I was nervous, of course I was. It’s weird to think about sometimes, how I can still get nervous even after all I‘ve fought, but here we are. I adjusted my satchel bag and squeezed it’s leather strap in a hidden attempt for reassuranc, then realized with a sigh, that I had nothing to be anxious about. That didn’t help it, obviously, but I tried.

Peering around, I decided to take a look at any fellow commuters. I felt a little out of place, seeing as they all looked casual and calm compared to me, but whatever. A girl caught my eye just as a small rat scurried by the tracks, dragging my attention away from her and onto it. Oh no, that rat was gonna get crushed. After a few moments of me staring at it while it was washing itself, it looked up at me with its big black eyes and stared back right into my own. I smiled at it, and it bobbed it’s head, almost as if in acknowledgement, before it laid flat against the center of the tracks.

I heard the train before I saw it, I think that’s always the case. The metallic hiss and straining squeak of the wheels fills your ears as the careening cars try their best to slow to a desperate stop. The clank of the heavy wheels rattles around in your head like slingshot ammo ricocheting against your skull, loud and clattering. There isn’t a slow stop with the beasts we call trains, it takes more than a mile for them to brake.

I was still staring down at the small rat, pondering if the sun felt good against its back and if it enjoyed the heavy rumble the train injects into the Earth against its small body, when the train arrived. Its heavy body glided over the small rodent as if it were a predator to big to concern itself with prey that small. My chest swelled as if it were ready to burst open as the loud whine of straining metal filled the air. I looked around to see if anyone had been as shaken as me, but it seemed not, so I resigned myself to staring at my feet in silent awe and terror.

Desperate to cover up my previous emotions, the moment I heard the doors hiss open I hurried in like the rat, still most likely hidden under the train. I shared a small smile with myself, wishing the rat well and hoping he sees something other than the metal of the tracks, before skittering to my seat.

These types of trains were everywhere no, making seats that used to be first class as cheap as economy. Every two boarders got a small room, less than 100 square feet of space, to stay in during the trip. The carpet was posh, and seemed like it belonged in a hotel. I really liked the varnished wood that made up the trim and booths for the dining and lounge cars, though I don’t know what type it was.

I found my room and wiggled my suitcases around to save space. If I was lucky then i might not get a roommate, or if I did the other commuter would only have a 2 or 3 hour ride before getting off.

Sometimes I wonder when trains came back into fashion. They never taught us in classes, apparently people integrated trains back into standard use to quietly and slowly that no one can pin a date, year, or even time frame. I’ve heard people say it faded it and out of popularity and will eventually fade out again, but others make claims that they have a distant connection through a muddled and tangled mess of red twine that resembles a knot more than a line to the one who pushed trains back into popularity.

I mainly think that our modern yet vintage trains probably came to stay at around 2136 when Nazir Hucog created the first power core, which worked the same as backup generators or batteries, but could fuel 3 or more states in the US at a time. I never learned about him in class either, but the fact that his generator kickstarted the Curiosity Alliance, established for more world education and to build bridges to anywhere separated by large bodies of water or otherwise to increase positive interaction, is amazing.

I was knocked out of my thoughts by a girl, surprisingly without any of the modern holograph modifications that a lot preferred. If I had to guess, i’d say she didn’t have any because she was on a business trip, but you can never tell.

I stuck out my hand in greeting and introduced myself quickly, eager for the ride to start and let us wander the train and mingle with others. When you take trains, there’s a big likelyhood of you meeting people from all over the world, in places you’ve never even heard of before. Don’t get me wrong, i was still terrified by the movement under my feet and the shaking or the car due to hydraulics, but i was starting to get used to it.

She clasped her hand in mine and looked me in the eye directly when smiling, and I could see that one of her scleras was blacked out. It’s not that bizarre to see holographic mods like that, so I wasn’t very startled, but after figuring out that It wasn’t a mod, I was just about bursting with curiosity.

Her name was Angie, I learned, and she came from Mandeni-Traviso Adjacent. I also learned that it was a small town located on a bridge made mostly for pitstops. The train ran through their town, which laid on a small man made Island called Achepelliogo, once again not very well known. I held my tongue about her eye incase it was a rude question, just to be safe. I didn’t want to offend the person I would be riding with for the rest of my trip.

A member of the staff brought us out of our idle chit chat by handing out the safety manuals and guiding us out into the second car where we would be starting the train. Because the train jerks so much upon starting due to the burst of intense condensed pressure from the power core that fuels it, we are all kept in the same car for safety. We‘re all strapped into soft seats that almost swallow you and feel somewhat like a mix between an air bed and a waterbed that were specially designed to absorb kinetic energy and any jerky movements that may cause harm. Angie laughed while the train started rumbling, and I let out a nearly inaudible whine.

Now, the thing about the seats is that they absorb the energy, but they don’t block your vision. Long story short, I screamed. It’s terrifying, seeing the entire world shake and shudder as if it is about to regurgitate the bones of some long dead great beast. I may be overreacting, but it was horrible. The view after though, it nearly made the experience worth it.

We looked out the window once the herking slowed down slightly, and in the room you could feel the awe and hear our quiet gasps. The ocean was practically right bellow us, and shining its beautiful sapphire green. We saw the shadow of something much bigger than a whale, probably the size of about 3 of them, just under the surface. It breached slightly, and as it glided through the tumultuous tides like butter, we all at the same time felt instinctively connected by how different we were.

The animal I recognized from a nature documentary last month, it was one of the deep dwellers, a relatively new species classification that encompasses the creatures who live deep enough in the ocean that they adapted separately and so differently from other aquatic creatures to not even fit the criteria anymore. Because of socialization and only positive human interaction, these animals have begun to visit the surface more often. They let us research them as long as they get a reward. Most deep dweller species and even the individuals themselves tend to prefer a different type of reward for theur help, and since they are a recent discovery it’s mainly just trial and error at this point. Still, and deep dweller species shows so much intelligence that it’s hard to believe they weren’t the ones who searched for us first.

I got out of my seat while shaking roughly, thinking confidently that I could walk and being proven wrong not even 2 seconds later when the beautiful carpet that I had complimented on my way in was suddenly rushing toward my face. Angie caught me with a giggle, her legs somehow not even shivering, and guided me back to my room while I continued to get more and more embarrassed every step of the way.

We got back to our room, Angie still giggling while I hid my face in my curls, without much trouble. She dropped me unceremoniously onto my bed and fell gracefully onto hers, and I let myself smile at the contrast. For a moment we sat in silence and just bathe in the adrenaline still left over from the start of the train. It was nice being able to coexist with a stranger, one who I might never have even met.

She broke the dust and sunlight filled quiet first, saying “I saw you staring at that rat earlier. On the train platform, anyways.”

I peered up at her anxiously, her face catching in my memories like a bur on your heel. She was the girl from the station, the one who caught my attention briefly before i dropped it in favor of a rat. “Oh my god, this is embarrassing, you must have thought I was the biggest idiot in the world.”

”No,” the replied simply. “To tell you the truth, all I could really think about at the time was ‘Shes really cute, I should try to get her signal’.”

When I looked up to see if she was lying, or just teasing me, I saw her hand. It was outstretched innocently, in her palm laid her turtledove open to the contacts page. The only information filled out was my name.

”So, indulge me would ya?” she smiled and shot me a wink, and I hesitantly took her turtledove incase it was a prank. She only grinned brighter at me when I input my signal and handed her turtledove back to her. She took it in both hands and sent me an RM right away, the pinging of the notification making me realize that, wow, this wasn’t a joke, and when I checked my own turtledove and saw her message I couldn’t help but smile brightly.

“hello rat train girl! you are very pretty and also you screamed way louder than you thought during the start of the train and my ears are still ringing, wanna come with to grab some ginger ale and tipers to get me to stop feeling like a firework went off right by my face?”

I looked up at her, about to answer with my voice before seeing the anticipation in her eyes and responding over our signal.

”That would be great, sorry about your ears but also not sorry cause you called me rat train lady. You know my name!”

February 04, 2020 05:01

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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