The Train: Episode 1

August 7th 2009, 8:09 p.m.

 

Nicole leaned against the wall and checked her watch. The judge should be along any minute. She adjusted her leather skirt and straightened her stockings. Pulling her purse strap up onto her shoulder, she glanced down the street and saw the silver Mercedes turn the corner. Nicole ran over the instructions she had been given the day before.

The police department is investigating the fire over at Freeman Family Steakhouse. I want the investigation ended, and that starts with Cross. He has a thing for hookers. Deal with him then contact me for payment.

The Mercedes slowed when it neared the intersection. Nicole walked like a beauty pageant queen to the edge of the sidewalk, swung out one hip, and waited. The Mercedes pulled to a stop, and the front passenger window came down.

Gerald Cross was a middle-aged man with thinning hair and small wire rimmed glasses. As Nicole approached, he leaned towards the passenger’s side. Bending down to the open window, Nicole made sure her low cut blouse gave Cross plenty to admire.

“You need a lift?” Cross asked.

“Yea,” Nicole said.

While Cross ogled her chest, Nicole dropped a package the size of a padded envelope between the passenger seat and the door.

“Six hundred dollars,” Nicole announced.

Cross continued eyeing her as he mulled over his decision. Nicole knew she was attractive, and she had no problem using her looks to get what she wanted. She was young, athletic, long-legged, and blonde.

“Sorry. Don’t have that much. What about. . .” Cross began in the hope of negotiation.

“Too bad,” Nicole said straightening up and backing away from the car.

As she glided in front of the Mercedes, aware that Cross was watching her, she reached into her purse and pulled out a detonator. This was her favorite part of the job, the moment the target realized they were about to die. Cross’s expression changed from lustful to scared just seconds before Nicole pressed the button and the car exploded, leaving a burning heap in the street.

Her job done, she put away the detonator and headed to the nearest railway stop. A block away she could see an above ground station. When she heard thunder, she removed her disposable phone and dialed her employer as she hurried to the subway.

 

*          *            *

 

August 7th 2009, 8:09 p.m.

 

The Barking Spider was a typical nightclub. Music pounded the walls and shook the windows that threatened to explode outward in a shower of glass. A long line of college students, high powered kids who either moved mountains or had parents who could, and teenagers, hoping their fake ids would get them past the guards, waited to get inside. Backpack over one shoulder and cane in hand; Michael Montgomery strutted along the street. He wore a charcoal gray suit and a cocky smile. The top buttons of his shirt were open, revealing a hairy chest he was especially proud of.

“Here’s the plan,” Michael said to the tall leggy brunette who followed behind. “I’m going to fast talk my way into the VIP den, hustle the money, then slip away. If you see me break out of the back room hauling tail, run.”

“Got it, Mikey,” she said.

Bianca Valentine was a beautiful woman who liked to dress young. Her black denim overalls, cut short at the knees, covered a white t-shirt, one size too small, as she bounced behind Michael in basketball high tops. Five years younger than Michael, she was like his little sister and the only one who called him Mikey.

“Take care of Priscilla and the King for me,” Michael ordered, tossing her his backpack. “I might need them later.”

Priscilla was a Smith and Wesson Model 500 revolver loaded with hollow points. A 12 gauge double-barreled sawed-off shotgun with a pistol grip has been dubbed the King. Both guns were gifts from James Montgomery, Michael’s father, presented to him the day he started his own business.

Michael separated from Bianca and slid on a pair of sunglasses. Walking up to the bouncer at The Barking Spider, Michael put on his best smile and said,

“Eric Roth. I have a meeting with Mr. Fredric Gale.”

Darren the bouncer was a large man with thick arms and a mean smile that offered no courtesy. Michael glanced down and around noticing Darren’s weak left knee, probably from college ball, and the scar on his forehead. He could see that Darren favored his right ear over his left.

Darren tapped the button on his Bluetooth earpiece and said,

“There’s an Eric Roth here to see Mr. Gale.”

After a few moments, he tapped the earpiece again and said,

“Mr. Gale will see you in the back room.”

“Thank you, good man,” Michael said nodding.

Darren stepped aside and removed the velvet rope that barred the entrance. Michael entered the nightclub and squinted for a moment, adjusting his eyes to the dark and his ears to the pounding techno. Crossing the dance floor, he made his way to the room marked VIP Lounge.

Fredric Gale was a gaunt man wearing a leather coat and diamond studded sunglasses. He sat slumped in a chair at a table just to the left of the door. Across from the door, Michael saw a large man with a pistol stashed under his coat. To the right of the door a long couch held two stocky men with holstered weapons and eyes locked on Gale. The black carpet, purple couches, and wardrobe of his men screamed that Gale liked gaudy.

“Mr. Roth,” Gale said with a hiss through grimy teeth. “I’m glad to see you are here.”

“I’m glad to be here,” Michael said. “Where’s the game?”

“There will be no game quite yet,” Gale said.

“Is there a problem?” Michael asked. “Did you want to watch your shows first?”

Gale laughed, wheezing, then said,

“You have a sense of humor. I like that Mr. Montgomery.”

Michael’s mind went into flight mode although his face showed nothing.

“Don’t use my real name. It breaks my concentration,” Michael said smoothly.

“You are a con man and a hustler, Montgomery. Your alias triggered quite a few alarms. I know you came here hoping to rip me off,” Gale said.

“All things considered, you probably don’t want to play cards, do you?” Michael asked.

While Gale gave the gory details of how Michael was going to die, Michael assessed the room. Three armed guards. Door behind him probably locked and guarded. Three-legged wobbly table by Gale.

Remembering the steps his father had taught him to escape from an angry crowd, Michael readied himself as Gale’s speech drew him to his feet, his anger so intense that he spat when he spoke.

Step 1: Look for an opening. His best chance of escape was across the room to the other door. They wouldn’t be expecting that.

Step 2: Wait to make your move when they least expect it. The right time was coming up. He knew he would have a small window, but if his timing was right the guards, would trip over each other and Gale would be too preoccupied to respond.

Step 3: Try to stay invisible. That was the tricky part. Most people who are running make the mistake of looking guilty.

Step 4: Trust your instincts. He knew he had a bad habit of over thinking things.

Shaking his head clear, Michael heard Gale say,

“Take him out back and kill him!”

As the guards stood, Michael said coolly,

“Of course I used a false name. I knew you wouldn’t let me in if I used my real name. All I really need is some money to get out of town. We can still help each other out.”

At this, Gale raised his hand and the guards lowered their weapons.

“How can you help me?” Gale asked.

“For the right price, I can convince your competition that selling to you would be in their best interest,” Michael explained.

Gale seemed to think this over before asking, “You can really do this?”

Michael calmed his nerves and focused before smiling and saying,

“No, not really.”

He quickly shoved the table, sending Gale flying backwards into the wall. The guards lunged at him at the same time, stumbling over each other. Michael tore open the second door, surprising the man standing guard, and stepped to one side gesturing to the fallen guards.

With his most indignant face, he said, “Well hurry up and help them!”

The guard hesitated but ran into the room, leaving the hallway to the dance floor clear. Breaking out onto the floor, Michael had a clear shot to the front door until he spotted Darren waiting for him.

Sliding to a stop, Michael said,

“Please move.”

When Darren refused, Michael said,

“Well I tried.”

After he slammed his foot down onto Darren’s, he cupped his hand and popped his right ear. As Darren grabbed his ear, Michael brought the ball handle of his cane across Darren’s left knee then back up, striking the spot on his forehead. Darren fell backwards in too much pain to attack. When Michael burst through the front door, Bianca ran towards him.

“Stop him!” Gale yelled as his men headed for the front door.

“King, riot,” Michael yelled, and Bianca knew exactly what to do. She reached into the backpack and quickly removed the King, loaded with riot rounds.

Michael caught the weapon and aimed. Just as the guards reached the front door, he pulled the trigger. The King yelled out of both barrels, and the riot rounds knocked the charging guards back inside.

“Bag,” Michael said.

Bianca tossed him the bag, and he dug into his pocket for his car keys.

“Take the car. I’ll take the subway and meet you back at the loft.”

Bianca nodded and ran for the car. Standard procedure was to split up and meet back later. Michael dropped the King back into his bag and hurried for the nearest train station.

 

*              *                *

 

August 7th 2009, 8:15 p.m.

 

Dr. Elijah Ricer sat at the table in the restaurant as his hamburger grew cold. He reached out, took a napkin from the dispenser, and wiped his forehead. His hairline had escaped to the far back of his head, and what little hair remained was soft and silver. Scribbling some notes onto his pad, he was vaguely aware of the girl speaking to him. He took a sip from his drink to wet his throat and continued making notes.

“Grandpa,” the young girl repeated loudly.

“Yea,” Dr. Ricer answered absentmindedly.

The girl’s hand slapped his notepad, snapping the doctor out of his trance.

“What?” he asked.

Gertrude Lucille Hicks, Lucy for short, leaned forward. Her long blonde ponytail fell forward brushing against her sweatshirt.

“Your food’s getting cold,” she said. “Aren’t you hungry, Grandpa?”

“I’m sorry, Lucy,” Dr. Ricer apologized.

Dr. Ricer glanced from his granddaughter to the clock on the wall.

“Oh dear. We need to get you home. Your parents will be back soon,” he said surprised at the time.

Dr. Ricer swept his books and notepad into his satchel and stood, leaving behind his half eaten hamburger. Grabbing his green army field jacket from the back of the chair, he pulled it on and looked over at Lucy.

“Here,” he said handing her a napkin. “Wipe that ketchup off your jeans.”

After he paid the waitress, he grabbed Lucy’s hand, and they left the restaurant, stepping into a cold wind.

“We’ll take the train,” he said as they walked across the street.

“Grandpa?” Lucy asked.

“Yea, sweetie,” Dr. Ricer replied.

“Tell me again about the train,” Lucy said.

“Which train?” Dr. Ricer asked.

“You know, the Fairbanks Falcon,” Lucy answered.

“Well, the Fairbanks Falcon was an old steam locomotive. It was named the Fairbanks Falcon because of its speed and because it primarily operated in and around Fairbanks, Arizona. In 1903 during a heavy storm, the Fairbanks Falcon, engine number 562, was returning home when it disappeared never to be seen again. When they searched the tracks, they found no damage and no trace of the engine or the cars. There had been two people on board, Engineer Fredrick Sheppard and Conductor Roscoe Bentley. Just like the train, they were never seen or heard from again. Some say the Falcon’s still out there traveling somewhere.”

“Is it really?” Lucy asked.

“Not really, sweetheart. There are those who claim that you can still hear its whistle. One man even said that the train abducted him and dropped him off in the past,” Dr. Ricer laughed.

As they approached the eastern above ground railway station, Dr. Ricer checked his watch.

“The next subway should be along shortly.”

Just moments after they ducked under the roof covering the depot, it started to rain. As they sat down on one of the benches, Dr. Ricer glanced up and saw a young attractive blonde woman in a short skirt and stockings. Across the rails on another bench, a young man in a charcoal gray suit fidgeted, looking about nervously. Riser noticed that he held a backpack close to his chest.

“Is she a hooker?” Lucy asked looking toward the blonde woman.

“Don’t use that kind of language,” Dr. Ricer snapped, turning Lucy’s face away from the woman.

Over the roar of the pouring rain, they heard the high pitch of a steam whistle.

“That’s strange,” Dr. Ricer said glancing toward the tunnel down the track. “That doesn’t sound at all like the subway.”

A light cut through the darkness and rain when the approaching train emerged from the tunnel. Dr. Ricer felt his jaw drop and his arms fall to his side as an old steam train, engine number 562, puffed through the rain drawing closer. After it pulled to a stop, the conductor, a young man in an early twentieth century uniform, leaned out and called, “All aboard,” and stepped onto the platform.

Confused but undaunted, the young man and the blonde climbed aboard the train.

Just as the conductor turned to Dr. Ricer and said, “It’s time to board, ” something exploded in the distance, filling the sky with fire and smoke.

“What was that?” Lucy asked, looking back.

“Something you cannot undo unless you come with me now,” the conductor said extending his hand.

Although Lucy didn’t understand what he meant, she was so excited by the train that she hopped aboard.

“Lucy!” Dr. Ricer snapped, hurrying onto the train after her.

When the conductor signaled the engineer, the whistle blew and the train pulled out of the station.

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Published in: on March 9, 2011 at 1:36 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Good stuff!
    Haven’t commented before but I’ve been reading every so often. I’m glad you’re sharing your creativity 😀

    • Thanks a lot its nice to know someone out there is paying attention.


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