by Jeremy Essex

Michaels saw the dark shape down on the railway line while he was making the morning drinks.

He put down the tray of empty cups, whistling to himself as he dished out tea bags and measured spoonfuls of sugar. The common room was deserted, as it normally was at half past ten, his usual time for making the drinks. He yawned as he poured milk into the mugs then wandered over to the first floor window, hands in pockets, looking down at the dingy scene below him.

The car park was full to bursting, as usual. The twin railway lines emerged from the dark tunnel underneath the main road, snaking behind the car park and cutting like lines of black rot through the miles of green undergrowth along the outskirts of Ipswich. Watching the trains go by and identifying the different containers on the cargo carriers was one of the chief forms of entertainment within the office.

Michaels sighed heavily. He badly wanted a cigarette, but since Penny had left him, he had stopped smoking and he was determined not to let his will crumble now. At the edge of his vision, the large, dark shape of a train rushed swiftly towards him. As steam rose from the kettle’s spout, Michaels turned his head and saw both railway lines were deserted.

“Are you alright, Brian love?”

Theresa peered at him from behind her glasses as he walked back into the hum of the office, easily balancing the tray on his muscular arm. Michaels was 6ʹ2ʺ and very well built, and he liked for people, especially some of the girls in the office, to see how strong he was.

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