‘Where the fuck is that chump?’ Jack looked around the mausoleum that was Moscow Central Railway Station and shook his head. Being ripped out of a cushy life in England and slung more than sixty years into the past, along with his mate Barry, stank. No money, and so no food and no warm place to kip was a like a thirteen day old bowl of cabbage soup. Barry vanishing like this was like bird-shit landing, plop, straight in the middle.
Funnily enough, though – despite the hardships, Jack felt strangely comfortable. The brutality of his mind fitted right in with the ethos of the guards – hit hard, hit fast, and ask questions later. He respected the simplicity of that. He even understood something of the language from his Polish background. Not much, but enough to get by.
Barry had gone to find somewhere to pee, but that was ages ago. Jack had followed his pinball progress through the station, bounced from one bearded guard to another, but after a while had lost interest and had started biting his nails instead. A train whistle grabbed his attention and as he looked in that direction, he saw Barry climbing up onto a train.
‘Idiot!’ Jack jumped to his feet and began to race towards the train, ignoring the stares of the guards cutting into him. ‘Doesn’t he know that a whistle means the train’s about to leave? And why the fuck did he pick the only one that’s going to Siberia!’ He reached the platform just as a smart row of train-guards slammed the carriage doors shut.
All those hours playing rugby went to good use over the next few seconds as he raced down the platform, dodging guards, and all the while getting closer to the door behind which Barry had disappeared. The train was getting faster and the platform shorter when he finally reached the door. A final spurt and he leapt up onto the step a bare moment before it sped off the platform and into the darkness beyond.
Jack could dimly see Barry’s horrified face through the layer of grime on the window as he grappling with the handle. ‘Stupid’, he thought, ‘these doors only open from the outside.’ In one fluid motion, Jack wrenched the handle down, and then, using what leverage he could, grabbed the front of Barry’s coat before they both catapulted from the train and slammed into the frozen ground.
Gravel, then grass, then grave stillness. The stars watched calmly, not even slightly perturbed as the two creatures lying on the grass, far, far below, whooped their joy and clung to each other with wild abandon as their laughter howled into the night.