Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Particle Distributor

Stephen had not returned; he had gone for lunch at his usual time, but he was late to come back. Stephen was never late to come back.

I looked up from my computer screen and saw Stephen's empty desk across the row; I wondered where he could be.

After a few minutes I looked again and was startled to see two men in dark blue overalls standing at his desk, quietly discussing where to place the equipment they carried.

The older of the two motioned to the other to set his thick, brownish tablet on Stephen's desk.

Placing it delicately down, the younger turned a knob set into the top of the rectangular slab and it began to make a humming-clicking noise continuously as they went about their work.

The older man set down his black case on the floor to open it up. Inside, the case held a blue-coloured device with a numbered meter on the front of it and a wand connected by a long clear tube to the top of the coffin shaped instrument.

While he unravelled the tubing, his partner took out a glass cylinder of clear liquid from the pouch on his belt and held it out to for him to dip the wand's tip into.

I watched in stunned silence. At first I wanted to ask what they were up to, yet my curiosity took hold as they went about their task. I wanted too see what it was that they were going to do.

Once the wand was sufficiently dampened, the older workman took it from the bottle, which the younger carefully covered and placed back in its pouch, and waved the silvery rod around in the air where Stephen sat.

After only a few passes, he looked at the meter and quietly told the readings to the younger man, who wrote them down in a notepad. He then put the device away in its case, and just before he shut it closed, I was able to read the label inside the case's lining: "Particle Distributor".

What kind of work were these guys doing?

The particle distributor safely back in its case, they returned their attention to the noisy brown tablet. The older workman told the younger to shut it off, which he did with a turn of the knob, and then clicked a side latch to open the tablet's faceplate off like a lid. I could not see what was inside but they both took notes on their findings and then closed it up again.

Their tasks apparently complete, they gathered their equipment and turned to leave.

Sensing it would be my last chance, I made to speak up and ask what they had been doing, but before I said a word, the older workman turned to meet my gaze and his completely black eyes burned out at me with rage. My words were lost with sudden fright and he turned slowly to leave with his partner.

Once they had disappeared around the hall corner, I turned to Will at his desk next to mine.

"Did you see that?!" I asked in astonishment.

Will did not look away from his screen, "See what?"

I pointed back at Stephen's empty desk, "Those two guys at Stephen's desk, they were..."

As I spoke I looked over to Stephen's desk and stopped in mid-sentence when I saw Stephen sitting with his back to me, working quietly at his computer.

"Hey," I said, a bit stunned. "When did you get back?"

Stephen turned slowly from his screen and his eyes were as pitch black as the workman's had been.

"What do you mean?" He replied in a hollow voice. "I've been here the whole time. Haven't I, Will?"

I looked shakily from Stephen's dead eyes to Will, fearing what I would see.

His eyes shone black as well.

"Yes," Will spoke in the same hollow tone, "The whole time."

I stood up quickly and looked over the cubicle walls to see dozens of teams of workmen, all carrying their kits; all stopping to look straight at me.

And the darkness of their eyes washed over me in a silent shout.

Yes, we had all been here, the whole time.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Don't Get On The Train!

Cleaning out my desk at work yesterday, I found a note. I have no memory of writing it, yet it was in my hand-writing.

"Don't get on the train." was all that was written, along with today's date.

When did I write it? And why would I write such an odd note to myself? Those questions came to me right away, but as the day went on, another occurred to me.

The note must have been in there for months, since that was the last time I cleared out the clutter of papers in my drawers. So how come I found it the day before the date on the note?

Any later and it would have be a moot point, the date having passed, I would not have seen it in time; but in time for what?

Why did I write the note?

As I tried to do my work, my mind raced trying to remember when and why; but nothing. Then my brain started to go off into wild imaginings like: what if I did not remember writing it because I have not yet?

What if somehow, me from the future wrote the note after some terrible series of events happened in the future all starting with me getting on the train, and I am trying to stop them from happening?

I chuckled to myself on that one for a bit, and then I noticed the red spots on the corner of the note. Faded and dried, they could have been red pen, yet they had too much of a brown hue to them for it to be ink.

Possibly coffee, I rationalized. Though, in the back of my head I thought of the fact I hate coffee.

I hardly spoke when I got home after work; I just kept going over the note and what it meant as I ate dinner and tried to watch TV. Through restless sleep I dreamt of a horrible train wreck on the subway and the pain of the screeching impact woke me up so I could not shut my eyes again without picturing the burning wreckage where my mangled body lay.

In an exhausted haze I got ready for work and left the house with a distracted goodbye.

Now, here I stand, waiting for the train to come; I can hear it roaring closer through the tunnels. In my head it is a rumble of dread.

I look down at the note and read its simple message once more.

Do I heed its warning from the future, or is it just some random scribbling I jotted down on the paper and forgot about in my desk?

Looking down the tunnel, the headlights of the train begin to brighten the darkness; like the present, come to bring light to the abyss of the unknown future.

As the doors of the subway car open onto the station platform, Jane looks at the dazed looking man in his suit and tie, carrying a briefcase in one hand and holding a piece of paper in the other. She frowns in disgust as she sees that he has pissed his pants.

Then she sees the poster on the wall behind him and remembers that she wanted to see the movie it is advertising.

"A Thrill-ride of Terror" it reads, "Don't get on the Train! Starts Today!"

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Rain City

There used to be a saying; "When it rains, it pours."

They don't say it anymore. Now; now it just rains, all the time.

Light rain drops fall upon the brim of my wide-rimmed hat as I stand looking out from the high train platform.  I look out over the city; its tall buildings reaching out of the watery depths below.

People adapt; the world adapted.  After all that had happened; all the catastrophes, the world rebuilt itself to adapt. Adapt and thrive.

For now, there was no shortage of energy or fuel. It was all around us, it fell from the skies. Water powered everything.

The power of water harnessed in giant generators underneath the surface of the mega-structure buildings, giving us more power than we could ever use.

More than the oils that countries used to war over. More so than even the sun.

The sun.

I miss the sun.

It's hazy, yellow glow fills my memories. I can remember it shining brightly in the blue skies when I was young; it warmed my skin and made the days seem happier.

Now; now I look up and see the gray clouds, ever-present, ever pouring their chilly drops down from above.

A shiver runs through me and I clutch close my damp jacket.

Oh well, this is the world now. The city I live in; Rain City.