The Railroad Journey by Nesta Rogers

On track number five stood Riverview Railway’s newest acquisition.  The railroaders had nicknamed her The Silver Arrow.  She was a magnificent sight to behold, sparkling like a flawless diamond in the brilliant sunlight.

The Arrow was the result of a decade of hard work by the finest and brightest minds in the railway industry It was rumoured that she was the fastest train in the world, an aerodynamic marvel that travelled at the breathtaking speed of three hundred miles per hour, beating her dinosaur relatives of the past.

 The town of Riverview was hoping to jump-start its slacking economy by providing passengers with state- of-the-art transportation at an affordable price.

 Today, track number five was lined with local dignitaries as well as members of the media who were out in full force.  There were television reporters accompanied by their camera men who had oversized equipment balancing precariously on their shoulders, newspaper reporters, and journalists from the local radio station CRK who were present to broadcast over the air waves first hand.  They were all waiting in anticipation to witness the departure of the Silver Arrow as she pulled out of Riverview Station on her initial run.

 The passengers were all dressed in their finest attire, taking in and savouring the beautiful sight of this awe- inspiring piece of modern-day machinery.  They checked their watches repeatedly to make sure they did not miss boarding the train.

 The departure was scheduled for 5 p.m.sharp, which was fast approaching.  Meanwhile the train stood perfectly still, idling slowly, purring like a contented kitten.  The Arrow was patiently waiting for the one person who was in charge of that process, Chief Engineer Johnny Williams.  Once Engineer Williams made his entrance and had checked  all the train’s systems making sure everything was alright to start the journey, then, and only then, would he signal the conductor Danny Williams (who also happened to be his brother) that it was time to start the process of boarding the passengers onto the train.

 Susie Brown, who was a journalist and the anchor at the local station CZCV, had also been waiting anxiously for him to make his timely entrance, hoping to be the first to score an interview with the seasoned Engineer.

 At last she saw him heading towards the front of the locomotive cab.  She set out in a sprint to try and catch up with him.

  “Jimmy, get the camera rolling and follow me.”

  “Engineer Williams,” Susie yelled hoping to get his attention; she wanted to make sure he had heard her.  She was gaining distance on him.

  “Engineer Williams, can I have a word with you please?”

 Williams turned and saw Susie running towards him.

 “Hi.”  Susie said, a little out of breath.

  “Hi, Susie.”

  “Today we are here to witness the initial run of the Silver Arrow.  I am standing here with Chief Engineer Johnny Williams, the man chosen for the honour of taking her out on her initial run.

  “Engineer Williams, you have been waiting a long time for this day to arrive.  How does it feel now that it is finally here?”

“Well honestly Susie, it’s a dream come true.”

 “How do you think the train will handle?”

 “Well, I really don’t know until I get her out there on the tracks and open her up to full speed.  But I am confident that her performance will exceed everyone’s expectations.  You’ll have to excuse me Susie, but it is getting close to departure time, and I don’t want to be late leaving the station.”  Williams smiled into the camera as he took the first few steps that led him into the locomotive’s brand new cab.  He would treasure every minute he had with her.

 Susie had gotten her interview. She then went and waited on the platform along with the rest of the spectators.

  Williams radioed the conductor Danny Williams to start the process of boarding the passengers who had booked their tickets on the Arrow.

 Danny Williams’ booming voice could be heard up and down track number five announcing the famous words.

 “ALL ABOARD.”

 Excited passengers said their goodbyes to family and friends then hurried up the steps that led them into the new compartments of the train.

 Fifteen minutes later the Conductor radioed up to the engine’s cab informing the engineer that everyone was safely on the train.

Engineer Williams then proceeded to pull the Silver Arrow slowly out of the station.  Her final destination was to be the Resort of Bonnet Bay in the Capes Mountain Range.  The train was now moving along at breakneck speed, Williams would be glad to report back to his superiors on the excellent way that she handled.  He thought she felt like melted butter as she glided over the railway tracks.

The Chief Engineer received an update from the conductor informing him the passengers were extremely excited and enjoying the tranquil ride.

The train was now racing towards the newly reconstructed Algoma Pass Bridge that was twenty five minutes from its final destination of Bonnet Bay.  Williams was marking down the time and mileage into the train’s log book.  After he finished and looked up, the sight that greeted him was surreal. He thought that maybe he was dreaming, and he was in total shock.  Further down the track and fast approaching was the half- finished Algoma Pass Bridge.  How could this be?  The bridge was supposed to have been completed three weeks ago. 

There was no time to warn the conductor, so Williams did what he was trained to do; he pulled the emergency brakes, trying to bring thousands of tons of steel to a dead stop. 

 Before Williams knew what was happening the Arrow was on the half finished bridge. The train flew off the tracks into the open air plummeting down towards the fast-running water of the Hedley River which lay below.

The Arrow’s engine was completely submerged beneath the rapidly moving water, baggage was strewn everywhere, some of which was being carried downstream with the current.

  There were passenger cars one on top of the other, some were buckled in half, others looked like sardine cans with their tops shirred off, yet others were completely submerged in the water.

 All of a sudden a loud voice could be heard from the top of the basement stairs.

“Johnny, Susie, Danny, put away your new train set and come upstairs.  It’s time for supper, and don’t forget to wash your hands.”  Their mother called down to the children.

 “Okay Mom, we’re coming”.  The voices of the three siblings reverberated in unison as they scrambled up the stairs trying to see who would be first at the dinner table.

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One thought on “The Railroad Journey by Nesta Rogers

  1. Ian Coombe says:

    Enjoyed your story Nesta. All too short and sweet but flows very nicely. An outcome one didn’t expect so soon perhaps !
    Keep up the good work and looking forward to your next contribution.

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