Sam and Pete had been friends forever, though that’s not a very long time when you’re only twelve. Saturdays were always spent walking through the woods, and today was no exception. Still, they had never wandered quite this far in, so coming upon a small clearing was a new discovery. It was only a few paces across, and at the far side, there was a train car.
Actually, there were several train cars, but only one was in the clearing itself. Other cars were attached at either end stretching off into the woods in both directions. They weren’t tanker cars, nor cars for livestock, just standard boxcars.
Sam spoke first. “I didn’t know tracks ran through these woods.”
“Me either,” Pete replied. “Should we leave?”
“Nah. Let’s check ’em out.”
With Pete in tow, Sam moved closer. Weeds had grown up around the tracks and wheels, which were coated in rust. They tugged at the door on the side of the car, but either a lock or more rust held it firmly in place.
“Well, that didn’t work,” Sam said as he slumped to the ground. “Why are these even here?”
Pete sat down next to him. “I don’t know. Maybe the government is hiding something in them.”
“Like what?” Sam was very interested. Pete usually knew stuff, even if he wasn’t always as eager for adventure.
“Hmm. Maybe bombs? I saw a show once where they had this missile ready to fire at a moment’s notice. They kept moving it on trucks so that enemies couldn’t find it.”
“Really? But what good is having stuff like that out here?”
“Yeah. You’re probably right. They wouldn’t put a bomb on a train and just leave it somewhere. The point in the show was to keep it moving.”
“So what else could it be?”
Pete thought for a few moments, then it came to him. “Well, there’s boring stuff like files or something, but there’d be no reason to leave them out here. But if it had to do with aliens, they might want to keep it hidden. Maybe it’s a wreckage of a crashed UFO.”
“Really?! That’s so cool!”
“Well, we can’t know for sure unless we get inside. But we can’t get the door open, so I guess we won’t find out.”
Sam smiled. “I’ve been thinking. There are ladders at the ends of the car. I could use them to get up on top and see if there’s a way in up there.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea. What if you fall?”
“I won’t fall. C’mon. It doesn’t hurt to at least check. Don’t you want to know?”
“Okay. Let me go up there, and I’ll tell you what I see. If there’s a way in, you come up. Got it?”
Sam stood and walked over to the nearest ladder and began to climb. Pete followed and watched his friend from the ground. Just as Sam was about to reach the top, the car lurched He grabbed on tightly to the rung as he feet slid off. It took him a few seconds to find his footing again.
“What are you kids doing here?”
Pete turned around to see a large man walking out of the woods parallel to the tracks. He was dressed in jeans and a plain, black jacket. But Pete’s eyes were immediately locked on the rifle slung over his shoulder.
“Uh… We were just curious about…”
“Did you go inside?”
Sam landed next to Pete. “No, sir. We couldn’t move the door. But just now, the car moved. I think there is something in there.”
The man laughed, but his eyes stayed dark. “No, there isn’t. The engine was just hooking up. Now get out of here. Don’t get any silly ideas about it. Okay?”
Sam nodded. “Yes, sir.”
Pete looked like he was about to say something, but Sam grabbed his arm and pulled him back into the woods the way they had come. After they had gone quite a ways, Sam stopped and turned back to him. “Now, what were you going to say?”
Pete rubbed his arm where Sam had grabbed him. “I was just going to point out that the car you were on moved first. It jostled the other cars. If an engine had hooked up, the cars would have moved in sequence. The motion wouldn’t have started in the middle like that. What do you think it was?”
“I don’t know. But let’s get out of here. And maybe,” Sam thought about the man who had warned them away, “maybe we shouldn’t tell anybody about this. At least not right now.”
“If you say so.”
The boys finished the journey home in silence.