The winter chill remained absent from this peculiar stretch of early January air. Raw, snow barren earth quenched for moisture. What little liquid prevailed, percolated through an abutting rock cliff face; each free falling drop tormenting the desiccated soil below. A length of dislodged railroad ties lain across a stretch of overgrown rail bed resembled a scoliosis ridden vertebrae of a massive serpent's spine. Anemic late autumn overgrowth meandered around the dislodged rail timbers, reaching skyward towards the leafless forest canopy, awaiting a nonexistent winter freeze kiss of death.
The naked, drooping trees limbs confining the abandoned railroad line abruptly ended, opening to a clearing revealing a darkened void. A plume of fog expelled from the abyss hung over the ground like a fetid morning breath, oozing out from one's mouth following a drunken slumber. Swallowed whole by the enticing mist I emerged into a cavernous space. My flashlight illuminated blackened jagged rocks precariously protruding down, encapsulating my insubstantial existence. Walking forward I felt like I was slowly being passed through the digestive tract of a monstrous prehistoric whale. Water seeping down from above dripped with rhythmic persistence, echoing a mesmerizing symphony of sounds through the vast emptiness.
Quaint rumbling disturbed a placid puddle, soon growing stronger, sending sensible vibrations through the ground. Perhaps this was it, I was being expelled out an orifice of the whale? A light in the distance slowly advanced closer glowing brighter, a smog tainted with a hint of burnt gasoline filled the air. The shifting light swept across my face, quickly veering off tangent, as a four-wheeler blazed past, kicking up a slew of pebbles in trail. I stepped off towards the side, out of way, recomposing my stance. It was about this time I realized I had let my imagination grab the best of me. Exiting the long shuttered rail road tunnel, the dreary nondescript winter landscape transformed back into view. The naked, drooping tree limbs hung over yet again, under the canopy of a gray sky. Peering over my shoulder, I half hoped to whiteness the giant tail of a whale appear over the darkened tunnel, casting truth over my imaginative thoughts. But just the stark tangle of late autumn weeds remained, still awaiting a frozen death.