A Straight Track

A short story for you …

The Game

How many miles of straight track? The tinny voice on the speakers above the head would bore the paint off a brush. Look out the window, create a distraction, breathe slow and steady. Watch the red, the red, the red. Is there anything but red out there? Anything but sand and more sand and even more sand, slightly mounded in shapes that looked like the creations of a non-cook when attempting a sponge without flour. Lumpy bits. Not enough chocolate bits. Black, burned bits. More lumps.

Add a bit of icing, and hey, it might look interesting. Yes, snow. Freeze the place, make it look like a … No, skiing needed slopes and deep snow and cold. None of which were visible beyond the window of this train.

Don’t think of ice-cream or chips or breakfast long gone or lunch too far away.

The train. The longest train on the straightest stretch of line in the world. The Indian Pacific. From Perth to Sydney.

Okay, not quite. The gauge changed somewhere, so the train traveller needed to swap from one train on one side of the border to another train on the other side. The far side. One state to the next.

Next time? Fly or walk or cycle or swim or stay put. How could a person stay sane on this train?

Count the trees.

Pester the cook.

Remove the shoes.

The last one did it. Passengers within six seats of the stench all got up and found things to be doing, exercise, walking the length of the train, toilet stops, maybe a shower. One for the tail end, talk to the puffers. That stink was worse than a grotty pair of shoes worn for too many days on a train journey too long, too boring, too much, too much, too much to take.

Bus. It could have been a bus journey. They stop on a regular basis. They … they have cramped seats, one toilet that everyone needs at the same time, the same people get back into the same seat day after day after day and if stuck next to the chatterbox or the smoker or the drinker or the stinker … hell, here we come.

Look out the window.

When would the landscape change? How long until they came out of the black zone? When would it end, when could a person turn the phone back on and get a bar, any response from someone, somewhere?

Tap, tap, tap. Nothing.

Tap, tap, tap. Look around. An echo? No. How many people had their phones out? Ah, a game on the go. A simple one. Pretend to have a connection, laugh, smile, tap-tappity-tap. Guffaw, block the mouth, look around, a sly glance, a gleam. Count them. Film them. Could be good for a laugh when able to upload. A good game. So much better than counting ‘roos or rocks or non-existent trees.


Oh, and in case you want something interesting to read, the Kraken story is free on Smashwords for July (ePub and .mobi).

And I’m having trouble responding to posts, liking (nearly wrote licking), or otherwise reading further back than a day! Working on it, not ignoring anyone. And still editing.

4 thoughts on “A Straight Track

  1. Ah yes, that Australian red dust. We traveled across the Nullabor and took a day to drive up a dirt track beside the dingo fence to get to a 3 million acre sheep station managed by a friend. Red dust, 10,000 sheep. It was a fantastic experience.

    Liked by 1 person

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