Jim laughed along with Sera and Des, enjoying the company of two girls in his room at once. He liked Phee, they'd been friends for several years now, and he knew he could trust her completely. Then there was Des, curled up against him, her compact form fitting easily under his arm. They were both quiet, mysterious, beautiful.
"What are you smiling about?" Phee asked suddenly.
"Oh, nothing," Jim replied, putting his hands behind his head. "Just thinking, it's nice being the only guy in the room."
Phee laughed and kicked his chair, causing Jim jerk quickly to balance, and Des to start upright.
"What was that for?" Des asked.
"What was that?" Jim put a hand over Phee's mouth before she could finish, eyes on the ceiling. "Do you hear footsteps?" The roof of Jim's car was unadorned, just the plain wood of the roof and a few supporting struts. In 9 years, Jim hadn't decorated more than the rough table and chairs the three now sat in, and his bed was a simple hammock hung from the ceiling and piled with blankets. Now, all focus was on the slow, steady footsteps on the roof, heard over the sound of the tracks below them.
Phee clawed Jim's hand off of her mouth. "No one could be up there," she said, but Des was quiet, staring in fear at the roof.
"Maybe it's the wyverns," Jim said, "Donovan let them out for some exercise and they landed on the roof for a rest."
"That could be it," Des said in a quiet voice.
"What else could it be?" Jim asked.
"The demon," Des replied in a whisper while Phee waved at her frantically.
"Demons aren't real," Jim assured the two of them, going to the window. "Brace yourselves, its going to get windy." He pulled the window open wide, leaning out into the wind as the train rushed through the countryside.
"Jim, we're going 60 miles an hour, there can't be anything up there!" Sera shouted over the sudden noise and pressure of the air. Jim craned his neck, trying to see if anything was on the roof, but he couldn't get a good enough angle. Coming back inside, he slammed the window closed.
"See, nothing," Sera said, her voice loud in the sudden silence. Jim looked at her, confused. Her face was a stone mask, but Jim knew her well. Des herself was frozen in fear in her chair. Frowning, he went to the door, there was a maintenance ladder just arms reach from the doorstep, and he could climb to the roof with that."
"What are you doing, Jim, stop!" Sera yelled, her usual calm demeanor totally shattered.
"I'm just going to check it out, I'll hold on tight, don't worry." Jim said with an easy grin, before opening the door to the outside and reaching for the ladder.
The wind was insane as the train continued to hurtle along on its tracks, and Jim had to resist looking down at the tracks he knew were rushing along below him as he wrapped one arm around the narrow metal rung of the ladder. Jim had an excellent head for heights, but this was something else. This was near certain death from a fall of less than fifteen feet. Bracing himself against the wind, Jim pulled himself up carefully, one rung at a time, until he could peak onto the roof, just his eyes above the curved surface.
Several cars ahead, stood a dark, humanoid figure, completely unaffected by the wind. Jim stared for several seconds, until the figure vanished without a trace. Blinking furiously, Jim rubbed his eyes with one hand, trying to believe what he'd seen, when the train took a turn on its tracks and he was nearly thrown off the rickety ladder. He climbed down, quicker than he'd come up, fear driving him back to safety.
"So, what was it?" Sera asked, practically pulling him inside.
"Nothing, there wasn't anything there," Jim lied. "Those footsteps must have just been the roof creaking. I've been meaning to put insulation in..." He trailed off as Sera visibly relaxed.
"You've been meaning to do that for eight years," she laughed.
"Yeah, pour me another drink, will you?" Jim said, coming back to the table. "That wind wasn't half freezing."