Against The Tide

#2badpagesaday (19)

Photo by Shubham Shrivastava on Unsplash

He can remember every word.

Every. Single. Word.

As if she was whispering in his ear as he walks towards the Autotube station.

{He can smell her fragrance too as if she were standing next to him}

Every word.

Clear as the moment she murmured them to him by the water fountains.

“This evening, on the Autotube, travel in Coach A … take Seat 27. Trust us. There is more to learn; so much more. It is our Nature.”

The Overseer was unusually upbeat that evening as the Archivist stood in front of the oversized desk again.

So, arrangements have been made? Tomorrow, you say? Good. Excellent.

{the Overseer actually clapped his pudgy hands together, emphasising his delight. The Archivist could have sworn he actually bounced a little in the large executive chair he habitually swung around in}

Yes, Sir, as you directed.

The Overseer brought the tips of his fingers together, resting one of his chins upon them. His small eyes narrowed, for the first time fixing their gaze on the small man in front of him.

And, tell me, is Tide ready for a move forward?

The Archivist had learned to pause, to wait for the Overseer to move his not-inconsiderable bulk forward a fraction. Pause. Then reassure obsequiously.

But of course, Sir … as ever, your judgment is impeccable.

He thought he’d gone a little too far. But there was the flicker of a smile at the corner of the mouth struggling to make its emotions apparent against the weight of the jowls surrounding it. {yes, he thought, that’s it; a slow road but perhaps, perhaps, their patience would be rewarded}

Good. I knew I was right about him. Diligent. That little extra push I gave him seems to have had the desired effect. Much-improved. He’s ready.

The Archivist already knew what would happen next but, naturally, he paused, leaving a moment of silence into which he knew the Overseer would interject the plan they had been quietly fomenting in the background.

He waited to be told what he already knew.

Tide hurried towards the Autotube station.

These past days, he had been catching the 19.23 without fail. His new rhythm.

Regular as clockwork {sayings kept coming to mind, sparking Remembrance; always his grandmother’s words … they make him smile inwardly}

He hurried towards the station knowing that it was important to catch it again today.

Her words.

“This evening, on the Autotube, travel in Coach A … take Seat 27. Trust us. There is more to learn; so much more. It is our Nature.”

Hurrying now as the huge clock on the station entrance clicked through to 19.18. Plenty of time. Flashing the barcode on the inside of his wrist at the reader, confidently striding through the glass doors which hissed open as he stepped through and onto the platform as the train pulled in.

As he drew level with Coach B, the door counter showed 5, 4, 3 … and he stepped inside, using the empty corridor to make his way into Coach A. The hooded figure in Seat 27 didn’t look up.

Tide coughed. “I believe you are in my seat”, he said, way more confidently than he felt. To his relief, the passenger slid to the left, taking the window seat; Tide quickly sat down as the Autotube picked up speed, its old carriages rattling along tracks built nearly 100 years before.

He waited, nervously, not knowing what to expect.

Nothing. The carriage rattled, now slowing as the first stop approached.

The hooded figure gestured, indicating their wish to get off. No one ever spoke on the Autotube. It was an unwritten ‘Rule’; what would you say, anyway? Nice day? Hardly. Just the usual silence.

Tide stood, looking straight ahead at the figure passed in front of him, quickly resuming his place as the doors slid shut and the train gathered itself for the next hop. Only 6 more stops, then his.

He’s perched on the front of his seat, anticipating. Alert. Edgy. {come on, Tide, settle down, act naturally}

Rattling along, drawing into the next station.

No one gets on. Nothing out of the ordinary is happening. Perhaps he’d missed something. Maybe it’s not today. A little disappointed. A release of breath as he slumps into the seat.

{Don’t react, Tide. Instinct told him to be cautious. Act casual. Ignore the sharp edges of the object digging into his back.}

He wriggles around, reaching behind his back to feign some vigorous scratching. The package slipped under his suit jacket and tucked into the waistband of his trousers. He fiddled with his belt, tightening it a notch.

Stations flying by in a blur. At last, his own stop; once a famously multicultural borough of a once-great city. Now a dormitory sector for Citizens like himself, who had been recruited into the heart of the Administration.

He stands carefully, not wishing to jolt the package from the safety of its ‘moorings’, stepping out of the carriage as the doors start to slide shut.

Out of the station and along the Boulevard to Building 13.

Heart racing.

“Trust us. There is more to learn; so much more. It is our Nature.”

--

--

A life well-lived; celebrating people, places and purpose; an encouragement to stay curious, optimistic and adventurous. Newsletter, every Sunday, 6pm sharp.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
feastsandfables

A life well-lived; celebrating people, places and purpose; an encouragement to stay curious, optimistic and adventurous. Newsletter, every Sunday, 6pm sharp.