Chapter 36: Breath

“Where am I?

He wasn’t supposed to be here. He was supposed to be…

This place was wrong. There weren’t any colors, not even black. Nothing existed here, but he was here anyway.

“Why am I here?”

He remembered where he was. There were…colors? What were colors? He was pretty sure he remembered colors…but how would he know? There wasn’t anything like that here, if colors existed, he should see them somewhere right?

“Who…?”

Now that was an interesting one. Who was he? Was he anybody? Even if he was, what did it matter? You can’t be anybody if there’s nobody to be somebody around, can you?

He was floating…floating?…yes floating. He definitely wasn’t walking or sitting or running or standing or swimming or kneeling or flying or lying so he must be floating. He wondered where he was floating to, but that didn’t matter. There wasn’t anywhere to float to anyway.

He spread his arms, arms he was only half sure he had, and waited.

Nothing can’t last forever.

“When?”

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Will raised an eyebrow. Allspades was rarely late, but he’d never been the first one to show up.

“You’re early.”

Allspades shrugged. “Nothing else to do. Figured I’d show up early and try to figure out how we’re getting on a train in costume.”

“Who said we’re getting on a train? Train station’s just a good place to meet. Everyone knows the train station.”

“If it’s a few hours by train…then it would take over a day by anything but plane.”

Will had to stop himself from jumping. He’d noticed Unimportant approaching, but it had nearly slipped his mind by the time the slider spoke. “…True. But if getting on a train in costume seems silly, I’d like to see you try to get on a plane.”

A wave of humor rolled off of Unimportant.

“You excepted.”

“Thank you.”

Allspades was tapping his foot off to the side.

“How are we getting there then?”

“That’s easy-“

A red and white blur stopped just short of hitting Will. “Hey everyone-one­. What’s up-up?”

“Mr. Writer was going to tell us how we are getting to Burnout…Allspades wished to know how we would get on a train in costume.”

“I just assumed we would change out of our costumes-umes. We could always change back when we got there-ere.”

Allspades stared blankly at Red Racer. “How many twelve year olds do you think will be on that train?”

“Oh-oh. Right-ight. So how are we getting on the train then-en?”

“We’re getting on the train? In costume?” Hawthorne walked around the corner.

“That’s what we’ve been trying to find out!” Allspades stomped his foot. “Now, if no one else is going to interrupt-” He stared Will down. “-Will you please tell us how we’re getting there?” The sound of Mach’s rockets flooded the room. “Agh!”

Mach walked up next to Unimportant. “Why is Allspades shouting?”

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

The BIT 500 was a train car in that it follows train tracks. It is entirely self-propelled, can travel twice as fast as any train, and comfortably seats 12 (uncomfortably, it can seat 18 and stand 24). Unfortunately, their size and cost make them inefficient for commercial transportation.

Most of the time, they were used for transporting businessmen who liked following their own schedule and could afford to rent one for a week. But they are known for being able to transport a small team of walkers halfway across the country in a matter of hours.

Of course, the kind of emergency that required a team to travel that far that fast didn’t come up very often. But if you had the right connections, you could borrow one at a moment’s notice.

“Adding it to the list,” Hawthorne muttered under her breath. “Right by the zeppelin.”

Allspades was the only one close enough to hear her. He turned his head slightly and raised an eyebrow.

Hawthorne sighed. She made sure to keep her voice low enough that it wouldn’t travel to the front of the car. “I’ve been trying to figure out what Will’s powers are, or were. He seems a little too comfortable with things like this.”

Allspades chuckled. “Okay, I’m game. What have you got so far?”

“Well for one, they trust him with people like us. And they don’t think we need an active walker around in case something happens.”

“True. But I wouldn’t wanna pick a fight with a room full of walkers. I don’t think they’re too worried about that.”

Hawthorne nodded. “He can also get in touch with all of our contacts regularly. I don’t know about anyone else’s, but mine’s not exactly known for being easy to talk to.”

“Then how’d you find him?”

“I impressed him. I think. He’s a little distant. But the point is he’s comfortable talking to Will often enough that he’d recommend me to the group. What about yours?”

“Not gonna help you much. My guy’s pretty open about everything. I don’t think anyone who knows him would have any trouble finding him at all. Did you include how he managed to get the word out about Asclepios’ gas out so quick? We saw a lot of guys patrolling around while we were still on our way to the warehouse.”

“I did, but it ties into my last point. He might know a tel who could get the word out right away.”

“Fair…but did you notice that he’s been staring over here the last few minutes…I think he wants to know how close you are to guessing,” Unimportant said from the seat across for them.

Hawthorne’s clothes shifted, tightening a little. She took a short breath and they returned to normal size.  “Even so, it’s not like him knowing we’re guessing would really change anything. I doubt it’s rare enough to tell us more than we already know.”

Unimportant shrugged and glanced at Red Racer. He was rapidly bouncing between the two sides of the cart staring in awe at the scenery whizzing by.

“It’s moving so fast-ast.”

Next to her, Hawthorne heard Allspades groan into his hand.

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