Flash Fiction Contest Winner #10 – “Gas Station Candy”

Please note: Flash fiction stories are submitted by members of our Discord server. Many contain adult themes and may be objectionable to some readers.

“Gas Station Candy”

I pulled into the gas station’s empty lot, as far as possible from the railroad across the highway. Despite its dilapidated state, looking at it provoked an unexplainable neggling itch. But it was just a railroad. 
    I turned to the back seat. I waved Tyler’s attention away from banging his toy trains so he would see my sign language. “You want anything, champ?”
    Tyler looked up. “Milky Way please?”
    “Alright, I’ll get you one if you stay in the car. Could you do that for me?”
    He beamed his innocent, five year old smile. “Okay!”
    “Attaboy.” I shut the door and his toy orchestra resumed. I locked the car with a click, click, honk, for peace of mind. 
I glanced back at the railroad. An ice cube’s chance in hell any train could run over those ruins, rusted and overturned as they were. 
    There were no trains nearby except for Tyler’s instruments. 
    I entered the store to the tinkle of an electronic bell and the cashier’s “g’day.” The shelves were stocked full, with no one around to empty them. I grabbed a couple waters and an obnoxiously named off brand Milky Way. 
    The cashier, a sharp eyed youngster, tucked away his phone and surveyed my picks. “So that’ll be four waters and one Sally’s Stickies.” He smirked at the name. “Those aren’t good for old folks. They’re heart failure in a package.”
    “Not for me,” I said, ignoring his uncomfortable frankness. 64 wasn’t that old. “They’re for my son. He’s in the car.”
    The cashier looked out the window. He frowned and tilted his head. “Where?”
    A cold fingernail stroked my heart. I looked at the car. Through the poorly tinted windows, I saw Tyler running his toy trains along the headrest. 
    I sighed. “He’s right there,” I pointed. “Grey car, back seat.” My car was the only one in the lot. Either he was purposefully yanking my quickly thinning chain, or just stupid. 
    The cashier squinted. “Yeah, I don’t see nothing.” He gave a concerned look. “Did he get out or something?”
I shook my head. “Never mind.” Obnoxious dolt.
The cashier shrugged. As he rang the first bottle, I heard the train horn. Loud and echoing, it froze my blood. Impossible. I’d seen the tracks.
The itch returned as a frenzied clawing that forced my gaze outside. The car door was open, and Tyler was out near the tracks. The untarnished and neatly rowed tracks, as a distant train blasted its horn. He’d never hear it, and then-
    “No!” I scampered out the shop and rushed across the lot. “Tyler! Stop!” I could see the train now, the deadly engine growing in size as it trundled closer. He was so close to the tracks. How did I not see? When had he gotten out? Deaf or no, he had to hear me. He had to stop, because otherwise-
    I quickened my pace, but he was so far away, and the train was so close that I could smell the smoke. 
    Tyler stepped onto the tracks. He lifted his trains like they were planes and began to twister spin. His eyes must have been closed, because otherwise he would have jumped away when the train; tooting, roaring, and implacable-
    Toot toot.
    -ran him down. I heard myself scream, the sound tearing from my throat like sandpaper. The toys were torn from his hands, and Tyler disappeared under its uncaring bulk. And it kept going. Cargo car after cargo car, sealing his fate as pulp beneath its grinding wheels-
    “Hey man! You alright?”
    I turned. The cashier was in the parking lot with me, his face hard with concern. There was no train. The car doors were closed. Tyler was still in the back seat, safe and alive.
    I took a shaky breath. “I’m fine, I just… let me just buy and leave.”
    “You don’t look good, man. I can call someone-”
    I gave him a look, and he shut up. I went back inside, bought the items, and left. I caught the pity on his face. 
    For a while, I drove in silence. Tyler didn’t ask for his candy. He didn’t bang his toys. It was as though the silence in the back had lingered untouched for thirty years. But he was fine. He had to be. Please?
    Without looking from the road, I held the candy bar to the back of the car. I held it there and waited, praying he would take it.