Minutes feel like hours as I doze, but a sense of uneasiness lurks in the back of my head, scratching at my contentment. I know that soon the time will come and this semi-comfort cannot be sustained. I drift around in the half-way world where you don’t really know if you’re asleep or awake as I hope desperately that it’s still early and I still have hours to sleep. But then it hits as loud beeps shatter the tranquil air and we are forced to get up.
Again I must go through the procedure, for I know the punishment if I don’t. So I pull my sleeping body up into a standing position. The cold begins to lick me as if it’s a presence and consciously aware that I’m now awake as the chill from the floor creeps up my legs, entering my blood stream as I stand shivering violently. First it’s the washroom. I drag my feet towards the entrance to discover the small room pitch black. I fumble helplessly for the light-switch before finally making contact. It flickers a few times before turning on and I catch snapshots of my tired face in the filthy mirror as I stand like an animal caught by head-lights, frozen and revealed. Today is the day, finally the horrid day has arrived and I wonder why I even bother to shave, but then again shaving is compulsory.
I glance out the small window but am unable to see anything but grey, as the morning fog blankets everything in bleak grey-ness. I wonder if I wasn’t in this situation if I didn’t have to leave, how would I look at the world then? Perhaps I would gaze out the small window and see the fog as mystic, or romantic. Rather I am numbed to my soul and unable to feel any sort of emotion as I view the world through a putrid lens of anguish and frustration.
Mike comes out of his quarters, and I also see the fear and sadness on his face, for we are both forced to suffer the same fate today. Mike has been in this situation longer than me, and I wonder why he isn’t dead already. Neither of us says a word to each other for talk is useless on a day like this. Time is getting on and we are forced to move on to the train station where the train will pick us up and take us there.
When we reach the train station we are joined by others, all with the same look of distaste and fear as we stand in single file, shivering along the platform. The silence is deafening. No one says a word. Suddenly bells clang and red lights flash as the cool steel train squeals and hisses up to the platform. We all spill through the small doors into the tattered carriage. Some are able to sit, however most are forced to stand. Again the silence grates at my already escalating fear and anxiety as the doors slam closed and the train convulses into motion. It has begun.
I remember the novelty of catching trains when I was a kid. My mother took me on a steam train ride. I loved it so much that from then, until I was about thirteen I wanted to be a train driver. I try to imagine again that I am just going on a ride however I am unable to sustain this as the pain and the sadness within this tiny carriage is so intense it seems to penetrate my mind as it distinguishes my delusions of happiness.
The clickety-clack of the tracks below speeds up into a frantic rhythm which appropriately sounds like a death march. The train stops along the way to pick up other poor souls and the mass of bodies surges, each time more violently, as others are forced onto the train. When the doors open I feel a breeze on my skin, a breath of the outside world. Perhaps from a wind that has travelled long and far from some far-off place away from here. I wish that it could carry me back from whence it came. At this moment the thought of escape dashes around my mind. What if I were to try to get off this train? However it’s not an option. We’re getting closer and escape is futile.
Some people have their eyes closed, and I wonder if they are imaging that they like the wind have travelled to some far off place, anywhere other than here. I shake my head violently trying to clear these useless thoughts as if my head where an etch-a-sketch.
The roar of the train gets louder as we enter a black tunnel. The blackness outside has turned the windows mirror-like and a look at my pathetic reflection in the window. The speed of the train increases and I begin to hope for some intervention, anything, something that might occur that would stop this train from reaching its fated destination. My anguish turns to fear as I imagine my day ahead and the actual procedures I will be forced to go through. I look down at my ID card that I have been forced to clip to myself. It will be checked when we arrive, and I almost smile at how funny the very idea is. As if anyone who isn’t forced would one go anywhere near the place.
In my mind I attempt to mentally prepare for what is to come but the thought is too painful so I try to think of happy things, events before this horrid situation; however I find myself having to travel back at least a year to find happiness in my mind, even though I have only been here for a month. A scratchy and inaudible voice crackles through the speaker as the train slows. I have no idea what the man said but I know we are about to arrive, I can feel it in my soul. I think of the train driver and wonder how a so called ‘human’ can do a job like this? Everyday transporting people to this hell. The very thought makes me literally shudder.
We’ve come to a stop. I’ve never felt so still in my life. I wish I could stay this still and somehow avoid my advancing fate. The doors screech open as we tumble out onto the platform and the train pulls away. There’s no hope now. We walk up several stairs for what seems like an eternity before we are forced to form a single file as we pass through the gates. We trudge along the pavement all of us with our heads down as we try to cope with intense feelings of rage and helplessness. I force the idea of escape out of my mind once again as I pass through the doors. I make myself a coffee then walk up to my cubicle as I sit down at my desk and turn on my PC. Then I check today’s emails, put on my headset as a wait for five o’clock. I hate Mondays.