David Becker felt as if his face had been doused in turpentine and ignited. He rolled over on the floor and squinted through bleary tunnel vision at the girl halfway to the revolving doors. She was running in short, terrified bursts, dragging her duffel behind her across the tile. Becker tried to pull himself to his feet, but he could not. He was blinded by red‑hot fire. She can’t get away!
He tried to call out, but there was no air in his lungs, only a sickening pain. “No!” He coughed. The sound barely left his lips.
Becker knew the second she went through the door, she would disappear forever. He tried to call out again, but his throat was searing.
The girl had almost reached the revolving door. Becker staggered to his feet, gasping for breath. He stumbled after her. The girl dashed into the first compartment of the revolving door, dragging her duffel behind her. Twenty yards back, Becker was staggering blindly toward the door.
“Wait!” He gasped. “Wait!”
The girl pushed furiously on the inside of the door. The door began to rotate, but then it jammed. The blonde wheeled in terror and saw her duffel snagged in the opening. She knelt and pulled furiously to free it.
Becker fixed his bleary vision on the fabric protruding through the door. As he dove, the red corner of nylon protruding from the crack was all he could see. He flew toward it, arms outstretched.
As David Becker fell toward the door, his hands only inches away, the fabric slipped into the crack and disappeared. His fingers clutched empty air as the door lurched into motion. The girl and the duffel tumbled into the street outside.
“Megan!” Becker wailed as hit the floor. White‑hot needles shot through the back of his eye sockets. His vision tunneled to nothing, and a new wave of nausea rolled in. His own voice echoed in the blackness. Megan!
* * *
David Becker wasn’t sure how long he’d been lying there before he became aware of the hum of fluorescent bulbs overhead. Everything else was still. Through the silence came a voice. Someone was calling. He tried to lift his head off the floor. The world was cockeyed, watery. Again the voice. He squinted down the concourse and saw a figure twenty yards away.
Becker recognized the voice. It was the girl. She was standing at another entrance farther down the concourse, clutching her duffel to her chest. She looked more frightened now than she had before.
“Mister?” she asked, her voice trembling. “I never told you my name. How come you know my name?”