Sophie told Joe that there would be at least 40 minutes before the train would leave.

Joe didn’t bother taking his travel wallet or jacket, despite the freezing weather. Wouldn’t have thought it’d be so hard to find a bottle of water, but it was at least 15 minutes before Joe navigated the warren of tunnels beneath the station and resurfaced, head swinging as the awful realisation set in.

The train was gone. With it – Jeremy, Sophie and his backpack.

Joe frantically patted down his jeans. His wallet and passport – both on top of the backpack. A ratty t shirt’s not much protection against a Köln winter’s night. Deaf to Joe’s maundering pleas, the distinctly unenthusiastic station attendants waved him out of the queue. Joe didn’t even have enough change for a phone call, and the water vendor was in no mood to trade back the water bottle.

Joe headed for the warmest place in the station that he could find – the station smoking room. Hermetically sealed and opaque with smoke, admittedly an ideal place to fume. Joe leaned back with his face in his hands, bending the orange plastic seat with his weight. He couldn’t believe they’d left without him.

How the hell was he going to get back to Amsterdam?

Aboard the train clattering towards Munich, Jeremy slipped the cabin lock and yanked down two seats to form a double bed. Sophie lit a spliff rolled from the ounce of grass she’d dug out of Joe’s backpack. Flicking the light off, Jeremy leaned down towards the glowing butt and took Sophie’s hand. Uncanny how the carelessly discarded roach landed on Joe’s wallet, incinerating its contents.

Between the clackety-clack of the wheels and the illicit rush of infidelity, neither of them noticed the smoke smouldering under the bed and billowing into the corridor, nor heard the rapping on their cabin window. Sophie’s screams took on a different pitch when the German guards burst in, guns levelled at their entwined bodies. Of course, neither of them spoke much German either.

Certainly not enough to explain that it wasn’t their backpack…



Joined October 2007

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