Far end of the train. My carriage is five ahead.
Door – normal, no window. Handle – ivory, carved in the shape of a hand holding a door handle. No varnish. Just old bone. Looks brittle. Number on the carriage has fallen off. Unvarnished outline of ‘1’ remains. Going in to investigate. If I don’t come back then Lucy, the dream was true. I’m sorry. Brekker if you read this, follow the clues, and maybe you will have more success. Get to Lucy! Save her!
Back in the corridor. There was nothing to fear! How silly a thing is dread when you live through it and can look back at its illusion.
Inside the carriage there was a man sleeping on the bench. I did not wake him, but I don’t think even the hounds of hell could have disturbed his slumber. The only thing loud enough to have possibly woken him was the deafening sounds of his snoring and his guts digesting food. The snoring and the gurgling were a comical orchestra. I laughed loudly without cupping my mouth. He didn’t stir. He was huge. His tweed jacket had empty pockets. I didn’t feel bad rifling through his possessions as I am a Dream Investigator, and it is necessary.
Pockets carried nothing but lint. Left breast pocket was filled with sand. His name was sewn into his collar. Mr H_. His belly rose and sank with laboured breathing. I got in close to his face. He had eaten meat and drank wine. The wine residue had created a clown-like smile. Glutton. He had soggy bits of meat clinging to his cheeks and beard. Filth. I prised open his eyelids. Green irises. He didn’t wake. I had no fear that he might. I felt like a doctor, or a surgeon. This was work. No fear. Brekker, you would have been proud. Mr H_ had blocked ears. Wax enough to make candles. I shouted in his ear. No response. I wanted to move him off the bench and onto the floor but he was too heavy. Found his diary in his pocket. I sat opposite to read it. Nothing really to note. Had few entries. No real clues. Most entries were the same:
- Don’t die.
That one phrase reappeared randomly throughout. It stuck in my mind, and I know I will forget it soon enough, so I write again.
- Don’t die.
Nonsense of course. Gibberish. He is no writer. Or at least, he has no investigation. I doubt he was even dreaming in that slumber of his. Fat-gutted Whale-Man. Why is he here? Why is he alone? I do not know yet whether I should add him to my list of investigations pending. Brekker, you once taught me three basic rules to use when casually investigating somebody’s agenda. I write them down now, before they become a dune in mind.
The Brekker Rules of General Life Musings on People and Animals.
- What is their secret? Invent if you have to. It will always be close to the truth.
- Who were their parents and would they like what they saw if they could see what you see now?
- If the subject were using the Brekker Rules on you what would the subject see?
- His secret is that he embezzled. I can tell this because of his chewed fingernails. Right down to the quick. He cheated people out of money and was worried that he would get caught so he took what he could and fled. Probably from Holstenwall. Yes, upon closer inspection of his ‘crow’s feet’, you can tell he fled from Holstenwall. He has the ‘banker’s squint’ from counting money and he has ink on his fingers from forging, and there are none more bankers and embezzlers than in Holstenwall. Plus, the meat on his face is quite fresh, so he must have dined there before getting on the train.
- His parents were slim, quiet folk who didn’t have much and bent over backwards to help their son, Mr H_. He is greedy. They are not proud, but not disgusted. They are just sad. Haven’t decided if they are dead yet.
- If he were looking at me, using the Brekker Rules, he would gauge my secret to be that I am a coward and a scab-picker. He would see that my parents loved me dearly, but that it was not enough to keep them together. He wouldn’t feel sorry for me. He would think that, if I were using the rules on him, I would understand his flight.
Slipped his pointless diary back into his trouser pocket. His watch has stopped at ten-to-ten. I wasn’t surprised to find this out and didn’t see the point in noting it, but I did out of discipline. Stamped my feet around and knocked on every panel to gauge the sounds. No loose panelling. No loose floorboards. No hidden compartments. Window was dusty. He has written on it ‘Live, Breathe, Don’t Die’ with a chubby finger. View outside is same as from my carriage. Plains. Plateau of copper red dust and sand. No trees. It is daytime, but there is no sun.
His breathing is a lullaby. Up the gut goes. Gurgle. Down the gut goes. Gurgle. Quite hypnotic. Resting opposite him. Notice a carving on the back of the bench. It is of a carousel on fire. Round, fat people are fleeing. Symbol underneath people is rhombus with an ‘X’ in the middle. Looks unnerving. Don’t want to look at it. Going to count to 1000. Need sleep. Gurgling gut of Whale Man is too hypnotic.
Woke up and Mr H_ was on his back. Was reminded of missing the mysterious sweeping up of the sand in the waiting room. Keep missing vital actions whilst asleep. Didn’t dream, no surprise. Left man on his front. Carriage two next.