Train of Thought

The train surges forward from the station and then trundles along, silently. I look out the window and see the stars and planets and galaxies scattered through the infinite inky blackness.

An Attendant walks through the sliding glass doors into my carriage. They pass through, scanning our faces and cross-referencing the images with the data from the cameras at the station. Once they’ve strolled past my bed, I lean my head back against the cool window.

On this 5pm Universal Standard Time journey from New Neptune to Constellation 467, there are only five full-time passengers: Nona from the Pisces region; Alksamana’ar from Canis Major; Resia the Nomad; Quintillon who lives in Constellation 467; and me- the only Earthling. The rest of the passengers will be getting off at the stops along the way, so they’re in another carriage. Might as well be another universe.

The train picks up more speed, but space doesn’t care. It stands stagnant as we roll through. We see some other trains and even a ship or two, but after three hours the windows automatically become opaque and we can see no more. Space has no day or night, so the conductor has to manufacture it.

8pm UST might seem early to retire, but they must accommodate for the majority, and there are only 19 hours in a day on Nona’s planet and even less on some of the others’. Might as well be 2am. We all got to meet when we got on. Nobody wants to be confined with strangers for the 2 day journey. Nobody but me.

Supper was good. Chicken Chow Mein with cookie dough ice cream for dessert. My cubicle has been customised for me- fluffy blankets and a memory foam pillow on a mattress up against the window. The window covers the whole side in a single piece, but they’re working on the technology so everyone can have their window as they please. I wish I could see the stars.

I try to find a movie or a show on my entertainment system, but I’m not in the mood to try something new so I settle for a rerun of Queer Eye. I make it through two episodes before I drift off to sleep. I wake with a jolt when the train swerves to avoid an asteroid. I squeeze my eyes shut and hope it doesn’t hit us. There are voices outside: Alksamana’ar’s stumbling dialect and the robotic replies of the Attendant.

My cubicle registered that I was asleep and turned to Night Mode. It doesn’t seem to notice that I’m awake now, so I check my Transmitter (the descendant of the smartphone) to see the time. 9:38pm. I’ve definitely been asleep for more than 20 minutes.

I slide my door open. I was gonna go look for the Attendant or another passenger, but the calendar on the wall stops me. Stops my heart.

How have I been asleep for 24 hours?

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