Writing Prompt – The train tracks

by kalbzayn on January 10, 2007

I have been spending a few more brain processing cycles recently keeping track of things that are happening and wondering if they could be useful in a story or even if the real world is maybe plagerizing from authors.

I left for work at about 5:30 this morning. Officially, Oh dark thirty during this time of year. At 6:15 I made it through a busy stretch of traffic lights catching all of them green or just turning green. A good day was nearly in reach. I had two more turns and about two minutes of driving left.

And a train track.

I never think about that train track because there is never a train there. This morning was no different but the warning gates thought otherwise as they stretched across the road blinking at us.

All of the times that follow are not frustrated exaggerations. Everything really took this long.

Four minutes later a commuter train happened to drive by. The gates stayed down.

Four more minutes later a truck pulled up to the gates control room to work on the problem. The gates stayed down.

Four more minutes later the truck pulled away. The gates stayed down.

Two minutes later, I noticed a phone number on one of the signs at the crossing. I called and they said they knew about it and the guy who was working on it was trying to fix the problem by going to a different control room.

Then, I finally got close enough to the tracks to run the gate after extremely cautiously checking for trains travelling about 100 miles per hour.

All in all it was over 15 minutes of waiting at a train gate for no real reason.

That has to be something that could be worked into a story.

Why are the gates stuck?

Is the guy “fixing” the problem or contributing?

Was there a train that was supposed to have passed but didn’t?

Is society finally grinding to a halt?

Where does the driver need to go to so desperately that being 15 minutes late is going to drive him crazy?

I’m not answering any of those questions because I have my own story to write about. Feel free to tackle them with your own free time.


Paul January 11, 2007 at 6:26 am

Maybe it was a phantom train, or maybe there was supposed to be a train go by at that point, but someone traveled from the future to stop the train for some reason.

Heather January 12, 2007 at 6:13 am

I hope you don’t mind; I’ve linked to this from my writers’ exercises blog. It’s an interesting prompt! I too like the phantom train theory.

kalbzayn January 12, 2007 at 9:35 am

Heather, I’m happy to get the link. Go ghost train Go.

While sitting there way too long at way too early in the morning, the broken gate felt like a very powerful symbol of the world getting more advanced than we can support. Or something like that.

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