Alan Noble stepped off the platform at MacArthur Station and onto the BART train bound for the SFO airport. He wasn’t going to the end of the line – at least in a literal sense.
The station was nearly empty this time of night and the train-car was desolate. The bare walls of the train...
<p>Alan Noble stepped off the platform at MacArthur Station and onto the BART train bound for the SFO airport. He wasn’t going to the end of the line – at least in a literal sense.</p>
<p>The station was nearly empty this time of night and the train-car was desolate. The bare walls of the train’s interior, where ambulance-chasing lawyers and Bay Area events were once advertised, made Alan feel even more alone. The train’s seats had been removed years ago to make space for the people who filed in like sardines during the commuting hours. With nowhere to rest, Alan held tightly to the cold, steel bar overhead and looked at his reflection in the window.</p>
<p>He was horrified – but not surprised – by what he saw. All the color had left his face, leaving a pale mask of his usual self. Dark rings from too many sleepless nights formed under his bloodshot eyes.</p>
<p>His hands were clammy and kept slipping off the bar as the train jostled to and fro. The hum and whine of the railway would’ve normally sent Alan into an uncontrollable doze.</p>
<p>Tonight, Alan felt hyperaware of every little nauseating movement of the train. Every sound he heard was deafening.</p>
<p>Tonight, Alan was doing something he never thought possible.</p>
<p>Tonight, he was doing something dangerous, inconceivable – not to mention illegal. The long list of variables which could go wrong flooded back into Alan’s mind, but he remained determined.</p>
<p>Alan was not deterred, because a little voice in the back of his mind said that it was worth it. He <em>had</em> to go on, if for no other reason than to, just this once,<em> feel</em> something, to experience something that would give his existence some purpose, some drive, or at least some hedonistic pleasure.<br />
This idea – small, but growing more powerful by the mile – was originally not Alan’s.</p>
<p>He was a passive man, an introvert working as a mid-level computer analyst. His position afforded him the luxury of blending into the wallpaper. People didn’t notice him, which made living that much easier.</p>
<p>Alan, like so many people, did not have friends.</p>
<p>It was too difficult to cultivate friendships when saying the wrong thing could lead to a fine, or worse: jail-time.</p>
<p>At Alan’s work, everyone kept to themselves. Eye contact was avoided unless absolutely necessary, for fear...