(Beginning Of A Great Adventure - Lou Reed)
The train rattled slowly into a tunnel, and Ross looked at the reflections of the other passengers in the window. They looked like people who had somewhere to go, or someone waiting for them when they got there who didn’t hate them. An exciting job, doing important things. Prospects. The sort of people who could go home without being scared that the bailiffs would be there waiting.
The attractive woman across the carriage seemed to stare right back at him. She must be looking at her window, Ross thought, at the reflections of me looking at her. I wonder if she can tell. Probably not. He looked away, all the same, down at the table, the tin of Pepsi Max, empty packet of crisps, crumpled copy of the Metro folded twice.
The train shuddered and shook out of the tunnel, and people started to stand, to pull coats down from racks and to stuff laptops back into bags. I wish I was anywhere else but going to this pointless, dull meeting, Ross thought. Anywhere else except home, that is. Credit card bills and recriminations. Frost in the air and the knowledge that they were done, had been done for a long time, but they were too weak to do anything about it. He cupped his face in his hands for a moment, and then there was a bang, a loud bang, like a firework going off, one of those massive ones that ends a display, only right next to them. Then people were screaming and luggage was crashing about, and Ross realised that the train was tilting, and he held on to the table and he held on to his armrest, and the woman from across the aisle fell past him and someone’s laptop bounced off his head and there were more bangs, and smoke, and then a terrible screaming that wasn’t people, but was the train.
It took him a long time to climb out, but he had to get a move on because the fire had really taken hold in the carriage along, and there were people behind him in his who were following him at one point, but seemed to stop. He thought of going back, but they were lost in the thick, black smoke, and he could hardly breathe as it was. He climbed through the tumbled, twisted train, and slid out of a window, climbed across the roof, and made it to the embankment.
A man in a suit lay a little way away from him, his arms and legs all arranged like he was trying to make a swastika. His eyes were open, and so was his mouth and it was full of blood.
I’ve survived, Ross thought. Me, of all people. But I’ve made it out. He thought of work, and he thought of home, and he turned back and looked at the fire raging out of the carriage beyond, destroying everything inside. Then he scrambled up the wet grass of the embankment, then down again into a field, and he walked away in a direction that would take him somewhere, even if he was not sure where that was. Anywhere would do. After a bit, he started to whistle.