The man stared out his living room window with a clear view of the western horizon—two wisps of clouds slow-danced across light blue skies. The quiet lake gently rippled from a light breeze. The forest beyond was a dark but vibrant green.
So enraptured by this work of art, the man closed his eyes so he could etch the image into his memory.
As he concentrated on his mental picture, the real landscape changed. Darkness began to cover the area as gray storm clouds approached from the southwest.
The man didn’t notice.
All he could see was the beautiful image in his mind. To him, that was the landscape. In reality, the terrain was dangerous.
The lake boiled as hard rain fell across the entire scene. Lightning temporarily brightened the dark skies. Thunder rattled the house.
The man did hear the thunder, but he loved that beautiful mental picture.
He kept his eyes closed.
The next thunderclap was much closer, and his eyes opened instinctively.
The landscape was dark and frightening.
He shut his eyes and saw the bright, unbelievably beautiful mental image again.
Then he heard the strangest thing.
He heard a train.
There were no trains within fifty miles.
But that’s what he heard. He heard a train.
And it was getting louder.
If it’s not a train, what else—?
Then he remembered.
He remembered the stories.
He remembered the warnings.
Distraught people on the news always said it sounded like a train.
In fear, he let go of that long-gone beautiful memory.
He opened his eyes.