The Voyageurs - Discovery In Havenswood Valley: Prologue
The Voyageurs - Discovery In Havenswood Valley
by Brian Siddons
He was four years old at the time, not quite old enough to sear the memory vividly forever, but old enough to carve a scar into his brain. Mostly faded like an old tattoo, the event is hard to recall, but once in a while there is a mental flash as intense as the night it happened.
Raised in a rural-suburban area, young Marcus experienced a taste of open space yet was always within a short driving distance to visit relatives, hang out with friends, get to school, participate in sports, and in general lead a pretty normal life. Home was a modest rambler on a three acre plot, built with quality as the biggest ingredient and family life as the floor plan.
Heading to 452 Alpine Lane was usually a quick drive from anywhere, unless of course a freight train was passing through town. An abundance of homes had nestled into many of the prime housing locations and the growing population had caught up to this once very rural region, increasing the length of the line of autos stuck behind the railroad arms. Not a big deal, but many drivers that had been stopped and forced to wait until the last car disappeared down the track would let their minds wander and eventually get to thinking that it was about time the trains quit running so much during peak driving time.
When it happened, Marcus was nearly asleep. His heavy eyelids were almost shut, and the bobbing of his head was in a rhythm of motion synchronized with the vibration of the oncoming engine. His father was distracted by the cars making u-turns towards a hopefully faster route, and didn’t have a clue as to what was about to happen. Marcus, tired as he was, felt the shiver of needles run up his back, forcing him to fight the straps and sit up as straight as possible. His eyes popped wide open and he was suddenly and totally alert, absorbing everything; sights, sounds and movement. The little boy became transfixed by what he saw to his right, there was a giant, glowing, beast of a machine barreling down upon them from out of the woods! He saw huge, glowing eyes. A wide, smirking mouth and smoke rising above the entire scene. It was a nightmare of a monster racing toward them and then, without warning, it let out a terrible, screeching and truck shattering scream that Marcus still wakes up to on occasion. For young Marcus, his only reaction was that of what most people would do, he matched the engine noise with a frightful scream of his own, filling the cab of the truck with a high pitched shrill that should have obliterated the windows.
In a minute, it was over. The train had sped past the one ton Chevy and Marcus was out of steam, too tired to keep up the noise, he cried himself to sleep on the short drive home. His father, finding himself at a loss for the hysteria of his son and his own racing heartbeat, put the truck in gear and tried not to let the situation get the best of him.
“I can’t stop shaking,” said Troy. “It was the freakiest thing. The crossing arms were down across the road, red lights blinking, bells ringing, I knew the train was coming. But I looked around for a second at some cars driving off, and the next thing I know the train is hitting it’s horn and Marcus is screaming bloody murder.” He sat down, got up, then sat down again. “Holy crap, I thought all hell had broken loose and the train was going to roll right over us.”
“But Troy,” his wife, Anna, said in as calming a voice as she could, “There was no way you put yourself in a dangerous spot, Marcus is just a baby and was caught off guard. He must have been startled in the darkness when the train got close and laid on the horn.”
“Yea, I know. It was just so darn un-nerving. I felt totally helpless, and for a split second thought that I had put Marcus in a terrible situation.” Troy stood up again.
“Honey, sit down, let me get you a glass of wine while you take your shoes off. We’ll sit by the fire, I’ll massage your legs and you’ll relax. I know it’s easier said than done, but you didn’t do anything wrong. I’m sure Marcus will sleep it off and that will be the end of it.”
At 3:15 am that morning, Marcus gave the family a vocal reenactment of his earlier performance at the railroad crossing. At 8:30 am that same morning, as Nurse Anna Jennings was making her first set of rounds at the hospital, she would learn a new patient in the ICU was the lone survivor of an early morning auto-train collision. A deadly collision that had occurred at 3:15 am, not more that six miles from the Jennings’ home.
Anna couldn’t get to her cell phone fast enough. “Troy,” the tears welled up in her eyes as soon as she spoke, “oh my God, Troy, you’re not going to believe what happened last night.”