Friday, December 28, 2012

The Connection

Today's post is a piece of Flash Fiction that I wrote for the Dude Write December Flash Fiction Contest.

This month's prompt was to write a piece based off of this photo, taken by our judge, David Rashleigh:

I hope you enjoy it.  Weighing in at exactly 500 words, I present to you, "The Connection."

*   *   *

The train steamed to a halt twenty minutes ahead of schedule.  And it surprised Daniel.

Only five minutes before, he had looked at his watch and sighed, cursing his father for dropping him off ridiculously early once again.  As he put his headphones in his ears, he wished someone would have waited with him.

Another holiday, surrounded by family, yet alone as ever.  Picked up and dropped off at an empty station where trains seldom stopped. 

Every year, as he boarded and disembarked the train, he couldn't help but feel as if he was a nuisance -- the sole reason that the powerful, ever-moving locomotive had to put a pause in its journey across the country.  The feeling that he was an inconvenience was most powerful while he was at his parents' house.

He felt the train before he saw it.  His eyes were closed and his music was loud, but he felt its massive presence before him, as it jerked back and stabilized to a halt.

The initial surprise was innocent enough.  It was simply a train that, according to the schedule, wasn't supposed to be there.

But then a soldier stepped off the train, into the steam. 

So much steam. 

He was a soldier, sure.  But a soldier that Daniel saw in movies.  In movies when soldiers had a machine gun and a prayer.  When soldiers stormed beaches and usually died.

The soldier peered out through the steamy mist, looking for someone.  And as his gaze turned towards Daniel, a massive smile took over his wearied face.  Another soldier, who had apparently been sitting next to Daniel, jumped up and embraced his friend.

They looked at each other in a brief, almost undetectable look of concern, and then quickly boarded the train; the thunderous whistle of the engine was threatening departure.

Daniel looked ahead to see the historic-looking engine, which slowly and loudly began to move.  The connecting cars followed suit, though strangely at their own independent pace.

As the car that was holding the two soldiers jolted forward in its first movement, Daniel saw that it now contained half a dozen soldiers who were all greeting the newest passenger, their brother-in-arms.

But the other soldier -- the one who had stepped off the train -- was still staring out the window, out at the train station.

He looked directly at Daniel and gave him a slight nod.  A knowing nod. 

The train moved faster, the steam increased, but the soldier kept looking at Daniel until he and the train disappeared, though Daniel couldn't be sure whether it vanished into the steam or into the distance.

He sat in a silence that was only corrupted by the sound of his rapid heartbeat in his head and the faint and distant music coming from his headphones, now in his lap.

He could still feel the soldier's eyes on him.  Those eyes and that nod that said, undeniably, Thank you.  Thank you for seeing me.

"Thank you, too," Daniel said.

-Youngman Brown

CNR locomotive 6004, seen in 1943. It would be destroyed seven years
later in the Canoe River train wreck, which killed 21 people, including
17 Korea-bound troops.

If you liked this, check out some of my other Flash Fiction

And if you want to read some other awesome Dude Write authors, or even enter this competition and become a part of our community, come on over and hang out.

Dude Write


  1. The only problem with flash fiction sometimes, is I want the story to keep going! This was beautifully written, as always. And I loved that it was supernatural, one of my favorite genres. It gave me the chills.

  2. Damn, that's fucking good. Or good fucking -- no, that doesn't work. So let's stick with fucking good.


  3. Beautiful addition the line-up! Side question - how do you know that I see dead people?

  4. I fell in love with this story and could see it playing out in my head as I read it. Great piece!!

  5. Great stuff, Youngman.

    An eerie tale for New Year's Eve.

    Best wishes for 2013,


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