- onSeptember 25, 2017
- Vol.37 Autumn 2017
- byKim Hyun
- Glory Hall
Galaxy Express 999*
A groggy Sam Bill hugged a narrow Eve, who had fallen into an anemic sleep.1 He looked out the window. The train that had left at eight was entering a ghostly star system lush with the dreams of dead birds. Sam Bill tilted his head, trying to remember the time that he had spent alone. The cold steam of the train slipped past the twinkletwinklelittlestarhowIwonderwhatyouare tree leaves, leaving droplets of dreams in its wake. Iridescent dreams shook loose and bumped into love and parted and burst and became transparent. Sam Bill watched the disappeared dreams instead of the disappeared memories and fell on his seat. Eve trembled slightly. Sam Bill kissed Eve’s forehead. The space between Eve’s brows wrinkled sweetly. Who are the surviving Sam Bills greeting now, thought Sam Bill. Annoyingly, Eve opened her eyes. She raised her arms in a stretch, then listlessly dropped them. Sam Bill looked in Eve’s eyes. The two small, tiny black holes where the whites had disappeared looked like the origins of extinction. A klaxon sounded. Gu gu gu, or 999, the klaxon mourned. Eve placed her hand on the windowpane. The tail of the train loudly hit the forest as it slid out of it. Flocks of six-colored stonewall birds flew up in unison like protesters. Blind Eve sensed the rainbow feathers that had drifted and stuck on the window. She tapped along the glass. Sam Bill brought Eve’s hand with its dried, cracked skin towards him and placed it on his chest. He lowered his head and breathed into Eve’s hair. There was a long silence. It won’t be long now, cold snow! Eve whispered with her last ounce of strength. Sam Bill raised his head. The white grains of the molecules of the cold stars scattered past. A graveyard on a winter beach. Sam Bill recalled how neither he nor Eve had ever seen real snow. Sam Bill put his lips close to Eve’s ear and whispered a sutra.
The sandstorm that had been observed through short and long intervals grew worse. The train gently neared the core of the cemetery. The pattern of death created by the countless floating glass coffins was more beautiful than expected. Sam Bill looked down at Eve’s heavy face, sunk in sleep. We know the beginning and the end. That was a relief. Sam Bill pulled Eve deep into his embrace and automatically closed his eyes. The last songs of the androids peacefully filled the train. Once the train ripped through the dark and crossed the galaxy, all the androids would stop functioning. The space funeral simulation switched off. The moonlit night became even more of a moonlit night. Sam Bill, who had been waiting for the funeral to end, pressed the G button and opened the door to Earth.2 The Pigeon carried the past sell-by-date androids and sped towards a burning Earth. Sam Bill greeted, alone, all the Sam Bills and Eves.
* First-generation funeral train developed by the Maetel Corporation for human space burials. More commonly referred to as the Pigeon for its design and klaxon taken after the pigeon’s body and cry respectively.
1. Not long ago on an out-of-joint time, I met David Bowie who was coming from visiting Earth’s time. He won’t talk for a long time about his son’s movie that he saw on his time on Earth where he lives as a singer. The names of the following characters have been cast from the movie I briefly heard him talk about.
2. A large crematorium built to dump androids in. They are called by various names depending on the planets the androids were born on, resided in, or immigrated to.