Once the two men left, a chilly silence fell between them which was split only by the squeal of the train as it continued on its course. The bundles hanging from the ceiling swayed back and forth rhythmically. Tommy had no idea what to say and watched as the Conductor covered the body back up with the sheet. He stood up with his hands on his waist and his head tilted to the ceiling. Tommy waited as the Conductor stared upward at nothing.
“I can’t believe this is happening. It’s unprecedented,” he finally reflected. Tommy felt uncomfortable being alone, now.
“Yeah. Totally crazy,” he spoke straight from the nineties.
“Something like this has never happened aboard The Daylight.”
Tommy’s heart skipped a beat as tension rose up his spine.
“What did you say?”
The Conductor turned to face him.
“This has never happened aboard The Daylight?”
The ocean raged in Tommy’s ears. His knees started to feel weak.
“And what is today’s date? What year?”
The Conductor’s mustache creased together in unity with his eyebrows.
“November 2, 1941.”
The color drained from Tommy’s face and the world around him began to get smaller and smaller. He knew that date too well and the implications settled on his shoulders like weights.
Tommy was on a train that was scheduled to derail at any moment.
Tommy felt unsteady and reached out for the wall. Nothing felt certain, and his legs threatened to buckle from underneath him.
“Are you alright, Harold?” The Conductor asked as he caught Tommy.
“I need to see the Engineer,” Tommy whispered.
“Capital idea. He needs to be aware of the situation forthwith. Are you sure you’re okay, though? You look like you have taken ill.”
Tommy did his best to make himself presentable. Even though all of reality was essentially becoming unhinged and was spiraling down into a pit of despair, he put on the best face he could.
“I see. Well, if that’s the case, let’s not waste any more time.”
The Conductor walked past Tommy and headed back in the direction they had come. Dutifully, Tommy followed as his mind churned through his situation. For the first time, however, things were beginning to make sense.
Tommy was not on The Daylight by accident.
He didn’t understand how, but his fate was entwined with the destiny of The Daylight. Surely this meant his job was to prevent a catastrophe. He wasn’t here to be a bystander to history, which meant he had to somehow convince the Engineer to stop the train. This was his destiny. This was his legacy. Tommy could feel it in his gut. He alone could foresee what devastation was approaching. He alone understood what it meant if he failed as over a hundred lives, including his own, flashed through his mind. But, it was a single person who stood out the most. Someone he knew was on this train. Someone who was the youngest Engineer in history—a history that Tommy was about to rewrite.
As the two of them moved from car to car, Tommy’s confidence rose until it set him ablaze.
“I said get your hands off me!” A young man shouted as Tommy followed the Conductor through the open door into the next car. Tommy couldn’t see the speaker, but could hear the frustration and annoyance in the tone. “I know karate. Don’t make me use it!” The voice boasted.
Tommy glanced past the Conductor at the scene unfolding in the empty car. A young man who was probably not much older than Tommy was—or at least had been when he celebrated his fourteenth birthday. His outfit was maroon in color and was disheveled from the man’s struggling. His arms were drawn up behind him as another man, one who was considerably taller than the young man, had them clasped together.
“What is the meaning of this, Gusteau?” The Conductor asked as he placed his hands on his waist. Tommy peered around his arms hoping to get a better look.
“Sir, this ruffian attacked some of our commuters.”
“Did not! I simply got confused and needed answers.”
“He violently shook an old woman whom he called an imposter and told her to…unscramble his brain,” Gusteau said sheepishly. His face flushed with embarrassment.
“She could’ve been an alien! All of you could be aliens!” The young man pronounced as he tried to break free. “I will not let you dissect me!” Tommy snorted to himself. Something, though, about the way the man spoke was familiar.
“Calm down, son. You’re a waiter, right? Tell me what happened.”
“You won’t believe me,” he said defeatedly.
“On a day like today, I just might,” the Conductor offered.
“Fine. Like I told He-Man right here, I am from the future. I come in peace. I don’t know how I got here, and I don’t really want to be here. If you will just let me go back down on the bright light you used to beam me to this decade, I would be much obliged.”
A thick, awkward silence fell into rhythm with the train as each person looked to the other.
“Sam!?” Tommy finally shouted as the word escaped his shock. Everyone’s gaze moved to him as heat crawled up Tommy’s neck.