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Saturday, 19th, April. 2:30 AM.

I was just this side of useless when I first woke up, my eyes were always blurry, and my mind just struggled to focus on anything. I would be stuck like this until I had a shower or drank something caffeinated, so I made my way to the bathroom, completely nude, clothes were for people who weren't really, really, really, ridiculously good looking. I shot my best attempt at 'Blue Steel' to the stick creature in the mirror, eh, needs some work.

I turned on the hot water and immediately sat down on the floor of the shower, letting the water gently pull me into a state where I could actually use my brain but it kind of had the opposite effect, all of my worries washed away with the hot water and I am fairly sure I drifted off to sleep again at some point, because when I next checked the time It was almost an hour later.

When I finally emerged from the shower the water had turned me into a close approximation of a dried-up prune, I quickly toweled-dried myself before shaking my head wildly like a dog. Water sprayed all over the place and I grinned before wandering out of the bathroom feeling much better than when I had entered it.

I poured some water into the kettle before turning it on, taking a moment to put some coffee into a mug, and then sat down at the kitchen bench, to wait for the water to boil. It seemed as if an eternity had passed before the kettle finally clicked off, I quickly poured the hot water into the mug, and added a dash of milk, I took a sip of my creation and it was lovely. After a couple of minutes, my brain finally started to wake up and with its awakening, came the deluge of things that needed to be addressed for the day, specifically I had two big goals that I needed to work on today, and they took priority over everything else.

The first of those goals was the Brockton Bay Train Station, I was going to break into the office building to get at their staffing records, It was the only category that I had brainstormed yesterday that I hadn't been able to do anything about without physical access to their computers. I needed to see if I could find anything strange going on with the train staff, I honestly didn't think I would find anyone suspicious, I had my heart set on Dean being the killer, but it bore investigating none the less. It was entirely possible that the little old cleaning ladies were secretly ferrying people out of the train in bins and buckets, I took another sip of my coffee.

My second goal was in the same vein, I was going to have to break into Daniel Stansfield's mansion to spy on his son. Dean Stansfield, currently my prime suspect, but I might even find something about his father too I suppose. If I could find out some hidden motive, like Dean was lashing out against his father for having affairs with women like miss red dress. I wondered once again exactly where Mrs. Stansfield had vanished too.

A realization suddenly cut through my thoughts and I couldn't believe that I hadn't thought of it already, what if there was more than one killer? What if Dean and his father Daniel were in it together? What if this was a group of people working together? It was like my brain had suddenly found a million possibilities that I had somehow overlooked yesterday, and I was abruptly sure that I was now on the completely wrong track.

Heh, track.

What if somebody was Mastering all of the train occupants, and that's why there were no witnesses. I hadn't even thought to consider what Dean's power could be if he actually had one,

I was pretty stuck on the idea that he was secretly a cape, but what if I was wrong? What if I was right? I didn't want to get mastered and then thrown off a train or something.

I took a deep breath and tried to calm down, I could only do what I could do, I told myself. If I were wrong I would revisit my notes and go for the next suspect on the list. I had all the time in the world to figure this out, it's not like people's lives were at stake or anything, I swallowed the rest of my coffee.

I left my apartment less than five minutes later.


Saturday, 19th, April. 3:37 AM.

The train station was awfully empty at this time of the morning, it was still dark out and there were more than a few people sleeping under the benches or tucked into corners underneath various objects, they were each dressed in worn but thick clothing, and some of them even had blankets.

Brockton Bay had always had a large homeless population, but that didn't mean that the city was kind to them. They were all exceedingly likely to get recruited, beaten, or killed by one of the gangs if they were unfortunate enough to have wandered into the wrong area. I can't imagine it was a good city to be stuck in with no house and no money. I dragged my gaze away from them with some difficulty.

I had a job to do.

The platform’s floor was covered in large white tiles, small cracks and chips ran through almost every single one. There were green painted benches that had been worn down to the metal beneath, and a row of them lined the station, interposed by the thick steel columns that held the exterior roof up. The benches had raised dividers set into them, to make it inconvenient for the homeless to sleep on. There was a building to one side of the station, made from brick with a durable metal door and a security mesh window, it could only be for the physical ticket sales.

Right in the middle of the station was a set of train tracks, running parallel the building, on the side of the tracks opposite me, there was a sign that read, 'Welcome to Brockton Bay Station.'

The 'B' in 'Bay' was crossed out and replaced by a capital 'G'. I snorted in amusement and the woman under the nearest bench made a muffled noise in her sleep.

I generated a thin wire and sent it into the lock on the door before unlocking the door, I slipped into the building a moment later to find the inside of the room was split into segments with shoulder-high dividers, each section had a desk, a computer, and a phone. Phone operators, I guessed, the people you spoke to when you called the station, there were a total of four doors connected to the main room. I checked all of the rooms one by one, the first was a simple bathroom, the door was already unlocked, and I looked around the room in disgust, these people were absolute animals, clean your fucking bathroom!

The second door was locked and led to a small storeroom, it was filled with bits and pieces; bright orange road cones, slippery when wet signs and other paraphernalia covered the shelves. The third room was also locked but much more interesting, it housed a desk and a bunch of monitors, obviously the security system for the station, it was pretty cool if I was being honest but not really what I was looking for. This was the first thing the police would have checked and if they had not found the identity of the killer from the camera feed then I had even less chance of accomplishing the feat.

The last room was where I hit the jackpot, it held a single large desk that was facing the door, a computer monitor sat on the middle of the desk and filing cabinets lined the walls of the room. I sat down at the desk and turned the computer on, which took almost thirty seconds to actually locate the power button, this thing looked to be at least ten years old. I worked it out eventually but immediately hit my next roadblock when a company logo popped up, asking for a username and password.

Fuck, I hadn't thought this far ahead.

I looked around the desk to see if I could find anything useful, like a list of old passwords or something but found nothing of interest, I used some more wires to pick the locks on the cabinets before checking them all as well. The first two cabinets had nothing of note, mostly just old paperwork that had nothing to do with staff.

The third drawer, however, had a sticky note adhered to the inside of the door.

Got you, bitch.

Saturday, 19th, April. 6:37 AM.

Several hours later I felt like a mess and couldn’t help the string of yawns that followed one after another. I rubbed bleakly at my eyes, desperately wishing for more coffee. I was seated on one of the benches right next to the train tracks, once again wearing plain clothes, my costume hidden safely in a bag by my side, I looked at the clock again with disgust, ugh. I was always besieged by a wave of tiredness if I woke up before my normal time it would persist until I did something physical or ate something.

I tried not to consider this trip a failure, but it seemed like such a waste of time in hindsight, I morosely watched a young conductor with auburn hair help an elderly lady take her luggage onto the train, his name tag said 'Felix', the old woman thanked him profusely with a kind smile as he used his arm to help her step up into the train.

I sighed.

I had checked everything that I had access to on the computer and all of the cabinets. There was plenty of information, staff names, schedules, and shift times for each employee but all of the recent hires were on the up and up, the cleaning ladies probably weren't murderous little Baba Yaga's in disguise. I had found nothing suspicious, not a single thing that struck me as strange or out of place. I copied everything I could find onto a USB and took it with me anyway.

I would be able to look it all over more carefully when I was at home, where I wasn't worrying if someone might be about to show some initiative and come to work early. I had gotten a bunch of information, that had to be worth something I guess, I needed to stay positive. I still had other leads, so it wasn't a total bust.

I tried not to worry that I had missed something important, tried not to think that if I had only been a little smarter I would have found the thread that would unravel the entire plot. I couldn't think that way, it would lead to madness it looks like I was going to do this the hard way after all.


Saturday, 19th, April. 9:23 PM.

Damn Daniel.

The house if you could call it that, was gargantuan, it looked like the kind of mansion that beat the shit out of all the smaller weaker mansions at recess. The property had a sprawling green field that stretched the entire way to the 'house' and there were plenty of trees that dotted the yard, thick, green, and lively looking things. A large water fountain sat in front of the building, bubbling away merrily, and surrounded by beautiful dark brickwork. A single paved road led straight up to the fountain circled it once, and then continued onto the front doors.

The yard had to have been kept professionally maintained what with the perfectly straight cuts, and the entire thing was surrounded by a tall wrought iron fence, ornate looking spikes adorned the top of each thin pole. The front gate itself had a large golden 'S' that traveled right down the middle curling onto both sides, what a fucking liberty.

The fence didn’t slow me down for an even a second, as I simply hopped over it before running over to the closest tree, nobody came sprinting out of the house to beat the crap out of me so I was pretty sure I was still in the clear, I moved to another closer tree and still, nobody appeared. I quickly worked my way as close to the building as I dared before stopping, there was something of a no-mans-land directly around the house, it was clear of any obstructions and there was absolutely nothing for me to hide behind. I would have to be careful if I decided to approach the house.

I spotted Dean way before that ever became an issue, the guy was working out in a massive room filled with expensive-looking gym equipment. The interior lights were on and all of the windows were open, as were most of the windows in the house, I guess he wasn’t afraid of somebody trying to rob him, fucking rich people. I booked it out of sight of the window and made sure to stay low to the ground as I circled around the trees looking for a better angle to watch him.

As if to spite me, just as I got into a good position he finished up his workout. Dean turned the lights off and left the room, eventually, I required my target as the lights on the upper floor turned on. I moved into a better position again, this time I climbed up into one of the trees that towered over even the mansion's impressive height.

I had a peek through the binoculars I'd purchased several months ago, finally having a chance to use them outside of my apartment. Dean was now sitting at a desk and looking down at something I couldn't see, he looked to his left abruptly before grabbing at something out of frame, it ended up being a phone. Shit, if I wanted to know what he was saying, I would need to be closer than this.

I moved further along the branch of the tree, maybe I would find I had a secret talent for lip reading, wouldn't that be awesome? I suddenly remembered a joke I had heard once about a deaf gynecologist and stifled a snort. I never managed to find out about the lip-reading as Dean suddenly turned and kicked his legs up onto the bed beside him.

I could see the desk now, that he had spun mostly out of the way, there were two rectangular pieces of paper sitting on top of it. With help from my binoculars, I was able to see that they were fancy train tickets. The tickets were a deep red color with burgundy borders, 'Single' was written across the top in large shinning golden letters. The only other piece of information I could see was the time of departure, it was in a larger font than the rest, in the same stylized golden font, 11:30 PM Departure.

It didn't look a thing like any train ticket I had ever seen, it was obviously expensive, I was sure that if I could find the date of departure and the train's destination I would be able to save myself a lot more effort down the line. I moved to another tree, the one that was closest to the house, the last one on my side of the no-mans-land, the perfectly cut green grass was all that stood between my tree and the house. As if I had crossed an invisible line Dean suddenly turned and looked directly at me, fuck that shit I'm out.

I fled.


Saturday, 19th, April. 9:27 PM.

Dean Stansfield clicked on the light in his bedroom before glancing out of the window, eyes passing over the lawn without really seeing anything at all. He sat down at his desk before picking up one of the tickets that he had left there earlier.

Dean wondered if he were making a mistake, he also wondered if he could actually find the part of him that would care if he did. He dropped the ticket back down onto the desk and leaned back into his chair with a sigh. His phone abruptly started ringing loudly causing him to jump at the sudden noise, before laughing at his own jumpiness, he quickly snatched the phone up and hit the big green button.

"Hello?" Dean said easily, having a decent idea on who it was without having to check the number.

"Hey man," Chris answered excitedly.

"Chris," Dean replied with a smile.

They had known each other for more than a year now, at first, Dean had thought the friendliness had been because he was rich, a lot of people had tried to befriend him based on that in the past. It wouldn't have surprised him if that had been the case, but instead, Chris hadn't even known who he was, it was both refreshing and annoying at the same time. The passive use of his powers definitely helped in figuring out who was genuine and who wasn’t.

It had only taken him a couple of months to figure out that his new friend was actually one of the Wards. After they started hanging out Dean had immediately noted the many sudden disappearances at school and the surges of excitement that preceded them. Little injuries that had gone unnoticed and when he pointed them out Chris would hide them away in embarrassment, total overreactions.

One day Dean had casually asked Chris if Skidmark had hit him very hard. I had seen part of the fight that Kid Win had been a participant of televised on the news and Chris had straight up told him that it was actually Mush that had hit him, before realizing exactly what he had just revealed. Chris had freaked out and it was absolutely hilarious at the time. Dean had quickly revealed that he also had powers to help calm him down and prove that he wasn't going to suddenly unmask him to everybody at school.

Chris had been trying to get him to join the wards ever since and about a week ago Dean had made him a deal. If Chris came with him to meet his estranged brother for the first time in years, Dean would join the Wards. Chris told him that he would have come even if Dean hadn't agreed to join the wards, he was a good friend. Dean distantly realized that he was going to need a hero name soon.

"Are we still doing it?" Chris asked nervously and he felt his lips twitch.

"Yeah." Dean replied evenly, "I bought the tickets already. We leave Monday night at eleven-thirty."

"I'm going to get in so much trouble if anybody finds out," Chris said wryly, but he sounded excited. "You owe me so bad."

Dean laughed out loud at that, If Chris had known just how much the tickets had cost he wondered if his friend would have still thought that.

"Yeah, man. Don't worry though, no one is going to find out." Dean promised quietly before he suddenly felt a burning curiosity flash into existence right on the edge of his range.

It was outside the house, Dean turned and looked towards it before he saw a shadowed figure cut across the lawn in an instant, he felt a cold chill go down his spine at the sight.

"Chris, I need to go," Dean said with false calm. "Thanks for having my back, I'll see you at the station on Monday."

The sudden end to the conversation seemed to completely fly over Chris's head, or his friend might have just had no problems with the abruptness.

"It's fine, man," Chris said happily, straight away. "I can't wait until we can hang out at the HQ though."

Dean could tell he was grinning from his voice.

"Me too man," Dean said honestly, despite the chilling thought of being watched. "I'll see you Monday."

"Yeah," Chris said cheerfully. "I'll see you then."


Saturday, 19th, April. 9:40 PM.

I didn't stop running until I was on the other side of the city, Dean had some type of sensory power, and it was suddenly highly likely that he might have been a Master after all. They needed to be able to affect things from a distance in order to control them right? Dean’s range had to be about thirty meters judging by how quickly he had reacted when I stepped into his range. I wondered if he could he tell capes and normies apart? Did each person feel unique to him? Was I screwed at school now as well?

If I walked past him at school would Dean know it was me? I couldn't just not go to school, fuck. How did his power work!? Maybe I'm overreacting though, I'd been in the school with this guy for a couple of years and he had never picked me out of a crowd before, so I think I can safely assume that he couldn't tell if you were a cape at a glance, I would have to go to school to find out, fuck.

Not to mention the train situation, I would have to figure out which day this was going to happen, the murders happened every second day and they never deviated, the next date in the pattern was Monday night. I would have to either follow Dean around to see if he went anywhere, which would be hard considering his sensory ability. The alternative was to go to the train station every second night at eleven-o-clock and hope I could spot him.

I spent the rest of Saturday night and my entire Sunday worrying about the school issue while going over all of the information I had found at the train station. I was currently filtering through the information in different ways to try and find a particularly suspicious group of people to draw suspects from.

The main demographic for train jobs were for men and women approaching the age of fifty, they absolutely dominated the staff. I had to filter it down to employees under thirty and it wiped out a massive portion of the names right from the start. I started removing anyone who had worked there for upwards of five years, thinking it rather unlikely that the killer would have been working there for that long, this left me with roughly a hundred people.

I filtered it for Brockton Bay residents and ended up with around thirty people, we were getting somewhere this time, I could feel it. I did a google search on each of the thirty staff members but found nothing related to train accidents or incidents. I checked all the names who had social media presences that were publicly accessible, but none of them stood out as obviously evil or deranged, most of them were narcissists though.

One of the staff was moonlighting as a cam-girl which ended up distracting me for a couple of hours, I'm not going to lie. I eventually ran into another dead end with this attempt, so I reset the search parameters and started all over again, this was going to take a while.

Late Sunday afternoon I ended up making a breakthrough, not on the killer's identity, but on the ticket that was on Dean's desk. I learned that the ticket granted access to an incredibly special train, that was about to make its yearly trip. From Brockton Bay to Chicago, it ran once a year, every year, a transcontinental luxury train.

Three guesses about who owned the train, and the first two don't count, it’s Daniel Stansfield, fuck you.

The luxury train brought the newly rich and those who had inherited old money to witness its splendor, men, and woman from all over the world came just to ride on this trip. I couldn't understand it at all, it was just another train to me, what exactly was happening on this train? Why did people go there?

I found some pictures of it online.

It was decorated like a luxurious hotel, with incredible chandeliers and beautiful lacquered interiors. The windows were surrounded by large red curtains, fantastic art pieces from all over the world decorated the walls of the train, carved wood dominated the insides of the carriages, beautiful sprawling patterns and designs covered the ceiling, accentuated with false columns and archways.

The train was a massively long and large thing, with games rooms, bars, private rooms and so much more. It was a majesty of high-class design and the more I learned about it the more I started to understand why people would want to ride on it. It was a beautiful machine of which I had seen nothing to compare to it, I had mentioned before that it was absurdly expensive, and I wasn't lying, If I sold my entire apartment I would almost be able to buy two tickets.

What the hell went on in this train to justify a price tag like that? This had to be it, this was going to be the killer's next hunting ground, there was absolutely no way in hell that an obsessed train killer would pass up trying to kill someone on this thing. The transcontinental luxury train would be leaving the Brockton Bay Train Station tonight, at exactly eleven-thirty. I knew where they would be, and I knew when they would be there. All I had to do was sneak on board and stop them, I couldn't stop the thrill of excitement that raced up my spine at the thought.

But first, it was nap time.


When 'The Flying Pussyfoot' left the Brockton Bay train station at exactly eleven-thirty, it held more passengers than tickets.

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About the author

Elbowsnapper

Bio: I’m a fantasy author from Australia, and if I were to describe my work in a single sentence it would be; Realism contained within an unrealistic backdrop. I aim to put out high-quality, original, long-form written content that will entertain, and engage you. Expect dark themes, characters making costly mistakes, and unreliable narrators.

My standard process starts by releasing draft chapters to my Patreon, and then to everybody else online. Once the story is completed, I convert it into a more conventional eBook. I also routinely go back and revise, edit and enhance my older work as I improve as a writer.

I now have a website that has links to all of my original works to date.

https://www.elbowsnapper.com/

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