by Gavin Hedaux
I just want to get home, I just want to get home.
Work was behind me, another day dead and done. No more forced smiles, no more static conversations, no more fear of the sirens’ coarse blare and then….
I just wanted to get home…
The subway station was full of the same people. We see each other every day and never say “Hi”. A cursory nod maybe, a wry smile, never words.
The rumble of the train in the tunnel is like a marker for us, that hot rush of stale air pushed like a plug from the Earth hits us and we feel one step closer to where we need, where we all want to be.
The clock on the wall ticks away eating seconds like it has no concern for its diet, the cameras on the walls buzz like fat black flies feeding on the carrion of our privacy.
Don’t look up, don’t look up.
Somewhere, down the halls, down the tunnels the train pushes closer towards us. Buried under this I swear that I can hear the call of the siren. Someone, somewhere won’t be going home.
Oh Jesus I just want to get home, just let me get home!
This is the part of the journey that I hate the most: the train erupts from the tunnel in a rush of air, a rush of heat, a rush of noise.
That’s when I hear it, the excited chatter of the commuters, not everyone, not in volume, but those foolish few that need interaction.
I don’t remove my eyes from the train doors in front of me but I know that there is a tepid lake of blank faces stretching out either on side of me, some sweating, tenser than the rest as, like me, they wait for the sirens call.
Others have perfected indifference; these are the robots of survival that persist in our world.
Some, the minority, wear the same expressions as everyone else, brows maybe wet with sweat, cheeks dusted with the undergrounds’ dry and dirty air, but their eyes tell their tale, sparkling slightly like arcing power cables, like misfiring neurons. Their eyes are alive with fear and excitement and interaction. They move like the robots, talk like the robots, act like the robots, but they use the noise to create their cover, they exploit the moments in the continuity within which they can express themselves.
And they will get us all killed.
There were more talkers tonight than before.
The doors in front of me open like the arms of an old lover, welcoming, safe.
I want to get home, I want to fall into that warm embrace and be carried safely home.
We step, one foot in front of the other.
I want to get home.
There are five steps to the carriage, I know this because it is my routine, it is my safe passage from work to home.
There were more talkers tonight.
Each step becomes heavier, seemingly slower as the weight of fear becomes greater the closer I get to my target.
There are only cameras on the trains
The alarm sounds behind me as I step on board; the red glow casts rigid cookie cutter shadows against a bloody background.
No-one looks around, we all keep moving.
No-one looks around when the air is filled with the sounds of machinery…..
The train doors seal shut as they die out. The alarm falls silent. The redness fades. The tunnel takes us all….
I want to get home
I NEED to get home
The doors open and cold air filters in. I am close. The stairs, the gates, the alarms, the clocks, the cameras, they all give way to streets and street lights. The tunnels and subterranean world have gone. The alarms and cameras remain though, high on their perches beside the streetlights.
We light your world, we light your way.
My hand is upon my door handle.
I want to be home.
I am one foot across the threshold of my two worlds.
I NEED to be home.
An alarm goes off in the distance, but it is in the distance and I am home.
This is my respite, this is my peace, and there is this one breath in the day, this one moment when, between worlds I stand, half in half out, where I can just be…..
I close the door behind me.
The control panel blinks as it registers my presence, the house springs into life, the TV in the living room starts its evening state mantra, the oven starts auto cooking its state mandated protein meal.
The speaker beneath the camera crows into life.
“Good evening Sir, please take a seat. Broadcasting is as normal tonight; I will bring in your meal when it is ready.”
The door lock clicks without me touching it.
I want to be at work.
“Please Sir, SIT.”
It is only when I am between these two worlds that I actually am…
***Gavin Hedaux spends his time in Cornwall, England where he repeatedly tries to convince the locals that he is actually one of them despite his vague cockney twang. He likes poetry and prose of all kinds and has an irrational fear of the word yokel and the colour yellow. He is a regular contributor here at Sick Lit Magazine. He tweets at: https://twitter.com/GavinHedaux ****