Hi! This story is actually 2 stories, one after the other but they're about the same thing and the second one tells you stuff you didn't know about the first so please read both! And tell me what you think!
You had to keep walking.
That was the only thing going through my head. I ignored the pain that was coursing through my whole body and focused on that one thought. The one thought, the only thought that would keep me alive.
You had to keep walking.
The day the train came, I could see it rising over the hill on the other side of the valley. The leaves of the trees that covered the land were dead and golden by then, making the whole scene look like a beautiful sunrise.
But it was far from that.
I remember squinting at the bright scene, first picking out the engine of the train as it rose over the hill, a black bruise on a beautiful sight. Then the other carriages came, and the people. All those people.
A small warning bell was sounded in our town as soon as the train was sighted, giving everyone enough time to get themselves and anything they need ready to join it. It also caused most of the people to fall into hysterics as they realized they'd never be able to see this beautiful view again once the train had passed, whether they stayed or not.
Most people joined at the back of the seemingly never-ending line of carriages that snaked down the hill. The train was so long that doing this gave you a few more hours to say goodbye to your homes.
But I'd already said goodbye, so had Alfie. We'd said it the day our parents had died, long before I'd even heard of the train and the destruction that followed it. The one thing that I was leaving behind was memories, but they were the only things that would be sure to follow me wherever I go.
The only thing that mattered now was keeping Alfie and I alive.
So we joined right at the front of the train, next to the bulky, black engine and we walked for days, each of us taking turns to sleep in the rusty, old wheelbarrow that had peeling, green rubber handles and a deflated tire, that Alfie had thankfully thought to bring, without it we would have fallen behind long ago, fallen behind and been unable to make it back.
It was Alfie's turn to sleep now, whilst I was pushing, my legs and arms still able to take the added weight of the wheelbarrow and keep up with the front of the train. But for how long? I couldn't be sure.
I watched Alfie's face as I continued to trudge along. It was so calm and carefree when he was sleeping, not creased with worry and streaked with tears like it was whenever he was awake. I smiled at him even though he couldn't see it and wondered what he was dreaming of, if he was dreaming at all and I hoped it was of someplace other than here, somewhere happy. I shook my head at myself; that was the first proper smile I'd had since we started walking.
I was thinking of that happy place when a screech brought me back to where I was –not a place where you would smile-. My features immediately flipped to a worried frown as I craned my neck to find the source, looking to my left and right but not behind, you never looked behind.
The only time I'd done so was about an hour after we'd started walking, when the end of the train had finally come over the top of the hill.
I never looked again.
I finally located the source of the screech. It had come from the mouth of a woman who used to be in one of the over crowded carriages. But not anymore, she'd been pushed or pulled –I didn't know which- out of it and was now sprawled out on the ground, with her ankle bloody and broken from landing on a rock as she tumbled out. The bone was sticking out, a small flash of white against the red, and her foot was pointing the wrong way.
She wasn't with anyone; no one was calling out for her or screaming at the person who did this. Sometimes huge fights started which ended up causing at least five times as many casualties, five times as many poor, unfortunate people who wouldn't make it.
The woman was lying on the ground alone, people just walked round as if she was a rock. With no way to get up, she wouldn't make it.
I forced my head to turn and look away. Despite how much I wanted to run over and offer for her to sit in our wheelbarrow I couldn't. She would just make everything harder than it already is, not only would she not make it, Alfie and I wouldn't either.
Alfie murmured something and shifted in the wheelbarrow, jerking my right arm down with the added weight on that side. I picked up the weight I'd dropped then immediately bent over Alfie and carefully brushed his golden locks out of his face with one hand, the other still pushing the wheelbarrow.
"Shhh… honey," I whispered gently to him, not wanting him to wake and see what I just saw. He probably saw it all the time whilst I was sleeping, but despite the fact he was just as exposed to the horror going on around us as I was, I couldn't help but want to shield and protect him from it, just as I used to do at home.
He shifted again and I was pulled down slightly as my one arm strained to keep the wheelbarrow straight, but this time I could hear his breathing slow as he stayed still and fell into a deeper sleep.
I sighed and straightened up, placing my other hand back onto the peeling wheelbarrow handle, just as a fight broke out on my left, next to the carriage. I gritted my teeth and forced myself not to look as -over the shouts and screams- I heard the sickening crunch of someone getting caught under the wheels, a sound I've heard too much over the past week. I quickened my pace momentarily, my eyes firmly focused on the front of the train, to get passed the fight, leaving the screams and shouts to fall behind.
Alfie and I never tried to get on the train, no matter how much it hurt to keep walking, it was better than getting killed or so badly injured meaning you couldn't go on as we would be if we tried to get on to one of the carriages.
So we had to keep walking.