Chancho blinked furiously from the combination of bright sun and whipping wind. Ah Puch held him by his bandoliers while the others stood clear of the swinging pipe. “We only get one chance at this.” Ah Puch cautioned.
“Yes, yes. Miss it and the tail-end of the train will be kissing ours goodbye.” Chancho shook tears from his eyes, watching the tunnel entrance rush toward them faster than he liked. “I’m more concerned with the possibility that we may not stop at all.” He cringed. “Or we’ll wish we hadn’t.”
“You mean we’ll be sitting ducks when the rest of the train returns with all of its angry soldiers.”
“If we aren’t crushed by the deadman.” Chancho tried wiping away tears with his shoulder.
“This just keeps getting better.” Ah Puch shifted his grip on Chancho’s bandoliers, but in the process one of them snapped. Chancho dipped forward unevenly, dangling too far over the railing.
“Hold me steady! We’re almost to the switch!” The throw bar, topped with a red octagonal sign, swept into view as the front of the armored car passed it. The whole of the car had already passed the switch itself, but it was the trailing three cars that concerned the revolutionaries at the moment. “I don’t want to throw it with my face!”
“Dammit, your bandolier.” Ah Puch clutched at Chancho’s clothing, scratching for something solid to yank him backwards by.
“Ah Puch!” Chancho attempted to hold the heavy bar in front of his face in the hopes of deflecting the brunt of the collision. At the last second Ah Puch lunged further forward, gripping Chancho under his armpits. Digging his feet against the bottom of the railing he lurched back. With a final bunt-like swing Chancho whacked the flat portion of the throw bar as the two of them tumbled backwards onto the platform.
“Did you get it?”
“I don’t know. I think so. I hit it anyway.”
“We’ll know soon enough.” For a moment they watched the freight car, the flatbed with their horses and the caboose clack along the rails, already several hundred meters behind them. Emilio cleared his throat from the doorway of the armored car.
“The deadman!” Chancho jumped to his feet.
“That’s what we’re about to be.” Emilio shrugged.
Ah Puch continued his pessimism from before. “We’re going too fast to throw the—”
“Give me a boost.” Chancho cut him off.
“Quickly. We’re entering the tunnel. I can trigger the mechanism. Just give me a boost, now!” The sky disappeared as the armored car shot into the tunnel, still clipping at over 20 kilometers per hour. Ah Puch obeyed instantly. Taking a wide stance on the metal grate of the landing he laced his fingers together and clasped the back of Chancho’s boot where the missing heel would have been. Chancho rested his other boot on the top of the railing and poised himself for the jump.
“How can you even see it? It’s too dark.”
“I know where I put it! Get ready! Three, two, now!”
Ah Puch launched Chancho forward into the oily darkness of the tunnel, confident he’d just thrust his friend face-first into solid rock. Chancho shot forward, searching the glimmering darkness for whispers of light reflecting off the metal lever he had placed in the wall.
Catching a glint no more than a meter from his face, he flung his defective bandolier at it like a lasso as he rushed by. With a jerk and pulse of lightning in his shoulder sockets the bandolier caught. Flipping the lever into its recessed position, he ripped free and smashed hard into the wall of the tunnel before crumpling to the ground.