Kings of Fortune

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Episode Five - Motion Sickness

Reaching the end of the street, Leon sees his beautiful salvation in the form of a train station. His mind ponders the possibilities as he races down the steps into the station. As long as he gets away from here fast, any direction is fine.

Pushing his tired legs, Leon race walks across the entire platform. He makes his way through the lines of noisy waiting people, ignores the ringing bells and sounds, and heads to the far end keeping as much distance from the entrance as possible.

At the first opportunity, Leon throws himself against a support column and slides his rear onto the ground flat. Never before has he been so exhausted.

The rampant sweat dampens his clothes but he’s too tired to care. He embraces the layer of dense moisture on his back and chest clinging to his shirt.

It’s gross.

There might be a need to stay alert, but his body is already in the process of shutting down. The adrenaline leaves his system and his body falls into a hard withdrawal.

Suddenly, he feels the coldness of the sweat on his forehead and the aching of his chest and legs. His heart is close to leaping out of his body with its aggressive pounding, so he tries to regulate his breathing. Moving is the last thing he wants to do now as his body grows content sitting on the ground.

Unfortunately, the chime from the speakers signals an approaching train, and he knows he has to board. The zooming headlights rush into the station and Leon struggles to stand from his comfortable seat. His body is stubborn and difficult to move, but he vigorously pulls up from the column, determined to board the train going anywhere.

As he waits for the doors to open, Leon constantly glances to the stairway anticipating the arrival of the two hunters at any moment.

The doors slide apart and the exiting passengers rush out. Leon impatiently pushes his way through the horde onto the train in the rudest manner possible, but so what? His life is at stake. He turns back to watch the empty stairway, and the few seconds seem to drag on.

‘Please stand clear of the closing doors.’

Never before has Leon seen the doors of the train close so slowly. Only when the train starts to depart does he finally sigh with relief.

The cold air conditioning blows against his face, but that isn’t very comforting right now. Leon leans hard against the train doors, chest slumping over with his hands gripping his knees. The train car is mildly crowded with scattered single seats but he doesn’t bother to take one. He feels sick, and avoiding people seems like the better idea.

Suddenly, his vision becomes a blurry haze, as if he stood up too quickly and the blood flushed from his head. Actually, that’s probably what happened.

Within a few seconds, his vision is completely blinded by pulsing blotches, and his coping stomach succumbs to a terrible desire to purge itself.

The seconds feel like minutes as he struggles to suppress the nausea, uncertain with how long he can hold his composure. His head throbs and his ears ring, and his entire body feels cold with the remaining warmth struggling to stay aflame. The world moves in slow motion, like he is stuck in a vortex affecting only him.

The discomfort in his stomach finally rises up…and breaks through his weak resistance.

His insides burst from his mouth, shooting out and splashing onto the floor beside him. The other passengers frantically step away gasping at the horrifying sight, but do nothing to help.

Ah crap…” Leon groans, wiping the side of his lips with his hands. Luckily, none of it got on to his clothes.

The vomit only lasted about two seconds but he felt his remaining vitality drain from him, leaving behind a lifeless, empty carcass. The stomach acids plague his mouth and throat with a horrid sour aftertaste, and tainting his teeth with a gritty texture his tongue can’t seem to leave alone.

He sits against the train door beside the puddle of his own waste, exhausted and uncaring. His eyes are moist with tears while his neck is sore from the incredible spasm of vomiting. Leon closes his eyes and tries to regulate his rapid breaths, but his body will not recover so soon.

The surrounding passengers glare and fidget to cover their noses from the smell, but Leon doesn’t care enough to apologize. He continues staring down at the floor, looking through his vomit and zoning out into his own thoughts. Puking on the train was something he’d never done before, so this was actually quite exciting.

Daijoubu desuka?” A cute little girl with puffy cheeks and white pigtails, barely able to walk, stands beside him and gently pokes his cheek.

“No, dame! Kare kitanaiyo!” The mother picks up her daughter and slides away through the train.

“Hey lady, you wouldn’t be saying that if I was wearing my suit today, and…” Leon throws his tired head back against the door, too exhausted to bother arguing.

Reaching the next stop, he quickly gets off the train, leaving behind his disgusting gift like a disrespectful jerk. He disappears into the station and switches train lines heading in a different direction.

There are numerous vending machines selling chips, sandwiches, candy, and cold drinks, and Leon settles on two bottles of water to rehydrate. Water has never tasted so good and each gulp seems to invigorate his worn body.

Right on time, the next train arrives to take him away. This one goes through several different sections of the city starting with the midtown business district, then to the downtown shopping area.

Leon checks his watch and realizes that only an hour and twenty-four minutes has passed since the hunt started. There are still four hours and thirty-six minutes until the end of his bounty time, so the fun was only just beginning.

By staying on the train for as long as possible, Leon is willing to make this the most cost-effective train ride of his life. Maybe he would even live out the rest of his days like this, roaming from train to train.

A woman sits beside him, and seeing his peculiar rising smirk, decides to take off one of her earphones. “Something funny?”

Leon slightly sits up from his seat, surprised that anyone bothered to talk to him. “Yeah. I just decided to live as a drifter, wandering from train to train for the rest of my life.”

“Are you going to call yourself ‘Phantom of the Train’?” she smiles.

How clever.

“I would, but I’m too good looking for that.” Leon grins satisfyingly at his own reply.

After pausing a moment, the woman mutters, “Is that so?” and she puts her earphone back on.

Ouch. Whatever though, he has a girlfriend anyway. Who cares about some random girl on the train.

Leon sighs.

Maybe some psychological stress is just the thing he needs to balance his physical pain.

The train moves fast and smooth through the dark tunnels and Leon slowly nods off to sleep. Stop after stop, after stop, and he’d wake up, then fall back to sleep again. The passengers beside him would scoot to the next seat avoiding his incessantly nodding head, and sadly, he’d be left more alone than a diseased leper.

In his nap, Leon relives the chase from the rooftops to the fire escape, to the wooden deck and down to the street. The vibrant memory repeats over and over, and every second he spends reimagining the events makes his heart pound just as fast as when he was actually living it.

Recalling the precise events, his leg would violently twitch, causing him to look up with embarrassment before shortly nodding back to sleep again.

In many ways, Leon feels proud of his feats, amazed with the many accomplishments by his body today. Of course, if he could, he’d prefer to not engage in such dangerous activities ever again.

Ever.

Waking for the last time, Leon feels a heavy fog lifted from his body and mind, feeling refreshed and reenergized. His livened eyes glance rapidly around the train car thoroughly scanning his surroundings for the first time in the past hour. There are only about fifteen passengers, each sitting comfortably in their own seats with decent buffer zones.

The train emerges out of the tunnel and the bright sunlight pierces the windows, hitting Leon’s face with cheerful warmth. The sunlight hits one side of the car, so passengers shift around, some moving toward the light to read their newspapers and the others away to sleep.

Leon walks toward the train doors to stretch his legs, gulping down more water from the last bottle and peering out of the glass window.

The train speeds along a bridge about four stories up from ground level, and he can see everything below. The colorful houses and buildings line parallel to the train track, and the street crawls with busy cars and busy people.

Suddenly, a fast moving silhouette shifts from the corner of Leon’s vision, but he fails to see it clearly. Is he being paranoid? Or is he just delirious from stress and fear? Leon leans closer to the window but sees nothing aside from the buildings of the neighborhood zooming past.

The train shakes unnaturally the next moment, and a loud, sudden thump pounds the ceiling of the train car.

They’re here.

“Welp, time to die.” Like the other passengers, Leon looks up at the ceiling trying to follow the moving sound with his eyes. Someone is up there on top of the train car and Leon knows to move in the opposite direction.

He heads toward the door that leads to the connecting train car but the quickening footsteps from the ceiling seem to follow.

The other passengers stare in confusion at Leon’s frantic efforts. Is there a reason this man is running? Should they be running as well? They don’t care.

The moment Leon reaches for the handle of the door, a man comes down from above and lands on the other side, smiling through his sunglasses with that ridiculous pompadour on his head.

Kitsune’s voice sounds muffled from the door, “Oi.”

“Uh oh.” Leon quickly turns around and sprints for the other end of the train. Halfway there, he notices Renzo already coming from the next car.

“What were you expecting?” Kitsune enters the train and closes the door behind him.

With the two hunters on both sides, Leon is trapped with nowhere left to go. His eyes trace around the train car, then notices the window. There’s an idea, jumping out of a speeding train.

Wait…really?

Is this necessary or is he just trying to one up himself? He turns back and sees Renzo already by the door and Kitsune gradually approaching from the other side, smiling casually before committing murder.

No, Leon has to jump or he will die.

“Help! This guy’s trying to kill me!” Leon hysterically points at Kitsune. Most of the pedestrians scuttle away like the cowards they are, but one gruff looking man decides to stand up. He looks big and strong, and hopefully worked out at the gym, which brings a glint to Leon’s grateful eyes.

“Hey, what’s goin’ on?” The gruff man stands tall between Leon and Kitsune. His heroism inspires another brave man, together blocking the hunter’s path. Never in Leon’s life has he been so grateful and ecstatic to see two large men.

Rally, stalwart saviors!

With a few seconds left, Leon quickly slides open the glass pane of the window. The powerful wind rushes into the train and nearly pushes him over. Holding on to the frame, he leans out for a thorough look of the surroundings.

The trees, power lines, and rows of buildings zoom past in a blur, fast enough to send a shiver through his spine. The train is moving incredibly fast over an elevated bridge about four stories above the street, and Leon starts to have second thoughts.

“Holy crap!” Maybe tucking and rolling isn’t going to work. His lips quiver, terrified and frustrated that he has to make this choice. If he jumps, he’d have to go past the edge of the bridge less than ten feet away, then hope that he catches something before dropping four stories.

There’s little time. Kitsune starts to hurry, effortlessly pushing aside the two large men with one hand and hastily moving toward Leon. How disappointing those men are.

But no, he can’t do this. Jumping out of a moving train? People don’t just do those things and live…right? But then again, he is going to die at the hands of these two hunters anyway. Leon takes a quick breath and shoves his fears aside.

Planting the bottom of his foot on the rim of the window, he leans out, and jumps.
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