• It wasn’t the air that carried the scent of new and unexplained things to come, nor the current bustle in the outside lobby of the train. The wet scent of blood was what allured Stephen, the dark rhythm of pounding hearts and back alley struggles. The book was something he had picked up from a free bin outside the station and he had already made it through a large portion of the thing. Dog eared and spine cracked the book in his possession wasn’t a purely random event, he was risen and bred on deduction. The lead of the New York crime division was his father Shaine Johnston but more than that he carried his father’s passion. Shaine was disappointed that his father had worked his connections to prevent him from attending any schools in new
    york or Chicago where there was sure to be crime in abundance. Instead he was sent to a university outside city limits but by attendance one could hardly tell. More than five-thousand students attended.
    A dark girl walked past his compartment, glanced quickly and smiled as she walked by. He knew he would fit in as he looked at his bag then his notebook then his clothing all of which were neat and impressive looking, and the latest of Gothique fashion. His formal clothing pressed and packed away was a tailored outfit par to his father’s standard outfit for work. He even had a hat box complete with fedora and pin. He closed his book and threw it on top of his luggage, lit a cigarette and emerged into the long hallway. Against fortune as Stephen usually found himself the trills of a black and white skirt were caressing the door frame at the opposite end of the hall at room number three. Their meeting would have to be something to attend to later for now food was of paramount importance. When he opened the door to the southern car he noticed a throng of noisy patrons he was eager to avoid, so he quietly opened the door and began his way to the food station.
    "I’m not too anxious to spend too long here so I’ll double your tip if you can make me a turkey and pesto with sprouts quickly, and the tip I promised" He passed the lady a folded bill and smiled.
    She nodded and gave a weak smile before retreating into the kitchen and preparing the meal. He turned around and saw a few familiar faces from his home town but most of the people were new and vibrant with anticipation of classes. He noticed that they were seeing more countryside and open land out the windows and walked over to a round table next to a window and sat down. Fingering a pen in his waist coat pocket he began thinking deep and introspectively of the flattering prospective wherein he may have classes with the lovely female of box three. He looked towards the doorway and the girl was looking through with a cigarette in one hand and bits of her hair in the other, Stephen had always thought a comb was more effective than a hand but he couldn’t argue with the appeal of the latter.
    "You new in town?" A whisper of a voice hauntingly ebbed towards Stephen.
    "eh.. yeah? Why?" Stephen knew why the question was asked but didn’t know who spoke.
    "The girl your drooling over isn’t in your league, in fact your not even playing her game. Stephen Johnston."
    "Now wait just a god damned minute! Who the blazes are you, I’ve a good mind to .. oh.. oh I’m sorry" As Stephen turned he saw something that resembled a man who had been drowned in the dark and left to rot for a week. Pale and sickly looking the man’s voice hauntingly slipped through his mouth and traversed almost lazily through the gap between Stephen and himself.
    "You don’t want to fight here, there’s security all over and you don’t want to be expelled on your first day do you?"
    "If you want to meet her she’s the president of the university legal services department."
    "um .. yeah thanks I .. sorry I’ve got to go." he got up and went for the door, once through he found a seat near a window in his room and lifted his hand to his breast pocket for his pack of cigarettes and frowned.
    The imperfect nature of the smoke tendrils wisping around the drapes and smothering the room in the smell of vagrant shag. It’s heavy smell seemed to imprint a subsequent series of images movements and memories into Stephen’s head, brushing harshly into his eyes and choking him with neuroticism. He thought heavily of home and what he was leaving behind, on his father who was at this moment buried behind a mountain of paperwork and evidence. He thought of the girl he had met in the cafe as he was leaving for Illinois the single moment of kinship he felt with her until it was quietly shattered by the conductor calling for all to board. He thought of the last moment he spent with his mother, at her deathbed with the cancer that was probably quietly eating away his father, he remembered her eyes as they softly looked upon him in a silent adoration a pride of his accomplishment. He soberly continued to choke down the cigarette as it burned on the stalk as it burned on his mind.
    The landscape drove by in an absolute rush of unfamiliar almost alien landscape, trees wild brush, grassland and farms. A pressure of natural colors on his eyes washing them through the swelling tears. He never wanted to be a detective, he never wanted to save the world, He didn’t even want to live but fate would never let him die not in the way he wanted to. He wanted it to be quick, quiet and merciful as though a quiet tide were to wash over and drag him away into the night. There were an endless supply of poetic methods for him to do himself in but it was never any use to think about it, he wasn’t that dramatic. He knew there was something to life worth living even if he didn’t know what it was. What he did know was the brick building quickly approaching was likely a stop and was probably his. He gathered his things and put out his cigarette then trailed out his luggage.