Attempt on the A Train (Excerpt 4) – Human Flux

Excerpt from Amin Erfani, “Attempt on the A Train,” in Unsaid Magazine, Issue 8, ed. David McLendon, March 2021.

“[…] Void entering void. The slight delay of collective realization. Long-awaited event already here. Adrenaline rush. About fucking time. Heart arrhythmia. Get out. Rising blood pressure. Get lost. Scrum of straphangers taking car exits by storm. Clogged by the inner congregation. Bottle neck at choke points. Outer crowds lining the platform. Let riders exit before entering. Attacks of crowds clashing from opposite points. Attracting and repulsing. Impacts produced by stationary agents and moving agents charging into each other. Motions canceling out into full immobility. Blocking doors is blocking traffic. Pinch-points where people per unit area is at its peak. Attempts at boarding and alighting at the same time will result in congestion. Body radius and shuffle factor. Push and shove. Stand clear of the exit doors. Especially if you are not exiting. Dirty looks. Passive-aggressiveness. Body-checks. Bouncing back on heels. Bustling and tackling. Stumbling and falling. Don’t get stepped on. You risk incurring serious or sometimes fatal injuries. Avoid being dragged into the eye of the storm. Making movements in any direction will become impossible. I have a distinct fear of being trapped. Being touched on all four sides along a moving mob is a dangerous situation to be in. Please let me go. Standard crush survival rules. Crowd wave is distinct from an amorphous flow of blob. You better move out of my way for your own sake. Because a crowd has the ability to think. If you don’t want me to hurt you. A .25-caliber with one round in the chamber tucked between trousers back and belt. Step out. Step in. Don’t block the doors. You delay everyone. The endless sonorization of air. Please don’t leave me. Broken bag-lady. Pulling on thirty-ish year-old arm. Please use all available doors. Cries her lungs out. Please don’t leave me here. Distinct fear of being alone: Aka monophobia. Solitude on account of the very denseness of the company around. Courtesy is contagious and it begins with you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you bitch. Fuck you asshole. I was trying to help. I don’t need your help asshole. Fat bitch. Small dick. Manners make a better ride. Row of ad: Declutter your life. Address the mess. Coaching on demand. By reducing body radius agents tackle corners more smoothly. You were made to move. Join the movement. Move more. Miss less. Brought by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Don’t just stand there in the middle. The shuffle factor accounts for how fast agents are able to move side to side. Function of forward velocity. Crowd surges in shock waves. Shoulder to shoulder. Front to back. Over 8 million people in the city. We help you avoid them all. Tap of a finger. New state of segregation for a brand new century. The flush twenty-something tech-savy upper crust antisocial elitists. It’s time to start feeling better. Don’t faint. You’ll get trampled. Gasp for oxygen. Follow the herd. Don’t push back. Better miss your destination this once. Rather than not make it again. Double chime. Saturation by transit noise. Please do not hold the doors. Common 45 seconds dwell time stretched beyond predictability. Step in all the way. Standing on or at the yellow platform edge strip is dangerous. Impromptu arrival and departure. Emergency egressing. If any man have an ear let him hear. Better walk back. Don’t get close to the edge. Stop pushing me forward. The End is here. Don’t become a statistic. Beware of the third rail. The day of the Great Tribulation. 141 people struck in one year. That day is today. Beware of those who would distort providence under the guise of science. 55 killed. Beware of trash catching fire on tracks. Under the guise of civilization. Keep off tracks. More than 600 volts of electricity. Under the guise of development we find waste after waste. Rats on rails. Be smart. Don’t let a piece of your clothing be stuck between the closing doors. We find desolation of the human heart. Be safe. Stand back. You will get dragged away by the moving car. Now the sun shall be darkened. Drop something. Apocalypse professing messiah. The moon. She shall not give her light. Leave it. Mind the gap. Upstate prison psychiatric unit warden. Put on unsolicited leave. The stars. They shall fall from heaven. Rope over neck hanging cardboard. You don’t know what’s going to happen to you in the next minute. Flapping glossy tracts in both hands. The day of the Rapture. The end of His mercy. Unraveling winter coat. Torn up Adidas shoes. Flipped plastic five-gallon bucket pedestal. Speechifying. Pontificating. Prophesying. The powers of heaven. Above the furious flux of heads. They shall be shaken. You could get wiped out forever. Better safe than sorry. Ride inside. Get there alive. Announcements droning on. Matthew 24:29. Bright red pom-pom beanie. Dirtied gray beard. Divine omnipotence created me. I have come to lead you to the other shore. Stars and banners tinted plastic shades. Non-transit user inside a transit facility. Into eternal darkness. Licensed for pubic speaking and leafleting. Spontaneous syncopated riff. 12-month period by the Commissioner of Social Services. High-speed and trance-like. Lead you into fire and into ice. Environment as noise hazards. Vibration-generated. Heavy machinery of cars moving. Fine-grained sounds. Peaking at levels greater than a hundred dB. I am the way into the city of woe. Obstructing or tending to obstruct the flow of traffic. I am the way to go among the lost. Platform noise may cause permanent irreversible hearing loss. The roar and the squeal and the clang. Causing serious adverse effects on mental health. I am the way into eternal pain. Metal-on-metal cacophony. Detrimental after 18 minutes of exposure per day. Physiological arousal of cortisol and catecholamine. There shall now be a time of trouble. Causing hypertension. Ischemic heart disease. Such as never was since there was a nation. Disruptions in stress hormones. Sleep disorders. I see an infernal hurricane hurtling spirits in its rapine. If exposed to such decibel level on a long stretch of time and on a daily basis. Whirling them round and smiting and molesting them. Ground-borne vibrations. Sounds assaulting masses. Bell-like ringing of wheels. I see every man with his hands on his loin. The aural offenses of city mass transit are legion. As a woman in travail. The great variegation of noise range. Their faces turned into paleness. Short bursts. Long grumbles. Relentless and horrendous. Hollow howls. Now is the time to repent for your sins. Sheets of sound. Shrill whistles drowned by the ambient soundscape into whispering hisses. Emergency exit sirens squawking. Station entrance closure due to overcrowding. Underground transit station oozing out people. Hordes of riders milling about. Blaring door alarms. Sax busker blocks exit-only turnstile. Pushing ambient sounds into higher registers. Peregrinating along sonic variations. In pursuit of a single phrase stretched to the logical extreme. Tested in all aspects. Now pressured into brittleness. Buskers classically use their instrument case to collect tips. The delicate and liquid upper reach of brass. As adjunct to the receptacle. Ascending into unexplored territories. Must have a system for emptying tip collection from their case. Fraying horn into rasp. To avoid giving the impression of being flushed with cash. Divergent notes. Played all at once. Self-splitting notes. Or becoming an overwhelming temptation for the wrong people. By sustained pressure on the abdominal muscles and the internal intercostal muscles. Now past the time for the to-and-fro horn-grappling. Sax box agape with a god-bless note. Single phrase played in all keys together. Nickels and dimes scattered across case. Now past the time for the wide-elbow sweeping. When everybody else hears not notes but noise. Consciously exhausting every acoustic path. Jaw pushing mightily against the tone chamber with a baffle. Perspiring and spitting orifice pressing against the soaked metal tip. Concomitant with the sustained contraction of the sax player’s sphincteral orifice. By same applied abdominal and thoracic push. Mouth pressure anatomically concurrent with the pressure on the anus. Amelodic buzz-shouts altered into something categorically controlled and obscure at the same time. Now past the time for the frantic horn-swinging. Forcing air in big bursts from the lungs. Bodily id in full display. Pulsating limbs. Spasmodic organs. All now tamed by a tritonic command. The blood and the sweat and the spit. Propelled through the lips into the width of the mouthpiece. Large metal tube forcefully crammed into the face. Crouched posture. Giving at every moment to heeding bystanders the impression of inching more into complete immobility. Stiff limbs. Stiff orifices. Hanging onto the metal Link. Sanded and filed tip to preferred personal need. The right measure of variability of vibrations. The beak edges over-thinned and over-pressed. Close to the brink of breaking between tightening lips. Vanishing sound reverberating across rails. Resonating along ear canals. But not by means of atmospheric air waves. Traveling inside brass-player’s own body-mass instead. Bones and blood and filaments contiguous to cold metal. Conduction of brass-induced-pressure vibrations through teeth and membranes and flesh. Inner waves making way into the inner ear. Heard by corporeal extension of the metallic tube. Unlike the audience listening from a distance. Mishearing notes as noise. Head tissues and skull walls and nervous fabric. Bypassing the atmosphere and the outer ear. Body conveying sound fluctuations. Produced by forced over-breathing and exhaling. Causing symptomatic signs of hypocapnia. Inducing tingling and light-headedness and vertigo. Now but dying to hold breath. Soldiering on sound instead. Despite the nearing end. Blood pooling in the brain. Causing loss of sense of time. Around the premotor areas. The language areas. Inducing an alkalosis surge. Euphoria. Flow state. Disassociation from the immediate world around. Aural hallucinations. Varieties of physio-psychological symptoms by command of a higher agentive power. Now playing like praying. The time of a single breath. May this breath be the last. Sonic offering. Overdubbing a high C above its final flourish. Now past the time for elongated modalisms. Arpeggio cascades. Into the studiously stretched breadth of a single note instead. Galvanic. Questing. Stratospheric. Ascending. Now to the last shivers of the lungs. The granular erosion of intelligible sound. Guttural droning of brass. That final blast of air. May the last breath be reached. The pulmonary sacs collapse. Finished. Evacuating no air but void. Into internal silence. The end. Time: 3:12-3:13. Suspended time. Ad infinitum. The universe has many wonderers. And God is all. Thoughts. Deeds. Vibrations. Etc. The miracle of the breath dead. Resurrecting. Without inhalation. Sacs defunct. Lungs purged. Ex nihilo. Hissing out of the void. Lifted back into sound. Without airwaves. Within. Crouched. Pursuance of the last note. Comeback from the abyss. May no end ever be reached. Again. Expanding the same stretch. Without taking a breath. Despite the end. Despite the death. Despite no more air left. May it always return. To no end. The exultant. Shouting sound. Moving outwards. The motivic urgency. Propelling. On”

Featured in Unsaid Magazine Issue 8, which you can buy here: