Cold masks smells. Something I found myself surprisingly thankful for, once my body began to adjust to the frigid nature of the bus. To coin a phrase, we were the unwashed masses. I, reeking of a Bake house in its last stages of life, the wino with her collection of candy colored stains on layers of jackets, the two bullyboys clad in leather and sweat from the kicking’s they gave the night before.
The boys didn’t try to hide what they were, leering from the raised back end of the bus as if they along were the sovereign rulers of this small icy kingdom. They gripped the safety bars with bloodied knuckles and smiled at any that bothered looking up at them. The world was simple for these boys. Strength, that’s all that mattered.
Was it so different for our kind?
“Our kind.” The words escaped in a croak as I realized how exhausted I really was. A J-pop princess looked up from a hand screen. It was a brief look then she returned to whatever she had been doing.
The sun was breaking as the bus pulled into the station. Already the morning crowds were swelling around the transit bays. Facing another blast of frigid air, I’m reminded of the lingering chemical stench on my body. Although, no one else at the station seems to notice over the general aroma of men and women being herded off to their jobs.
A tube takes me underground; the trains in Tiergarten ran deep. Well below the old rail lines, these tunnels were virtual public bomb shelters. Inside the affluent districts, there was a series of security checkpoints before reaching the trains. Out here on the outskirts of the city, they only cared if you could pay the toil. Not smart security since it’s the same trains.
The appearance of security for those that believed in it, out on the outskirts, there was no need for pretense. Until I knew what Ember was, there was no going home. I needed answers and soon enough I would be another worm sinking into the pristine garden.