TUBE, Draft 3
Chapter 24 (excerpt)
Olesya’s hand shook. She pushed on the lever, it gave, and the door swayed open. Electric air breathed in her face. It smelled of snow and metal and dust. The wheels clacked loudly in a rapid staccato, the chassis creaked, the floor plates shifted and scraped. She looked down. No sign of Tyubik. She stepped in. Dima stepped in behind her and closed the door.
She opened the door to the engine.
The noise hit her like a fist and she stumbled back and Dima caught her. They peered in the dim narrow walkways on either side of the mass of tanks and grates and pipes that took up the middle and stretched into darkness. It clanged and banged and hammered, and it gave out tremendous heat. A dusty light bulb in a wire mesh dimmed and brightened in tune with the racket, and every time the train jolted over a switch it went out, and for several seconds the darkness was absolute, then it reddened and flickered back to life.
Olesya’s face tingled. A line of sweat rolled down her back. Dima prodded her forward. She stepped in and he followed and the door shut behind them. They took off their coats and their hats and put them down on the floor and looked around for some time, then looked at each other.
Olesya shook her head.
Dima leaned to her.
She clasped his shoulder and spoke in his ear, “It’s hopeless. It could be anywhere.”
“Then we better start looking.”
Olesya sighed and turned and felt eyes on her, and froze.
Someone stood in the walkway, far in the dark. She couldn’t see who it was but she knew it was papa, and she felt for Dima’s hand and found it and gripped it, and flicked her head around, and whispered, “He’s here.”
Dima read her lips and nodded. “I know. Take this. I found it in the cabinet.” He pried open her fingers and put something long and heavy in her hand and closed it.
“What is this?”
She hefted it. It felt good and solid...