John stepped onto the train, exausted from a day's work, which is less exausting than a night's work, but still quite exausting. He was alone, as usual, due to his unusual work schedule. At least, he thought he was. At most, he hoped he was. Toward the back of the train, an edlerly man sat, slumped, wearing a baseball cap and a ragged, brown trench coat. His hair was a mess of gray, like an old lion in an electrical storm. He had a long beard, that was held together at the end by a twist tie from a loaf of bread, a garbage bag, or something more sinister. He suddenly roared, or perhaps snored, which, in any case, startled John, who was quietly twiddling his thumbs (he would twiddle his index fingers, but he hadn't the skills for such an endeavor). John, concerned for the old man, gently shook him awake. The old man shouted incomprehensibly and swung his fist at John, who instinctively jumped back. He opened his eyes and stared straight at John, which is easier than staring curved. To stare curved, someone would have to have irregular eyes. This gentleman, however, had plain eyes. They were black in the middle, and brown, and, as eyes typically are, white on the edges. Some of the plainest eyes you had ever seen, if you had seen them, but since you haven't, you'll have to take my word for it. John, feeling uncomfortable, finally spoke up, "I'm sorry to wake you, but I was wondering if you might be lost."
"I might be, but then again, I might not be. I don't think I am, but it is a distinct possibility. You see, I have the most excellent forgetfulness... I think. But if I remember correctly, I wasn't going anywhere in particular, so the chance of me being lost is slim."
"I was just worried," John replied, "I'm supposed to be the only one on this train at this time. I thought you may have fallen asleep and missed your stop."
"Oh, no. I've missed nothing, I assure you," the old man said. "Save my lovely wife, of course. I missed her. I wouldn't have, but she dodged. That doesn't matter though. I'm on an adventure. Care to join me?"
"An adventure? Have you gone daft?" John said.
"No, I haven't gone anywhere yet. The adventure has only just begun," chuckled the old man, whose belly did not shake like a bowl full of jelly on account of him being very thin. It shook more like a plate full of ribs. "I would enjoy a companion on my adventure."
"I don't suspect you'll find any sort of companion," replied John, matter-of-factly. "What need is there for any adventures? There are no more dragons, trolls, or evil wizards. There are no more kings, princesses in towers, or knights to be found. There are no more leaders. There are no more followers. There are no more wars. Not under the System. No, I don't see any reason for any adventures." He crossed his arms.
"The thrill alone is reason enough for an adventure, dear boy," said the old man, scratching his beard. A green, tin cup fell out and rolled around on the floor. "Oops, we musn't let that get away." He picked up the cup and placed it back inside his beard. "There we are." He dusted off his hands in an accomplished manner, which, to John's surprise, created a rather large fog of dust.
John coughed and fanned the dust cloud away. "I have no need for thrills. I am content."
"Are you though? You don't seem happy. Everyone could use a little happiness. Adventures are good for that. It will add a little content to your life."
"Stop," John said with contempt, "I'm content with the content I have, now stop your contention and leave me be."
"Leave you 'B'? You shoot too low, why not ask for 'A' instead? I'm certainly not using it, I could leave it to you if you like." The old man pulled a scarlet 'A' from his beard and pinned it on John's shirt. "There you are."
John ripped the 'A' from his shirt and tossed it to the floor. "You're insane. I won't have any part of your pointless, frivolous adventure."
The old man waggled his eyebrows and laughed in an insane manner, however that may be. "I'm insane? Well, it's an 's' better than being inane. However, it's an 'i' short of being asinine. Yes, yes..." He pulled a pencil and notepad from his beard an started writing out the letters in "insane". "With a 'c', you can spell 'canines'. And," he chuckled, "With an 'f' you can get 'fannies'."
"I haven't the slighest idea as to what you are talking about." John said, rubbing his head in frustration.
"Nor do I, but we shouldn't let that ruin a perfectly good conversation."
"Well, this perfectly good conversation is over, because I will not join you."
"No? Not even for..." the old man reached deep into his beard, "...some candy?" He pulled out a disgusting looking sucker, which had clearly been licked on previously.
John, disgusted by this, pointed at his beard and said, "Would you stop it with that bit? It's disgusting. A beard is no place to store your items."
"Sorry, I just thought if I tried that bit eight times, you might bite and join me. But where else would I store my possessions?"
"Your trench coat, perhaps?" John replied sarcastically, though not really sarcastic, as it was a legitimate suggestion.
"No, that would be no good. That's where I have my spare water stored for my adven-" he stuck his hand into one of his pockets. "My water!" the old man exclaimed. "It has escaped!"
John sighed and stood up. The train had arrived at his stop. He left the old man to himself, while he screamed, "Tiny people! Tiny people everywhere!" and swatted violently at the air. He got off the train and never looked back, not even to check if there were spiders following him, which, while unlikely, is always a possibility when not looking back.
John never saw the man again and never thought twice about him. Once had apparently been all he could take. He continued on, living life, working, and doing other uneventful things and eventually died content, as all did who lived under the System. The old man, presumably, died poor and alone, with plenty of regrets. The train kept moving from destination to destination, never stopping, except, obviously, when it was supposed to stop. It eventually broke down and was replaced by a faster, more efficient train.
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