Hailstone

The hailstone bounced off the window as Eureka sat alone at her desk. Turning her head to the side, she watched the tiny chips of ice peppering the newly flowering pink bush. She sighed and turned back to her computer, wondering if she would ever get this presentation done. Tapping the mouse, she flicked through the first four slides, but didn’t get the motivation she was looking for.

Maybe I should just go home and finish this tomorrow? She thought.

A quick glance at the clock told her it was a little after nine pm. She had done just five slides, one of which was the title, since she had started three hours ago. Rubbing her aching head, Eureka decided to give up and emailed the presentation to her home computer. Slowly, she gathered all the paperwork she needed that was scattered around her desk and placed them in her small suitcase.

Leaving the office, she made sure her computer had turned off, the lights were out and the windows closed. She gave the cleaners a hurried goodbye at reception and walked across the road and up the ramp to the tram station. Checking the timetable, she saw there was a tram due in a few minutes. Feeling relieved about that, she sat down on the edge of the metal grill bench and rubbed her swollen ankles.

Wrapping her woollen coat more tightly around her, Eureka fixed her gaze down the line and looked out for the headlights of the tram. A soft shuffling caught her intention, but she deicide it was only the breeze moving leaves or some animal. Clutching her handbag and the suitcase handle, she tried not to think about how dark it was.

The light in the shelter was on, but it wasn’t very bright and only a handful of lights came from the surrounding offices’ windows. The only two streetlamps were out and the rest were gathered further down and shone out over the docks.

The tram will be here soon, she thought and kept her eyes fixed ahead.

The shuffling came again, followed by a raspy cough.

Eureka knew she wasn’t alone.

Desperately trying not to move, she told herself to remain calm. It was probably just someone else who had been working late like her and was waiting for the tram home. The homeless never drifted this far from the city centre to bed down. A light patter caused her to look up. It was hailstone again. Having moved, she glanced around, but saw no one standing on the platform or going passed on the road.

Still feeling uncomfortable, she looked up the tram tracks and saw two headlights bobbing upwards. The tram was here. Standing up, she went to the edge of the shelter and watched the white lights growing. Clutching her things, she moved further out, but instead of feeling hailstones on the back of her neck, she felt fingers grabbing her.