Philo's Stories

Secret Trains

the more I think about amtrak, the more I think that some railway nerds should start running our passenger rail service

a woman crouches behind a signal box at a CSX siding on the outskirts of Buffalo, her brightly dyed hair covered by a dark hoodie
she rakes open the rusty lock and connects her lineman's set to the wires inside

the set hums with the familiar noise of a dialtone
she takes a soldering iron out of her bag and wires a device into tangled mess, CSX's shoddy electrical engineering a perfect cover for her quick-and-dirty work

the next week, the signals read red over a stretch of empty track
she types on her sticker-covered thinkpad and the lights go green
a minute later, a locomotive races past with an eclectic collection of passenger cars and a ballast-tamping machine for camouflage

she looks at the laptop to check again, and sees that the train she just watched go past either doesn't exist or is a maintenance train, depending on which of CSX's geriatric computer systems she asks

she radios the engineer, tells them that secrecy has been maintained, and is congratulated on a job well done
the trains are running, whether the railroad likes or not.