I let my eyes trail along the tracks. They seemed to converge in the distance, but much quicker they vanished into the gray of the fog and the fumes. That’s what I call horizon—the point where the air becomes opaque.
These rails snake their way all through the city and beyond, my mom says, wedged between the looming towers whose summits are always shrouded.
“New-fangled”—isn’t it ironic that this word would sound so quaint? After the last train had gone, I noticed that somepony left the barrier ajar at the end of the station, and I dared to take a few steps down the stair that lead onto the railway. But only a few steps. There I waited, eyes fixed on the horizon, while the station behind me was crowded with ponies, some waiting to be reunited with their loves ones, some waiting for the moment to say goodbye.
Was there a darker shade emerging or was it my imagination? No, it was the engine! The black of the engine stood out clearly now; I could almost hear it over the noises of the city.
The smoke from the engine was pressing down on the wagons behind it only to coalesce into the air moments later. It had almost reached the station.
I was surprised by my relative calm. I took the few steps back up the stair, never taking my eyes off the wagons. There! The first showcase! A spot of brilliant colors in the side of one wagon, unmissable, unmistakable.
My hooves hit the station the very moment the train reached it, but my eyes were peeled on the wagon with the showcase. Finally! I could make out the first item they had on display: “giant.” The decorators had made it the biggest one, fittingly, yet it seemed tiny compared to its meaning. On one of the lower shelves I could make out “set” in all its iridescence. Beautiful!
The wagon rushed past, but I, trying to take in all its thousands of words could catch none.
Another showcase neared. With the train slowed and my strategy revised, I could discern “sculpture” and “accomplish.” My mane stood on end with excitement!
The third showcase slid closer, and only a few seconds later it came to a stop just a few steps in front of me as I knew it would. Now I could read most of them. I tried to take in as many as I could, which was only a small fraction. Constantly ponies entering and leaving the train—heedless of the abounding wonders!—obstructed my view, so that I tried to edge a little closer to the glass. With my nose pressed against it, I noticed the tiny “minute” the decorators had cunningly used as apostrophe for a much larger “4 o’clock.” I giggled to myself.
No! I mustn’t lose time! I need to read as many as I can! The doors were already closing and I had read only a few score of thousands. What wastefulness!
The train accelerated and was almost lost in the gray of the fog. As its black silhouette faded, so faded the excitement I had felt for each word when I first recognized it.
I would wait for the next train. It shouldn’t be more than an hour.
Some day, maybe, I’ll work as a decorator myself.