A swarm of vulnerable armpits dangle from the ceiling of the train carriage this morning. Faces poke out around them. Some faces are not human. A pair of goat eyes flit about urgently. Bird beaks chatter at mobile devices. Monkey brains run amok. This circus train doesn’t scare me the way I think it should.
I see your disguises. You are very clever, so very creative. I want to dive into that playpen with you – what fun it could be!
But I don’t.
In the middle of the carriage stands a man with his human face. His eyes are closed gently and he sways with the rhythm of his chariot. The skin on his face is translucent. The edges of skin and space seem frayed. I can’t quite make out where he starts and the rest of the world begins.
Where are you, really? This creature baffles me.
His skin pales and for a moment he looks dull and lifeless. Then his eyes open and burn right through me. I cannot look away.
Suddenly it is just the two of us in the vacant carriage, trundling forward with increasing speed. We are flying. We are weightless. We are free.
A lotus flower creeps out from beneath his feet. It curls open, before slowly and quietly engulfing the man. The giant, white petals fill the carriage. The roots break through the floor and reach down into the earth. Windows shatter under the pressure of the pressing petals. They make their escape out of the windows and find comfort in wrapping their satin selves around the outside of the carriage, breathing in the gushing air outside.
The train continues racketing along the tracks, gathering speed. The wind whips passed, rattling windows and doors and stirring a whistle in my ears. My heart races. Surely we will lift off at any moment. Airborne, at last!
And caught somewhere deep in the exhilaration, a thought is released. It slithers up my spine.
Who’s driving this chariot?