Rush Hour

Header image by Panhard under Creative Commons 3.o.

The day coming to a close, about to burn into night, the event drew ever closer to its conclusion. It had been televised all day on at least two channels, both speaking of it as the event of a lifetime. I couldn’t understand it for the life of me; it was a convention. Something that was lucky to even be mentioned at all in the news, let alone having it shown all day by news channels. I remained at home, sceptical of whatever this was. I knew what I was missing, and it was something I could go to another time.

Morning turned to afternoon, afternoon to high noon, high noon to evening; it wasn’t dying down at all, nor was the news’ excitement in showing it. Scepticism turned to interest and again to desire; I only had one chance.

Rush hour, midnight at the train station complex. This had clearly caught the attention of the population, the crowd’s feverish flow told me that perhaps they’d been drawn here the same way I had been. There was no shifting around streams of people bound elsewhere, no sudden illogical shifts in direction – we were all going the same way. My train left at 1am. No time to waste.

I looked at one of the many digital clocks on boards lining the place. 00:57.

The bottleneck at the large stairwell was noticeable. The people were as close as possible here, although you’d have to take a moment to stop and notice in the midst of the chaos. There were brief reprieves on the flat sections and sometimes a bubble of air would open up in the middle of a group of people by somebody walking in the opposite direction, many of them stopping to hand something to another person also stopping in front of them. I could see them going all the way up the stairwell, fighting against the rapids of the complex.

I briefly stopped to talk with a stranger rushing down the stairs. Without a word and within a moment I could tell that this is why most people were stopping on the stairwell; trading for a place at the convention. She seemed just as frantic as the rest of us, despite going the other way. It took us half a minute to negotiate what I’d give her in offer for a ticket to the convention. I gave her a figurine I wasn’t aware I had until I took it out of my pocket as an offer and £1. We thanked each other and made our way. It’s a shame I had to part with that figurine. It would have been a nice surprise finding it in my pocket.

I looked at another clock. 00:58:57. Sometimes trains leave early. I had to hurry and I couldn’t blame it on a crowd going as fast as it could go. The convention could be ending any time soon and something told me it was ending in just over an hour.

My phone started ringing. I don’t remember who it was, but I told them as briefly as possible that I’d make my way to their house after I was done at the convention.

The stairwell finally ended and I saw the scale of the complex; there were platforms as far as the eye could see, trains going through every station in the country, tracks fading into the dark straight ahead. I managed to get a train. It reached maximum capacity, the conductor clearly waiting for as many to get on as many as possible. I was glad this one understood what was going on.

The train started moving, and the dream faded away…

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