I occasionally screw up while dispatching.
If you weren’t there or don’t like bloodshed, you might not want to read further.
I burned twenty-five people alive in a fiery tangled holocaust inside a tunnel.
If you don’t like unhappy endings, you might not want to continue.
I’m very sad.
Yeah, so it was a busy night on the LM&O. We’ve redone large sections of our layouts, some turnouts aren’t powered, others aren’t hooked up. Lots of work over the last month so everything was filthy (even with John L. paradropping in to soften the beach and pre-clean). It was a rainy night, the parking lot at the pizza place was being tarred, I’m tired from the audit. And I took a stupid chance.
All along the waterlevel section of the layout, from Carbon Hill to Weirton, everything was packed. I think I had a half-dozen trains through there (which is funny, because generally the bottleneck is up at the summit). I was writing orders in a flat heat but people were still stacking up on the phones. I hardly ever get people to try to cut over each other on the phones yet tonight there were lines.
And then I cut a corner. I took a chance.
95 was holding at Mingo Junction, picking up some passengers who evidently hadn’t checked their horoscopes that morning. The line had just cleared, all locals were out of the way and I could let him rip. Cut a warrant for him to head down to Cincinnati, cutting into the station tracks for brief stops. Almost immediately after cutting time and authority, young Shawn on 244 calls in Cincinnati to come out.
“Make him wait,” the little angel on one shoulder told me.
“Roll him,” the little fireball demon on my other shoulder coaxed. I looked at the board. 95 was still a ways away. It should be do-able.
So I cut him paper, just out the portal, around the long curve to hold the main at Carbon Hill for his meet.
“Attaboy,” the devil told me.
“Shawn, make sure you expedite. If anything goes wrong, call me. I need you in that next town.”
Plenty of room.
What could go wrong?
Kids always run fast.
Rated PG for graphic content, violence and disturbing images.
Five minutes go by and I’m two warrants further along in the eighty-two I would write that night. And suddenly the window panes rattled. I looked out to see a mushroom cloud climbing over Der Sturnwald Ridge. The rumbling boom rolled over my dispatcher’s office.
I don’t know why Shawn dallied – it was just out the throat, six feet of unimpeded running, and right down the main to meet the passenger train. But they crashed in the yard throat.
Yeah, nice story but it was my fault. I should know never to lap authority like that and depend on a train to clippity-clop out of the way of another. I know better. So does that angel who should have made his damn case stronger.
Damn. I hate screwing up like that.
But it did give me something to write about, no?