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Eight.

Wren.

´You sure you got the time right?µ Hunter asked, not for the first time. ´Of course I·m sure. It·s just running late. Trains do that.µ She replied, feeling frustrated at having to be awake so early, not to mention the fact that it was freezing on the platform. ´Where·s the Choo-choo?µ Alex continued to run around the platform, pretending that he was on a train and earning the slight smiles of others who were waiting for the arrival. ´It·s coming.µ She looked down at her watch, I hope. ´The seven a.m. train to London Central station will be arriving shortly. Please collect all luggages and get ready to board the train.µ The woman·s voice crackled over the loud speaker. And, true enough, the train noisily turned the corner and screeched to a stop in front of the platform. The doors opened as one as the weary eyed passengers slowly made their way off the train, followed by impatient, wide eyed, caffeine a ddicted people wearing dry cleaned suites and carrying expensive leather briefcases. Wren stood, grabbed her bag and waited for Hunter to do the same before she took Alex·s hand and stepped onto the train. Inside, the train was warm and inviting ² not like the type that she·d been in a few times before, when she·d had the chance to sneak off with a few ¶friends· at weekends in the school term. ´Let·s see the tickets.µ Hunter held out his hand and took the three orange tickets from her. ´We got on the wrong carriage.µ Wren followed him to the next one and sat in her seat ² next to the window, whilst Alex climbed into his and Hunter sat opposite next to him. ´Well, at least it·s warm.µ She tried to break the ice ² they hadn·t spoken much since she had got back to the hotel the day before. ´You·re going to keep avoiding the subject?µ ´I·m not avoiding any ² Alex, don·t lick the window, it·s dirty.µ ´Wren.µ He sighed, ´What happened yesterday? You·ve been« Different ever since you got back.µ ´I·m not. I haven·t changed ² nothing happened.µ ´You have. You·ve hardly spoken; you keep staring into the distance. It·s like you·re not even here sometimes. Something·s happened.µ ´It·s nothing.µ ´Fine. Just promise to tell me before you go off on your own. I don·t like the thought of that psycho coming back.µ ´Ok. Now just drop it.µ She began to tap her fingers on the table, avoiding his gaze. She couldn·t even look at Alex« She just couldn·t bring herself to say it out loud either ² that would make it real. A few stops and a couple of hours late, Wren woke to a slight tap on her foot. ´Oh, you·re awake.µ A man·s voice came from nearby. She moved her legs off the second seat quickly, not even awake enough to realize that he wasn·t her and that she wasn·t in any dang er. The man sat down, he had shoulder length dirty blond hair with slightly golden highlights near the roots. He was wearing a baggy white hooded top with a pair of cut off denim shorts. ´Thanks.µ He said, sitting down and staring at her. ´Sorry I woke you.µ ´No problem.µ She sat properly, looking around. ´Where·s Alex and Hunter?µ ´The guy and the kid?µ She nodded. ´He said the kid needed the toilet, said he·d be back in a min.µ

´Oh, Ok.µ She took the coat ² Hunter·s coat ² from around her shoulders and folded it, placing it in front of her. ´So« Going far?µ he asked. ´London, you?µ ´Same actually. Looks like we·re going to be here a while.µ ´Yeah, maybe.µ She didn·t feel like talking much; meeting new people wasn·t really her ideal situation. Especially since everything had happened. All around, people were talking, tapping on their laptops or sleeping. Silence took over the conversation as the train started moving again. ´Looks like your boyfriend·s back.µ ´He·s-µ Hunter sat down before she could finish her sentence, ´I·m her brother.µ He passed Wren a coffee and a sandwich, and then he made sure Alex could get into his food before starting his own. He didn·t take his eyes of Wren whilst doing this. ´Oh.µ The man said, ´I·m Rick.µ He offered his hand to Hunter first. ´I·m Hunter, and this little mite is Alex.µ ´I·m Linzi.µ She looked at Hunter, ´You should have woke me.µ ´Nah, you·ve hardly slept since« I thought you·d be fine.µ She sighed, ´Still, you shouldn·t have gone.µ ´Well I·m back now. It·s not like you cared the other morning either.µ Then his eyes darted between Rick and Wren, wondering if something had happened. ´No worries Hunter, I just watched sleeping beauty for a bit before I woke her to get my seat.µ He grinned, flashing straight white teeth. Wren noticed Hunter·s eyes narrow slightly ² only for half a second before they went back to normal. She realized that, either Rick hadn·t seen, or he didn·t care. ´So, what takes you to London?µ She looked at Hunter, unsure how to answer. Why am I wanting him to tell me what to say? He knows as much as I do« Kind of. ´We·re going to see a friend.µ Rick·s eyes stayed on Wren throughout the whole conversation, only once leaving when Alex banged a toy car against the table. She was feeling out of place and very self conscious as she looked between both of the men. Hunter was glaring at Rick as if he wanted to rip his throat out, whilst Rick watched her. She pretended not to notice by keeping Alex occupied, but she did continue to participate in the conversation. Rick talked about his family ² his older brother and his wife, and his younger twin sisters. Hunter, on the other hand, spoke about things he and Wren had done in the past ² places they·d been and things they planned to do. He cleverly bypassed the fact that they weren·t related, and completely ignored talking about anything that happened that week. It was as if he·d constructed these lies before hand, in order for it to seem more real. Six o·clock brought the train to a stand-still, they·d been slowing for the last hour as the weather outside had been steadily deteriorating. Snow covered the tracks in front of them, so they couldn·t travel on. ´Thank you for remaining patient, everyone is able to get a free hot drink and the shop will be open for the next few hours until we can get on our way. ´A team is being sent to clear the tracks, so if you could continue to remain calm, we should be back on the move very soon.µ The male voice finished his well rehearsed speech over the microphone and a mixture of groans, complaints and panicked voices filled the calm in the carriage.

´I love how they tell us exactly when we·re going to get there.µ Wren sighed, stretching her legs beneath the table. Hunter gave her a sharp look; he was annoyed at the attention Rick was giving her. ´It·s not like they know when the team will get here and clear the tracks.µ ´Ugh, I need to go stretch my legs, anyone want something from the shop?µ Rick stood to let her pass, ´I·ll give you a hand.µ ´Nah, I·m fine. Hunter, what do you want?µ ´Just a coffee.µ He turned away from them, talking quietly to Alex. Wren walked up the carriage and through the next, followed by Rick, until they reached the shop. She stood in silence in the queue, stepping forward every few minutes as the line moved on. ´So« Where you from?µ ´Up north.µ ´There·s a lot of places up north, where about?µ ´Ever heard of Tay Vale?µ Wren said, immediately regretting it. This was the same conversation she·d had a hundred times before ² her answers came almost as a reflex. But now, everything had changed, and the village had been on the news just the day before. Soon the police would realize that there were bodies missing, and then, their pictures would be everywhere. ´Yeah, saw it on the news. You·re from there?µ ´No!µ She took a breath, trying to remove the panic in her voice, ´I mean, no. I·m from a town near there.µ ´Oh, cool. Did you see what happened? Apparently the whole place was up in flames at one point.µ She shut her eyes. ´Did you hear about it? According to the news reports, everyone was killed ² even little kids weren·t spared.µ A tear escaped and rolled down her cheek as she watched, in her mind·s eye, everything that had happened that night ² it all flashed by as Rick described the things that he·d seen on the news. Suddenly, he stopped talking, ´What·s wrong?µ She wiped it away quickly, angry at herself for even crying, ´Nothing, it·s nothing.µ ´One minute we·re just talking, and the next you·re crying? Something·s wrong.µ ´I just« I was thinking about those people. Some of them must have had to watch their friends and relatives get murdered«µ Rick pulled her towards him, wrapping her in a tight hug. ´Hey, it·s ok. Anyway, none of those people survived, so they didn·t have to think about it for too long.µ She lifted her head from his chest, wanting to tell him the truth. Wanting to tell him that she·d seen things that stayed in her mind every waking moment before haunting her dreams at night. ´Yeah, I·m sure you·re right. It·s not like anyone watched their family members die and lived to remember it every day since.µ He looked down at her, ´The police said no one survived.µ ´Yeah, isn·t that«? Great?µ

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