Thursday, 12 August 2010

The Blackberry Picker

The train rounds the bend. James sees the man. He gasps. He is sucked back through the years to the night the young woman dived under. It was dark then, and it was Christmas. He goes for the brake, but he knows there is no point. It will be too late. His pulse thuds. The figure looms. He braces for impact. He shuts his eyes.

Nothing happens. Nothing happens at all. There is no thump. The train carries on as it has carried on all day, rattling along the track. His legs won’t support him, so he clings to the controls. He reaches for the radio, and his whole body is trembling. His voice falters as he calls up to report. There is a trespasser on the line, stupid fool. He is wet with sweat, and reeling with nausea. Tomorrow he was going to do overtime, but now he’s going to call in sick.

Meanwhile, George goes on picking blackberries. He’s been picking blackberries down here by the railway since he was a lad, and he’ll be damned if he’s going to stop now. By the time the police arrive, he’s long gone.

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