Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Minute(s) (as in time) (03/03/11)
- TITLE: Excchange Ticket
By Loren T. Lowery
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At a travel speed of 70 miles per hour, the trip takes approximately 3 hours, slowing only as it crosses a 1000 foot trestle known as Deception Pass outside of Oak Harbor and stopping to pick up and debark passenger in Bellingham, Washington.
Adele, a resident of Vancouver, had been in Seattle for work related reasons. And, On Friday, March 6th, she had made plans to take the Cascades to meet her husband, Sean, in Vancouver. However, because of last minutes meetings, she needed to reschedule from the Cascades to the Zephyr.
It had been a disappointment for them both, but ever the attentive husband, Sean sent a dozen red roses to Adele’s hotel room.
“They’re beautiful,” she breathed into the phone. “I’m taking them with me. Customs will be in for a fight if they try to make me give them up at the boarder.”
Sean laughed. “Is it any reason I love you, my valiant queen. I’ll see you in a few hours. There’s a brewing storm here and I doubt we’ll be able to talk on our phones. Just know I love you and will be waiting. Sending a hug your way.”
Adele closed her eyes to receive the hug. “I love you back, with all my heart. Yes, see you in a few hours.”
As Adele stepped out of the cab at the train station, she noticed the weather had turned foul, wet, blustery and cold. Over the intercom, she heard the ticket master announce a 20-minute delay of the Zephyr. Resolved to make the best of it, Adele boarded the train, settled in a comfortable coastal seat and tried calling Sean. The calls however, kept being dropped.
As Sean had shared earlier about the storm, Alaskan winds, blistered by their burning sweep across the Boulder Plateau were racing through the Frazer Valley north of Vancouver and southward into the open waters of the Strait of Georgia in Puget Sound. Here, they collided with the tropical winds coming off the Strait of Juan de Fuca blown in from the Hawaiian Islands.
In the flashpoint, black clouds ruptured to spill their weighted utters in torrents of icy rain; winds howled at the breach in pain, their breaths hurling at better than 100 mile-per hour. The coast of Washington was under attack.
Beneath the cliffs that overhung the Deception Pass Trestle, a well-hidden boulder, two-stories high, was getting the brunt of the storm. Beneath its rooted base, the earth turned sodden and tiny brown rivulets began to erode the stone’s ancient purchase. Nearby, lightening flashed, striking a 60 foot pine. It toppled onto the boulder, pounding it further from its earthly bed. The boulder inched downward in muffled groans.
Other than the 10 minute delay at the station, the Zephyr was on schedule as it raced down its tracks to within a mile of Deception Pass. Here, the train braked from its normal 70 mile-per-hour to 45 to safely cross the 1000 foot trestle.
Gravity at last freed the boulder from its oozing cradle and hurled the 10 ton Goliath into the opened air. It plunged its heft mid-point into the wooden trestle, splintering its oily timbers like weathered bones. For a moment, the boulder bounced and rolled along the iron rails of the track before completing its freefall. Along its trek, it bent the rails to jut their twisted lines outward and over a raging wind-blown surf some 500 feet below.
The Zephyr moved forward, its engineer and passengers unaware. Feeling the lull of the train, Adele tried calling Sean again. The connection went through. “Hello, this is Sean. I’m not able to take your call at the moment…”
Adele smiled at the sound of his voice. “Just wanted you to know I was thinking of you.” She glanced at the roses sitting in the seat next to her and touched them lightly. “And, how much I love you. Sending you a hug and see you soon. Bye.”
Later that day, among the wreckage floating in the Puget Sound waters, a single red rose was found. And, beneath this, an exchange ticket from the Cascades to the Zephyr.
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