Tag Archives: rubber necking

874. The train

874train

Blair had left school and was heading into town in search of a job. He caught the train. The passenger train wound along the coastline. The view was picturesque; the wild sea below the cliff crashed onto piles of jagged rocks. The sheer power of it all! And then…

The cliff face, along which the train snaked, suddenly slipped away. The entire train rolled down a hundred metres onto the rocks. All 113 passengers were killed. Except for Blair.

By some extraordinary sequence of events he was flung from the carriage onto a wave of moving earth. As if a surfer in the sea, but on moving cliff, he leaped off the wave of cliff face at the bottom without a scratch. He stood and stared. It had all happened so fast.

The police and emergency people began to arrive.

“Get out of the way, son,” said a policeman to Blair. “This is no time to be rubber-necking.”

“But I was on the train,” said Blair.

“Yeah, right,” said the policeman.

In the following days, Blair told his story. No one believed him. The press published photos of the disaster of course, and photos of Blair too – the liar who used the occasion of sorrow to get publicity. He couldn’t go anywhere without being recognised. Nor would anyone hire the liar. There was no work for Blair.

It was surreal. After a while Blair began to doubt his own veracity. Perhaps he had made it up. He knew he hadn’t, but somehow he felt he was living in Cloud Cuckoo Land.

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