Mercifully, the collaborative story has ended. It was fun, but nothing really happened. We may try it again next year, maybe I'll have a larger readership and folks won't be afraid to comment. Here it is in its final form: William woke up on a train. It seemed like he was in a rut, but today was different. Leaving his hometown for the first time in months, he was excited about what the future had in store for him. He got ready for his day in the tiny train lavatory and opened his luggage.
Inside his luggage was a surprise, a note in handwriting he didn't recognize. He opened it and it read simply,
"Meet me in the diner car at 10."
“Crap,” he thought. “It’s already 11:30.” He crammed the note back into his bag and hurried to the diner car.
The car was empty save for a very old man who appeared to be leaning against the window in a deep sleep. William walked over to him and, after staring for a few seconds in confusion, pounded the table as hard as he could. The old man quickly sat up with a terrified gasp. “What’s your deal, sonny?!” he asked, catching his breath.
William pulled out the note and asked, “Did you write this?”
The old man said, “No, son. I never learnt to read or write.”
William, having already missed his mysterious meeting and nothing to do, offered to teach the old man.
The old man replied defiantly, “No sir, I ain’t never had the notion to learn to read, and I ain’t never gonna. Now, if ya ’scuse me, I was in the middle of a dream where my missus was bakin’ me an apple pie!”
William decided it was best to just let the old man be. He exited the diner car and made his way back to his room. When he arrived another note was awaiting him.
It read, "I was going to warn you. GET OFF THE TRAIN AS SOON AS POSSIBLE."
Before he finished reading the note, the door to his very small room opened, and a giant man in an unfamiliar uniform tackled him, put him in handcuffs with a gag in his mouth and made it very clear that if he tried to escape he would be sorry.
"That was much easier than I expected," said the man in the uniform in a thick accent that was unrecognizable to William as well. "When we arrive I expect you will be just as cooperative."
The man in the uniform was former New York Giants’ defensive end Michael Strahan. The “accent” was caused by a piece of peanut stuck in the giant gap between his front teeth.
The peanut’s having been lodged in there for years, the smell was unimaginable.
“Geez,” William said. “You should get that taken care of.” Of course, with the gag in his mouth, it came out, “Gov, yo shih gid da ta’engaruv.”
“What’s that, boy? Some kinda foreigner talk? Just keep your mouth shut ’til we arrive.”
It was dark by the time the train pulled into the station. William was tired and hungry, but he cooperated with Strahan and was guided into an old, dusty building. A Cambodian child who smelt of mothballs followed the two men, carrying William’s luggage.
Strahan, William, and the Cambodian kid began down a dark hallway. At the end of the hallway, Strahan led William into a room. Once inside, William realized that he had been taken to an illegal gambling facility. Strahan forced William to sit down. The Cambodian child left William’s bags behind him and headed over to a table in the corner for some Beenie Weenies and Big K cola.
William was forced to play poker for three and a half hours. Then he got drunk on cheap vodka and passed out.
When he woke up, he was back on a train. But he was wearing lady clothes.
“Whaaa?” he mumbled. Catching a whiff of his vodka/morning breath, he decided to brush his teeth. On his way to the bathroom, he noticed that several other men were waking up to find themselves in dresses and fancy pantsuits.
He turned to one of the men and said, "I thought all that Michael Strahan stuff was a dream. What happened to us?"
"Idunno." Said the man, "I just woke up, and I didn't even know they made dresses in this size." The man was way over 400 pounds.
Baffled by the mystery, William set out to find anything that he could make sense of. No one had any luggage, (only a small bag of toiletries) no one had any wallet or identifiables, and no one knew what was going on. He sat down and looked out at the passing scenery. As the train rolled through a small village he noticed that all the signs were in some foreign language. He didn't even recognize the characters in the alphabet.
"Where are we?" said a very timid voice from a seat behind him.
It appeared that the question was not to be answered for the scenery of the village faded behind them and what laid ahead only reflected the desolation of the situation. There was nothing beyond the window but snow and ice. Not a glimmer of mountain peaks on the horizon, nor a bird in the clear blue sky.
For some time, William stared out the window, reviewing the recent events in his mind…looking for clues to answer the questions running through his mind. It was absurd. Things like this simply did not happen.
William, now lost within himself, was shaken alert again by the change in speed. The train was now slowing to a stop. Curious as to the destination, William raced to the front of the car to see what he could.
On his way to the front of the car, he fell through a hole in the floor. Unable to call out for help because of the debilitating cold, he was terrified when the train started back up and rolled on without him. After a couple of minutes, he froze to death.
And that’s why you don’t leave your hometown.
Webhick, Roland, Geneva, Ryan, Caroline, Jeremy