Robustness (part 11)

The echoes of their footsteps built up a rhythm that colored the moment. The techno soundtrack implied a chase scene, police officers behind them, pistols drawn. Neither he nor Leslie was athletic enough to vault over obstacles or slide under railings, and in fact their running would have more realistically been called jogging if not power walking. If power. Nonetheless, they made the sounds of running. If he remembered the moment later, it would be dynamically framed, with wipes and swipes and filters.

Once they hit the pavement, their movements lost resonance, and they shuffled forward with characteristic asthma. She stayed a few steps ahead, which was fine, given that she knew where she was going. The way she walked was lopsided, but had a grace of its own, as if compensating.

He caught up to her for the sake of conversation. “Thanks for letting me stay with you.”

When she didn’t reply, he continued talking, like he was supposed to. “It’s good to be back. You have no idea what I’ve been through in the past few years. Don’t you miss when things were simple?”

Before he was socialized, Leslie had tried to instruct him in the art of conversation. “It’s rude not to answer when someone speaks to you,” she had said. He couldn’t remember the exact context, only the maternal tone of her scolding. She’d always seen him as a child, and somehow that had seemed flirtatious to him at the time. Before he was socialized.

“Did I tell you you could stay with me?” she asked, but Ezekiel wasn’t entirely sure the question was directed at him. The artificial lighting of the streets at night had taken his attention. Shadows cascaded in all directions from almost everything.

#awkward, #city, #fiction-in-parts, #idiot, #memory, #oblivious, #reunions, #unreality

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.

#embarrassed, #fiction-in-parts, #robustness, #society, #unreality, #unresponsive