Turnstile Jumper – No Fare
Harry looked around the empty train station. He could hear a baby crying but he couldn't see one anywhere.
"Hello, Harry," Dumbledore said, stepping out of the shadows.
Everything suddenly snapped into focus for Harry and he remembered… "I died," Harry said, pausing for a second before continuing his search for the crying child.
"Yes, Harry," Dumbledore agreed. "And no," he added.
"I don't think it's multiple choice, Headmaster," Harry said shaking his head as he finally found the source of the noise. "It's like being pregnant – you either are or you aren't," the young wizard said picking up the world's ugliest baby from a box shoved under a bench and trying to comfort it.
"That's Voldemort's last horcrux," Dumbledore said. "It's the fragment of his soul that was lodged in your scar."
"The final trace of humanity he cast off," Harry said tickling the baby who was slowly undergoing a transformation as it giggled into an adorable pink-faced infant.
"I never thought of it like that," Dumbledore admitted.
A black and silver steam train pulled into the empty station and Harry walked towards it while cradling the child.
"Harry, you can go back," Dumbledore told him. "You have the choice."
The doors of the train opened and Harry moved to step on board while turning his head to talk to Dumbledore. "I-ooof!" Harry stumbled back as he ran into someone, dropping the baby.
A blond haired boy, much younger than Harry, quickly caught the infant. "Did you just get feet this morning? Watch where you're going fuckhead!"
"Who're you?" Dumbledore asked, surprised to see anyone else at what was essentially Harry's soul.
"Someone who jumped the turnstiles," the boy replied passing the child back to Harry and pulling out a battered, half-empty pack of cigarettes. "They get snippy if I smoke on the train," he explained, lighting up.
"This train goes to the afterlife, right?" Harry asked, rocking the child in his arms so it would quit crying.
"Yeah, life to death, heaven to hell, the entire fucking ball of wax," he agreed.
"I thought it was a one-way trip?" Harry asked.
"Only if you're a pussy," the boy replied. "When I need a break from my 'life' I ride the train a bit, talk to any riders I come across, make sure no girls have to go to eternity with their virginity intact, if they look good or have a nice rack anyway."
Harry nodded. "Well, sorry for running into you and thanks for catching Tom." Harry boarded the train.
"B-but I set it up so you could go back," Dumbledore complained, following Harry.
Harry's voice drifted back to the blond kid who was enjoying a smoke, "I've played hero long enough, let someone else have a go of it, I've done my part."
The doors closed and the train pulled out while the boy considered what he'd just heard and saw a golden ticket lying on the ground. Picking up the ticket he saw Harry's entire life flashing before his eyes. "That is seriously fucked up," he muttered. "A giant pooch screw with three heads. If I'm going to do this, I think I'll back it up a little bit. Now where's the train schedule?"
He woke up in darkness and quickly figured out where he was by looking through Harry's memories. Apparently he'd gotten off at the right stop. He'd never tried this before but he'd felt himself getting burned out and needed a break. Balancing being a student and a superhero was tiring, even without the frequent deaths.
*Thump!* *Thump!* *Thump!*
A large figure stood in the hole where the door used to be. "Oops!"
Harry grinned. "Morning, Hagrid, is it time for Hogwarts already?" he asked while his 'family' rushed into the room.
"What?!" Petunia and Vernon yelled in unison shocked that Harry knew just what they'd tried to keep from him.
"Got your letter right here," Hagrid said after putting the door back in place.
Harry accepted the letter and looked it over for form's sake. "Considering I was raised in a muggle household, how was I supposed to send an owl?"
"That's why I'm here," Hagrid said cheerfully.
"Let's stay the night at the Leaky Cauldron, this place isn't fit for man nor beast," Harry suggested.
Hagrid waved his pink umbrella and sent a fireball into the fireplace, instantly brightening and warming the room as well as making Vernon push Petunia and Dudley into the bedroom they'd claimed, where he could be heard blocking the door with furniture. "Not very friendly, are they?"
"They hate magic and everything connected to it," Harry said.
Hagrid nodded, taking in Harry's condition and likening it to the runt of the litter that the mother rejects and barely feeds. "I got a cake for you, but I may have sat on it at one point. Thanks to the storm we're stuck here till morning." Hagrid handed Harry a cake in a partially crushed box and pulled out some roasting forks and sausages before draping his coat over Harry like a tent.
Harry examined the coat and found Hagrid's tobacco and an old newspaper, rolling himself a cigarette and lighting it from the fireplace.
"Aint'cha a bit young to smoke?" Hagrid asked.
"I'll grow out of it," Harry assured him making him laugh. Between the sausage and cake, Harry went to sleep with a full stomach curled up in Hagrid's coat.
Kenny leaned back and put his feet up, hitting the massage button on the Lazy Boy recliner he was sitting in and pushing play on the remote. Cracking open a beer, he watched his favorite porn star on the fifty inch plasma screen in front of him. About halfway through his second beer he realized he was dreaming. He realized it because in real life he'd been kicked out of the store halfway through the opening credits and banned from ever entering Walmart again. Kenny chuckled to himself and watched the movie. Whatever task he was here to accomplish could wait until he finished. Once the movie had ended he hopped out of his recliner and grabbed a bag of chips on the way to the front.
The entire store was just as he'd remembered it of course, though he could see there was another layer of reality underneath it. The inventory was his memories, sorted into various sections with the clearance aisle being filled with his current train of thought. Electronics held memories of a high-tech bent while technical skills themselves were in the hardware section. Wine and spirits held an assortment of memories, good and bad, dealing with the supernatural while the underlying truths of existence he'd managed to ferret out were hidden in the dairy aisle in the bottom of the fruit on the bottom, yogurt containers.
A telepath would be able to stroll through his well-ordered mind and find whatever they were looking for with little effort…if not for one simple fact.
Kenny stopped at the front of the store and tossed the bag towards the registers, chips scattering everywhere as the bag fell. Instantly the shadows bubbled and tiny black shapes snatched up the litter and vanished, leaving the faint sound of claws on tile to echo through the store.
Yeah, Kenny didn't have to fear trespassers. The automatic doors opened in front of him and he stepped out into the empty parking lot, devoid of cars and carts. The stars twinkled overhead but it was a glimmer of light at the edge of the pavement that drew him on.
His foot found an empty aluminum can and sent it rolling across the pavement in front of him as he walked. It made a hissing sound as it rattled across the ground that caused him to pick it up and examine it instead of just letting it lie. It was an old can, worn smooth and bleached of all color by the elements, but it was more than that – it was a connection to the reptilian hind brain…
Kenny chuckled as he found it a lot easier to manipulate his tongue while holding it. Even if he didn't use Parseltongue he was planning to give that use a through workout in the future. He slid the can into a pocket of his orange parka and continued on.
He ignored the random bits of litter on the ground, he could look at them later but for now he felt something drawing him onward.
As he reached the edge of the pavement he saw it…the Mirror of Erised.
Typing by: thoriyan