The Feeling

This bit of flash fiction gives us a blood-chilling preview of doom.

The feeling is like what the heroine goes through in a silent film, tied up and laid on the train tracks, at the approach of the 12:05. The villain is gone, the hero is nowhere to be seen, and your slim, pale neck rests on one steel rail while your calves cross the other. The train is almost there. You can feel its vibrations through the metal, like an Indian guide with his ear to the ground, and you can now just hear the chugging of the steam engine.


Your mustachioed antagonist laid you at the finish of a curve so the engineers cannot see your winsome figure, bound and placed just so on the tracks to ensure that your head will be sliced off. They won’t be able to see you in time to stop.

There is no hero. (I said it was like with the heroine in a silent film.) There is only the senseless torture the villain has put you through, worse than even your adbuction, the loss of everything safe and happy. You’re not even that far from your house, where he kidnapped you—if you were standing upright, you could see your street. But you’re not standing, and the bushes shield you from sight, and the gag in your mouth prevents you from making a sound.

The 12:05 is, as they say, right on time. It will come around the bend and it will kill you and it is almost there, tons upon tons of metal already bearing down on you. It takes a mile to stop a train, and the train is already much closer than that.

As it reaches the bend, a moment arrives. It’s that moment when you realize you no longer have time to roll yourself out of the way, even if you could move. That moment where you know that even if there were a hero—a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman, say, or an alien with superhuman speed and agility—it would be too late to save you. The black engine with its fearsome cow-catcher like an iron mask, coming around that bend, cannot stop even as its driver finally sees you and hits the brakes hard, sparks flying and metal screeching.

Understand what the horror of that moment would be: You cannot save yourself, no one else can save you, and the dread machine of death is ten feet away, five feet away, one foot away. You can’t move, you can’t even scream. There is nothing but you and the train, your agonizing fear and your painful doom. You must just endure it now, watch it coming for you, and accept that you have not one shred of influence or control over what is about to happen, over what is happening. You surrender—or perhaps you don’t. It makes no difference to the wheels of the train.

You ask me what will it feel like when the stars are right, when the Old Ones come. This, my son, is how it will feel. There is one difference, however.

We will all be screaming.


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