21 Jun 59%
I sat on the ground behind the green box, so the engineer of the oncoming train would not see me. When I peeped out to check out the approaching train, I could only see its bright headlights. It turned out to be a green GO train going by at full speed. I was almost knocked over by the force of the air pushed forward and aside by the locomotive. The noise was deafening. I covered my ears with my hands and waited until it was over. That was intense. Fortunately the next train was coming in very slowly. Once the locomotive had passed, I stood up, ready to grip the first gondola car’s ladder.
Although the train was moving slowly, climbing aboard was not as easy as it sounds, especially in the dim light of street lamps. I had to act fast, jump, grip and pull myself up so I could get some purchase with my feet. I slipped and almost fell twice, before I was steadily holding on. The rest was easy, and after a moment I was sitting on a dirty floor of a gondola car. The train was slowly picking up speed.
Soon the train was out of the most densely populated and lit up areas and the danger of somebody noticing me was over. I stood up and started looking around. I couldn’t see much in the dark, but there was not much to see there anyway. I know what I would have seen if it was daytime: for the most part there would be a lot of graffiti on grey concrete surfaces in various degrees of disrepair, many sad and neglected backyards and a kaleidoscope of old houses in a palette of peeling faded colours. I could only sympathize with poor bastards that had to live with trains crossing their backyards day and night. These thoughts were not helping improve my mood. Eventually the throbbing sound of the gondola car’s wheels rolling over the track joints had its effect on my tired brain and I fell asleep.
I was awakened by the phone ring. Everything hurt after sleeping on a hard floor. I groaned and picked up the phone.
“Yes?” I tried to say with my rough and broken morning voice. Nothing intelligible came out. I cleared my throat and tried again, “Hello?” That came out better. This time I was awarded with a response.
“Rise and shine!” said a male voice. I could not tell anything definitive about it, just an average voice without any noticeable special characteristics. “Time to get off,” he continued, “the train is slowing down now. Jump off carefully, follow the track until you see a red train signal, then turn North and follow the forest clearing for about five kilometers until you see a hunter’s cabin. I will be waiting.” And he hung up. The watch was showing barely 5 AM. I announced to the empty air in a grumpy mumble everything I think about waking people up so early, after making them sleep on a hard floor of a freight train car, and about wild assumptions regarding navigational abilities of other people. How was I supposed to know where the North was and how would I measure a five kilometer walk in the forest? Oh, well…
I did exactly as instructed, referring to the phone from time to time, and it went smoothly for the most part, with the exception of twisting my ankle when jumping off the very slowly moving train. I was cursing my clumsy self and limping for a while, but it wasn’t too bad. Soon I only had a slight discomfort left, and after a while even forgot about that.
In an hour or so of walking towards what I could only hope was the North, I approached a log cabin. It stood in a large clearing, which had an unpaved road leading to it from somewhere else. There was an ATV parked next to the building. The cabin looked neat and well taken care of. It was built with thick and roughly hewn logs, stained in a particularly pleasant and warm colour, lovingly coated with a thick translucent varnish which was practically glowing in the orange morning light. Or at least it looked to me that way. Could this be because by now I was desperately hoping for a nice and safe place, and maybe some food… An explanation of this whole mess, and some help with getting back to normal life, would definitely bring some comfort too.
I approached the door, paused for a few breaths, and firmly knocked on the door with my knuckles. I was aiming for a solid and confident heavy-handed knock of a real man, but instead it came out as a barely audible click of an urban geek on a heavily reinforced wooden door of a hunter’s cabin. I made another attempt, banging with the side of my fist this time. It sounded more appropriate for the situation, but still yielded no answer.
I waited a bit, then opened the door and walked in.
The cabin was as nice and proper inside as it was outside. There was a deer antler chandelier hanging from a high cathedral ceiling, and various animal mounts decorated the walls. Free standing wood stove was lit and radiated a warm ambiance. A few feet in front of it a bear skin rug was laying invitingly on the floor, surrounded by a pair of cozy chairs. There was a table and some bookshelves in a far corner, and wooden stairs with rough wooden railings leading up to what looked like a decently sized loft. A couple of wooden doors led elsewhere. A sizeable gun rack holding several rifles completed the picture.
I just started getting nervous from the prolonged silence, when one of the doors opened and a rather ordinary looking middle-aged man walked in, wearing blue jeans and a red lumberjack shirt, and holding a plate with a thick sandwich in his hand.
“I just remembered that I promised you a sandwich,” he said in the same voice I had heard on the phone, and smiled. “I’m afraid it’s going to sound like an AA meeting, but there’s no good way to say it, so let’s get it over with.” He paused, apparently unsure about how to proceed.
“AA? I wonder what it stands for,” I pondered nervously, desperately trying to remain calm, “Assassins Anonymous? Aliens Anonymous? Abductors Anonymous? ”
But what I asked instead was “Let’s get what over with?”
“Hi,” the ordinary man said with a charming smile and sketched a shallow bow, “my name is Theo and I’m an alien.”