The Depths

I walked forward a step at a time. I walked toward the bridge.
It was dark, and i was in the woods. Around me were trunks. Deep shadows swallowed all else. My mind could not help filling those shadows with wolves.
It was cold, and the wind was getting through my coat. I didn’t pull it in tight, i didn’t put my hands in my pockets, i didn’t feel a rush of relief. My hands hung limp at my sides.
I walked stumblingly. The hill was wrapped in thick, dirty roots, and peppered with loose stones. I stared at the bridge. I could just see it through the highest branches, silhouetted black against the sky, bending and snapping back with violent motion.
It was a huge thing of rust and twisted metal. Red bars thick as trunks made up the tangled web of its understructure. It hung unnaturally in the air. Caught up in its lattice like flies were large rocks that tumbled, screaming, into the river as trains went by. They made little splashes.
The water’s roar was deafening. The leaves and bushes whispered, the trees groaned. The wind howled- a distant sound, but how very like screaming….
Across the river, a concrete wall held up the bridge, tall as any castle rampart. It cut straight and narrow into the sky. Its surface was rough, cracked, and weathered. I could feel its terrible strength. 1950. (Carved into its skin.)
I lost sight of it in the trees.
Then i crested the hill and stepped onto the tracks.
No Trespassing. (Flat on the ground.) There was no handrail and no shoulder. Between the beams were huge gaps. Through the gaps i could see into the mechanical substructure, metal upon metal, and further. Little sparks of light winked at me from the water.
I couldn’t see across; The bridge ended in darkness. They must have abandoned it halfway through. Left it sticking out of the ground like a black splinter, like a dagger in the back. They must have built a bridge between the woods and the shadows that terrify and consume.
Rivets as large as fists bound the ancient metalwork together. In some places, tiny, fragile flakes were just peeling off the surface. Some lay on the girders below in little heaps, along with the rocks, and the insects, and the dirt. In other places, the metal had begun to form shallow cracks, to crinkle and tear away with deformation.
A pair of headlights peered through the darkness, and i stopped, shivering. Bit by bit, they revealed the crumbling asphalt, the pylons, the cliff face. I let out breath as they passed by. I hadn’t realized how much i was shaking.
I took one look down. Fear gripped me, fear and only cold fear.
I lay in the dark, with two broken legs, and a worse break, my neck, or back. It hurt. I was so cold. I couldn’t lift my head above water. I was all alone. The water burned as it filled my lungs. It wasn’t what i’d wanted.
I walked away, choking on bitter tears. This was a stupid idea, i said aloud. You coward, i thought.
The water was dark, and the woods were dark. I would take a longer route home. And a lot of that time would be spent wondering what i was still doing here.


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