Prompt 36: Memento mori (remember that you will die)
Nietzsche, Bumper Cars and the End Game
By Eilidh Thain
Willy Morral rushes down subway stairs, wind gusts up from the depths, the sickly smell of sewer and industry smacks his face. He takes the stairs two at a time, gripping the filthy railing for balance. Moans and honks and sighs emit from the souls he pushes past – just like traffic, he thinks. We are all nothing more than human bumper cars bouncing our way through life. His buzzing brain mentally high-fives him on such a clever thought.
Willy always thought himself overly clever (read offensive). Never was there a philosophy class without Willy verbally masturbating as other students wished him dead, or at least silent, as he pumped on about some cryptic Nietzsche quote.
He had just let Phil 102 class at NYU, a class he could teach better than that dullard Professor Rickenback. What a blowhard that guy is. He knows nothing, he thinks. As he runs onto the subway platform, the train pulls away in a gust, tousling his hair.
He thinks about Rickenback saying, “There are no facts, only interpretations,” and punches a wall, hurting his fist. What bullshit. Of course, there are facts, like the fact that I just missed the A Train, he thinks, and spits a glob of mucus on a Gap ad featuring borderline legal girls in micro-minis.
He bellows, “Rickenback is a dickenback” into the subway tunnel, loving the echo and thinking he may have discovered an amazing new recording space for artists like Rhiannon. He flips the bird to an ugly chick who looked at him.
He paces the platform, waiting for roar of the next train to hit his ears. What his ears missed was the soft shoe steps behind him, as the roar filled the space. He feels the butt of the hand shove him from behind, a quick, subtle shove, just enough to send him flailing.
The cyclops-like light of the train illuminated the fear in Willy’s eyes, just before he fell back between the tracks and prayed as the deafening clang of the cars passed over him, creating a kaleidoscope of light and sound and fury. Willy believed that he would meet death in the quiet of old age, not in the path of a speeding train. He thinks of something Rickenback said, “Sometimes shit comes at us at a thousand miles an hour and we simply can’t get out of the way.”
He remained motionless until the tunnel opened up, and faces began to appear over his prone body, a cacophony of sounds falling from their mouths; panic in their eyes; chaos in their movement — like bumper cars.
As he is lifted onto the platform. He knows he is fine, but he let the hands and equipment and concern wash over him.
“Memento Mori, Morral,” a far way voice echoed with a cackle, from the platform. Willy recognizes it. It’s Professor Rickenback.
- PRIVATE: Diary of Leanne Sawroski – Flash Fiction Challenge 35 #FFC52 (thaininvain.com)
- Clever Subway Ad in Sweden Features a Woman Whose Hair Blows in the Wind When a Train Passes (laughingsquid.com)
- Nietzsche’s 10 Rules for Writers (brainpickings.org)