Working desk job means exactly this: apartment, tube, workplace, tube, apartment. It’s hard to find sunlight anymore, but he doesn’t think he minds: maybe he’s already used to this. It’s been longer than he cares to remember.
He spends about two hours a day on the tube - not much compared to the amount of time he spends in his booth at work, but he doesn’t really register those eight hours. It’s like his mind switches itself off the moment he arrives to work and leaves him running on muscle memory alone. Time operates the same way when he’s at home, so by now maybe he’s only really conscious during the two hours on the tube.
Sometimes he stays back on the tube past his stop. Sometimes until it reaches the end of the line. Sometimes he takes the tube with the intention of going somewhere specific, but then just sits there as his destination flies past him into the dark tunnel he’s just passed. Sometimes he goes down into the stop, just to hear the quiet again.
Sometimes he sees maintenance doors somewhere in the tunnels, and for no reason he keeps their locations in mind.
Sometimes the tube takes a turn that he doesn’t recognize, and he feels his heart beating faster all of a sudden. He would stare at the railway through the window pane, counting the seconds, until the tube runs past a corner he knows, or until he reaches his destination. Those moments still happen to him after two years of taking the tube to go… anywhere, really. He thinks he has the whole map learned by heart by now, but the underground keeps proving him wrong.
There’s a community online for tube dwellers. He doesn’t know any of the dozen of members, online or offline, but he has come by some of them on other forums before. They don’t seem to be of any particular profile: there are men, there are women, ranged from 20 to maybe older than 50. The posts are few and far between, but some of them detail everything reachable by the tube. There are things even he doesn’t know.
He screenshots some of the posts and keeps the photos in a separate folder, for no particular reason.
The community hasn’t had a new activity for about three months by now. The members call themselves Rats. He checks through some of their personal pages on that site; the ones he checks have all been abandoned.
Maybe they’re tired of the lack of sunlight in the tube, he thinks on the way to work. The tube sways and trembles quietly, its hum fills the air. Humans aren’t made for the underground afterall.
concept of something vaguely formed in my head. I call it Rats of Spice City.
Heartburn occurs when stomach acid escapes its gastric prison and invades the esophagus, the long muscular tube that transports Twinkies on the first leg of the journey from mouth to toilet. The acid is supposed to be held safely in check by a sphincter at the end of the esophagus, which normally only opens to accept food or reject Four Lokos. Occasionally (or not so occasionally, depending on your diet), this esophageal sphincter slacks and allows a liquid reflux fart – hence that pesky burning sensation in your chest.
Enter bubblegum. Scientists didn’t think it would work, but administering gum to heartburn sufferers alleviated symptoms. Chewing gum not only stimulates the production of alkaline saliva to neutralize acid, but the act of mastication also physically pushes fluid back into the stomach. Centuries from now, people will assume we invented chewing gum specifically for this problem (as opposed to looking cool while ruining our teeth).
And if you’re in a situation where chewing gum isn’t that practical (maybe you’re trying to fall asleep, or performing some other activity in bed), you can ameliorate the burn by laying on your left side. Your esophagus skews slightly to your right as it snakes down to the stomach, so sleeping on your left will raise it above acid level, and voila! Problem not even remotely solved, but we can forget about it for a while, and that’s good enough.
Saturday, August 26th we woke up and went to breakfast together, because we were off work at the same time, for the first time in a long time. At about 4:30 in the afternoon our power went out, the expected time of turn on was 4 AM. We decided instead of waiting it out in the heat Wed just go over to his parents house in Bellaire. We’d been through the memorial floods and their house hadn’t flooded in neatly 60 years.
We arrived and ate tacos together with his parents and his great-grandmother with dementia. We went to bed at about 10:30 pm. At about 4:15 am, my husband woke me up and said the water was getting really high. We went outside to investigate. It wasn’t as bad as it had been before but it was getting there. We waited it out and by 4:30 the water had rusen enough to flood my car and our garage.
By 6:30 Am water started entering the house. We got everything that we could get off the floors and removed all electrical plugs. We turned off all the breakers and started trying to save art, photographs, and animals. By 7:00 we had two inches in the house.
By 8:30 Richard’s great grandmother had woken up and we had about 6 inches in the house. It was rising fast. We had to start orchestrating a plan to get everyone and and everything we could get in that moment out. I remembered that we went to New Branfels a few weeks ago and we had four intertubes in my car. We had no vehicles and no electricity so we blew them up by mouth and started loading his elderly grandmother into the tubes to transport her to a relatives house a mile and a half away. We trekked and swam the bayou with her in toe hoping to get her some where safe. She had just been put.on hospice in June. She did not need to get sick.
By the time we returned to his parents house the water had crept up to a foot and one inch. We convinced his parents to leave and we started going up the road towards my best friends house and Richard’s mother’s mother’s house. We had four people and a dog. We made it two and a half miles in 2 and a half hours. After we’d bathed and got into dry clothes it finally hit us. We were lucky. We were alive. Everyone was safe and everyone was healthy. We’d lost a few things and it was traumatising but we’re together and that’s all that matters.
Richard’s parents will need to demolish their home and stay with us.
My car is trashed.
Our home got a little but of water damage.
All in all, it went better than expected. Pictures to come soon.
The Piccadilly Line isn’t yellow! The Northern can’t be lilac!! It’s strange to see our familiar tube lines in unfamiliar colours, but this map dates from 1911 before each line had its own standardised identity.