"Well shit, that didn't work," the conductor said.
He walked around the wreckage, pulling out passengers. Women, mostly. The men waved off his advances.
One gloriously attired woman emerged from a smoldering welt of torn metal as though she were departing at Poughkeepsie. Nary a scratch or displaced hat-feather.
"You are the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on," the conductor thought. What he said was, "Ma'am."
The day was still high above them, children kicking rocks along the tracks. The conductor scratched under his hat and wondered, well what the hell now?
A man sitting in the grass had opened a can of sardines and was eating them with obvious relish. A man next to him was eating relish.
"We need to ration, folks." He looked up over the shelf of mountains in the distance and realized this was the old Donner Pass. A bulkhead of stormclouds, mirroring the mountain, were heading their way.