The Last Journey – A Write … Edit … Publish post

This is my contribution to this months edition of Write … Edit … Publish.

For more information on this monthly challenge check out the tab at the top of the page, where you can find out more about the host and how to get involved.

My story for this months theme of ‘Moving On’ is called …

The Last Journey

Glancing at his watch, Jerry ran as fast he could towards the platform. Why did he have to cut it so fine? He’d been pushing it every day now, leaving off a couple of minutes later and still managing to catch the train before it left. Today though, it seemed as though hs luck had almost run out. Hefting his pack over his shoulder once more, ignoring the painful protest from his muscles, he practically charged through the barriers.

He wasn’t alone either, about twenty others were all trying to get on to the packed train before it left. Making his way through the crowd, the pain that he’d been feeling in in his chest decided that now was the time to make itself known. It felt like a fire erupting within him and he doubled over, knocking into the people standing nearest to him. He knew he couldn’t miss this train though and his determination got the better of him. He raised himself up and battled through the pain, pushing himself to get through the worst of it so that he made it on board in time.

He didn’t have any trouble finding a seat, although he was sure it had been nearly full from the outside. Through the window he saw the crowd, many crouching over something on the ground and others shouting. None of them were concerned that their train was departing.

He sighed with relief and slumped into his seat. The comfort of the railway wasn’t always the most inviting, but today he didn’t care. The cushioning of the seats were welcome after a whole day sat on plastic high school chairs, and he sank further down, letting his head fall back against the seat and his mind drift. He was just about to close his eyes for a doze when he saw a figure a few seats in front. There wasn’t much to be seen from where he was, except for a bald head visible over the top of the seats. Jerry didn’t dwell on the person too much and just slid down into his seat for a rest.

When he awoke he had no idea just how long he’d been out, and began to worry that he’d missed his stop when he realised he didn’t recognise any of the landscape beyond the window. The sky had darkened and the area next to the track was thick with trees.

The lights on the train were subdued and glancing around there was no-one else on board apart from the same bald man from the station.

‘You’re awake.’ The deep voice resonated through the carriage, surrounding him from all corners. Rising in confusion, Jerry could only assume it was from his companion.

‘Hello?’ he ventured, trying but failing to keep his nerves in check.

‘You’re awake. We are nearly there.’

‘There? Ely?’

‘No. At the end.’

‘The end? I don’t understand.’

‘The end of your life.’

The beads of sweat now stood out on Jerry’s forehead, panic beginning to overwhelm him. ‘The end …’

At the train station two paramedics lifted the body into the ambulance. They took their time, being careful, being respectful. No amount of rushing on their part would help now.

‘Such a shame,’ the paramedic was saying, ‘just collapsed right on the platform, heart attack.

Word count: 553

A critique of this story would be most appreciated, as would a critique partner who reads and writes science fiction and fantasy, as well as a little bit of horror.

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23 thoughts on “The Last Journey – A Write … Edit … Publish post

  1. I got it as soon as you said chest pain. Reminds me of something else I read- a similar fiction piece where someone didn’t realize they died.
    I could imagine this as a twilight zone episode- could totally picture it in my mind.
    One quick fix: “his head fall back against the seat and his to mind drift.” should be “his mind to drift”.

  2. Hi Heather. GREAT story! I realised pretty quickly what had happened, so maybe there was something you could have withheld to keep us guessing a bit longer. I love these ‘ghostly’ stories where people/ghosts are confused at their state. Was very creative having him trying to catch the train–to glory. So much to picture. Maybe you could continue this for next month’s HAUNTING. Hmm.

    As Beverly pointed out: ‘…after a whole day sat on plastic high school chairs…letting his head fall back against the seat and his to mind drift.’ ‘Sitting’ for ‘sat’ and the order of the last — ‘his mind drift’ or some such.

    Thank you for posting for WEP. Appreciate your support.

    Denise

    • Thanks for your constructive comments Denise. I wasn’t sure how obvious the chest bit would be, and this is a great forum for finding out!
      I’m looking forward to the ‘Haunting’ theme next month.

  3. I like the way you treated his ‘moving on’ as a normal part of life, dashing out to get the train and not realising he had actually passed on but there was somebody there to explain things to him. I did find your font rather difficult to read and quite blurry.

  4. Hi Heather
    Well written and I did catch the heart attack right away too. Still, the character wasn’t aware and that’s what counts. I think you need to correct this part, his to mind drift, delete ‘to’.

    Denise Covey is starting up a critic group that I will be involved in. I am a fantasy writer and I moderated an in person critique group for over 20 years. Denise is very good with her critique, I haven’t received feedback from the others yet since we are starting Oct. 1.

    My story is posted.
    Nancy

    • Hi Nancy. Thanks very much for your feedback on the story. I’d love to be involved in a critique group, although I don’t have very much experience in it yet. I’m still a bit nervous about offering proper critiques so it would be good to hone my skills in this area. I’ll check it out.

  5. That was great! loved the pacing and voice. You might want to cleanup some repetitious words (Today though, it seemed as though . .) and tightening a couple paragraphs. But I enjoyed the sentiment, and got a feel for how busy this character was; to busy for a heart attack to stop him. Well done.

    ………dhole

  6. Donna’s comment about how busy this man’s life was that he was still so busy trying to catch the train while dead – echoes my thoughts too. I like your treatment of life and beyond in this piece, the seamlessness from life into death.

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