A Story by Stus67

A short 700+ word excerpt from an unfinished work.


“Slow and steady now,” the captain said to his conductor. “Let's try and keep the kickup to a minimal this time round, eh?” The conductor gave a laugh as he pulled on a large lever. Suddenly the colossal dunecrawler gave a mighty groan as steam and smoke poured from its many stacks and vents all along the front engine car. The small crowd of townsfolk gathering at the station gave a few waves and whistles, but the departure was less than stellar. Such would be expected at a place as desolate as Blackwater. Nonetheless it was a nice sentiment.

The last few whistles gave a loud blow of steam as the massive continuous tracks along each car began to creak to life, dumping sand and stones as they vibrated free. The dunecrawler was impressively large to say the least. A dozen hundred foot long and thirty foot tall boxy cars of steel and rusted bolts with two track assemblies along each side big enough to roll over even the biggest Legion tank. From a distance it could easily be confused as a row of steam billowing buildings along the horizon as it trudged across the desert.

People began to disperse from the platform as the crawler began to pick up speed. Kicking up plumes of sand and dirt as the treads dug into the soft ground. “Well, at least we didn't cover the platform in a foot of sand like last time,” the captain joked while giving the conductor a lighthearted slap on the shoulder. “Keep a steady cruising pace until we clear the town limits. I'm going out for a look.”

“Aye, cap'n”

The captain nodded, and walked from the pilot controls and down the middle of the bridge, giving more nods of approval to the other personnel as he passed them. For such a rustic machine the bridge was surprisingly well kept. Hardly a spot of rust on the blue painted walls, and the large flat windows lining the front and sides of the bridge were only slightly streaked. Rows of consoles and devices of varying complication covered in blinking lights flanked each side of the bridge, each panel with their own serviceman punching buttons and flipping switches.

As the captain reached the stairwell at the back of the bridge he pulled a pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket, and patted them against his hand while descending the steps, and into a dark hallway leading to a rounded square shaped access door surrounded in red and white caution stripes. A single flickering light bulb stuck out over the top of the door barely lit anything. The captain gave it a glance as he approached the access door, only to shrug it off. It'll get fixed eventually. Maybe.

He grabbed a wheel on the center of the door with both hands and gave it a hefty tug to the left, clutching his pack of cigs with his mouth. The locking mechanism gave a creaky crack as the bolts slid from their housing. Then with a slight tug, and with the help of the wind outside, the door gave a long moan as it swung open inward. The captain had to shield his eyes as bright yellow and orange light flooded in from the opening, turning the dim hallway into a spectacle of reflections. He stepped through the door out onto the grated catwalk twenty or so feet above the desert floor moving by below. He closed the door behind him with one hand while pulling the pack of cigs from his mouth with the other, making sure to hold on to one with his lips.

While digging around in his pocket for a lighter he couldn't help but be awestruck by the view in front of him every time he took a step outside. Deep wavy dunes stretched across the landscape for as long as the eyes could see, like an ocean frozen in time. Wisps of sand slowly danced across the orange cloudless sky as the setting sun bathed the scene in a soft warm light. It was breathtaking no matter how many times a he's seen it. Surely something one could enjoy while having a smoke.

© 2014 Stus67

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Added on March 13, 2014
Last Updated on March 13, 2014
Tags: post-apocalyptic, desert, sands, dune, train, captain, operator, conductor, blackwater, town, apocalypse