The sound he heard was that of a train passing through the quiet town. The familiar ambiance was the ever present connection between the old man’s past and his ever eroding future. Wherever he lived, the the distinct sound of a rumbling hull of steel advancing down two lines of track were never far. He gave pause to consider a deeper meaning – if only to him – of what this meant. He had run to the far reaches of wherever he ended up next, to get away from the place previous. The whistle signaling danger, industriousness, and progress, was ever in the background. All of that freight, had most simply, a destination and a thereabout time of arrival. He supposed that his expiring life had one as well, and was fast approaching.
The ease of access for trade, profit, and adventure gave advancement to this great infrastructure. Did he take advantage of the paths previously plotted? Were there courses he missed? All of those goods and people being matriculated across some distance started with an agreement between parties or an individual’s endeavor for some end purpose. What was his endgame? Looking out the second story window down at the damp sidewalk glistening ever so slightly from the dimly lit and yet still fading street light, he wondered if there was any worth thinking about all of this. After all, he was facing the final moments of a fleeting existence.
He thought perhaps it would be easier to just flick on the television and pretend to laugh at jokes he wouldn’t understand. Being current in his own reality had given way to being a spirit, observing his bodily vessel in the third person as it meandered through the greater reality. A reality that was there long before him, and the one that would surely be around long after his form ceased of life. So he went back to his thoughts, the only grasp he had left on this world.
He thought of the countless millions of people, goods, and beasts that went down those tracks, which were nothing now but dust or waste. That in of itself was a somewhat depressing thought. However, it gave him comfort that the tracks, or at least the routes where the original were first spiked, remained. All of those years had past and much of what was carried now laid in ruin, yet the movement of cargo was still ongoing.
So many times before when in need of precious sleep the sound of a train breaking the silence of the night had awakened him. As the familiar noise continued in the near distance, he smiled at the fact that even in his state of increasing deafness it had allowed him to fend off tired eyes. He finally closed in on an arrival to a peace, the only destination he truly ever craved.