I stepped carefully on the train, hugging my backpack as I went, and looked out the open doors at the landscape of Mars. Neon lights of the city shined down on the red sand and sidewalks. I have lived on the planet for almost a year now, and still can’t get over it’s beauty.
The train had barely any people on it that morning, which was unusual considering how famous the trip was. The train was called Kaisoku, and was a popular ride. It went between the towns of Niki and Mori, with a half a day to get to each station, leaving the riders plenty of time to marvel at the Martian landscapes, or to simply relax.
For the last three months, three people have been murdered on the second Sunday of the month. The HoverTrain Company has refused to shut down the train because of how much money it makes. That’s where I came in. I was hired by one of the conductors to catch the murderer.
I sat down in an empty seat, and leaned my head against the window as the train started to push forward. All I had to do then, was wait.
I woke up when I heard a scream. All the passengers looked around, trying to figure out where the scream came from. Then I saw him, it was the conductor that hired me to find the killer. He walked up to me. “Follow me.” he whispered.
He led me to the bathroom. Inside, was a dead body. The face was blue from lack of oxygen. In my notepad I wrote down:
I opened his mouth and looked inside. The throat was swollen shut, the gums pale green. They were the signs of the poison, Fugu.
Fugu is a powder that can be sneaked into a person's food. It kills them within an hour. It’s illegal on most planets, but if you know the right people, it’s easy to acquire.
Turning to the Conductor, I said “Put him in the train freezer. I’ll see what I can do.”
I looked around the train. There was only five people on board besides me and the Conductor.
I double checked the number of passengers, swearing I counted five before, then jumped when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
“Hi,” said the girl behind me. “Have you ever been on this train before?”+
I turned around to look at her and instantly felt butterflies in my stomach. The girl’s hair was black with blue dip dye, her eyes matching the ends of her hair. Her tan skin almost sparkled in the sun and she smiled a perfect smile. I felt plain compared to her.
“No, why?” I asked.
“I’m just wondering,” she said, “I’ve never been to Mars before let alone this train. What are you writing?”
“I was hired to track down a murderer.” I shrugged.
“A murderer, on this train?!”
“Yes, and keep your voice down.” I shushed.
“Sorry,” she smiled an extremely adorable smile. “I’m Yoko.”
The first suspect to question was the boy in seat 2a. He was about nine with sandy blond hair and blue eyes. “Hi, Honey.” I said, sitting down next to him. “What're you doing by yourself?”
The boy shrugged, “Waiting for my dad to come out of the bathroom.”
I opened my mouth, but couldn’t think of what to say. That boy’s dad was the man who got killed. I didn’t have the heart to tell him, I have bigger things to worry about. Besides, I don’t think a nine year old would kill so many people.
Next on my list was a women in seat 6c. She was around 30, had on a suit and her brown hair in a bun. “Excuse me, Ma’am. Can I talk to you?” I said, tapping on her shoulder.
She turned to me, “I suppose.”
I got my notepad out to start writing. “First off, what’s your name?”
“Masayo.” she said, plainly.
“Do you ride this train often?” I ask.
“No, this is only my second time.” she said, though I don’t write it down; she could be lying.
“Have you been in your seat the whole time?”
She eyed me suspiciously. “Why?”
“Just doing my job ma’am,” I smiled a reassuring smile. “Tell me about your home life.”
Most people were hesitant to answer questions, which was understandable. I didn’t have a police badge to prove that they could trust me, and no one is that comfortable spilling all their info to a stranger. This is what I managed to get from the suspects:
I looked through the notes, trying to figure out the most likely suspect, and put a star next to Kento’s name.
“I have hurt many flies for your information.” asked Yoko from behind me. “Anyway, What about the Engineer? You didn’t talk to him.”
She had a point. I made my way to the front of the train, with Yoko following close behind. In the control room, we saw the Engineer slumped over the controls, with the autodrive on.
“He’s sleeping on the job!” proclaimed Yoko, and went to shake his arm to wake him up, but couldn’t. She shook him harder and still nothing.
I went over to pull his head up, and saw he had a knife in his eye. “Two murders in one day? This has never happened before! We need to go figure out who’s killing all these people!” I said to Yoko, but she didn’t answer. Before I could turn around, I was knocked unconscious.
I woke up tied to a chair, back to back with Yoko. We were in the freezer with the two dead bodies lying in the corner. Frost covered my face and hands, it felt like I was freezing to death. “Sora…” I heard a weak voice behind me say.
“I’m here,” I said, struggling to turn to face my friend.
Just then, the freezer door creaked open and a person in a ski mask walks in. On his name tag was the name ‘Kir?’.
“What do you want with us?” Yoko asks.
“With you?” Kir? asked, “Well, absolutely nothing. Your little girlfriend however, I want to kill.” They walk in front of me, and pull of their ski mask. Looking at me, was the Conductor.
“Why?” I asked, ignoring yet not minding that he called me Yoko’s girlfriend. “If you were the one killing, why would you hire me?”
“Well, the news about the people’s deaths was spreading fast; sooner or later someone was bound to hire you to catch me. I thought I should hire you to lure you here, then kill you.”
“Why would you kill people at all?” asked Yoko.
Kir? rolled his eyes. “Well, if you must know, long ago my little brother got killed by a conductor on a train. I want people to feel the same pain I felt.” He dug into his pocket and took out my notepad. “Let’s see who you thought the killer really was, shall we?”
While he was distracted, I immediately started stripping off the ropes that bound me. Yoko did the same and soon we were free. When Kir? noticed, it was too late. Yoko grabbed him from behind while I kneed him in the groin. He fell to the floor as we ran out of the freezer, with me locking the door behind us and Yoko calling the police.
When we got to the station in Mori, the police were waiting for us. Kir? was arrested and Yoko and I got interviews and were recognized as heroes. Later, we did started dating, which also turned out to be a bright side of the day on the train. I was hired as a private detective more often and lived happily ever after.