Saturday, December 16, 2006
China Ocean Shipping Company
At home my window overlooks the foothills of the Southern Alps. I love the view. At work, I look out on a rail yard. Right now they are loading containers onto a train of flat beds. There's a whole row of containers with "COSCO" stenciled on the side.
I Google "COSCO"; the "China Ocean Shipping Company". Their site says that "Every day, we manage the flow of cargoes, funds and information". Rail yard ... contaners ... from China ...
It was three in the morning. Sam Williams walked the rows of containers as he did six nights a week; every week. He liked nights. A man could be King of Everything at night. All these containers, the high fenced rail yard in which they stood, it was his kingdom. At nights.
Once, while wandering the alleys between the three story stacks of steel, he had tried to count the containers. But had lost track when some stupid cat had dashed out in front of him and made him start. Now he just told Elen that there were thousands of them and that the place felt like a graveyard at night.
That wasn't quite true: Graveyards were frighteningly silent at night. Once he had walked through one; the silence had sucked at his soul as though it wanted to drain the life from his body - to have him join the graveyard ghosts. Sam shuddered at the thought. Among the containers though, every footfall echoed back from the steel walls giving him an audible assurance of his substance.
Tonight there was another sound. Sam stopped. It seemed to come from high up; from one of the containers. He inched quietly down the row towards the sound; expecting to find one of the local cats. But now he could hear voices; Oriental voices. Instinctively Sam firmed his grip on the shaft of the Maglight that he carried, but the black shadow was too quick. It fell on him silently, wire slicing through his throat. Sam fell to the ground; life draining from his body.
There was more rustling before three black shadows ran from the containers and the place fell silent. As silent as a grave yard.