Doggies, and bottles, and trains, oh my!
Daryl straightened his crisp uniform and knocked politely on the door to the train car.
“One moment,” an elderly woman’s voice said.
One glance out the window behind him showed an arm of the Milky Way in all of its glory. Maybe he’d get to take an excursion at their next stop.
The lock on the door clicked.
Daryl plastered on a smile and hoped that this woman didn’t have a car full of Seulra cats with her. He was never going to get the silver fur off of his pants.
The door opened to reveal an elderly woman dressed in the latest cubic fashion holding a small, white animal in one arm. Daryl wasn’t sure which one looked more snooty, the woman or the dog.
“Mrs. Filton, my name is Daryl. I’ll be taking care of you on your journey.” He held out a data card. “Just hold this in your hand and talk. I will be able to hear you.”
She eyed the card with distrust.
“Ma’am, is there anything you need as we’re departing?” He really wanted her to say no.
To his relief, she shook her head. “No, young man, we’re fine. If we need you, we will call.”
With that she shut the door again.
Daryl blinked, then sighed. Either she would be the quietest guest on this trip, or the most demanding. Only time would tell. He quickly introduced himself to his last two cars, then made his way back to his station.
The other two stewards, Tikei and Jega had arrived, and were talking about their charges.
“I’ve got one with three little kids who look like they’ve never been told no. I bet you there is at least a thousand credits worth of damage to the car by the time they leave,” Jega said.
“Two men with their mistresses,” Tikei said.
Daryl winced for them, then said, “Selura cats.” He pointed to his pants.
Tikei reached into a cubby and pulled out a ball. Daryl started rubbing it on his legs.
Daryl had barely finished—having got at least ninety-five percent of the hair off—when a chime sounded in his ear, and a women’s monotone voice spoke. “Car 34. Mrs. Filton.”
“Great,” Daryl muttered. He turned the channel on. “Mrs. Filton, what can I do for you?”
“Young man, I can’t find my dog’s water bottle.”
“Your dog’s water bottle?” Daryl said, trying to sound as if he cared.
The other two shook their heads.
“That’s what I said. Get here right away and help me find it.”
Jega grinned. “Old and needy?”
“Apparently.” Daryl sighed, got up and headed back toward cabin 34.
Mrs. Filton answered right away. Her once neat, grey bun had been pulled at, and Daryl could hear a low growl coming from the bed. “Young man, I must find my dog’s water bottle!”
Daryl let his training take over. “When was the last time you saw it?”
“I gave Candy Cane his drink when we got to the car. Now it’s missing!” The woman’s voice rose to a wail. “I have to find it.”
Poor dog had an unfortunate name.
“Mrs. Filton, where do you remember putting it down?”
“Right there!” She pointed at the dresser.
Daryl peeked around the dresser, looked under and opened all of the drawers.
“It might have fallen and rolled into the hall when those children came by.”
Children? Daryl stopped his search and stood. “Can you give me a description of the bottle?”
Mrs. Filton stared at him as if he’d just grown horns.
“What color was it?” Daryl did his best to keep his voice even.
Shocking. “What brand?”
Candy Cane whined.
Mrs. Filton sniffed. “He won’t drink out of anything else.”
“I understand. The more information you can give me, the better chance we have of finding the bottle.”
“Do you perhaps have a picture?”
“Ah. Yes.” She pulled a data pad from her bosom and swiped it to life. Pictures filled the air, and she pushed them aside until she found one with the bottle in it.
Daryl recognized the make and model. “Are there any identifying marks?”
“Just his paw print on the bottom.” Tears welled in her eyes as Candy Cane whined again.
“In red paint?”
“Perfect.” Daryl pat the air with his hands. “Don’t worry, Mrs. Filton, we’ll find it for you soon. Do your best to remain calm.”
More hair cascaded from her bun as she nodded.
Daryl stepped back out into the hall and bolted to his station and sat.
“Problem?” Tikei asked.
“Missing doggie water bottle. It’s pretty much the end of the universe.” Daryl blinked, and a copy of the picture Mrs. Filton had shown him appeared on a screen. He hit a button. “Can I get one of these 3-D printed as soon as possible? Add a small, white paw print from the dog in cabin 34.”
“You’re not even going to look for it?” Jega asked.
“Why? I think the kids from your section took it.”
“Ah. Never mind. Good plan.”
“I thought so.”