The train rocked on its rails, a sleepy sway like a weary drunken sailor, lolling its way down the tracks in no particular hurry to reach its destination. Which suited me just fine; I longed for the blissful Maw of Morpheus, having been deprived of all but a scant four hours of slumber the night before, and the gentle cradle-swing motion helped me drift between the living and the spectral world of dreams.
As my head knocked against the car’s dense window and my back screamed for a more comfortable position, I waded through foggy awareness and bordered the realm of hypnogogia. The passengers seemed as sleepy and quiet as I, and voices never penetrated the gloom of my peaceful isolation. Occasionally, the conductor whisked through seeking fares and clacked his rapid-fire hole-punch through someone’s ticket. He passed as a phantom below me and banged through the separator doors of the car. Some time before the train reached port I roused from my semi-slumber enough to stand, shoulder my pack and disembark.
What happened next, I don’t know. I didn’t notice an especially jostling or large crowd. I didn’t see any extraordinary density of humanity on the platform. But when the door slid open to allow the bustle of humanity to spill from the cavernous train bank into the station, pandemonium ensued.
A whitewater river of people crossed paths through the train station, crashing like a fast-moving estuary, some headed for one exit, some across their paths toward escalators to another. Neither band of traffic was willing to yield to the other, for yielding meant doom — given the weakness of courtesy the denizens of trainville plowed ahead one after the other until the one showing courtesy must abandon all civility and charge ahead or never reach their destination. The seeming endless swath of humanity pouring as a dam gate from my left and the one of which I was a part collided in the confines of the hall like two spiral galaxies merging in space. Destruction, chaos, eruptions of matter and energy on massive, incomprehensible scales.
Hesitance cost several dearly. They got shoved aside, cut off, nudged with prejudice right and left. I lowered my head, my body still asleep, my mind refusing to accept its predicament. I plodded ahead at the same speed, ignoring the bumper-car pinballing as my shoulders swatted left, right, torquing my body side to side, tipping me forward or pushing me back. I dipped my shoulders and held my elbows tight to my sides, hands tucked into pockets, and pressed on. It was like trying to drag a side of beef through a pack of ravenous wolves. Snarling, frothing muzzles bared and snapped, icteric canines dripping spit.
Ah, good morning.