Attention travelers. Azumanga Daioh was created by Kiyohiko Azuma, who earlier created some hentai manga. We would also like to remind you that the best way to fully experience this story is to listen to Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express" beforehand. Now please sit back, relax, keep your seat backs in an upright position, close the cover before striking, and enjoy the story.
"Why haven't they announced our stop yet?" Yomi wondered. "It's been about the time that it usually takes to get there."
"I can't see anything out the window," answered Chiyo. Sure enough, although it was night, they would have expected to at least see the lights of the city flashing by. And she hadn't noticed them passing through a tunnel.
"Say, who are those guys?" asked Osaka, suddenly glancing around.
"What guys?" answered Tomo. "Except for us, this train is emp…" Sure enough, as if emerging from the shadows of the dimly lit car, they could make out the forms of large men in the other seats. Their forms and colors gradually came into focus, as if a rheostat were being turned up.
"I c-could've s-sworn this train was empty when we got on," stammered Chiyo, shaking visibly. They seemed to be large men, albeit shrouded in large, billowing yellow trench coats, topped with floppy gray fedoras. As their color started to come more into view, it took on an almost unearthly yellow hue that hurt everyone's eyes to look at it directly.
"Ughh, guys in trench coats," Yomi muttered. "You don't suppose they're…perverts, do you?"
"Well, that's why I'm giving you the aisle seat," Tomo replied, sticking out her tongue. Yomi responded by moving further in, crushing Tomo against the window.
"Your fat ass is protecting me from them," Tomo further taunted. Yomi pressed her against the window harder.
"Tickets please, tickets please," announced the conductor, a short, thin, elderly man dressed in an old-fashioned conductor's uniform.
"Umm, a question, sir," Yomi began as the conductor punched her ticket. "Where exactly is this train going? It's been about 30 minutes now and I haven't seen our stop, or any stop since the Tokyo Dome for that matter."
"Stops?" gasped the conductor. "Well sorry missy, but I think you're on the wrong train. No stops here till the end of the line."
"Higashimurayama?" Yomi replied.
"Not even close, I'm afraid."
"Somewhere in Saitama Prefecture, then?" Yomi continued. The conductor shook his head. "Gunma?"
The conductor sighed but didn't change his facial expression. "Young lady, this train is going to the edge of the universe."
The girls all began firing questions at him. "No way!" "Is that even possible?" "Are you sure?" Meanwhile the men in the yellow coats just sat there, quietly mumbling amongst themselves.
"Really," exclaimed Chiyo. "How can a train, umm…travel through space?"
"There are…ways," answered the conductor, punching a coated man's ticket. "But it would take ever so much time to explain (lot of quantum physics involved), and as you can see, I'm a busy man. One thing though; God does play dice, and pretty well at that."
"B-but what are we supposed to do?"
"Don't worry, missy. These things happen once in a while. We'll try and get things sorted out at the end of the line." He continued down the aisle, punching tickets.
Her heart thudding with panic, Chiyo glanced over at Osaka. She was surprised (but not too surprised) to see her wearing her normal placid smile. "Osaka-san, aren't you a bit worried about this? How are we going to get back? Does this weird train turn around or anything? And what'll our parents think if we're back late?"
Osaka casually turned to her, as if they were just going to Chiyo's beach house again. "I guess I'm a little worried," she replied. "But I've always wondered what the edge of the universe might look like. And somehow I feel like we'll find our way back somehow."
Chiyo kept Osaka's words in mind as the train rushed along. Eventually the thoughts rushing through her mind made her sleepy, and she gradually drifted off to the sounds of the train's wheels clacking over the tracks. Her last thoughts were, But what are the tracks sitting on?
"Next stop, end of the line!" announced the conductor's voice. "Everybody off!"
How long had she been asleep? Chiyo groggily opened her eyes, but was shortly forced to shut them again. The only thing to see outside the windows was white. As her eyes adjusted, a station platform slid up alongside them. The brakes gave a fsssseeeee fronnnnnng noise as the train came to a halt.
The edge of the universe, Chiyo thought. And we got there by train. Her mind struggled to grasp such a concept.