176: All That You Can't Leave Behind

By Lt. Commander Lair
Following The 3:14 From Nowhere

-=Location: Inside the unconscious mind of Lair Kellyn=-


With that one word, Kellyn tucked the ticket into her pocket, and turned to head out of the booth. Being in the small confined space creeped her out, and she figured it was better to fry out in the open air than feel like she was suffocating by remaining here.

"Put that ticket back!"

An imploring voice caused her to jump backwards. Lair screamed with surprise, the sound so shrill that it caused the person speaking to her to scream as well.

They both regarded one another for a long moment before either one of them attempted to speak again.

"You have to pay for that, you know. You can't just take it and walk onto the train, just like that. The Conductor will ask to see your receipt. But you won't have a receipt and he'll be forced to put you off the train and call the authorities."

Kellyn analyzed the face of the young man before her. He was wearing a uniform of some sort, but it definitely was not Starfleet or any military uniform she had ever seen before. There was something about the eyes. . .even though they were hidden mostly by the brim of his unusual hat.

"Rada?" Kellyn blinked, and looked at him. "Rada! Am I glad to see you!" Kellyn slapped the image of Dengar on the back, and looked back at her without a glimmer of recognition detectable on his features.

"I'm sorry, Madame. Have we met?"

"Yes, we've met, we serve together! On the same ship!"

"I've never been to sea. I'm sorry, you must be confusing me with someone else. Now, please give me that ticket or kindly tell me how you intend to pay for it."

Kellyn sighed and handed the ticket back to him. "I'm sorry, I don't have any money. We. . .don't carry it where I come from."

"Must be a most unusual place, where you come from. You pay with precious metals then? Gold? Silver?" He looked her over, analyzing her earring. "That thing might be worth something."

"Yes, it's worth quite a lot to me." Kellyn replied, her hand reaching up and stroking the earring that Salvek had given her. He'd had it cast for her especially by a Bajoran artisan as a wedding gift, crafted out of gold, after hers had been destroyed when she used it to interrupt the light transmission signals on that detonator. "I'm sorry, it's not for trade."

"As you wish." Rada replied. "But you could get a ticket clear across country with that, if it's made of pure gold as it appears to be." He reached up to touch it, and Kellyn slapped his hand away.

"Hey. I told you, already, it's not for sale or trade. Back off."

"You're the customer," Rada replied indifferently. "And the customer is always right. But I suppose if you don't have anything to use to pay for your ticket then you're not really a customer, are you? You're a vagrant, and I shall have to ask you to move along from my station."

"I'm not a vagrant. I'm lost. I don't even know how I got here."

"Same way everyone gets here," Rada replied, pushing up on the brim of his hat and wiping perspiration from his brow with the cuff of his sleeve. "You chose to come here."

Lair laughed.

"I chose to come to the middle of freaking nowhere and spend what seems like eternity here? Not bloody likely."

"More precisely, you chose to come her in order to spend eternity here," Rada replied, a faraway look in his eyes. "Some do, you know. Some people come and go, but others do stay an eternity."

"Well, I'm not going to." Kellyn pointed to the ticket that he still held in his hands, just out of her reach. "Can you at least tell me where that train is going? I couldn't read the destination but I have a feeling I'm supposed to go there."

Now Rada was the one who laughed. "You couldn't see the destination? It's stamped on the ticket, plain as day. Really, Madame, you have been out in the sun too long."

"You're telling me."

For the first time now, he observed that the door had been ripped off of his ticket booth. "Oh, no! This really is terrible. It takes so long to get the handy man to come round to fix things, I don't know what I'll do in the meantime without my door. Everyone will be trying to steal tickets."

"I didn't mean to steal it, and anyway, do you have any tools? Kellyn asked, thinking she may be able to barter her services for the ticket he was withholding. "If you do, I could fix it for you. In trade for the ticket."

"Since you're the one who broke it that hardly seems fair to me, does it?"

Kellyn's shoulders slumped. "This is true."

She sighed again and put her hands on her hips. "Is there anyone else here I can talk to? Anyone at all that I might be able to explain my situation to, so we can work something out? I'm sure that I can find any manner of payment you wish, latinum, gems, food or water, anything once I get back to my family. To my ship. My friends will help me."

"The ocean is very far away from here." Rada declared as he began trying to reattach the broken shade to the booth's window. "Besides, your friends have all given up on you."

"Don't say that!" Kellyn turned on him angrily. She jabbed an angry index finger into his chest. "Don't ever say that. They wouldn't do that."

"But they've done it before, haven't they?" Rada's voice turned melancholy.

Kellyn shrugged. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"You mean you don't know who I'm talking about. But you do know, Lair Kellyn. You know." Hearing her own name spoken by someone else's voice brought the crippling pain back to Lair, and she cried out.

Holding her head in her hands, she almost fell over. Her eyes clenched shut, she heard her name being spoken repeatedly, along with other words and sentences, but she couldn't make out their meaning.

"Lair Kellyn, are you all right?" She opened her eyes and looked around for Rada but he was gone. It was not his voice that was addressing her now.

"It seems that you're having some difficulty. Can I be of assistance to you?" A handsome man with dark skin and beautiful, soulful eyes was standing before, dressed smartly in the uniform suit of an old-time train conductor.

"Avery!" Kellyn exclaimed. She was trying to throw her arms around him to hug him, but he stepped back a pace and out of reach. "I'm so happy, you recognize me?"

"No, Ma'am, the young ticket seller told me your name. I'm to replace the current conductor on the next train out, but if you want to take the journey, as he told you, you will have to pay for your ticket."

"I already explained to the ticket seller," Lair protested, "That I don't carry any currency but I promise you that I can obtain whatever payment you require as soon as we get where we're going."

Avery's broad smile and hearty chuckle conveyed his amusement at the thought. "I'm sorry, Ma'am but do you know how many folks try to ride the train that way? Why, if we allowed it, the rail line would go broke in no time."

"But I don't have anything of value to give you," Lair was beginning to worry that arguing with people who should know her had now replaced endless pacing as her eternal fate.

"That is very interesting," Avery indicated her earring.

"No." Kellyn repeated defiantly. "You can't have that. I'm sorry."

"Suit yourself." He raised an eyebrow and shrugged. "It's none of my nevermind. I'm getting on that train either way, with or without you."

"Sir, would you at least tell me where the damned train is GOING?" Lair sputtered with desperation. She realized that her hands and feet were beginning to feel numb for a reason she couldn't ascertain, and the sensation frightened her.

"Not until you pay for your ticket." He said. "I'm sorry, it's company policy."

"Why does this not surprise me." Kellyn said with a weary groan. "Well, thanks anyway. I guess I'll go and pace some more." She turned away from the booth and back to the train platform, and he hurried after her.

"I'm sorry but you can't loiter here. It disturbs the paying passengers."

"THERE IS NOBODY ELSE HERE!" Kellyn screamed in angst-riddled protest.

Avery blinked, and shook his head. "There's no reason to shout."

He peered beyond her now, eyes fixed on something in the distance that only he could see. He took a shiny gold pocket watch from his vest and flipped the lid open, observing the time. "She'll be coming along soon. It's really a shame you can't be on her, there isn't another one coming for a long, long time."

"How long?" Kellyn asked weakly, already dreading the answer.

"I'm sorry, that information is only available to paying passengers, it's. . ."

"Company policy." Kellyn spoke the last two words in unison with him. "I get it."

"Did you check your baggage? You might have something that would be of value to us in there that you could trade for your ticket."

"Baggage?" Kellyn was puzzled. "I don't have any baggage."

"You mean to tell me that all those aren't yours?"

Kellyn turned, and saw that stacked precariously behind her, there was a huge pile of trunks and suitcases. Each had a lock on it, and each also had the initials LK emblazoned on the side.

"My. . .baggage?" Kellyn said skeptically.

"We all have baggage," Avery answered softly. "The question is, Lair Kellyn, what do you intend to do with yours?"

Lt. Commander Lair Kellyn
Engineering Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012