Alan Woodruff

A steam locomotive pulls a ramshackle string of carriages through the blazing heat of the Australian desert. The locomotive is small and utilitarian, slow but sure, and too mundane to evoke much nostalgia for the 1950s and the era of steam.

One of the wagons is a refrigerated cooler used for transporting animal carcasses from the outback abattoirs to the markets in the city. Inside this otherwise empty cooler a man keeps a grim journal, writing on the walls a detailed log of his gruesome decline as he slowly succumbs to the cold.

The man, a railway worker trapped inside the wagon at the start of the journey and having resigned himself to his fate, writes that he hopes this firsthand account of death by hypothermia will be of use to science ≠ and that his death will therefore not have been entirely without purpose.

Only much later is it discovered that the refrigeration unit hadnít been operating during the time of his demise and that the temperature inside the wagon never fell below 68įF. Yet the man dutifully manifests, and records, the specific symptoms of hypothermia as he dies a needless, painful death.

Copyright 2005 Alan Woodruff
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