Chapter One, the Train

Jason whispered expletives under his breath and hurried his gait, footfalls echoing down the tiled tunnels of the underground station. Last train arriving in: 1min, the LED board affixed to the ceiling had said. If he ran, he just might make it down the stairs in time to have the train doors slide closed behind his shoulders. It was a gamble, but the long cab ride home was not a heartening alternative. Walking back would be a better option, or more likely going a block or two before stopping to spend most of the night in a 24-hour coffee house. God knows I've done that before.

Graffiti covered billboards whipped past him on either side, mustachioed women exclaiming curse words amid their advertisements for bags and shoes. Jason was the only person in the station this late in the evening. It was out in the middle of nowhere, really, more of a place-holder station for future development in the neighbourhood.

He'd been out to see his girlfriend.

An unfamiliar object bounced against his sternum rhythmically, and it took Jason a few moments to remember the gift. Two years, as of today. Or yesterday, now, I guess, Jason thought while running. They had exchanged small gifts, of course. There was an agreement beforehand that nothing extravagant would be given, so Jason had procured a simple charm bracelet. He could buy more charms for it on other occasions, so the gift was as much for Jesse as it was for adding convenience to her future birthdays, Christmases, and the like.

Jason allowed himself to smile with his cleverness.

Jesse had also opted for jewellery, and had given him a simple necklace of a dark, leather thong with a jade bauble. It was roughly shield-shaped, but had whorls and angles carved into it. It was this charm bouncing against his breast as he ran, a new, though not entirely unwelcome, feeling.

He reached the top of the stairs just in time to hear the train speed off into the dark tunnel. His curses were covered by the sound of the machination's exit.

Tired, Jason sat at the top of the stairs anyway, in no hurry to leave the station. Cabs have no last call, and 24-hour coffee joints are open, well, 24-hours. He sat for a few minutes, stretched each leg alternatively and massaged the calf. Can't remember the last time I ran like that. Or at all, really, he thought.

As he was stretching the tense muscles of his neck he heard a noise from the platform below, a rumbling in the silence. Curious, he stood and peered below. A train clattered past and came to a stop at the platform. The doors opened and the lights turned on.

Jason needed no other stimulus, and was racing down the stairs as fast as his legs could carry him. A red light above each door started to blink, indicating that the doors would be closing. Somehow, he managed to board in time, and slumped triumphantly onto a bench.

Looking around, he saw no other passengers in the car, or in any other for that matter. He wasn't too surprised, though, as it was late at night after all. Or early in the morning, he mused.

The train had an odd aesthetic, almost antiquated. The windows looked more like glass than a synthetic plastic material, and he suddenly realized that the bench he was wooden and polished through years of use.

Again, though, he wasn't entirely surprised. They did just open a new line, maybe they've had to pull whatever functioning trains they have out of the yards to keep up with service demands. Or it could be linked to an exhibition at the museum. Or an art piece, you never know when you run into those these days.

He was still ranting about the stupidity of modern art in his mind when he fell asleep, coaxed into dreams by the rhythmic noise and gentle swaying of the train. 

The End

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