Michael stood in front of the rail tracks, and jumped.
He flung himself out over the chasm that divided the station like a fissure; beyond the lines which demarcated safety, consistency – the certainty of not rushing headlong into a pair of headlights, of not having your legs sheared off by fifty tons of steel and screaming passengers.
He felt himself hit the metal of the track and sprawl out over the gravel; his legs hurt with the impact, and the breath was knocked out of him. His hands grazed, and he felt immediately dusty.
The metal was warm, and vibrated slightly under his fingertips. A woman screamed on the platform; there was the sound of panic and rushing feet. Michael was aware of it only distantly, as if listening to a conversation underwater. A mother would no doubt be turning her kids away, and a man further on would have buried himself in his newspaper.
The sound of a horn cut everything out, like the apocryphal horn of Gabriel. The line vibrated violently, as if the horsemen of the apocalypse were upon the track, beating the steel with leaden hooves. The roar of the engines combined with the clack-clack sound of carriages on tracks; it’s preceded by a blast of air, drawn out from the tunnel with a leviathan’s fury. A guide-light glared red with uniocular malevolence.
The brakes crescendo to a wailing banshee shriek and Michael has a single momentary view of the driver, a face frozen in a mask of terror. It’s a sight that will forever lie suspended, inscribed upon the glass of an eye’s final glance. Michael’s voice joins in the scream, a mind cauterised of all but terror and regret.
* * *
There’s a brief rush of air, and the train passes harmlessly in front of his eyes. The driver toots the horn to announce its arrival, and a female voice intones over the intercom. “The train arriving on platform three is an airport train, running express all stations from Bowen Hills to Eagle Junction.” There is a hiss of air as passengers disembark. An attendant blows a whistle to that the station is clear, and the train resumes its motion. Michael feels as if he’s about to cry.
“Mum, why is that man standing there like that?”
“Shh, dear. It’s rude to stare. He’s probably just deciding which train to catch.”