Sunshine’s request was granted with gusto; there’s very little she cannot do. For sure, she can count on her fingers what are her limits: Can’t stay in one place longer than a day; can’t get to the mountains no matter how hard she tries; and she can’t leave Dustland. That last one is self-imposed, though. She’s been wandering the vast expanse of this non-place for so long and she never ceases to find something new to admire, a view to climb toward, a trinket or two to take. And always, always the Dustlanders take her breath away.
She doesn’t need it, either, cruising at speeds that seem rather impossible– everything a blur around her almost to the point the distance seems as close as to brush up against her sweater– colors flying by and her comfortably sitting, enjoying her ride. She likes the train because even the most concrete landscape is made transient. Nothing is ever resolute, especially in Dustland and she likes to be reminded of that every chance she is able to.
FRIT comes to check on his favorite passenger, and asks her if she is having a pleasant trip.
She says yes, thank you. I am invigorated and renewed, and have a whole day to look forward to!
The robot says there is nothing more enlivening than moving through space at breakneck speeds, it gets you to hold onto things you didn’t know you had.
They share a thoughtful conversation about the joys of locomotives and FRIT shares some stories about funny places passengers have asked to go. The end of the rainbow; Nantucket; someone asked to not be let off anywhere in particular but instead to go straight through a nemesis’ house; the Edges; that kind of thing. FRIT proudly declares he got each and every one of them exactly where they wanted to go.
And the mountains? She asks, hopeful.
No luck, he says. They’re just a shadow; nothing there to get to.
She slumps into a pout, how is that possible?
Everything is possible, even the possible being impossible. The tracks simply won’t get there.
So you don’t know if they’re nothing, you just haven’t been there! She sparks back, never out for long.
FRIT chuckles, a softer ha-ha-ha than his normal laugh. If you ever decide to go, I will take you there. I would love to see what’s hidden by that silhouette, too. His robot voice makes the word silhouette sound sing-song.
Maybe your goggles will show you something you haven’t seen, a secret passageway, perhaps! She is all shades of hopeful.
Oooooh, so there’s a thought behind your gift. He tuts and Sunshine says, of course not! I just love you, FRIT.
His eyes light up a shade of red and she can tell he is happy. So she is happy too.
Oh, a passenger! I must go. And so Frit glides away and Sunshine is left to contemplate her daydream: why are the mountains so tantalizing? She remembers vaguely going through mountains in her days before Dustland, but there was nothing magical about them. Simply popping ears and carsickness. well, there were incredible views, too. She doesn’t remember what they looked like; her forgetfulness seeping into parts she didn’t realize she had to hold on to.
Something about these mountains sang to her, beckoned her to come closer. And she tried, but she never did. Her feet wouldn’t close the distance no matter how far she’d go; the train wouldn’t do and even waking up to chance kept her the same distance from the grand outline that framed the entire west side of sandy Dustland, too. Every creature she asked said the same thing: it’s a fixture of the view and nothing more. Always had been there, though.
She tries to pick single figures from the rolling world as the train changes its trajectory. Always cacti towering higher than any cactus should, and rocks that look more like ruins even through the incomplete glances the speeds would allow her to focus through. Always the same and always different, she thinks. Just like me.
A second of loneliness sneaks its way in, but she flips her focus to go back down to the cabin: there’s a passenger to meet!