The Long Black Train – Original

The netherworld has no cows so the train has no cow catcher. The large outward grill of an earthly steam-powered train is absent but the tall round-edge box on wheels rolls past slowly as the Narcissus’s forest approaches. Above the train and into the night shoots a tall cylinder of white smoke. Behind the smoke stack sits a taller box. Within that box sits the operator. The operator stands half in and half out of this world. A faint flicker of life trapped within a steel prison. Unlike the earthly steam-powered machine this black train runs on the essence of life.  This molecular essence of every living being on the train is collected within a steel-walled tender or coal car.  This car had a set of ledges, one on top and the second two feet above the train wheels.  The ledge on the top was merely decorative but the one on the bottom was two foot wide, barely enough room to walk across.  To help the engineer aluminum hand holds were placed at body length along both sides of the car.  In the center of the car, painted on both sides, was ‘Spirit of the Dead’.  The engineer stayed in the next car, a passenger car.  The car was black, with windows gray from soot from the engine chimney.  The soot contains the remains of the evil in men’s heart.  These remains forever pushed into the atmosphere of the netherworld.  Within the gray windows and inside the passenger car sits a steel chair and upon the chair is chained the engineer.  Like Charles Dickens fabled protagonist the chairs bind the engineer to his earthly sins till his penance is paid.   Following behind the engine was hundreds of caged cars. The cars wooden planks shake in small metal slots as the train moves forward over its iron track.

You know about the Train, and the Engineer but inside the wooden train cars, within the thick film of the spirits of the dead lay the living. Being alive in the Netherworld is not supposed to happen but it does. On the living world it was compared to a ‘dime a dozen’. In this world it is an advantage and a curse. The floor of the train car is slick with ethereal goo. The large wooden sliding doors are closed leaving only bars of early evening light. The stranger lays unconscious on the wooden floor of the train car. The thin film from the floor covering his face, arm and shoulders. It hides the dark uniform with the red sewed badges on his long arms. His attractive features, the sculpted chin and the military hair cut. Above his chin and past his sharp nose hides two beautiful blue eyes, hidden behind heavy lids.

The darkness pressed upon the stranger as he stared upward at the thin strips of light from the moon. The train car rattled loudly and chills danced from the tips of his fingers to the back of his shoulders. The stranger listened to whispers that passed through his ears. The whispers spoke of love lost, love found and life taken but the stranger could see nothing. The physical necessity to his sense of sight and hearing was missing. That was until something thumped upon the top of the car. The light skittered around several objects which began to move above. Then within seconds a large hole was torn from the top of the car. The moonlight fell through to the car floor. Silver forms appeared but quickly disappeared into the darkness. The chill from the strangers shoulders fell downward covering his back, arms and hands. He was paralyzed with fear from the overwhelming invasion of his senses. From the roof of the car the hole was ripped wider till it was wide enough for two men to jump through but it wasn’t a man that sank into the car. From the moonlight the stranger could trace the framework of a large bird. It’s two large feet curled with several large knuckles on three toes. Upon the toes were large triangular claws.

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