TUBE, DRAFT 1, CHAPTER 38 (EXCERPT)
Olesya felt lethargic. Just when she needed her strength, it decided to leave her. She stood over the grating steel plates of the connecting corridor. Cold swathes of air numbed her legs; the floor shook and rattled. The door leading to the sleeper got locked as soon as she entered, courtesy of TUBE. There was no way back for her, only forward, into the engine. Air whistled through the gaps, and in front of her a massacre unfolded, a massacre brought on my mass hysteria that takes hold of people when they’re frightened beyond despair.
“No, please, don’t do this...don’t do this...” she heard her words roll out of her mouth, not comprehending how she was able to speak. It seemed to her that she had lost control of her body and it functioned somehow on its own, independent of her mind.
The door window, a sheet of reinforced glass rounded at the edges and housed in a black rubber weatherstrip, offered her an unobstructed view into the corridor of the sleeping carriage.
Mitya burst through the opening of the compartment, his mouth wide open, shouting her name. Behind him Egor rushed out, the big wrench held aloft in his arm. Milena and Vika were on his heels, their figures vividly red against the murky fustiness of the air. Milena held a wire coat hanger.
Mitya’s palms slapped on the glass, his nose pressed to it, fogging it up. He was talking feverishly, saying something Olesya couldn’t understand. It brought her out of her inertness. Her heart accelerated, pumping blood into her arms, her legs, flushing her face. She flexed her fingers, and at once the muddy mist has ripped and she was pounding on the black square button with words PRESS HERE. “Open! Please, open! Papa, please!”
She saw a shadow fly up behind Mitya’s head and her eyes widened. It was enough for him to see and duck in time.
“Behind you! Watch out!” She staggered back.
Egor grinned a lunatic smile, his lips lifted far enough to show the tips of his teeth. He shouted something at her, something obscene, a litany of expletives that reflected their nastiness in his indignant eyes. It was her he wanted to kill, she saw it and felt her legs turn elastic. It was her he aimed at, but she was out of reach, behind a locked door, and he brought the wrench onto the glass. It chinked but otherwise didn’t get damaged. The wrench bounced off and flew into Egor’s face, striking him straight between his eyes and cutting through his skin. He reeled, looking puzzled, touched his forehead, saw the blood on his fingers, and looked up at Olesya, holding her eyes.
She stared. Her chest whistled painfully.
“No, no. No!”
Mitya draped his arms around Egor from behind to drag him away, when Milena triumphantly drove the wrench into his temple, her other arm still holding the coat hanger, the hook sharp. This she sunk into Mitya’s shoulder at the same time as the wrench fell out of her hands and cluttered to the floor.
“STOP! STOP THIS MADNESS!!!”
Olesya thrashed, bellowing with the force she didn’t know resided in her. She hit and kicked everything she could, not registering any pain, only wanting the barrier between her and Mitya to disappear.
He glanced at her, his eyebrows forming that familiar questioning triangle, and toppled out of sight.