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The thin wind whistle of the shinkansen, screaming, roaring through the dark. You’re in it, you’re in it all: the rattle of the rails, the shuffling-muttering of hundreds of passengers nestled in the one long limb of you, the creamy, fatty ice cream cups served off the trolley that are as hard as ice. You’re not a vacillation or an oscillation but a simultaneous throe.

Hundreds of stories are playing themselves out within you. Gods. Individuals. Nuts, grommets, motor oil. The businessman-baby-pomeranian-mother-litigator-old-woman-gravel-stones-gum-stuck-under-your-seat-in-cabin-eight argues with the funeral-director-father-suitcase-makeup-artist-diaper-bag-ice-cream-travel-agent-secretary-trees sweeping by outside the window(s) (s) (s) (s) (s) (s).

You love the mountains. The mountains do not love you. You whistle through them with the tip of your blunt blue nose shearing joy. You feel their big old hearts pounding under your wheels. Some of your individuals sleep—some wake, then press their noses against your cool glass to inhale the mountain’s bodily dark. The buzz of the polite automated voice inside your speakers tastes like living.

Somewhere inside you there is a woman sobbing. In the small bathroom of cabin five she presses her hands to her own face, sucking in big heaps of your air. Her tears slip down your bathroom sink. Through the pipes you carry them along gently, until they join the rest of you. You filter them across your thin mesh tongues. They taste like sublimating sorrow. You hope she will take comfort in this dark interior.

Sara S. Messenger is an SFF writer and poet residing in Florida. When she’s not playing fetch with her cat, she reads poetry collections in the sun. Her short fiction has appeared in Fantasy Magazine and Diabolical Plots, and her poetry has been previously published in Strange Horizons. If you enjoyed this work, her full portfolio and other musings can be found online at
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23 Jan 2023

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