Midnight Pub

Let me tell you about the time...


Let me tell you about the time I got away from that ogre[1][2], and a couple other adventures after that on the way home.

I get knocked out cold before the hunt really gets started, when the ogre sneaks up on us. Good thing I had a bit of sorcery on my side that morning, or else I would have been have been killed right there probably. (Thanks again, S.) When finally I come to, I can hear my crew shouting in the distance, and soon there's some gun cracks and the sounds get fainter and fainter. I'm guessing things must have gone well, until some time later when I see the ogre's head pop up above the ridge where I'm looking up to. And then I see it start to come down over to me, and I know I'm in real trouble. Guess things didn't go so well after all.

I get my ass up off the ground and start to run. Zigging and zagging and hiding and zigzagging some more, trying to lose and confuse it. Because everyone knows you'll never outrun an ogre, in the long or the short. But it's no use - every time I hide and look back, it's still coming for me. It must be really hungry. 9 hours later of this, I have no idea where I am anymore, it's getting dark, and I'm dog tired too.

Finally I catch a break. I come to this small-ish river with deep rocky cliff banks, and there's this rope and plank bridge over it. I cross over, and I cut the bridge down with my hunting knife. I'm thinking maybe that'll make it give up, or at least slow it down so I can rest a bit. I go further into the woods on the other side, and find a hollow log to hide in. I still can't believe I fell asleep in there at all given the circumstances, but I was so exhausted I guess I didn't care any more. I slept all night.

When I finally wake in the morning light, there's that few moments of peace amongst the forest-chatter just before I remember why I'm here. And I grind back into gear. I head back out to the cliff, looking down and along the banks as far as I can see. And sure enough, way downstream I see that ogre again. It's somehow found a place to make it down and across, and is slowing climbing its way up the cliff. It'll be up here soon, maybe 20 minutes. Time to move. I head back into the woods and the hills again, and soon I can hear it coming, but I know I don't have another day of this chase in me. Something has to come up, or I have to go down.

When I climb down the other side of the ridge and into this clearing, I am surprised to see tall concrete pillars holding up a high monorail train track, about 40 meters up or so. Now at least I know about where I am. The Basker Line is this ridiculous mono-rail elevated train track, that they built at huge cost some decades back. It starts somewhere out beyond Stanton, and goes through the hills and the outer rural areas from the quad-cities towards the more urban areas to the west of that. Why did they make it? Trying to avoid the settled areas, but connect them for commuting or something? Trying to spur real-estate development in the middle of nowhere? I don't know. No one ever knew, that's probably why it never hardly got used. But the elevated tracks are all still there, and part of that runs right through here.

And then I get an idea. There is a metal ladder going up the side of the concrete pillar, for maintenance I guess. I don't think that big old ogre with its huge hands and feet could ever follow me up a little ladder like that, so up I go. When I get to the top, I swing up over the guard rail, and I start to run along the inner edge of that track. Maybe if I can get along here far enough, it'll give up before it figures out a way up here? Can't think of anything better right now.

Got to say, my heart sinks pretty hard a while later, when I look down the track, and I see that ogre is somehow climbing the access ladder up one of those pillars, squeezing one toe and finger into those rungs I guess. And then I see it hoist up and over the guardrail, straddling both sides of the track as it bounds along after me. So much for this plan. But I then I get one last idea. When I check my Casio, it's 7:37am, and I can't believe my luck.

See, this old Basker monorail line is so ridiculous, that even though they shut down all the stations years and years ago and the whole thing is basically abandoned, there are still some trains running on it every day! They don't stop anywhere, they don't pick up anybody, they just run in a useless circle from nowhere to nowhere. Did they forget how to shut down the computer or something, or turn off the power? Does somebody have some weird 50-year contract to operate it that they have to honor? I don't know, I don't care, but it's 7:37, and the signs on the other railway tracks down on the ground tell me that I'm getting near to Stanton. And thanks to my head full of trivia, that means that some old empty monorail car will be coming down this track here in precisely 2 minutes. Despite everything else, somehow at least the trains keep running on time around here.

There's a freight train rolling fast right now on those tracks below us, and the noise is pretty big. I turn around and start running towards the ogre which is still moving closer to me pretty quick. In just a bit, I see the monorail car come around a bend in the distance. I can see it, but the ogre doesn't, and it can't hear it either what with the freight train noise below. Also ogres don't hear that well anyways. It's all sight and smell for them, as you probably know.

By the time the monorail car gets close, I'm so close to that ogre I can smell it. When I get to the pillar, we're right over the freight tracks. I swing over the guard rail just as the ogre makes a grab for me. I lunge for the ladder, and I barely save my life up there as I hang on with one hand. Just then, the ogre looks back and notices the monorail car coming upon it. Too late! It makes a try to get over the rail to the ladder, but that's a tricky move for a big ogre. The empty car plows full on into the side of its hip.

It's about impossible to much hurt an ogre with blunt impact, even from a train, but as I clung to the ladder I see it get knocked off its feet, and fall down a long way from the elevated track. By luck and timing, it lands into the the very last car of the freight train passing below, an open hopper car full of powdered sulphur. And as I pull myself up over the guard rail again, I can see it leaning over the edge of the hopper car, covered in sulphur and glowering at me as the speeding freight train carries it away east. Pretty soon it's gone, and I climb down to the ground.

Safe at last. And never in my life have I been so glad to be alone in the quiet of the morning and the stink of creosote ties.

It's a long walk home. I slowly make my way northwards, to take the scenic route through country I'd hardly ever been to before. By the evening, it's raining hard, and so I take shelter in this gazebo outside a small house by the old secondary highway I'm following. In the morning, this woman who must have lived there finds me sleeping. She invites me inside, for which I'm very grateful. And I notice she keeps two alpacas in a large pen behind the house, and there are pansies growing in the front. Which I find very strange, as this was back in early March. She barely speaks a word to me, but feeds me fried eggs and grape tomatoes which I really needed. And then she goes outside and disappears. I did not see her again, though I spend the day at her house and feeding her alpacas from a basket of apples I find. By the morning, she still has not returned, and so I leave. And I notice at that point, that both the alpacas and the unlikely pansies in front of the house are somehow gone. I don't know what to make of that.

Following that old highway, eventually I find myself in the mountains near the reservoir where the fresh water comes from for the quad-cities and Vernham to the west. It's a restricted area for sure, but I'm still surprised to see all these military people and trucks there at the access road entrance gates. And I see all these strange orange tanks and pumps on trailers behind the trucks, which they have parked alongside the buildings of the treatment plant. When they spot me taking all this in through the chain link fence, they come over to me and haul me off to some room in a portable they had set up. They yell at me for a couple of hours before they let me out, threaten to come after me if I tell anyone what I saw, and finally tell me to fuck off and don't ever come back. And I don't know what to make of all that either.

And eventually I got home again.

[1] gopher://republic.circumlunar.space/0/~joneworlds/2021-02-27-hunt-is-tomorrow.txt

[2] gopher://republic.circumlunar.space/0/~joneworlds/2021-03-08-epilogue.txt


Jone, thanks for stopping by the pub to tell your story. I always did wonder how you got away from that ogre. Gave me some chills on a warm evening.



Dear Jone, thanks for lifting the fog. But you know what? This all sounds just like it could all be happening right here, too --- if anyone cared to look! Spooky.