"What do you have in mind, Sam?" Bertram asked.
It was an odd moment for Samuel to realize the shadow had started calling him Sam, rather than the distant formality of 'inspector'. And a measure of the improvement in the shadow's trust in an investigator's methods. Samuel smiled, and pointed at the door.
"If we're not careful here, people could get hurt. Mobs have trampled people to death for less serious reasons than these folks might have. We need them to stop, and we need to load this train with people carefully," Samuel explained. He rapped on the door, took a deep breath, and drew his own weapon.
"Once the crowd gives us a bit of space, point your gun into open air and fire off a shot. Hopefully that gives us some breathing room," Samuel said to Angela, who smiled and gave him a confident nod.
Samuel turned to the conductor and said, "If this doesn't work, press yourself again the wall and wait a minute before you try and get the doors shut. That should keep you safe."
"What about you?" the conductor asked.
"Oh, I'm regretting most of my life choices right now," Samuel replied, hoping his grin looked comforting. "But idiot that I am, I volunteered for this. Open the door."
The conductor pulled a lever near the side of the door. The heavy metal panels slid apart at a crawl, taking a moment for even a sliver of light to appear between.
As the door parted a little wider, dozens of fingers pushed through the opening, wrapping around the side of the door and gripping hard. The doors jerked slightly, as the mob strained against the gears.
Samuel stepped up to the door, and showed his weapon to the half-dozen eyes peering through the doorway. "He has a gun!" someone screamed, and the hands disappeared as if the door became scalding hot.
The door opened a little further, and Samuel forced himself through. He held his gun in the air with one hand, and held his other hand in the air, gesturing for the crowd to push back. Some people in the front did, but others behind were still pushing forward.
Angela slipped through the door behind Samuel, and raised her rifle straight into the air.
The thunderous crack started Samuel, who had been expecting it. The crowd in front of him recoiled and shrank back, pressing into themselves until there was enough room that Samuel could have swung his gun without hitting anyone.
"Children and the elderly, to the front!" Samuel shouted. He paused a second, relieved that the crowd had grown quiet. "Elderly, children and their parents! If you see any of them, send them up to the front of the platform! The conductor will open the rest of the doors in a minute!"
Another second passed before a chorus of distant murmurs began. In the distance, the crowd began to shift, as heads turned and others stood aside.
Samuel laughed in relief. "Ang, Bert, I'll help the conductor keep things in order for a few minutes. Go on ahead, see if you can find out what's going on."
"We will," Angela said. She drew close and kissed him on the cheek. "Stay safe."
"Burn brightly," Sam replied, before he turned away.
"That's it, good!" Samuel called, as an older man with dark grey hair and a stoop in his gait passed by. "Old folks and children, you're doing great!"
He guided a dozen more people inside, pointing them inside, before he turned back and pulled out his badge."I am Inspector Samuel Fraser, with the Orderlies! If anyone saw what happened inside, please come talk to me."
Samuel guided another few people inside, waiting until the crowd nearby had a stronger representation of the elderly and small children. He then leaned through the doorway, and said to the conductor, "Go ahead and open the other doors now. The crowd should behave now."
YOU ARE READING
Bitter Cold Truth: A Tale of the Everburning CityFantasy
There is no night in the Everburning City. There can never be. Fourteen people lie dead on the platform of Billows Station, killed by fire and rage. And as the perpetrator hides within the millions of people who inhabit the City, the task of findi...