Varsha 2019 Issue, Stories - Hervé Suys



After the lecture

By Hervé Suys


The story I am about to tell started on a cloudless evening. Some people might even consider it night already.


I returned fromgiving a lecture at the invitation of HET GENOOTSCHAP. I myself stopped being a member several years ago, but I felt very honoured that they hadn’t forgotten about me and could still appreciate my work.


On my way to this lecture I had to deal with several traffic diversions and arrived just in time for the introductory meeting, soafterwards I asked the Pretor, who knew this region better than I did, if he could recommend an easier and less travelled route to drive back.


At first he suggested that I could spend the night at his house with him and his family, but I didn’t feel like spending the night anywhere else. I made up an excuse that I had a few pets and they needed tobe fed. The Pretor gave me rather confusing directions, which I carefully wrote down as well as a number of checkpoints, such as an abandoned farm or the remainders of a chapel.


I was very surprised when I arrived at a railway crossing on the way back. The barrier on my side was down and two big red lights were blinking non-stop. I could not imagine that the Pretor forgot to mention this crossing or that I missed this part of the description.


I estimate that I was standing in front of the closed level crossing for several minutes before seeing two lights approaching in the rear-view mirror. A moment later a vehicle pulled to a halt just behind mine. The driver, a man who seemed to be a dozen years younger than myself but a lot taller, got out immediately. In the light that came shining through the open door, I noticed a woman with medium length, dark hair. I don’t know if it was the spectacles she wore or not, but in her eyes I saw a mixture of fear and disbelief.


The man looked around in amazement and wanted to say something when a second car approached. His words, I don’t even remember if he had already said them out loud, were lost in the honking of the other vehicle. Two men got out of that car.


One of them, I think it was the passenger, got out of the car and determinedly to the left of the barrier, looked left and right several times like a child anxiously standing on afootpath afraid to cross the empty street, then he climbed onto the train tracks, turned to us and shrugged, indicating that nothing was wrong.


That was the last movement I saw of him, because the next moment a bright light flashed at shoulder’s height without a sound, it seemed to pass from left to right. No locomotives or wagons were to be detected, but the man seemed to be gone. His companion, presumably the driver, walked onto the tracks as well, searching for what was left of the man. The name he screamed escapes me at this moment, but it was the first and also the last thing I heard him say, because a similar light toearlier flashed again, this time it seemed to be going in the other direction.


I was bedazzled. The man from the first car approached me and for a moment we stood with our hands on the barrier and peered at the train tracks. He stammered that no train could have passed there at all. He assured me that he had taken this road the previous day. He wanted to take a closer look when the woman with the dark hair got out and called out his name.


He turned in her direction and ordered her firmly to return to her seat in the car.


I don’t exactly recall what happened next and cannot display the exact number of cars, but in the following moments other cars arrived. In a few words we tried to explain what had happened. Obviously they stared at ussuspiciously at first, but when we drew attention to the railroad which seemed to appear suddenly, every attempt at mockery vanished.


Something had to be done, that was beyond dispute. The others were going to spread out to get help. Because, as I mentioned earlier, I do not know this region so well, I suggested to stay put in order to warn new drivers. Hardly a few moments passed since the others had left, when a young man in a glitzy sports car ignored my words and attempted to cross the railway. The car did not make the slightest noise when the white light flashed by.


Meanwhile, the darkness is gradually fading. There is no car on the other side of the railway and no living soul to be seen. When I look behind me, it seems as if the horizon is slowly disappearing. I try to make sense of it myself: the end of the horizon is getting closer. Where a windmill could still be observed a moment ago, I can now only detect a blue sky. If I didn’t know any better and wasn’t aware of the absurdity of my thoughts, I would think the earth is to be slowly disappearing.


I will put these sheets of paper in an empty bottle and throw it to the other side of the railway.


Dear reader, I hope you take this message seriously and send us help, before it’s too late.


I found this letter at the break of dawn when I stood in front of this closed crossing. The barriers are down on this side and two red lights are continuously flashing. But I cannot see the other side, it seems like the earth stops here. Strange, because I know for sure that no train has ever passed here


Hervé Suys started writing whilst recovering from a sports injury and hasn’t stopped since. His stories are published in several countries.


Our Contributors !!

Some of our writers!

  • We occassionally invite writers to send their musings. Do send in your work, and we will host it here.
  • Do visit the Submit page to submit your work.