Dead Stop

“Damn, Bill,” said the engineer, as he stared at the man lying face up across the tracts only inches from the grill of the train. “Half a second slower on those brakes and this guy would have been flattened.”

The brakeman studied the dusty landscape near the train, trying not to look at the body. “I’m just glad you spotted him in time. How the heck did he get here? There aren’t any tire tracks or footprints.”

“No idea. There isn’t a mark on him, like he’s asleep only pale. I swear, he looks just like that guy you were flirting with at Starbucks this morning, but that was four-hundred miles back.”

“Kurt.” Bill said, finally looking at the body. “It is him, Carlos. There can’t be two men with the same hansom face and green ring. But what happened?”

When Carlos didn’t answer, Bill glanced up and saw him staring slack- jawed. The engineer could only point down the tracks. Chills ran down Bill’s back when he saw the destroyed bridge less than an eighth of a mile away, down a slight incline. They would never have seen it in time to stop the train. A thousand passengers saved. The two men stared at the broken bridge, then at the track in front of the train. Kurt’s body was gone. Bill swallowed past a hard dry lump.

“Bill,” said the engineer, after a full two minutes of silence. “I won’t say anything about the body if you don’t.”

About A. L. Kaplan

I am a writer, artist, and parent.
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