TUBE, DRAFT 1, CHAPTER 19 (EXCERPT)
(NOTE: The train has stopped, half-buried in the snow, and this is the first moment of quiet after the blizzard.)
Cold to her bones, Olesya shrunk into the seat, peeking out the window.
Outside a steady whine of the wind droned, uninterrupted, like soporific wintry music. Suddenly there was a light patter of feet. It disturbed the pattern of sounds with distinct steps, quick precise steps of a dancer.
That hole that Olesya felt growing in her midriff dropped, leaving a terrible nothing in its place, and that nothing flooded with dread of what was about to come.
Someone...someone is outside. But how can they...in this weather...it’s suicide...
Movement. She thought she caught movement out of the corner of her eye, but when she flicked her eyes to that spot, there was nothing there except endless snowdrifts. Just as she began to relax, the steps appeared again, from the other side, more pronounced this time, aided with hushed giggling. Whoever made the noise cupped her hand over her mouth so as not to be heard. It was a she.
Olesya strained her eyes.
Her heart pounded in her ears.
Who is it...who could it be?
A hand slammed into the glass from outside, leaving a print, and was gone. Olesya recoiled, stifling a shriek. Her heart accelerated, thumping irregularly and painfully. She fought the desire to close her eyes and hide under the unfolded table. A breath, another, an intake of air, and she was looking outside again.
Over the embankment encased in white ran a series of footprints, not one but two or three. It was hard to tell. They crisscrossed each other in a definite pattern.
It’s our steps...someone is dancing Serenade.
Whenever they learned a complicated pas de deux or grand pas or a particularly intricate billabile, Alla Borisovna traced the steps in chalk on the floor so they could follow the lines and memorize the sequence like a stage map, to recall later and follow it without a hitch. She prided herself on her pupils’ purity and synchronicity of their technique, something that was extremely hard to achieve in corps de ballet of more than twenty dancers. Their feet mashed the chalk with the dust on the floor, creating a reticulation of furrows and wrinkles.
And that was what Olesya saw, only imprinted in the snow. Dots, dashes, poxy depressions on the face of the frosted shelf that curved into the hazy abyss several yards away from the railway mound.
“The opening act,” she muttered, unaware of herself speaking aloud. “Me, Larisa, Inga, Katya...” An onslaught of goosepimples surged up her arms. She was already cold and didn’t think it was possible to get any colder, not just from outside but from inside too, deep inside her gut.
“I know whom you’re killing next,” she whispered to the train.