What at last arrives, hours late, is not a train at all: it is the shit of a train, a droopy sad-faced crayon drawing of a train with stink lines trailing from every compartment. After a fitful sleep—haunted by visions of endless railways bathed in the dread light of an alien star—you awaken in tall grass. Beside you your backpack slumps, soggy with morning frost. Weird birds make startling yapping sounds, unseen.
When, days later, you emerge from the wild woods, leaves in your hair and your backpack cannibalised for makeshift waterproofing, you lurch into the metro terminal, fumble in your peck-marked jacket, and slide your ticket toward the clerk. Ah yes, he says, giving a thumbs up. This fare has changed—the train is gone, you will catch a bus instead.
Gone? you ask.
He shakes his head until you back away.
The bus driver takes your ticket and rumbles, These are train tickets, friend. For a bus these will not do.
Your sweat beads on your backpack armour. Can I please have my ticket back?
I only handle bus matters, the driver says.
It is past midnight when you return to the hotel but they can not find your stored luggage. In fact, they possess no record of you ever having stayed with them at all. When you try to pay for a room, your card is declined. It was dispensed in a country that no longer exists.
Somewhere in the cooling night, a train honks in such a way that stink lines are implied. A weird bird yaps.