Stuart didn't know if it was the cold metal pressing against his back or the far off whistle of the train bringing him back to his senses. His eyes were still closed against the light and he wanted to shake his head to clear the drugged cobwebs away, but it hurt too much to attempt it. Was he near some train tracks? Stuart opened his eyes just as another whistle echoed into the distance. A sharp jolt of adrenaline shot through his body and Stuart's eyes widened as he realized he wasn't just near some railroad tracks but on them!
There wasn't time to wonder how he got there. He could just make out the dark shape of the locomotive, it's headlight cutting through the early morning mist as he struggled against the ropes binding him to the steel tracks. His eyes stung from sweat as corded muscles strained to break free. Could that conductor see there was someone lying in the shadows on the tracks? Would he be able to stop the train in time? Stuart wanted to scream but his throat constricted in terror. Time seemed to slow down as he watched the oncoming train racing toward him.
Another whistle pierced the air, much closer this time, and the tracks shook wildly beneath him as Stuart wondered if there would be pain or would he just suddenly cease to exist. If only he had more time. Time to hug his wife and young daughter once more. Time to eat that juicy steak he wanted last night instead of settling for a salad. Time to laugh and love and drink in all the life he can until he can hold no more. If only he had more time.
What was the use of fighting the inevitable? Stuart closed his eyes and said a prayer as the last screech of the train's whistle ran over him and then...nothing. Nothing but the roaring clickety-clack of the cars rushing past him on the other track leading up the mountain. It wasn't until the silence settled back into the valley that Stuart dared to open his eyes. His body shook, not from the cool morning air, as his mind tried to grasp the fact he was still alive. Now if he could just figure out how to get free before the next whistle blew...