Trains – Editorial, The Week in Review

Analysis, Commentary, Opinion


I took the Am Track yesterday.

Jennifer and I rode it to Chicago; the Empire Builder, they call it. It was a pleasant ride.

We sat in coach on the lower level of the train, it was an hour late, and we were not able to make up any time, but we were not delayed any further. We left the Twin Cities at 9:15 am, and arrived in Chicago at 5:00 pm. I could have driven there faster, but then I would have had to drive, which I will on the way home because the train schedule for the round trip is not conducive to a weekend getaway. So we will rent a car and take the interstate back.

The Empire Builder is a testimony to the fact that the American Empire is in deep decline. The train was dirty…not filthy, but dirty; un-swept, un-vacuumed, un-washed. There was a griminess to it that made me want a shower as soon as I got into the hotel room.

The bathrooms were not much better than what you can find on an airplane, and once inside I did not want to touch anything. Even the faucet of the sink looked dubious. And before you get the idea that I might just have a problem in public spaces, I don’t. I’m just telling it like it is.

The terminal was nice, Union Depot in Saint Paul. It was elegant, stately, it had the charm that so many public buildings have that were built in the early 20th Century, from the period when the Empire Builder was an aspirational appellation and the railroad was invested in living up to the name.

Despite these complaints it was a pleasant experience. I enjoyed sitting in a comfortable chair, roomy, with Jennifer at my side reading. I spent the day writing, each of occasionally taking time to look out the dingy-filmy-hazy window, to take in the country side. We rolled along the Mississippi, down past the bluffs by Lake Peppin, crossed over at La Crosse and went through the Wisconsin country side to Milwaukee, before turn south to Chicago.

I told my friend John that I was taking the trip by train, he said “trains are such a civilized way to travel.” He is right about that, it is for the civilized proletariat. It was inexpensive, economical, catering to the working class, to people not in a hurry.

Jennifer noted how much the whole system operates on trust. There were no magnetometers, no showing ID before boarding, people just took their seats, in couch it is open seating. Unchecked luggage was stowed in open compartments, the people on the train simply trusted that their belongings would not be disturbed.

I am sure that people occasionally get burned, but not enough so that the system of openness has had to be changed.

That was nice.

I would take the trip again.

My experience has me asking the question again, one that has puzzled me for decades. Why don’t we have a better more reliable rail system in America, fast new high speed trains? If we did, I would take them all the time.

Trains facilitate travel, tourism, commerce. Our railways are the saddest in the modern world.

The new America.

Emergence 3.0 – Section Six (a), Rebellion; Appendix Part Eight, Jim; Chapter Two, Anger

Emergence 3.0
A Novel – In One Page Per Day
Saturday, March 23rd, 2019

Chapter Two: Anger

Jim was sick with disgust over the hedonistic abuses of the Collective. Through his participation in it he had facilitated the creation of a trillion private hells, each one of them masquerading as a personal paradise.

Jim was angry.

He was pained and distraught when he saw the Continuum turn its attention to the living worlds of time and space, transforming each of them into a mirror image of its own privation and ruin.

He felt a deep sense of shame and personal responsibility over the nightmare this construct had become.

The core of his being was filled with a sharp bitterness over the way that each member of the Collective had squandered its existence, they could have created worlds of joy and beauty, there were virtually no limitations on their imagination, and yet they squandered their power for petty satisfactions and banal evil.

He wanted to die.

He knew that he was not responsible for the creation of the Collective, he was just one person among many managing that incredible feat of engineering. He was only playing a part on a great team of scientists and researchers seeking to penetrate the mystery of life-everlasting.

He was horrified by what their work had turned into, and by how utterly they had failed to anticipate it.

They were a gaggle of voyeurs, feeding their most obscene habits like the worst of gluttons, without giving a single thought to the consequences that the satisfaction of their hunger would have on the lives of simple, ordinary people.

They devoured entire star systems without reflection on the real cost in pain and suffering their appetites brought.

They had forgotten that the citizens of the Empire were in fact their own progeny, they were descendants of the Ancient People.

The membership of the Collective were addicts and he blamed the Continuum for pushing their addictions on them, and keeping them sedated.

He felt hopeless.

#Emergence #SuperShortFiction #365SciFi #OnePagePerDay

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