The Train - Installment 12

in #thetrain2 years ago

Near the mouth of the stream, a large tree spread its branches over the lake shore. Bob found a likely spot near the tree and opened the tackle box. He had no idea what sort of fish might be in the lake or which of the many artificial lures in the box might be attractive to them. Selecting a silver spinner with red adornments, he attached it to the line. The reel on the pole was a little different than any he had seen, but after a minute, he figured out how to work it and cast his hook out into the lake. Drawing the line in slowly, he brought the lure back, watching it twirl in the water as it came near.

He cast it out a second time, his thoughts turning to his situation as he reeled in the line again. Remembering the Cholgathian in the observation car, Bob assumed he had been captured in the zookeeper's book. But that didn't make a lot of sense. How could he be in a book? Drawing the spinner from the lake anew, he watched the sun reflect off the droplets of water it shed. Everything here seemed so real.

With a sudden thought, he looked up at the sky. Maybe the Cholgathian was watching him at that very moment. He shook his fist and stared intently at the heavens, but didn't see anything but branches, clouds and empty blue space.

Angrily hurling the lure to a new spot, his contemplation was interrupted by a sudden tug on the fishing pole. Drawing the line taut, he set the hook and commenced the contest. From the resistance he felt, it seemed like a good-sized catch. Deftly handling the rod and reel, Bob brought the fish ever closer to the shore, eventually landing it on the grass beside him with a final heave.

Bob watched its bright scales flash in the sunlight as the fish flopped around in the grass. It was very similar to a trout, but had a taller head. Releasing it from the line, Bob found some twine in the tackle box which he used to secure his catch. Rinsing off his lure, he cast it out into the lake for another try.

As he fished, Bob considered the problem of cooking the fish. There was a knife in the tackle box, so cleaning it wouldn't be difficult. Starting a fire, however, might be problematic. He had neither lighter nor matches. Thinking back to his morning hike, he tried to remember if he had seen any flint in the rocky outcrops of the hills. He would have to look again.

Once he got a fire started, he would have to rig some sort of spit to roast the fish. It would be much easier if he had a cast iron skillet, with a little oil and some flour.

His ruminations were interrupted by another fish on the line. After a brief battle, he landed that one as well. Deciding the two fish he had caught were sufficient, he gutted and cleaned them on the shore of the lake. Gathering up his items, he headed back to the cabin. As he entered, intending to put away the fishing gear, his eye fell on the wood-burning stove in the kitchen area. Where the top of the stove had been bare before, a cast-iron skillet now rested.

Scanning the cabin, Bob also found a large crock filled with flour on the shelves near the front door. Next to it, he found a smaller crock with butter and two wooden boxes containing salt and pepper.

    "Hello?" Bob queried. "Is there anybody here?"

There was no answer. Setting his things on the table, Bob exited the cabin and walked carefully around it, examining the ground. The only footprints he found were his own. Casting his eyes about the yard, he saw no evidence of other humanoid life. He shook his head and walked over to the copse behind the cabin. Keeping an eye out for strangers, he found a dead tree and began snapping off branches. When he had an armful, he returned to the cabin and filled the stove.

As he turned away from the stove, his eye caught sight of another small wooden box on the shelf next to the salt and pepper. Opening it, he found it was filled with matches. Mystified, he used one to light the wood in the stove and began preparing a meal with the fish he had caught.

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