Glass Coffins

POSTED 21/08/2022

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

For those who fear to tread the streets, it is not the leering faces, the waves of crashing humanity, nor even the lines of cars who patrol as fuming anacondas that scare, it is themselves. I am no less a person. I would not wish it on anyone.

The palpitations begin at the city limits, as the towers rise like reflective mountains into a disrupted sky, my heart quickening. I gasp, seek to steady my breathing to the train’s repetition, a synchronising of man and machine. There is even a moment when I think it works and a sigh escapes my lips. It is short-lived. It is always short-lived, never lasting beyond the next batted lash. How life continues to disappoint.

Swamped by suburbia’s blur, the train gears up for one last dash, and we charge into the station like Usain Bolt for the finishing line: the tape broken, we stop; no one is victorious. One journey over, another begins.

Disembarking like so many ants from an anthill, we follow the chemical signatures laid down by history out into the glare of a city more on the rails than the train. People are everywhere. Like fish on a decaying reef, humanity teems across the porous concrete, searching for a purpose where there is no purpose. Some look to have hope in their eyes, most not. The difference between the believers and the sceptics is stark. Some might term it enlightenment versus resentment. I prefer reality versus dreams.

A stoplight glares in crimson; a double-dare to death. I have forgotten who waits for whom, so go with the flow and strive to remain somewhere in the middle. It’s only when I reach the other side that I realise I don’t want to be the last to go, the final smear on a Japanese car’s bonnet. I make a mental note to not make the same mistake, but an unhappy seagull, lost and far from home, squawks a distraction and the memory is lost.

The coffee district extends forever. Yes, there are intermissions in the chain of cocoa-driven madness, but not many, and nothing meaningful. I choose one that looks emptier than the others and order the same drink I do every single day. One day, I’ll risk a Latte, but I feel an Americano defines me. The smell of the bean soothes my mind. I wish to take the stuff intravenously, feel that brown warmth tickle beneath my skin. It is a dream I have in a world where dreams are scarce.

I linger at the coffee shop for longer than I should, but less than I wish. Before I know what’s happening, my feet are leading me out of the door and down the canopied street to my own private hell; the roof keeps the weather out and us in. My eyes remain on the ground wherever possible, striving not to look up, not to provoke a response. Not even the three false palms set to equidistant perfection fail to disturb my concentration. Like a robot, I approach the working district.

This world is glass. This world is made of a million versions of me. Everywhere I look, I am there. Even when I close my eyes. The last person I wish to see in repetition is myself. Anyone but me! Alas, life deems to torment me in refraction.

I open the doors to our office building; as I enter, another me leaves. A brief paisley respite — if ever paisley wall coverings can be called this — and I take the stairs. I work on the tenth floor but would rather ascend a hundred flights in preference to the glass elevator and be surrounded by those leering, sneering doppelgängers. Each step takes me higher, ever higher. Soon enough I see the world as a pigeon, a rat of the sky. There are more rats all around me. I feel swarmed by them.

I collapse into my office seat and a faux leather embrace. A moment. All I require is a moment. I don’t get one. Curlicues of steam flit like intangible faeries before my eyes. Where am I?

The office do-good has seen, found and presented before I’ve even taken my jacket off. I nod a thank you whilst contemplating stabbing her with my pencil; my pencil is blunt, typical!

My work provides a distraction, nothing more. The turgid rigmarole of everyday mundanity allows my mind the freedom of thinking itself elsewhere, somewhere where walls are rock and skyscrapers consist of trees. I wish myself away to a world without triplicated others and reciprocated frowns, but never for long enough.

A colleague wakes me from my stupor, even though my fingers continue to type in a fallacy of actual life. I smile, but he’s already gone. It is time to leave. The worst time of the day.

Most look forward to their return, the drive home, the commute. I do not. I hurry down the stairs and out of the revolving door. Too late, the sun is setting.

Everywhere I look, everywhere, a million others are doing the same thing. Each is crowned by a halo of liquid gold. The glass makes angels of all. All except one. The original, me. They mock me from their mercury sanctums, point, and laugh. Every face in every window, every man, woman, and worse, observe me. They know. Oh, how they know! I am abhorrent to them. I am abhorrent to me.

The train is stifling, dark and full of eyes. But as the lights click on, catching me off-guard as I gaze out into the nothingness, I realise there is only one certainty in this reflected face: these glass coffins have me captured and everyone’s watching me die.

Thank you for reading

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.


By Evening Lights

Photo by Joyce Romero on Unsplash
Photo by Joyce Romero on Unsplash

The traffic lights distort broken garages. Three hues combine to bathe all in a coruscating dream. And still, the rain pours upon this rainbow somewhere. I mourn it, welcome it, beg for more.
This place has a bleak desperation which compliments their own. A simple truth recognised. This place demands truths, for the lies stand dark and vivid. Even their shadows slide around in pairs.
I twitch a recollection.
A memory of a robin flies under my feet, a crimson inspiration. The vision makes no sound, but I recognise the confusion in its throaty chirps. Searching for worms as they search for each other, it pecks a pointless day. When the night comes and the same tricolour lights that illuminate my evenings bring relevance to this place, perhaps then he’ll succeed. Perhaps, not.
The recollection fades. If ever it was one?
My paranoia is boundless. This inner desperation destroys me. Life is no life in limitless longevity. Only in the rain-washed luminance does hope remain. Only in liquid crystal am I the man I remember. I need no sun!
Darkness returns.
She called me a bat, an occupier of the night, un-living. She claimed I hated the day because the sun revealed my faults. But none of us are faultless. None of us are perfect. None of us were born to continue through death.
How boring now, this sterile world.
The undercurrents of societal want disgust me. People are no longer tame. Minds hampered by expectation require the spotlight illuminations of day, not the gentle pulses of night. The traffic lights’ displays mean nothing in the daytime, mean nothing until dark. They possess no more power to enforce man’s will than a collar on a stray dog.
Incisors slice, not grate together like theirs.
Bring on the rain. Bathe me in amber. Dress me in green. Fear me in red. Yes, fear me. For a colourful death is my calling card, my gift. I can make one distinct in an existence rendered boring.
I watch the lights change: one, two, three. Such simple symmetry. A distraction worth noting. They note it, too. One woman. One man. They hold hands as if these subtle warnings were sent to terrorise. They aren’t. All they do is provide one extra moment, one extra pause before the storm, to a being who no longer needs either.
I count down from green to amber to red. The latter signals their demise, the favour I do them.

Besides, is it not better to die part rainbow than to live a golden blur?

The Endless

Thank you for reading

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

At Least the Wind

Courtesy Juan Felipe
Courtesy Juan Felipe

There are no cerise sunrises, no vermillion sunsets,
the tangerine tinges of summer warmth
dispelled like the bone-white winters of old.
The stars are diminished, wiped from the sky,
no longer the moon has good friends.
Now, all is remembered, read of, imagined,
the false, flattened televisions’ vivid colours
too bright for eyes meant for gentle views.
We have taken this from ourselves,
convinced our souls we need nothing else:
No seasons, no change, no rain on glass rooftops,
Not now we’ve the certainty, the assuredness
of knowing exactly what, when, and where,
at what time, with what force, like clockwork.
Hermetically sealed, nothing in, nothing out,
I turn away from my son and speak to the window:
‘At least the wind, my son.’
‘At least… the wind…’
A lie for his future, and a disgrace to our past.

Thank you for reading

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.