People have used short stories to illustrate a point or convey a message since ancient times. The following short story is about the limited opportunity everyone has to step aboard the "Child Advocacy Train" before it leaves the station without you.
Imagine yourself and some companions participating in an international hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque where participants from all nations showcase unique beautiful balloons of every imaginable shape and size. Magnificent vibrant colored balloons of all types and kinds are represented proudly in the skies above the countryside. As you stand in the gondola taking in the view from above with the pilot and companions, the winds pick-up unexpectedly. The pilot is forced to fire the burner and gain elevation to avoid approaching mountains. Soon your separated from the other balloons, flying solo amongst the clouds.
In an unexplainable meteorological snafu, the polar jet stream changes direction and heads west, dropping to an astonishing low 3,000 feet, sweeping up your balloon and taking you on a 200mph unscripted aerial adventure. Not in flight-control whatsoever, you pass over the Grand Canyon and before long, your balloon is released as you encounter super-heated clockwise winds over Death Valley California.
Descending quickly, the gondola touches down in the parched desert sand, a wind-shear out of nowhere slams the balloon sideways and rudely bumps the gondola along the ground. Your expelled from the gondola but everyone else manages to stay aboard. As you gather yourself, sitting there in despair helplessly looking on, the balloon rights itself and disappears over the dunes, never to be seen again.
Off yonder you see railroad tracks traversing the valley floor and what appears to be an old abandon train station. With no sign of life anywhere in sight, you instinctually head for the old train depot in hopes of finding water and shade from the searing hot sun. As you make your way to the platform, it's obvious this station is long abandoned, unused in decades. Sadly, your hopes of finding water are sunk as you see a scorpion slithering out of the only water spigot in sight, showcasing a torn-off handle in the open position.
Way-off in the distance you hear the sound of an approaching locomotive blasting its horn. As it nears, you see it's a Union Railroad Engine 95 (a 2-10-0), the most legendary, powerful and reliable steam locomotive ever produced in Pittsburg, pulling 33 Pullman private palace cars of the late 19th century vintage. Outfitted atop every car are primitive, yet highly effective swamp coolers made of mahogany maintaining a consistent, cool and comfortable climate of 23.33 degrees Celsius (centigrade).
This is the fabled "Child Advocacy Train" that comes along once per lifetime and you happen to be lucky enough to show-up as it makes its pilgrimage past the dastardly desolate, deserted Death Valley dilapidated depot. As the train approaches the depot platform, the grandfatherly old Chief Engineer with twinkling sky blue eyes slows down ever so gently to a mere walking speed and leans out the window with a warm smile complimented by cute little curly-cue's at each end of his mustache and motions you to step aboard.
A week away from retiring with a full pension after 40 years of perfect service, he can't make an unscheduled stop and risk throwing away his pension and proud record of punctual public service. He can slow down to walking speed so you match his pace, grab the handle and hop-up to that first step. That's the most important step, . . . . that first one that gets you aboard. This is a limited opportunity for you to escape this Valley of Death as the train passes you by, . . . . . stopping for no-one.
Once all 33 cars and caboose pass you, it's too late to act and save yourself,....sadly,...your stuck with the shadows and no way out. Right Now, ! ! ! ! . . while you still can ! ! ! , walk alongside, grab the handle and jump, . . pull yourself up to that first step then one more and just like that, ....... your a passenger on the Child Advocacy Train.
Once aboard, treat yourself to a grape sno-cone or whatever flavor suits your fancy, . . . . . . they have a flavor for every color of the rainbow. Take a relaxing bath in a claw foot bathtub in the private bath suite car. Afterwords, go to the candy and ice cream car and have a refreshing sarsaparilla and a dish of cucumber ice cream, by far the most popular of all Victorian flavors.
As you make your way to the entertainment car for some evening shuffleboard, billiards and a game of darts, you approach the conductor and ask her where the Child Advocacy Train is heading. She tips her hat, chuckles and slowly replies in a soft Scottish accent . . . . "Out of Death Valley to the destination where you want to disembark, . . . . due West,. . . . following the direction of the Sun"
If we had just a single shot at your time & attention, . . . . . we would use it to passionately urge you . . . . . . . "Please, . . . . NOT let the Child Advocacy Train leave the station without you".