What You See is What You Get






By A. Fusee

Seething Rain pushed rivulets past the eyes of a boy who could no longer focus. Sounds of sleep—rock-a-bye—rhythms of steel from the tracks below, a historical rickety he would never understand, pulled this gentle conciseness to dreams of Mom and Dad. They came as angels in pure clouds, motioning for him to be still and know that they loved him. Caroline knew sleep was what he needed now, a cocoon against the waking nightmares. The other Mom and Dad thrown in pieces from the wreck, mutilated, spread over frozen asphalt, and the boy held in his seatbelt saw it all.

The Chief 110 raced into the twilight ever North, a silver and red dart from above. Fifty-two hundred kilowatts silently screamed passage towards destiny. The engine kept steady at 75 mph on the grade and, if pushed, could reach 103 in under three minutes. Rain turned to honest snow past the timberline as the crew took positions for the night, one for the books, with little on their minds.

“You gonna keep her a secret?” Joe asked. “Come on, Jake, give it up.”

“What’s the matter,” Jake said. “A guy can’t get something new without having to bring it to class, besides,” (and you could hear a pin drop), “ … we ain’t done nothing yet.”

The engineer who sat in the captain’s chair at the control panels laughed out loud. Teddy, a red woodsman’s beard filled space between his chin to his barreled chest, hands made from cast iron, born and raised in these mountains, was the one you figured to know what to do. “Leave him be, Jo-Jo,” Teddy said. “Three hours will bring us to Post Station. From there I hear you got a grizzly of your own waiting for you.”.

“Gonna comes a white out,” Jake said to no one. Jake knew all about the weather.

“Get your ears on, boy, and forget about that little girl.” Teddy made sure Jake looked at him when he talked. “Get a report from Post, tell us what’s ahead. Jo-Jo, tell your Baggage Masters to get ready.”

The boy’s body jerked in his sleep. Carolina drew her arm around him and patted his delicate face. The windows crept opaque with ice, and the interior cabin lights flickered erratically. She made sure his seat belt was well in place.

“Post says to stop!” Jake said, surprised. “Said back up if we can.” Teddy whirled in his chair. “Said top of the Ridge avalanched the summit.”

In no time to think, the front of The Chief hit a stonewall of snow.

Seventy-two cars jack-knifed behind the engine. Emergency crews from Post excavated the living and the dead for two days straight between twisted steel; electric garbage. Car number 28, crushed from both ends left a middle section of air. Sergent Dolfre pulled a live boy loose from his seat belt over the body of a headless woman seated next to him.

The boy’s eyes no longer worked.

4 thoughts on “What You See is What You Get

  1. Parisianne Modert says:

    The first sentence left me with a good guess to the author’s identity. I read on not once, but twice trying to make complete sense of this story, but enough to impacted by the ending which is powerful in that it completes the nightmare out of sleep and angelic protection into an unfaceable, awakened reality.

  2. Diane Cresswell says:

    Wow this was a ride. You have a fast moving train, conversations bouncing back and forth in segments, prophetic innuendo, horrific images, and a tiny sad miracle to complete the story. Excellent – a lot thrown in. All the moves of a great story.

  3. Laura G says:

    The use of language here is beautiful…imagery woven in seamlessly with dialogue. Setting, scenes and characters being built deftly…and then bam, the end (and a tragic end that is). I know the 500 word limit seems to suggest that we have to end everything or tie it up in a bow (even a bloody bow).

    But I suggest that this author acknowledge their talent in the slow, thoughtful, beautiful use of language with no need to end things or tie them up…Just let the patient words fall like snow, and wrap it up at the end when you have more space (as in a short story or novel). Maybe that’s peaceful me not wanting a sudden, violent ending, or just wanting continued use of the slow suggestion, the dance…

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