Well, well, well. Another short story. Actually, it’s more of a flash-fiction piece, but the shortness worked well for this story. So, enjoy, and tell me what you thought in the comments below! 😀 (Edit: So I didn’t realize how similar this was to the video short, also titled Off Track (whoops.) Go watch the cool movie, then read. 🙂 I definitely don’t mean to plagiarize!!!!)
He almost did not see him. It was an isolated path since few people hiked up the mountain that far. Ever since he was young, he liked to hike the trails and after being away for a while, the preserve was one of the first places he visited. Hiking helped clear his thoughts. The leaves twirled down to the ground and the crisp, piercing air swept through the hills. The wind turned to play with a red article. It flapped in the wind, and in curiosity, the hiker turned off the path into the trees. Eventually the trees thinned so the hiker could clearly discern what the red object was. It was a jacket, worn by a twenty-something man who sat on train tracks that bordered the mountainside. “Hey!” the hiker called, breaking through the tree line.
The man on the tracks stared straight ahead. “Don’t try to stop me.”
The hiker stopped. “Do you want to talk?”
“No, now leave me in peace.”
“You don’t have any peace right now, with or without me here.”
The wind cut through the mountains again, causing the man to hug his red jacket around him tighter. The hiker himself might have been eighteen, if that. He sat down a ways behind the man in the dirt and leaves.
“What’s your name?”
“Why are you still here,” growled the man on the tracks.
“Here’s the deal, we talk, and then I’ll leave. It would be unethical if I just left you here without trying.” He spoke gently, and sadly.
“Fine,” The man on the tracks said, “Anything to make you leave.” He sighed quietly. “I’m Logan.”
The hiker’s brow furrowed slightly at the name, but Logan continued.
“His name was Travis. He was my brother. We lived with our father, who was an alcoholic. I tried to protect him from the brunt of father’s spells, but it was hard. One day, I had to stay late at school, and he ran away while I was gone. Our father never said anything about it. I never saw him again.” The man was barely holding back his anger. “He might have joined some gang, or he might have been killed. I should have reported my father sooner. ”
“Yeah, well, words don’t help.”
“What about your mother?”
Logan looked away, and with a bitter laugh said, “She left.”
A train whistle sounded in the distance. The train would be there in less than five minutes.
Logan looked into the distance and warned, “Don’t try to save me.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“I should have helped Travis find a safe place. There was no one. We lived in a trailer park, and knew no one at school. I didn’t want Travis to go to an orphanage. I thought I could take care of him. My father would sleep most of the time; he was only bad when he drank. At any rate, Father killed himself this year. By the thing he gave his life to.”
“Placing the blame on yourself won’t help anything.”
Logan snapped, “Don’t tell me what to do! You don’t know what I went through.”
The young man paused. “You’re right, I don’t.” He was quiet. The train was rumbling closer. It would come in less than a minute. Disregarding it, he walked over to the man, and sat on the tracks next to the man.
“Leave me. I told you my story. Now go.” Logan was shaking.
The boy shook his head stubbornly. “No.”
“Get off the tracks!”
The train came rushing around the bend. The man in the red jacket yelled and pulled the younger man off the tracks. The train whooshed by, clacking and clicking on the track. Logan panted hard, staring at the boy with new eyes.
“What’s your name?” He demanded.
The younger man looked him in the eyes, and simply said: “Travis.”