When I reached the surface, the sun was setting fast and the clock on the Darner Center Tower, a spiraling pillar made of the same material as the domes, was at a quarter ‘til eight.
I probably knew that I wouldn't make it in time as I sprinted across the Culture District. I only had fifteen minutes to get more than halfway across the bustling District. But I still managed to be surprised, outraged even, when I collided with the locked metal gate drawn over a doorway of the tram station.
A janitor was inside, sweeping the floor with the bored, meandering pace of a grazing cow. He whistled a low tune with a swinging rhythm and his broom and hips swayed in time with the song, floating along on the clouds of dust he kicked up.
"Hey!" I yelled, banging on the gate. The janitor stopped and turned, a puzzled look in his dull blue eyes.
"Whatcha want?" he called across the platform, leaning on the broom handle and crossing one leg over the other.
"Please let me in!" I called.
He looked down for a brief moment at the keys on his belt, as if considering the merits of opening the gate and firing up the tram.
"Sorry, young fella, you jus' missed it. Come back ten minutes sooner and a ride's yer's."
"Come on!" I pleaded, "It'll take just ten minutes to warm up the tram. I just need one cab to Stop Fourteen, that's all!"
The janitor shook his head, "Sorry kid, I can't. It's against comp'ny policy. Could lose my job over sumthin' like that, y'know."
"But..." I started.
"I suggest you find yerself a hotel fer the night, because yer spending it here in Edison," the old janitor said, and turned back to his sweeping, whistling the same low tune.