Monthly Archives: November 2013

Islands In The Stream by Charlie Wade

“No I don’t want you to get out and push.” She knew she was raising her voice but what did he expect? The car was pissing well stuck. It was a fact. Sarcasm wasn’t going to unstick it. She breathed in then out. “I’ll just try reverse again.”

He was shaking his head with that cocky grin on his face: she could see it from the corner of her eye. As she floored the accelerator, a trail of mud flew forwards as the wheel slipped. Idling the engine, she turned to him. Shrugging his shoulders, he opened his door and got out.

“What now?” The steering wheel clenched between her fists had made her knuckles white. Releasing it, she stretched before shaking her head.

“It’s jammed solid,” he said.

Was he laughing? She thought he fucking was.

“I’ll go for help. There was a farm a mile or so back.”

“What about me?”

“You stay here in case someone comes along.” He shrugged his shoulders, his grin increasing.

“Thanks.”

As he slammed the door, she pulled out her phone. No reception. What kind of god forsaken place was this?

Of course it was her fault because it’d been her idea. A ferry to a small island sounded a great idea. A tiny island too. The ferry only took three cars at a time, and cost a hundred quid less than the bigger islands. One small village, single lane roads, cows wandering everywhere, and a mud track that wasn’t even on the map.

She watched him walk away. White trainers already shitted up from the relentless rain and mud bath the island was. She turned the radio on and scanned for channels. Absolutely nothing. Not even a local station. She wondered how they survived. No shop. Not even a pub. What did they do? There must have been twenty or thirty houses. What did they do of an evening? Forget that, what did they do for a job?

She’d settled on a CD, but turned it off half way through. A dead battery when he came back with a farmer wouldn’t help. He was taking his time. The island was so small he could have walked round it four times. She imagined him in some farm house: hot soup, freshly baked bread and a change of clothes. Meanwhile, she was freezing in the car, the driving rain and sleet pounding the roof. She tried her phone again. No bars, half the battery gone already – she guessed it was searching for a signal it wouldn’t find. Turning it off, she looked round.

A shadow behind. The corner of her eye just caught it. She turned, her heart instantly pounding hard.

A bang on the roof. Loud bang. Not a twig falling or a stone. Really loud.

Three more bangs. They filled the car. It was like someone was on the roof.

“Shit.” She looked around, saw he’d left his window half open. Fuck that, the doors were unlocked too. Punching the door lock and window button. Not working. The keys – engine not turned on.

“Shit.”

Fumbling with the key. Trying to turn it but it wouldn’t. Pounding above her. Someone on the roof, definitely a someone, not a bird or animal. Fumbling again with the key, it turned. Engine fired up. Hands punching again for the window button and deadlock. Shaking fingers smashing into the vinyl but not finding the switch.

Three more bangs on the roof. Really fucking loud. The roof above the passenger seat dented, pointing inwards. Finding the window switch, it wound up. Slowly, really slow. Was it always that slow?

A hand.

Dangling from the roof. Red all around the wrist. Blood. Trying to reach inside the window.

A scream. Her voice, but she heard it without realising she’d screamed. She punched the deadlock button again. Finally her fingers caught it. Locks snapped into place. The window still half closed, the arm up to the elbow inside, waving, reaching for her. The button again. Window inching upwards, touching the arm then stopping. She pressed it again. Nothing. Electrical cut out, safety device or some other shit. The arm was trapped though, waving around towards her.

Three more bangs then it happened. Something on the windscreen, rolling down to the bonnet. Round, bloody. Head shaped. His head.

She heard herself scream again. Heard vocal chords grate then tear. Then she saw them. Four people walking towards the car. All covered in red. Blood soaked. One held two arms in the air, another the legs. Two more holding a bloody red torso with his t-shirt on.

It finally clicked. No shop, no pub: this was their job. This was what they did. This was how they entertained themselves.

???????????????????????????????Bio:  Charlie Wade is forty years old and lives in on the edge of the Peak District in Derbyshire.

His latest book, Seven Daze, has been published by Caffeine Nights.

He blogs at …..   http://batteriesarentincluded.blogspot.co.uk/

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The Siren by Kat Hawthorne

Sure, Pikka was a Siren, but unfortunately she’d had nothing to do with the sinking of the S.S. Winchester.

She wished she had, for the Winchester was an enormous ship carrying great herds of humans, all of whom died in a great mangled heap on the rocks, making for a fine spectacle and gripping soundtrack. It was a hard won toppling and a great victory for Pikka’s kind, for the Winchester was such a huge, vast thing carrying a countless number of human bodies. Pikka would love to have been involved. But alas, she was not.

In truth, Pikka was horrible at her job. It wasn’t that she was unpleasant to look at and therefore unable to seduce sailors in the way they needed seducing. On the contrary, with her luscious dark hair and exotic features she was actually quite lovely. That wasn’t the problem. Likewise, it wasn’t that she didn’t wish to do the work, because true to her heritage, she gleefully would have claimed that boatload if she could have. That wasn’t the problem either. The problem was that Pikka the Siren had been born without a voice.

It was difficult to lure a ship to its watery grave at night when no one could see or on a foggy day without the ability to call out, and it was foggy quite regularly in Pikka’s part of the sea. She could swim of course, as could every other Siren she knew, but emerging from the water all shriveled and dripping took from her grandeur significantly, making her feel less than appropriately alluring. She preferred to remain dry and fresh, her clothing untouched by the destructive salty fingers of brine and weed or being knocked around by uncomplimentary waves that seemed to think it fun to muss her. Also, she knew from experience that approaching a ship was useless, she needed it to come to her for a proper rock bashing.

Pikka spent years trying to capsize vessels of all varieties, often ending in failure. Decades went by, centuries, a millennia and still her success rate lacked. Sure, she managed it the odd time if conditions were just right and she aligned the perfect visual angle on a well lit afternoon, but she was nowhere near successful enough to earn the respect of her people. That would take something extraordinary. Something like upending the Winchester.

After the wreck, while the others were basking in their achievement, Pikka followed the path of the ship down to the unforgiving depths below where she was met with a truly gruesome scene. Sharks had engaged in a proper gorging, leaving broken bodies half eaten and contorted floating sluggishly at varying depths. The corpses and corpse pieces swayed in unison, their strange death’s dance almost graceful. Their faces were frozen in contradictory expressions of anguished calm, which they couldn’t possibly have felt at the time of their expiration. Great clouds of smaller fish risked the danger of being eaten by the larger ones to get their fill of the plunder, further marring what little flesh remained on the bones.

Pikka didn’t care much for the bodies, distasteful as they were. Begrudgingly, she swam around the gore and mess as she descended, giving it a wide berth. She sunk to the bottom as quickly as she could, interested in scavenging whatever glittery things she could find before the others beat her to it; they were all fond of sparkly finery. Thievery was one thing she was particularly good at.

She navigated her way to the ship’s hull and stripped it of its glamour in heaps of silver and gold. These things held little value to her kind, of course, the only currency that mattered had little to do with riches and everything to do with reputation, but Pikka didn’t care. Although worthless the jewels were pretty, just like Pikka herself.

She spent a great deal of time ransacking the wreckage and had a rather impressive haul when she finally decided to ascend. It was difficult to see underwater, especially considering the recent upset and massive amount of debris that was still settling on the ocean floor. It had become somewhat late in the day too, and everything looked distorted under the current’s shifting tricks, which was why she didn’t notice the frozen body in her path before crashing headlong into it.

She cursed soundlessly as she dropped a small percentage of her booty. With significant irritation, she scowled at the offending corpse, which had been set floating off in a strange direction due to the collision. She bid it good riddance and was just about to part ways, when something about the regressing body – now barely visible – caught her attention.

Human emotions were something Pikka found baffling. She didn’t understand, for example, why the captain of a ship felt compelled to sink with his vessel when often there was the time and means to escape. Nor could she see the reason in allowing the females and their young onto dinghies out of turn. The human sense of pride and honour was almost as strange as love, which was what she found herself looking at as the grey body floated into obscurity.

Pikka approached the body with clinical curiosity. Its eyes were open and it had a disconcerting quizzical expression on its face, as if it were equally as curious about her. The object she’d seen was attached in a most irritatingly secure way to the corpse’s front, the rigid arms still clinging to it in a loving embrace even in death.

Agitated, she made short work of the grab. For the first time in her life, Pikka felt a strange sense of guilt as she cracked the fingers of the dead man, and removed the leather satchel he had died protecting. As if defeated, when relieved of its burden the corpse dropped out of sight like an old rock and into the weed-laden depths below.

Pikka returned to her rocky outcropping alone as she did every day. With minimal bravado, she dropped her treasures onto the floor of the cave she lived in, not concerned about the glittery things that rolled toward the shadowy corners where she was unlikely to find them again. She was, however, very gentle in her handling of the satchel, which she could hardly wait to open.

Inside, drenched with water and obviously having seen better days, was a violin. Pikka had never seen a violin up close before, nor did she know how to use it, not that it mattered. She slid her finger over the strings, and much to her infinite glee, it responded in a pretty mewling way. She picked it up, strumming it more purposefully, and delighted in the noise it made.

She placed the instrument under her chin and drew the bow across the strings, making the most horrific noise imaginable. But Pikka was persistent. This item had a voice and was capable of something truly spectacular, which she desperately wanted. She would make the damn thing sing if it killed her.

She practiced like this for weeks, months, years alone in her cave with little else to do until finally she stepped out of her hovel and played the violin above the crashing sea where it rung loud and true across the waves. Almost immediately a small ship came toward her and bashed into the hidden rocks at the base of her alcove as if summoned by an angel. This was her first success in years.

Pikka the Siren had no voice. But now, with the violin on her shoulder and no way to die, she was able to fulfill her role. Night after night, day after day she played the violin, toppling boat after boat whose occupants were drawn to her beautiful song. Finally happy and with undefeatable longevity, Pikka became the most successful Siren of all.

Photoon13-08-18at807AM_zpsea511548Bio:  Kat Hawthorne’s fiction has appeared in “Shadows Express Magazine,” at “Fiction and Verse,” in “Infernal Ink Magazine,” in “Underneath the Juniper Tree Magazine,” and at “Dark Edifice Magazine.” She has four poems published in various poetry compilations, and was commissioned in 2012 by Enter Skies Entertainment to pen the narrative for two online, interactive games, both of which are still in production. Kat’s novelette, “The Oddity,” has been acquired by MuseItUp Publishing, and is scheduled for release in spring/summer 2014. For more information, please visit Kat on facebook at www.facebook.com/KatMHawthorne.

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Updates…

The magazine is now accepting submissions again.

It’s been a while so send us your best 1000 words and please read the submissions page.

We’re also looking for some Christmas based stories. If you have one please mention it in the title of your email.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to reading your stories.

David.

Gritty Santa.112

 

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Cougar Bait by Sandra Seamans

Serena stretched awake in a cocoon of silk sheets, reveling in the satiny softness against her bare skin.  She smiled and reached across the bed for the warm young body of her companion, but his side of the bed was empty.  Through half opened eyes she saw Justin sitting on the floor trying to pick the lock on her jewelry safe.  Oh, Justin, she thought, you’re just too easy.  Hugging the sheets to her breasts, she sat up.

“Would you like the key?” she asked.

Justin jumped, his face flushing red before he flashed her an embarrassed grin.  It was the same boyish grin that had beckoned to her across the hotel pool yesterday afternoon.  Oh how she loved the subtle game of seduction.

“Sure, if you’ve got it handy.  I thought you’d be asleep for a while longer, guess I misjudged your stamina.”

Serena pulled her purse off the night stand and dug through the contents to find the key.  She tossed it to Justin, who caught it easily.  His cop arrogance overrode any embarrassment he might have felt about being caught in the act of stealing from her.

“I don’t tire that easily,” she purred.  Indeed, after so many years without a man, Serena had enjoyed the vigorous sex.  But now it was time to make good on the promise she’d made to herself.

“Must be I didn’t do a good enough job,” laughed Justin as he rifled through the safe.

“Oh, you did a marvelous job,” she answered.  “By the way, you won’t find the Cortez Diamond in there.”

“So you did steal it.”

Justin stood and moved towards the bed, his muscles rippling deliciously as he walked.  He was an exquisite specimen of a virile young man.  Such a waste, Serena thought, but then she’d known from the start that the game might not play out the way she planned.  Very little in life ever did.

“I didn’t say that.  I said it wasn’t in my jewelry safe.  Did you really think I’d be stupid enough to hide the diamond in my hotel room?  If I had stolen it, that is.”

Serena could see the anger on his face and braced herself as the back of Justin’s hand connected with the side of her face.

Serena laughed at him.  “Just like your father.  No finesse at all.”

“Tell me where you hid the diamond or I’ll smack you again.”

“Hit away.  I didn’t steal the damn thing.  I spent fifteen years in jail already and I don’t intend to go back.  Ever.”

“My old man told me you stole the diamond and if anyone knows how you work, it would be him.”

“Why?  Because that’s the way he set it up?  Same as he did fifteen years ago?”

The palm of Justin’s hand connected with her cheekbone bringing tears to her eyes.

“That’s right, bitch.  And  you’ll be heading straight back to jail just as soon as you tell me where the diamond is.  This case is going to get me a detective’s badge.”

“Like father, like son, huh?  What makes you think your old man will let you turn the diamond in?” asked Serena.  Her hand eased inside the purse resting in her lap and wrapped comfortably around the gun she’d hidden inside.  “You don’t know it yet, but he set you up big time.”

Justin’s hand balled into a fist.  “You don’t know anything about my father.”

“Go ahead, hit me again.  But before you do, ask yourself this.  Why’d your old man send you after me?  Why didn’t he come himself?  He could have retired on a career high.”

“He wanted me to have the bust, so I could get a promotion.”

“You don’t really believe that, do you?  Your father is a glory hound, there’s no way he’d pass up the opportunity,” said Serena.  “Truth is, he didn’t want to get killed himself.  And he knew I’d do it because he’s the son of a bitch who arranged the heist fifteen years ago.  Set me up for the fall while he walked off with the diamonds by claiming I’d hidden them before he caught me.  Who was going to believe me?  Certainly not the cops.  No, your father had it all figured.  Both times.  Except for one thing.”

Justin looked uneasy as the truth of her words sunk in.  “One thing?”

“He thinks I won’t kill you.”

Justin’s eyes widened as Serena pulled the gun from her purse.  “How?” he asked.

“How did I know about his plan?  Because your father made the mistake of using an old friend of mine to set up the heist.  I expect he plans to use the diamond to finance his retirement.  The problem is he underestimated me.  Fool thought I’d fall for the same trick twice.”

“So big deal, the old man set us both up.  Do you think I’ll back up your story in court to save my hide?  I won’t betray my father.”

“No, I didn’t think you would.  I’m telling you all this because I believe a boy should know why he’s taking a bullet for his father.  Such a waste, too.  You were a great piece of ass.  Now, would you like to get dressed before I shoot you?”

Justin walked over to the chair where he’d tossed his clothes, found his gun and turned.  “Did you really think I’d just stand here and let you shoot me?”

Serena laughed as she pulled the trigger.  “Of course not.  Self-defense is so much easier to prove when your attacker is holding a gun.”

Bio:  Sandra is a short story writer whose work can be found in places like Needle magazine and Beat to a Pulp.  She also a collection of short stories titled “Cold Rifts” published by Snubnose Press available as an ebook.  She blogs about writing and shorts athttp://sandraseamans.blogspot.com

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A Conversation With Grace by Tim Tobin

As the front door closed on Sam, Grace engaged in the only intelligent conversation she could find.

“Damn it!” she said to herself. “Why doesn’t that man have another heart attack and die and let me out of the hell I’m living in?”

“I say it’s white, he says it’s red, or blue, or pink. God forbid he agrees with me, just once.”

“And those inane reality TV shows he makes me watch! Oh my God, how stupid can one man be?”

“And the hours he spends in chat rooms. I bet he’s trolling for a teenager.”

Grace’s rant continued most of the day, so when Sam arrived home she greeted him with the usual. And then she literally threw some kind of chicken-ala-slop on the table.

They ate in near silence. When Sam finished he gave Grace small praise.

“Not bad,” he muttered and disappeared up the stairs to his computer.

Grace resumed her conversation.

“Just a little thanks? Is that too much? Must be.”

“God, I’d kill him myself if I could.”

Grace sat at the littered dinner table and thought that over.

Could she kill him and get away with it? She ticked off the options in her head.

“A gun, a knife? How could I get away with that?”

“Poison? I have no idea where to start. I bet the Internet would tell me. But, oh hell, those searches are traceable.”

Grace gave up, cleared the dishes and started the dishwasher. She rummaged in the junk drawer looking for a trash bag tie and found a matchbook.

Jake’s Bar and Grill, it read.

“What the hell is he doing hanging out at a joint like that? Worst part of town. Nothing but druggies, bums and hookers.”

“Bet one of them would shoot him,” she mused.

***

About ten minutes after Sam left for work, Grace heard a soft tap at the door.

“What did that idiot forget now?” she grumbled, as she yanked open the door.

A small man with a lip piercing and tattoos on both arms pointed a cannon at her. He kicked the screen open and two more thugs pushed into the house. When Grace opened her mouth to scream, the man with the gun put the barrel in her mouth and told her to shut up and sit down.

“Where’s the money, bitch?” he snarled.

Grace actually laughed at him for asking such a ridiculous question.

“Money? Money! Do I look like I have any money?” she said to the man.

The man hit Grace across the face with the gun. A tooth flew from her open mouth as she stumbled over the coffee table and wound up on the floor by the sofa. The man raised the gun to hit her again. She covered her head with her hands and pleaded.

“No, No! Please! Really, we have no money!”

The man hit her again, this time stunning her into semi-consciousness.

The gunman’s comrades ransacked the house and found the jar with quarters in it and her small Christmas fund.

“Hey, bitch! No money, ‘eh?” He slapped her with his open hand sending shooting pain into her broken jaw.

One of the other thugs found her ATM card in her purse with a receipt that showed a balance of $310.

The man sat next to Grace on the sofa and actually put his arm around her.

“Now, listen, lady. Here’s the story. Give me the PIN right now or I give you to my amigos.

***

The third thief made a quick run to the bank and returned howling in triumph with $300 clutched in his hand. The gunman pulled the battered and beaten Grace to her feet.

“Please,” she gasped. “No more. You have it all.”

He reached for the gun in his pocket and a matchbook fell out.

Grace looked at it in terror.

The matchbook read, “Jake’s Bar and Grill.”

***

Sitting in his car outside of the house, Sam listened to Grace screaming for mercy. He decided to wait until dinner time to call 9-1-1. There was no sense in drawing attention to himself.

Tim 18 monthsBio:  Over fifty of Tim Tobin’s stories and poems are published. His is a  graduate of LaSalle University, a retiree from L-3 Communications and is active in the South Jersey Writer’s Group.

He and his wife, MaryAnn, live in Voorhees, NJ. He is only slightly older than his photo.

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Needlepointe by Taylor Saulsbury

I never cared much about life, never took things seriously. I was selfish and cold, hurting everyone around me with my addiction. That is, until I crossed the Needlepointe Bridge. I remember the way her hair glistened golden-brown in the sunlight.  The girl on the ledge radiated beauty. That beauty is what caught my eye; the fact that she was standing on the ledge of the bridge, however, is what stopped me dead in my tracks.

I wondered what could ever be so bad that someone would see no way out other than to jump. I couldn’t walk past, knowing that this girl was going to jump. The temperature was easily below freezing, she would be dead the minute she hit the water.

I walked over to her, carefully and quietly. I climbed up on the rail beside her and asked her what she was doing there. For a long while, we just stood there in silence, side by side, on the ledge of the Needlepointe Bridge. I wasn’t sure what to make of the situation.

“What if I told you what I’m crossing the bridge for?” I tried a new approach.

She looked at me with hollow eyes. “Why are you crossing the bridge?”

I told her about my addiction, and how I was going across the bridge to get my fix. Then I glanced at her out of the corner of my eye, expecting some sort of judgment. Instead, she just stared blankly ahead and sighed.

“At least you have feelings to try and numb. I don’t feel anything.”

When she said that, I was taken by surprise. It had never occurred to me that someone would want to end their life not because they were in too much pain to go on, but simply because they couldn’t feel anything anymore. But, I guess, in a way, I was standing on the ledge with her every time I used.

There was something about this girl that made me feel accepted, maybe even understood. I wasn’t sure how or why. I just wanted to keep her talking so I took a chance and told her about my life. At first, I was treading lightly, being careful not to open up too much. She had a way of making me want to talk. Before I knew it, I found myself confiding in her.

“I took my little brother’s laptop out of his room this morning. He worked all summer to buy it, and I couldn’t even control myself. I just, I needed that fix, ya know? His brand new HP notebook is sitting in a pawnshop being sold for far less than he paid for it,” I confessed.

I glanced over again, still expecting judgment, or even shock, but she just remained steady and nodded. We talked until the sun went down. After a while, we found ourselves sitting on the ledge, rather than standing, huddling closer with the dropping temperature. Maybe it was fate that led me over the bridge that day. I had never felt so at home in my whole life than I did talking to this girl.

I grabbed her hand and we stepped off the ledge. Out of my pocket, I grabbed my knife and carved “The Way Home” into the rail of the bridge.

With that, she smiled and took my hand. The two of us walked hand in hand, across the bridge.

We realized somewhere in the night that two people could be made for each other. Two people can be destined to meet. The girl on the ledge saved me from myself just as I saved her. We were meant to cross paths that day.

Taylor SalisburyBio:  Taylor Saulsbury is a full time student at Full Sail University, majoring in Creative Writing for Entertainment. Her primer focus is in comedy. Taylor’s work has previously been published in ‘Linguistic Erosion’. Originally from a small town on the Chesapeake Bay, she now resides in Orlando.

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Running the Cross by Tyson Adams

It’s called “Running the Cross”, or simply “The Cross”. It is dangerous.

I’ve been here before. It’s a small town in South Australia where twelve rail lines merge, an east-west alignment of freight trains travelling from various states. Once every few months, the timetables align and twelve trains converge in a slightly staggered pattern. For the few that are fast enough, strong enough, determined enough, or just plain crazy enough, this is the place to test your mettle. No-one will stop you, except the trains.

The Cross had gained a level of notoriety in running circles, even attracting some big-name Olympic athletes to the dusty town. I’m not an Olympian, but I share a place with those who have completed The Cross.

One Olympic aspirant had made the town, and Running the Cross, infamous on a sunny afternoon one July. There are two paths you can choose: the first is shorter. It is closer to the shunting lines, closer to the town centre, so the area is flatter with less undulations between the tracks and it is also where the tracks are at their closest. This closeness is both a blessing and a curse. The biggest problem is that the shortness of the route also means the trains are far closer together, leaving no place to hide. I looked east, back towards the town, at that path. The tracks look like they are spaced quite far apart, but once you have twelve trains side by side they seem far too close together.

The sprinter learned this. Two and a half thousand tonnes of steel and freight moving at eighty kilometres per hour ended his Running of the Cross, and nearly his life. He’d fallen on the second to last rail. A spectator had been filming – you can still see the horrifying moment of impact on Youtube.

His legs were severed below the knee. Many thought it would end his athletic dreams. Five years later he was back on a pair of prosthetic limbs and completed The Cross. No-one was filming him this time. Not long after, he posted a world-class sprint time and was lobbying to be included in the Olympics on his carbon-fibre legs. He’d reclaimed something of himself: he could do anything.

The second route across the tracks was the way I was going to cross today. Longer and harder, but you could quit and wait out the passing trains between the tracks. The second route had also claimed more lives. You were more likely to slip and fall, which was all it took when you only had fractions of a second to cross each track.

This route was just west of town, closer to the first train as it passed the signal marker for the start. Here the ground sloped away, creating a hollow that saw the tracks built up, creating short steep hills.

The trains were coming now. One train gives the ground a slight rumble; twelve you can feel up through your body. I breathed deeply, shook out my limbs. The rumble was up to my stomach.

This would be the second time I’d attempted The Cross. I had been fifteen years younger and dumber when I first ran. Now, like the Olympian, I was here to prove something to my forty year old self.

The trains were now all visible. My heart was racing, adrenaline making my chest feel tight, sweat already trickling. I tried to relax, tried to be in control. The rumble pulsed through my body, shaking my insides. The trains were looking painfully close, some honking warning horns, some slowing a little, others still thundering forward.

The first train reached the marker and I was off.

Short, quick steps as I tackled the first incline, the steepest and longest of the raised tracks. I was over it and down the other side when I felt a rush of wind from the first passing train. The next track fell behind me, the train coming from the east was further away, I barely noticed.

The third and fourth tracks were flatter but slightly further apart with a flat section in between. I bounded over them and up the strewn surface. My foot slipped slightly and my hands came into play. Still I moved forward. I didn’t dare look at how close the trains were, but I knew I had to soon. It was a mistake not to.

Tracks five and six were flatter, easier, the wind rushed past and a horn from the sixth train blared at me. The drivers had spotted me and were sharing their disgust. They had to live with your death; you just died.

Seven was moving fast, too fast, trains are only supposed to be doing eighty through towns. It skimmed past me, chomping at my heels, whipping my shirt as I ran on. Too close.

The end was in sight as I crossed eight. The thunder of steel, the rumble of earth, the harsh symphony of horns, all enough to throw anyone off their stride. The Cross was as much mental as physical.

I shut the sounds out and continued. Suddenly, the last two tracks were before me. A glance, left and right. Converging trains from the east and west closed in. I was too slow, the gap too small.

I should have hesitated, I should have faltered, should have stopped between the tracks. I should actually give up.

That wasn’t why I was here. Giving up wasn’t what I was here to do.

I eyed a spot beyond the last track, my goal, my haven. The thunder was now all in my head. The breathing, the blood pulsing in my neck. The last train was right on top of me, looming like a steel giant. It was power; it was death.

Too slow.

I leapt.

I tumbled and sprawled across the hard dirt. Pieces of bluemetal and small rocks grated my skin. I felt the skin tear from my elbow to thigh. The sting was dull, more a warm feeling; the pain dulled by my adrenaline.

I was alive.

I stood in the thunder, breathing in the rasping, pungent diesel fumes. My applause, my fanfare, was the passing of the twelve freight trains. The steel tracks bent and strained under the load, hissing a high-pitched whistle of delight at my victory.

I could do anything.

Tyson, guitar and sonBio:  Tyson started writing after an unfortunate accident with an imagination and a pencil at a young age. No longer allowed to carry out black-ops operations, he instead writes thrilling stories. Tyson has a couple of science degrees, is married with a son and fur-kid and is a vocal proponent of renewable energies and quality whiskey. You can follow him on TwitterFacebook, or his blog tysonadams.com

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