|>>|| No. 4796
We were in an underground depot, softly lit by neon tubes. The architecture was familiar, but every single flat surface was covered with drawings, tribal markings and abstract decorations. Probably those people had a deep phobia of solid colours or a bad case of colourblindness, since there was nothing painted in solid colour anywhere. The effect was garish, but not tasteless.
"There are only two rules here", said the Passenger without turning to face me: "First, do not move or talk, otherwise the locals will notice you."
The Passenger kept walking leisurely, and I found it extremely rude and arrogant. His voice was also buzzing and irritating, like a phone with bad reception. Thinking about phones, I took my Iphone out. No reception, obviously. Not even emergency calls.
"Second, you have only seven stops in each reality. The last stop will be a depot or something similar. If you stay on the train, you will switch to a different reality set."
I stopped to lean on the wall. That was too much, simply too much in a single moment. My brain had just shut down, I could not process anything anymore. My sense saved me again, this time I smelled saliva, sweat, the typical smell of red haired people and old blood. Especially blood. I raised my right knee and kicked hard and low on the back, a perfect back kick. My trainer would have been proud of me. I felt something fragile snap on the knee of my fellow Passenger, I dropped my backpack and stepped ahead to avoid any follow up attack. I turned around, ready to fight, but the fight already ended. My new friend was on the ground, rolled in a ball and clutching a shattered knee, his body thin and frail, his face a broad, squat, ugly mess with a mass of repulsive freckles and a broken nose.
"You sneaky bastard, coming from behind like that!", then I kicked it hard in the shoulder, I wanted to be sure to incapacitate it but I wanted some more answers before stomping him for good.
"Feck off, I am hungry!", he cried while trying to cover his ugly face.
"Well, I cannot help it, but I defend my backpack from fucking little thieves", I said before kicking him in the hip, hard. I felt something cracking, and I understood that I had to hurry with the questions before I ended up killing it.
"So, how can a monster like you speak the Queen's English? Do you have grammar schools in Ginger land?" I asked without getting any nearer. God knows, maybe he's armed somehow.
"You look as alien to me as I look alien to you", it cried out with something like outrage: "and I am speaking in my language! There is something translating our languages and keeping the locals from seeing us, you idiot!"
I was taken aback a little. "You are smart and funny, and we could have been friends if you were not a little fucking monster. Now die." I wanted to punch it to death, but I was too squeamish to touch him. I kicked its head until it stopped moving, then I just kicked him on the tracks. The next train will turn him into mincemeat.
My instinct drove me to get as far away as possible from the mess I made. It was the first time I hit somebody with a killer intent, even in my worst rages I always felt that killing somebody would be innately wrong, unnatural. This time, killing that little bastard was natural, the sanest and best thing to do.
Maybe it was just sanctioned by the immediate situation, so I did it. I had a lot of thinking to do, and this time I did not spend much time admiring the local culture. There will be time for that, afterwards. After five stops, I found myself in an empty station, nobody was around although it was the middle of the day.
Maybe those people liked to have a "siesta" during the hottest hours of the day. I helped myself with some food left in a counter in an empty shop, evidently those people did not fear thieves or vandals. I had never eaten rice so thick and spicy in my life, my next bathroom experience was going to be a blazing nightmare.
I sat down on a beautifully decorated wooden bench, and I waited. At about three the activity resumed, lots of happy, people coming and going without a care in the world.
I started thinking deeply. I never regarded myself as "good" or "bad", I never identified in any ideal or in any belief. I always went with the flow, doing whatever was expected from me and refraining from doing whatever was frowned upon. About 99% of what I thought and did, was a direct consequence of what society asked. Outside that society, I was nothing. I only had a vague awareness that I was living in an horrible, smelly place.
Now I was in a different place, much happier and more colourful, and the first thing I did was killing somebody? What kind of person I was, when put outside my society?
For now, I was just an observer. I spent several hours looking at that strange culture, those people were colourful in their clothing and manner, completely different from the grey and miserable commuters from the Tube. Often they erupted in loud laughter, spontaneous dancing or slapstick. They looked like they always lived their life onstage, and they always went around in their strange eight or six people group. Maybe their culture had no individuality, only a series of small group consciousness? I will never know.
At some point, the hands of the big clock went on a symmetrical position, and a group of six incredibly tall ladies started singing something like soul music, filling the station with their beautiful voices. I wanted to cry, to scream, to stand up and kneel in front of them, to ask humbly to be accepted by their community. But I kept myself on the bench, I was sure that they would have been repulsed by me like I was repulsed by the little bloodsucker. I am short, doughy, pastry skinned, obese and without tattoos, probably I would have looked like a monster to them.
I spent a couple of days there. Nobody ever glanced in my direction, even the cleaning ladies cleaned the floor all around me without ever looking. I ate in the restaurant during the nights or the siesta, taking small portions of the mildest foods. They never noticed, or they were too noble-minded to deny food to a shy beggar. Every day, the ladies sang and every time my heart melted. Why those people should be so happy, while I was born in the shittiest culture of my planet?
I noticed is that there were some people that walked alone, silent, dressed in simple white robes. Nobody interacted with them, and everyone just fell silent and averted their eyes. Maybe they were mourners or people punished for some crime. One day I saw that lady from my first trip, dressed in that white robe, alone, silent, vulnerable.
Something in my mind snapped, never to heal back.
I stood up in the nearly empty station, and I followed her, my backpack in one hand and a telescopic baton in the other. I left my country, my job and my life because I wanted to be happy, and I was going to take the happiness somehow.