The Midnight Train and Snow Episode

by Jordan Spencer Cunningham on

I want to be a train conductor when I grow up.

Julie and I, determined to see a train in the snow, left around 11:11 this evening. It was snowing softly outside– perfect weather for romance. We walked in the middle of the road to the stoplight and then down the lane by the park until we reached the driveway of the Sugar Factory. Thankfully the city doesn’t lock said factory gates anymore, so we trod upon the perfectly sound snow through the factory grounds and down the hidden side lane that connects the factory grounds to the city administration complex. This road incidentally runs right next to the train tracks, and there is incidentally no fence separating the road from the tracks (this unfortunately will change once the Trax commute line is established). Since we weren’t sure if a train would come, we merely entertained ourselves by frolicking slowly to nowhere, imagining what others who may walk the path (few if any) we took would think about our footprints. Then we heard it. Faintly at first, but then it was unmistakably a diesel train horn. Excitedly, we walked back and forth down the lane and then planted ourselves next to one of the new signal lights established for when the Trax commute line is finished. We waited and waited, and then we waited some more. The horn was not to be heard.

“But surely it’s still there even if I can’t hear it?” I said to Julie.

She supposed the same. “After all,” she whispered, “we both heard the horn a while back, and that’s evidence enough to convince me, at least. The train couldn’t have vanished. It’s still there, and it must be coming, for that is the law of the train: when one hears a nearby train horn in West Jordan, then one knows that the train will come, for trains do not behave any other way, and there is no stop within the nearby miles for the train to make.”

After what seemed like an eternity, we heard the horn again, even fainter than before, as if to reassure us that the train still existed. Psyched, we prepared for its coming. We saw the first sign of the coming of the train: far off in the distance, a bright light suddenly appeared, and it very slowly grew bigger until it split into three very bright lights. The horn sounded again, much, much louder, and the train crept past the factory. It was nearly upon us and I was nearly jumping with glee while Julie cowered in fear when the conductor began to ring the bell. I grinned up at him in the cab of the train and waved, and he gave a wave back at us. We watched as the train drove past us, first with the two engines, then with a sole boxcar, and then with thirty or forty tank cars carrying many metric tons of sulfuric acid. The ground beneath us literally shook as the cars passed us. When the ultimate tank car past us with its flashing red light at the end, we hopped onto the track and chased it. Seeing as how the train pulled the cars at about the same speed as we were running, we never caught it, but it was still an exhilarating experience.

After we stood and watched the train cross Redwood Road and disappear into the Great Unknown behind the old Deseret Industries and etcetera retail center, Julie looked up at me with a shiver.

“I don’t know about you, my love, but that rather large creature that you refer to as ‘the train’ was terrifying. I think that it will take some getting used to on my part before I can watch the great thing without fear.”

I laughed at her and gave her a scratch, and then we went home as the snow fell upon us.