Figures that look vaguely like buildings blur past the large windows. The cart rocks along to the steady clacking of the wheels on the rails. Loud squeals fill the empty space with each turn and every stop.
Tadashi stares out the window at the skyline, without taking any of it in. Headphones cover his ears but play no music. He drowns out the grinding of the wheels with his thoughts alone.
The silence in his mind is deafening. After years of living alone with his thoughts echoing in his brain, now there’s only buzzing that refuses to take shape. He doesn’t know what to think, about the call, or about this. There’s only the buzzing silence. A malfunction. How is he supposed to fix that? He can’t remember.
The sky outside has grown dark by the time he looks up at the scrolling notice. He hasn’t counted the stops but his ears are ringing — so there’s been many. Enough. Yes, this is it. He pulls the headphones off to hang on his neck and retrieves his bag from overhead. No one watches him step off the train, no one on the train at this hour watches much of anything.
He has no idea where he is, but he knows this is it. He looks down at the paper in his hand — directions hastily scribbled on a napkin. The names match so far. Good.
It’s nearing midnight now. He considers looking for a place to stay. He looks at the note again, walks over to the area map and uses the light from his phone to figure out what comes next.
He’s at the mountain path already. He doesn’t remember taking more than one train but he must have if he made it here. There’s a shuttle that goes up the mountain during the day. He doesn’t feel like waiting. He feels neither awake nor tired.
Tadashi puts his duffel bag on like a backpack, points himself in the right direction, and starts walking.
There’s no sidewalk here as no reasonable person would travel this mountain path on foot, let alone in the middle of the night. The signs are few and far in between because they’re meant for cars traveling much more quickly than Tadashi can manage. The names match. He keeps walking. Turning back is not an option. It never is on paths and decisions like these.
The unknown ahead is frightening. The past behind him is too, from this angle. He doesn’t think about it. Not about his room back home, or the forging of a brand new life up ahead. He just walks and listens for incoming cars — there are none. Walking forward and walking away are conveniently the same thing.