I get jostled along into the train with everybody else, not having to make much of an effort about it. I find a seat and quickly sink down into it. Once sitting down I can slip away into a comfortable, vacant state of non-engagement. My usual state.
Numbly, between long periods of dull, heavy thoughtlessness, it occurs to me:
Another perfect day is about to begin.
This is a stupid thought but somehow it gives me some sort of satisfaction to think it.
I think that same stupid thought every morning – in an ironic sort of a way, you might say. I don’t really expect the day to be perfect. It’s an example of my ingrained cynicism about life, I suppose you could say.
Outside, beyond the confines of the station, the sky is a curious shade of phosphorescent green. As I stare thoughtlessly at it I notice that it is alive with soft, silent static. Like a TV when there is no programme being picked up. Like it would be at two in the morning back in the old days when TV programs weren’t on the air 24 hrs a day. Before Sky and UPC and Freeview and cable.
As I watch, curious patterns form out of the fuzzy static, making odd little frenetic shapes, which then disappear again, almost instantly. Little faces, coming and going. More than just faces – whole worlds swimming in out of view. It happens so quickly that I am not really sure if what I am seeing is real. It is all almost too brief-lived to be counted as real. And yet these curious little patterns (or whatever they are) keep on forming and re-forming, without a break. They don’t care whether they are real or not. It’s not an issue.
It occurs to me that the fuzzy static stuff is actually in my brain. The frenetic non-stop boiling activity is going on inside my head, nowhere else. That explains why it doesn’t seem real. Why the weird little short-lived shapes seem so phantasmagorical.
After a while I notice myself getting totally fascinated with this high-speed creation and annihilation of phantasmagorical worlds. I get sucked into it. Whole universes are coming into being, I realize, and then they are being erased again. And once they are erased they are promptly forgotten about again – forgotten as if they had never existed. Which they never had done, really.
Who knows, perhaps whole civilizations are being born here, in the ceaseless play of randomly creative static. Perhaps time passes at a different rate in this strange flickering world – perhaps here is time enough for the civilizations to thrive, to blossom, to languidly stagnate for tedious centuries, and then fall back at leisure into infinitesimally slow decay.
Perhaps there are people there leading boring tedious lives, wondering what it is all about, growing gradually older and more tedious until one day old age sets in and they are ready for the hand of death to tap them on their shoulders, telling them that their time is up.
Perhaps there is a guy like me in one such world, sitting half-asleep in a train. Waiting blankly for it to pull out of the station. Staring vacantly out of the carriage window.
Perhaps I am living out my life in a fuzzy static display of little jostling bits and pieces. Maybe I am made up of ceaselessly flickering atoms of vibrating light. Maybe someone is seeing me out of the grimy window of a stationary train in some unthinkable train station. Watching me come into being and fade out again instantly. Seeing my life whizz by so ridiculously quickly that they can’t even properly register it. Because it’s not really real…
I come back to myself with a a jolt at this point. I look at the time on the clock on the platform – and realize that only two minutes has passed since I last looked at it, before I got sucked into watching the little pictures in the static. This makes me feel more than just a little bit peculiar and so I try to think of something else.
I look out of the window again, but this time I am not looking at the fuzzy static. I make sure than I am staring safely into middle distance, where nothing funny is happening. At least, not as far as I can see…
It is dark outside but there is still this ghostly green light evident, reflecting off the clouds.
Rain is silently falling.
The raindrops are large and viscous like big teardrops of mucus. As they run slowly down the train windows they leave faintly luminescent green trails on the glass.
Giant bats with the heads of bank clerks and city executives swoop down out of the murky darkness, trying to get into the carriage. Some of them press their faces against the outside of the windows, making a smeary mess of saliva and eye secretions. Their little pink tongues flick in and out with frustration.
Something is happening. Ill defined shapes are seething in the background.
An announcement comes over the PA, all echoey and muffled and quite impossible to understand.
From somewhere out of sight there comes a great wailing, slobbering, bubbling howl of anguish…
The 7:14 to Northampton has been cancelled.