Longlisted for Australian Writers’ Centre July 2019 Furious Fiction competition
Based on a true story – sort of…
Harry pressed his nose to the glass and squinted through the window as the train pulled away. “That’s my bag,” he said, turning to face the other passengers. “My bag got left on the platform!”
They regarded him with vague disdain; the loud American pointing wildly and yelling in English.
He rushed down the aisle towards the doors and attempted to pry them apart. They didn’t shift. Not an inch. Not even one.
“They won’t open when the train is moving?” a woman said from behind him.
He spun around. “My bag. It’s on the platform!”
“You can get off at the next stop and return for it.”
“But everything is in that bag. My clothes, my computer, my,” his shoulders sagged. “My passport. Dammit! I put my passport in my jacket, then shoved my jacket in my bag so I wouldn’t have to lug it around!”
“That was stupid,” the woman said, and shrugged as she walked away.
Harry raced back to his seat. “What should I do. What should I do?” he muttered to himself.
“Press the emergency button?” a man beside him said.
Harry looked at the guy with the brilliant idea. “Is that allowed?”
“Is it an emergency?”
“Then, I guess it’s allowed.”
He dashed back through the carriage. Everyone was watching him; the loud American with sweat dripping down his neck. The emergency button was covered in glass, so he pulled his shirt sleeve over his knuckles and punched as hard as he could, slamming his fist through the cover, into the button. The train jolted to a violent stop, propelling Harry into the wall.
Harry woke up to someone slapping his face.
“Put this on your hand,” the man said.
A frozen gel pack dropped into Harry’s lap. He held the cold compress to his bloodied knuckles. “What happened?” he said, “Did I stop the train or something?”
“No sir, you stopped ALL the trains.”
Harry looked up, still slightly groggy. “I did what?” he said, and peered around the man in front of him. Fifty angry faces were staring back at him; their luggage spilled across the floor.
“When you stop one train in Europe sir, you stop ALL the trains.”
“I stopped all the trains?” Harry said.
“In Europe,” the man repeated, “Which is a 575€ fine.” He handed Harry a slip of paper and helped him to his feet.
Harry got off at the next station, pulled his phone from his pocket and dialled.
“It’s true Bobby,” he said. “Every train in Europe. Just one button. Yep, stop ‘em all in the right place, and they’re easy pickins.” He hung up and went to the ticket booth, “I gotta go back for my bag,” he said to the woman at the counter. “Left it behind like an idiot.” he flashed her a smile.
Soon the front pages would belong to Bobby and Harry. It was a train robbery like the world had never seen. Across the whole of Europe. The press would dub the duo a modern day Butch and Sundance.
If only everyone knew the truth to that name.
Bobby and Harry’s great-great uncles would have been so proud…
© Amy Hutton 2019