The Rat Race

Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, left, right, left, right. That’s what people do all the time from the moment they wake up to the moment they embrace Morpheus’s sweet oblivion, scurrying to get from one place to another. The sad reality is that most are getting nowhere, just going endlessly in circles.
Right now Isidro is one of many who must scurry in the bowels of the city. A crowd presses on his small frame from all sides, slowly squeezing him. Barely able to breathe properly, he wonders what it would feel like to die during rush hour, crushed by people in a packed subway car. If he had enough air, he would probably laugh at the thought. The sudden jolt makes everyone lose their balance for a bit, the circle of bodies breaks briefly and Isidro is free, able to squeeze between them and somehow reach the relative comfort of the door. 

The train drags on its journey across tunnels with metallic groans and screams, a tired beast protesting over the parasites crowding its innards. Thin white stripes of neon slip by in a blur, separated by half a second each. There is something soothing about this, almost rhythmical, like a heartbeat. The city’s pulse, always beating hard and fast. Isidro wonders if they would all die if the city’s heart stopped beating. And yet, how can a city that is heartless as this one can ever die? It never really lived to begin with.

Ten years since he started to scurry from place to place; an office, a cubicle, a lobby, a waiting room, a meeting room. Every year his feet drag a bit more on the ground, getting a bit slower, but never really stopping. Not today at least. Like everyone else, he knows that if you stop moving in these treacherous waters you sink and die, it’s that simple.

Everyone is already wearing their prison’s uniform, a suit and a tie or anything that goes well according to their station in the pecking order, though in the end under a system were all are slaves, does the rank matter? Some people seem to settle for these subtle lies. He and the rest carry their sentences etched over their skin. Nothing else to do but turn the wheel once more.

The train begins to slow its speed until a final jolt stops it fully, groans and protest sound off in perfect timing. It’s like the city council was training some odd chorus to synch in perfect harmony . Isidro steps out and follows the others, seeking the light of above. He steps out and is greeted by the looming skyscrapers, monuments of glass and steel that look like fangs, eager to swallow everyone. Above them a blue sky shines clear, a smattering of clouds pass slowly without a care in the world. 

Stopping to admire the sky for a moment, he is reminded of an impossibly blue ocean he once dreamed off long ago. A forbidden uncharted horizon. The clouds above remind him of islands, and for one desperate moment he wishes he could become a bird and soar above it all. His mind is already flying free, if only his body could follow. Maybe if he reached out, he can cast his bod—

“Hey, move it, buddy! I’m late for work.”, the loud sharp voice of a woman in high heels, grey tight skirt with matching jacket passes by, shoving him to the side. Isidro jumps startled, his gaze falling again to street level, and he sees them. Scurrying to one place or another, no one looking to the sky, no one really getting anywhere, just going in circles. Isidro gives the sky one last glance, sighs and starts walking again. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, left, right, left, right, left, right. 


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