They were a bunch of jocose kids, Arnie, Dana, Darla, Spence, all long-going and long-time-been friends. The kind that sat in the tub together on the days when one stay-at-home mother would baby-sit the quadtuplet [retro side-show], and giggle together over ridiculous ghost-stories in a tent on the back lawn on weekends. On this day they were on their way out to a near-by abandoned rail-road track that had been raped of all its running splendour to naught but an impregnable source of rock and rubble, dirt, grass, and moss.
They were given no fore-bodings for it had been forgotten long time over by the folks of the nearest town that had by that time prospered into the new age, and the need for such antiques as trains was far from use. It was in-between the times, punk was all the rage and the catacombs of mystery laid the foundation for new thoughts as conspiracy, drug influence, and an affluence for all things can be explained with an amateur alchemy set and a taste for science. The rudimentary skills of awareness for the outer-realms of old gave way to the rudimentary skills of awareness for pedophilia and car-crashes, and the idea of invincibility increased over those span of years more-so than before with the small factour that life itself was indeed diminishing.
These kids were common-folks of this a-fore mentioned small town called Micro. A town that you do not even know you were there until you read the high-way sign that reads, “Thank You For Visiting Micro, See Us Again,” and if you are the driver you will recall the singular light signal indicating the only intersection for miles and miles around. Homage was this place and the kids knew not much else, for being a youth in an old and dying town one sort of adapts to the mentality of an elder, as those are the only ones who seem to dwell there. As retirement, of course.
The nearest school wasn’t found for miles and the only transit was one familiar to (and if you are also familiar with the surrounding area transits as) JCATS but this one only went as far as it needed and that was it. The high-school was about as far out-of-town as any of the busy-bodies as-well-as anyone related to DOT went. And the high-school, much as the town itself, left no mark on the world and even still remained decades behind as to the modern surrounding areas and still combined kindergarten and graduating classes in the same whole. That is where these kids found out about such track as the abandoned rail-way they were headed, and it would be no surprise to aught else that they should stumble upon it at a given point, thus living in a town enclosed by both bigotry and thrashing woods.
One guy said it to another and word spread like wild-fire, as it does, and before soon an entire coterie of school-mates knew the deal about this significant spot of land that was game for hanging out by the coolies, some-times a flock of nerdies or geeks (when they were lucky), throwing rocks, smoking dope, conversing about the Red Scare and binary factours.
The boys were just a few paces ahead of the girls in the woods as they trekked their way in a direction that they were given by one of the coolies to the tracks. Spence had been smacking at and attacking trees and stumps along the way as if he were Luke Skywalker stuck on the planet Endor. Arnie was walking along, navigating maturely, with his hands in his pockets.
Spence had caught up to him after defeating a battalion of storm-troopers, and out of breath said, “You think this place is real, Arnie? I mean, you only got these directions from Jordan. We all know that he’s the biggest stiff in school!”
“Hush you lummox. I happen to be one of Jordan’s favourites. He has no reason to lie to me. Plus if my brother found out that I had gotten in a row with Jordan, he would have him gutted like hog.”
“That is just gross, Arnie, jeez,” came the voice of Dana behind them as the girls reached the boys as they came to a small clearing in the woods. The girls came up arm-in-arm, giggling, and the boys stood conversing.
“Aw, posh, Dana. It’s true, my brother is a giant. I know he has my back,” as they all laughed.
Darla interjected, laughing still, “Your brother is a giant but that is about as good as you got with him!”
“Shut-up,” quieted Arnie.
“Where do we go from here, Arnie?” Asked Spence.
With his hands still in his pockets, “Jordan said that once you got the clearing that there ought to be a small cypress knee bed. He said if you keep to the right of that then you will practically smash your nose on the place.”
“Well what fucking bed is he talking? I haven’t seen a knob since we entered the woods, ave for the small trees I have taken out with my..”
“With your ‘light-saber’, Spence?” Chortled Dana, and the balance laughed along with. At which Spence responded in the churlish tongue of children the classic mockery of spitting out one’s tongue, crossing their eyes, and wagging their fingers about their ears.
“Spence is right though, I don’t see a bed anywhere,” replied Arnie.
“Well what are we going to do?” asked Darla.
“I am going to say now that I am not going back with-out seeing this spot. I have just as much right as the coolies to hang-out there and I am not going back out with-out seeing it,” said Spence out-right.
“Then I guess we will keep going this way. Maybe we just haven’t gone far enough. Who knows,” answered Arnie.
“Aw, guys, c’mon, my parents will kill me if I am not back by dinner,” said Darla.
“What do you care? Your dad’s a drunk, he’ll never know that you aren’t even there yet. And your mom is the sweetest lady I know, besides Miss Anthony on the Sophomore hall.”
Darla rolled her eyes, “Yeah, that is just one of her many masks that she wears. She likes being nice in-front of company. My blood and tears are in the cookies she bakes you guys.”
“They named you wrong, Darla,” answered Arnie with-out turning the direction he was both walking and facing.
“What do you mean, Arnie?”
“I mean they should have named you Debbie, for being such a Debbie Downer. Getting to this place will give us bragging rights. And just imagine all of them new guys will look up to us because we will know how to get to a far off and secret place that we will eventually only know,” and everyone laughed at the Debbie Downer bit he spat.
Spence smacked his light-saber twig to the ground and said in action, “Go now, we must, to abandoned are the rail-ways. Coolies shall we be!” And all took their places back in-line to follow Arnie, the leader.
It seemed hours and hours that they walked. On and on went the woods and always looking the same but never did they happen by a bed of cypress knees or even stumble-upon and bust their noses on the track they were looking. They went on singing few songs of the age they knew, which they were not permitted to listen to as rock and roll, and some others being camp-town volleys they learned on the bus.
Dusk was falling and the woods were gathering a dark and warm orange glow as the trekked and traced steps, and child exhaustion stepped in to play its part, and so they sat for whiles on end, talking about Susy and Bill, and who-ever else was having a great manner of childish drama in their lives. Who was on restriction, and who got new gadgets, and who’s dad was doing better than the other, and so on and so-forth their conversations consisted.
Yellow skies ran into mirages of reds and slight hints of purples as the jet-plane streams scarred the soon to be starry scape. They never had met a bed of cypress knees or kept right of it but as they were walking, the boys always a few paces ahead of the girls, Arnie yelled out as he climbed a small, compacted mound, to the others, “Here it is, you guys, I found it! The abandoned rail tracks! We finally found it.” And for the first time he finally placed his hands on the out-side of his pockets to accentuate the fact that he had finally led them to it.
“See, I told you we would find it, didn’t I,” he said again, in self-assurance. Spence gained his side, still yielding his make-shift light-saber, and also declaring the finding as genuine. The girls rushed along in glee to their sides as they were put to ease, in their newly feminine ways that spat Yay! The Men did it! Just as we were losing hope in the ingravescent apes!
“What do we do now?” asked the girls. Spence and Arnie looked to one another, arms crossed still in satisfaction. Hell, who’s to know what to do now.
“I say we walk it,” replied Arnie, looking to the West side of the track. And then Spence agreed. The two girls were the only ones, as most commonly referred to, that objected the venture forth. The kids bickered amongst themselves about who’s going where and who is staying where, and once again Darla brought to attention the fact that her parents would be absolutely and unforgivable disappointed with her absence to dinner, and surely there would be a good whipping (as a good parent should) for her once she got back, even at this hour. For soon would it be dark, but not too soon. It was the beginning of Spring’s transition into Summer and the days were longer…
“…But dinner time is still the same, guys, and I do not want to be caught in-between a drunken spattering dad and a doubly-maddened mother,’ she said.
“Aw, posh, Darla. Where is your sense of adventure! I remember the way back and we will get there too. But we had just found the old tracks, so there must be something here to find,” said Arnie. With a heavy scoff Darla agreed. Then all of the small pack, Arnie, Dana, Darla, and Spence continued onward on Arnie’s direction down the old track bed, onward to explore.
For a while they walked along and sang more songs, most of which were repeats of the original songs sang on their earlier trek, circling around the lyrics in mumbles that they could remember until the chorus.
“I don’t get no…
No I don’t get no…
“Goin’ out west
Where the wind blows tall
When Tony Franciosa
Used to date my maw…”
“Aw gee, Todd, I sure am tired of all this walking,” muttered Spence.
“Todd?” chortled Dana, “Who’s Todd, Spence?”
“The one leading this pack of savages, man. Todd. Jeezus I am tired,” and then Spence took a tumble on the rock-bed trail. Quickly to his attention went the girls and Arnie continued his blissful waltz still with his hands in his pockets.
“Arnie! Hold on! Spence is having a sun-stroke or something!” yelled Dana.
In garbles and throwing hands as in an unbeknownst stupour, Spence came to and said something along the lines of, “No, I am fine. I didn’t eat lunch to-day. It was sloppy-joes, which everyone knows is just yesterday’s meatloaf. So I am a bit peaked.”
“If you say so, cow-boy,” answered Dana, repugnantly. Spence got to his feet and continued along with them, keeping in-between Arnie and the girls.
“Hey, you guys, hold on. Look.” Arnie pointed just ahead of them as the low hum came to their ears of old song and the conundrum of wiley work. Before them, as the sun set low to light the sky in a myriad brocade of warm patch-work, Arnie pointed to a gang of men at least twelve to either side of the track, picking away with axes and hammers on the rock beneath them.
“Who are they?” Asked Dana.
“I don’t know. Let’s go and see.”
“I am already late as shit for dinner and you want us to walk up to a chain-gang and as k them what they are doing?” Yelled Darla.
“Shhh,” answered Arnie.
The throng kept to their humming in law thralls of ancient rhythm beget by segregation and pangs. Their faces were hard to see but their actions were caught in full as they pick away the ground that lay beneath them. Their hum was tenuous and reedy but had a deep heart, as that of lost souls bound for the golden road through the underground rail-road. At their head, and afar from the group of kids sat a white man wielding a rifle and an olden cap on horse. His face was strong and empty as he held the throng in-order as they hummed their way to the bottom of the world.
The humming was loud in the kids’ ears yet as they approached it grew steadily low in their ears as the work of machinery. When they gained closed on the crowd each and every man working his back and brow over some sought-after pride, they turned to face the kids. Not a single man could be seen from behind the sad masks that they wore upon their faces, concealing them from what-ever shame they hath wrought upon themselves. And so could not be found the heart of the song they sang though it emitted from them as a whole, as a singular tone they all carried.
“I don’t like this. I do not like this at all,” said Darla, as one girl clung to the other. Still they were pressed to pass by this throng of weary gents. The masks they wore were neither degrading nor entirely terrifying. The masks were just enough to hide the identities of these men that mined for their freedom and enough to conceal whether he was man or woman, white or black. The kids were drawn to the hands of the miners though still not much could be distinguished by the blackness of soot and rubble that caked them. The man on his horse never spoke a word.
The kids continued to walk through the congregation, and as they did every masked face peered at them and still the hum resounded as a whole. As they walked through the heads turned. They followed with-out a breach of out-break or rash action. All the way around the faces followed with hollowed eyes until a sudden gun-fire from a powder rifle held by the man that weld it rang-out as a warning to distraction. Arnie, Dana, Darla, and Spence continued to walk through the throng and after the gun-fire all was silent. Naught else, even the horse what is known to be startled by sudden movement or remark, gave sound. The kids were more than half-way through the throng with men’s backs against them but their hollowed eyes followed and their hidden faces peered.
The kids were coming out of the area as the low humming commenced with the sound of tink-tink that was of the picks the chain-gang throwed. At which the chance came for anyone with a spit of curiosity would give to look back. To the look of a child the image would be as Alice in her innocence looking through a looking-glass but for these kids, as reality was setting into their sweet souls, they saw the same figures as before they ever entered through. At the head, though this time aft them, stood a white man upon his horse with a rifle in his hand and an olden cap atop his head. And as they looked back at this mysterious menagerie of men so did they remain looking, at least twelve to either side, and picking away at the scabs of the world, back at them from behind their masks, singing the solemn vow that led them there.
The farthest thought of those kids was neither to run and nor to throw any rocks in a creek or talk about what teacher had the biggest tits or who’s drama was who’s and whose’s is and who is and ain’t. Their hearts sort of sunk though how can a heart sink when it is in your throat? Breath it out or suck it down and neither seem so easy to do when put in a place of utter aghastation. Hyperphobia set in the girls, and as Darla still claims, home was a merit to be seen, not lost.
“Alright, boys, I am a little creeped about all of that. We should probably go back now. These guys do not seem like guys you ought to, erm, you know, be left around with.”
“And do you really want to have to pass through them again?” asked Spence.
Still in his dazed wonder, Arnie finally spoke some words, “If we pass back through them we will be in the same place as when we entered. We are nothing more than on the other side of them. We are back.”
Categorised in: Horror Books
This post was written by SandrewMyers