The Calling Part #4

December 24th, 2010 by Wordsman

Day 1:

The next day dawned over Crescenton, chilly and overcast.  People got up, groaned, sampled their favorite hangover remedies, threw the newspaper away unread in a fit of anger.  Everyone agreed that it would be best to forget about the events of the previous day as soon as possible.

Everyone except Officer Escobar.

That brisk morning found him hustling down into Simon Park Station, clutching a bag of warm pastries close to his heart.  There were several reasons why he had stopped in to buy a bag of mini-donuts on his way to work.  One was as insurance, in case he ran into Larry again—the man’s ability to be across town when you wanted to see him and right behind you when you didn’t had led to speculation that he was not only a ninja but a ninja with a twin brother.  The second was as a gift for the mystery woman, who, presuming she has spent the night down there, would be in need of warm food.  The third, of course, was that resisting those deep-fried rings of soft, faintly crunchy, brown sugary goodness required feats of will of which Escobar was, quite frankly, not capable.

The station looked different in the morning.  In the eight or so hours he had been away, the place had woken up.  A steady trickle of passengers-to-be flowed past him, punctuated by the occasional surge in the opposite direction whenever a train arrived.  Shops had come to life, offering everything from coffee to coffee with sugar; the quality was poor, but the price—and, more importantly, the time investment—were right.  Officer Escobar, who had already had two cups of fine French Roast and was holding a bag containing more than his Recommended Dietary Allowance of sugar, ignored them.

Though the morning rush hour had passed, he worried that the sharp upswing in hustle, paired with the accompanying increase in bustle, would prevent him from finding the woman again.  Even more disturbing was the idea that she might no longer be there at all.  He could not say why he was concerned; the idea of her vanishing was just somehow unsettling.

After fifteen minutes of searching, near the end of which he half-seriously considered abusing his authority to evacuate the station, he spotted her.  She was sitting against the same pillar, on the same side, outside the primary flow of traffic but still at some risk of being stepped on (or tripped over).

Escobar approached.  Her head was down, just as it had been the night before.  For an instant he panicked, thinking that she had passed on, that he had left an old woman to perish all alone, and that it was only the mingled foul odors of the subway station that had covered up the corpse-stink and prevented her body from being found.

She was breathing.  Escobar shook his head.  He was not normally much of a worrier, a fact his wife reminded him of almost daily.

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