I chose the title as a play on Brief Encounter, David Lean’s iconic film based on a short play by Noel Coward, much of which was set in a railway station.
My character, Harvey, who delivers the fateful briefcase to the terrorist, Pandora, borrows his name from Alec Harvey, one of the two main protagonists in the film.
The story is obviously fictional. However the recent nightmarish escalation in global terrorism suggests that fiction may yet become fact.
Eurostar disgorged its passengers like a pod expelling seeds. Harvey, clutching his briefcase, allowed himself to be carried forward slowly, legs still stiff from the journey. Security checks were in progress but he moved forward confidently, certain his bland exterior would ensure cursory attention.
Waved through, Harvey waited by the railing close to Betjeman’s statue, briefcase resting at his feet. He saw the woman approach; her stride confident. She gave him a quick, cold smile and set down her briefcase, departing with his.
Harvey picked up her case, identical to his own, and hurried to board the returning Eurostar to Paris. He wanted to be far away from London when Pandora released the deadly spores in Oxford Street.
Safely aboard the speeding train, Harvey cradled the briefcase, itching to handle the stacks of hundred-euro notes he knew lay inside. He thought of Pandora preparing to text him with the combination to open the case: his portal to a new life. Of the devastation awaiting London’s population, he thought very little. Who said life was fair?
Mid-way through the Tunnel, Harvey was on his third cognac when the text came through. He fumbled with the briefcase lock; suddenly remembering Pandora’s icy smile, and felt terror engulf him as he opened the lid.
First published here 16/12/14