Coming to You Now From Fedora 9


Well, as many of you know, I have been wanting to blow away the operating system on my personal machine for some time now. Besides being unwieldy and bloated, I've had one or two software and driver issues that I just haven't been able to get motivated enough to do anything about under the old system.

Well, thanks to a colleague who sorted out an ISO image for me, this blog is now coming to you *live* from Fedora 9! To my great delight, the install took less than hour from shutting down the old system to starting up the new one, and with about twenty minutes of fiddling with plugins and upgrades I can now do virtually everything on this machine that I used to do. I resorted to use of the console on only one occasion - everything with the exception of the Adobe Flash plugin was done through the graphical interface.

I note this, not so much because I don't like the console (on the contrary, I now use the console to do most basic tasks, as it is generally quicker and easier than the alternatives), but because I was trying to get a feel for what it might be like to install and use Fedora for the first time as a new user. Admittedly, I've done more than my fair share of Red Hat installations (thanks to RHCT training and the like) so nothing in the Fedora installation came as a surprise, but attempting to analyse the instructions as a new user, the only thing that I thought likely to trip someone up was the request for a root password. Most Windows users are used to the concept of "administrator" privileges, and the use of the term "root" could be potentially confusing.

Setting up was perhaps not the easiest thing in the world for a new user. When installing the flash plugin in Firefox failed, I had to resort to yum, so that could potentially be a problem, although this is only indicative of a bigger issue - installing software under Linux, when you come from Windows-world, is a pain in the proverbial. The package manager under Gnome does a reasonable job of simplifying the task, but it often results in either dependency-hell, or a non-specific error. This situation gave rise to my comment to a friend the other day - get someone who knows what they're doing to set the system up for you, and you won't have to do anything much out of the ordinary. It's a sad fact ... day-to-day, the desktop Linux flavours have so much going for them. Try to do something that isn't web browsing, emailing or IM though, and you're going to require a console and some command line magic.

You may have came across what has been dubbed the "Great Ubuntu-Girlfriend Experiment" in recent months. It's a subject that has caught the interest of a number of mailing lists to which I subscribe, and the general consensus (if I may baldly generalise) seems to be that, while the experiment was fairly reasonable and the motives fairly noble, the wording has upset a few people. By labelling a "girlfriend" as someone who is not likely to be Linux- (or even particularly computer-) savvy, the author got a lot of people on the wrong foot before they read the article.

I'm one of those who thinks the article was useful, but I'm also up for a shameless plug every so often too. After a discussion online with some friends a week or so ago, a few facts became obvious to me:
1. I'm about to perform a fresh Fedora installation (check!)
2. I have a Linux-n00b boyfriend (check!)
3. The boyfriend in question is willing to subject himself to experimentation by yours truly (errr .... check!)

It would appear as though we have the fixings for a very tasty dish here ...

"The Great Fedora-Boyfriend Experiment!"

Watch this space, folks :)

Art and Interpretation


In amongst what has been an amazing, crazy, sleep-deprived, fun week, I have somehow managed to devour a book titled "Zigzag Street" by Nick Earls (don't ask me how, the only thing I know is that it was at the expense of sleep). It's your typical easy-to-read humorous fiction, up there with Marian Keyes and her ilk. Not too heavy or deep; good holiday or plane reading. I have a weakness for the genre, as those who know me know. The blurb from Nick Earls' website says:

Zigzag Street covers six weeks of Richard's life in the house his grandparents built at Brisbane's Red Hill. Six weeks of rumination, chaos, poor judgement, interpersonal clumsiness and, eventually, hope, as he stumbles from one incident to another.

Richard's trying to be a nineties man, longing to be desirable, searching for calm, but things are only getting more out of control. Zigzag Street is his story.

Despite it's horrid formatting, I enjoyed the story, however the person who recommended and loaned me the book has more than a little fascination with it. Upon reading it I can understand why - there are many parallels between the narrative and his own life. But it did make me wonder what makes art (in all it's forms) 'speak' to us?

I'm not sure that many books have spoken to me, strange as that may seem, with the possible exception of that iconic George Orwell novel, "1984". When I read the novel for the first time, we were studying it in high school (around Year 10, if my memory serves, which would make me 14). I was just starting to be more aware of world politics, and the concept of a bleak future under the rule of Big Brother was amazingly fascinating. I bought a copy of the book at that time and it was only on possibly the fourth or fifth reading that I suddenly realised that 1984 was *now*. And that is why it was fascinating - the idea of a modern parable had been borne within me for the first time, and I still actively seek out similar narratives - Ben Elton's "Blind Faith" immediately jumps to mind as an example of this.

Mostly, though, what speaks to me is music. And I wonder if this is because the stories are by necessity shorter, and more insular. It means the words can be more easily interpreted to apply to a greater range of situations. There have been many occasions where I have listened to a song over a range of years and, depending on what's going on my life, I have heard the song differently. Possibly the best example is off my very first LP - Dire Straits' "Tunnel of Love" from the album "Making Movies". While it feels sometimes as though I have suddenly become more aware of the artist's intentions, I believe in fact that I have just started listening differently.

Sitting here now and trying to think of other examples of art speaking to me on a deep level, one other thing jumps to mind. On my lounge room wall I have a watercolour by an artist who's name is Nancy Anderson. I know little about the artist, but got the impression that she was simply a spare time/backyard-style painter. If it weren't for the fact that her signature is remarkably readable I would never have remembered her name. I spent what was, at the time, an entire months' wages on the painting, which left me eating nothing more than stale bread until the next pay day (although that was not a terribly unusual occurrence at that time of my life), and have faithfully carried it from house to house ever since. It is titled "A River Somewhere" and my favourite thing is to ask people what they see in the picture without giving away the title. Few people see the river until it is pointed out, myself included, although it's obvious once you see it. It has such an amazing burst of colours from its centre, and the images laid over one another make it not only intensely beautiful, but open to endless interpretation.

Which brings me around the long way to my point - somehow, the things that speak most to me are the things that are open to interpretation, or that can be viewed differently through something as minor as an innocent conversation with a friend or a kiss from a child, or as life-changing as a new relationship (or the ending of one).

World view is a common theme in my ramblings - I find the concept of seeing the same things through different eyes endlessly fascinating. It's not just the world around us that we see differently, though, but also the way we react to the world that we see. Which makes me think of a hall of mirrors - reflections of reflections. The only person who sees art as it is meant to be seen is the artist. Others may see beauty, or a parable or an emotion, but every time and to every person, it is something completely different.

Nick Earls
"Zigzag Street"
My copy borrowed, but available from here

Ben Elton
"Blind Faith"
My copy published 2007 by Bantam Press.

Image is of "A River Somewhere" (watercolour) by Nancy F. Anderson.


Table of Contents


Table of Contents


Sunday Afternoon

Monday - 4:56am to the City

Monday - 06:14am to the City

Monday - 08:23am to the City

Monday - 09:32am Outbound

Monday - 3:21pm Outbound

Monday - 5:13pm Outbound

Tuesday - 6:14am to the City

Tuesday - 8:23am to the City

Tuesday - 3:21pm Outbound

Tuesday - 5:13pm Outbound

Wednesday - 6:14am to the City

Wednesday - 8:23am to the City

Wednesday - 3:21pm Outbound

Wednesday - 5:24pm Outbound

Thursday - 4:56am to the City

Thursday - 6:14am to the City

Thursday - 8:23am to the City

Thursday - 3:21pm Outbound

Thursday - 5:13pm Outbound

Friday - 4:56am to the City

Friday - 6:14am to the City

Friday - 8:23am to the City

Friday - 5:42pm Outbound



The house was still, the baby finally sound asleep in her cot after a long night awake. Megan fought the urge to sleep herself, and sat down at the table with a strong cup of tea instead. There was a pile of papers on the table - a collection of junk mail and this morning's newspaper, as well the baby photos that Dalton had printed off last night. Megan smoothed the paper out as she sipped her tea, idly flicking through the articles, trying to find the crossword. Suddenly distracted, her eyes flicked towards the photographs - she had gone through them all already but she pulled them towards her again, flicking through and admiring the perfect eyes, the perfect hands, the perfect toes of her little girl. Almost unconsciously she started sorting them into groups, laying them out on the newsprint: in the hospital; with Dalton; with other relatives and friends; in the car for the first time; at home with all the new equipment; Dalton puzzling over various pieces of baby-related paraphernalia. She was creating scrapbook pages as she went, mentally picking colours, styles and embellishments. As she moved the photographs around on the newspaper, words suddenly jumped out at her: "Mathers Murderer Found Yet Mystery Remains". She slowly cleared the photographs away from the article and, dreamlike, read the short piece:

"The murder of the young woman behind the award-winning A.M. Alston novels, Ariana Mathers, has officially been solved, but there remains questions over the gruesome death that may never be answered. Benjamin Eliot Morgan, 23, of Hawkswater, was taken into custody last Friday night after a tip-off from an un-named person helping the police with their enquiries. Morgan faces court early next week on a range of charges. In a situation that appears to be a one-night-stand turned nasty, Morgan allegedly had travelled with Mathers on the train from Hawkswater to Redton stations and, once there, raped and strangled her in the dark brush near the station grounds. Police refused to comment on whether others were involved, or if Morgan had used drugs prior to the murder.

Mathers' mother, Grace, however, has revealed that she received an anonymous cheque over the weekend. They discovered the hand-delivered envelope in their letterbox on Sunday afternoon, containing a cheque made out to "The Estate of Ariana Mathers" for a sum of $1.6 Million. There was a typed note in the envelope, stating only "From an old man who wanted to say "sorry". I don't know what happened, but no young person deserves what Ariana suffered, and no parent deserves to have a child taken from them in that manner. I wish I could have done more". The letter was unsigned, and Ms Mathers is appealing to the public for the sender to step forward, so that she can offer her thanks and gratitude.

In related news, City Rail have pledged to upgrade the surroundings of 14 suburban train stations, including Redton, within the next 18 months. Upgrades will include cutting back the brush surrounding the stations and installing 24 hour lighting. If you have any information on the Mathers case, please contact this newspaper, or Crime Stoppers."

Megan smiled as she thought about how they had argued over the wording of the letter, and the amount of the cheque. But in the end, they had agreed to keep it as close to Walter's own words as possible, and there was still plenty of funds left over so that their little girl would have a good education, and one hell of an eighteenth birthday party.


Shannen set the tall glass coffee cup down gently on the saucer, as though she were afraid it would break. She stared at the empty cup for a while, her latte finished now and remnants of milk froth clinging to her lip, and tried to gather her thoughts. Sitting across from her, Briana stared into her own cup of half finished coffee. The small coffee shop was buzzing with people who had finished work for the week and were winding up to the weekend. Briana and Shannen were sitting at a small table on the very perimeter of the street dining area, where they been observing not only the coffee shop full of people, but the cars going past and the pedestrians carefully sidestepping the chairs and tables pushed onto the footpath. Briana had just finished relating the story her mother had told her only days ago, about her father, Grace and Ariana and the relationship she was trying to establish with her unknown cousin. As the final words had dropped from her mouth, silence had descended, broken only by the background buzzing of people deep in their own conversations, and now Briana waited, hardly breathing, for Shannen's response.

Shannen continued to look into her cup, but her head was not bowed with solemnity for Briana's story, as the teenager thought. Instead, she was recalling her own teenaged years, and how serious everything was when you were sixteen. She trawled back through her own memories, and could recall the emotions more than she could recall the events that triggered them. She remembered how every love was the one, every break up was suicide-worthy, every friendship was till the end of the world, and every heartache warranted days in bed with 'depression'. It occurred to her that it was this roller coaster of emotion that had turned her into the hard partyer that she had become ... somehow the days of supposed depression, and the heartaches and breakups had been real enough that she had felt the need to escape them. Had the emotions really been that painful, or was she just finding that she dealt with things better these days? Somehow it seemed as though the emotions really had been painful - more painful than she thought she would be able to bear some days. And then she realised that, as a teenager, she had never had to deal with anything even remotely like what she had had to deal with in the past week - tripping over a dead body, only to discover later that it was your best friend, and then having to cope with the loss, the grief and the guilt all at once. Yet she had not at any point since learning of Ariana's death, wanted a drink, she had not craved a drug and she had not had to lean on others for support. The thought stopped her in her tracks - when had this change come over her?

As she looked through the thick glass of her latte cup, she saw an image on the saucer beneath it, and moved the glass for a better view. Sitting on the saucer was a serviette, bearing the logo of the coffee shop they were in, and suddenly Shannen smiled. She picked up the folded napkin, stained by spilt coffee and with a distinctive ring where her cup had sat, and held it up for Brianna to see.

Brianna looked blankly at the serviette that Shannen was holding up, and shook her head frowning. Shannen spoke finally, pointing to the logo and searching Briana's face for realisation, "It's a phoenix!"
Briana shook her head again, saying only, "Um, yeah, that's the name of the coffee shop,"
It was Shannen's turn to shake her head. She put the serviette down on the table, and smoothed it out, almost caressing the image of the phoenix printed on it. She had thought that her phoenix days were in the past two years, but now she realised that, while those were stepping stones, and they were certainly necessary, the day she rose from the ashes was the day she finished Ariana's story - the day she had discovered that she really didn't need a crutch, she didn't need external support. The day of her arising from the ashes was today, the day that she had discovered that she had the inner strength to cope with anything the world could throw at her, and that all it took to have that strength, was to know that she had it. She looked skyward and smiled, really smiled, for the first time in weeks, months, maybe even years. And although she still had a lot of grieving to do yet, she also knew that she could, and she would, be able to get through it. And silently, she thanked Ariana, for her best friend had given her the ultimate gift, she had given her the strength to carry on, and the strength that Shannen had been struggling to find in others, she had finally found, with Ariana's help, within herself.

Friday - 5:42pm Outbound


Lawrence swayed with the motion of the train, allowing the weight of his body to swing against the anchor point of both his hands on the overhead railing, knowing that the crush of people would stop him from swinging too far. He was thinking of everything, and nothing in particular, reflecting on Elouise's recent oddness, and the strange confrontation that had occurred with Damien the night before. He thought about Ben and how convinced he was that Damien was covering something up, and how he just couldn't see that it was true. Damien was clean these days, he wouldn't have had anything to do with it if there were drugs involved. Lawrence knew he had been at home when he got there, but that hadn't been until late on Sunday afternoon, and Damien had been leaving for work as Lawrence walked in. They hadn't talked really at all, but Damien had seemed his normal self - tired and a bit hung over still maybe, but Lawrence could hardly talk. He thought about Damien’s joking remark to Ben, about him being there, and Ben's reaction. He thought how strange it was that everyone around him had seemed to be acting so oddly recently, which made him think of Elouise. She hadn't turned up for two days straight now, and no one had heard anything from her until late this morning, when she had called to apply for immediate leave. When she had last been in which had been on Wednesday, she had looked somehow shell-shocked, but Lawrence still felt way too intimidated by her to ask her if she was all right. Instead, he had offered her a coffee, which to his surprise she had accepted with a smile and a word of thanks. She had offered no explanation to him, but she owed him none, and the day had gone on as normal, except that she had been somehow less harsh, a bit more relaxed and forgiving than normal, yet far from happy, Lawrence thought. But since then, she seemed to have dropped into the ether somehow, which was weird.

As the train rolled on through the suburbs, trees and housing developments whizzing past the grimy windows, Lawrence wondered about the dead girl, Ariana. Ben had said she was a writer, although the pen name he told him she had used was not familiar to Lawrence. Lawrence wondered what kind of books she had written, what stories she had had to tell the world, what kind of artistic talent the world had lost. He wondered what had happened that night after the little group left the party. Damien's story rung true to Lawrence, but he wondered what had happened after Damien left them at the station, whether they had taken the drugs, if it was a wilful murder, or a good time gone horribly wrong.

The train came to a stop at Redton and Lawrence let go of the hand railings above his head, grabbed his briefcase from where it stood between his ankles and elbowed his way to the doors, along with the rest of the crowd alighting at this station. He moved with the tidal flow of commuters towards the exit, not able to resist looking over his shoulder to the long grass at the opposite end of the station where they had found her body. The crowd thinned as he left the station and people dispersed to the car park, to the loading zone to wait for their lifts, or into the various roads leading away from the station to walk back to wherever they came from. Lawrence walked wearily up Station Road towards the flat that he shared with Damien, and was soon climbing the stairs to home. He opened the door, walked in and dropped his briefcase on the couch. Damien didn't make an appearance, and Lawrence could hear the shower running in the bathroom as he walked into the kitchen to find a drink. He poured himself bourbon and was walking with it back into the lounge room to settle in front of the television for a bit, when he heard a knock on the door. He looked up, frowning, then put the drink down on the coffee table and walked over.
"Who is it?" he called as he unlocked the door, ready to pull it open.
"Police." a deadpan voice answered.
Lawrence froze, a shiver of fear running through him and turning his knees to jelly. He fumbled, trying to get the door open with suddenly clumsy fingers, and eventually the door released and swung open to reveal two cops, one old and thick around the waist, the other young and tall. The older one held up a badge as Lawrence gaped at him. "Senior Constable John Mitchell." he introduced himself, then indicating the young guy beside him with a jab of his thumb, "Constable Michael Platt."
Lawrence's voice had left him. He settled for nodding dumbly.
"We're looking for Damien Everett,"
Lawrence nodded again, tried to work out what was required of him, and eventually stammered, "He's ... he's in the shower. Uh. Yeah, in the shower." he pointed with his left hand over his right shoulder, the right hand still holding on to the door as though it were the only thing keeping him upright.


Megan was exhausted, in pain and feeling somewhat like she had been run over by a fully loaded truck. She hardly noticed though, because there were other things competing for her attention. The main thing, of course, was the small infant screaming at her bedside, the other thing was trying to work out how to get said infant and swollen, leaking nipple attached to one another without causing excruciating pain, a feat she had not yet managed with any success. She swung her legs over the side of the high hospital bed, and, cooing and humming in an effort to soothe the hungry child, she slipped both hands underneath the tiny arched back. She waited a second, as the nurses had taught her, and using one hand to support her head and the other to lift her out of the plastic sided cot, she lifted her daughter and gently repositioned her in the crook of her right arm. She then used her free arm to lift her nightie, and unclipped the maternity bra. A bunch of damp tissue fell out and she ignored them - she was too new to this to even contemplate trying to pick them up. Following the nurses instructions to the letter Megan pointed her nipple at her daughter's wide open mouth. Megan was struck yet again at the resemblance to a baby bird, and suppressed a chuckle, feeling that laughing at her offspring only hours after she was born was slightly taboo, somehow. The baby latched on and Megan breathed a sigh of relief as she realised that everything seemed to have worked this time - there was no pain. She smiled down at her new baby daughter, her heart swelling with pride at her own accomplishments and, for the first time, love for the newborn. She hadn't realised that she wouldn't fall in love with her daughter instantly, there was too much going on, and too much to learn so quickly that there hadn't been the time so just sit and look at the tiny thing she had produced. But now she was able to just sit, and look. She used her free hand to very lightly brush the downy dark hair, and had a chance to watch the fontanelle pulsing with life. She tightened her hold slightly, in a half hug, and the baby threw her free arm out in protest, which made Megan smile. As she loosened her grip a bit the little hand came back down to rest on Megan's exposed breast, and Megan thought her heart was going to burst with the joy of it all.

Dalton burst through the door then, followed closely by a nurse, and Megan looked up, shaken out of her dreamy reverie. Dalton's face looked suddenly concerned and he went immediately to Megan's side, "Is everything OK, honey? You're upset."
"Upset?" Megan said confused, and Dalton lifted a hand to her cheek. It was only when he showed her the wet drops on his forefinger that she realised she had been crying, and she smiled at the misunderstanding and shook her head. "I'm fine, Tony, honestly. I was just thinking how happy I am, and how much in love I am with this little creature we made." She lifted her shoulder slightly in a shrug, to indicate the child happily feeding in the crook of her arm, and Dalton switched his focus to the baby also. Mimicking her earlier gesture brushing his big hands along the tiny head, he smiled also, seemingly lost for words.

The nurse abruptly moved from the chart where she had been filling in observations, and over to the bed where the new family sat.
"How are you Mrs. Richmond?" she said officiously.
"Well, thank you." Megan answered, just as formally, before breaking into a grin, "I think I'm getting the knack of this finally!"
The nurse bent to inspect the baby's attachment and nodded her head approvingly, "Well done, there's no discomfort?"
"None at all." Megan answered happily, and seemingly satisfied, the nurse made a few final marks in the chart and moved on to the next room in the ward.

Megan returned her attention to her husband, whose gaze was firmly fixed on the baby. The child was still sucking quite happily, but her eyelids were drooping, and Megan thought she would be asleep any minute. Looking back up into Dalton's face she asked what he had been up to while she and the baby had been sleeping off the rigours of the birth. It turned out that he had made a mad dash over to the public hospital to collect Walter's things and, in the process, had been given a note that he had written after their visit the night before.
"What did it say?" Megan said, curious.
"Well, that's the interesting thing," Dalton said, "You're not going to believe this, but it was a will."
Megan snapped her head up and looked him in the eye, "A will? He wrote a new will in the hospital?"
"Yes. Apparently he had a doctor and a nurse witness it. That was when he put us down officially as next of kin also."
"So what does it say?" Megan pressed.
Dalton produced a single piece of paper from his breast pocket, unfolded it and smoothed it out on his knee. It was the same stationery that Megan had used to write Ariana Mather's name on the night before, and, it seemed, he had used the same scratchy cheap pen to cover the page with spidery, cursive handwriting.
"I can't read it, Tony, what does it say?" she said impatiently.
Dalton took a deep breath, choosing his words carefully, and then let it out in a rush, "He left us everything. Well, not us, the baby." he pointed at the child in Megan's arms, and watched as Megan's eyebrows shot up, "What's everything consist of I wonder?" she mused
"Well, that's not exactly spelt out here, but as far as I can tell, it's a house, a train set and an undisclosed amount in a bank account. All to go into trust for the daughter of Megan and Dalton Richmond, with a monthly stipend to be paid until the child reaches 18, at which time she may have full and unfettered access."
"The daughter?" Megan said, "How did he ..."
Dalton shook his head, "I have no idea."

Megan looked down at the little girl that Walter had somehow pre-empted - she was asleep, pupils moving slowly beneath her translucent lids, fontanelle pulsing gently and a little dribble of milk running down her chin.


Senior Constable Mitchell was sitting across from Damien in the stark interview room, staring at him with an interrogator's smile. Damien returned it with a steely glare.
"How did you kill her, Damien?" Mitchell asked calmly.
"Who?" Damien responded, archly.
"You know who I mean."
"No. I don't know who you mean. I didn't kill anybody."
The police officer didn't respond, choosing to simply stare at him. Damien wasn't fooled, and he waited out the silence. The two stared at each other across the table in a crazy contest where the first person to speak lost the game. Damien was determined, but eventually the game was declared no-contest, because the door opened and Detective Sergeant David Ward walked in. Ward looked from one to the other, sensing the challenge that lay in the air like fog. He pulled one of the plastic chairs away from the table, reversed it, and sat down in a single fluid motion. He rested his forearms along the top of the chair back and lowered his head to stare at Damien.
"Tell me what happened in the hospital, Damien. Start with how you got the drug." It wasn't a question, it was an order. Damien decided to try and play the silence-lets-see-who-speaks-first game with Ward, but he wasn't going to fall for it. After only a few minutes, Ward stood suddenly, startling Damien with the squeak of the flimsy metal chair legs against the worn, bare floor.
"Okay." he stated, starting to pace, "How about I tell you what happened instead. That way you only have to agree with me as we go along." Ward stopped mere inches away from Damien's right ear, and he leant down to put his face as Damien's as possible. His hot breath tickled Damien's cheek when he ejected the words, "Got it, buddy?", and Damien nodded dumbly.
"Right." Ward straightened, and begun pacing the length of the short wall. He appeared to gather his thoughts for a moment, although Damien suspected it was an act - Ward had clearly been living and breathing this case all week. "Well, the drug you used was Pancuronium - Pavulon." Ward started. "Poor old Mister Spinner was practically swimming with it when the mortician checked him out. That drug was last used on your shift the day before for a Code Blue emergency involving a female patient at the opposite end of the hallway. You helped clean up after that incident, didn't you Damien?"
Damien didn't answer, and Ward stopped mid-step, wheeling to glare at him, "Didn't you, Mister Everett?" he said with force. Damien nodded again and Mitchell spoke up, asking him to say it out loud for the benefit of the recording. Damien obliged weakly, and Ward continued pacing apparently satisfied.
"So, you manage to find yourself a nice little half empty vial of Pavulon. Now, you could have just gotten so excited by your little find that you decided to use it on the next available patient - just for kicks. But you know what, I don't think you did that, did you Damien?" This time, he didn't wait for a response, and Damien wasn't intending to offer one. "No, you know why I think that, Damien? Because you showed just a little bit too much interest in Mister Spinner from the get-go. I think that Mister Spinner was a threat to you, Damien. I think he was a threat to you so you got rid of him. Finding the drug just gave you the means to do it. Didn't it, Damien?"
This time he was after an answer, and Damien hesitated at first, then nodded again, knowing when he was defeated. Mitchell slapped the table to get his attention, and barked, "For the tape, Mister Everett," and Damien croaked, "Uh. I guess."
"Well, Mister Spinner is just an old man, what could he possibly have threatened you with?" Ward's tone had become mocking now, playing up to his role as antagonist and seemingly enjoying it immensely. Damien just continued to feel miserable, knowing now that he was going down. He had no hope of recovery from this. "Well, it just so happens that we spoke to Mister Spinner only a few days ago, and I think that there may be a bit of a link here Damien. I think that Mister Spinner saw something down at Redton railway station." Ward had stopped pacing again, and he moved back to the table where Damien sat, his head buried in his hands. Ward placed his hands flat on the edge of the table and put his head close to Damien's, he dropped his voice and laced it with brutal accusation, "I think he saw you, Mister Everett. He saw you murder Ariana Mathers, and so you murdered him to shut him up."
Damien looked up, deciding finally that if he was going to go down, he'd better do it in a blaze of glory, he opened his mouth to speak and, when the words wouldn't come, he cleared his throat, then tried again. "I didn't kill Ariana Mathers. I was with her and couple of other guys, but when I left to go home she was well and truly alive. Sir." he added as an afterthought.
Ward sat back down on the reversed chair as though he was settling in for a nice bit of storytelling, and asked Damien to continue. Damien slowly warmed up to his story, and as the day wore on, more and more details came to light. By the time they had arrested Damien for the murder of Mister Walter Albert Spinner and returned him to his six by four holding cell, it was after ten in the evening and Damien was shaking and exhausted, knowing that he had just made either the biggest mistake or the greatest confession of his life. Possibly both, he thought miserably.


Ben had spent most of the day at home, indeed most of the week, surfing the internet for more information on Ariana and completely ignoring the load of study he had for his final exams for the year. He was in no doubt that he would fail the classes he had taken this year, but that was not particularly surprising and at least it meant he would get funding from his parents for another semester. He lived in dread of the day that he actually managed to graduate and his parents forced him to go and get a job. He was 23 now, and he saw no problem with living under parental funding for many years to come yet, provided he could work out a way to successfully do so.

He was busy ratting through the freezer looking for something he could reheat and consume in front of the computer, when he heard a knock on the door. He closed the freezer door and went through to the front of the house, calling out as he did so, "Coming!"

Ben got to the door and opened it but, instead of the friend he was expecting to see, he saw two uniformed police officers. His eyes narrowed as he looked at them, first one, then the other, "What the ...?" he stammered, before the elder of the two interrupted him.
"Senior Constable Mitchell," he stated, holding up a badge. He stabbed a thumb at the lanky officer beside him, "And Constable Platt."
Ben opened his mouth, but had not yet worked out what words to speak, when Mitchell continued, his notebook open as he spoke, "We have reason to believe that you were involved with the murder of one Ariana Grace Mathers last Saturday evening at Redton railway station. You are not obliged to say or do anything unless you wish to do so, but whatever you say or do may be used in evidence. Do you understand?"
Ben closed his mouth, and nodded his assent. Mitchell asked him to verbally confirm his understanding and Ben, fighting a throat closing in terror, croaked, "I understand."
With that, Constable Platt produced a set of handcuffs and moved towards Ben, who did not resist. Once he was suitably detained, Ben allowed himself to be led to the police vehicle parked in his driveway. He settled himself in the back seat of the vehicle, laid his head back on the bench seat and closed his eyes to block out the sight of the reinforced partition between the seats, the uniformed officers in the front, the handcuffs around his wrist. His mind instead showed him a stage - the stage where he had been dancing for so long. And then, without warning, the curtains started closing. He felt tears well up behind his closed lids. He let them come.

Friday - 8:23am to the City


Shannen had been shocked and surprised by Brianna's immense interest in Ariana's novel. Somehow she had tagged her as a fickle teenager, and it had been pleasantly remarkable when it had turned out that Brianna held Ariana's in such high regard. Shannen had discovered that Brianna had read some of Ariana's books, not realising who she was or the connection to her own family, from the school library. She showed such enthusiasm and unrestrained passion for being so close to a novel-in-progress that Shannen found it easier to explain her own sudden interest in the project.

Brianna had called her mother on Thursday night, explained carefully that she was here with her Aunt Grace and that she had been invited to stay and, after Grace and Brianna's mother had spoken at length, she had been given permission, provided she did not miss school the next day. And so, just like a teenage sleep over party, Brianna and Shannen had stayed up all night. Except instead of braiding each other's hair and painting their toenails, they worked side by side on Ariana's unfinished novel, Shannen typing away and Brianna giving advice on plot direction, what the characters might do next. By the time the early summer sun rose a combination of the amazing amount of content they had produced and extreme fatigue caused them both to fall asleep, heads resting on arms and hunched over the table.

They had lain like this for around two hours when the phone in the kitchen rung, and Shannen was startled awake. She got up and out of the chair, her stiff body protesting with the requests made of it. Brianna lifted her head, wincing as she turned to watch Shannen go to the other room and hunt for the ringing telephone.

Shannen found the phone lying on the kitchen table, surrounded by the paperwork of funerals, grave stones and estate settlements. She fished it out, hit the answer button, and said "Hello?" as she glanced at her watch. It was only just past six o'clock!
"Hello?" A polished Australian accent, almost English in its clipped tones, responded, "Who is this?"
Shannen sighed, already anticipating with dread the conversation that was to come, she had overheard Grace do it often enough to know that there was no easy way to get through it, "My name is Shannen. I'm - I was - Ariana's friend."
She waited for the puzzled silence, the torrent of questions, but was surprised when instead, the woman said, "Oh, right. That's fine. I was expecting to speak to Grace. It's Paige Bressler here, Ariana's publisher. Miz Mathers said that there was a lot of paperwork and notes of Ariana's there, and I was hoping I could organise to have someone pick it all up so that we can go through it and find out where her work was up to."
Shannen felt an instant tightening in her chest as she sensed that someone was going to take Ariana's notes away from her, and she reacted instantly, enforcing her inherited ownership of the work, "Well, you don't need to. I've gone through it all already. Did you know that she had finished her next novel?"
"No, I thought she was far from finished it. Are you sure?" The voice was suspicious, but Shannen could hear the note of hope floating just below the surface.
"Yes she has. What's the normal process for publishing her work? I think her fans deserve to read it."
At that, the pair fell into a lengthy conversation about drafts and editing, proofing and publishing, and throughout it, Shannen chose not to reveal that she had in fact, written the final ten thousand words herself. She was fully convinced that Ariana had written it, her characters knew their destinies so well that all Shannen had to do was press the keys to form the words that fell into her head whole.

"Hi. It's me. Look, about Saturday night. I just wanted to check that, you know, everything was OK. You two were both pretty smashed when you got on the train. Did you get back to Hawkswater OK?"
"Yeah, it wasn't far, I walked back. Sobered me up some."
"OK. Cool. So, how was it?"
"Heh. OK. We were both pretty smashed, like you said."
"I wasn't sure she was going to go all the way, you know. She seemed a bit jumpy. Whatever the fuck she was taking was messing with her."
"Yeah. Well. It was OK."
"Heard from her since?"
"Ha! No, man. I wouldn't expect to. I can't even remember her damn name."
"Oh, OK. Well, never mind. Just wanted to make sure you got back alright. Invited to the next one, though, I want a turn with her if she shows up."
"Heh. Yeah, alright. You and everyone else that was here."
"Yeah. See ya, man."


Brianna had dropped back to sleep while Shannen spoke with the person on the phone, the soft tones of her voice as she discussed what needed to be done with the novel washing over her in an incomprehensible babble and soothing her back into her dreams effortlessly. When Shannen hung up and came back into the room, she opened one eye and watched her moving around, eventually murmuring, "Who were you talking to?"
Shannen looked up as though she had completely forgotten that Brianna was even there, pre-occupied as she was with her thoughts, "Hmm? Oh. On the phone? It was Paige Bressler, Ariana's publisher." Shannen broke into a grin, "She's going to publish Ariana's latest novel."
Brianna frowned slightly and lifted her head, putting it on side as she took in the information, "But it's not all Ariana's work, you've written heaps. Did you tell her?"
Shannen bit her bottom lip, but somehow managed to smile through it. "Well." She said finally, arching an eyebrow knowingly, "Do you think she would have published it if she knew that?".
Brianna laughed and shook her head, then said "So you're an author who started writing, what, twenty four hours ago? And already you're getting published. That's some feat!"

Shannen and Brianna locked eyes then, suddenly touched by how far they had come in what amounted to only a single evening, and Shannen suddenly laughed out loud, throwing her head back in the first feeling of mirth she had felt since she had discovered Ariana's fate. She laughed at the bond she had formed with this stranger, at the absurdity of the writing she had completed throughout the sleepless night, and at the somehow fitting justice of the accomplishment. She felt as though, in some strange roundabout way, she had avenged her friend's death. She had brought Ariana's final act of creation fully to life, and set it free - flying across the ocean like a white dove.

Friday - 6:14am to the City


Dalton had gotten up early and left for the train as normal, and also as normal, Megan had woken long enough to receive a kiss in farewell and dropped back to sleep. She was lost in dreams when a noise cut in. She tried to incorporate the sound into her dreams at first, but it wasn't long before she slowly came to the morning of her bedroom, the sun just starting to show through a chink in the curtains, and the phone beside the bed ringing incessantly. Struggling to sit upright she settled for a half rise, her abdominal muscles protesting, just long enough to snag the phone from its cradle. She sunk gratefully back into the covers as she brought it to her ear, "H'lo?" she murmured, her voice still thick with sleep.
"Oh, hello. Is that Mrs Richmond?" said an officious female voice on the other end.
Megan frowned, thinking that it was a solicitation, before checking the clock. The green led glowed 6:14 at her impassively, and she gave a start. Certainly not a sales person then - but who on earth could be ringing at this hour? The uncomfortable thought occurred to her that the only calls that came in the wee hours were harbingers of bad news. She pushed the thought aside, but not before instinctively wrapping an arm around her belly. She pushed herself up slightly in the bed and cleared her throat before answering, "Yes, that's me."
"Mrs Richmond, sorry for the early hour, but you're marked down as the next of kin for Mister Walter Spinner?" The statement had the upward inflection of a question, as though the speaker was uncertain of the accuracy of her information, and Megan frowned. As far as she was aware, her great uncle wasn't aware of her existence before yesterday and, if he was, he would not have known her by her married name.
"Umm," she hesitated, "I guess I must be. May I ask who this is, please?"
"Oh, I'm sorry, Mrs Richmond. This is Leona Fardenson, I'm the duty nurse on the general ward at the hospital where your ..." there was a pause and Megan heard a rustle of paper as the nurse flicked through records, "Where your great uncle was being looked after."
Megan was still caught up in the fact that she had been named her great uncle's next of kin, and missed the nurse's use of the past tense. She couldn't figure how the hospital had her details, she hadn't given them, so Walter must have. In which case, he must have acted quickly, she thought wryly.
"Oh. Okay. I wasn't aware that you had my details." Megan said and then added, "and please call me Megan."
"Thank you Megan. Mister Spinner apparently provided your information to us late yesterday afternoon." The nurse paused slightly and gave a small cough, as though she were waiting for a response from Megan. Megan still slightly sleep-addled and having not immediately realised the purpose of the call, said cagily, "Was there something else?"
"Yes, Mrs Richmond," the nurse said gravely, lapsing back to the formal name, and instantly Megan realised the purpose of the call. Her hand flew to her mouth as she heard the voice on the other end of the phone say, "I'm sorry to have to inform you that your great uncle passed away in the early hours of this morning."


Dalton was standing on top of a building, legs astride the peak of the roof, using a rivet gun to affix sheets of corrugated colorbond to the frame. The sun was starting to get warm on his back now and, while it was pleasurable for the moment, especially after the days of rain, he knew it would get unbearable before too long and it gave him an incentive to get this job done as soon as possible so he could get down into the shade. He was concentrating on getting the second last sheet down when he felt a tickling on his leg. He stamped his foot, thinking absently that it was a fly or other insect, and popped another rivet. The tickle came again, in the same spot and he switched the gun to the other hand to whack his leg and dislodge the bug. Instead of a bug however, the slap drove his mobile phone painfully into his thigh, and he realised what it was that was irritating him. His mouth set in a frustrated line at the interruption he fished the phone from his pocket and straightened up on the roof. He pressed the button to answer the call and snapped "Dalton Richmond", his eyes taking in the view over the city distractedly as he heard his wife's voice on the other end of the line. He listened impatiently as she told him about the phone call she had just received. He frowned a little, unsurprised that Walter was dead - he hadn't looked on his death bed yesterday, exactly, but he certainly hadn't been well, he thought.
"Listen, Meg, was that all? Can I call you back in ten?" he said abruptly.
There was a pause on the line and Dalton wondered if he'd upset her, before she said, "No, that's ok. Sorry, I didn't realise you were busy, honey. Call me back on the mobile ok?"
Dalton agreed to do so, and put the phone back into his pocket. He continued with the riveting, thinking over the phone call, and decided that he might have been a bit harsh. He would make a point to apologise to her when he called her back, he thought.

It was close to half an hour later that Dalton finally finished on the roof and climbed down into the shade he had created for himself. He stopped and discussed some plans with one of his work mates for a few minutes and suddenly remembered his promise to call Megan back in ten minutes. He pulled the phone from his pocket again and found a place to sit under the new roof, dialling the number of the house phone from memory. It rang and rang, eventually being picked up by his wife's recorded voice on the answering machine. He frowned and hung up without leaving a message, and then remembered Megan's peculiar instruction to call her on the mobile. He looked this number up in the memory of his phone and dialled, suddenly wondering what she was up to, leaving the house before seven in the morning. This number rang out too - there was no voicemail, just an abrupt click and the sound of a dead line in his ear - and he thought that she had either left the phone at home, or she couldn't hear it in her handbag. Thinking to give her a second chance if the latter was the case, he hit redial and tried again, listening to the empty ringing at the other end. He was just about to give up when he heard Megan's voice, low and breathless, "Tony!" she gasped, "Get to the hospital! The private one, I mean. We're having a baby!"
Dalton had stood when Megan had answered, her frazzled voice sparking instant concern, and now a grin split his face as he realised the cause. He spared seconds to let the foreman know that he'd gone and sprinted to the station, heading home to get the car.

Friday - 4:56am to the City


Walter was starting to feel better. He had still been sleeping a lot, but for the brief periods that he was awake he was feeling more comfortable. He missed being in his own place, missed his own bed. Missed getting up early and trotting down to the train station for a relaxing few hours. But he also knew that he was being looked after here, and he guessed that was a good thing. The police hadn't left like he had thought though. Every time he opened his eyes, there was someone standing by the window, waiting for him to be lucid enough to talk. He had talked to one guy, a young fellow by the name of Platt, some time ago - his sense of time was all out of order, and it could have been this morning or three days ago. Platt had asked him all sorts of questions about what time he had gotten to the station, what he had seen, whether anyone else was around. Walter had answered all the questions as well as he good, but his head was still fuzzy and the policeman hadn't seemed very happy with the answers he had given. The visit from his previously unknown niece and her husband had cheered him though, and it had been good to give her the message to pass on to the dead girl’s family. He had told one of the nurses later on about the whole story, and she had smiled, happy that he had enjoyed the visit.

He looked over to the window now and was surprised to see no one there. The room appeared empty for only the second time since he had gotten here. This time he didn't get his hopes up that they had left him alone, though. He figured that even police officers had to use the toilet from time to time. There was the promise of dim light starting to show through the grimy window and Walter realised that it must still be very early in the morning. The small portion of the hallway visible to him was plunged in semi darkness and Walter could hear no voices speaking, no trolleys filled with manufactured hospital food rolling between rooms. It was then that he heard soft footfalls and a squeaky wheel on the worn carpet, and out of the dimmed hallway came a uniformed orderly wheeling a blood pressure monitor.

"Good morning, Mister Spinner." The orderly greeted him, too cheerfully for whatever early hour this was. "My name is Damien Everett, I'm going to take your obs. How are you feeling this morning?"
Walter nodded slightly and responded, his voice wavery and weak still, "Uhh, I'm feeling a bit better. I think I'd like a drink of water."
Damien acknowledged the request with a nod, and turned to the table to pour a small glass from the opened bottle there. He helped Walter up into a sitting position and supported his back as he drank.
"What's happened to your police escort, Mister Spinner? He seems to have left you alone for a bit." he mentioned casually, making conversation.
Walter didn't answer, he concentrated on drinking, and then lay back down with relief. Even that amount of pressure on his hip was painful. Damien helped him back down, and then withdrew a syringe from his pocket, already filled with a clear liquid. The orderly removed the orange cap from the point and moved quickly to the IV bag. He pierced the bag directly, watching as the liquid squirted into the saline sitting in the bottom of the near empty drip. He turned back to Walter as he recapped the syringe and put it back into his pocket. "That will help you with the pain, Mister Spinner. Now let's get these obs underway, shall we?" he smiled broadly, and grabbed the blood pressure cuff to wrap around Walter's arm.

As he watched the orderly pull the two ends of the cuff together around his bicep, Walter felt a strange sensation of paralysis wash over him. He went to say something, to get the orderly to help him, and felt his throat thicken. Panic started to wash over him as he felt his body stop responding to the commands his brain was issuing. He wanted to flap his arms, cry out, something to draw attention to the fact that something was seriously, terribly wrong. He could hear the orderly carry on with his easy banter as he turned away, arranging the thermometer to put into Walter's mouth, and when he turned back he must have seen the panic in Walter's eyes. Walter was relieved at first, the orderly would get help for him and it would be alright, but this temporary relief was swamped by a new wave of fear as he saw the smile appear on the orderly's face. He couldn't hear what the man said, but he saw that smile just before he turned away and casually pressed the emergency button by the bed head. Walter closed his eyes, trying to reassure himself that help was on its way, the emergency button had been pressed and they would be coming to save him, it was some dreadful mistake, surely. He was still thinking this as his brain started to shut down, all muscle functions ceasing. Damien started to yell for help, allowing a suitable level of panic to creep into his voice as he watched the old man pass away.


Elouise's eyes popped open, wondering why the radio wasn't blaring bad morning radio in her ear. It was a second or two before she realised that she wasn't at home, in bed, with Robert snoring beside her. And she wasn't going to take the train early to spend time with Zach. She was in a cheap hotel room, the sheets rough on her skin and the smell and atmosphere unfamiliar and cloying in the pre-dawn air. She had decided when she arrived last night that she was going to call in to her office this morning and apply for leave for two weeks. The intention was to try and find herself a home and some internal solace. Both seemed unattainable. She was in constant dread that Robert would call the police about her actions on the station the day before, and the fear only served to remind her of the irrational act that she had committed. The vision of Zach's broken body haunted her constantly, and sleep had been a fickle, restless beast all night - fraught with dreams, nightmares, irrational mental wanderings and terror beyond any she had ever known.

She sat up in the hard, concave bed, and rolled her upper body over her drawn-up knees, forming an almost perfect circle. Again, the tears began to flow. They were no longer tears for what had been lost - her family, her husband, her lover, her comfortable life - they were tears only of self pity.

Thursday - 5:13pm Outbound


When Kasey had told her father that she was going to slip out the back door and go to the shops, she had meant it. But when she had gone outside, the door slamming behind her, she had stopped just outside the door, standing on the coir mat. And before long she had heard her mother come in and her father, very politely Kasey thought, ask her to leave. She listened as her father went to and from the garage, packing the bags into the car, and marvelled at the lack of yelling. She had somehow expected them to yell at each other, call each other foul names and fling accusations at each other like weapons. Instead, she heard her mother weeping softly as her father packed the last of the bags into the car, and then her father's soft voice saying, "I was there this morning, Elouise. I saw what you did. You're lucky I've kept it to myself so far, but I can't stay in this house with you now I've seen what you are capable of. There are just two questions I want answers to before you go. First, how long has this been going on and second, who is he?"
Kasey couldn't see her mother, but she heard her sniff as she tried to bring her emotions under control, "It's ... we've. We've been seeing each other for about three years. I went this morning to break it off ... things got. Things got. Well, it got heated I guess ..." Elouise's voice cracked on the last word, and it seemed as though Robert stood patiently by, waiting for the answer to his second question. Eventually, it came.
"His name is Zach, Zachary Wright. He lives in Frank Street in the City, in one of the studio apartments along there. He's a painter - an artist." Elouise's voice faded into a series of hiccupping sobs, and Kasey stood, dumbstruck, for a heartbeat, while the information she had just heard sunk in. Robert had begun to speak, but Kasey's ears heard only a rushing sound as rage and jealousy overtook her.

She wasn't quite sure how it happened, but in the blink of an eye, Kasey was back through the door into the laundry, and through the house into the living room. She wasn't aware of it, but she was yelling the whole way, her face red with passion and anger. "How DARE you?! How DARE you! Why didn't you TELL me?! My own MOTHER!" she screamed, enraged, until she was face to face with her mother, her father stepping back a few paces in shock at the tempestuous fury that had appeared between them. Kasey put her face right into her mother's and yelled as loud as she could, "HOW DARE YOU FUCK MY BOYFRIEND!!"

And with that, Kasey stormed back the way she had came, Robert flying after her, leaving Elouise rooted to the spot, amidst the ruins of her household.


While he had been doing his round, Damien had been thinking about the little problem that Walter Spinner was causing him, and what he was going to do about it. He had no clear ideas, just some vague assumptions and theories that all felt as though they were dead ends.

He was busy with a patient in the room very close to the nurses’ station when he heard the alarm bell sound there. He apologised to the patient and stuck his head out into the darkened hallway to see what was going on, and one of the senior nurses called over her shoulder to him, "Code Blue in 36! See you up there!" as she ran up the hallway. He lifted his hand in acknowledgment, and went back into the room to pack up quickly. Within seconds, he was following the nursing staff up the hallway to room 36.

Damien liked to be around for a Code Blue emergency. Code Blue specifically meant an adult patient was in immediate trouble, with death imminent, but it was used mostly for cardiac arrest. Damien was rarely needed at these, he didn't have the medical qualifications to be able to help out, but often the professionals there would get him to grab equipment or run a message to someone in a hurry, and for that reason no one ever minded him being around. It was fascinating to be able to stand back in a corner and watch the commotion going on around him. To be able to witness someone in their death throes, and know that their future hung in the balance on the skills and reactions of those attending to them, was the ultimate gamble. Damien would call the game in his head as he watched the panic, trying to decide if the patient was going to live or die, right up until it was clear that the dice would roll one way or the other. Unfortunately, by the time Damien arrived at this one, the patient had been stabilised and sedated successfully and the nurses were busy patting each other on the back. The woman in the hospital bed still looked deathly white, but her chest rose and fell evenly and the monitors she was hooked up to had ceased complaining.

The nurse that he had seen at the nurses’ station when the alarm went off turned to him when she saw him enter, "Oh, Damien! Crisis over thank goodness. Doctor Dreiser was here for another patient and she got her stabilised really quickly." she said with a smile. She turned to the mess laying on the bedside table next to the patient's IV pump and started picking up the rubbish of discarded syringe packets and single-use sleeves.
Damien walked up beside her and touched her on the shoulder lightly, "Here, let me do that, Robyn, I'm sure you have patients to see to."
The nurse looked up gratefully, "Oh, thanks Damien. That's sweet of you."
"No problem at all," Damien replied with a smile, "I'll see you later for the next round of obs, okay?"
Robyn nodded, thanked him again, and walked quickly out of the room, already concentrating on the next thing she had to do.

Damien looked back down at the mess of syringes and empty vials, sifting through it a little bit with his hands as he sorted the hazardous rubbish from the general refuse. The motion of his hands stopped suddenly as he noted a vial still half full with a clear liquid. He dropped what he had been holding and grabbed the vial, turning it until he could read the product name. As he did so he smiled - his luck was in. Immediately, he had a plan.


When Kasey left the house her feet, lacking any conscious direction from her mind, took her down the path they usually trod and she shortly found herself at the train station, exhausted but still very angry. The sun was starting to leech out of the sky but, undeterred, she walked on to the outbound platform and up to the very end, then sat on the edge of the concrete beside the gap in the fence. Her feet dangled into the long grass where they had found the dead girl, and she stared at the spot still marked by broken grass and embedded footprints as she seethed at her mother. When Elouise had poured her heart out on Tuesday evening Kasey had actually felt sympathy for her and had even come some way to understanding why she had done the things she had done. Elouise had explained how the affair had just happened, and how once she had started how hard it was to stop, and Kasey had nodded along, understanding as her mother explained how one day can flow into the next and before you know it you were weeks or months, or in this case years, down the line and it was too late to turn back. Kasey had believed her when her mother had said she was going to break it off. She had even believed that no real harm could come of it, thought that if Dad didn't know and Mum was ending it before he found out that there could be no real problem. But Elouise had never told Kasey his name, had never indicated where he lived, and had never implied that she knew about Kasey's relationship with him. It didn't occur to Kasey that maybe Elouise didn't know. She didn't think that Zach would be so selfish and self-centred so as to hide the knowledge. And she certainly didn't understand why Elouise would have withheld the information from her own daughter.

While Kasey was sifting through her thoughts, she heard foot falls behind her, and she turned slowly to see her father approaching her. His face was red, his breath fast and when he sat down beside her she could smell the sweat drying on his body. It wasn't an unpleasant smell, in fact it was somehow comforting, and reminded her of when she was small and helped him out doing things in the yard. She leaned against him, drinking in the warmth and reassurance that he emitted, and let the tears flow. Robert cried along with her, the high emotion of the confrontation with Elouise catching up with him in a rush.

The two sat side by side for some time, just bathing in each other's company, receiving solace from the other's presence. Eventually, they spoke in hushed tones, and Kasey filled her father in on the bits of the story he hadn't already worked out. Robert bit his tongue, deliberating, and eventually blurted out the truth about Zachary Wright's death, and her mother's role in it. Kasey cried again, harder than ever this time, and it was fully dark by the time she regained control over her emotions again. Robert drew her skinny, still child-like body into his own, and she crumbled against him. The automatic lights came on on the platform behind them, casting their shadows on to the grass in front, surrounded by sickly yellow light. The change in the environment was enough for them both to stir from their thoughts, and Robert gently suggested that they walk home.

The pair rose, the younger leaning against the elder, tears still making fresh tracks down her face, although the wracking, heaving sobs had departed for the moment. Slowly, carefully, father and daughter made the trek the few blocks back to the house, and Robert opened the door for his daughter to enter. The house was empty, Elouise's car missing from the garage, and a note left on the kitchen bench. Robert lifted it to read, "My darling Husband and Daughter, I have done wrong. I am sorry. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. For I don't know that I will ever forgive myself. With love, forever and always, Elouise."

Thursday - 3:21pm Outbound


Elouise had sat in the coffee shop for a long time, nursing her tiny cup of espresso while the waiters gave her filthy looks. She felt somehow dead inside. She just couldn't make her brain accept what had just happened, and she couldn't seem to get past the roadblock idea that she had just murdered someone. It was on an endless loop in her mind - murdermurdermurdermurder - until the word no longer made any sense. Even then, the idea of it remained with her and whenever she tried to think about what she was going to do now, to plan anything beyond taking the next breath, having another sip of coffee, she was road blocked by the image of Zach's broken body lying on the rough ground beyond the fenced off platform. She craved the days of her childhood, when decisions were made for her, when if she made a bad decision, it could be fixed by the grownups. But there was no grown up to turn to now - she was the grown up, and time had relentlessly shuffled on. Even deciding whether or not to go home was too difficult a decision to make, and it was well after lunch time that she finally found enough impetus to stand up and wander back to the train station.

She had caught the train more out of habit than by actually thinking about what had to be done. Her feet knew which platform to go to, and they took her there faithfully. The train had moved along its well-beaten path, the sound of the wheels running along the tracks singing their song just for her (murder-er, murder-er, murder-er). She had gotten off the train at Redton and walked in a daze to her car, where she had driven on autopilot to her home. She opened the garage door remotely and had started to manoeuvre the car inside when she recognised something out of place, and at first she couldn't pin point the problem. Then she realised that it was Rob's car ... why was the Prius here at three o'clock on a Thursday afternoon?


Kasey got off the train at Central, and walked quickly to the end of the platform to meet Zach. But when she got there, he was nowhere to be seen. She stood at their normal meeting spot, tapping her feet impatiently and watching the smattering of other people coming and going on the other platforms. She could see a small commotion happening on platform one, over where the interstate, long distance trains came in, but she couldn't tell what, if anything, was going on. She watched with idle interest for a while, checked her watch, and looked up at the electronic timetable on a screen suspended from the ceiling. There was a train heading home from another platform in about ten minutes, and she decided to take it if her boyfriend didn't show soon. She waited another five minutes, and when Zach still hadn't appeared, she wandered over to the exit, up into the station and back down on to Platform Twelve. She couldn't see the commotion on Platform One from here, it was too far in the distance, and before she had a chance to think any more about it, the train pulled in and the doors hissed open, inviting her to enter.

On the train ride back to Redton, she sent Zach a text message, saying that she had missed him at the station and would see him next week. She didn't get a response. She felt let down and a bit miserable, but decided that she would go home and make herself a milkshake and spend some time listening to music and chatting to her friends online for the afternoon. She really should be studying, she had exams next week, but she needed some time to herself too, she couldn't study for seven days straight! The fact that she had actually not studied at all this week seemed inconsequential to her at the moment, and she promised herself that she would do some over the weekend instead.

Eventually the train pulled into Redton station and she alighted and meandered back home. She let herself in with the door key she kept on a key ring hanging from her backpack, and went into her room to dump her school bag and turn her computer on. While she waited for the machine to boot up, she went into the kitchen and prepared herself a milkshake and a handful of biscuits to take up with her. It was only then that she noticed the neatly packed suitcase and the overflowing hold-all on the floor of the living room. She heard a motion from the stairwell and looked up to see her father dumping another bag, this one full of her mother's shoes and handbags, next to the two already there, and instantly she knew what had happened. Her mother's secret was out, and Dad wasn't happy about it.


"Dad! DAD!" Kasey sung out from the kitchen.
"What?" Robert responded from upstairs. Instead of answering, he heard his daughter's footsteps coming up the stairs, and he looked up from where he was packing bottles of makeup and hair product into a bag in the ensuite.
Kasey stuck her head around the corner, "Um. Mum's here. She's just pulled in to the garage."
Robert nodded, then, noticing how nervous she looked, he gave her a quick hug, "It's going to be alright, Kasey, we'll sort this out OK? Do you want to try and make yourself scarce for a bit? How about you slip out the back door and run down to the corner shop for fifteen minutes or so?"
Kasey started to shake her head in protest and then, thinking better of it, agreed reluctantly. Robert gave her a wan smile - the best he could do right now, and she took off back down the stairs. He waited until he heard the back door slam, then finished putting the last of the bottles and tubes into the bag. He hoisted the bag, now heavy with cosmetics, and set off downstairs with it, stomach churning in anticipation of the confrontation he had orchestrated.

When Kasey had got home and saw the packed bags, Robert had decided to tell her that her mother had been having an affair with another man. She had surprised him when she said she knew about her mother's affair, because Elouise had told her the whole sorry truth only last Tuesday evening. He had asked her why she hadn't said anything to him, and was strangely relieved when she had shrugged and said that it was because Elouise had sworn her to secrecy. "Besides," she had said to him, "She said she was breaking it off, so it didn't seem important to get you all upset over it when it was ending anyway." Robert had thought wryly, Oh, she finished it off all right - permanently, before he could stop himself, and he bit his tongue to keep from revealing the gruesome conclusion he had witnessed just that morning. He hadn't called the police, he had no evidence other than his own eyes, and he didn't know the man's identity. But, he thought, he wouldn't hesitate to call them should he feel the need.

He had heard the door that gave access to the house from the garage as he descended the stairs, and as took his foot from the last stair and placed it on to the carpet of the living room, he could se Elouise staring at the bags of clothes and other belongings as though she could not identify what they were. He walked over to the pile without acknowledging his wife, and dumped the bag he was holding alongside the others.
"Well, that's about it I think." he said, looking at the bags and placing his hands on his hips. Gradually he looked up into her stricken face, realisation starting to dawn slowly across her pretty but worn features, "I'll give you a hand to take them down to the car shall I?"
Elouise didn't reply, she didn't act as though she had heard, just continued to shift her gaze from Robert's face to the bags of belongings at their feet. "What?" she said eventually, in a tiny voice, "What's this? What's going on? Where are we going?"
Robert looked at her intently, a mean glint coming into his eye, "Not 'we' honey, 'you'. You are leaving this house. Now. I want to ask you a lot of questions, but right now what I want even more than to ask questions is to get you out of this house." Robert had not raised his voice, in fact it had dropped slightly in volume as he gave this little speech, becoming quieter and somehow much, much more frightening. To emphasise his point, he re-opened the door leading to the garage and picked up two of the bags, one in each arm. Staggering slightly with the weight, he took them out to the garage and packed them neatly in the back of the sedan. When he came back in for more, she was standing still gaping at him.


When they had spoken on the phone the day before, Brianna had come to like Grace almost immediately. Now, Brianna was on her way around to Ariana's house to meet her. It was a fair walk from the train station, but Brianna had been surprised at how close they had lived, albeit unwittingly. She was tired from walking when she arrived at the big Queenslander, up on its stilts, but the overriding emotion was nervousness. She hadn't told her parents she was coming here. Normally on Thursday's she had a dance class, but she had made an excuse that she wasn't feeling well and decided to head out here instead.

Nervous, but excited, walking slowly yet wanting to run, Brianna got to the front door and hesitating only slightly, rapped loudly. There was a nervous pause where she thought that either no one was home, or she had the address wrong, but eventually footsteps could be heard and a thin voice sung out, "Who is it?"
"Uh ... it's Brianna Moore. I spoke to you on the phone yesterday?" she called in response.
There was no answer immediately but the door opened as a form of acceptance, and Brianna found herself looking at a woman who so closely resembled her father it was quite uncanny. She didn't quite have his height, and she had not gained the amount of weight he had in the past ten years, but otherwise, her face and features were identical. Behind the red-rimmed eyes and the grey pallor to her skin, the visual cues of her grief, Grace Mathers had clear green eyes, high cheekbones and a graceful, pointed nose. Her mouth was a rosebud, softening and lined at the corners with age but with the naturally well defined line that had so charmed her many suitors. Grace's hair, the same strawberry blonde as her father's receding locks, was pinned back casually with a clip, and strands of it hung in her face. Grace gave a sad smile, and reached out for Brianna's hand.
"Brianna, Love," she said, "I am so glad to see you here. It means a terrible lot to me that you have reached out as you have."
Brianna did not know how to react, and so she simply nodded, dropping her head slightly in embarrassment.

Together, they had walked into the kitchen, sat at the table, and they had begun talking. As she had done with Shannen, Grace got up and made tea, and eventually two stories - different stories yet inexorably intertwined - were unravelled onto the table that sat between them, like an unwinding ball of tangled twine. Grace discovered what her twin brother had been up to all these years, and finally got the contact, second hand as it was, that she had craved for so long; and Brianna discovered the cousin, also in a second hand way, that she had discovered so recently, and lost before she knew of her existence.

It was some time later when Brianna was startled by a sound from the next room. She wheeled around to work out what the noise was, and Grace flapped her hand in the direction of the dining room. "That's Shannen," she said casually, "Shannen is - was - Ariana's best friend. Ariana did all her writing in that room and Shannen has been sorting out the paperwork." Grace dropped her voice, and leaned across the table as though she were about to impart a grave secret, "I'm a bit worried, she hasn't budged from the room for two days, but I don't want to disturb her. I wonder if you would like to speak to her." This last was spoken wistfully, and seemed to be Grace speaking to herself, more so than to Brianna. Nevertheless, Brianna was intrigued. She stood, walked over to the entrance to the dining room - there was no door here - and stuck her head around the corner. She saw a woman sitting hunched over at the wooden slab of a dining table, her fingers flying over the keyboard of a laptop, totally engrossed in her work. Unwilling to interrupt, but completely unable to resist the gnawing fingers of curiosity, Brianna cleared her throat.

Shannen, startled, looked up from her typing and, expecting to see Grace and seeing instead a teenage girl with a dark ponytail and round features, frowned at the newcomer. "What's this? Who are you?"
Brianna smiled politely, explained her connection to Ariana, and hastened to add that she didn't want to interrupt Shannen's work.
Shannen smiled sheepishly, and lazily waved her hand at the computer, losing the abruptness of her movements once she got over the initial shock, "Ha. Not my work, for certain. Ariana had come so close to finishing the story and, when I had read the rest, well I wanted to see what happened. The crazy thing is, the characters are writing their own stories; they're just using my fingers to get them down on paper." She gave a slight chuckle at how crazy that sounded then added, "It's quite amazing really. Here, sit down." Shannen gestured to an empty seat next to her, then to a pile of papers on the table, "Here's all Ariana's notes - do you want to have a look?"

Brianna was stunned at Shannen's easy friendship, especially after being so shocked at her presence initially. She sat down on the offered seat, and pulled the papers toward her, staring almost reverentially at them. Slowly, one by one, she started going through them, and became lost in the portrait of a world and a people that were completely new to her.

Thursday - 8:23am to the City


She screamed and screamed, screamed with a genuine sense of fright, shock and horror. She had scared herself with her own rage, terrified herself with her actions, and then been shocked to the point of nausea when she saw the result of her wicked plan. The train had ploughed into Zach's body before he had even hit the tracks below, pushing him aside as though he were piece of limp newspaper flying in the wind and his body, for he surely had not survived such a direct hit, had bounced from the sloped front of the interstate train and been flipped upwards before coming back to land with a sickening thud just over the end of the platform, past the barricade right next to where Elouise stood. His body lay broken metres from where she looked on in horror, the full impact of what she had just done hitting her hard. She didn't know when she had opened her mouth and begun screaming, but she realised with total clarity that she had no hope of stopping, and so she let it go, allowed herself to fall to emotional pieces. All the feeling that she had kept bottled up for so long, month, years even, she let out with a primal scream that reached back down the ages, to millennia before where this kind of emotion was felt just as keenly as today.

The force of Elouise's screaming drove her to her knees, as the full horror realisation hit her that she had murdered her lover - murdered! She tore at her hair, clawed at her breast, and was in such agony of terror and pain that she did not feel the hands around her, the calming voices, until they tried to replace her on her feet. She heard her own screams start to die in her throat, taken over by the rise of tears in the back of her mouth, and what had been a torrent of volume and noise, suddenly became a flood of tears. Her legs tried to collapse under her again, but the hands kept her upright. She had no idea who they belonged to, in fact she didn't even try to work it out - it wasn't important right now. Somehow she ended up in the lift and was taken to an office in the depths of the station somewhere. She had water and tissues offered to her but she pushed them all away. She didn't have the mental capacity to even work out what to do with them at the moment. Someone pressed a handkerchief into her hand at one stage and she looked at it blankly, screwing it up and tearing at it with her fingers, rather than blowing her nose or wiping her face.

She had no sense of time passing, was only aware that it had and someone, a female, crouched in front her, looked into her eyes and encouraged her to look up. She was a police woman, and she gave Elouise a kind half-smile as Elouise rose her grief-stricken face ever so slightly.
"Heeyy, honey," the police officer said gently, "I know you're pretty upset right now, but I'm going to ask you a couple of really easy, quick questions, okay?"
Elouise nodded, tears still streaming down her face. She somehow realised even through all the emotion that was coursing through her, that she was going to have to tread carefully here.
"Well, my name is Diana Foster. I'm a constable with the police here in the city. Now, can you tell me your name?"
Elouise nodded again, her brain racing as she swallowed, tried to find her voice. Eventually, "Ellen Walker" she whispered.
Constable Foster nodded as she wrote this down, then looked up again "and your ... boyfriend? Husband?"
"Boyfriend," Elouise confirmed, relieved that she had taken her wedding rings off a few months ago. They had given her dermatitis she had said at the time, although in reality it was because the promise had begun to feel false. "Zuh-Zach," She swallowed again, forcing the name out through her lips, "Zachary James".
"Thanks, Ellen, you're doing great." She wrote the information again, checking the spelling with Elouise as she did so, and then asked her to explain what had happened.
Elouise swallowed again, then launched into a broken version of events, starting with how the two had gone down onto the platform hand in hand, had been so busy talking and kissing that they had not realised they were so close to the edge. That she had leaned against him in an embrace and he had stepped backwards, toppled over ... Elouise burst into tears again, and Constable Foster wrapped an arm across her heaving shoulders, murmuring platitudes as she waited for the hysterical woman to calm down enough to continue.

Finally, Elouise gave a shuddering breath and the weeping subsided again, the images of Zach's body bouncing from the front of the train pushed once more into the background. Constable Foster asked a few more questions, about what they were doing there, why they were on the interstate platform, and Elouise answered with more lies, that she didn't realise it was the interstate platform, they must have been too involved in each other to realise they were in the wrong place, she was supposed to be taking a train to work a few stations north, and he was just seeing her off. Eventually, the police officer had gotten her fill, and she offered Elouise a ride home. Elouise declined, said she was going to sit in a coffee shop for a while, make some phone calls and try and come to grips with what had just happened before she went back to an empty house. Constable Foster helped her up and watched her walk down the street to a nearby cafe, where she took a seat and, with sunglasses over her eyes, ordered a very strong short black.


Robert had watched, pained, as Elouise and the stranger had leant in close to one another, apparently kissing, and he had gotten a bright idea. He pulled his phone out and, trying to be as surreptitious as possible and hiding as much as could behind the newspaper camouflage, snapped a quick photograph of the couple embracing. He looked at the photo on the pixelated screen of his mobile phone and thought it was pretty shocking - blurry and practically unrecognisable, certainly no one would be able to identify the stranger by the back of his head. He didn't dare take another, though, and pocketed the phone before anyone could finger him as a terrorist. Caught up with taking the photo and trying to push down the emotion surrounding the fact that it was wife over on the other platform making out with some other man, he hadn't immediately noticed how close they were to the edge of the platform. When the man with Elouise had stepped backwards, at first Robert hadn't thought anything of it. So it was with growing horror that he noticed the man's foot drop below the level of the platform and then watched, helpless, as his arms flung out, flapping as though he could suddenly discover the power of unassisted flight to save him. Robert had just enough time to think that surely the fall would be survivable, when he noticed the incoming train. He couldn't immediately discern which of the two lines it was travelling on but, he thought, the way the man had fallen, it probably didn't matter.

In perfect terror and with sick fascination he watched the stranger, arms flailing and feet now completely separated from the terra firma of the tiled floor, come into direct contact with the oncoming train. The impact created a sickening sound caused by the impact between falling human flesh and speeding metal. The man's body was flung back from whence it came, and like a gruesome fullstop to the sorry story, landed with a terrible final thud just over the railing delimiting the edge of the platform. There was a heartbeat of total, pure silence, and although the train hid the full horror of the tableau from his eyes, Elouise's screams reached his ears and his gut wrenched as his imagination provided the visuals.

Robert sat still, not daring to move. He wondered briefly if he had imagined the whole thing, and then realised that his imagination could never come up with such a bizarre chain of events. He replayed the whole sordid movie in his head, from the moment that Elouise had brushed past him with the man in tow behind her, to where they had almost struggled along the platform, Elouise looking about herself suspiciously and the man looking whipped, to the gruesome finale as the train pulled into the station.

With sudden clarity, Robert realised that Elouise had forced the stranger onto the platform, had forced him over the yellow safety line and then proceeded to give him a final strategic push into the path of the oncoming train. Robert, already dumbstruck by the fact that he had witnessed his own wife with a strange man, suddenly felt deathly sick as he realised she had just murdered that man in, it seemed, cold blood. Spurred into motion by fear and the sick feeling in the bottom of his stomach, he got up and stumbled to the overfull rubbish bin in the middle of the platform, then threw up his breakfast and the station coffee on to the mess of discarded burger wrappers and chip packets it contained.


Shannen looked up from the screen of the laptop and rubbed her dry eyes. She had done nothing but read from the LCD display for the past twenty-four hours, foregoing sleep and food in order that she would not have to take her eyes away, and break the tenuous connection she had formed with Ariana through the words she had written so soon before her death. But now, the flow of words had abruptly ended, the story unfinished. And though she felt the connection was tenuous, a mere filament compared to what it had been, she felt as though it was somehow still there, that with effort she could solidify and strengthen the conduit. Shannen had been totally engrossed in the story, in the journey of the elf Laboeg Fairfox, in the goings on within Ariana's imagined Kingdom of the Cerulean Tiger. She lifted her hands and placed them on the keyboard. For a little while, she stared at the blinking cursor on the screen. The little pixelated icon flashed at her, and in her mind she heard it taunting her, You can't do it, you can't tell the story the way Ariana would tell the story, you will never find out What Happened When They Got There. So, in defiance of the imagined mockery, she lifted her hands, and began to type.

Thursday - 6:14am to the City


She had been giving herself a pep talk all the way from Redton station, and by the time the train pulled into Central, Elouise had successfully worked herself into a suitably steely mood to be able to break it off with Zach without tears. Or so she hoped. Elouise was on her feet before the train had even started to slow and she stood by the doors with her hand on the release button, waiting impatiently to get off the train and have the deed over and done with. Acid swirled in the pit of her stomach, reminding her of the gravity of the decision she had made, and she mentally pushed it back down again, clamping an iron lid over it. She could inspect those feelings later, right now she needed resolve and determination. The train slowed down forever, it seemed, and finally, finally stopped at the platform. She tapped her toe as she waited for the doors to release and fairly jumped off the train ahead of the other commuters. She walked briskly to the end of the platform, her heels clicking on the tiled floor of the underground station. She had the words in her head, ready to rapid-fire at Zach as soon as she saw him bounce into view, but she hadn't spotted him yet. It wasn't long before she was at the farthest end of the platform. The rest of the commuters had funnelled towards the exit, and she stood, alone, on the platform. Where the hell was he?

Realising that she had been stood up, the steely resolve that she had been fostering for close to half an hour now boiled up into something more like fury than determination. Feeling as though her head was about to explode with the high emotions she was experiencing, Elouise decided she was going to follow through with her plan, regardless of whether or not he could deign to even show up. She marched towards the exit off the platform, and through the main gates that led out into the city. She crossed the street, barely looking for oncoming traffic, and began the march to Zach's studio. She would sit and wait on his doorstep if she had to, but she was going to break it off with him, she had decided, and she was going to do it today.


Robert had successfully caught the same train as Elouise. He had waited in the car while she had walked over the overpass, bought her ticket, and found a place to wait the few minutes. He followed her, bought a ticket for himself and waited on the opposite side of the station master’s booth. He was hidden enough that if she looked up casually she wouldn't see him, but if she took a single step forward, he would be able to see her. When the train pulled into the station Robert had watched Elouise board, and then boarded himself two carriages further down. As soon as the train was in motion, he started to walk through the carriages separating them. He could see the back of her head through the small partition in the - they were less than ten meters apart. He feeling quite pleased with himself, and was thankful for the only moderately full train, but had not counted for the amount of people that would disembark at Central. He kicked himself, it should have been obvious, but it took only seconds for him to lose sight of Elouise when everyone stood up and started shuffling towards the exit. He imagined that he would be able to catch sight of her again on the platform but by the time he had elbowed his way through to the carriage that Elouise had been travelling on, and out of the door on to the platform, she was nowhere to be found. He stood, hopeful, as the crush of commuters eddied around him, thinning gradually, until he was alone. Disheartened, he followed the now-absent crowd to the stairs leading upwards into the station, thinking that he had better just give up, maybe try again tomorrow.


Zach was asleep, dreaming of young girls in cute lacy underwear, when a loud banging at the door woke him abruptly. He jumped out of bed, grabbed the nearest thing he could find to cover himself and yelled out, "Just a second! Keep your hair on!" as he wrapped the towel around his middle. He felt his building erection drooping as he did so. The banging continued, and Zach stepped over to open the door before it got totally destroyed. He flung it wide, only to see Elouise standing in the doorway, her face red with exertion and her eyes wild. She opened her mouth to start spraying him with invective but he reacted quickly and plastered a broad smile on his face, "Hey, Baby!" he said, holding his arms out, "What time is it? How did you get here? You look exhausted!"
The fight left her, which was exactly Zach's intention. But then, to his surprise, she didn't fold into his arms, instead her mood descended out of angry and down into steely cold. She peeled her lips back from bared teeth, "It's over Zach." she hissed at him, "Do you hear me? Over. It's been a great three years, but I can't do this anymore. The stress is going to kill me. I've chosen to go back to my family, Zach, do you hear? My family."
She turned to storm away but Zach caught her in his arms, forced her to turn back to him. She struggled against him, flying her hands against his chest to push him away, but he tightened his clutch as he tried to come up with the right words to say. His immediate reaction had been relief that it was over, after all, that was what he had wanted anyway, but then anger started to wash over him. He had never been dumped, ever, and the fact that she had clearly walked all the way from Central to do so had injured his pride more than he would ever confess to. He pulled her in close to him, tighter and tighter until she no longer had the room to struggle, her hands still upon his bare chest, and he bent his head to whisper in her ear. His hot breath came strongly and he felt her recoil away from his voice, but he pressed on regardless, "You bitch," he growled, "You foul filthy bitch. After everything I have done for you, everything I have sacrificed to be with you. Not once did you ever offer to give me anything, not one thing. No, not you, you precious cow, with your husband and your family and your oh so high and mighty fucking professional placement. Well, I've got news for you, you bitch, you've picked the wrong guy this time. I won't be fucked over, Elouise, I won't let you do it. And do you want to know something else, Elouise? Your daughter is a great fuck."

He released her suddenly, pushing her away from him with brute force and Elouise, dumbstruck by the tone and anger in his voice as much as by the words he had spoken, fell to the ground. The towel that Zach had wrapped around himself came undone with the sudden motion and dropped to the ground also. In the split second before Zach could slam the door in her face, however, her eyes locked on Zach's flaccid penis dangling in front of her eyes. She grabbed it suddenly, tugged brutally and then used her fist to jam it in her mouth before clamping her teeth down on it as hard as could. Blood filled her mouth almost instantly, and Zach fell, screaming and trying to push her face out of his genitals. She spat him out as he dropped, then pushed him fully into the studio apartment, following him inside herself and slamming the door behind her. He pushed himself onto his elbows and looked at her, pain still evident behind his eyes, and his lower body trying to curl in on itself. "You bitch," he said, horror and pain straining his voice "What the fuck do you want from me?"

She looked back at him, that steely gaze had returned and her voice was cold as she said, "I want you to drive me back to Central. And put some fucking clothes on. On the way, you had better explain what you've been doing with my daughter."

He nodded miserably, knowing better than to try and argue with her. He figured he'd drive her back to the station and kick her out of his car there, never to be seen from again. It was a small price to pay to get her out of his life. He struggled to his feet, pain blooming in red splotches in the middle distance. There was blood seeping from his penis still, and he could see the neat line of wounds where she had sunk her teeth into him. He was lucky she had let go when she had, or he could be in serious trouble right now. He found some boxers and a loose pair of shorts - he wasn't going to be wearing jeans any time in the near future he though miserably. He grabbed a tee shirt and pulled it over his head, every movement causing his genitals to remind him of their predicament. He grabbed his keys from the table, opened the door and snarled at her, "Get out to the car. Go!"

The drive was silent, Zach certainly not going to explain what Kasey and he had been getting up to without a few very direct questions from Elouise. Elouise looked too tongue tied to be able to work out what those questions should be. The air hung between them, a solid thing forming a veritable wall, blocking any chance at questioning or explanation. When Zach pulled up at the station, Elouise didn't open her door, she turned to him instead, and demanded that he walk her to the platform. He hesitated at first, ready to protest and tell her to get the hell out of his car, but Elouise turned in her seat and he saw her hand flash out towards his groin again. She hadn't even made contact before he screamed. "Okay, Okay! I'm coming, alright! Leave my cock alone!"
"First time you've ever said that to me." she mocked and waited until he started to get out of the car before following him from the passenger side. Without a word, they walked into the station, and Zach trailed her over to the very last platform. Together they descended the stairs and Zach started to protest as he realised that they were on the platform for the long distance trains, not the suburban lines. Elouise turned and glared at him, holding her hand up as a reminder of what she could do, and he shut up and walked down stairs. At the bottom she turned, grabbed his hand with a death grip that he couldn't shake off, and they walked together on to the platform like lovers. Elouise glanced casually at the ceiling as they walked along the length of the platform, and he couldn't work out what she was looking at at first. Fear started to creep into his heart though, as he realised that she was looking for security cameras. She leaned into him as though she wanted to tell him a secret, or kiss him, and he tried to pull away put she had wrapped her arm around his so tightly that he had no chance. She pushed him ever so slightly towards the edge of the platform, over the yellow line plastered with the words "Do not cross" and soon they were right at the very end of the platform, only four platforms away from where they had stood like this so many times, but with love in their hearts instead of this black hole of rage. Elouise positioned herself so she was facing Zach and the tracks, and leaned in to him again, her face looking up into his as though searching for a kiss. She started to whisper, as Zach had done to her only minutes ago at the studio apartment. "You know something, asshole," she said, venom seeping from between her clenched teeth, her lips peeled back in what resembled nothing like the kisses she had offered him so many times, "I was going to give you a kiss and say good bye. You never would have heard from me again. I don't know if you are just trying to piss me off by saying that you slept with my daughter. I don't know what you thought you were going to achieve with it. But what I do know, is that I don't cope very well with that kind of talk."

Zach heard a train approaching, and his knees began to buckle in fear. Please let that train be on another line, he thought. Elouise continued her invective, "No," she said, "I don't cope with it well at all. In fact, I think that maybe you have worked that out already, Zach. Goodbye - and thanks for all the flowers and poems and things. It was good while it lasted. It's just a shame you had to go and ruin it all."

Zach felt her body move against his, and when he stepped back to catch his balance he learnt exactly how close to the edge of the platform she had pushed him. His foot landed on nothing except thin air, and he overbalanced and toppled onto the tracks. The train was approaching on this line, and as he felt it come in contact he heard Elouise let up a scream, "Zaaaach! Zaaaach! Oh my god! Zach!!!" The world went red, and then there was blackness, and there was just ... nothing.


Robert sat in the cafe that was housed within the train station, drinking bitter yet ridiculously expensive coffee, and pondering the strange situation he had found himself in. At seven o'clock he had called in to the government office that he worked in and spoken to a colleague. He had told him that he had to stay home at the last minute, that he would use his flexi-time and take today off. His co-worker agreed to pass the message on and, almost as an afterthought, asked Robert if everything was alright. Robert assured him that it was, his daughter was just not too well, and he would be back in the office tomorrow. The excuse seemed to wash and Robert hung up, feeling relieved that at least that chore was out of the way.

Robert swigged the last of his coffee, grimacing slightly at the now cold bitter brew, but unwilling to waste any considering he had just paid close to five dollars for it. He stood, dropped the empty cup with its grimy wash of coffee grounds into the rubbish bin, and stepped out between the low barricades that formed the perimeter of the cafe. He looked up as he did so, wondering which platform he needed to be on to get back to Redton, and was nearly bowled over by a woman marching through the platform with a harried-looking man trailing her. As his gaze followed the odd pair, he realised almost immediately that the woman was none other than his wife. He noted that they were moving, and quickly, to Platform One, and then with shock noticed the sign beneath the platform number - "Long Distance & Interstate Lines Only This Platform". He had been intending to follow them down the stairs to the same platform and then thought better of it. There was unlikely to be a crowd to hide in on Platform One, and if the pair caught a train he would not be able to follow without a prepaid ticket. And then an idea struck him. The underground station was completely open at the platform level, and the goings-on on one platform could be quite easily seen from the few platforms on either side. Thoughts of heading back to Redton now completely abandoned, he bolted down the stairs leading to Platform Three. Once there, he peered across at Platform One. Elouise and the stranger were completely alone on the platform, as Robert had guessed they would be, and Elouise appeared to be marching the harried man along the full length of the platform. The man stopped before they got very far, and Robert watched, fascinated, as Elouise raised a clawed hand threateningly, and the stranger continued reluctantly until she had grabbed him and leaning against each other, they had made their way to the furthest part of the platform. Robert trailed them in parallel on his own platform, stopping only to retrieve a newspaper left behind by a commuter, and seated himself one the end of the last seat on Platform Three. He rose the newspaper as cover, and peered over it to see what story the actors on Platform One might act out for his viewing.