Today I went to the dentist for a check-up. That’s not what I’m going to tell you about though. I am going to speculate wildly about the automatic doors at the train station.
Usually you see, when I catch the early train, there is a constant coming and going, a turmoil of busyness, thrashing about the station waiting room-cum-ticket hall. The young folk who travel into York to attend school are huddling and shrieking about homework and OMG-ing about so-and-so’s new nail varnish or football boots or electronic device of choice, or moaning about Miss Battleaxe in Divinity who gave them detention for not being able to name the Apostles or worrying about the cross country run they have to do in the afternoon because they forgot their kit and everyone knows that Mr Satan in PE will make them do it in their underwear in front of the girls and what the hell is a bunga-bunga party anyway? Among their rumbustious throng the grey and weathered commuters stumble and bumble, breaking skin and shins with laptop case edges and dropping phones and e-readers and iPads as they scrabble for tickets or credit cards.
In other words, dear friends, it is a hubbub and frothing, frenzied confusion. It is Life’s Rich Tapestry in market town hues.
Throughout it all the doors open and close as travellers come in from the cold or go to wait on the platform so they can be first on the train and get a seat. They swish and slide for everyone and often for no one as the queue for the tickets gets too close or the teenage ant’s nest swirls into their orbit. The blast of cold air from outside acts as a prompt for the perpetrators to move aside before their legs freeze off at the knee, and so doing the doors whisper closed again for a few moments. Then it all begins again. It’s not like Brief Encounter, I can tell you
There is a tea room on the station, but it doesn’t open until after the early trains have gone, so I rarely see it on the inside. The tea is dark and thick, just the way I like it, and very reasonably priced, as we like to say in these parts when we mean cheap.
All of this was history when I went to catch the later train after my dental appointment. I am aware that some people across the Atlantic don’t realise we have dentists in this country. We do, and many of them are quite good and some even do all that cosmetic nonsense for people with more money than sense. The rest of us don’t care what the teeth look like so long as they masticate efficiently. I get irritated with my dentist for polishing my teeth each visit and removing the carefully built-up layer of tannin. Honestly, white teeth are just so shiny and sometimes one wants to be the Shadow. I don’t want to smile at the driver who waits for me to cross the road and blind him so he runs down the little old lady along the street. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. It’s a worry. Even now I am having to type with one hand so I can contain the nuclear-powered glow f my freshly minted chompers behind the other hand, for the sake of humanity
Anyway, back in the ticket hall things were quieter than the early morning rush. There was still a reasonable number of people waiting for the train, but not the dense throng catching the 7.23. Various people came in to buy a ticket and wandered outside to wait, only to return as the bitter wind and flurries of snow persuaded them of their folly. In between the incursions the rest us,, wiser and more patient, sat and waited quietly and peacefully. Waiting for an English train is akin to Zen meditation. I’m almost certain the noise of the tannoy is one hand clapping; certainly it is a bit buzzy and not recognisably a sound of the everyday world, which is how I imagine the Zen hand sounds too.
The doors at the front of the hall opened. No one was there or even walking about the ticket office, which can trigger the doors. We were all sitting down. No one came in or even walked past on the pavement outside. Interesting.
The doors closed again and then the doors to the platform opened. Still no one was there or even walking about the hall. We were still all sitting down. No one came in or even walked past on the platform outside. Interesting.
Clearly there was only one sane and rational conclusion to be drawn. There were silent, invisible creatures passing through the ticket hall. You couldn’t see their reflection in the glass, so they could be vampires. Now, I’m not mad enough to suggest they were necessarily catching a train. That would be not be supported by the evidence. They may have been trainspotters. Or lost tourists. From Alpha Centauri.
What did they look like under their invisibility cloaks? If not Romulans, then sufficiently large – humanoid equivalent at least – to trigger the doors. Of course, they also allowed us to walk through their bodies, or they would have been detected before. So large and substantial but also invisible, silent and insubstantial to human touch. Perhaps some kind of phased timey-wimey distortion or portable wormhole solution. Interesting.
The biggest problem I can see (or not see, I suppose, in this context) is how to communicate. I guess they can’t talk to us or they would have asked for help with managing the rail network. Everyone does, in the end. I have not noticed any written notes, but will keep an eye out for the next couple of weeks in case. They may not be substantial enough to hold a pen but perhaps they can use a touch screen and tweet us. Some of the tweets I see certainly seem to originate on another planet.
They wouldn’t need much intelligence of course. Pigeons can cope with travelling about on the London Underground, hopping on and off trains at various stations, and waiting patiently near the doors in order to do so. Pigeons may also, of course, originate from Alpha Centauri, and in fact be pan-galactic, hyper-intelligent beings like the mice. No one seems to have published conclusive evidence either way. At least they don’t tweet.
I don’t think the Visitors can be very heavy because this phenomenon is only noticeable with automatic doors. I have been typing this on Leeds station while waiting for the delayed train home, and the old-fashioned doors are behaving entirely in accordance with the well-known Law of Human Interaction, and only opening when a visible humanoid operates pressure. The Visitors may be sidling through the doors after the humans, as the doors are quite slow to close. Clearly more research is needed.
In an infinite universe, as every hip frood knows, anything is possible. Even Invisible Visitors on the National Rail Network.
Tell me I’m not the only one to have noticed!