Taking Chicago’s Blue Line, Completely In The Dark
I was waiting for a Blue Line Train at the Jackson stop yesterday evening, when the strangest thing happened. The car that pulled up to me was completely dark. No lights were working on the interior, and the whole thing was mostly empty. I think there were maybe 3 or four people sitting there, in the dark, quietly staring straight ahead.
As the doors opened, I saw a glimpse of an older man, sitting near the window. For the briefest of moments, given the sort of spooky feel of the whole thing, I thought he looked like Reverend Kane (from Poltergeist II).
This was my overactive imagination, but it did give me pause. After another second or two though, I decided what the hey. I stepped in.
While a lot of folks didn’t follow me into the completely dark car, several did. As the train picked up speed, the lights from the tunnel started to flicker through the windows. The whole car took on an incredibly odd and surreal feel, with a constant pulsing of light breaking up the extreme darkness. You could see other people in the dark, but only for a moment as a passing light illuminated their faces. It was like watching someone taking photographs very slowly, in a completely dark room.
I’m not sure if this will make sense to anyone else besides Jane, but I was immediately reminded of the 1984 movie Dreamscape (starring Dennis Quaid). In the film, Quaid is a psychic who is enrolled into a project that allows people to enter into others’ dreams.
The scene I’m remembering is where Quaid is accompanying the President of the United States on a train. There, they meet a guy named Tommy Ray, another psychic who is trying to kill the President in his sleep. What starts as a normal train ride, slowly devolves, and has that classic moment where the lights flicker, go out… and stay out.
Side bit of trivia: the actor who played the bad guy is David Patrick Kelly, who you might recognize from other movies from the 80′s like 48 Hrs, Commando and The Crow. He’s probably best known as the guy from the movie The Warriors.
Man, what is it with me and old 80′s movie references in this post?
Given the rare situation, as well as the cool lighting that was happening… I decided to record parts of my trip. It was a little odd, as I felt like I was really close to other people, and felt a little invasive with my recording. But in a way, I felt like other people understood.
It was definitely an strange sensation, made even more curious by the fact that everyone in the car just sort of went about things like nothing was wrong. Things got even more interesting at Clark and Lake, where a ton of people came on board. As we were moving slowly through the tunnels I kept thinking how we were all travelling at incredible speeds through the dark, offering up occasional glimpses of light… and pretending or hoping things were normal.
The earth is also like that, in some ways – a bunch of people, travelling at high speeds through the dark. All of us hoping for light, and hoping for the best. I guess there are worse metaphors.