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.