Tuesday - 3:21pm Outbound

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Kasey's train pulled into Central station. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, when Brianna had dance and singing rehearsals, Kasey travelled the single station from school to Central, and got off there to meet her boyfriend before continuing the journey home on a later train. She never had to explain the hours or so absence to her parents, as both of them worked full time and neither arrived home before six, as long as she got home before then. She had always assumed that if she was ever asked she could claim to have been studying in the library, but she hadn't been questioned yet, and this had been going on for over a month now – almost forever in Kasey’s reckoning.

Kasey was on her feet as the train stopped and the doors opened, and she fairly bounced out of the train with her excitement. She had missed seeing him yesterday, and wanted to make up for it double time today. She looked to the far end of Platform Twelve and her heart stuttered as she spotted him standing apart from the small crowd on the platform. She picked up her pace, trotting up to him, smiling.

Zach smiled back at her as she came towards him, and he held his arms out to her, wrapping her in a hug that lifted her off her feet. They kissed passionately, Kasey trying to apologise between breaths for missing yesterday, Zach trying to get her to stop talking and just kiss him, damn it! Zach's hand stole into Kasey's school blouse, and she wondered how he had gotten the button undone so fast and with such stealth. She gasped and pulled away as he squeezed her breast, then slipped his thumb inside her bra and brushed her nipple. She gave him a look of mock anger, and looked down at her chest as she buttoned her blouse. She noticed both her nipples were showing, badly, through the thin material and she looked up at him again, pushing her chest out to show him the evidence of her arousal, "Now look what you've done!" she scolded playfully, and he gave her a puppy dog look in return, before they both cracked up laughing and fell into another embrace.

Zach bent down and whispered in her ear, "Hey, Baby, let's get out of here, huh? I can't do what I want to do to you here on the platform." He punctuated the statement with a gentle bite on her neck and a low growl and Kasey smiled her agreement. The couple separated and, her hand stuck in the back of Zach's jeans pocket, they walked out to his convertible, and drove around to Frank Street.


Dalton sat on the nearly empty train, his feet up on the facing seat in front of him, a commuter's discarded daily paper open on his lap. The pages of the newspaper were soft from being thumbed by who knew how many hands throughout the day. He flicked the pages idly, not really reading, just skimming the headlines, looking at the grainy photos. Dalton wasn't much of a reader - like the old song said, he could get all the news he needed from the weather report - but it was nice to have a distraction on the train sometimes. As he lazily turned the pages of the worn paper, his thoughts drifted back to the day before at the police station. They had taken prints of his shoes, prints of his fingers, a DNA sample. They had questioned him, repeatedly and from all angles, about what had happened that morning - where he had walked, what he had seen, what the old man had done, what he had looked like. Dalton had learned a few things about what had happened, although the officers had been pretty determined not to let any more facts go than they had to. But he had learned that the old man, the man he had taken for a vagrant, was most possibly a train spotter who was known to the police. He had also learned that the bundle of clothes was a body - a body belonging to a young woman. He had asked who she was, but nobody was willing to give up the information, regardless of how many times he asked. Finally, after hours of questioning and putting through no less than three phone calls to his panicked wife, Dalton was escorted home, where he had proceeded to recount the entire experience yet again, this time to a rapt Megan. She had been shocked by the events, at the speed with which they had escalated, and asked him why he had not called her in the morning. Dalton had explained that it hadn't seemed significant at all then, that it hadn't, in fact, become significant until he stepped off the train and saw the police on the platform.

Dalton's brush with the law had been somewhat exciting, an interesting break from his usually dull daily routine, mostly because he knew he wasn't involved enough to be accused, once the initial shock of being dragged down to the police station for questioning had worn off. However, he was glad it was over. Dalton was not a man who took well to uncertainty, in any form. He had been young when he married Megan, although so had she, and they had very easily fallen into a steady pattern of daily chores, work and snatched private moments. It just seemed to suit them both, and their marriage had become a solid foundation, the centrepiece around which the rest of the world revolved. Now that Megan was pregnant, and with the knowledge of the past miscarriages, though, Dalton had realised how tenuous life could be. The thought he could lose Megan, even as he gained a child, was almost unbearable. He knew he had become overly cautious with her recently. Even now, when the pregnancy was nearly at its end, and the idea of having a real live baby was becoming more sure by the day, he worried. What if something went wrong with the labour, or the baby was born deformed or, worse, stillborn – there was still so much for him to worry about.

Dalton flipped a page idly, and a headline in the local section grabbed his eye - "Murder Victim Found at Suburban Rail Station". He frowned slightly, and read on,
In the early hours of yesterday morning, at a suburban City Rail station, a regular commuter came across the shock discovery of a body. The victim is believed to be a local resident, Ariana Grace Mathers, 22, of Tallen Heights. The cause of death is as yet unknown, and police are appealing to the public for assistance. If you saw anything on ...

Dalton ignored the plea for help at the end of the article, he had certainly assisted as much he possibly could already. But now he had a name to place to the face. Ariana. It was a pretty name, he thought idly. On an impulse, he tore out the corner of the newspaper that contained the story and tucked it into his breast pocket. He carefully refolded the paper and placed it on the seat, ready for the next commuter who needed some reading material, then stood up. His station was next.


The piercing ring of the phone cut into the dreamy half sleep that Damien had been in. It was afternoon, and he was working the night shift at the hospital tonight. His alarm wasn't due to go off for another few hours yet. Cursing people who felt they had to do things during the daytime, he pulled himself out of bed, and padded out into the lounge room, following the madly bleeping phone to its hiding place under a pile of papers on the kitchen bench. He retrieved it just as it stopped ringing and, swearing under his breath, took it back to bed with him. If it was important, he thought, they would ring back.

Damien lay awake for a while, still cursing the damn phone, and was just slipping back into that sweet place between awake and asleep where all adults become children, and nothing seems important anymore, when the telephone went off again. Damien jumped up, startled fully awake, groped for the phone that was now tangled somewhere in the sheets. He found it, punched a button, and held it to his ear, "H'lo?" he grunted,
"Damien! It's Ben! Is Larry home?"
"No. Why would he be? Call after six. See ya, Bye." Damien hung up without ceremony, dropped the phone onto the carpet, and laid back down in bed. He rolled onto his side and tried to reclaim the sensation of floating he had experienced only moments before.

It was close to four when the phone rang again, and Damien was fully in the grips of a dream. It took a few rings for the signal to reach his brain, and for his brain to send the appropriate messages to his limbs. He sat up in bed, leaned down for the handset and picked it up again, "H'lo?" he grunted again.
"Damien! Larry there, mate?"
"Ben," Damien said, threateningly, "I don't know what shit you're on, but he won't be here until after six. Goodbye." He punched the button to disconnect the call, then, on second thoughts, held it down until the backlight on the screen lit up and instantly died, turning the handset off. He dropped it to the carpet, rolled back over, and dropped back to sleep.

When the phone rang for a fourth time, it rang only at the second handset, which was hidden beneath the couch cushions. Damien didn't hear it, but his dreams were full of ringing telephones and he slept lightly for the rest of the afternoon.


Kasey was lying on the king size bed in Zach's studio. She was flat out on her back, arms thrown wide and a grin on her face as she watched Zach drink up the view. The blouse of her school uniform was unbuttoned, and the bra she was wearing just reinforced to Zach that she was a sixteen year old. It was a blue gingham pattern, with white lace edging, and it just made her look even more like a school girl. This had a mixed effect on Zach. He experienced a tinge of guilt over it, a little bit of caution, which was not a familiar feeling for him, but the overriding emotion was one of this being a sweet, sweet taboo. What made it all the sweeter was the knowledge that, unbeknownst to either, he was fucking mother and daughter - one in the morning, one in the afternoon. Just thinking of it again made him hard and, in his sudden angry need, he reached down to Kasey and pulled her skirt up, revealing matching briefs. He growled, an instinctive, animal sound low in his throat and rested his weight on top of her prone body. She smiled, wrapped her arms and legs around him, then said huskily, "How badly do u want it, baby?"
"You have no idea how badly I need you right now, baby doll." he responded, nibbling at her ear, pushing his nose through her hair, breathing in her scent - fruit, tinged by the musky smell of sex.

He pulled back up onto his knees, bringing her upper body up with him, and stripped off her shirt and bra quickly, efficiently. She moaned and arched her back as he lowered his head to her breast, sucking and biting at her nipple until she pushed him away. He let her pull his t-shirt off clumsily, assisting her a little when she couldn't get it over his head, and then laid her back down again. He slipped a hand down between their bodies, into her briefs, and she stifled a little squeal, her breath catching in her throat as his fingers slipped inside her. Oh she was ready alright, Zach thought, and he quickly finished undressing her. He would have to get her home to her parents soon.


The train came to a screeching halt at Redton station and Shannen stepped off amid a crowd of jostling, laughing school children, dodging their swinging school bags as she did so. She wasn't paying attention to the kids, though, her mind was busy worrying about Ariana. She hadn't heard back from her all day, her calls had gone unanswered except by Ariana's recorded voice. It was certainly unlike her to be this reticent, a message on Ariana's voicemail rarely had time to cool its heels before it was picked up and called back. Shannen could think of only one possibility, and it wasn't a comforting thought. Her mind's eye involuntarily brought up a vision of Ariana, passed out, only possibly alive, lying on the kitchen floor. Depending on exactly how apocalyptic Shannen was feeling, this scene was accompanied by blood, effluent or spilt alcohol and broken glass, sometimes a combination of all. With determination borne of friendship and fear of what she might find, she decided as she walked out of the station precinct that she would go around to Ariana's house now - immediately - and check.

Shannen walked back out to the car park, oblivious to the school children calling to each other, throwing things across the street. She found her car, fished in her bag for the keys, and slid behind the wheel as she jabbed the key into the ignition. The car started and she checked over her shoulder as she pulled away from the parking spot, the station fading behind her as she drove down the street. At the main street, instead of turning left to head down to her own apartment building, she turned right and drove towards the old pre-war Queenslander style house where Ariana lived in Tallen Heights.

Shannen pulled up to the house, parked on the street with two wheels up on the kerb. She got out and locked the car, praying that she wouldn't be rear-ended while she was parked there. From the footpath, her nervousness suddenly hit her again, and she stopped, looking up at the house, its iron-laced verandah suddenly looking imposing and fortress-like. She swallowed, worried about what she might find, and walked up the steps to the front door.

She lifted her hand to the door, knocked once, twice and then lowered it again. She stared at the paint, peeling in sheets from the door and chewed at her bottom lip as she strained her ears for any sound coming from within the house. She lifted her hand, knocked again, called out Ariana's name. Nothing. She chewed her lip some more, and vaguely noted that it had started to bleed. She was debating with herself what to do, when she heard a shuffling noise behind the door, a scrabbling at the lock, and it suddenly swung open.

The woman who stared back at her had deep lines around her eyes, the corners of her mouth were turned down, and her eyes were red-rimmed and swollen. She looked suspiciously at Shannen, but said nothing.
"Uh, hi." Shannen stammered, reeling slightly from the shock of seeing someone who was very definitely not her friend, "Umm. I'm looking for Ariana?"
"Ariana?" The woman said, as though she had never heard the name before, and her swollen eyes closed as though speaking the name had caused her physical pain, "Ariana. Ariana's gone, love. I'm sorry. I'm Ariana's mum, I'm here to ... well, to clean up her things. You had ... well I guess you had better come in."

The woman stepped aside, and Shannen stepped over the threshold she had stepped over so many times before. But this time she stepped over it as a stranger.


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