“Dammit Jacuzzi. How long are you going to make me wait for you?”
Your grumbling was barely noticeable to other passengers, but you could hear your own words quite clearly. You probably sounded just a little too pissed off about matters, considering that Jacuzzi Splot was as harmless as his name suggested. You couldn't really get mad at a guy like that.
Still though, almost an hour of waiting for him to show up and have a drink with you in the bar part of the carriage? You knew he was a shy guy, and in some ways you could be just as meek at times, but come on...he was the one who had invited you on this little date in the first place- however shamefaced.
The crimson liquid trickled down your throat when you took a sip, and you felt the warmth of it. This was a fine wine, no doubt. Probably pricey, and probably worth more than just a little smile of satisfaction, but that was all you ended up giving it anyway. Patience running thin, you decided to stand up and make your way along the rest of the train for a bit. If he still wasn't going to show then you'd go walkabout. If he ended up getting there while you were gone, then he'd just have to be the one to play the waiting game instead.
Having emptied your glass back there at the polished wooden bar, you probably should have been a little more shaky on your feet. Perhaps your knees ought to have buckled, or your limbs jellied, but for the moment you were steady. Hardly a heavyweight, you figured that you just had a clearer head because you were slightly pissed off.
At least the interior of The Flying Pussyfoot was lavish. You'd become used to this odd array of names too...and the odd array of passengers that were accompanying you on here. There were a fair few (though namely Ladd), that seemed like they were prime to be psychopaths. It wasn't like any one of them could be a killer though...right?
Suddenly you stumbled into someone. To be fair, you'd probably come a little too far towards the staff area of the train, so it made sense that you'd end up bumping into another in uniform.
Yet this fellow...was wheezing. He was gasping and clawing at the air, breath ragged and eyes bulging in their sockets which were surrounded by ragged red skin. You recoiled back at the sight of him as he seemed to be reaching for you, his hair a mess and his skull bleeding.
“G—get off—while you can--!”
Get off? Disembark?
You didn't have a chance to ask him what he really meant before he dropped like a stone before you. His body sank limply to the floor of the train, the oozing liquid from his cranium spilling onto the carpet. Your stomach turned as you almost fell right over your own heels.
He was dead. You had never laid eyes upon a dead person before, and yet your first experience had been someone gasping their last breath right in front of you- to you in fact.
A desperate plea that could only be true. Clutching your heart, you looked up tearfully towards the end of this long window-lined corridor. The wind howled in the darkness outside, the sides of the train rattling in a ruckus. Somehow, you felt sick. Looking at the door to the conductor's compartment, which hung ajar, you realized this traumatized, and now deceased man had come from there.
He looked as if he'd had his face ground with something, yet you heard no sound coming from that room. Your heart only beat faster as you remembered the tale of the 'Rail Tracer'. Could that be the culprit? Could this man have been attacked by some cruel legend, that had been summoned to this train to eventually spirit away all of its passengers?
You didn't want to believe that. Somehow, it was less frightening to think that a man was behind it all. As foolish as it was, you found yourself advancing forwards shakily, somehow having to at least see if anyone else could be saved. Judging by how quiet it was, you were assuming that whoever had done this was currently elsewhere. Then again...they could just be hiding.
Either way...you walked onward. It was madness, but what happened if you turned your back from that doorway? What would come for you then?
You had to keep your eyes on it...and see for yourself...
See the scarlet. The thick coating of it that was lathered over every inch of that conductor's room. You might have retched this time had your throat not been caught by the sight of a figure standing up in the middle of it, his other co-worker lying with a bullet in his head and a tortured body at his feet.
The young red-haired man may have once been wearing a pure white uniform, but no longer. Now it was stained in a deep red hue thanks to how messy his kills had been. Yet it was of no consequence to Claire Stanfield, Felix Walken, Vino...The Rail Tracer. Call him whatever you liked, and criticize him for his actions if you wish. It didn't matter to him.
The lean fellow killed ruthlessly, a solipsist who saw these humans around him as nothing more than parts of this whole world he had dreamed up. Others may have struggled to find a grain of truth in it, but for him he believed wholeheartedly that nothing around him, nobody, was truly real. That was why he could kill those he considered his enemies without a care, and live up to the legendary name that he himself had created. That was why he had no fear, for in his mind, dying would only wake him up.
Though even so, Claire had his preferences. He loved to romance beautiful women just as much as he adored torturing those he felt deserved it. You were certainly gorgeous, and a welcome surprise in this rather hideous scenario. Though he had smeared some of that carmine upon his own face, he hoped you'd at least see the handsome visage beyond it.
“I'm flattered that such a pretty young thing decided to come by and see me. Though I'm afraid that the situation isn't quite so palatable right now...”
You sank against the doorframe, shivering and clutching your own arms. How could he be so calm when he was covered and surrounded by remains? He had just taken two lives, and yet he was smiling widely, his eyes filled with a horrid glee.
“...Ah...maybe I should introduce myself...” he started to work the stained gloves off his hands so he could reveal his cleaner skin beneath, but you had already turned and made a beeline out of there. This insanity...you wanted none of it to be real. You wished to go back to the innocent naivete of waiting impatiently for Jacuzzi Splot, not be forced to run for your life instead.
Even running was useless anyway. Though a mortal, Claire lived up to his mythical namesake with how quickly he moved to catch you, grabbing your wrist before you could get too far and pulling you back with him into one of the side rooms.
“L-LET GO! SOMEONE HELP!!!” you screeched at the top of your lungs, but your cries only fell on nearby dead ears, the strong wind drowning them out for anyone further along the train.
As Claire dropped you to the carpet in the small lounge room, you scrambled backwards, bumping against a rattling tea cart and ending up halfway slumped against one of the ornate couches. Your heart was pounding like a million hooves on a hard road, and your sweat was evident. He remained eerily calm and happy as he double checked the lock on the door, before finally casting those messy gloves aside and taking off his cap to give his blood red hair a ruffle. His uniform remained marred but he used a handkerchief provided as a courtesy in the room to wipe away the viscera from his visage.
Undoubtedly, he was a handsome fellow. Tall and attractive, ladies who didn't know what a monster he truly was would often fall for him. Your case was a little different though.
“Wh...why did you kill them!?” you panicked and whimpered, shying back further away from him as he stepped closer.
“Why? Hmm...” he hummed softly, before suddenly thrusting out both of his hands so they hit the back of the sofa on either side of you, and made you squeak. Caged now, you could only look up into those cold brown eyes of his.
“I only show mercy to those who deserve it. Ladd Russo and his goons think they can kill me along with hijacking the entire train. I'm afraid though, that I can't die. And I also decide what happens on board...”
The corner of his lip curled up sadistically.
“Those who are deserving of it will suffer greatly at my hand.”
This young man was truly a psychopath. Not even Jacuzzi in panic mode could compare to the pure and utter madness this deluded character was exuding.
“But don't worry-” Claire added. “I've no intentions of killing any innocents. Ladd wouldn't hesitate, but I don't work that way. So...”
He stepped back a little, before looking you from top to toe.
“You keep your sweet little mouth buttoned regarding this whole ordeal...and we'll be smitten. Well, that's how it would usually work anyway...”
Your heart jumped at the way he said that.
“Wh...what do you mean?”
“...I make the effort to get to know all of my passengers. After all, I'm supposed to take care of them, and protect them from tasteless goons like that.” Claire started to pace back and forth, tapping his fingers against his other elbow, “-So naturally I already know who you are. I'm Claire Stanfield by birth, so you know. And you are [F/N] [L/N]. Doesn't seem like you have adopted any nicknames either. I could relay your whole life story, and plenty of other details too. Honestly speaking, I went the extra mile when it came to you...and I've good reason for it...”
You couldn't imagine what 'reason' that was.
“...I'd mutilate my victims and leave them soaked...but you...even if you were my enemy, I wouldn't want to damage such beauty...”
He finally stopped moving around so much, and suddenly sat himself down beside your trembling form. You instantly scrambled towards the other end of the sofa, but he caught you in an instant and hauled you right up against him.
Instantly, your whole body cringed. His whole suit was bloody...you could feel it imprinting onto your own skin, staining you like lipstick too.
“A woman such as yourself could never be killed.” his slender hand slipped deftly beneath your jaw and clutched it, pulling you ever closer, “Your immortality comes from your appearance. Perfection like this can't be wasted by anyone.”
Claire's eyes slowly hooded.
“But...it can be enjoyed.”
Before you could gasp out any sort of plea he leaned in and kissed you. You felt like there was a metallic taste on his tongue as he swirled it around your mouth, clenching his fingers around your jawline even harder when he felt you wriggling in his clutches.
True enough, he saw no point in killing you. Like a fine and flawless wine, you ought to be preserved.