This is a long train. Hopefully mine will not become so imposing as I gather my things.

The voice again. What is that? From where?



529



The rumbling is becoming overpowering. I still cannot see engines up ahead but the sound has become deafening and I can feel it in the ground with every step. Who is pushing me? Melanie? The voice sounds pitched too low but what the fuck do I know? Could it be her concern which nearly brought me to my knees years ago? I don't know. Again I hear it repeat from everywhere as the powerful diesel engines begin to frighten me. Yes, I drove a locomotive for miles and miles after learning a few things to get it moving, but still... Several? Intimidating to say the least. How many fucking tri-levels did I walk past before seeing the signal? And still no sight of the engines themselves. The idling is becoming deafening with that fucking voice right behind. My head is beginning to feel the effects of this difficult situation and the whole of the issues are beginning to feel as if I am being tested to see if I can get past. Further up the path with that overwhelming sound vibrating everything.

After passing the big signal I finally see the goal of my long and nerve-wracking walk. The rear of the trailing engine appears before me. I must have passed at least a hundred cars which could mean four or more locomotives to move them. My brain tries to think things through but the rumble is interfering and causing me to worry over being at the helm of so much power without any idea of where I need to go. And then the thought of my little one-car train waiting behind, unprotected. If my sense of time is working at all, I feel as if more than thirty minutes of walking was behind me upon reaching the signal. At least another fifteen before the first car. Fuck. I have to get the thing moving and further myself toward the biggest goal of my life. I continue to the lead engine after passing four others. Yep, five in all. Ugh. I hope I can figure a way to move millions of pounds of metal without issue. They are all huge, six-thousand horse locomotives with the largest electric motors I have ever seen. Ugh... Again. The stress is beginning to cause me to falter.

Up the ladder and into the lead cab. Warmth. The heat has been on the whole time and the feeling is wonderful after agonizing in the freezing air. I glance to the right side mirror and see a line longer than I can begin to understand. Fear. Worry. Where am I going? Where are my things? Damn it. The controls around me are vaguely familiar. My engine must be older. Before my eyes right now are digital displays and smaller, less mechanical-looking levers and knobs. First on the list is the oversight I ran through while trying to get my engine in motion -- the safety. There it is on the right in almost the same position. Unlock. Lots of air being released in succession along the rails. Yes! They seem to be linked to each other. The voice again, this time emanating from outside somewhere. Damn it. I do not need any further worry or fear before moving the big train. I try to ignore the voice even though it seems to be amplifying in both volume and reverberation. All I can do is try. I grab the throttle safety with its bright finish and slide a bit. The most frightening things all happen in rapid succession: The couplings between each pair of cars all slam from the initial pull from the engines, the deck plate slides forward and then back due to massive torque attempting to rip the slack out of the empty space between couplings, and then the heaviest sound I have ever heard as the tri-levels succumb to and endless supply of force to move them. Once the series calms a bit I feel the train moving forward at a snail's pace. More throttle does nothing as the tons bear down on the power. I am moving again and must be patient as the train catches up to my throttle setting of twenty-five. All I can do now is wait and scan the horizon for clues as to what awaits my life's path.



530



The voice is above all of the engine noise. I cannot get past it completely and concentrate upon searching for a siding. As I gaze out at the snowy landscape the searchlight shows desolation. Moving along through it in a straight line helps a bit because I know my things are back there and will be easy to locate after getting the mass out of my way. Signals. All red. I back off a little and continue to stare ahead as my hands warm to the level of the cabin heat. The voice echoes through my head every now and then which causes my attention to break somewhat. The mainline remains in focus. Nothing ahead just past the signals. Not yet. And I need something, bad. My thoughts wander back to the long walk I just took and the much longer trip back after finding space to park the monstrosity. At the outset I did not consider anything possibly going wrong, only the goals. After finally getting my engine moving the idea of simply traveling around and coupling parts of me together became paramount. Problems were not forming in my head once I was rolling.

Past the signals, against the rules.

At last, a switch approaches. I ease off and let the massive weight take its time slowing. Upon stopping, I back very slowly to clear the switch and lock the engine. Out to the bungalow where the switchgear I learned not long ago bows to my wishes. The only downside is not knowing when such length will clear forward before I can stop and begin my long trek back in the cold. Oy.

Wait a minute...

Bliss overtakes my head as I realize there is another way. Yes! I have no idea of how to do it, but I decide to decouple the leader and leave it on the main to use for a ride back to my little train. Warmth, speed, rest. I still need to calculate getting the rest of the train all the way past the switch without a switchman back there keeping track. And all of it with that fucking voice which will not let up. Who is that? Someone I know? Melanie? Juliette? Who? Fuck. I need to concentrate and work out how to accomplish my short goals. First is the locomotive. Reverse. Stop. Out of the cab. I look around the intimidating coupling and see cabling, air lines, confusion. Is that power too much for me to disconnect while running? Is it safe to do that? Damn. I head back into the cab to search for clues as to procedures for decoupling. The displays each have L-pads which allow me to access menus. Service, monitoring, consumption, status. Hmm. Service? Across the screens until I see power. An electronic disconnect would be nice. And there it is. Before my eyes is an option to decouple. I select it and climb back out to see that an indicator next to the end-of-train device has changed from red to green and the EoT itself is lit, meaning that the locomotive is on its own. I pull the coupling lock and back off as the mechanism opens with frightening force. Into the cab, unlock, forward a little distance to clear the switch. Nice! My own six-thousand horse engine! Hee. Back to the bungalow, switchtrack thrown, and into the new lead engine I go.

The train lumbers along past the switch as I try to calculate what can tell me when the last car is across. No one to help and the voice beginning to irritate my concentration. And then a thought... The side mirror shows me a signal fading as I roll which is red. Perhaps once the mainline is empty it will change to green. Ten miles per hour seems a good speed to keep watch as I glance forward at times to keep an eye on the siding. Rolling, wondering, worrying, albeit a little less. The voice is gone. Wait. What? Where did it go? Is it waiting with the other locomotive? Hmm. I do not miss it. Swaying along to wherever is enough to occupy my concerned head. My things are still out there waiting but time feels endless.

Green. Yes. Stop. Lock. Out.



531



The air is fucking cold. After all of the in and out of the frigid air I am beginning to feel a headache. I do not fucking need that at all. Walking, walking, and more walking. After what feels an eternity I begin to see the headlamp burning the air. I cannot wait to board the warmth and be cozy and secure again in the huge machine. I am beginning to feel at home in the cabs as knowledge helps me to stay confident in what I am attempting. My being is spread out all over the place. It is a mess and I need to gather. At least I am alone, seemingly completely, and the space to think is abundant. The air is heavy with my worry, though. The forward motion must continue or I may falter. No sooner do I begin to organize my thoughts when the voice fades up and takes them away. Why am I hearing that? Should I be answering? The question is simple, I am doing my best to get the hoppers in order, yet still the damned words announce themselves like clockwork. I just do not understand. Ahead of me is the blinding light as the questioning becomes louder. I hear the engine now. Close. I need the heat, too. Please, something to help me think as those words cut me. Of course I know what I have to do. I am fucking doing it. Shut up.

Leave me to my tasks.

The cab welcomes me with heat and a nice, big seat. Unlock, reverse, motion again. My brain is able to relax and partially ignore that damned voice. Thank God I am warm and moving. Along the swaying ride I cannot help but worry about what may come along next. The mainline is now clear and I have an extra locomotive in case the hoppers pile up. Plus, there are more up ahead which could be grabbed if I wish. Maybe I will just to keep the power. I can take all of them. Five? Oy. Maybe. The engines are far ahead now with just the one at my disposal. Picking up the others would take time, but as I felt before I do not see anything requiring me to hurry. Reverse. Fifteen miles per hour seems ok I guess. My little two-car setup is waiting back there quite a distance and the Vader hoods can tell me where to slow. The voice again. It seems to be repeating every three minutes or so and gets slightly louder each time. I am beginning to need to address that fucking annoyance and see what develops. I have no wish to lose my mind over it.

The locomotive has a backup camera. Wow.

Further toward my things as I sway slowly along the shining rails. I am trying to ignore the voice. All I need to do is couple my new engine and make some forward progress. Please. The worry is still there but at least I have moved the obstacle far enough to get past and finally see what the future of this sordid trip has in store. The one good aspect is that I have worked through some issues and cleared the main for my journey. That feels good. Hopefully the little victories will help me rise above the din of that voice. I do not understand why I am hearing those words over and over. Am I not making progress? Did I not already snag one hopper? Fuck that questioning ghost-voice. Ignore. The backup camera has some night vision which is becoming blinded by the searchlight back there and I cannot seem to adjust it. Hmm. To the side mirror as I slow the mass and think about the procedure for coupling to my stuff. Slower. Slower still. Stop. Yes. Another nice thought is that this locomotive is newer and more advanced than mine, so it can remain in the lead. Plus I now have capacity coming out of my ass, as it were. And there are others up ahead with tremendous power if needed. Maybe I should take all of the locomotives in case there are more hoppers than I think. Yeah. I am going to couple all of them. I return my attention to the screen and rifle through options until finding the workings to get myself and my stuff together. Out of the cab and to my smaller engine to kill the lighting. Back outside to the intimidating coupling and all of that cabling. Everything connected in the exact opposite of when I decoupled up the rails a while earlier. Into the heat. Menu selections and loud noises ensue as the pneumatic system loads my trailing car and engine. Green lights, fuck yes. I unlock and roll a bit of throttle to see if my head successfully wrapped itself around the procedure for tandem locomotives. Once again, we rollin', now with much more power and additional confidence that I can move along and take care of whatever awaits me on this emotional journey.

Ten-thousand horsepower at my fingertips, words filling my head with fear and uncertainty, and the shining rails under my massive wheels.

'Do you know what you have to do?'

I can only hope."



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