In a few seconds, Elsie was standing outside on the little platform that separated the first and second train cars. Nobody had seen her go out, as there were only compartment cars toward the very front. The warm July wind whipped against her face. She could smell water, fish. They were getting close. Two minutes.
Peter was the first to find her, followed shortly by Matthias. “What’s going on?” Matthias shouted into the night, barely audible above the rushing train.
“Rolf’s on board, isn’t he?” Peter yelled, not really needing an answer. Elsie nodded. “Where’s Karl?”
Elsie didn’t say anything. Peter knew by looking at her that he had stayed behind. She could see him begin to crumble as the crushing realization set in that they would be leaving without him. “No!” he cried, trying to muscle his way past Matthias back into the compartment. She shot a glance at Matthias, who stood firmly blocking the door.
“Move, Matthias. Now!” he shouted. “I’m not leaving without Karl.”
Elsie glanced away from the train. The dark silhouettes of the farmhouses and apple orchards had disappeared. She could only see blackness, which meant they were over water. They must be on the causeway. Suddenly they heard gunfire from inside the train. Terrified screams and frantic police whistles rose above the roar of the engine. Peter threw his body forward, slamming his full weight into Matthias and crashing them both against the car door. “Let me through!” he yelled. Matthias was a little dazed, but he held his ground.
The chaos inside was coming closer. “We have to jump!” she shouted. “We have to go now!”
Elsie grabbed Peter’s arm and Matthias pushed him from behind before he could get his footing for another run at the door. The three of them stumbled off the train, plunging headlong into the dark waters of Lake Constance.