The Station of Elyssima

#fiction #garbage

Chris hung up her last phone call of the day and started packing up. She was on her final stop of an important business trip to the capital city of Elysionia that lasted a week. She’s having a vacation once this trip concludes, and now she’s dying for getting back her cozy little home.

In Elysionia, people get around mostly by trains. There is an extremely elaborate railway system that connects every single place of importance in Elysionia. Its foundations laid out hundreds years ago, the Elysionia Railways has been serving the country loyally and contentedly over the years. Being inside continental Europe, it also links to other surrounding countries.

Chris works for upper management of a private company. As part of her job she travels around the country frequently and take the trains more than a few dozens of times each year. Being a frequent rider of Elysionia Railways, she’s familiar with the system enough that she can recite the time table of various larger stations. With still well more than an hour from her planned departure time, she is not in a hurry.

Chris is anxious for this very special train ride too, as the new train station in the capital began to operate yesterday. She booked specifically for a train that would depart the city from the new station. She has heard that this new station was designed and built like no other train stations in Elysionia, and she was ready to find out what’s so special about this new station that supposedly will revolutionize railway transportation in Elysionia.

A taxi is called and Chris tells the driver her destination. “Huh, the new station?” Says the driver, “I heard a multitude was there yesterday just to check it out. Are you going there just for a visit too?” “A multitude of people… it must be really well designed,” thought Chris. She’s busy being distracted by her own thoughts and didn’t pay attention to answering the driver’s unsolicited question at all except letting out an unclear murmur of “yes”.

Before long she is dropped off at the station. When she laid her eyes on the station for the first time Chris was utterly stunned – the exterior of the station looks exactly like a gigantic Gothic castle. She is standing at least a few hundred meters away from the main entrance yet the entire building barely fits in her field of view. A triplet of sharp spires with beautifully engraved patterns point straight into the sky. Towers surrounding them must still be as tall as the tallest radio tower she has ever seen. Flamboyant traceries made up most of the exterior openings. Born into a rural farming family, Chris could not fathom the sheer amount of work that was put into the construction of this station (nor could she understand why the city decided to erect a huge Gothic castle in pretty much the dead center of Elyssima). There is not a single railway track in sight – they are all cleverly well hidden. The square in front of the station is still flooded with a large crowd of people, all admiring this gorgeous building.

But Chris is here to take a train ride and she really does not have the time to give this building a good look that it deserves, so she proceeds into the station. However again her eyes are instantly hooked – the pointed arches, the vault ribs which forms an endless mesmerizing geometric pattern, oh and the intricately decorated crystal chandeliers hanging around the center of the ticketing hall, which are even more opulent than the ones that appeared in her childhood dreams. Chris could not take a single step without getting amazed by something new that goes into her sight.

A clock with hands long as a bus in the hallway brought Chris back to real life – it’s 20 minutes before the train she is planning to take will depart. The railway system of Elysionia works like a massive subway – as long as one has paid the appropriate fare, they will be permitted to travel between any places below a distance corresponding to the fare on that day. Still, trains are run at different frequencies for each destination. And in Chris’ case, if she missed this one she would have to wait 3 more hours, which would mean she won’t be in her house until midnight. Willing as she is to stick around, she still wants to be home more, just by a little bit. She says to herself, “I shall give this place a good visit someday,” and immediately got back into business – looking up the gate on the information display and following the signs. Everything is still so familiar.

Chris followed the signage to a three-way junction. It appears that each path leads to a different set of gates. She took a sharp turn following where the arrow points and heads to a lower floor, not even noticing her dress almost being caught in the escalator.

She finds herself in a delightfully decorated corridor with gates on one side and fine art exhibits on the other. She has some walking to do though – the corridor is for gates 80 to 1, and her gate is 15 – so she really doesn’t have time to appreciate the art, or to think about how they managed to squeeze so many gates into a single corridor, or why are there so many gates in this station in the first place.

As the station was put into use only a day ago, it’s still early in the transitional period: there are not a whole lot of trains here, nor are there too many people who are actually taking a train. It soon becomes apparent to her that the gates are fairly far apart from each other, and even at her fastest walking pace, she will probably not make it on time. So she started running. Chris is not good runner. She never has been. And the fact that she is wearing an ankle-length dress definitely isn’t helping. She looks at the wall of arts and sees her own reflection on the fresh glazed wall tiles – her long, unblemished white dress flying high from all the velocity that she usually never gets to have. Similarly set in motion is her long, black hair, which is spreading in midair. The reflection is so clear that she can even make out the frills and cutwork on the hemline – even threads on the needle lace, which are not unlike the ribs of the traceries she saw moments ago, just vastly different in scale. She got a strong sensation of déjà vu from what she just saw, as it reminded her of a series of daydreams she often had when she was a little girl. But this isn’t a great time to fantasize about her prior dreams, is it?

50, 49, 48 … Chris is steadily passing by the gates. It still puzzles her why are there so many gates in this station. She must have seen number as large as 200 when she was at the junction. Is there ever going to be enough rolling stock in Elysionia to warrant so many gates? Also why are they using gates at all? Train stations usually have just platforms don’t they? Is this why they said the new station would revolutionize railway transportation in Elysionia?

30, 29, 28 … Chris is running out of her breath. She takes a look at her watch and realizes that she still has 10 minutes left. “Surely I can make it to gate 15 in ten minutes,” she says to herself. There are few people in this section of the station, and all the benches are vacant. She stops to take a quick breather. Mindlessly she glances at the floor brilliantly lit up from atop and saw her own image. “Holy heck,” mutters Chris, “it must take a lot of work to keep this station under such condition in the future.”

When Chris passes by gate 25 she notices something is off. She halts her steps and looks back.


The language of the sign changed for some reason. This baffles Chris and makes her freeze in place for a good second. She has learned a little bit of French in her youth and can indeed understand the word. She just couldn’t understand why – Elysionia is an English speaking country and as long as English remains the lingua franca of the world, there really isn’t a good reason to change the language midway here. Maybe this gate is reserved for trains to and from France? Who knows…

It didn’t take long until she notes another change in language. This time it’s German.


Only that Chris doesn’t know any German and wouldn’t be able to tell if the sign stands for “Slaughterhouse 21” with their scary long compound words. But she also feels a little bit reassured as her suspicion that these gates may be reserved for trains that connect to a different country could be right, or so she thought.

As she assumes the bizarreness would end here, she finds out she was wrong, VERY wrong. Because this is what she sees next:


“What on earth is happening,” says Chris, “is this station going to pull a Platform 9¾ on me? Where would trains using this gate go anyway, Vatican City?”

Just as she couldn’t stop admiring the exterior of the station when she just arrived, these signs don’t stop surprising her, and in an increasingly disturbing manner.

\(\begin{vmatrix} 3 & 5 & 7 & 4 \\ 1 & \pi & 6 & 3 \\ 0 & 7 & 5 & 9 \\ 5 & 4 & 6 &1 \end{vmatrix}\)


\(\displaystyle\int_{3}^{\frac{45}{7}} \sinh^{-1}(x) \cosh^{-1}(x)\,\mathrm{d}x\)

Chris wasn’t good at math when she was in high school. She doesn’t even know what half of these symbols could ever mean. She doesn’t think she has seen the symbols on the last sign in any of the languages alive in the world nowadays either. What is this now, a time machine? As her confusion reaches the peak, Chris hears from the PA system:

“Dear passenger Chris Xephyr, the train you are taking is departing in 3 minutes. Please board the train from Gate 15. Thank you.

Cara Chris Xephyr viatrix, currus qui veheris abibit in tribus minutae. Amabo te, introi vehiculum ab porta XV. Gratias tibi.”

“Who designed this godforsaken place…” exclaims Chris, “how does it know my name? This isn’t an airport is it?” She checks the gate closest to her, and there is no jet bridge to be seen, only rail tracks. Chris has never heard a single word from the PA system ever at any station she has been to in Elysionia. She scrambles to find her booking information, only to find out that it does say “New Elyssima” there. There is no time of departure or name of the passenger, as the booking system never asked for them. The station should never have known her name or which train she is taking. Her confusion grown into fear, Chris starts running again, even faster than before, almost like she’s being chased by a deadly monster that would instantly consume her if she gets caught.

As Chris runs on, she feels the passing of time is slowing down, her limbs increasingly heavier, and gates seemingly becoming farther separated from each other. She could not hear a thing, not even the sough of wind passing by her ears. Her vision becoming darker, Chris starts to wonder how long she could keep running. She hasn’t seen a single person since the signs started speaking nonsense. She starts to contemplate her life choices, as one would inevitably start doing under such situation: why she couldn’t end the last call a bit earlier; why she had to book a ticket from the new station; is it really worth the agony she is experiencing right now; what if she went down the wrong way at the junction; why she wouldn’t choose to inherit her family land and be a farm girl staying at her hometown – after all if that were the case she wouldn’t have to endure any of what she has gone through in the last 20 minutes. She no longer has the desire to revisit this place afterwards – if this is the future of railway transportation in Elysionia she might also avoid travelling by train altogether in the future – still she’s kind of curious what could be inside those tall towers she saw when she was outside the station. But obviously this is not the time to find out. The only thought in her head right now is to get out of this cursed place somehow.

Chris runs into a person when she’s deep in her thoughts. She apologizes for her carelessness and is about to move on, only to realize that she would likely be able to find nobody that could help her if she missed this chance. Desperately she asks the person whether they know where gate 15 is. The person, not to Chris’ surprise at this point, started to speak complete gibberish in response.

Chris doesn’t want to give up this easily. She continued, with the heavy breathing she got from all this running and almost in a pleading voice:

“Did you hear the PA? I am that Chris Xephyr. Does hearing the PA calling out your name in a train station seem perfectly normal to you?!”

Again, the person started to speak gibberish. Their demeanor seems confident, so they probably understood Chris just fine. But she isn’t to able to make out anything whatsoever from their speech, not even their body language. Frustrated, she thanks the person and resumes her seemingly impossible quest for gate 15.

Before she is able to run more than a couple of steps, Chris collapses to the floor. The hem of her dress, still moving under inertia, flies ahead and covers her torso. A gentle breeze from the deep side of the corridor, presumably for the purpose of ventilation, blows it back to where it belongs, with the cutwork flapping around in the breeze. The person from whom she just sought help is now nowhere to be found, almost like they have never been there.

Chris wakes up finding herself in the warm afternoon sun lying against her broom. She was again daydreaming during her housemaid duty. Fortunately there isn’t anyone home to catch her in the act. She rushes to the living room to find today’s newspaper, its headline reading “New Elyssima Train Station Project Dismissed”. She lets out a sigh of relief and continued her work.