May 5, 2021

The Ride by Shane Huey

I did not remember boarding the train yet there I was. The realization was sudden and disorientating. The train was full of passengers and speeding along the rail like a bullet. Gazing out the window, all a blur. It seemed as though I had a vague notion of who some of my fellow passengers were but, truly, all were unknown to me, even those nearest me, as I to them. They came and went at the many stops along the way in seemingly ceaseless procession, stop after stop. All a haze of black and grey and hum.

I was on my journey but to where I did not know. There were words. Or were those but sounds? What is the difference, ultimately? I did not understand in any case.

More stops, each indistinguishable from the last. More exchanges of people. Sometimes I was all alone in an empty car and, at others, crowded to the point of breathlessness. I liked neither. 

No one spoke, not with eye contact. The few trying discouraged by the gravity of apathy. All passengers solipsists. But why did they bother in the first place? Was this not but a short ride? But ride to where? The destination was as far removed from my consciousness as was trip's beginning.

Another stop. Should I get off here? Should I stay on? The choices were few yet there I sat. Vacillating. Hesitating. Indecision itself a decision to stay on for a just while longer and ride. It would all come to me—must it not come to me? 

On I rode, train under the control of an invisible conductor. Ever more stops and the flow of people off and on, the interminable parade. I must get up. I must get off. At the next stop...yes, at the next stop. Perhaps, if only quickly, for a coffee, a sandwich, a breathe the air of the look at the station map and find the "X" that surely marks the spot. To be shaken from this fugue state by something—anything outside the confines of the car, its length and width contracting.

The train slowed. Yet another stop? I took hold of my few possessions readying myself for the brief layover. The train stopped. I heard the sound of the door opening but, this time, no cacophony of feet in and out, and then, almost immediately, the door closed. Abruptly, I realized that I was now the sole passenger aboard the train. The train did not resume its course. It sat there on the track, hushed and motionless. The lights of the car grew slowly dim and then pure, black darkness as if in a tunnel without ends. But the train was no longer moving. The darkness. The silence. The stillness. After this, I remember no more.

Shane Huey resides in sunny South Florida where he writes dark prose and the occasional haiku.

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