They met at four the next day and slithered under the wire fence protecting the tracks. Two men already stood by the rails looking at the curve where the train would appear. Soon, two more arrived. They glanced at the three boys with surprise.
“This is no place for youngsters,” one of them warned.
“Just as right for us as you,” Kaz responded with defiance. “All you need is the will to jump.”
The two men shrugged and moved on. Kaz surveyed the area. The men were all standing by the tracks near where they entered. They smoked and chatted while passing the time. Kaz estimated by their casual demeanor that they had been there before. They’d chosen prime spots, but there was still room for two or three more. Charlie and Woz stepped forward and picked an area where the ground looked firm. They nervously turned their attention to the tracks. The fence where they'd entered was about ten feet away at that point, leaving enough room for half-a-dozen steps before making the jump. A black coating of cinders from the trains' smokestacks blanketed the area. To Kaz's left, the fence sloped away from the tracks to avoid an outcropping of rocks, which left more room for a running start. Here, the black cinders mingled with loose gravel, and the footing was less certain. He wandered over and inspected the ground. The problem was simple. If he could run faster, he could jump when the train got closer, but if he slipped, all would be lost. It was a matter of timing and luck. All he had to do was time his jump properly. The voice in his head laughed; it liked his thinking.
Kaz tested the ground where he would plant his feet for the jump and tried a few quick starts. The gravel shifted under his weight, but the soil underneath remained firm. His heart thrummed in his chest as he calculated the distance he would need to travel and the time it would take. He wiped his clammy hands on his trousers and counted the steps. He was momentarily distracted by the sound of trucks clamoring along a nearby thoroughfare. He glanced toward the sound, but the trees and bushes outside the fence blocked his view. Kaz returned his attention to the tracks, set his feet and sprinted forward. He hit his takeoff spot and leaped across the rails in a graceful motion. He was ready.