31/03/2012 § 4 Kommentare
This entry is part of a Flash Fiction Challenge by Chuck Wendig.
It was a dark and stormy night. Well, it wasn’t, really. Reginald still instinctively pulled the hat deeper into his face as he passed the two camera’s fields of vision. Silly. „Like an amateur“, he murmured, after the fact. The doors parted before him, as he entered the brightly lit hall and took in his surroundings. Just past midnight, and most of the shops had already closed. Only the Fast Food joint was still open.
A couple of young travellers in shorts ambled by with their heavy backpacks, headed downstairs. Two dishevelled drunkards at the door tried to act nonchalant to hide the fact that they had nowhere to go for the night.
Reginald didn’t trust escalators. He took the stairs. Only two more trains for the night, the third entry on the blue screens in the hall read 4:25 in the morning.
The travellers – three boys, two girls, all starting on their twenties – discussed whether to grab a bite of Junk Food or go down to the tram station. Some middle-aged man with thick glasses leaned beside the ticket automatons, reading a paper. But his eyes didn’t move right. More like he was looking at a picture, not at all like scanning text.
„At least I’m not the only amateur“, Reginald thought, as he crossed the hall to use the restroom. He had to drop in a coin to get through the barrier. He parted with the money only after a second’s deliberation, but figured: „What the hell. At least it keeps the homeless out and the inside clean.“ He ducked by the next camera and entered.
Money or not, it stank. He was alone in the brightly lit room with spotted walls and a sticky floor. He waved his hand in front of the tap until it spilled its contents, and wet his fingers.
He stared into his reflection’s eyes for a moment. A bit bloodshot, the right one. No, left. He sneered at the mirror.
„Liar“, he said.
Had he been long enough? Roughly, yes.
Reginald wiped his hands on his trousers and pushed at the door. It wouldn’t budge. A surge of panic. Then Reginald got it. Some kid had put up a sticker that read „PUSH“, but he had pushed to get in. He had to pull.
He opened the door and checked the position of „Mr. Paper“. The man hadn’t moved an inch, hadn’t even turned to keep him covered. But from his new vantage point Reginald could see that he held some kind of magazine inside the paper.
„Allright, old boy. You are just lonely“, Reginald thought.
He strolled towards the lockers, punched in the key and watched the right one swing open. He took the case and weighed it in his hand. Just about right. He would check the contents when he was safely back in his room.
Getting back into the hall he found the Food place closed, one straggling employee trying to look happy about getting home. Still, his furrowed brows betrayed his tiredness as well as his angry frustration.
Reginald turned right – and faced the backpackers. Or rather, three of them. The missing two were right behind him.
No more youngster attitude, however. They had lost their backpacks, mysteriously, and their posture spoke of some training.
One of the girls appeared to be the leader. She just held out her hand, palm facing up.
Reginald let the news sink in. He’d grown old, that much was certain. In his glory days, they wouldn’t have been able to pull that stunt on him. The ruse had been glaringly obvious, in retrospect at least. All those clues! Where had they come from? Why were their shorts so fresh and clean? And the staged discussion about food, conveniently enacted in the center of the hall, with open access to any exit. He should’ve known it the moment he caught sight of them. Foolish!
Still, being old didn’t mean being a victim. He felt the reassuring weight of the Sig Sauer tugged in his belt.
„Come on“, one of the boys, a lanky blue eyed curly one, said. They were eager to get on.
Reginald nodded. He held the case up, sliding the Sig into his other hand.
The girl sensed it in his stance. Too late, bitch. Her eyes went wide and she froze, even though „Curly Boy“ would be the first to go down.
Only, he didn’t.
The Sig jammed.
Girlie hit him with her fingertips, right under the larynx. One of the others, from behind him, put an elbow in his side.
He coughed and fell to his knees, had to hold on to the window panes of the dark diner beside him. The young snickered, and left him. The girl took the Sig Sauer with her, the boy held the case.
It took him ages to get back his breath. Old. Useless. Dead meat. Why in all the heavens had they sent him, after all those years, against an army of fucking Twens? The assholes, without doubt lying in their warm beds and snoring happily right now.