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Karl, Vlad, Dick, and Condoleezza sat in the second-to-last car on the Zealot Train. The train was chugging along at an aggressive clip, and the scenery outside the windows rushed by in an unintelligible blur.

“I can’t make anything out,” muttered Vlad, “it’s all a blur.”

“That’s for the best, Vlad, trust me,” cautioned Karl, “The Zealot Train operates on False Assumptions.”

“That’s right,” agreed Dick. “Too much information is detrimental to our purpose. Clarity is a luxury we cannot afford. Over-analysis will prevent us from reaching our destination.”

“I’m still not sure that our forward momentum is worth the cost,” bemoaned Condoleezza.

“I might be inclined to agree,” concurred Vlad, “How can we know that we’re headed in the right direction?”

“Don’t bother cozying up to Condoleezza,” Karl whispered to him, “she’s a lesbian.”

“Hey now,” protested Condoleezza, “that’s not--” Her words were lost to the roar of the Zealot Train’s engine. The car lurched forward. Their speed increased. Only a grey smudge outside the windows hinted simultaneously at their surroundings and at their velocity.

“I don’t think that has anything to do with it!” insisted Vlad. The engine roared. The train lurched forward again.

“Now you’re getting it,” encouraged Dick.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Vlad protested. He grabbed hold of his head in both hands. He rocked gently to and fro.

“That’s best,” nodded Dick. “We’re halfway there.”

“Where are we going?” asked Condoleezza.

“You don’t really want to know,” said Karl. Roar. Lurch. Vlad was thrown back against his seat, forcing him to stop rocking. He rubbed his fists against his eyes.

“How did I get on this train, anyway?” asked Vlad, suddenly. “I don’t remember boarding. I haven’t got a ticket.”

“The conductor assumed you had a ticket,” answered Dick. “That’s all that’s necessary. You’re on this train because we are responsible for you. We know what’s best for you.” There was a booming noise from outside the train car. Vlad clapped his hands over his ears.

“What was that?” asked Condoleeza, alarmed.

“We’ve broken the sound barrier,” smirked Karl.

“We’ll reach the end of the line in no time,” Dick assured her.

“There’s nothing reassuring about that,” snapped Condoleezza.

Progress is its own justification,” pronounced Dick.

Vlad braced himself.

“Don’t worry,” laughed Karl, “that was an assertion.”

Vlad smiled ruefully. He loosened his grip on the seat.

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