TUBE, DRAFT 1, CHAPTER 37 (EXCERPT)
The dancers were sitting in the large four-berth compartment. They were all dressed in red, red tights, red leotards, red tutus and ballet slippers, gauze and tulle and satin glistening like freshly spilled blood in the lackluster light that seeped through the window.
“Olesya!” Mitya jumped to his feet as soon as she slid the door open. “I thought...I thought I lost you. Where were you? Where did it take you?”
A picture rushed through Olesya’s head, many pictures, pictures of her father’s demise, and she shook her head. “You don’t want to know.” Her eyes scanned them, and her entire face flattened into a void, reflecting the scarlet hue on her lilywhite skin. “No.” She searched out the intercom panel, and repeated to it, “No. Please...”
Mitya followed her gaze and, taking her arm, pulled her in.
“Not so fast, love birds,” interjected Milena, a clear note of envy making her sour voice sound acidic. “First—”
“She is talking to it, did you hear that?” Said Vika, and suddenly shouted, “Ask it to get us out of here!”
Milena silenced her with a hand. “Hold on, we’ll get to it, don’t worry. Now, we have a few questions for you, waltz girl. How timely of you to show up.”
“Remember our agreement?” Asked Egor bitingly, and a flutter of fear contorted Mitya’s features, but only for a moment. “You hold up your end, I will hold up mine.”
Milena gave Egor a look of contempt. He interrupted her, and he asked what she was going to ask, only not at first. He pretended he didn’t sense her stare crawling up his skin, blatantly ignoring her.
“Why are you guys here?” Asked Olesya, knowing the answer. “How did you—”
Karina opened her mouth to answer. Egor interrupted her.
“It’s not like you have any choice, don’t you think?” His eyes poised on Mitya, he produced a couple wrenches from behind him, hefting them in both hands. “It’s not much, I grant you that, but it can do extensive damage, particularly to your face. I don’t think anyone will hire you after I’m through with this.”
Olesya hung back, horrified. “What are you doing? You wouldn’t...you wouldn’t dare.” Her eyes jumped from face to face. “Why would you hurt him? You’re not an animal, none of us are. What happened to you, Egor? Why? I don’t recognize you...”
“Oh, look who is talking,” Egor inclined his head. “The waltz girl got her voice back. Go ahead, tell us what you wanted to say.”
Everything Olesya loved in him until this very moment became ugly. His full lips stretched up into a splenetic smile, his brown eyes slanted up into a mask of unsettling gaiety, his dark bunched up hair that fell over his forehead in a fringe. How she used to want to pass her fingers through it, to feel its silkiness, and how she detested it now, how she detested, hated everything about him. Mitya was right. He was obtuse, egotistical, waddling in self-delusion liege who thought he somehow was better than any of them, permitted to do what he wanted like a spoiled ninny.
(Painting by Yuri Pysar.)