Wednesday, January 21, 2009
As the train lurched out of the station, he whispered 'Down, lie down.' The metal of the roof was hard and cold against Birdie's cheek. She closed her eyes. She was shaking with fear, but as usual the moment she switched off from the real world other images flooded in. The noise of the shuddering train, the screech of metal on metal, the rush of the air faded away. As his coat covered her, shielding her from the tunnels above, she felt something warm, familiar. An image of a pillow fight when she was a girl flooded in. She had been at her grandmother's house in Connecticut. Old down pillows burst open. She remembered throwing armfuls into the air, laughing and dancing with her sister. 'Feathers?' she thought. Just as the last carriage disappeared into the blackness, three men raced onto the platform.
'Shit, we missed her.' The skinny dark haired guy balled his fist, kicked hard at the vending machine on the platform. Eyes narrowed in a sallow pock marked face. 'We'll find you. The time's come.'
'Do you th-th think she knows?' His friend with the greased back hair sidled up, flinching as he span round.
'She has no idea.' He flicked the collar of the little guy's jacket.
The third man ran a long, pointed thumbnail slowly across his lower lip. 'He's here. He's been here. I can feel it.' The other two stopped scrapping.
'W- w- what do you want us to do?'
'Go back to her apartment. Wait there.'
'Where are you going?' The skinny one raised his chin, sniffing the air. 'You're right, I can smell him. He was here.'
'I'll call you if I need you.' The man undid his black floor length coat, glanced round as he tossed it over to the little one. They were alone apart from an old tramp lying comatose on the platform. 'Make sure he sees nothing ...' The man shrugged, rolled his shoulders like someone getting up from a hard day at the desk. Then one, two dark wings unfurled. Black, glossy feathers flashed in the sodium light as he stepped off the platform.
'Man, I w- w- wish I could do that,' the little guy said as they watched him fly into the darkness of the tunnel ...