4

Nestor stood at the street corner deliberating which route to take to work. There were four options, bullet train, cab, walking, or tram.

He immediately eliminated walking. Twenty-nine miles from B-Wing complex to the forge. Too long.

Cab? Maybe. However money was scarce, so people were greedy. There was no way Nestor wanted to be swindled or mugged out of some absurd amount of bitcoin.

Tram? N-O. No. Not after the last experience.

The winner was the bullet train.

Nestor turned left and walked. Around seventy-two steps, he was past the giant heap of scrap metal and junk that was nestled next to the Golden Flower delivery. At one hundred twenty-five steps, he was in front of the business disguised as an internet café but was actually a cesspool for drug dealers. Seventeen more steps and he was in front of the subway entrance.

The subway was dark and still, since it had yet to open. This didn’t phase Nestor. Using the light of his cellphone, he walked down the frozen escalator. His slapping footsteps echoed throughout the dirty concrete tunnel of his descent. Breathing heavily as he reached the bottom, Nestor walked down the corridor till he reached a door, on the left, that said maintenance. He used his mittie pass card to unlock the door and entered into a cleaner corridor lined with aging white tile. At the end of the corridor, there were five turnstiles. Nestor shuffled slowly down the corridor looking at the military propaganda coating the entire right wall of the passage.

“Be a soldier. Be a man.” The posters jeered at him.

Nestor grimaced and looked away. After another swipe of the card, he entered the train station. There was only one track and it led to the forge. The train back to the district was in another location. A completely need to know basis. Nestor stood at the edge and impulsively looked around the station.

“Come on! Don’t be paranoid,” Nestor muttered as he rapped on his skull. He grabbed his phone and sent a text to Barry, the new train operator. It said,

Fire the bullet- N

A few seconds later, Nestor heard a low humming sound, the thrum of electricity. The bullet train arrived in less than three minutes. However, it stopped about thirty feet clear of the platform.

“Newbies,” Nestor scoffed.

A second later, he received a text from Barry.

I’m sorry. I can’t move it any closer. Security protocol won’t let me. I don’t know why. I called the brigadier. They won’t respond.

“What is going on?” Nestor scrunched his eyes up in confusion. His fear began to mount, but Nestor shook his head.

Be a soldier. Be a man. Nestor repeated silently in his head.

Nestor nimbly climbed down the platform edge and jumped on to the track. Avoiding the electrical rail, he turned to the right and began to walk down the tunnel. About eleven feet from the station he heard a noise and stopped. He could have excused the noise as rustling paper or rats, but Nestor knew better. Then he heard the click of someone loading a gun.

Nestor knew he shouldn’t run, because that would alert the person of his presence. However, Nestor needed to move. He had to get it to Mikey. He considered sending another text to Barry.

In seven seconds start the train- N.

Finger hovering over the send-button, he lurched forward and ran. He pressed send.

One.
Fifteen feet from train.
Two.
Eleven feet from train. Heard thundering footsteps.
Three.
Nine feet from train. They were so close.
Four.
Five feet from train. “Wait!” The voices called out in an alternating chorus. Nestor thought, Wait, what?
Five.
Nestor slightly stumbled and almost stepped on the electrical line. He kept running though.
Six.
Nestor jerked open the carriage door and threw himself inside.
Seven.

“Wait!”

“Wait.”

“Wait?”

The voices inside the tunnel got louder and louder, but so did the thrum of the train’s motor. Then they were gone.

Nestor pulled himself on to one of the red and orange vinyl seats and ran his fingers through his hair. He wanted to regret his decision to ride the bullet train, but he needed to get to the meeting and quickly.

Who were those people? What is going on? Security protocol?

The questions ran through his mind, bumping and rubbing into one another creating an unbearable friction. Nestor took a deep breath, trying to soothe himself. It was futile. The questions burned his mind, demanding answers. When those voices increased in volume, he yelled, “Shut up. Shut up. SHUT. UP!”

The voices stopped, and Nestor sighed in relief. He stretched himself across four seats, and as he laid on his back he patted at the seam of his jacket. The lump was still there. Nestor smiled, thinking of Mikey’s reaction when he would see it. Relaxing, he closed his eyes.

He woke to the jerking stop of the train, since he was thrown to the ground. Exiting the train, he approached the Mt.Everest of steps that led to the ground floor of the forge. The closer he got to the top the more deeply Nestor breathed. Nestor stopped three fourths of the way up, hands on his knees and panting. He wondered why he was so out of shape. He had to admit the staircase was long, but not long enough that he ever had to gasp for air.

Nestor then noticed the air quality. The air was heavy and clouded. It reeked of gas. Nestor thought one word, fire.

He knew he should run away, but he also knew he should look for any survivors to help. Mikey.

Nestor immediately dropped to ground and cupped one hand around his mouth and nose to avoid inhaling more smoke, since he already felt disoriented. He slowly crawled up the remaining steps on his hand and knees. The staircase ended at a wide oak door. He used a finger to prod the metal door handle and yelped. A man wouldn’t be deterred. Nestor shoved his hand in a jacket pocket, grabbed the handle, and yanked the door open.