He swallowed the mouthful of god-knows-what, the food intended to cover the razor blade and dull the pain as it sliced its way through my throat and into his esophagus. It did its job.

He paid more attention to the flavors of lamb vindaloo and raita and lime pickle than to the strange sensations of pain in a place that had, heretofore, never experienced that sort of pain. Never before had he felt slits in the lining of his throat and esophagus. The pain welled up in places that had never felt pain before, though it was not as unpleasant as he expected.

He had promised himself he would not react with panic, but that promise meant nothing in the midst of a pain-fueled response to unrelenting despair. Using his elbow, he broke the glass cover of the emergency brake housing, grabbed the red lever, and pulled it down as hard as he could. The screeching howl of metal against metal accompanied the sharp jolt of the train car as the brakes took hold. He was thrown against the front of the compartment, his head striking the wall just below the emergency brake lever.

Until the moment he pulled that red lever, his demons were his own; beasts whose only object was to torment him. But with the act of triggering the emergency brake, he unleashed them on a train full of unsuspecting and undeserving people who were about to pay the price for being on board with him. In those awful moments following his selfish act, his demons found their way to one little girl, Manisha,  What they did to her was the reason he lived, his payment for her pain.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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