Here is the first part to a short story being written for The 13th Floor Paradigm, Mythology Workshop #1, hosted by Oloriel
Everything here has been a little slow the last few weeks, a few hardware issues, and much day work has been curbing the writing toll, so feel free to have a read of the below (it’s only a thousand words), or follow the link above to find out more about the workshop, and what others are writing for their unique prompt from, Oloriel
The unique prompt gifted to me for the tale (with only two parts of the prompt covered to date):
Luna – a key, a canvas, vanilla milkshake, a ghost of a dead gambler, a scimitar.
The Crescent of the East (pt 1)
The sounds of steel riding steel, with the distinct clunks as the hard wheels hit each joint along the seemingly endless line of rails , to feather its way up through the floor boards of the first class carriage as conversation fill the air. On his way to the dining car, backpack in hand, the wiry young man of twenty-five decides to pause, and take a seat at a table in dark corner of the saloon car.
“Would you like a drink, young sir?” came the question as an elderly barman with a tray of empty glasses stepped from the shadows.
“No, I’m fine. But if you have milkshakes, I could go a vanilla malt,” says the young man as he looks up from the table.
Sorry, sir, for milkshakes you best be making your way to the dinning car, but the closest I can offer you is a spider.”
“Thank you, one of those will do, but double the ice-cream please.”
“Coming right up, sir,” responds the barman as he then makes his way back to the bar in the middle of the long saloon car.
While waiting the saloon becomes busy as the area around the bar is taken up by an influx of people returning from the dinning car. The young man checks the contents of his pack, when from out of nowhere…
“Son, I know what you’re up too, and you’re taking a big risk. Not many people like your kind, but then I suppose you’re on the right continent, even though you’ve still a few boarders to cross. Even here, what you carry in that pack, there are still dangerous people who’d stop you,” runs the deep voice from a giant of a man now sitting at the same table, his beard long and well kept.
“Old man, I did not ask for your company, and further more, offer slices of your opinion to someone else. But what does interest me, is how do you know what I’m here for, or are you just fishing for information hoping I might spill my life story to you?”
“Not at all, not at all lad, I already know your story, the last ten years from since you were fifteen, along with bits and pieces from before then. If I were fishing for information as you ask, I too would be asking questions. No, I’m just offering a warning, and a sound piece of advice; there are people along the route you travel, and they won’t be the kind to just ask you questions. But enough of this talk about warnings, and advice, I can remember a time when this saloon car offered opportunities to make a fortune gambling at its tables, or lose one,” says the old man, as he runs his hand through his beard.
“Just who the hell are you?”
“Now who’s asking more questions, just think of me as a helpful observer, and heed my advice, kid.”
“Here’s your spider, Sir, and the dinning car next door will be closing in an hour,” says the barman, placing the spider beverage on the table.
The young man turns to where the bearded giant of a man, but he is gone, and no sign of him anywhere in the saloon. “Did you just see a man sitting here, a giant of man, Senegal, with a long beard,” asks the young man, a little perplexed by the whole situation.
“No sir, but can you describe him a little more perhaps, for a lot of people from different parts of West Africa, like Mali, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and many other countries travel through here, perhaps he is not Senegalese ” responds the barman.
“Well, he looked at least in his sixties, a long but tidy beard, gray in nature, and he had this torn scar along the back of both hands. Any ideas…”
“Come on lad, everyone knows, that’s Old… I dare not say his name, but best you be steering clear of that old ghost, he’s a gambler from way back. The story goes that in a high stakes game in Dakar, he won the entire Senegal rail network from some rich Canadian, and for next twenty years, he rebuilt every existing line in the country. Until on this very rail-line, in this same carriage, another high stakes game of poker, he was winning big. A break was called, and so he went outside to between the dinning carriage, and the saloon to have a cigar, no one saw what happened next. However, local police pondered that a struggle ensued, where someone tried to throw him from the train, but only managed to get him off balance for his head to be struck by another passing train. When the game was set to resume, he had not returned, an engineer whom had just woken found his body slumped between the two carriages moments later. The owners face was torn, and partly crushed on one side. Did the man you see have such markings?”
“No he did not, just must be someone else then. Here, here’s the money for the spider, but I’m off to the dinning car now, so you can have it,” and with those last few words the wiry young man departs.
Passing down through the saloon to the end, the lad opens the door and passes through with his eyes left. The shadowy giant figure of man turns to face the lad, removes a cigar from his mouth, and says, “You shouldn’t tell porkies, lies do not become you kid, I only let you see my good side,” spouts the Old Man as he turns his head to reveal the horrors of his death.
Standing there frozen to the spot momentarily, the kid makes a rush for the door to the dinning car turning, when…”Hey son, you’re looking as white as a vanilla malt milkshake, but aren’t you forgetting something, where’s your pack,” laughs the ghost of the old gambler, with his voice pounding inside the head of the wiry young lad.
The young man about faces, and falls through the saloon’s door on to the floor as a young boy on the other opens it, struggling crawling backwards, the young wiry man looks back and up, he’s gone, the badly scarred giant of a man is gone. Freaking out he launches to his feet, racing to the far end of the carriage, bowling people over as he dashes up the middle to snatch his backpack in a race through the doors, through first class, and out to the freight section of the train in moments.
Outside, the full moon offering enough light in the dark of night for him to grasp a crow bar while in full flight, his silhouette bounding across the tops of several flat bed cars until he finds the crate he’s seeking. The stencilled words on the side read, “Reid Jasper, DESTINATION – KAYES”.
Reid looses the chain from the crate, and pries it open with the crow bar, to reveal a large custom-built dirt bike sitting upright in its straps. As he picks up a helmet, while throwing his pack on to his back, Reid slips the dirt bike’s straps, key in, turn, and kick-starts the machine. In a flash, he has launched from the train, out into the moon lit darkness of the Sahel.
There comes a time,
When the best you can do
Is to look out far ahead
As the dusk kicks up, out
On the fringe to the desert
All on your own, no one
To see for miles beneath
The moonlight, the songs
Of the dunes at the edge
To the desolate, in time
The music heard by the
Sahel, at its farthest edges
To fill your eyes, their hope
Making for the endless East
In search of the crescent rising..