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Creative Nonfiction

Splash! 

The crowded train fell straight into the Whangaehu River, taking 151 lives with it. The darkness loomed over it in the distance. Mt Ruapehu, the cause of New Zealand’s worst railway disaster, seemed to sigh in relief; the deed was done. Deep inside one of the carriages, Jack was struggling to stay alive…


5 days earlier…


Jack ran home from school as fast as his little legs could carry him, he needed to pack. As a special Christmas treat, his Mum and Dad were taking him to Auckland City to see the Queen, who was visiting. They would catch the train there on Christmas Eve. Jack couldn’t wait, he had never been on a train before. This was going to be the best Christmas ever. They were going to pass some amazing views on the way. The best part of the whole trip for Jack was getting to see Mt Ruapehu, and that meant he was going to see snow. Jack had never seen snow in his life, it didn’t snow much in New Zealand. Christmas here was in Summer, not winter like everywhere else, A six-year-old’s life couldn’t get any better.


2 days earlier…


All packed, now it was time for the long wait. if there was one thing Jack couldn’t do, it was wait. Not even spending time with his pet rabbit, Bluebell, could help take his impatience away. Finally he just decided to count down the hours until the train ride. 56 hours (5 seconds later), 5 hours (1 second later), 20 hours (7 split-seconds later.) As you may have guessed Jack was not the best at counting, still, he was the best in his class ( at least he thought he was.)


1 day earlier…


Tomorrow was Christmas Eve, the waiting was getting harder. Jack didn’t get it. Why did he have to wait? ‘Just wait until I get my hands on whoever invented waiting’, he thought. Jack found himself planning what he was going to do to this inventor if he did find them. He forgot all about waiting. 


Christmas Eve…


They were off, the best day of Jack’s life had come. And if life couldn’t get any better, they were travelling in the front first-class carriage, all of Jack’s Christmas presents were there as well.

Jack soon found himself falling asleep…

A sudden jolt woke Jake, he was at a train station. Wait what? No! Jack had just slept through most of the train ride. The good news was he wasn’t going to miss Ruapehu, though it would be hard to see now that it was dark. It was about 9:50 p.m. Jack wasn’t tired anymore though, he had just been asleep for hours. Next stop Tangiwai, they were going to pass Ruapehu on the way. The best part of the trip was right at the doorstep…

However, that door never opened…


It was about 10:15 p.m. The train was getting closer and closer to Tangiwai rail bridge. Jack Squinted to make out the figure of a mountain in the distance. There it was, Mt Ruapehu. 

The train suddenly jolted, Jack flew out of his seat. Why was the driver trying to stop the train? The speed of the train slowed, but it wouldn’t stop. Then all of a sudden, something terrible happened…

The five front second class carriages fell down to the Whangaehu River, the bridge had collapsed. The next thing Jack knew, his carriage were hanging in the air as if only a tiny piece of string was connecting it and the rest of the train together.

Jack screamed, but it was useless. He looked down the river, at a nightmare. People were floating past, drifting through the current. Each wore the same terrified expression on their face. They all knew their fate lied in this merciless river. Jack had always wondered why Tangiwai meant weeping waters, but now he knew. 


Then it was his turn…

The carriage gave an enormous jolt as it broke free from the other three, flying down, to the river.

Splash! The next thing Jack knew he was trapped under a seat, he was too scared to scream. Everyone inside the carriage was now getting ready to swim out, they all linked arms and dove into the murky depths of the river.

No one saw Jack. He was still stuck in the train, helpless. How could he have looked forward to this day, the day he was going to die. Bash! Water poured into the carriage. Jack, who was still trapped under the seat, couldn't get away. Even if he was free of the seat, only a champion swimmer could swim through this current alone. 

A small piece of metal cut through his arm. Jack didn’t have time to cry about it though. 

The others had reached the shore now, but one of them wasn’t there. They probably got swept away. The water had now filled the carriage and Jack realised the sad truth, he was going to die.

Jack’s eyes fluttered open, by some miracle the seat must have fallen off him, setting him free. But now the carriage was filled with mud. Jack felt his eyes closing again…


The next day…


Jack woke up, yet again his surroundings had changed. He was now in hospital, all alone in his bed. He knew how lucky him and the others in the carriage had been. Of the 22 people in the carriage, only 1 had died. Jack was lucky to be alive. Nearly everyone in the carriages in front of them were now dead. Traveling first class had proven very useful. There was now a sharp pain in his arm, that metal shard had done some harm. Jack turned to see his arm, all the remained of it was a stump. It was true that you learn things every day, today he learnt that metal could cut through flesh.

Jack’s impatience was rising again, why couldn’t he know what had caused the bridge to collapse?

The wait took 3 long, days but finally he found out. The crater lake of Mt Ruapehu had released about 2 million cubic meters of water, ice, mud and rocks. The wave had been 6 meters high! Soon the wave had struck the concrete pylons of the bridge. When the train passed over the weakened bridge, it collapsed.


Unfortunately, even though he was only six, there was no way he would ever forget what had happened to him. He had a stump where an arm had been to remind him.

When Jack was released from the hospital, he was immediately famous at school. Kids wouldn’t leave him alone. So one day, to try and remember the good times Jack took a walk to the nature park. He then sat down and looked at the scenery, then he closed his eyes and imagined the old days…

A dream, washed away.


April 18, 2021 21:28

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9 comments

Charlie Murphy
00:52 Apr 26, 2021

Great story! It sucks Jack lost an arm, but I'm glad he lived.

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Arwen Dove
01:04 Apr 26, 2021

Haha! Yes, I wanted Jack to die, but he didn't want to. ;)

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Charlie Murphy
01:39 Apr 26, 2021

=] You can read mine, "Baby Island Adventure" if you want.

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Arwen Dove
06:33 Apr 26, 2021

:) I'd love to!

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Daniel Hayes
05:27 Apr 19, 2021

Hi Arwen, this story was very good. I really enjoyed reading it :) I think you did a good job creating a solid character in Jack. I hate that he had to lose his arm. Also, the way the train collapsed was very well written. I saw it play out like a movie! Overall, this was another fantastic story! I loved it :)

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Ed .
05:04 Apr 19, 2021

Thanks! Well done on your book. I really enjoyed it.

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Arwen Dove
21:31 Apr 19, 2021

:)

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21:40 Apr 30, 2021

Great story Arwen! Really liked it. The last sentence was really good. “A dream washed away.” Well done.

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Arwen Dove
02:01 May 01, 2021

Thanks so much!

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