I'm standing in line at the intake booth for the departed, i've been awake for forty-five minutes and spent ten minutes in line. It looks like if my paper work was filed properly my next life should begin in less than two days time.
I've heard whispers that the world has changed since I left it, almost two centuries ago, I hear they need good strong people that can make a difference in a world of hostile and sometimes downright aggressive people.
Standing here now, I see five people in front of me, at least I'm stable, the woman in front of me is in tears and doesn't stop sobbing but for a minute before breaking down again. At least the line is moving, I wonder why I slept for so long? Two centuries of total rest is a long time.
Ah, the line has moved again and now it's down to just three people in front of me, I'm looking forward to a new life and all the times that come with it, good and bad. I've been doing this for almost as long as I can remember, living life on earth and sleeping for a while in death before coming back to earth to live again. I seem to recall it was four ages ago, that's ages of the earth, nothing you can relate it to in terms of years, it's a long time.
I've seen people in this line often, never anyone I knew personally; there must be a lot of people in this place. Looks like the line has moved again, I should be getting my paper work when the woman in front of me steps before the assignment operator, that's the person who keeps the schedule for new assignments.
I wonder how they keep this place so clean, it's always looking like a cleaning crew of a thousand just finished a through detailing of everything. No, it's not heaven, it's just a gateway to a new life on earth.
Ah the woman in front of me just stepped into the spot to discuss her arrival to a new life, she's stopped crying, maybe when she read her paper work she got good news. Looking to my right the second attendant is reaching out his arm to hand me mine. I reach out and take the paper work, it's stamped with a green circle with a number in the center, the number is the serial number for how many lives i've lived, looking at it some people get overly impressed and think too highly of themselves. To me it's about the quality of life I have and not the number of lives I get to live. Besides when wars come it usually takes me fifty to a hundred lives to see it through before things really become peaceful again. My number is a modest five digit number, it's a good number because it means I'm going to get to live again.
Sometimes people don't get an assignment, which usually means wild life detail, meaning they have to go through the entire cycle of animal life from start to finish only becoming what ate them last. It's hell. They don't get a number and the stamp is in red ink on the paper work. It looks the the woman in front of me just finished and she's not in tears, maybe she got a good life. I hope so. As I step forward to the attendant I hand him my paper work which he opens, and begins to read, he looks at me, looks at the paper work, smiles ever so slightly and says, "Your on the two o' clock train for planet earth, looks like they need you this time around. Have a good life." he hands the paper work back to me and I step through the gate to the boarding area, I won't have time to look at the assignment until after I get on the train, right now I have to find the boarding area for the train I'm scheduled for.
Walking through the crowds that are lined up, along the hallways it looks like many of these people are all getting new lives on planet earth, anyone on wild life detail almost always goes against their will, it's not the kind of thing you forget.
Looking down the hallway nearly half way down I see my gate, it's marked with green lights and has a number on it, I look down for the first time on the paper work to read the number below my serial number, the number for the gate to the train, it's number seventeen, how interesting I'm scheduled to be born on the seventeenth into the world. Most new people wouldn't know this, i'v been through this a few times, hell i've been through wild life detail twice.
I hear the bell, and the doors open letting people who were lined up in front of gate seventeen, they pour into the landing area only to see the train hasn't arrived yet. But it's coming. I walk in and hold my paper work in my left hand and for the first time reach up to touch my face. I don't feel anything. It never ceases to amaze me that this place is real. You can't touch anything, not even if you tried.
That must be the secret of how they keep everything so clean. In the distance you can hear the train coming in, it's a low rumble that sounds like a thousand engines and a million wheels. It's odd, this train will be taking people up the line as they are born in different years, people never go backwards, but they do make stops in the future. Looks like there will be a few hundred people on my train, being that I'm in seat two hundred means my stop should arrive near the end of all the other stops.
Looks like I'm going in near the end of this era and the end of a world. Those are always most difficult times for everyone. This happens to me a lot, they only put me in when I'm really needed and it usually comes at the end. Hate to miss all the fun with times in between. I have no memory of my last life, it's been blocked from recall in this place. It's too stressful, they can't have people breaking down in puddles on the floor, the clean up would be too expensive not to mention people wouldn't go back if they knew how bad the last time was.
I take a spot near the end of the line and stand with my back to the wall while the train pulls into it's landing zone. Looking down the rows of others like me, it's strange to see them. They might have been people I knew, not likely though; these people look fairly fresh, I'm sure some of them had to be helped into the gate being that they were unsure which train they were on. Everyone that lined up is fairly new.
I look up and see the train is standing waiting for the conductor to open the doors. There isn't any passengers on the return trip, no one ever gets here via train. As the conductor opens the doors, people who are totally unsure of themselves or where they will sit are moving forward to finding their seats. I'm going to wait a few minutes, looking at the wall where the digital clock is printing the time in green ink shows that we have one hour before the train will move an inch.
I might wait ten minutes. It's not likely anyones assignment on this train will change, that almost never happens. Just hope my assignment is good; I'm looking forward to a new life.
The line moves as people shuffle into the train holding the only thing that matters until they get to their next life, their paper work and instruction for their next life. I can hardly wait to read it.
As the crowd has boarded the train I go to find my place, entering the train and looking down the right side of the train for the seating chart. I have to look at my paper work again to see I'm in seat two hundred I walk down the isle and smile at other passengers. Some of them are reading their paper work, this is one of the places people could have a nervous breakdown.
Anyways I find my seat with little to no trouble and get comfortable, not difficult to do. Looking at the clock on the back of the chair in front of me I see it's thirty minutes until two o' clock. I take my paper work out and look at the front of it, and as I do so the doors to the train are closed and the conductor makes his all aboard speech. It's about ten minutes later, after everyone has made sure their on the right train, the conductor wishes everyone a happy birthday, welcome to the seventeenth via the express route.
Now I unfold my paper work to see about two pages of detailed information about my next life. The top is stamped with the train time stamp for departure from the train and arrival into the world. Mine says 5:50 AM, uh! It's one thirty now and my stop doesn't get here for over fifteen hours.
This I can deal with. I will need the time to plan my life based upon the assignment that has been given to me. I read it once and think about it a bit. I read it twice and think about what needs done. The train begins to move, where rolling now. I hear the whistle blow seventeen times and and were headed for a new life.
The hours pass, passengers have no choice to dis-embark, their not given an option. It just happens. Could you imagine the delays we would have if people were given the choice to get off the train? No one would make their stops. It would no doubt be a huge mess and total waste of time. This system works at least.
It's been ten hours I'm tired from sitting, my assignment weighs on me. So much to do. It sounds like times will be tough. At least their isn't a major war taking place. It could have been worse.
Things are going good enough. Everyone has stayed stable. It's never good to start a new life in a major tizzy, the people that have been here before know this. A few of the new people are still laughing over the conductors speech. That's good. They won't know what hit them until it's far too late.
The hours roll by, and my stop is next.