notebook entry #23

Driving through the prairies somewhere in northern US. I was surrounded by night time–no streetlights on a country road… and ahead I saw a train passing by, perpendicular to the highway. Lit up from inside.

So, I eased on the brakes, expecting any second to meet the horizontal lines of undulating light. Seconds passed into minutes, still black highway stretched out ahead. Flashes of light, but no rumbling staccato of train wheels on tracks. There was something unworldly about the shape of the light and the lack of sound, surreal squares that floated in silence above the oily black road.

After several hesitant minutes of alternately hitting gas & brakes (each moment expecting I’d need to screech to a complete stop for the passing train), the light suddenly shifted in shape and condensed into familiar windows, and I began to notice the rhythmical clanking of metal scraping metal. At last I reached the train. I had been driving on this straight, flat road for at least four minutes…maybe four or five miles. In this odd landscape lacking in the usual reference points my brain played tricks on me — it needed to make sense of the utter flatness, constructing floating windows on a floating train that silently projected itself miles closer to me than it really was.

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