He jumped, briskly, into the front seat of the waiting taxi. The first one in the queue, to be fair. He looked at the driver: possibly Iranian, but he didnít look too happy to be getting a fare. Not quite sure why, or how this was possible, but that wasnít important. That wasnít why he got in the cab. He had somewhere to go.

Over the years, he had seen the inside of many cabs. All the same, all with the precise antiseptic smell of old vomit and Febreeze. All with the same surveillance cameras, the no-smoking stickers, the beads on the driverís seat. All the Xeroxed business cards and mass-produced radio systems. Each and every car was the same. It provided a security like heíd never known as a child. Always moving house, he never had a single room he could call his own. And so, the false security shown by endless taxi interiors made him feel more at home than anywhere else in his life.

They were all copies of course, but for the core detail. The driver. The man who did nothing but take strangers to places they wanted to go. The world frowned upon getting into cars with strange men, yet these were somehow trusted. Trusted like no other strangers: only on the untamed internet could you find strangers so willing to share their lives so completely, so wholly, so unreservedly. Their children, their lives, their combined experience, open for anyone who asked, and, especially for those who didnít.

These men, so happy to teach the young lessons they themselves wished they had learnt earlier, had become a kind of surrogate father for him. Not any particular one, but just an amalgam of them all. As a kind of ethereal mishmash of their combined thoughts, they were all the same man. A life that culminated in driving: in doing little except being a small part of someone elseís life, if only for a few minutes. If every person you know has an impact on your life, these men have only a short time to make their mark. And so, with their constant preaching, they combined to become some kind of Łber-father. A father with no end, no patience, and, in the end, no love. It was always his imagined siblings that got all the love. There were no pictures of himself in the driversí wallets.

He learnt from these men. He learnt what he wanted to be, he learnt a work ethic, he learnt who he himself really was inside. He learnt who won the rugby. He had a habit of doing this. Learning, that is. Not always the right lesson, though. He stayed up late and listened to the rats slowly eating his house while watching infomercials on how to change your life. The tidbits they tossed, he thrived upon. Set goals? Sure. Eat healthy? Sure. Buy? Sure. Buy? Sure. BUY? Sure. It never ended. The shopping channel. The history channel. The cartoon channel. The porno channel. He learnt from it all. He watched. He studied. He learnt. He loved. He was shown love by the flickering demon in his living room. If the taxi driver amalgam was his benevolent father, the television was his mother.

He continued into the night, talking lightly with his dad. The Iranianís accent was hard to penetrate, but he managed, mostly. He didnít really know where he was going. He listened to other peopleís conversations, and gave the drivers the names of places he heard. Sometimes, the places were too close. He didnít get much quality time. Mostly, the places were far enough away that he managed to speak, to really talk to the driver, his father. When he got there, and had no idea where he was, he had only one option. To go somewhere else. The taxis could find him. They would come and get him. Like a diligent father, they would collect their wandering son from any danger, any far away place.

He never really knew how he managed to get home. Well, where he was living for the moment. Luck, mostly, he guessed. Pure chance. The laws of statistics kept him afloat - that and the fact that he knew the names of only so many different places. He already was home, to be honest. The shadows playing across the dashboard as the streetlights passed overhead lulled him into his comfort zone. The familiar sodium yellow glow reminded him of his childhood, spent always in the back of a car. Always moving, he never spent much time not in transit. His inner ear had adapted to suit the ever moving conditions: like a monkey bred specially for work in space, he had a resilient sense of balance.

He was like the monkey, he guessed, in many ways. He didnít really know what he was going or why, not deep down. All he had were the half-forgotten philosophies of failed men, content to pass their mistakes onto people they didnít know in an effort to be remembered. Would he end like the monkey? Cooked inside his space ship, a shuddering mess to be cleaned by retrieval crews that might never materialise? Probably.

There was a shudder as the car ground to a halt. The driver hadnít cared for his cab: it stalled over the crossing. He smoothly exited the cab after popping the bonnet to peer inside. It looked like it always did to him: confusing and complicated. Something to be left up to dad. He took the opportunity to look around, and noticed two things. One, the meter was still running. Two, they were on train tracks. The middle of a crossing. He got out of the car, hoping to learn from an impromptu mechanics lesson. Sidestepping the track, he watched carefully at his fatherís work.

He never found any way to go back to the real world. He lived perpetually in a world of familiar strangers. With each new stranger came new ideologies and beliefs: new ways of looking at the world. And, really that was all he wanted. As the perfect learning machine, he had nothing more to do than discover. And that he did. Well, after a fashion.

His lust for family was overwhelming at times. He bought a portable television to keep his mother at his side constantly. As he drifted, spun, twisted through convoluted spirals of anguish and love, the train rushed closer. His father grabbed, dragged at his clothes, but his mother kept him. Like a technological she-devil, he was transfixed as his impending doom thundered through the night towards him. His mother, in the end, had betrayed him.

note: fix ending