The train coughed and spluttered its way along today. A couple of days back we were forced to put in a few gallons of bad fuel. The tanks were nearly dry, and running a diesel empty is a bad thing to do. I was forced to use the only fuel we could find for some miles, which it was fairly obvious was a couple of years past its use-by date. A modern locomotive actually runs on electricity, however if you don’t have overhead electric cables, or extra rails carrying that current to drive the engine, the locomotive has to carry its own electricity generator in the form of a diesel motor. So, although the diesel motor is not the thing driving the wheels, it is required to generate the power needed to run the train. Without it, we’re all just sitting in a dead tin can.
According to my old, and very well worn, map book, we were only a couple of hundred miles from our agreed destination. The trouble is that if the train packs it in now that we’ve got hundreds of miles of walking to do. With the children, and not mention the injured such as Jenny, to lug along on foot, that is about 10 days’ travel. Food, water, safe routes, safe lodgings each night, all these logistics are just unfathomable. If it were just Adam and I there would be no problems, but with 30-odd tag-alongs this is an impossible mission. The only way is to keep nursing the sick train along for as far as we can get.
Everybody is aware of the situation. We can all hear the coughing, spluttering engine, and see the lights in the train dim and the speed decrease every time there is a power brown-out.
Jenny’s situation has changed for the better at last, and the fevers have stopped. By some miracle she seems to have avoided any significant infection in her severed leg to date, though it is still a swollen, pink and raw mess. She has a lot of pain, but spends long periods lucid and sitting up in her hammock in whispered talks with Adam. For his part, Adam is a lot happier now and excited about our destination, as long as Jenny will be there with us all.
Right now we just chug along with an eagle eye out for other sources of fuel to replace the sludge that we’re forcing through the poor engine at the moment, crossing all fingers and toes that we get through the next week with a functioning train until we reach the end of the line.