End of the LineCar 3

From the rush of the tiles past the window, Karen Keown is sure she is making a break for it. She hears shouts. The hospital staff have discovered that she has taken her baby. She looks down at its face, it smiles up at her, full of love. At last, she has something to love her.

Paul Launcey is telling himself it can't be happening. It is the answer to all his prayers, to die indisputably in an accident. He holds in his mind the image of his wife and son. I love you, love you, love you, he tells them. He sees their future: secure, provisioned, alone.

Stefan Braun is conscious at first that he is no longer being photographed. Anya Ruderian has broken into a run along the aisle. Her white dust footprints follow her like a ghost's. The posters in the station flash past, full of models. Stefan looks at Paul's face. It glows with love and hope. You must be a happy man, Stefan thinks. The train plunges into darkness.

And Anya? At the end of the carriage, braced against the sectioning, she holds her camera, set to automatic.

The train stops and all weight shoots forward. Anya's arms are flung out, but she holds onto the camera as it goes, flick, flick, flick. One end of the carriage puckers, then erupts like a volcano. The two men are lifted up as if on lava, and Anya surfs the buckling floor, still corresponding from the front line.

Salvation through art.

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