Monday - 08:23am to the City

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While her mother was busy getting dressed so that Zach could drive her to work, Kasey was wandering down to the train station to go to school. Kasey was due to finish Year Eleven in two weeks and after that there was only a year to go before she was blessedly free of the public school system. For Kasey, the end of high school couldn't come soon enough. She was a moderately good student, but would definitely not be getting dux this year, she was enough of a realist even at sixteen to recognise that. Kasey had a dream of living on her own, maybe with a few good friends, of working somewhere so that she had own money to spend on whatever she wanted, with no parents telling her what was 'sensible', or what was a 'waste of money'. She was considering going to university, only because her parents expected it, and thought that perhaps doing an arts degree would be a good way to spend a few years of her life. That way, her parents would be happy because she was doing further study, and she would be doing something that, she assumed, wouldn't be too taxing on the brain. Above all, Kasey disliked studying. If she could get a degree by drawing a few pictures and being Creative, then that was what she intended to do.

Kasey had developed a love for art since she met her boyfriend two and half months ago. He was quite a lot older than her, older than her mother even, although she would never dare to tell her about him. He didn't act like an old guy though, he was daring and funny and, more to the point, artistic. He did fabulous oil paintings with what seemed thousands of swirled colours that made her feel as though she was falling into a hole like Alice down the rabbit hole - down into a crazy, mixed-up world where colour became touch, taste, and scent all at once. Kasey found drawings of recognisable pictures - cows and fruit and vases of flowers - to be predictable and boring. But her boyfriend's paintings were imaginative, complex and completely enthralling. Yesterday after school, she had stood in front of one of his paintings for close to twenty minutes, and would have stayed longer if her boyfriend hadn't started to undress her as she stared, entranced. He was so passionate, she mused, recalling how they had spent the afternoon curled up on his bed, him teaching her things no boy her own age would ever know. She felt so lucky to have such an imaginative, talented and loving man. And a man too, not a boy like the kids she went to school with. How could Brianna, her best friend, be even remotely interested in those boys? She just couldn't see the attraction in them at all.

Absorbed in her ponderings, Kasey did not at first notice the commotion around the train station, but as she came closer a small group of people broke away from the larger mob near the car park end of the platform. Through the gap they left Kasey suddenly noticed a strip of tape, flapping loosely in the slight breeze. Although she had never before seen it in real life, she had certainly seen enough cop shows on television to recognise it for what it was - police tape. Thoughts of boys, art and friends suddenly banished from her mind, she stopped, shielded her eyes against the November sun sitting low on the horizon and tried to work out what was going on.

Directly in front of her was the wooden stairs that led up and over the train line to the city-bound platform, which was where Kasey had been heading. Police tape was now covering the span between the hand rails not just on this side but also, she realised, from the other side of the tracks as well. While the staircase was empty, people having been deterred by the copious amounts of tape, and the city-bound platform appeared deserted, the outbound platform was packed with people standing shoulder to shoulder. There were also people standing in huddles through the long grass at the end of the platform, spilling out into the car park, which was full. On closer inspection she saw her mother's silver Fairlane, with the ELOU15 vanity number plates, surrounded on all sides by police vehicles, parked hastily and haphazardly across the white painted lines. All the people, both in uniform and those without, appeared to just be standing around, Kasey couldn't see what the cause of the commotion was, but it appeared to be out in the grass near her mother's car, just on the other side of the little white fence at the end of the outward-bound platform. She knew her mother usually took the 6:14 to the city in the morning, and that she had left that morning at the usual time, so it was not strange that her car was here - after all, Kasey saw it parked in the same spot every morning when she came down to catch the train to school. She had complained that Elouise should go in to work at a normal time, like regular people, so that she could drive Kasey to the station and save her the walk, but her mother had fobbed her off, explaining that it was important that she be at work early. Her mother was the personal assistant to one of the three partners of a big legal firm in the city, and she had explained to Kasey that she needed to make sure she was at work before her boss, so that she could have everything ready for him. Kasey thought that it sounded like an awful lot of arse kissing, but had wisely kept this opinion to herself.

Kasey didn't feel frightened, standing on the footpath down the road slightly from the station, watching the commotion. If anything, she was excited - something different was happening! After all, it wasn't every day you got to see the station wrapped up like a birthday present with police tape and with cops crawling all over it. Seeing her mother's car in the middle of all the chaos made her slightly uneasy, but the sheer excitement of the event was overshadowing any nervousness she might be feeling, at least for now. Snapping back to reality, Kasey realised that she wasn't going to be able to get to school this morning. She wasn't displeased, at least she had a fantastic story to tell.

Kasey swung her backpack off one shoulder, so she could paw through it for her mobile phone. She found it in a front pocket, pulled it out and speed-dialled her Mum's work number. It rang and rang ... paused slightly, then rang again, indicating that her call had been transferred to the front reception desk. Kasey thought that her mother must be in a meeting with her boss - it was likely that the CEO had just arrived and Elouise was busy running around getting him a cup of coffee or something she supposed. After what felt like an eternity of ringing, finally a prim voice said "Woodworth, Schultz and Bird, can I help you?"
"Ah, hi. I need to talk to Elouise Walker? I'm her daughter, and it's an emergency?"
"Please hold. I'll transfer you to her desk."
Kasey did as she was told, watching the activity on the station and praying she didn't run out of credit on her phone before Elouise answered. The phone rang five more times before it was finally picked up again, this time by a man with an uncertain, "Er ... Hello? Elouise's desk."
"Hi, who's this? I'm looking for Elouise Walker, it's Kasey ..."
"Oh hi, Kasey, this is Lawrence - Larry - your Mum isn't in yet. Can I give her a message or something?"
Kasey frowned as Lawrence gave her this information, staring over at the station as pieces slowly slotted into place - her Mum's sedan in the usual place, the police cars in the car park, the tape everywhere, her Mum not at work ... "Oh ... My God ..." she breathed into the phone, "Larry, I think something awful might have happened ..."
"Something awful?" Larry repeated, dumbstruck, "What do you mean, Kasey? Kasey?" But the line was dead, Kasey was gone.


Despite the loud music pouring into her ears from the mp3 player, Brianna noticed that there was something going on at the station as soon as she turned the corner. She approached from the car park end of the platform, and as a general rule she met Kasey at the foot of the stairs leading over the tracks. This morning, however, there was definitely some kind of a problem - cars, much more than normal, were parked in no particular order all over the car park, there was a massive amount of people milling around, although none seemed to be actually doing anything to speak of. The centre of the melee seemed to be in the long grass in between the car park and the end of the outbound platform, but Brianna couldn't see what the focus of their concentration was on, there was too much of a crowd, and whatever it was was well hidden in the paspalum.

Brianna slowed her pace, in order to more fully concentrate on the commotion at the platform. She was merely curious, had not yet realised the implications of what might be going on. Only as she noticed the large amount of uniforms, and the swinging, flapping police tape that was draped liberally around the place, did she start to realise that something pretty majorly serious must have happened. Oblivious to the turmoil Brianna was now experiencing, Avril Lavigne continued to yell in her ears, "'Cause life's like this. Uh huh, uh huh, that's the way it is". Brianna stepped onto the coarse gravel at the farthest end of the car park, and stopped to pull the headphones out of her ears. Avril was reduced to a tinny whistle from the ear bud speakers until Brianna killed even that by hitting the power button on the iPod. The silence was pierced only by the murmur of voices from the railway platform.

Brianna's usually sunny face had clouded over, and she surveyed the scene with troubled eyes, wondering where her friend might be, and worrying that she might not be able to find Kasey's familiar face in the crowd. Then, thankfully, her eyes fell on a familiar figure in a school uniform close to the bottom of the pedestrian overpass. Brianna broke into a run and, as she drew closer to Kasey she saw her friend bring her phone down from her face, and stare at it as though she had no idea what it was.
"Kasey!" she yelled as she ran towards her, "Kasey!"
Kasey turned as though in a daydream, and Brianna could see her speaking although she could not hear the words. As Brianna drew alongside her, she wrapped her arms around her oldest friend, "Kasey, what's happened? What's going on? Are you ok?"
Kasey pulled away from her grasp, and Brianna looked her in the eyes, trying to decipher what lay behind them. Contraband mascara ran down Kasey's tear-streaked face as she dragged her eyes from Brianna's gaze and dropped her eyes to the ground. She pressed her lips together tightly, as though she didn't want to let the words out, and kicked a coke bottle lid along the ground with the scuffed toe of her school shoe. Brianna reached out a hand and swiped the black tinted tears from her friend's face, creating a ghoulish grey blusher on both sides of her nose, and Kasey looked up again, her lips still pressed together. All the blood appeared to have drained from her face, and her hair had come loose from the elastic holding it. "Bree," she said in a whisper, "I think that might be my Mum down there."


Summonsed by an hysterical phone call from his daughter's best friend, Robert had no idea what kind of situation he was about to drive into but, whatever it was, he was getting there fast. Pushing his work car to its limit, he had run every yellow light from work to the Redton train station, his brain on hold, simply refusing to entertain any kind of possibilities, in fact pretty much refusing to think of anything at all except the fastest way to get back to Redton. He screamed through the final intersection, hooked a sharp right hand turn on to Station Road, just about putting the Prius onto two wheels, its little electric engine protesting. The crowd around the station hove into view through Robert's passenger side window and he suddenly braked, stopping the car in the middle of the road, and taking a bare second to take in the scene that suddenly presented itself to him. For some reason he had believed that, once he got here, it would turn out that the girls had played a practical joke, that there would be nothing out of the ordinary. He would be able to yell at Kasey for wasting his time, and his perfectly ordinary life could go on in its perfectly ordinary manner. In the same second, he had realised all along that that was not going to happen, that it had been a mere hope, and that he had known this as soon as he had heard Brianna's strangled voice on the telephone, and Kasey's weeping in the background.

Robert slowly eased the car to the side of the road, hardly tearing his eyes from the cluster of people at the station, and stepped out onto the road. He left the keys in the ignition - they weren't important right now. Right now, he needed to find his daughter, and then, he needed to find out what had happened to his wife. Panicky, his gaze skittered over the crowd, searching for a school uniform and blonde hair - he couldn't remember how Kasey had done her hair this morning, and he mentally cursed himself for not taking more notice. Then, above the murmur of the crowd, he heard a voice yell out, "Dad! Rob! Over here!" Robert whipped his head around to see his daughter bearing down on him at a run from the other end of the station, finally crash tackling him with an embrace. Brianna was not far behind her, and he met her eyes over Kasey's head. Brianna shrugged, as if to say she had no idea what was going on. Rob thought she probably had a better idea than he did, but didn't push the issue, the poor girl looked petrified.

Slowly, he extricated himself from Kasey's grasp, bent his head slightly to look in her eyes, and asked her to tell him what had happened. Haltingly at first and eventually with a gush of words that flowed without the benefit of punctuation, Kasey told her story, from walking to the station and seeing the police tape, to ringing the law firm and speaking to Lawrence. Slowly, like a gushing tap slowing to a drip, Kasey's flow of words slowed, then halted. She looked as though she had sagged, somehow, Rob thought absently, as his mind whirled trying to piece together the information he had just received. His natural ability to deny, deny, kicked in and his first thought was that nothing was confirmed, it was a series of events that were not necessarily linked. Simultaneously, and in contradiction to his better reasoning, he started to panic.

With a massive effort, he took a breath, grabbed Kasey around the shoulders, and led her to the kerb to sit down. Kasey looked shrunken, haunted. Rob watched her pull her knees into her chest and curl into a tight ball, and he wrapped what he hoped was a fatherly, comforting arm around her. Brianna sank down on the other side of her friend, and copied the gesture, looking like what she really wanted was someone to do the same for her.

Softly, trying not to upset her, Rob asked her if she had gone down to the platform to speak to any of the police lingering there. Kasey shook her head, no. Rob fell silent, pondering his next move, then spoke again, "Kasey, baby-girl, I'm going to walk down there and see what I can find out. I'm not going to be gone for very long. Can you sit here with Brianna for a little while?"
Kasey responded with silence, and Rob thought that she hadn't heard him. He opened his mouth to repeat himself, but then saw Kasey's shoulders lift slowly, and fall, "OK" she said softly, barely audible.
Rob rose, planting a kiss on the top of her head, "I love you, Kiddo. I'll be right back." he murmured into the tangle of blonde hair.

Rob steeled himself mentally for what might come next, ducked under a line of police tape, and headed down into the crowd of people. Once he reached the platform, it became obvious that there were not as many people as it had seemed from the car park. He elbowed his way through to the centre of the crowd, most of whom were in emergency services uniforms. It seemed as though people were just standing around in knots, waiting for something to happen. Rob and the two teenage girls had proven to be a distraction for most, it seemed, and they were curious. Rob got to the end of the platform and stopped before stepping into the trampled grass. The scene that had been obscured by milling people before, now laid itself out before him, and he drew a sharp breath as he took it in. The body, for it was clear that was what it was, despite it being shrouded by a filthy blanket, seemed to be lying on its side, with knees drawn up into its chest. The position reminded him horribly of how Kasey had sat drawn up on the kerb. He fought down the bile that rose in the back of his throat, and turned his face skyward to ward off the tears that threatened. Only slightly calmed, he looked down again, to find he was being stared at by a man in a blue police uniform. Robert cleared his throat softly, willing his voice to work, and opened his mouth to speak. Before any words had formed on his tongue, though, the police officer rebuked him, "Sir, I don't know what you think you are doing, but this is my crime scene. You had better have a good reason for having trampled on it." the voice was rough, the words callous, but Robert sensed that he had been given a chance, albeit minor, to offer his case before being hauled off the platform.
"Umm, I don't ... My wife ... She ..." Words failing him, Robert pointed with a shaking finger at the body that lay under the blanket, felt the bile rise in his throat and his eyes wash with tears. He vomited violently on the concrete of the platform, his knees gave way, and he sank to the ground, hands grabbing his body as he went down. Robert let them take him, all the fight having left him.


Brianna sat silently beside Kasey on the kerb, awash with emotion. She was afraid, scared, nervous, upset, but somehow recognised that what she was feeling was not even a fraction of what Kasey must be going through. She was starting to come to grips with the situation though, starting to lose that feeling that the world had just been set afloat on an uncertain and unpredictable sea.

She heard a commotion down on the platform and decided to stand up and have a look at what was going on down there. She stood, but didn't move away from the kerb - she didn't want Kasey to think that she was going to leave. Through the scrubby trees at the edge of footpath, Brianna could see down onto the platform. There didn't seem to be as many people now and those that were there all appeared to be in uniforms of one description or another. She could see a huddle of people right on the edge of the platform, where the gap next to the fence let you step down onto the grass. A group of people leaned over someone who appeared to be lying on the ground. With a start she realised that it was Kasey's Dad, it looked like he had passed out or something. Her heart stopped, and then she watched as they got him to sit up on the edge of the platform, his back to the fence and his knees pulled up to his chest. Brianna let go of the breath she didn't realise she'd been holding as he lifted his head, spoke to someone, and took an offered bottle of water. He was alright, it seemed.

Brianna let her gaze move over into the grass. Large pieces of black plastic had been put up around the grassed area to block the site off from public scrutiny, but it did not hamper the views from above. The police officers, noticeable in their neat hats and light blue, short-sleeved shirts, all appeared to be hanging back a bit more now. It looked as though some forensic investigators had arrived, and gloved and gowned, they were now poking around in the grass. Finally, she let her eyes fall on what she had been so far avoiding, the shrouded bundle in the centre of the trampled grass. She couldn't adequately see through the trees, but it definitely appeared to be a body, covered over with a blanket or something similar. She shuddered slightly, trying to keep her composure, and wondered if it could really be Kasey's Mum. She knew Elouise arrived early to the train station, Kasey had bitched about it often - that if Elouise left later Kasey would be able to get a lift - and Briana assumed that something could have happened to Elouise when she arrived. There wouldn't be very many people around at that time of day, she assumed.

Idly, Brianna pieced together the story Kasey had blurted to her father only minutes before, and tried to work out how Kasey could be so certain that something terrible had befallen her mother. It seemed as though it was possible that this event could have happened after Elouise passed through, or even before, if no one had discovered it yet. Although that didn't explain why she wasn’t at work when Kasey had called. On impulse, Brianna pulled her own mobile phone out of her pocket, still there from when she had called Robert. She knew she had to call her own parents at some stage, let them know what had happened, but first she wanted to try and call Elouise.

Kneeling down beside Kasey again, Brianna touched her lightly on the arm, and told her that she was just going to go and make a phone call, that she'd be right back. She waited for Kasey's nod, and wandered over towards the empty end of the railway station, hopefully out of earshot of her friend. She brought up the contacts lists stored in her phone, and scrolled down to E, she smiled slightly as she found the number she wanted and pressed the call button. The mobile phone in Elouise's handbag began to ring and Brianna heard a click then a familiar voice, "Elouise Walker speaking".


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