Stationary

The train never gets any closer. I can just see it from the platform, if I push my way between the little girl in the pink dress and the woman I presume is her mother. They're standing at the far edge of the platform, the girl looking over the edge while the woman holds her hand to keep her from falling off. It's awkward craning my head between them, so I don't bother often.

Also, it's hard to get to the platform in the first place. It was bad enough making my way out there before, to make sure my wife would have time to visit the stationer's across the street. But at least then they were all milling about, creating a pattern of occupied and empty space that continually varied, a continual challenge to movement.

I don't know how long I've been here. Waiting, I guess you could say. But I have no sense of time's passage. There's nothing to gauge it by. The sun stays in the same position, clock hands don't move. Perhaps my own watch would keep time, but I had to take it in to the shop yesterday--or however long ago--and now it might as well be buried at the center of the earth.

I don't know why I'm the only one awake, either. Not that the others are sleeping. Few of them are in positions conducive to sleep. Some of them were standing, some walking--balanced in the precarious half- fall that we use to get around--some sitting in the station's precious few seats. But they're not dead, either. They're still warm, so I can't even really call them "frozen".

If I talk to one of them, he or she will awaken and talk to me, finishing their motion, but only as long as I keep talking to them. A moment's inattention is enough to return them to stillness. I suppose I could have some company if I were garrulous enough, but I never have been. My wife would have no problem whatsoever, but she's off buying stationery. I don't even know if she's frozen in the middle of the store, leafing through sheafs of paper printed with flowers, or outside with the gathered minds of the nation trying to penetrate the sinister null-field barrier that the train station is trapped in. I think I remember that from one of those old sci-fi shows she used to watch.

I did try to keep one of them awake, tell him about our situation. He kept slipping back into his stationary state, and when he awoke again showed no memory of what I had told him. So I gave up. I can't stand that much responsibility for other's actions, anyway. Maybe it's peaceful, being held in immobility like that. Maybe this is really the Rapture, and I'm the Antichrist or something.

Every once in a while, in between quests to peer at the unmoving train, I try to leave the station. I don't go as far as I did the first time. I don't want to end up frozen like them. I just go until I start feeling a little sluggish, and then draw back. Of course, that can't be how they all got frozen, or else there'd be a great crowd at the exit, but it's enough of a warning for me.

Apart from that, I spend all my time working my way through the rack of books in the gift shop. I've only got a few left, and they're the most abysmal potboilers I purposely left until last. When they're gone, I don't know what I'll do. Maybe I will try to leave just one more time.

[AjD gave me the words

station stationary stationery stationer]

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The Den of Ubiquity/ Aaron V. Humphrey / alfvaen@gmail.com