The Rail Dwellers

The Rail Dwellers (part one)

Author’s note: One of my favourite pastimes is to cycle around Singapore late at night, when it is less frenetic and when there is time to think and reflect. One of my routes leads me past Pasir Panjang Container terminal, and I am always fascinated by the gigantic concrete piers that straddle the container storage yards, stretching for kilometer after kilometer (see picture below). Seeing them lit up at night was the seed for this story, which explores a future in which mankind has been forced to live above ground in rail cars that serve as mobile dwellings.

Pasir Panjang container terminal concrete piers circa 1999.

The Rail Dwellers

A short story by B.G. Luse

It was night. The rain kept falling, incessant as the clouds that had blanketed the landscape for days now. The rain splashed on the dull grey concrete of the towers and piers, running down in small rivulets to the dark earth beneath. It seemed a long time since it had done anything but rain.

“Is there any mail?” Evan’s voice came from one corner of the dull metal container that served as a home for the family. It had once been red, the paint now faded to a colour between that of rust and burnt earth. The rain drummed on the metal roof and bounced off in little crown-shaped splashes which eventually also succumbed to gravity.

“No I don’t think so…” came Elsa’s voice from the corner near the stove. She was waiting for some water to boil. It was dinner time, at least when it had been called dinner. Now it was simply called the eighteen hundred. Continue reading