Belinda remembered what the man had told her. “Climb in, sit and wait, and it
will come. You’ll know when it’s coming.”
She lay curled up in the cramped, putrid darkness of the storm drain on the
western edge of the I-17 frontage road, in the spot where Mista G told her she needed to
go. He had mentioned something about a train that would take her away, far away where
she couldn’t be found. It sounded like a fairy tale to her and yet, she believed him, and
she believed that nothing else could help her now that she was running from the law.
Her frail, teenage body was dampened in sweat and sewage as she walked into the
pipe with no source of light to guide her way. The air was almost unbreathable and her
guts clenched with nausea. The deeper she creeped, the more the sounds of cars and
trucks rumbling on the concrete over her head began to fade. She was too far from the
drain opening. She was lost. Her eyes were stinging. She doubted Mista G’s story, but
anything was better than prison, which for her was a certainty after fucking up a robbery
at a Circle K.
She stopped and brushed the cockroaches off her legs, surrounded in darkness and
the smell of used motor oil, feces and urine. She bowed her head and clasped her hands,
wanting to pray, but not knowing what to pray for. And then she heard it coming.
A pinpoint of light appeared in the black distance, and with it came a faint,
metallic chugging sound that grew with intensity. The light drew forward with the rising
sound, widening and beaming brighter.
Belinda felt dizzy. She wasn’t sure if the poisonous air was playing tricks with
her mind, or if her blank check prayer was answered and Mista G had told her the truth.
By instinct she stood up and backed away as the light rushed toward her.
A violent squealing of brakes slowed the cadence of the chug-chug-chug sounds
and a warm gust of oily air blasted her as the massive passenger train grinded its speed to
a crawl. A train! Her jaw slacked open.
She stood only a few feet from where any tracks should have been. The bright
halogen light pointed into a space behind her. It crept, then stopped.
A bright orange glow like the light of a smoggy sunset burst from the seams of the
windowless passenger car that parked right in front of her, bringing a faint illumination to
the foul, concrete space. Something rumbled from within, and Belinda wasn’t sure if it
was the train’s engine. But how the hell could a train even be here? she thought.
The car door opened, and inside she saw no seats, no overhead bins, no man
waiting to check her ticket. Inside, there was only a vast landscape that stretched out to
infinity, resembling a beach without an ocean. On the horizon was a dull orange sky
without a sun. “Oh, my God,” was all Belinda could say. It felt like a meth high, but she
wasn’t using right then. To her, the sight was beautiful, miraculous.
She stepped up to the door and pulled herself in. The air inside was far cleaner
than the storm drain but cold. Bitter, painful cold. Her sneakers dug into an icy sand that
felt like an electrical charge at her feet. She turned behind her, and the door was nothing
more than an opening that quickly slammed shut and disappeared. The orange sky
darkened, and Belinda could only feel a regretful dread as the wheels began to grind
underneath, and the train started to move again.
The sand climbed up her ankles. She hated the cold, hated Mista G.
She heard the flap of large wings and felt sharp stings in her back. Before she
could scream, something grabbed her by the nostrils and tilted her head back, and a long,
cold arm reached down her throat.