I ran as if my life depended on it, even though in reality it didn't.
Anything could have happened at that point as I traversed the contented and the confused; sprinting forward hoping to meet the approving glance of the desk bound. I hurtled faster and faster with not a care for what I looked like, as the numbers seemed to increase in a way that was too illogical for me to comprehend.
As I grew tired with each step that passed, I was driven by a sense of the truly intangible. There was something making me carry on, something else driving my feet below me and pushing my breathing back a little bit every time there was chance.
I rounded the corner and slammed my papers on the desk in a manner that was quite more dramatic than needed, but I didn't care. I couldn't focus on anything but the numbers and the times. Somehow, it was ok now, but at that split second I couldn't tell you how or why.
A horde of malcontents and not enough time to make them all happy. There wouldn't be enough time even if there was nothing else to do. There's only so many times you can paper over a crack with a slightly ironic word of recommendation.
The negotiation of the earlier start/earlier finish policy had served me well and before too long the taxi was whisking me away to where I needed to be. It wasn't until I sat with a cup of tea at the aiport that I realised there was a problem.
Not a big problem you understand, just a slight delay.
This wouldn't have been an issue on any other day but the domino effect of connections is magnified by more than just the simple sum of its parts. We're talking twenty minutes, not even enough time for a good sandwich if we're truthful, but more than long enough to derail my jaunt.
I'd already checked in for a seat close to the front, simply so I could dive off the plane and get the bus to another terminal and make my connection. No drama, never any drama.
The flight itself was uneventful, save for a quite spectacular cookie and cup of tea combination, but upon landing I heard the news that I was dreading.
"We're going to have to get off the plane at the rear entrance and wait for the bus to arrive because of problems at this end."
It was ten past nine and I wasn't even in the building, or on the bus, or anywhere near where I needed to be.
As I scrambled off the plane I got to the front of the line for the bus just as the sign went up. I'd missed it. Sitting near the front had seemingly been my undoing as I waited for yet another carriage to take me somewhere I'd have to only get back from.
Everything was going through my mind at this point. A million different what ifs and whys were all populating my every thought, as I willed the bus to drive faster than safely required. I don't know what the worst part was of it all. I didn't want to be stranded but more than that I didn't want to let people down.
I sprinted off the bus and round a network of corridors and tunnels that seemed to last forever. It's the kind of place that you'd get lost in on an old videogame, probably looking for some kind of key or elixir. I rounded the final corner just as the bus to the required terminal was pulling in, which was a blessing in itself.
I hurtled over the ramp and dived to the seat closest to the door but nothing happened. I guess I'd watched too much Indiana Jones and was waiting for the driver to nod at me before pushing the pedal to the floor in a series of breakneck scrapes. It never happened that way, despite how long I stared at my watch and the screen depicting the animated couple.
Movement at last.
Creaking back towards the place I'd just come from, the turns and curves of this concrete oppression seeming even more unnecessary on the second run.
I didn't have chance to say thanks or bye or I'm sorry for looking like such a moody prick the entire trip, I needed to leave and leave quickly. I sprinted up the stairs before dashing headlong into security. There was a queue, of course there was a queue, it was 9:35 on a Thursday night I thought to myself sarcastically. I didn't have time to wait and I shouted over the first person in a uniform I laid eyes on.
I couldn't talk for some reason, my words wouldn't order themselves into coherence. I showed him my printed itinerary and he nodded. My bag was fine, no problems there but I had to once again remove my watch, belt et all for what felt like the hundredth time before scampering through the gate and trying to see where the next phase of this seemingly futile quest would take me.
The security man shouted "Good Luck" in a loud voice as I left him behind, clutching my bag like a newborn animal, cradling it to my chest as I put my head down and ran with all I had left.
I'd checked in online for my second and third flights as I was waiting for my first but a quick look up at the board nearly stopped me dead.
FINAL CALL - GATE CLOSING
I had to run, there was nothing left to do but run. One foot flatly in front of the other as I hurtled down the corridor towards my goal, a black speck in the distance. It didn't seem to be getting any closer. As time ticked on I felt the world close in around me, pulling suffocating skies down around my face.
I had to make it.
I had to make it.
It was 21:41.
Surely I couldn't make it?
Would I make it?
Well I wouldn't miss this for the world.
It's only falling when your mind tells you it's not flying.
Thanks to those involved, especially Paul Dollery who negotiated me down through hysteria like a lighthouse keeper, missing every jutting rock and concealed danger on the way.
Promise me you'll all say hello next time.
We'll talk about videogames, old music, old technology, old times, football from the 90s, fights, kung fu movies, people we knew, people we are, times we've spent and times we've got to come.
We'll laugh about how crazy this all is because it's all we've got to hold on to somehow.