Nyctophilia and The N Line: Part One

12:15 AM

Friday

Kayden blew into her cupped hands, warming them before pressing them to her numbed cheeks. The crispness and the chill of October, bolstered by the wind’s funneling between the monoliths of steel and glass that made a maze of midtown Manhattan, was a welcome arrival. The Sun’s setting had meant that the myriad men and women in the city could not rely upon its warmth, and had to supplement their persons with woolen coats, caps, and scarves.

Kayden was overly fond of cold-weather fashions. At least in Manhattan every one walked around looking as though they had been transported from a more classical era, adorned with pea coats and newsie caps, mink (or faux mink, as was the responsible alternative) and cloches. “Old Hollywood” was the grand term, if Kayden recalled correctly. Whatever the term, it was a more pleasing look than skinny jeans and vintage tees.

Kayden descended the stairs that took her from the corner of Times Square and 42nd Street into a temporary shelter from the wind. The terminal of brick and marble was every bit as cold, but without the wind’s tyranny she found a moment to compose herself. During the day the trains would be more frequent, ushering with them that same schilling breeze. It was past midnight now, and the trains (especially the Q and N trains, which she relied upon) were as rare as could be.

She sat on a wooden bench near the turnstiles, one that looked to have been cleaned more recently than the others. She watched the people pour in from the cold, enjoying their reprieves from a night of drinking. Some were heading home, while others were looking to continue their liver-pounding tours of the finest bars the city had to offer. Kayden hadn’t the slightest inkling how they could afford such a pastime, but it didn’t take away from her enjoyment in watching them as they came and went.

One fellow had been leaning against the brick wall, seemingly isolated from his friends who huddled close together while they debated the merits of Glockenspiels in popular music. Kayden watched as the young man looked to slip further and further into a coma, his weight shifting as he lackadaisically swayed his shoulders from left to right. His friends had ended their debate, concluding that they approved of the instrument’s presence in contemporary melodies, when the fellow jolted to attention.

“The g-glockenspiel!” He barked, wagging his finger as if to scorn. “I… I don’t like it.” The fellow went quiet for a moment. His friends, who weren’t nearly as drunk, humored the man with thoughtful nods.

“IT MAKES MUSIC TOO…” He paused, his face warping to a portrait of disgust as he muttered his final thought, “cute!”  He punctuated his thesis by vomiting, after which he almost immediately fell to the floor. His friends scattered. They stood speechless, examining the man with the curious suspicion that he might very well be dead.

Before the situation had time to develop further, the N train came barreling into the station. Kayden hopped inside, seating herself so that she could look out of one of the many windows and watch the friends. The train pulled out of the station, and the man’s friends had simply relocated their circle a few meters from their friend.

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