I’m a train. An iron belly running fast over immense skates. Once being the soul of a train wasn’t as easy as right now. All those puffs of smoke, that black nauseating smoke and the jolts. Oh, the jolts! Now, I’m almost sound proofed. Sometimes some sound reminds me of my previous metal life.
I was a typewriter, with all my keys so shiny and clean stared by moustaches- men. I saw important letters and books written by obscure people. I remember one book in particular, it started like that:
It was in a clearing, right behind the forest known nowadays as the Reverse Forest. There was established a sad record. A death record. If you were so audacious to search for this book and so careless to open it, you’d be repaid by knowledge, at least. You’ll know what happened the 23rd of July.
Yes, I remember that date quite well. That 23rd of July. Not that I’ve ever opened that book, though. I was simply the first ink making spoken words something physical, printed.
The Governor, searching for new resources for the army, decided to find some alternative, new method. As you can imagine, war always helped the human beings in finding some smart solutions. Countries without water discovered how to find some spreading rivers of blood.
Others, full of water that they could sell it, reduced the country they conquered in deserts. This is history and no one would tell you better than a mass of human skeletons and horses. A collective hug that only death is able to make.
The Governor H. thought which resources he had in abundance. The answer was easy to find: prisoners. During war, they call war prisoners, during peace they just drop the “war” excuse. In both cases we’re speaking about the same human beings, most of the time committing small crimes, sometimes homicides or even worst, they tried to suicide without licence.
The forest was called at the time simply “Mushrooms Forest”, mostly for the peculiar way the trees were growing. With big, bulky tops they were similar to mushrooms.
Over the Forest, a small lake was the secret of those trees growing so big and high. They grew and grew, projecting their shadows to all the animals that don’t like walk with a leash. That small lake was immediately spotted by the Governor, which it seems he had exclaimed:
Oh, if there’s water, I will find a spring not distant!
He commanded ten prisoners to dig and make a well. The first thought was to make enough water for the regiment camped not fare from there. As we said before, during war time you have a lot of prisoners, but the problem is to feed an entire army. After three hard working days, the well was ready. It was a record, but it wasn’t the topic of the book. And the well itself wasn’t what the whole thing was about, anyways.
If it was a book about records in building wells, probably it would be a geophysics manual, but that was mostly animisycs.
So, when the well was finally finished and his three metres tall neck positioned on top of its generous mouth, the Governor had another intuition.
At the time people were speaking more and more about souls. The researches of Doctor K. lead to incredible results, but no one had never found a way of taking out a soul. The first one achieving that result would make a huge step ahead the others.
Fascinated by the idea of being cited in a history book, the Governor that day asked for a small bird and a cage to put outside the end of the well. The request was unexpected and strange enough to attract a lot of jokes on him by the soldiers.
What has in
mind the old guy?
said he wanted a bird or a cock?
And everyone bursting in laugh
We must say, the Governor was aware of all those comments, but he knew as well no one of those ignorant ever opened an animasofic or animysic book. They couldn’t possibly know what the father of animasofia, K., wrote during the Horn slaughtering:
Today I discovered something extraordinary. When I was calculating the exact weight of a souls on 120 corpses, I noticed something. Science proceed with trials and errors, but I know that the pure fate sometimes is what illuminates the mind of a scientist. In this case, my mind has been enlightened by a small cage and a yellow canary (…)
(…) I could see, even with my bare eyes, a grey aura, like smoke, coming out from the corpses laying in the shadow of the Horn. The shape and volume of it was similar to the smoke you can see going out from a small chimney.
(…) The aura– smoke lead to the poor canary, and suddenly the sweet singing stopped. For few minutes the body stayed still, while the smoke turned around it, like dancing. Then, as it had lost interest, the aura flew away, leaving behind a death body.”
Besides the bookish style, the story of the canary was fascinating. And the Governor was literally enlightened by that reading. Decided then to prepare a cage on top of his own well and ordered to throw inside one of the prisoners. Being the water so precious, he decided not to spoil it, and hang the prisoner to a rope.
The Governor didn’t listen the screaming and praying of the prisoner, a man guilty to be born on the wrong side of the border. If he just would have been born twenty metres away, he had been one of the executioner, right now.
After the poor man was thrown inside the well, the screaming stopped and there was silence instead. Try just to imagine what the soldiers were speaking about, terrorized. It was a torrid summer and they were stuck in the middle of the clearing. Few minutes passed, and suddenly the chirping of the canary started being stronger, afraid even.
Chiiirp Chiiirp Chiiirp Chiirp Chirp Ch
The Governor, after the canary stopped chirping, noted:
A small cloud, as a cloud of vapour, dark grey in colour. It started spinning around the corpse of the canary. It was true, it was happening! I decided to intervene.
Taken a thick blanket, he throw it on top of the cage and took the cage itself with him. Run to the Head Quarters keeping the cage still in his shaking hands. He decided to remove the blanket only in his own office.
There still was a big chance that all that was just craziness. But it worth a try. He didn’t want to put himself in a strange situation in front of the soldiers, either. He closed the door and switched on a small light on top of his desk.
Closed the door and switched on the light on my desk, I put the blanket with the cage on the ground. I felt the poor canary’s dead body falling on the other side of the cage. In that moment I almost lost my hope. I said to myself I’m a visionary, a fool, and I started thinking the whole thing was just the fruit of my imagination. You probably know that we are our own worst enemies. Then, after removing the blanket, I clearly saw it. A grey shadow trapped inside the blanket, almost invisible on the dim light of my desk. And yet, I could see it clearly. In few seconds it was in the air, where disappeared in front of my astonished eyes.
Repeat the experiment
Back to the well, the Governor decided to repeat the experiment, but on a larger scale. Twenty prisoners and twenty canaries were positioned in a lugubrious line arriving to the well. One after the other they finished hung up inside the well and one after the other the cages went silent, with a blanket on top.
The experiment was repeated again with 1200 prisoners, and that is the famous 23rd of July. That day is the day of the revolution, and from that moment on the place took the name of Prison of Souls.
Oh, how to
forget a book like that?
Today, over my iron belly seat hundreds of men and women. And among them, two men and a woman attracted my curiosity. You can see that they don’t know almost anything about each other, but they all are going to the same place. The one that knows less is the woman. She’s calm and keep watching a pocket with a spot of blood.
The men speak in a low voice from time to time.
How did you find her so quick?
I’m a track finder, no? It’s my job
I have my
informants, don’t worry. Now the easiest part will be to take your soul. She
would have put it in some girlish box, for sure
I have the
strange impression the soul is guiding her. And if the soul didn’t spot us yet,
it means we’re safe. I feel we’re close, really close. There’s only the forest
what’s your plan to avoid the soldiers?
I told you,
don’t worry. We’re going to use her as a bait
everything’s going to be all right
I’m just a train
I’m just a train, but I can see these two men aren’t the best travel companions for the woman. Oh, finally the forest starts, we’re almost at the end. From now on is forbidden to continue, if not with a small airplane and on the West side. Outside, at the train station, the usual deployment of force on the East side. Clearly an army patrolling a forest is something amazing!
of them get out of the train and they disappear among the people. They’re now
part of the forest of legs and arms with no boundaries. And no directions.
Oh, and about me, I’m going to go back to my iron skates, ready to disappear again over the mountains. Over this forest, to cities of smoke and concrete. Where trains come from.
This story will be published once per week only, with all rights reserved for the story and its translations by Flyingstories.org and in the person of Daniele Frau.
All the graphics are handmade and designed with different techniques by Gabriele Manca, DMQ productions, who reserves all rights.