Three sets of escalators for nine flights from the subway tracks up to the surface. Jules Verne didn’t know you could actually go this deep. They say the tracks are at a level below that of a river – a river no one recalls any longer, it too flowing underneath the city. So cell phones have no reception, and as the flow of passengers gushed out at rush hour slides up in single file – The Train Terminates Here; The Train Terminates H… – the beeps of messages and missed calls come back to life. Some start at the seventh flight up, some at the eighth; so the silence in the bowels of the earth strikes with no awe anymore. And the owners of older models shake their phones convulsively to get them to pick any signal back at all.
They hoped there would be something else after Australia, so they sailed on. They had been confirmed in their (dis)belief that the earth was round and in the past that had lifted their spirits in their search for “a passage”, but now it was only bringing them down as each circle was bound to take them back somewhere they already knew. Still, it was a nice day and the ocean stretched ahead peaceful and welcoming. They spotted land and saw people they already knew. They sailed on. Another land and their flag had been staked in the rocks already. An island and they heard their language. Another tiny isle they stumbled upon but by that time it was too small to accommodate their curiosity. Their port of sail seemed different after all the years spent at sea, so when they disembarked, it did feel strange and unfamiliar. And to some of them the feeling lasted for years