Player three has entered the game.
|Suitcases do not as a rule appear out of nowhere, and particularly not on camera. So it didn't. As the morning crowd surged forwards onto the 07:52 they momentarily obscured the bench. As the train filled with the platform conversely cleared, a suitcase was now visible next to the bench.
Lone suitcases at train stations are usually a source of temporary anxiety, at least until they are claimed, or else destroyed by transport police. Yet no one paid this case any attention whatsoever. It was large, and of a dark brown colour. Clearly not new, and a little scuffed, but obviously well cared for, it was unadorned with any labels and the only remarkable thing about it, (this despite nobody actually remarking on it), was that the ornate handle was made of silver.
When the 08:12 arrived with a further surge of boarding passengers, the suitcase was momentarily hidden from the security cameras once more. A woman was now sitting next to the case. Her hair was silvery grey, and pulled into a tight bun, but this was largely hidden by a brown bowler hat. Her coat was a waxed dark green, and complimented a pale grey crepe silk shirt. Madam Valise wore dark boots with old silver buckles and her hands, which were almost translucent, were resting atop a black lacquer cane. This last she rested between her boots.
Looking up at the clock, a digital display replicated on several platforms, she sniffed and drew from her pocket something that might at a glance pass as a timepiece. A closer examination would have been far more interesting, but Madam Valise after passing it from left to right in front of her, pushed the object back into her pocket.
Madam Valise now scrutinized the people in front of her, and she quickly sorted out one young man for particular attention. She watched him, and noticed how often he was consulting the platform clock. The announcements system chimed, and Madam Valise stood, pushing herself upwards with the cane as Passengers were instructed to stand clear of the platform edge because a train was travelling through the station without stopping here.
Stepping forwards Valise seized the back of the man's coat with surprising strength and hauled him back from the edge. As he turned to confront her, she slapped his face hard.
"It solves nothing, just makes things more difficult for you next time."
Taking his arm she pulled the man towards the bench. None of the people around them took the slightest notice of this.
"Sit down." She barked.
The stunned man sat down abruptly on the bench and Madam Valise seated herself next to him.
"What's your name?"
"Suicide solves nothing Roland."
"How did you know?" Roland was increasingly bewildered.
"I could lie and say 'body language', would that satisfy you?"
Roland stared at her, unable to frame any sensible response.
"Good, that's settled then."
"What am I going to do?" Roland wailed, his face a mask of pain and confusion.
"That's easy to answer, you're going to work for me. That is the other reason I saved you."
"Work for you? You mean like a job?"
Madam Valise's look suggested that she was reconsidering making an offer.
"I mean like I tell you what to do, you do what you're told and I will pay you. It isn't like you have a lot of options for your life right now anyway."
"What do you mean?"
"You tried to kill yourself and I saved you. That puts you in an 'interesting' state."
Looking at his face which radiated bafflement, Madam Valise continued,
"Don't take my word for it, just ask that man something about the next train." She pointed to a nearby man.
Roland pulled a 'what the fuck' face, but got up and went over to the man, who was clearly a uniformed station employee.
"Excuse me, but can you tell me what the ..."
Roland tailed off as the man's eyes slid past him to a woman who came up and asked him a question, answering her in a friendly and helpful manner.
"Hey excuse me, can you hear me?"
Getting no response Roland sat back down next to Madam Valise.
"What's happened?" He was confused and frightened and this was clear in his voice.
"The universe hasn't decided if you are alive or dead, and until it does you will have some problems interacting with it."
"Like quantum?" Roland asked.
"If it helps." was the disturbingly unhelpful response.
"Come along now, this is not where we need to be." Madam Valise picked up her case.
"Where do we need to be?"
"Las Vegas! I can't go there, I don't have a passport for a start."
"That won't be necessary."
Madam Valise opened her case, and laid it on the platform. Then to Roland's astonishment she stepped into the case, using the cane to steady herself. Once she had both feet in the case, Valise appeared to sink into the floor. She held out one hand and gestured for Roland to take hold. Having no idea what else he could do, he took the proffered hand and was drawn into the case, which shut with a snap over them.
Suitcases do not as a rule disappear out of existence, and particularly not on camera. But this one did.