Issue 139, Summer 1996
Bob Darling spent the day and the evening on the fastest train in Europe. The train lugged slowly through yellow towns, then it began to pull together its force and go. The landscape slid past. In one stroke the train braced and broke through the air into a river of dinning sound. It climaxed at 380 km/h. Darling heard this news from a German across the aisle, but he sensed the speed in a deeper bone. His body was attuned to the subtle flux of high speed, to the jazz pulse, the fizz.
He closed his eyes, registered the scrape of the antimacassar against his brittle hairs, and dozed. Dying tired him, so did the drugs he took to keep from urinating on the seat. But he never let himself go that far, to close his eyes, unless the buzz of speed was in him, the drone of engines, the zhzhzh of jets.
On the seat beside him lounged a young woman named Carla. So far she had not given him too many terrible disappointments. Otherwise, she was a baby, vague on facts and ahistorical; she talked too…