One Ride At A Time

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The world had veins of tarmac criss crossed over her surface. When the information age ended, everything went black. 

A thousand years had passed since what humans called “The Great Blackout.” The earth had pulled through despite being predicted to be unlivable.

Life still existed. The planet spun on its axis, the animals ate, and the sun shone. It was unclear if it was a blessing or a curse.

There was no doubt about the inevitability.

There was hope. The earth may’ve been doomed, but it wasn’t desolate. Humans from the ruins of the information age survived.

—– 

There’s a train station on a planet where time has run out and death sings. It’s a strange building, more like a castle than a hub of transportation.

Its twisted spires are covered in vines planted decades ago. A place crafted by an artist. The inside has décor impractical in any other building.

The structure speaks of time, and the futility of clinging to it. Despite its dilapidated grandeur from ages past, it’s a lifeline for the remaining humans.

—– 

The sun sets. The train arrives.

A gentle whistle signifies its arrival as it pulls into the station. The doors open, admitting a thin stream of light upward to the soaring ceiling.

One by one, a small crowd forms at the entrance. Some worship the majestic locomotive, powered by artificial intelligence.

Others came to find comfort in the steady rhythm of the train. It’s a nostalgic sound from the digital age no one remembers.

—–

The doors close, and the crowd is pushed together. Gone are the utilitarian clean lines and rigid seats in its carriages.

They’re replaced with the same worn grandeur as the station.

The inside of carriages are covered in padded seats and fine fabrics, and a soft carpeted floor. Anything to bring the passengers comfort.

The windows are wide, looking at the valley below.

Reflective-chrome carriages speed through the dusty tracks.

Music salvaged from what remains of the internet archives play through hidden speakers, and some hum to the tune.

The red glow from the lights flicker off. The train travels a fraction of the distance it used to upon its creation. It never complains.

—–

The night is long. Lights flicker, dimming the room to black. The only talking is hushed voices as the train speeds across the planet towards a new day.

—–

Dawn illuminates the sky. Pastel orange breaks through the cracks in the clouds. The red glow of the train’s lights makes the morning look like sunset.

Outside, the world is empty. The train speeds through grasslands and hills.

Buried beneath the surface are the remnants of this world. Modernity caused the world to collapse before the information age ended.

It’s a stark difference from the life it was built for.

The train arrives at its last stop. The passengers disembark.

It’s a rare occasion for most. The train only comes once a week. A familiar voice breaks through the chatter. It’s the train, announcing its departure.

It’s a sign of returning to routine. For others, it’s the end of their only escape.

The train departs, ready to begin the cycle again.

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