A Road’s Long Journey (Flash Fiction)

The road came into existence a long time ago. It was made to assist travellers from one town to another a few miles away. Horses and carts would trundle back and forth along it transporting their wares and the feet of many people trod upon it. It was nothing more than a wide mud track but so important to keep the towns at either end flourishing.

The years passed and the track became more and more worn. There were accidents. There was crime. There was death. It was a road that saw a multitude of things. Despite its poor condition, it endured and outlived those who created it. It outlived the next generation and several after it. Different horses and carts, different feet, same old road.

Battles were waged along and around the road. So much hatred and anger. Swords, pikes, shields, and arrows fired from bows gradually became things known as firearms. They were like smaller, more portable cannon. They meted death much more economically as well. It took infinitely less effort to pull a trigger than to swing a sword.

In times of peace, the road served its purpose like it always had. Its commercial benefits were what made it so important. The problem was that the road had become far too uneven and was in desperate need of repair. It was given a new lease of life when it was dug up and cobbles laid in the muddy ground. The road was like new. More people than ever wanted to use it.

It played a major role in the rise of the two towns during the industrial revolution as each of them grew in size and population. Both towns were slowly growing outwards and converting the previously untouched land between them. It was necessary. There was work to be done, families to house, and money to be made.

As trade and commerce became all the more important, so did the road. The number of transportation carts grew and became larger in size, needing more horses to pull them along. Omnibuses took people from place to place. Further roads were built off the road to make other areas more accessible. Maintenance became more frequent; it wouldn’t pay for the road to fall into disrepair like it once had.

Time continued to pass. Traversing the road at night was dangerous; lamps were installed along the side of the road to illuminate the way for travellers. The dark fields flanking it provided a place for gentlemen to take the ladies of the night whose services they’d acquired. They also provided a place for crime to take place. Sometimes, tradesmen transporting their wares would be ambushed by thieves who’d appear from out of the fields. Not all of them made it out alive, and the fields provided a place in which to hide the body where it wouldn’t be discovered for days, weeks, months, or even years.

One day, construction began on a house along the road. Construction began on another shortly after. Then another. Before long, houses were being built right the way along it, converting the barren fields, once used for farming, into places where the rapidly expanding population could live outside the hustle and bustle of the large towns. More streets were built off the road to create rudimentary housing estates. They sprung up over a relatively short space of time.

The cobbles that comprised the road were deemed unfit for purpose once tarmacadam was invented and came into great use. They were soon covered over by this revolutionary new road surface, and just in time as inventions known as automobiles started making an appearance. The archaic gas lamps were replaced with incandescent electric lighting. The road was keeping up with the quickfire changes. Nobody would have guessed that it was once just a dirt track hastily prepared to connect the two towns at either end.

More houses were built on more roads that all led back to this one. This road was the main capillary that fed all those that came off it. It became more than just a link between two different places; it was a lifeline for thousands of people. They relied on the road. The road was constant and never let them down. All it needed was the occasional sprucing up to ensure it could continue to provide its invaluable service.

Through all the technological advances, the wars, the protests, and the host of other human activities, the road prevailed. The automobiles upon it grew in quantity; many even started lining it at night as folk parked their cars outside their houses at night. Bus stops were put along the way. Shops and businesses filled the gaps that the houses hadn’t. The barren fields that had endured for hundreds of years had disappeared. All along the three-mile-long road connecting the two towns was activity and life.

The road had seen many changes. It had changed dramatically itself. It still served the same purpose as it had when forged all those generations ago: to get people from one place to another. It would continue to serve that purpose for as long as the people of the two towns and those living between them needed it.

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