A Beautiful Day?

A Beautiful Day?

May 15, 2020 Short Stories 0

The rhythmic sound of the moving train drew the woman into a trance, as she stared out of the window, observing the landscape that passed as mere flurries of colour. Still, due to the simplicity of the natural landscape, it was easy to make out what the flurries were. Green grasslands and the blue sky didn’t make for any difficult scene to decipher. Softly she rested her head against the glass. Though it was only just past ten in the morning, she felt sleepy. The motion of the train and its baseline of sound in quiet trains had always been very soothing to her. It was at moments like these that she regained more energy than sleeping ever provided her. Something about it all just felt right, it felt comfortable. Every time she entered a train, and it was as quiet as this one, it  felt like a true blessing.

However, generally it also meant that her card would be checked. Especially in these dreamy moments, conductors had a habit sneaking up on her, only to then suddenly raise their voice and startling her heavily. Something about that seemed to amuse them. It was just about time for the next stop too, as the announcement had just been played in the background. Generally the conductors would come to this part of the train last, and then casually time it in such a way that they could hop off the train just after checking the last person. These fellows really had their timing down, as they seemed to know quite well how long the checking would take, like clockwork. It was quite impressive really. The woman knew quite well which station would pop up when, as she frequently took this train line. However, time itself was a weird thing to her once she had taken place on this lovely perfect spot in the silence compartment. Sometimes the hour long ride seemed to be reduced to mere minutes, and other times it seemed to take an eternity. Not that she really minded, as she enjoyed this time in these conditions. It was just a bit of an odd experience. Just as she mindlessly thought about it, just recalling one of those many moments, a heavy and stern voice came from behind:

“GOOD MORNING.”

With big eyes alike a deer staring into headlights, the woman looked up at the figure that had appeared. The man was relatively tall, had an average physique, a light skin tone and piercing blue eyes. His chestnut curly hair and well-kept stubble beard added to the appearance, making this uniformed man both quite handsome and quite intimidating.  The man added no more words, as he had his machine in one hand and his other hand reached out to accept her card or ticket.

Quickly the woman recovered and rummaged through her bag, trying to find her card, only to realize moments later that it had been in the right pocket of her light blue Spring jacket all along. Hastily she offered the card to him, and with a mere nod he accepted it and held the card in front of the machine. It beeped and he nodded again, a small resemblance of a smirk appearing on his face.

The conductor reached to return the card, which caused the woman to focus on the card and extend her arm to accept it. However, as she took hold of it, the man did not let go of the card. In confusion she looked up at the man, staring straight into his lovely blue eyes which were reminiscent of a Summer’s sky. The man wore an odd expression on his face and seemed to stare into the abyss for a moment as everything about him paused, even his breathing. With obvious concern the woman observed the man. Was he having a stroke, should she call for help?

“Sir, are you alright?”  she asked, not expecting any answer. She was so focused on the man’s odd behaviour, that she did not notice the train had come to a halt.

Suddenly his eyes slowly moved. Almost in a mechanical way the eyes shifted to look at her, his expression unchanged. For a moment they shared a glance, and somehow it felt like the conductor was no longer there. After a brief moment, and an intensifying feeling of awkwardness and slow rising fear on her side, the man suddenly moved. In an instance he let go of her card, and dropped the machine in his hand. His body contorted and he moved sideways. Suddenly, the man moved over, his hands heading for the ground and his back arching and extending somewhat, resembling a ferret’s poise. And like that, the man scurried off, his weird dart matching the characteristics of a ferret’s scurry.

“Sir???”

The woman stood up, placing her hand onto the neck rest of her chair as she watched the man hurry off to the automatic doors and dash out of them as they opened.

“What in the world….” she mumbled, as she stepped over to the window and stared at how the man scampered off on all fours. She couldn’t believe her eyes. The man began to disappear from her sight as the train began moving again. The woman walked  over to the back of the train compartment, trying to keep an eye on the man until the train had gained too much speed for her to see him. In utter confusion she looked around in the train compartment. No one. There was no one else here. If not for the machine laying on the ground near her seat, she wouldn’t have believed any of it. The woman was in shock as she walked back to her seat, pausing her step momentarily as she stood in front of the machine. She didn’t know how she was going to explain any of this, if anyone would ask questions about how the machine got there. She felt tempted to place it elsewhere, to obscure it so that no one would ask her questions about it. However… If she were to touch it, and the man would end up missing, people would still come to her… Hesitantly she pushed the machine underneath another chair, using only the tip of her shoe and pushing very softly to make a minimal amount of sound. After that, the woman sat down in her seat again, now and then glancing at where the conductor had been as she tried to make sense of it all. This was one ride she would not soon forget.

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