Zest Lit Issue 2, October 2013 - Page 145

worth anything was at the once-a-year dinner given for the Flatland Station employees. He always got singled out for perfect attendance and on-time runs. Getting this train to and from its destinations was the part of his life he would never change. His time away from the train was only wasted. For now, a small part of his mind whispered.

This wasn’t going to happen. There would be no interruption of his train’s schedule. No abrupt evolution of the landscape would challenge Sebastian’s record. The alien growth, so sudden and so aggressive, was not on his schedule.

Sebastian pulled the still-teasing frond behind him and sat on it, leaving enough slack to get his hand on the control. He slammed it forward and smiled when he felt the engine respond. The sluggishness melted as the rumble trilled upward, first only a change in the cadence, then a chord progression to forte. A moment of dissonance came and Sebastian blew the whistle. The dissonance broke into an a capella aria. The engine sounds were punctuated by a drone, a mesmerizing low hum that thrummed in counterpoint to the engine’s thunder. It came from the plants streaming past the hurtling metal dancer. He focused on the feel and sound of the train. He pushed the hushed drone aside, narrowing his focus to the engine’s basso growl.

He pushed his engine harder, intent on breaching the foliage. The engine shimmied along the track, repeatedly assaulted by the foreign greenery. The vegetation drummed against the windshield. There was no longer any track, any sky, nor any distant destination to seek. The engine interior was shaded pea green.

Sebastian was seized by a choking sensation, an echo of the feeling that encircled his chest whenever his mother hovered and fussed over