The two of them step onto the train, finding a seat as Saya sits down, Lan holding onto the strap about head height for him. She was busy with her phone, scrolling through the pictures she took at the Peace Museum.
To be honest, the formation felt comfortable for both of them – there weren't enough seats, and Lan gave her the seat without thinking about it, it was customary.
“Ah, is it insensitive to post pictures like this to Facebook?” She asks, turning the phone to Lan, flicking through some of the mangled items, a picture of the shadow.
Lan shrugs and shakes his head. “I don't think so. It's just a place you visited about a thing that happened.” He grins down at her a bit, his dark humor surfacing for a moment. “So long as you didn't post something like 'Great exhibit, can't wait for the sequel!'”
Saya's lip curls up in disgust at Lan, but behind it is a smile that he knows she feels bad about almost laughing at. “That's terrible! No, I wouldn't say that.”
“Oh? But you thought it. We can always take a side-trip to Nagasaki for the actual sequel.”
That does elicit a chuckle from her, but she covers her mouth and looks up at Lan, frowning with her eyes – not that it meant much when there was still mirth in them.
They were headed north from downtown Hiroshima, ironically past Ushitayama to the east. They cross the Ota River again, which makes Lan think of the drive here. They must have collected the car by now, he thinks, shame.
Eventually after a half an hour or so, they arrive at Chorakuji station, both exiting out and heading to street level, the rest would take a short walk.
They pass a mall, a shrine, a park, everything in Japan was so densely occupied, but everything had a balance. You were always in a stone's throw distance of any of those things, moreso in a city.
The two of them cross another bridge as Saya finally puts her phone back into her purse, a large building coming into view. It looked a few stories tall, with wings on either side of what looked like a tremendous circular tire.
“Now this,” Lan stops in his tracks, holding out his hands, “this is my kinda place.”


  Lan insists on paying for the both of them – the admission fee over double it was for the Peace Museum. Saya starts to protest, but he holds her ticket up between them, the deed already done.
She grumbles, but doesn't continue as she takes her ticket and both enter. The first floor was filled with restaurants, a library, and a gift shop, stairs leading up to the actual museum at the back as they walk towards them.
“Look at this!” Lan exclaims as they step onto the second floor. Saya looks around and encased in glass are thousands upon thousands of model vehicles. Scale replicas of everything from sedans to trucks and model trains, all manner of transportation.
“It's a.. Hot Wheels museum,” she remarks, looking around.
“Well, yeah! I mean no, it's.. you're not wrong.” He walks up to one of the display cases and looks at the older model cars from the 70s and 80s, the boxy look for production cars.
“As a kid, I loved this place. Love. I still do. Model cars are my thing. Locomotion is my thing, I mean. Not just cars.” Saya looks up at him as he speaks, and he's showing a bit of that same interest he had when they first came across the rented car at the airport.
“Said the man afraid to fly,” she jabs at him, grinning.
Lan spins and frowns at her, holding up a hand. “On the ground. Locomotion on the ground, please.” They wander around, admittedly this type of place was interesting, but would not be Saya's preference. But Lan seemed entranced, and that was always fun to see.
Not only were there scale model cars, but memorabilia from when all locomotion first appeared. Old, sealed cans of motor oil, the first license plates, an old driver's license.
Kids were giggling and running around the two adults as Saya just keeps following Lan, until he comes up to what looks like a seated photo booth.
“Ah! The simulator!” There were kids in there already, so he peers in, looking at their progress as he turns back to Saya. “You may not have a driver's license, but how do you think you'll fare running a train?”
Saya peers around Lan at the kids that had no real interest in driving the simulator, banging on the controls and yanking levers back and forth. The simulated train wasn't going far, they were just interested in the moving parts.
“I don't.. think..” I'd be good at it, she hesitates in saying, but he shakes his head and holds out a hand to her.
“It's easier than it looks. Just give it a try, yeah?” Lan turns back and whispers to the kids in the simulator who look around him at Saya, then giggle up at the two before taking off out the other side of the booth to wreak more havoc elsewhere.
“C'mon, it's fun.” He takes her hand and steps into the booth himself. She follows, both of them sitting on a bench made for two. In front of her were knobs, levers, gauges, nothing she understood.
Lan presses the reset button and the screen goes dark for a moment, before both are presented with a look out the window of the front of a passenger train.
“Now I know this doesn't.. none of this makes sense. But indulge me. You've ridden trains before, what's the order to start out?”
Saya pauses for a moment, looking across the dashboard and furrowing a brow. “It's all in--”
“Just point to something, I'll tell you,” he cuts her off, already knowing that the control labels were in Japanese. She considers each button and lever carefully before focusing on the most obvious – the center throttle.
As she starts to reach for it, Lan shakes his head. “Think about what happens before the train starts. Even things you don't think about as a passenger.”
Saya does, leaning back and regarding the panel and video, it all lines up with the control board, but she tried going back to basics.
The announcement, she thinks, the 'Mind the gap'. But there was no walkie-talkie, no intercom, but a button did line up with the simulation's version. She reaches out and holds her hand over it, which gets a grin from Lan.
“Now you're getting it. 'Stand clear of the doors,' and the like. Go on,” he urges.
Saya pushes the button as it lights up, the corded speaker/microphone pulling free in the simulation, held by an invisible hand as a muffled voice recites the words she had always tuned out, telling them to watch the closing doors, sit down, shut up, this station next, she always interpreted it as saying.
“Now what?” He grins over at her, obviously enjoying himself. And Saya set herself to figure this control puzzle out.


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About the author


Bio: apologies for everything about me, it might get better.

updates will be once a day for the next seventy days since i am migrating from another platform and have those chapters - and more - ready to go. (from 8/9)

feel free to come hang out in the discord, if you like.

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