MOTE Prompt: Tea and a Proposal

Jason pulled the collar of his jacket up and hunched his shoulders in a vain attempt to keep his ears warm. He should have brought a hat, but if he ran home to get it now, he’d miss his train and be late for work. The day was grey and cloudy, but he didn’t remember the weather report saying anything about it being this cold. He glanced around at the crowd streaming down the sidewalk. Nobody else seemed bothered by the wind and the cold. Jason shook his head. He thought he was pretty well acclimated but maybe not.

Tucking his chin into his jacket he continued trudging down the street to the train station. At least that was underground and warmer. It wasn’t until he turned the corner to get to the station entrance that he realized he was alone on the sidewalk. Jason stared around. What the hell? This was really weird. He stepped back around the corner and almost fell over. That wasn’t Arch Street. He turned back to the train station and belatedly noticed the standard grey concrete Brutalist architecture of his usual station had been replaced with the graceful lines and curves of a sort of Art Deco style front with “Regional Rail” spelled out in fanciful letters adorned with curlicues and flourishes.

Jason stopped in front of the station and stared around trying, and failing, to get his bearings, when he spotted a white tiger standing on its hind paws at an ATM just to the left of the station entrance. While his brain fruitlessly tried to process that image, the door to the train station opened and a man wearing a morning coat, striped pants, a cravat, gloves, and a top hat, and carrying a cane stepped out, holding the door open behind him.

“Jason Castlebury?” he asked.

“Uh, yeah?” Jason replied.

“Excellent. We’re expecting you. Please come in,” the man said, gesturing to the door.

“Um, okay, but, um…” Jason started.

“I’m sure you have lots of questions and I promise, they’ll all be answered shortly. If you’ll just follow me,” the man said. “Oh! And where are my manners? I’m Gustav Armstrong. You may call me Gus.”

“Um, hello. I’m Jason… but you knew that already,” Jason mumbled in reply.

“Well, true… just through here, please, but that doesn’t mean manners don’t count. It’s very nice to meet you, Jason.” Gus smiled and ushered Jason through a corridor, down a set of stairs and onto a train platform where he came almost face-to-face with an ornately decorated steam locomotive. The train enthusiast in Jason wanted to stop and gawk, but Gus gently urged him forward. A conductor, at least Jason assumed the man was a conductor, was standing at the foot of a set of steps into what appeared to be a very fancy and well-appointed train car. He gave Gus a slight bow as they approached.

Bemused and deciding to simply roll with whatever came next, Jason climbed into the car. Gus and the conductor followed, with the conductor pulling up the steps and closing the door. Gus turned and led Jason to the left into a lavishly decorated, and very comfortable car. It struck Jason that the furniture and decorations gave the car the feel of a living room on tracks.

At the far end of the car, seated at a dining table holding a sterling silver tea set, were a man and a woman dressed in a similar fashion to Gus.

“Ah, Gus, you found him! Excellent!” the man exclaimed, as Gus strode down the car followed by a confused Jason.

“Yes, indeed. Aleksander, Moira, this is Jason Castlebury. Jason, allow me to introduce Aleksander Berry and Moira Chambers,” Gus made the introductions with a small bow.

Aleksander gestured to the two empty chairs at the table. “Please, both of you, sit. Moira has tea, and Bennett will be right out with a bite to eat.”

Feeling under-dressed compared to the others, in addition to being very puzzled and somewhat disoriented, Jason sat gingerly on one of the chairs. The woman, Moira, smiled and handed him a cup of tea.

“If you’d like cream or sugar, please help yourself,” she said putting the creamer and sugar bowl in front of him. Her voice was low and musical. Not certain of correct protocol, but not wanting to simply sit and stare, Jason decided to just add a bit of cream to his tea since it gave him something to do.

“Now then. I expect you have a number of questions. But if I may, I’d like to outline our… shall we say issue… to you and our proposal first, and then take your questions,” Aleksander began, smiling at Jason.

Jason nodded. “That’s fine. But can you please tell me where I am right now?” he asked.

“Well, that’s one of the questions I think will be answered when I tell you about our issue and proposal,” Aleksander told him.

“Um, okay.” Jason refilled his tea and sat back. This had to be far more interesting than whatever he was going to do at work. He sipped his tea and waited for Aleksander to begin.


This weeks prompt at More Odds Than Ends sent me in an interesting direction. Fiona Grey and I traded prompts this week. Her challenge to me was: The white tiger had to stand on his hind paws to use the ATM. My challenge to her was: The clouds drifted slowly across the face of the moon. Head on over to see what she did with it and what everybody else did with their prompts as well.

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