John Perkins rose from his desk.
He was in his private car on the 10th Anniversary Transcontinental Run of his company's premier passenger train, Dreamscape One.
He drew aside the deep blue, velvet curtains and had to marvel at the view---he'd been working at the desk since morning, when he was near the Plains of Casvella---now, he could see a sliver of the setting sun in a cleft of the highest peak of the Sage mountain range.
His car was the last, behind the caboose (utterly rare on a passenger train), well insulated from the passengers and crew; except for his long-time friend, Engineer-Conductor, Tony Sustrella, famous "King of the Caboose" and devoted to John's protection...
He let the curtain close and sat back at the desk---work was his mistress---trains were his wives...
His phone rang and switched itself to the speakers:
"We're forty minutes out from Lost Canyon---want an alert at fifteen?"
"No, I'll join you in your space in five."
John stuffed a few papers into his attaché, locked a few more in the safe, put his cup and saucer in the bin by the door, covered the short distance between his car and Tony's space (something that he loved because, if done right, it was perfectly safe; but, was always on the edge of danger...), and knocked on the door, which opened instantly.
"Hey, John, you look totally ready for the meeting---how long d'ya think we'll be there?"
"You know I hate Lost Canyon and can barely stand the new Mayor's meeting room---I'd say one hour, tops."
"O.K., I'll keep the paid customers and crew on the train and give the passengers extra drinks and treats so they won't mutiny."
"I need ya to help me consummate a decision."
"I want to leave the company and relax in a damnably well-earned retirement---you want to be the boss?"
"You, the man I trust most---the man with almost as much knowledge of the company as me---the man smart enough to learn the rest of its secrets; and, the man who is probably drooling inside right now..."
Tony's smile said it all...
John pulled some papers out of the attaché and laid them on the table, along with his pen.
Tony glanced at the transfer of ownership papers then looked at John---"You sure...?"
"Come off it, Tony, you know damn well I am."
"Yeah, you never did joke much..."
John chuckled and pointed at the papers.
Tony signed them...
The meeting lasted fifty minutes, the passengers were still happy, and Tony sat bemused in the caboose...
Four hours later, in the middle of the Shasteen desert, in the dead of night, Dreamscape One derailed---all passengers and crew (including Tony Sustrella) were dead---the train was a blazing wreck---John Perkins was wandering in the desert, crying his heart out...
Gradually, he began to wake from his dream-world---gradually he became cognizant of his true surroundings---much more gradually, over a period of weeks, he tried to work out what the dream might mean---the purpose of the train, the meaning of Tony, the significance of the transfer of ownership, and the tragic yet imaginary accident...
John decided he'd get some train simulation software for his computer so he could model Dreamscape One, reconstruct the dream---work out the message more fully, integrate the shadowy meanings and events into his waking life...
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