The man put down his cup of coffee and looked at it distastefully. It had been bad to start off with, but after ten minutes of lukewarm sipping, it was unbearable. The oily sheen on its cold surface regarded him coldly, like the eyes of a dying man.
It rattled as he pushed it across the Formica patterned table top, to brush against other items.
A crumpled receipt; an empty plate with a few sordid crumbs sticking to it; a fork and spoon, shiny and yet tarnished at the same time. Detritus from the table’s previous occupants.
Overhead, the chaotic and unfocused drumming of the rain on the roof reflected his own meandering thoughts.
A heavy sea of chatter rose around him, conversation engulfing his sensorium. Words and fragments of words echoed around him, as people flashed past his field of vision.
A businessman. A young woman. A young man. A gaggle of teenagers, leaving a trail of fag smoke and hormones behind them.
The man flapped his hands half-heartedly into the drifts of cigarette smoke, then stood up.
He spent twenty-five minutes in the gift shop, looking blankly at magazines and doorstop-sized pulp thrillers. Eventually, he bought a newspaper and a packet of sweets.
The gangly youth at the checkout didn’t even bother to lift his head and look at him. The man deposited a smattering of change into his hand, and he blindly rung up the sale, the hollow and meaningless transaction completed.
The man walked away into the sea of chatter, leaving that shop, full of things he’d never want or need, behind him.
The taste of the foul coffee was suddenly strong and bitter in his throat, and he pulled his guts tight around the liquid slopping around in his stomach.
He checked his watch. It was a flashy model that automatically adjusted itself depending on what time zone the wearer was in.
He only had a few minutes left. He’d better go.
As the warm, air-conditioned indoor atmosphere gave way to drizzling cold of the car park, the man pulled up the collar of his jacket against the hostile elements.
The rain lashed sideways against the bare expanse of concrete, as he struggled across to his rented car.
Fishing the keys from his coat pocket, he glanced up. The dark silhouette of a plane rose against the overcast sky. The scream of its engines filled the air, a mournful cry against the universal grey of the landscape.
The man held his paper up. The ink had run, and the headlines were mostly indistinguishable.
Wars and rumours of wars. He tossed it away into a puddle, a vague and unfounded sense of disgust stirring in his breast, only to be quelled again.
Again, that nausea, twisting the muscles of his stomach around an exorbitantly expensive cup of coffee. He choked back the bile thrusting up inside his neck with a short hacking cough.
He turned his face towards the road, rain sweeping into his eyes. The road signs were incomprehensible. They could have been written in any language.
Soaring above him was a massive concrete superstructure, the winding lanes parting, then converging, then parting again. Cars drove around and around it, endlessly tracing the winding spaghetti pathways.
Sighing, the man resigned himself to his fate, and unlocked the car door.
Pain lanced through his body; Pain, indescribable and unending.
In one instant, the man saw all his hopes and dreams, all his memories, all his wasted life, rush away down a supersonic tunnel, too fast to reclaim, dashed out of existence swiftly and heartlessly.
The man clutched at his chest, slammed into the car door, and sunk to the floor.
He lay there, a small and huddled figure on the tarmac as another plane flew overhead.