Kona

Kemono Cafe 004

Sandy looked out the window in shocked disbelief. The train felt like they were still on tracks, swinging pleasantly left to right while they soared through the sky. Sandy had been left by the strange rabbit in her seat for a moment to perform her routine, looking for loose bags and checking the engine up ahead. Sandy was reminded of the feeling of being on a plane for the first time as a child and everything was incredibly frightening, yet no one around you was panicking as much as you felt you should be. Sandy watched the world fall away into nothing and trembled. This was usually the moment she woke up from a dream.

The world outside became unlike anything Sandy had ever imagined. It was as black as night with no stars overhead. The ink of night was so impermeable it felt like they were in a submarine that had plunged deep beyond where light could reach. Small streaks of orange light passed distantly and Sandy, as soon as she could steady her breathing, noticed that they did have a familiar pacing of windows on a real train ride. As Sandy tried to make out the distant shapes, they would quickly vanish as if frightened of being noticed.

The entire train suddenly jumped a little and shook Sandy enough to frighten her. She had to look down but scooted back in her seat a little in fear of being tossed off an edge. They were on some kind of ground now, but definitely no tracks could be seen. There was a hum of red light beneath them that sparked violently against what looked like a sea of parchment paper. The glow of the red light was like a warm fire with tiny fragments of the paper rising up like ash into it and fluttering away into oblivion. As frightening as it was, this world was surprisingly beautiful to Sandy. The paper beneath them was loose, like a hundred million books all turned inside out and scattered onto the hills.

The rabbit was wiping her enormous hands of a fine black dust as she emerged from the engine room and tossed a rag dismissively into a bin while closing in on where Sandy was. Sandy wished the rabbit would panic too and affirm that what Sandy was seeing around her was not normal. But the rabbit had the confident gait of someone who not only did this before, but loved her job. She reached into her hands into her coat and pulled out a bunch of different sweets. A king-sized candy bar became the focus of her attention and she made a real effort to read the label, squinting at it hard before turning it toward Sandy.

This is the kind that has peanuts, right? I keep getting them mixed up. Help me out here. Y-yeah, it is… Who are you? Wow! I’m flattered. Normally people ask about the window first. You know, with all the color and the paper and… Trust me. That’s next. Name’s Kona. I’m a train conductor. Yes, I can see that. Heh. Heh. You were expecting more? YES! Hey, yeah! This is the one with peanuts. Please… I just want to give you a bit of time to soak it all in, is all. I wish the tickets would tell people more about what’s going to happen. Sometimes people just pass out in shock. We’re not going to Low Point, are we? We’re going to Fable, like the ticket says. You can go anywhere from there, even back home. I think it’s time to ask about what’s going on outside. Why am I here? That’s one heck of a question, isn’t it? But as for why the train came to you? It has a real mind of its own. It knows who wants to go to Fable and who wants to leave and just… shows up. There’s no engineer or anything either. No one here but me and my train. That sounds very lonely. Eh! I get to meet tons of people, you included. Where is this Fable? I’ve never heard of it. That’s because where we’re going isn’t on any map. It’s in a place only the Escapade can reach. It looks super dramatic when we’re taking off, but landing is much more practical. So we’re flying there? Sure! If that helps you picture it. Are we or are we not flying? Whatever works for you! Can I ask a question now? What’s your name? Sandy. But you can call me overwhelmed. It’s nice to meet you, overwhelmed! I have some duties to take care of. Try to enjoy the view for the rest of the trip. But seriously… We’ll get you where you want to go, okay? Just a little detour. Thank you, Kona.