There he sits, on the dimly-lit subway, a man unraveled to the core. He rides, gently jostling back and forth, unshaven, his upper follicles bearing signs of an unprecedented joint attack of bedhead and hathair; he is the drunkest he has ever been, the smelliest he has ever been, his underwear screaming for mercy, subjected to an extension of its service far beyond what it had originally signed up for. He is beyond despondent, financially and morally bankrupt, quite frankly not all there, a shell of what he once was. What he once was is gone, left behind when his family left the planet in the horrible disaster, selfishly taking most of him with them. The metal pole he holds onto is cool and sticky. Actually the stickiness comes from his own grubby hand, but no matter. An irrelevant minor detail. Most of what was going on around him were irrelevant minor details. Only one thing was important now, that goal that sat right there in front of his eyes, perched on his nose that glowed white hot, drowning out everything else in sight. It was an attainable goal, the only completely attainable goal he'd conceived of his entire life, afforded such a status by the mess of C-4 and wires hidden under his dirty overcoat. The detonator - a small, cute device - gripped in his other hand. Oh don't worry it looks just like a lighter. Got a light? Noooo, no I don't, it no longer works. Move along, you don't want to hear the truth. You might want to get off at the next stop.
The devil on his right shoulder was a lot louder than the angel on his left these days; he barely heard the one with the halo any more, like a rerun of Wheel of Fortune playing in the living room while you cook in the kitchen with the stove fan on high to prevent the damned smoke detector from going off. Did he just solve the puzzle? Oh well who gives a shit, my Shake 'N Bake is burning. I don't even know what the puzzle was, it's too late to run and check.
A bitter drop of water escapes his hair mess and trickles down to his lips. He shivers a little, not because of the steady, dreary rain he had to endure moments before. It is his soul wanting to get out, impatient for its freedom from its jail cell of flesh, bone, and hair. Either that or he's scared. Either one works. It won't be long now. He had arbitrarily decided on Fifth Street. That was the stop. He was mugged there once in August of 1995. Maybe it wasn't totally arbitrary.
Oooo, it's coming up, Charles! says the Evil. Fifth street stop!
Shut up, Evil, he replies, you're making me more nervous! Please go back to lighting my remaining sanity on fire and shut up!
Indignant, but compliant, Evil goes back to doing just that.
His face is heavy. He's tired. Understandably, he hasn't gotten much sleep lately. But he will rest soon. Maybe...
Here comes Fifth Street. It shudders as the subway approaches it. It pleads with Charles, no, not me, please, I'm such a nice stop. Get that damned Ninth Street instead, it thinks it's so much better than the rest of us now with its brand new turnstiles and paint jobs. Sorry, Fifth, it's you, the decision's been made. Get over it. Won't be long now.
His entire body tightens as some people around him begin to gather their things, Fifth is obviously their stop. Either that or they have irritable bowel syndrome and can't make it to their real stop. Either way, Fifth is almost there, he's almost to that completely, utterly attainable goal of his. And here it is, the subway is slowing, his stomach is very angry, not finished digesting the ham sandwich he'd eaten for lunch (it would very much like to finish).
The subway whines as it comes to a halt, also very upset at what Charles is about to do. Very, very...very upset. The detonator in his hand becomes more real, more solid, it wants to fulfill its purpose. After all, if it doesn't detonate something, it's not a detonator, is it? Just a fake lighter, a knockoff of something that's actually useful, something that actually has a purpose in life.
"Mommy, is this our stop?" says a little girl somewhere near him. It's the first bit of dialogue he's heard in a while; it somehow gets through Evil's thunders in his ears. And then he ignores the glowing attainable goal on his nose and watches the little blonde creature, its mother holding tightly to its little hand, as it makes its way to the door.
It is time. It is time to appease the detonator, time to free the soul. Just push that button, Charles, just push it. Come on now. What's the hold up? This is it, the only completely attainable goal in your life, this is your moment in the sun, everybody wants to go out with a bang, you know, what better way to do that?
And yet he continues to sit there as the doors close. He continues to sit there, staring ahead at the glowing goal, as new passengers find their seats. Fifth street starts to disappear. It is spared. Why?
Chicken shit! shouts Evil. You're more pathetic than I thought!
He ignores Evil and continues to stare ahead, silent, and potentially deadly. Another rain drop trickles down to his lips. Why didn't it happen? Why does he continue to sit there? Maybe he's decided that Evil is an idiot. Perhaps it is his wife and two sons from somewhere in a metaphysical realm looking at him disapprovingly and wagging their fingers at him. Maybe it was the little girl. Or maybe he's chicken shit after all.
Or maybe that smug Ninth Street stop does deserve it more. Or maybe Thirteenth does? It is an unlucky number, after all. Or perhaps Nineteenth, it's always full of homeless people. Or maybe Twenty-First should get it. Or maybe Twenty-Fifth. Or maybe...