12 November 2009

"Half-Past-Huh?" #Fridayflash

The boss never said that the train would be exactly on time, but by the time my knees ached and begged for relief, it was half-past-midnight. Almost from ridiculous habit, I glanced down the silent tracks once more. The moonlight did not pass through the yellowed sodium-lights pissing all over the boarding station deck. I tugged at my tie and sat the briefcase down. The itinerary screamed the time expected in loud red numbers:

11:45 P.M.

It was now tomorrow, and there was no train. The sky rumbled in disagreement with itself, and forks of weak lightning fingered out along the clouds’ underbelly. A curtain of rain dropped like it was poured out of a bucket.

Far away, I heard the unmistakable whistle of the steam engine. A slight chuggachugga, like it was working uphill. I plucked up the case again, gripping the leather-covered handle tight. It was supposed to be cuffed to my wrist, but I’d forgotten the damn things at the motel. The combination locks gleamed on other side. I smiled, confident again, and stepped out into the rain.

The train churned the engine and the wheels worked furiously in the slick tracks. Around the corner, and then the cyclopean headlamp. It burned brighter as the beast neared, the ground beneath the platform shaking in response. As it approached, I could see the heavy dent in the boiler tank. The crushed smokestack. Smoke curled out from random holes in the thing and it came to a screeching, shuddering full stop several hundred meters past the boarding dock.

A woman screamed; I didn’t even know she was standing there. I eyed her standing there with her hands covering her mouth, and followed her terrified gaze.

Draped over the coal car, and half of the next two passenger cars, was a black shape, oily and writhing like a coiled snake, but it wasn’t one of those.

A great slotted eye the size of a dinner plate stared out at us, as my mind scrambled to piece together the entirety of the monster wrapped around and tethered to the partially-destroyed locomotive: A big, black, Giant Squid.

There was the torpedic head, the cat-golden eye, with about a dozen shredded and oozing tentacles hung over the machine. It squirmed, clearly uncomfortable or dying, maybe both.

The train station attendant left his post, (having no tickets to sell) and approached the platform, mouth agape. I took a deep breath and squeezed my eyes shut. We had to remain calm, even if there was a cephalopod crushing the (11:45 P.M.) train. I cleared my throat.

“What about the passengers aboard?” I shook my head and started to put the briefcase down, then thought better of it. The rain smacked me on my cheeks as I neared the train and looked up. One tentacle lifted, waved and fell back to the tangled mess with a heavy plop. I climbed up into the mangled car and had a peek in. The interior was dark, but blessedly free of bodies. Overhead, the groan of overburdened metal and splintered wood framing encouraged me to vacate immediately.

“Right, well look at it. It appears to be dying,” I said as I hopped down to the platform.

The woman tore her gaze from the animal and stared at me like I had tentacles of my own. “Shouldn’t we call the police?”

“What would the police do?”

The attendant pulled a worn handkerchief from his overalls pocket, paisley-deep red, and blotted his whiskered chin.

“I’m thinking calamari.”

17 comments:

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Delightful - I love a good creature feature and especially giant sea-dwelling creature features.

We're not even safe on land!!

Karen from Mentor said...

"It was supposed to be cuffed to my wrist, but I’d forgotten the damn things at the motel."


....seems like there's a side story in there...lol...

I HATE it when giant squid wrecks my train.

nicely told.
Karen :0)

Marisa Birns said...

Gives new meaning to hitching a ride!

Wonderful first paragraph.

Last line made me laugh out loud...

Enjoyed it very much.

Jim_Wisneski said...

Great story! I love the build up and then the last line seals it with some humor. Nice work.

Jim
http://tinyurl.com/yfz6vkh

Chance said...

Fantastic

Giant sea monsters and trains, what more do you need in friday flash ?

shannon said...

Oh, well of course...giant squid eating a train...LOL. You are awesome :-) Calamari, yum!

Eric J. Krause said...

Very cool image. And the last line wrapped up the story in a funny little bow. Excellent story!

christel42 said...

That was awesome! I loved the imagery with the rain, and then the squid-monster. "I'm thinking calamari." LMFAO! Great piece!

Deanna said...

Nice 'n spooky Carrie, and I love agree with everyone else - that last line seals it so well.

Love your descriptions!

Laura Eno said...

I have to agree with Karen about a side story to leaving the handcuffs at the motel...

Great story! At least they know why the train was late now.

Jaimi said...

loved the last line. Hell, I love calamari!

~Tim said...

Aw, the poor squid! [hee-hee]

Cascade Lily said...

Well there's a thing I didn't see coming :) I like calamari too (except when it's too chewy, which perhaps this one would have been!)

A Writer said...

It's been a busy week. Thank you everyone for stopping by to read. It's an honor.

Jodi MacArthur said...

Ha! Love your description of the squid and love the paisley hankey man's solution. Creativity at it's best. You were made to write, Carrie.

Laura said...

Too cool! I followed a school (pod? plate?) of squid while diving once and they gave me a collective, baleful glare. I'm sure they would have preferred to squish me, or at least that they were large enough to discourage my interest.

Scott King said...

I like that at the end it went the humor route instead of the dark-horor route.

Also... I don't know why but "Chuggachugga" made me laugh.