How many of us wake up at night in the slow burn of anxiety? That’s the genesis of this story. For months–while I was working on The Underground Men–I spent night after night lying awake at odd times. Not because I was feeling anything palpable. Instead it was the lack of feeling–the lack of anything, that kept me up. Years ago I lived in Slovakia and there was a Slovak word I always remembered since I spent so much time in there: cakaren–the waiting room in a train station. Many, many nights I’d find myself sitting in one of those gloomy places, dark as hell, a few half-sleeping men and women huddled near a feeble heater or stove. Snoring, stale pilsner, boredom, transcontinentally-long nights. You wait and wait and wait. The world outside ceases to exist. It’s a strangely negative, absent place–a cheerless room that only exists to leave or escape from. That’s the feeling that came to me. Too often, we wait in places like that for a destination to take us away. If you’re that foolish, you wind up losing yourself there, in the waiting.