I TOLD YOU, YOU CAN GO ANYWHERE ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT! proclaimed my Facebook status update from twelve years ago. Where in the universe could I have gone that had me boldly declaring the magic of the local public transport system? Had someone told me it wasn’t possible to catch three trains and two buses to across the road from work that day? At first I couldn’t think of anything more intriguing than that.
Recalling events buried in the cobwebs of ancient history can be like trying to get hold of a mosquito that has mistaken your drink for a diving pool. If you try too hard to grip it, it retreats on a finger fueled current. Snatching at your memories doesn’t work any better than snatching at a cricket ball.
Eventually I recalled exactly what my enigmatic post was about. It was a reference to the last time I’d fallen asleep on the train and had a dream more vivid than waking life. I had rented a Back to the Future Three DVD the night before. Was that why the train had traveled in space and time after accelerating to eighty eight miles per hour? It finally came to a halt in a Martian museum, millions of years before the red planet was reduced to a deserted wasteland and intergalactic scavengers, such as Hans Solo and Chewbacca, removed all signs of its ancient civilization.
The Martian zoos were larger than their major cities and dominated by mega-fauna ranging from what looked like wombats the size of buffalo to surprisingly large specimens of Tyrannosaurus Rex. There were also hundreds of species of humanoids, some of which were amphibious. Most species lived on such large tracts of land they didn’t know they were in captivity. The tourists hovering overhead, on disc shaped viewing platforms, were their Gods.
The first hint it was all a dream was the remarkably Earth like gravity on a planet so vastly different in mass to Earth. The second hint was that English seemed to be the first or second language of most of the creatures I encountered, including the luminescent beetles that mined my ear wax and the arachnids that employed their curling antennae to fashioned afro wigs from my eyebrow trimmings.
Perhaps it was the Sydney Gay Mardi Gra that inspired the perpetual Martian street parades. There was always a ten mile long party going on somewhere. It was typically impossible to tell the cosplaying Martians from the intergalactic tourists. All the floats floated, there was nothing as quaint as wheels to be seen. Some of the participants appeared to be levitating without the aid of technology.
The ancient Martian equivalent to television more closely resembled astral travelling inside a story than the quaint virtual reality experiences of 21st century Earth. I was half way through a souvenir selecting expedition when the pointlessness of of the activity dawned on me. If I was dreaming, how was I going to take the eons old Martian coins, figurines and skull necklaces home?
By the time I awoke, the earthly train on which I was slumped over was stopping at Bomaderry Station, quite a distance south of Gosford, my intended destination. I had no memory of changing trains multiple times. My backpack was absurdly heavy, had someone filled it with bricks while I slept? It was full almost to the point of bursting. I heard what sounded like coins clinking together inside.