Flash fic – At The End Of The Tunnel
More Twitter fun: @FrogCroakley @aspeed Your standing challenge is now “the girl who could only see trains”. the story must also contain a tame bat.
Here’s the result:
It figured that the first day of his new job, his car wouldn’t start. On the bright side, it gave Jeremy the chance to worry about how he was going to get to work, rather than obsesses over whether or not he’d make a fool of himself in front of his new boss.
He wasn’t too far from the train station, so he caught a lift with a grumpy neighbor. Something about the station looked run down, gone to seed. Then again, when was the last time he’d caught the train? University, probably. Seemed like a lifetime ago.
He went up to the ticket booth, digging out his wallet, and said, “I need the fastest, soonest train into the city. Don’t care about seating, just give me whatever’s easiest.”
Jeremy heard a strange noise, a dry scrabbling, and looked to see inside the booth, a small bat was crawling around on the counter. He let out a not so manly shriek and jumped back about a foot from the open window.
“What’s your problem?” There was also a woman inside the booth, beyond the bat. She wore almost steampunk looking goggles, thick enough to obscure her eyes. He had no idea of her age. She could have been anywhere between twenty and forty.
“I hate to alarm you, but there’s a bat in there with you.”
“His name is Mr. Snickers, and he’s my emotional support animal, thank you very much,” she snapped. She then ducked, suddenly lunging right, as if avoiding a thrown object.
“Emotional therapy animal?” Was that a thing, or was she making that up?
“I have a very rare condition called locomotivamundus,” she said, suddenly ducking once more.
Jeremy looked around, but couldn’t see what she was reacting to. “Which is?”
“I see everything as trains.”
“You’re making that up,” he said, unable to hold it back.
She scowled at him. “I’ll have you know you appear to me to be an orange and white railcar. Are you?” She then ducked behind the counter, leaving Mr. Snickers still scrabbling towards the cash register on wings and feet.
She popped up from behind the counter. “It is a genuine affliction, sir, and you are a very rude rail car.” She pressed a button on a machine, and it started spitting out a digital ticket as she ducked yet again, at nothing. “Twelve quid,” she said, her voice somewhat muffled since she was closer to the ground than him.
He was going to argue, but he just dug the money out of his wallet and threw it inside the booth. The sooner he was done here, the better.
She grabbed the money, and stood up, holding it directly in front of her face to count it. She managed to drop it in the cash register, where Mr. Snickers perched precariously, and ripped off the ticket, which she shoved through the window. Jeremy quickly snatched it away before the bat could shit on it. “The train should be in soon, but I don’t know if it’s big enough to take you. Maybe it can tow you.”
Jeremy thought it was a slam about his weight, but then realized she was talking to him like he was a train car. He shook his head and walked away, as she once again ducked behind the counter.
Belatedly, he wondered if breathing train exhaust could make you psychotic. If so, that explained everything.