(Halloween fiction, so if this isn’t your cup o’tea, hit back now.)
As I step out my front door, the misty drops of thick fog hit my face. I sigh and look down the street. The town lights look warm yet muted behind the foggy layers that separate us, but I can still see well enough to go on my nightly jog. I tug the strings of my hoodie and as the hood snugs around my face I jump down the half step off of my porch.
I had not lived here long and due to my shift change at work, I am left to jog much later than I ever had. This didn’t bother me much, just means I have the town to myself. The quaint little Georgia town “rolled up it’s sidewalks” at nine. Nothing was open, everyone was at home and I rather liked it that way. My first late night jog was just chillier than expected.
I love the crisp fall air, but tonight the air held an odd chill within the droplets that surrounded me. The air was thick and it saturated my lungs with a cold, prickling sting. I decided to stop in the Town Square to catch my breath. I’ve never stopped at the square on a night like this. What a mysterious beauty, coated in fog.
The clock tower was almost completely shrouded in the fluffy grey mass, if not for the glow from the clock face, it would be unnoticeable. As I stretch my arms above me, trying to open my lungs I hear a loud screech. Metal on metal. Twisting, crunching, grinding. My instinct is to immediately jump over the solid metal bench for some protection.
As I gather my senses, I look around from the other side of my protective hurdle to see, nothing. The square is as empty as it was just a moment before my impromptu hurdle. I jog to the other end of the main square. All streets devoid of any vehicles, let alone a fender bender. Convinced my eyes have missed something, I return to my previous position. Nothing. I hold a fridgid, shaking hand to my forehead.
“Am I losing my mind?” I mumble.
As if in response to my question, the clock tower bellows eleven deep chimes that bounce off the store fronts around me. I jump at the sound. After the clock has it’s say, I shake my arms and bounce in attempt to regain my focus.
I start back with a slow jog, but I cannot shake the feeling that horrid sound gave me. It resonated deep within my bones. What could have made such a horrid sound? I round the far end of the square and pick up my pace for the jog back. As I enter the main square, I hear a noise off in the distance. A train!
Wait! A train! I speed up from a jog to a full sprint. Why didn’t I think of the train?! A block past my house there are train tracks, maybe that’s where the noise originated!? I hear the train whistle getting closer as I race down the street towards the tracks. I hope someone isn’t stuck on the tracks!
As I pass my house, I see the crossing arms light up and lower, the train horn echoes in the darkness. Just then a woman emerges from the fog. She is staggering up from the ditch on the otherside of the tracks. I am about 100 yards away when I stop running. I try to call out to her when the rush of air hits me. The train speeds between us, it’s horn overtakes my hearing leaving a violent ringing in it’s wake.
I stoop over, hands on my knees as I try to regain my breath. This thick air seemingly refuses to fill my lungs properly. My mind turns to the woman on the other side of the train. She looked in bad shape and I have to wait for this train to pass before I can help her. I try to force more air in my lungs as the last few cars pass. With my ears still ringing, I cross the tracks to find a suprising sight.
(To be continued…)