Archived entries for Hard Seat from Shenzhen to Shenyang

Hard Seat from Shenzhen to Shenyang

Some time ago we started a project entitled Hard Seat from Shenzhen to Shenyang. Basically stories about a train journey from one end of China to another. One of those stories in paticular inspired us to make it into a running series. That story belonged to Katrina Hamlin and can be found as Part 1 linked below. The general gist was to create a collection of short stories penned by a number of different authors that form a complete story involving the main characters. Think of it as many authors writing a book one chapter at a time through the medium of short stories.

Our next chapter is by our own Miller Wey. You can find all four chapters by following the links below. To add to the narrative, check out the contribution guidelines. Good luck!


Hard Seat from Shenzhen to Shenyang

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four – (NEW!) Different Lines by Miller Wey


“Hard Seat from SZ to SY” guidelines

Hard Seat from Shenzhen to Shenyang is a collaborative story with chapters written by different authors.

– Story no longer than 2,000 words

– Must include at least one character from previous chapters and one or more connection to previous events.

– Any major changes in style require a transition (e.g., switching to 1st person narration would require starting the chapter in 3rd person and making the transition)

– Stay true to the established characters

– Train is a constant (okay to physically leave the train)

– Each chapter needs a subtitle (e.g., “Chapter 1: Er-Guo-Deas“)

– Read all previous chapters before starting the new chapter


Hard Seat from Shenzhen to Shenyang Chapter 4

Different Lines

By Miller Wey

On the way back to his seat, the young businessman spotted the boy. He was sleeping deeply with head was pressed flat on the glass of the train window and much of his body with it, forced over by the man next to him, a large man with a hard, dark face in a rough navy blue sports coat. When the young businessman had passed the seat before he hadn’t been there. He must have just gotten on the train from some nameless, small Chinese town. Why on earth would this foreign boy, maybe a few years younger than him, be getting on to a train to Shenyang in the middle of nowhere? Maybe he was an English teacher? Could he be one of those backpackers with an overstuffed North Face bag living like a snail with his house on his back?

As the young businessman walked past the boy, he held his breath. Recognition by another foreigner meant excited, staring eyes. Questions. Questions. The same questions. WhatsyournamehaveyoubeeninChinalongcanyouspeakChineseyoucan’t-speakanybetterthanthatshouldn’tyouknowwhatyou’redoingImakemoremoneythan-you? He pushed and gave gingerly through the people standing in the aisle and glanced the way of the foreign boy, still deep in sleep.

Continue reading…


Hard Seat from Shenzhen to Shenyang Chapter 3

Middle Kingdom Field

by W.M. Butler

The old woman chuckled as the white girl got off the train, lugging her friend’s bag off onto the empty spit stained platform to stand staring aimlessly about. The train lunged forward a few jarring feet before finding its momentum, with the lurching grind of the engine, the old woman tapped the window with the baijiu bottle, the girl turned to watch as the grandmother screwed off the cap, held the bottle aloft, smiling and swigged the dregs down.

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Hard Seat from Shenzhen to Shenyang Chapter 2

Go Stop

by Renee Reynolds

He woke with a start. Tingles shot from the bottom of the feet to the center of the brain. From falling usually — or the body’s warning of it. What else. A dull pain in the right cheek. Another fight? Shenyang? The gear shifted to answer and he sat up with a grimace. That’d be a seatbelt in his face, he’d lost his train long ago and was nowhere near Shenyang.

He’d gotten off of the train somewhere in the dark. Baijiu, he whispered it like Rosebud.

Continue reading…


Hard Seat from Shenzhen to Shenyang Chapter 1


by Katrina Hamlin

She woke up to the smell of chicken bones and fangbian mian. She tried to sit up.

Her head hit the thick metal springs. She had been sleeping underneath the seat.

The night before, she had met an American boy celebrating the end of his teaching tenure and the beginning of his winter travels. He’d been gifted two bottles of baijiu from the school. They finished the first one together.

She remembered being very sick, and declining his offer to share a joint in the squat toilet.

He had left the train at one of the small dark stations in the early hours.

She had tried to sleep in the carriage aisle; but the rice trolley couldn’t get by, so the other passengers rolled her under the seat, with the chicken bones and discarded fangbian buckets.

Continue reading…


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