Short story: Not Searching


First I knew, text didn’t send. Searching, phone said. Nothing to worry about, right? Then someone’s conversation cut out.

Five minutes later damn train slowed and stopped. Took a while for even that to register. I learnt that people will sit in silence for a long time before complaining.

‘Daddy, why we stopped in the middle of nowhere?’

Guard didn’t come. No announcement.

Three hours ‘til we broke into the driver’s compartment.

After a day buffet car’s kitchen was as empty as the scenery.

Two days – search party left; didn’t never come back.

Took us a week to finish the water…


This is a 100-word(ish) story for Friday Fictioneers brought to us by the wonderful writer Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, and the picture this week is supplied by the writer, Jennifer Pendergast. Click here to join in with Friday Fictioneers, or here to read other people’s.


Last week I was delighted to learn that my novel, Our Endless Numbered Days, has been longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize – a UK prize for debuts novels.

A book blogger at Word By Word is running a competition to win a copy of Our Endless Numbered Days. Anyone anywhere in the world can enter and it closes on 12th April.

79 thoughts on “Short story: Not Searching

  1. I love the way you capture the scene without explaining the cause, just as it would have been for those on the train. The fact that there is a child among the stranded passengers adds another layer of goosebumps. I loved the line ” buffet car’s kitchen was as empty as the scenery.”
    Congratulations on being longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Claire,

    You set the stage beautifully without saying much. Desolate and wonderfully done.



    PS I’m up to my eyeballs in edits, as I’m sure you understand. I haven’t even finished reading and commenting on last week’s stories. 😉


  3. My impression was that your story was a commentary on the disconnect of the youth of our time. Previous to loosing her connection she had been so busy texting, that she hasn’t realized she’s no longer with the living. (The part about the search party leaving was what made me think she was dead.) Am I close?


  4. Intriguing because you tell us so little but leave a little trail of breadcrumbs for us to follow where we wish. I must admit I found the lack of articles a bit distracting but I get that it’s a voice. Well done on the rize nom for Our Endless Numbered Days too!


  5. I like the voice you used for this piece, and the line “After a day buffet car’s kitchen was as empty as the scenery” is brilliant.
    A very chilling scene you have painted here!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Claire,
    this is well told but now I feel like writing the rest of it. This story would serve as a great prompt for a “finish the story” type of prompt, although it would probably stretch out to novel length at least. I love the mood you spun here.


  7. One of our sons recently passed a car on the highway with a bumper sticker that read “Texting and Driving”. sure enough, she was texting while driving. The bumper sticker should had read “Texting and Dying”.

    Your story is well written, and yes, I think she is dying. By the way, love the use of crispy sentences.


  8. I love the way you describe things going wrong, bit by bit, and also that it’s left to our imagination as to exactly what has happened. Is it just the train, or the whole world?
    Very good!


  9. Dear Claire,

    This is my favorite kind of story. Pluck us from a world of banal normalcy and place us in extremes in strange circumstances, then watch how we react. Of course i will survive no matter what gets thrown my way, but woe to everyone else as you pick them off by ones and threes. A lovely interrupted journey. What, if you please, happens next?




  10. Fabulous story this week, Claire. I’m amazed at the way you continue to deliver such superb prose on a regular basis.

    Congrats on all the wonderful things happening for you these days. Enjoy every moment.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail


  11. It’s stories like this one that make you one of my favorite FF writers to read… desolate and chilling, just like the story. “Took us a week to finish the water…” gave me chills.

    Huge mazel for all the exciting attention your book is getting. I loved it! The characters have been following me around since I finished it. So excited for you, Claire!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Such an interesting story told in so few words, 100 word challenge perfectly executed!
    Like other have said, it would be interesting to find out what happens next…
    Nearly finished your book, great writing Claire i am enjoying it.


  13. Powerful story. It reminded me of a caravanning trip we took across Australia from Sydney to Perth. We spent Christmas at Eucla – just a caravan park and garage in the middle of endless miles of desert on one side and ocean on the other. The feelings of disconnectedness and disorientation I felt then are there in your story. Empty places can play havoc with the imagination – and inspire great stories.


  14. Pingback: In the Media: 12th April 2015 | The Writes of Woman

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