14,123 / 50,000
I love stumbling across a scene that feels necessary to get the details in, and having it turn out to be more important than I ever would've thought, at least foreshadowing-wise. I never thought there'd be a subway trip when I started writing, I never had any ideas of it being important other than some fun character stuff going from point A to point B, and then the crazy train people came.
His short red hair was as disheveled as mine was, and he brushed a hand absently through it as he turned the corner, not even aware I was there. He was scruffy and unshaven, as usual whenever I saw him, which was about once a year for UniCon, but there'd been a few exceptions to the rule. Chris was wearing a light jacket, dark blue jean material, with a grey lining that had a hood draped over his back. Underneath was a red shirt, and his typical black slacks.
A brown leather backpack hung over his shoulder, probably containing some comics of his own to read on the trip, and some DVDs to pop in my laptop in the wee hours of the night when we wanted some entertainment. I think I told him to bring 300.
He finished fixing his hair, or rather attempting to, as he only made the half-asleep, well-travelled look he had, that much worse. No one looked good coming off a plane, let alone such a long trip from Vancouver to Boston. As his hand fell back to his side, he caught me on the other side of the security checkpoint, and waved. I simply smiled and nodded my head, while he picked up his pace and moved a little quicker than he had been moving, until he was standing beside me.
As he caught up, I started walking backwards, keeping him in view, and he only stopped for a moment before continuing to keep up with me.
"I wasn't expecting you to be here," he said. Everyone knows the stereotypical Canadian accent, and in my experience, none of them had it. Chris had the occasional odd inflection to a word, but it was minor, and there was no aboots or ehs anywhere in his speech patterns.
With a shrug, I said, "I had time to kill, figured I'd come say hi. Got in early." I also liked to think I didn't have an accent. I lived not far from Boston for most of my single digit years, and had somehow managed to escape with my R's intact. I'm sure some linguistic expert could pick out hints of Massachusetts and Vermotn accents, but I did my best to use the letters I was supposed to.
"Well, good to see you again, Martin. How was your," he stopped midsentence, and pointed behind me, in front of himself. Before he'd even gotten out his next words, "Lugage cart!" I was already sidestepping out of the way, and continuing to walk. He stopped for a moment and just stared at me.
"It always creeps me out when you do that. How do you pull it off, anyways?"
"Radar senses, " I replied with a smug grin.
Chris shook his head, "Yeah, ok Daredevil."
I sighed, still smiling. "Fine, I could see it in the reflection of the security mirrors behind you." It was my turn to point, as Chris followed my finger. He let out a laugh when he saw the distorted, curved reflection in the disc, not unlike a funhouse mirror.
"Fine," he turned back to me, and we continued on our way, backtracking - literally in my case - to the subway entrance. "But that still doesn't explain almost every other time you've dodged an obstacle."
I gave a shrug, and weaved around a few people in my way, which I could see served to drive Chris just the slightest bit more crazy. His question was impossible for me to answer, really. It was merely a skill I'd developed, through no particular means. How does an artist answer when asked how he did a painting? It's just a skill they have, and may have trained, but deep down, it is for the most part intrinsic. Maybe it was all the time I spent alone made me keenly aware of my surroundings, and just knew when someone or something else was there. Maybe it was my subconcious processing subtle clues in the environment like shadows, smells, a shift in the air. Tricks like the security mirrors were true, I did take available knowledge into account, but even I couldn't explain every time I didn't back into someone.
It wasn't long before we'd reached the large churning machines carrying the luggage from all the flights. Chris pushed his way through the large crowds that had gathered there for the same reason he was, all while I waited out by the railing blocking that large section of Logan off from the rest of the airport. I didn't need to add to the crowd, nore did I desire to do so. It's not like I would be any help in spotting someone else's suitcase either. It was hard enough finding my own black, canvas bag amidst the sea of everyone else's black, canvas bags. I'm all for making things mass produced and cheap, but I really needed to come up with a very bright, easy to see means of finding my luggage.
Musing upon my bags, I didn't even notice Chris had returned from his search, carrying more bags than I was expecting, certainly more than he had come to the convention in previous years.
"What's with the extra gear," I asked, gesturing to his additional weights. "Are you moving in?"
He smiled and shifted the bulk of a black duffle bag over his shoulder, hunching over slightly, almost coming down from his six foot height to look me in the eyes. "It's not a bad idea, but not yet, at least. Let's just say it's a surprise. Can we get going, before I lose a few more inches and have to spend the rest of my life as either the hunchback of British Columbia, or as short as you?"
I shot him a glance and stuck out my tongue, resisting the urge to push him over. My mind wandered and pondered if he would look like a turtle turned over on its back, arms and legs squirming in the air and trying to turn itself back upright.
As we neared the entrance to the escalators down to the subway platform, I turned abruptly on my heel, spinning around 180 degrees and felt the edge of my trenchcoat fwap Chris in the leg as it whipped outwards from my spin. I heard him let out a quiet little yelp of surprise and feigned pain, and pushed a large square and metallic button and made the black framed glass doors of the entryway open wide to let us through with a quiet hiss of air, and a shuddering noise from the glass and metal as they were pulled ajar.
We exited into the far less crowded tunnels as most of the people were taking cabs, or meeting people, and made our way down to the platform, and waited for the next train to arrive. Chris took the pass I'd grabbed for him, and dropped his bags into a pile upon the dark red brick-like tile under our feet as we waited.
I saw a few more people that had to be con-goers. Lots of baggage, and some decidedly geeky clothes. More Firefly shirts, someone in a SHIELD task force tshirt, all mixed in with other regular people. Well, people that weren't going to a science fiction convention, or at least were not showing any outwards signs of it.
The next train soon arrived, the force of air heralding it's arrival almost blowing back the tall, thin figure of my travelling companion, and I looked up at him, saying, "See? It's not so bad being built closer to the ground. Lower center of gravity."
He returned my earlier stuck out tongue face, and grabbed some of his bags, gesturing to the rest. "Make yourself useful, pint size, and grab that bag for me. This crap gets pretty heavy, and I've had a long day."
I grabbed the handles and whipped the duffle bag over my shoulder with a grunt, feeling the rough material of them dig into my hand. I carried the bag onto the awaiting train car, and we piled up all Chris' bags on a bench, and we sat down, one of us on either side of the pile.
While the train sped away from the airport and back to the hotel, with points beyond afterwards, we sat mostly in silence. Especially after someone wandered over towards us and the other people, and started ranting in a crazy manner. This was nothing new to anyone who rode the subway often enough, and I'd encountered the sort before, but this one was especially weird.
When I wasn't trying to gag from the smell of her, feeling like something nearby was rotting, I listened to what the vagrant had to say, for lack of anything else to occupy my time, and she was drowning out any other possible distraction.
I didn't catch it all, much of it lost to mumbling gibberish, or even regular level gibberish that made no sense, there was the usual babble of the government, and its evils and injustices upon the poor. Even with my limited experience with the subway systems of the world, and even more limited ones with the crazy train people, I knew the spiel well enough that I could fake being one of them pretty well by that time, if I so chose.
What I did hear, stuck in my mind, and even the babbling incoherency slipped away for a few moments, as the clarity of the moment would remain with me for a long time to come.
Chris and I were just sitting and watching the person as she held onto a pole, addressing the group of people opposite us. I could see the nervous look in their eyes, as they feigned interest in what she had to say.
The rant took a side turn from government and into religion, and then she turned towards the two of us, startling us enough to make both of us take notice and sit straighter and pay attention, as if her words were meant especially for us.
"And you," she said, pointing a shaking finger at me. I don't know if it was for emphasis, nerves, or because she needed her fix, but the gnarled, bent finger was practically touching my right eye, and I got a good look at her broken fingernail. It looked like an M had been cut out of it, and I still remember every line and mark on it.
"And you! You think you see everything, know everything!" Her voice had been raspy before, from years of smoking and other abuse, but now she spoke with the renewed clarity of someone in their right mind, perfectly clean and sober, and of many years her junior.
The fervor of her rant had her spitting with force as she spoke, and I found myself praying none of it hit me, as I remained enraptured by her every word.
"You see it all, with your all-seeing eye, but you will miss the most important thing of all! You always do!" Her hand jerked away and she took a step backwards, thankfully granting a respite from the assault upon my senses.
"You'll miss it, both of you! Changes are coming, and y'can't escape 'em! You better be ready, but you won't, and everything is gonna change, and go wrong! You'll see!"
I couldn't resist myself, and leaned forward a little, "But you just said I won't see. How can I not see it coming, and see it at the same time?"
She glowered at me, and I shrunk back against the bench, feeling as if I was back in kindergarten and I'd just broken someone's toy.
Somehow, she pulled herself together and straightened up, looming over me as best she could from where she stood, and somehow her presence had gone from creepily amusing to downright terrifying. "There are changes coming. Heed my warnings, and leave, now. All of you!"
She spun around, arms outstretched high into the air above her, crying out her last warning, as the train stopped and jostled everyone, almost knocking her to the floor of the vehicle.
It seemed as if the sudden jolt had returned her to her normal level of crazy, and she wandered off for other parts of the train, muttering to herself about the president, her dire forecasts forgotten, but not by Chris and I as we disembarked the train.