Train Running

READ FLASH FICTION SHORT STORY (about 400 words)

Each instant — while jumping from the top of one moving train car to the next — inspires an intoxication of worldly detachment and a paradoxical dichotomy.

On the one hand, time accelerates as I instantly apprehend layers of past, present and future. Parallel images of my younger self flash by, intertwined with alternating perspectives of personal futures I’ve never envisioned. It’s like I’m enveloped by a multitude of speeded-up movies. Except they’re not playing on different screens like a single checkerboard. They’re overlaid on top of each other and surrounding me as a phantasmagoria of streaming renderings. Yet, I can individually comprehend each of them. It’s like I’m at the center of a three-dimensional, kaleidoscopic sphere of swirling energy pictures, while simultaneously seeing the present world in hyperfocus.

On the other hand, I’m also aware of decelerated time as I observe myself from a remote vantage, looking down at my body, as it gracefully arches through each leap in slow-motion. The massive train sluggishly ebbs and flows along steel rails, floating above an endless river of heavy gray gravel, while snoring a ceaseless roar of metallic clatter. Occasional wafts of locomotive exhaust, emanating from far ahead, evanesce in and out of the autumn breeze of perpetual motion. Colorful woodlands, farms and periodic towns pass by like a dream. The hairs on my forearms sway back and forth as they swing in harmony with my pumping legs until they float weightlessly in each instant that I launch from one car to the next. Uncoupled from the train, flying above the earth and unfettered from everything I’ve left behind, I’m fleetingly suspended beyond space and time.

This duality conjures in me a spirit of emancipation. To call it invincibility would be an overstatement. But calling it an adrenaline-fueled sprint of excitation and self-preservation would not be understated.

Racing at full speed, leaping from one boxcar to the next atop an endless train, a sense of intensified purpose propels me forward as the tracks gradually turn into the lowering sun and approaching ridge.

I feel good. Like I can run forever. Although really, I only need to make it to the other side of the upcoming tunnel, where true freedom will be within grasp.

Just as quickly, reality impinges upon my heightened intention and the nearing goal. I glance behind to the cause of this chase. Although the outcome is still uncertain, at least for the moment, I feel convinced I’ll never be caught again.

by George Alger

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