Crossing The Rubicon
written by: Andrea Damic
“All aboard”, the train controller yelled before he blew his whistle. “No turning back”, John thought to himself. “This is my life now”. Last call saw commuters rushing to enter before the door closed. Two of them slumped on the seats across from him, short of breath, grinning. “They look like bums”. And as soon as the thought came to mind, the shorter one belched and shamelessly spat on the floor right next to John’s feet without even looking in his direction.
John used to love the commute but most of all he enjoyed observing people behind his thick prescription glasses. No one ever really noticed him, the nerd, with his nose in the book. He was a silent observer of other people’s lives, for most of his life. While he dedicated his time to science, people were one puzzle he could not put together. Watching their behaviours and interactions fascinated him. Being endowed with this skill of indefatigable grit and lacking at human interactions himself, he was enthralled in the perpetual riddle called ‘people’ enfolding in front of him, on daily basis, on his way to work. As a mathematician he could not seem to find a pattern to these behaviours, on account of too many unforeseeable variables yet his fascination over the years did not falter. John was in his late 50s and still single when it happened, a point of no return. He tried not to think about that horrific train accident from last year. The sheer thought of it made him shudder.
Voices across from him crescendo into a louder inharmonious noise bringing him back to reality. “They probably smell as well”, John deduced wrinkling his nose. Engrossed with the sight in front of him, he didn’t notice a fat sweaty man entering the compartment until he sat in his lap. Utterly shocked he drifted towards the ceiling. Being dead had some advantages though, he smiled to himself floating in mid-air. As much as he liked espying other passengers, he didn’t miss these types of close encounters. Looking back at the decisions he made, he regretted being so reclusive. He always was a solitary person but in hindsight, all he really wanted was someone to talk to, especially after his parents passed away. If he was being honest, he had never given people a chance and now it was too late.
After fifteen months of being stuck ‘in-between’, it finally hit him that he would have an eternity to analyse his life and where it led. As much as he was floating in the uncharted waters, he was not ready to move on yet. Besides Halloween was around the corner and he needed to ready himself to reap some havoc amongst the humans. At the end of the day, that had always been his favourite holiday. John glided to the adjacent compartment with a puzzled look on his face. He had a conundrum to solve: should he be a ghost for Halloween, which seemed pretty boring now given he’d been playing that role since the accident or a flying skeleton?! And his face lit up.
If humans were not so preoccupied with themselves, they would have noticed tiny ripples in the air which became visible every time John felt a strong emotion. And let’s be honest, this particular holiday was certainly something to feel strong about.
“Phooweet, tweet, Whooee-uueet…”
“Next stop, Town Hall”.
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