The train dream

Yes, it’s the middle of the night (well, 4:11 AM), but I could not wait to write about the dream that I just awoke from because it amused me so much. For some reason, I found it very funny and felt the need to write about it, lest I forget the punchline.

My dream involved a train. I live near railroad tracks and train whistles are blowing loudly (and sometimes, it seems, constantly) throughout the night.

In my dream, I was driving one of these trains across the tracks. It seemed easy to do, and as the train crossed, I pulled a lever that switched the train from one track to another. Well, in pulling this lever, it seems I derailed the train. The train came off the track and ended up zig-zagging into a parking lot, cars splayed this way and that. None of them overturned, they were just scattered in a pattern throughout the lot. And the last car was blocking the intersection so that there was a lot of annoyed people.

Well, my initial reaction was one of fear–that I would get in trouble for derailing this train. So I jumped off the train and ran into the apartment building near the tracks. It seems that I lived in this building. From my apartment, I could see the train crammed into the parking lot, which now seemed more like a back alley. I could also see my Mom and Dad parking their car in the parking structure and suddenly, I realized that they were going to be furious with me about derailing the train. They didn’t know that I’d done it, but I was feeling guilty, and I felt I had to be honest with them and tell them what I had done.

So, I headed back outside, into the alley, past the derailed train, and toward the parking structure to meet my folks. I found them by the mail boxes. “Mom, Dad,” I said, “I know you’re going to be mad, and I’m sorry, but this train–it’s my fault. I was controlling it and it just came off the tracks. I didn’t do it on purpose.”

At which point, my Dad shook his head, held up his right hand, which contained a bunch of envelopes, and said, petulantly, “You know, you forgot to check the mail yesterday.”

He seemed genuinely annoyed about this transgression of mine.

Published by Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.