Robustness (part 10)

As the echo of the firearm’s explosion filled the car, Ezekiel waited for some courageous bystander to tackle him and be a hero. That would have felt right. Instead, he opened his eyes and looked around. All the strangers remained inanimate. Bits of glass on the floor left him able to pull the lever whenever he was ready, completely according to plan.

“Any objections?” he announced. Leslie rolled over in her sleep and tried to fight the fluorescent light out of her eyes. “Is anyone opposed to my pulling the emergency cord?”

He faced everyone, though they refused to reciprocate. The faux pas of orating to unknowns was meant to embarrass him, and he blushed slightly for their benefit. Knowing he was embarrassed, they might be more compelled to reassure him, or at least to acknowledge him, or at least to be alive.

Pulling the gun from his injured backpack, he waited for any kind of reaction. He shot a bullet at nothing in particular, psychopathic. Briefly, he pointed it at a man whose face annoyed him.

“I think we’re almost at our stop. Go ahead and pull it,” Leslie said.

Not the trigger. He nodded. Gripping the handle with both hands, he braced himself against the closest bar and yanked down with both hands. The lever did not move. He lifted himself into the air. Back on his feet, he wrapped the straps of his backpack around the knob, and pushed his feet against the wall. As the switch gave way, the lights went out and the train shook. Individual cutouts fell over, and the screech of steel brought Leslie to her feet.

“I was joking. Dipshit.”

They stepped out of the wreckage and onto the platform. “Sorry,” he said.

Leslie ran forward. He had to chase.

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