Archive for bus

Is There Space?

Posted in Infinite City, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , on March 27, 2012 by javedbabar

“There’s fifty passenger seats on the bus,” said Norm. “So the first fifty of you will make it to the City today. The rest of you will have to wait. The next bus leaves in four hours.” There were grumblings along the line winding through the morning mist. Norm wondered why there were so many people today. Where were they going? What for? He counted off the first fifty people and separated them from the rest. “Ok I’ll load up your luggage and then let you onto the bus. This is an express City service, with no stops en-route.”

Some people said, “What?” and “Huh?”

“So any of you going to Strattus or Squashy should not take this service. Take the local bus to Strattus, and an express service from there.” Six people left the queue. “Ok, we’ve got room for six more.” Six more people stepped up from the grumbling mass, grinning now. Another couple also came forward but he ordered them back. Norm’s military service stood him in good stead. He was used to commanding people.

He loaded up everyone’s luggage and then opened the door. He checked tickets carefully and counted fifty people on. The last passenger – an East Indian guy – was sweating and seemed slightly nervous.

The waiting crowd was still hoping that seats would appear magically. He said, “I’m sorry, folks, but the bus is full. As I said, the next service is in four hours. If you don’t want to wait that long, you can try your luck at hitching. Either way, I wish you a good journey. Maybe see you on the other side.”

He boarded the bus himself and started the engine. It would take five minutes to warm up – the lights and air conditioning in the cabin, and fluids and motor beneath the hood. There was a tap on his shoulder.

“Excuse me,” said the East Indian guy. “I do not have a seat.”

“Have you looked carefully?” said Norm. “Have you walked right along the bus?”

“I have looked carefully,” he said. “Yes, I have walked right along the bus.”

“Wait a minute,” said Norm. He liked having people around him, if not his buddies then at least these passengers, that’s why he liked working on the bus. He pushed the tannoy button. “Ladies and gentlemen, it seems that one of our passengers can’t find a seat. This service is full, and we need every seat. So anyone taking more than one seat please remove your personal belongings from the extra seat.” There was a slight commotion which Norm assumed was somebody shifting their bag, or their dumb ass, from the seat next to them. “Thank you for your co-operation.” He said to the East Indian guy, “Ok Sir, there should be a seat for you now. Enjoy your journey.”

If he was still in the army, he would have done things differently. The fool taking two seats would have been made to do fifty push-ups, load and unload everyone’s bags, and maybe enjoy the journey from the comfort of the hold. But he was a civilian now and couldn’t boss people around. He had to be nice to them.

This was ok most days, but some days – just some days – when he’d drunk too much the night before, or when he was feeling lonely, or when some young punk gave him lip, or tourists complained about lateness, he felt like announcing to the bus, “Do you know what I have done for you, and where I where been? Can you imagine the things I have witnessed that I can ever forget? Do you know the nightmares I endure most nights, and how scared I still am of loud noises? How I play classical music on headphones and stay indoors every Halloween? Did you know that my marriage disintegrated? She said that she didn’t know me anymore. Did you know that my buddy Tom was blown up trying to save me? He looked like a pile of butcher’s offcuts. Do you know about my sessions with the psychiatrist, and how hard it is to reintegrate into society after killing other men?” But he never said any of these things. He would lose his job. God knows it had been hard enough to come by. He just wished his passengers bon voyage.

There was a tap on his shoulder. The East Indian guy was back. “I am sorry, I have still not found a seat.”

“Ladies and gentlemen. You are making me unhappy. Despite my request, somebody is still taking up two seats. I’m going to walk down the aisle and see who it is. God help them.”

Norm walked down the bus, once more a sergeant-major, inspecting turn out. He checked people’s clothes and shoes; their faces and haircuts. He was back in Afghanistan… No he wasn’t! He snapped out of it. He was a normal guy driving a bus. Every seat was full. He didn’t get it. He had counted fifty people on. There were fifty seats. Why was there no seat available? “Ladies and gentlemen. We have a logistical problem. I’m going to ask you all to leave the bus, and count you on again. Just to ensure all is in order.”

The passengers grumbled and disembarked. The queue of hopefuls cheered, thinking that seats may yet appear. The passengers lined up again. Norm checked their tickets and counted them onto the bus. “One, two, three… forty-eight, forty-nine, fifty.” The East Indian guy again found no seat. “Please Sir, my mother is very sick and I must get to the City immediately. My flight home is at 2pm.”

Norm was about to lose his temper. Bloody idiots wasting his time. Fooling around like this got people killed. He ordered all passengers off the bus again. Then through the mist he saw one extra person exit the bus. He was uniformed, familiar. It was his buddy Tom, barely defined. So Faint. His ghost often yearned for company, and came along for the ride. But this bus was full, and a passenger was distressed. Tom gave up his seat, like he had his life, for another. He saluted Norm and stood to attention, awaiting the next bus.

Bus Pass

Posted in Alternative Energy, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Sacred Geometry, Unknown with tags , , , , , , on March 22, 2012 by javedbabar

Oh great, thought Kelly, I can pop into the shop, I’ve got 6 minutes. That LED sign is really handy. Before you had to stand around and wait for the bus, with no idea when it was coming, and according to the season: freeze your balls off, get soaking wet, burn to a cinder, or get your clothes blown off, with people driving by feeling sorry for you, laughing.

Then they erected this new bus shelter and the LED sign. The shelter’s a bit strange though – a grey metal box with diamond cut-outs. It looks more like a bear trap than a bus stop; less a convenience, more a cage. I could have designed something better in art class, and made it in shop class.

“Wass up?” said Tavish.

“Just going to the shop. Want something?”

“Nah, I’ll be here.” He was standing away from the bus stop, despite the rain.

A guy driving by in a Frontier scowled at them. Kelly had noticed this reaction since the new shelter was installed. Sure it was nice to have your own car, but it was stressful and expensive to drive it daily to Strattus, or the City. And you couldn’t read or text or talk. Much better to take the bus.

Kelly hadn’t moved yet. Tavish said, “Look at all those power lines, man.” Kelly looked up and around. He hadn’t paid them much attention before. They were just power lines. “Look how many there are, all up there. That can’t be good for our brains.”

“What do you mean? It’s the other end you’ve got to be careful at – the sockets.”

“You don’t know, man. Those power lines are bad for you. They send out radiation. They should be buried, not going through the centre of town. But the Authority is too cheap, or they want us to die. Keep away from them.”

“You can’t keep away from them,” said Kelly. They criss-crossed above the street, over-connected, heading everywhere. “Unless you live out in the bush.”

“You’re right brother. You can’t keep away here. But be aware. They can drive you crazy.”

Other people at the bus stop didn’t talk to each other, busy using their mobile devices. A boy listening to phat pumping tunes on his iPod, pushed out his lips and nodded quickly. A girl chatted on her Googlephone without breathing. Another chick furiously used Blackberry Messenger. A woman read Dan Brown’s latest marvel on her Kindle. A man Facebooked on his netbook.

The LED sign said “5 minutes”. There are two kinds of time in the world, thought Kelly – real time, and public transit time. One minute of real time takes one minute to pass. One minute of public transit time takes anywhere from minus one minute – when the bus or train has already gone, ahead of schedule – to infinite minutes – when it never comes at all. Who knew how long these 5 minutes would take.

Kelly changed his mind about the shop. It was raining and he may as well make the most of the new shelter. He nodded at Tavish – who stayed out in the rain – and took cover. The other five people – iPod boy, Googlephone girl, Blackberry chick, Kindle woman, and Facebook man – crowded in to make room for the new arrival, but did not acknowledge each other.

There was a flash of lightning, wasn’t there? Was that a small earthshake? Had something shifted? He saw the five people in the shelter in a different light. He saw their needs. iPod boy was in survival mode; he didn’t have enough to eat, and didn’t get enough sex; yet despite this latter lack, he didn’t get enough sleep either. Googlephone girl’s concern was safety; she worried about her health, her family’s stability, paying her rent, and her body image. Blackberry chick’s focus was society; she wanted to deepen friendships, find intimacy with a man, and be useful for her community. Kindle woman sought status; she lacked self-esteem and wanted the respect that comes from achievement. Facebook man wished for Self-Actualization; he had been accepted by his peers as an equal, and now sought to express his spontaneous creativity.

The LED sign changed to “4 minutes”. Something else shifted.

Kelly saw iPod boy’s life before him. He was a Child now, playing and carefree, running and laughing, celebrating all the joys of the world. He would soon be a man though, a Householder, with mortgage, and bills, and taxes, and wife, and children, and work; needing to pay for things, fix things, deal with things, accept his pathetic limitations, and live with them. He would fade into an Elder, an observer rather than actor, watching the confusing, and misguided, ways of the world, and withdrawing in stages. Then one day he would have no place in the world. He would become a Beggar – reliant on a modest pension, topped up by welfare, his family’s sense of obligation, stranger’s goodwill, charity do-gooders, and Lucerne’s health services to keep him alive.

The LED sign changed to “3 minutes”. The shelter was rattling.

He saw into Kindle woman’s subconscious mind. There was darkness within – deep forests and tight caves with unseen monsters. Then her conscious mind – a busy day in Strattus ahead of her, filled with meetings and an ongoing schedule of networking. He saw her superconscious mind, which held the brightness of love for herself and others.

The LED sign said “2 minutes”. The shelter shook slightly.

Kelly saw Googlephone girl’s dual persona – her animus and anima; male and female; girl and woman; goddess and whore; and yearning both to love and to die.

The LED sign said “1 minute”. The shelter seemed to glow.

He felt overwhelmed, and united, with everything in the world.

The LED sign said “Now”. The shelter was the shelter. That was all. An ugly grey metal box; a cage. The bus arrived, filled with more people. Kelly couldn’t handle any more connection. How much was too much before you were no longer yourself? He let the bus pass, and went to the shop, as he had originally intended to.