What initially appeared to them to be a relaxing journey to rediscover the past, soon became a horrific nightmare filled with unexplained delays, bizarre acting and dressed creatures who seemed to have recently arrived from the planet Walmart, and bored, government officials whose only answer to their queries was a blank look and a shrug.
How those in power over the Whamtrick Zone must have chortled in glee at this misperception on their part. What fools they had to have been to have thought that the worst was behind them. These poor fools had planned a six-hour layover to visit several memorials to those heroes of our nation who had paid the ultimate price, but the delay had stymied these plans as they now had, they thought, only two to three hours before the next phase of their journey was to begin. Searching for a possible way to visit at least the Vietnam Memorial, the Wicked Witch of the Big B Tour Bus company told them that for $39.00 each she would arrange a ride for them that would also encompass other sites in the area. They had not originally planned on visiting these places, but the Big B Tour brooked no changes, and so our travelers would only have five minutes at the Memorial. What an implacable and uncaring visage met their astounded faces when confronted with this. This Wicked Witch suggested that they could take a taxi to the Memorial without all the other stops, but that the price would be far beyond their ability to pay. Turning away despondently, the Wicked Witch must have thrilled to crush the dreams of yet another tourist.
With only two hours left before their scheduled departure (hear the laughter from the throne room of the Whamtrick Zone) they turned away to find sustenance. Here they discovered a fairy godmother named Camille Howe who, even though an employee of this cold, marble edifice called Onion Station, walked with them, reassuring them that she would help them find as well as a place to rest from their travails. Soon they had satisfied their physical hunger and proceeded to the gate from which they would soon (howling, gleeful laughter from the Whamtrick Zone) depart to finish the last part of their journey.
They descended to the level of information where they saw the notice for their conveyance that had originally been scheduled to leave at 10:10 PM is DELAYED for an indeterminate time. When asked why, as the train that would be taking them on had arrived on time, they again faced the stony-faced, uncaring governmental figures that populated this hellish place called Onion Station. Yes, there was a union there, but of an evil, corrupt nature that seemed to freeze the hope of those gathering at Gate J in the seemingly hopeless task of escaping such a place.
Rumors flew, then several received an official text stating that the new departure time was to be 10:46. Hope was born anew in the hearts of those gathered before the letter J. Others began arriving from other trains, many turning away in disgust and anger at the word DELAYED that glowed from the screen before them. One of the former inhabitants of planet Walmart paced back and forth mumbling to himself (or perhaps communicating with the flying saucer on aisle four between fruits and vegetables). Another( a woman of no uncertainty whatsoever), charged past the barrier, through the doors under the hallowed letter J. She began yelling for someone to answer to her for the delay (as an aside, had the train departed at the original time, her demands for answers would have been met with the exhaust of the departing train).
As the time drew near, throngs gathered before the mighty J, pushing and shoving to be the first through the gate to the promised land of escape from Onion Station. 10:46 came and went with no announcement or other indication that our suffering was soon to end. Employees of Onion Station were seen to be walking on the promised side of the MASSIVE LETTER J, but nothing was told to those waiting. Soon police officers arrived, and the fear of impending riot or mass arrest fell like a pall upon those waiting for escape. How could such happen; why was such pain being inflicted upon us and when would it end? I remarked to my wife and another traveler that perhaps we would escape with the next scheduled Train 66 due to depart at 3:25 the next morning. What escaped our notice is that perhaps this evil plan was a misprint; that the train number we waited for was possibly 666!
At 11:25, a Whamtrick employee opened the doors under the glorious letter J just as an announcement was made that only those traveling business class or seniors were to enter the promised land, going ahead of the others. The hoped for orderliness was not to be as the milk of human kindness in the hearts of all present seemed to have curdled into a poisonous stew of DEATH!!! The Whamtrick employee wisely ran for his life rather than try to contain the maddened rush for the portal under the bloody, horrific letter J. Men and women, old and young; no one gave or asked for quarter (or even a nickel for that matter) as the mass who had waited so long flowed like the sea must have overpowered pharaoh’s army, moving down the escalator and into the train.
At last, peace seemed to descend within this second tube of metal as all found seats and settled in place. Soon the train began moving, and we all breathed a gasp of relief as we realized that we had escaped Onion Station. My wife and I discussed that the delays already encountered, we would arrive at our destination with the dawn (Ah yes, the gibbering laughter from the halls of Whamtrick could be heard again). As our journey continued, we soon learned the fallacy of hope when within the grasp of this thing that so toyed with hopes and dreams. Time and again, the train would slow to a walking pace or even stop altogether as if to mock our dreams of ever reaching our mystical destination. Once the engineer announced that there were problems with the signal system ahead of us and apologized for the delay, saying the very same thing three times before keying off the microphone (probably to keep us from hearing the maniacal laughter that erupted at his oh, so sincere apology).
Finally, Oh glad day; we arrived at our mystical destination and fled from the grasp of this long, steel snake of delay and delusion. One thought echoed in my heart throughout the next day; we had yet to face this on our return home in one week.