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The train had terminated. The station it now sat in looked old, at least Victorian, and unnecessarily spacious and grandiose. Kellan knelt upon the spacious platform with his hands pressed against the floor in front of him. His breathing was heavy. He watched the beads of sweat drip off his forehead and spatter heavily on the floor below. His heart was still racing and his hands shook while his head felt too light to allow him to stand. He took several minutes to recuperate and find out where he was.
The station could accommodate many more train tracks but none were visible save for the one he had just travelled on. There were old red brick walls with wrought iron arches supporting a glazed roof. It looked a lot like the old stations of London but definitely not one he had actually visited before. As he walked in the only direction available, which was away from the parked train, the station opened out into a large plaza made larger by the lack of things a train station normally has such as departure boards, ticket kiosks, passengers, and staff. There were no information stands, no-one to give advice, and no announcements blaring out of loudspeakers. There were, however, arrows on the ground, flashing an ice-blue neon colour that led from where Kellan stood toward a large door archway over in the left-hand corner. Kellan weighed up his options and found them limited. He chose to follow the light which he felt was very hi-tech for such an old station, but then the train had not exactly been old fashioned either.
The lit route took Kellan into a huge coach station with lots of vehicles lined up on the left and right. Those on the left were all waiting to go to New City and those on the right were travelling to Old City. This was according to the signs that had been included in this place or not yet removed, if the previous area was anything to go by. The arrows continued along, down the row of vehicles to his left and stopping at a New York-style yellow cab. Kellan was finding himself remarkably compliant to this mysterious floor marking but a train station didn’t seem the most ominous place to find yourself and if there was clever lighting adopted to show you to the next available taxi, then so be it.
He opened the back door and peered into the vehicle. It looked decent enough. The interior was Ok, clean, no trace of previous passengers, didn’t look dubious and no alcoholic vapours were wafting over from the driver. Kellan jumped into the backseat, got comfy and then went to address the mysterious driver. He looked at the figure in the driver’s seat.
“Hi, I was shown this vehicle by a set of arrows on the ground…”
The driver didn’t reply. He simply flicked the key in the transmission and cranked the vehicle into first gear before driving off smoothly.
Kellan felt unsettled. There had been no talk of destination or fare yet the guy was pulling off. “Hi? Sorry, I don’t think you heard me but I wanted to ask what is going on.” Kellan’s voice got all wavery, “How much will this cost? I’ve just got off this weird train and I have no money and…erm…hey? Hey. Sorry, can you hear me?”
Kellan leaned between the two front seats to properly address the driver.
A monkey was sitting there!
THE DRIVER WAS A MONKEY!
Kellan started to panic again so soon after that awful plummeting train. Although the vehicle was moving, he instinctively went to open the back door and found he was locked in. The monkey clearly took offense to this and turned to squawk at him. Kellan flinched hard, bringing a limp arm up and out to protect himself while keeping all his body parts away from his irate, primate driver.
The monkey was standing on the front seat and controlling the cab by clutching the sides of the steering wheel and frantically spinning it left and right without moving the vehicle very much. They had joined a road that was sheer chaos. Kellan looked out only to see buses, vans, bikes, sand-buggies and all sorts of vehicles tearing along this eight, no, 10-lane freeway! Other vehicles sped dangerously close to them and they were also controlled by monkey drivers who were also screaming, squawking, and driving while hanging upside down. Lanes here seemed optional so long as you aimed the vehicle forward you would fit in ok. He saw at least 15 vehicles leave the road swerving violently and narrowly missing the others with spectacular consequence. Kellan cowered in the back seat regretting every moment. He looked out the front at the ensuing traffic madness with his frantic animal driver at the helm. WHY HAD HE UNQUESTIONINGLY GOT INTO THIS CAB?
What seemed like an entire lifetime passed until the cab pulled up to somewhere. Kellan’s arms were locked in a shaky, untaught, boxer’s guard protecting as much of his face as possible and also stopping him from seeing where they were. At least the car and the frantic squawking had stopped. He heard a door open then close then another open and then felt a firm grip around his ankle pull him to the edge of the back seat where he slowly unfolded his legs to feel ground underneath them. He allowed himself to look and see the now-calm face of the monkey looking back at him kindly. The wizened features were quite reassuring. It almost helped slow Kellan’s abnormally fast heartbeat. He looked at the monkey and said timidly, “Thank you” and stumbled over the words. He didn’t mean “Thank you for driving me here.” It was more like “Thank you for not killing me at this very point”.
The monkey nodded to signify their business was done, clambered back into the car, checked the rear-view mirror, pulled off safely and drove back onto the nearby slip road with textbook flow. Enraged screams pierced the air as it re-joined the motorway madness.
Kellan allowed himself to laugh. That did just happen, right? How had he just survived that! Where was this place that allowed animals to drive vehicles? Apparently, they drove ALL VEHICLES. Where on earth was he? He laughed in disbelief but he wasn’t finding the situation quite as funny as he may have seemed to be. His laughter mingled with coughing as his knees buckled and he dropped to the ground feeling horrendously nauseous.
A nearby sign simply said New City.
What a way to welcome in the New City he thought through bouts of retching.
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