The rain started up again in torrents....

Well, this was absolutely fantastic. Wonderful. The rain? It had gotten going again, with its ferocity doubled from the times before. The clear water-pellets bolted down to the ground, their percussive noise stung his ears. He couldn't see now. Couldn't see his own hand, should he have chosen to hold it out in front of his face. All that he'd have gotten a look at was the sheets of rain pouring down, and that was all that he did see. His feet? Forget it. He knew they were there, but he could barely distinguish the shadowy shapes beneath him.

Rain makes wood slippery. The tracks were made of wood. It might have made a bit of sense for the man to step off of the tracks as soon as the rain got going. But those tracks? They were his lifeline. The only thing that he was following were the abandoned planks. If he lost those, he lost his trail, he'd be hopeless until the rain let up, which it was showing no signs of doing. It seemed that the weather was out to get him, and the rain was its chief assault. A chill came to the air, cold enough that the little drops of rain started to freeze. Hail, it would be called. Balls of ice that fell from the dark clouds, making more noise than the rain, and causing a significant amount of pain to the bits of the traveller that were exposed. He could feel the ice tear at his skin, little pinpricks that drew crimson blood. He could see that, through the falling ice. He could tell that he was bleeding, but there was nothing that he could do about it, not a thing that would help him, but moving forward. He kept himself on those tracks like his life depended on it, and by this point, it might have.

Those tracks were his support, his guidance, and before long, even they gave up on him, and he stumbled, fell to the gravelled ground beside them. He didn't want to get up. He didn't want to move. The hail kept up its attack, the chill wasn't leaving, he had no place to go, no place to hide.

He'd never have thought that he'd meet his end out here, by himself, with just the wood of the tracks. He'd been damn near wealthy once, but...well, times had changed that, and here he was, destined to be just another nameless corpse along the tracks. Abandoned tracks, at that. It could be years before he was found, by then, he might be a blanched skeleton. Then again, that might not be such a terrible thing, the anonymity that death brought on. Somebody might imagine that he'd died in some wonderful, romantic way. The kind of epic death found only in storybooks, but seldom replicated in reality. Thinking that way, he could stop breathing with a smile on his lips. The lids of his eyes came to a close, and he was ready, truly ready, to find out what the next world held.

He heard a rumbling. The earth shook. This was what it was like to die? Maybe...maybe the ground would open up, swallow him whole. The rumbling grew louder. Louder. And then it came to a screeching halt.

"You there!" The voice was gruff, and the traveller opened his eyes. "You're Daniel...Hammond, aren't you?" Well, to be honest, Daniel hadn't expected St.Peter to come down to meet him right here on earth. Nor had he expected the saint to be quite so..human. From what he could see, the man who was addressing him was tall. He couldn't see a face, but he managed a mumbled 'yes'

"Good! Thought we'd see you at this stop today. You've got a ticket for this train right 'ere. One way, and you'd be a smart man to take it. It's yer choice, though, we can leave you right here if you really want it."

"I..." Daniel began, pushing himself to his feet with sheer willpower. Something caught the corner of his eye. The hail had softened to rain, and in that rain...was it a face? A face...human, definitely, but a very distinct shape, and it mouthed the word 'no' all too clearly.

"Ey!" The man by the train called out, seemingly to the water-man. "You got no business bein' here! Get your soggy self away and let the gentleman make his own choices!" The face of water did not listen, though, and simply remained suspended. "What'll it be, Daniel? You gettin' on, or not?"

The End

96 comments about this story Feed