As the bright light caught the corner of his eye Edward turned and was engulfed in stark terror. His hands flew up to his face and all at once he jerked himself upright, a scream poised on his lips. He was…
Where? A hollow, almost unintelligible voice echoed around him. People moved with purpose in a cavernous space. Benches were everywhere. There were electronic signboards with place names on them. It was a train station. He stood up and looked around. Yes, that was it; he was definitely in a train station.
He shook his head and tried to think. What was he doing here? Where could he possibly be going? He tried to remember how he had gotten here but his mind was a blank. He had been having a dream. A nightmare, really. There was a bright light coming towards him. He was about scream and then…he was here. In a train station. But what station. He didn’t recognize it at all.
He walked around checking out his surroundings. He felt dazed, out of sorts. How long had he been asleep? Again he tried to remember how he had gotten to this place but nothing would come.
A young woman in a tattered coat wearing a peculiar hat and gloves approached and he stepped toward her.
“Excuse me, miss, could you please tell me the name of this station?”
She moved past him as though she had neither heard nor seen him. He stared after her, perplexed. Why wouldn’t she speak to him? He looked around and saw an agent’s window across the room and made his way to it.
An older, well-groomed gentleman with silver hair and a walrus moustache was stamping forms but looked up at him kindly as he approached.
“Hello. I wonder if you could tell me…”
“You’re waiting for the 9:21 Edward. It’s always on time, not to worry. Just have a seat and relax. Nothing for you to do until it arrives.”
Edward gaped at him open-mouthed for a moment.
“How did you know my name? Listen, where am I? I don’t remember coming here; I’m very confused. Can you help me please?”
The agent folded his hands on the counter and smiled.
“You’re in good hands Edward. You’re where you’re supposed to be. No reason to be alarmed. You have many questions, and more will occur to you. That is as it should be. Please have a seat and wait. Everything in the fullness of time, yes?”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know what any of that is supposed to mean. Can’t you just tell me where I am?”
Smiling his beatific smile once more the agent went back to stamping his papers and took no further notice. Edward felt frustration but moved away from the window and wandered around the hall looking for someone else he could talk to. He saw a porter coming towards him with a cart of bags and stopped him.
“Excuse me, I wonder if you might…”
Tipping his hat, the porter smiled and kept moving. Edward stared after him for a moment and then went back to the bench he had been sitting on and dropped onto it heavily. He looked about and saw others who appeared to be dazed, almost asleep in their seats. He thought about approaching them but knew instinctively it would do no good.
He felt a tap on his shoulder and looked up to see a young man with blond hair and impossibly flawless skin standing in front of him with the same beatific smile the station agent had.
“Edward, it’s time. The 9:21 has arrived. Please follow me.”
He turned and walked away without another word. Edward felt compelled to do as he had been asked. He felt a growing sense of calm come over him as he caught up to the young man and walked with him.
The doctor applied the defibrillator paddles once more and looked up at the monitor. Nothing. He glanced at his team and shook his head.
“Would someone call the time of death please.”
Doctor Adams pulled off his gloves and threw them away and hurried to attend to the next trauma patient.