This is a slow train anyway, and it has slowed some more for the curve. Jackson is the only passenger left, and the next stop is about twenty miles ahead.
A great short story poses questions right out of the starting gate, and Munro poses plenty in this opening line. Why is the train slow? Why has it slowed? Who is Jackson? What will happen at the next stop, or will he even make it to the next stop?
In the Penal Colony, by Franz Kafka
“It’s a peculiar apparatus,” said the Officer to the Traveller, gazing with a certain admiration at the device, with which he was, of course, thoroughly familiar. It appeared that the Traveller had responded to the invitation of the Commandant only out of politeness, when he had been asked to attend the execution of a soldier condemned for disobeying and insulting his superior. Of course, interest in the execution was not very high even in the penal colony itself.
Violence greets us in the first paragraph. The matter-of-fact mention of the “apparatus” and the execution provides a sense of foreboding that will, in the end, pay off handsomely.
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