Copyright 2012 By JB Richards
Kate nearly jumped out of her seat as the door to her train compartment slid open with a heavy-handed clack, the sharp sound breaking the monotony of the rhythmic thumping as the train trundled along. It had been hours since she’d so much as heard another person, and the sudden flurry of motion and sound startled her back into the worn faux-leather seat, snapping the fog of boredom from her mind. She squinted up at the shadow in the doorway, clutching her bag tighter.
The man loomed in the opening, one hand clasping at the frame, the other curled around a small package wrapped in a deep burgundy cloth. He wore a loose cotton shirt, simple and unadorned white, buttoned neatly up the front. It was tucked into a pair of ratty and worn jeans, covered with a heavy layer of dust that made him look more like a ranch-hand on some midwest farm than simply dirty. His form was toned and lithe, and he stood with a comfortable ease of someone that know what they were doing.
His eyes, though, caught her gaze. Shining emerald, they sparkled out atop a lazy and warm smile. His strong chin was shadowed, both by the lights behind his head and by a fine growth of dark beard. The stranger regarded Kate for a long moment, neither of them speaking, both swaying in gentle time with the train. Finally, the newcomer shook off his paralysis, glanced down the cramped hallway of the train car, and shuffled in. He left the door open, for which Kate was thankful.