The Train: Episode 2

August 7th 2009, 8:20 p.m.

Dr. Ricer stood in the aisle of the Fairbanks Falcon’s only passenger car. Rows of gray floral seats, each wide enough for two persons, lined the walls. The young man with the backpack sat back against the seat, a cane balanced across his legs, and partially closed his eyes. The blonde stared out the window, her brow furrowed.  Between Dr. Ricer and these passengers stood Roscoe Bentley, the conductor.

Lucy stayed close to Dr. Ricer as he looked around, taking in this historical train he’d been studying since he was in college. He felt like a child in a candy store, full of wonder and admiration. As Roscoe Bentley watched Ricer, he couldn’t help grinning.

“I’ve always enjoyed this part,” he said.

The train rumbled down the track towards a tunnel, about hundred feet long. Just as the train entered the tunnel, the lights in the car flickered and went out. Ricer began counting in his head, calculating the time of exit from the tunnel. When that time came and went, the train was still in the tunnel. After a moment, the lights came back on inside the car.

“Where are we?” Dr. Ricer finally asked.

Roscoe’s smile disappeared, and he cupped his hands together. “That’s always the trickiest question to answer,” he said.

He took a step back and turned around facing the young man and the blonde.

“I am Roscoe Bentley, the train’s conductor. Everyone here has been selected for a specific reason, because of their special talent.”

Roscoe stepped up to the young man with the backpack. Placing his hand on the man’s shoulder, he said,

“Mr. Michael Montgomery here has the unique talent of dealing with tense and highly dangerous situations. He relies heavily on the training his father gave him using numbered steps as a form of mnemonic memory cues to trigger an automatic response to any given situation.”

Michael looked up at Roscoe and said,

“Sorry, my name is Eric Roth.”

Roscoe shook his head, and as he walked towards Dr. Ricer, he said,

“I thought you would say that, so I came prepared.”

He continued past Dr. Ricer, reached down behind one of the seats, then came up with a long grenade. It had a wooden handle attached to a metal casing. Roscoe held it aloft as he said,

“This is a Model PH 39 stick hand German grenade.”

Michael sat straight up in his seat as Roscoe unscrewed the cap then said,

“The fuse has a four to five second delay, so don’t hesitate.”

Roscoe pulled the cap away, ripping a length of cord along with it, and threw it toward Michael.

*              *                *

Michael watched in disbelief as the grenade spiraled toward him. The moment the grenade had left Roscoe’s hand, the steps Michael’s father had burned into his mind came flooding back.

Step 1: Remain calm.

Step 2: Unscrew the handle from the head.

Step 3: Remove the detonator from the open end of the delay fuse.

Step 4: Replace the handle.

Michael caught the grenade, quickly disarmed it, then put it back together within three seconds. He held up the grenade and looked at Roscoe with shock and confusion.

“Why would you do that?” he yelled.

“Because I needed to prove my story, and that was the quickest and most effective way,” Roscoe calmly explained.

Dr. Ricer, Lucy, and the blonde watched the scene in astonishment.

His heart still racing, Michael said, “All right the truth. My name is James Michael Montgomery, and yes my father taught me a few things about survival in a dangerous world. That’s all.”

“Your father died six years ago. He was a car thief who taught you how to do more than survive. He taught you how to handle yourself in multiple situations while facing multiple opponents. You have an eidetic memory that borders on hyperthymesia. You have three degrees in science, psychology and criminal law, and you speak seventeen languages,” Dr. Ricer suddenly said.

Michael was shocked to hear so many personal details just thrown out there like numbers at an auction.

“Who are you and how did you know that?” he asked.

Dr. Ricer, still confused by what had just happened, introduced himself.  “My name is Dr. Elijah Ricer and this is Lucy, my. . . .” He trailed off before turning to Roscoe and asking, “How did I know that about him?”

“You are what’s commonly referred to as the scholar. As we continue, you’ll find that answers generally come easily to you. The answers will not always present themselves. Sometimes you’ll have to look for them, but usually they are triggered by adrenaline,” Roscoe explained.

“Grandpa, what is going on?” Lucy asked.

Before Dr. Ricer could answer, Roscoe said, “You’ve volunteered to assist us on a mission of utmost importance.”

“I don’t recall volunteering?” Michael snapped.

“You did once you stepped onto this train,” Roscoe pointed out.

“What mission did we volunteer for?” the blonde asked, suddenly standing up.

“May I introduce Nicole Arceneau,  tactician and strategist,” said Roscoe gesturing toward the blonde. “Nicole is highly trained in munitions, explosives, and psychological warfare. And when necessary, she can be extremely charismatic.”

“This part takes forever,” said a deep resonant voice laced with an unmistakable Texas accent.

A man with a thick mustache matching his salt and pepper hair stood up behind Roscoe and sauntered forward. His Stetson blocked the interior lights from his eyes, and a red handkerchief, wrapped loosely about his neck, rested atop a white shirt under a faded gray jacket. He carried a long rifle over his shoulder and had a pistol holstered on his right hip. His black boots thumped against the wooden planks of the floor with each step he took. Closely behind him trotted a gray and white husky, its right eye shut tightly.

Roscoe let out a sigh and said,

“This is Elliot Tombs. He’s in charge of security.”

Roscoe turned to Elliot and said, “Elliot, this part is my job.”

“And you always do it wrong. Every time you send them out there with some vague information hoping they’ll discover the truth for themselves, and every time I have to step in and save them,” Elliot said.

“It’s my job, Elliot,” Roscoe repeated.

“Well your job is taking too long, Roscoe. This train will be stopping soon, and you’re still making introductions,” Elliot said.

Elliot Tombs pushed past Roscoe who exhaled his disagreement but relented.

“Each of you has been picked because together you’re going to clean up things. Throughout time, certain crimes have gone unpunished. Missing children have not been found. Outlaws have gone free. For some reason, this train and its crew were left here. Maybe we were selected. Maybe we just stumbled into it. Doesn’t matter. In a few minutes, this train is going to stop, and the four of you are going to get off. When you exit, wherever in time that is, there will be something nearby that needs to be dealt with, and this train won’t leave until you deal with it. You want to go home? You’re going to have to keep the train moving, and that means doing whatever it wants. Now in case you’re thinking about staying on board or running, forget it. If you run, me and Sammy here,” he gestured to the dog, “will hunt you down and bring you back.” Sammy barked in agreement.  “I was almost fifty when this train disappeared into the folds of time and space, and that was over a hundred years ago. I haven’t aged a day since then. So I’ve got all the time in the world to hunt you down and plenty of practice.”

Suddenly the train began to slow to a stop. Outside the windows Michael could see they were pulling into a station. It was enclosed with no windows, just one door in the wall opposite the train.

Roscoe looked at Elliot and said,

“We need to talk about job duties.”

Elliot nodded.

“Why don’t you deal with these problems instead of kidnapping people?” Lucy asked.

“Cause only Elliot can leave this train, and that’s if someone’s in trouble. I can just step off the train, and the engineer can’t leave at all,” Roscoe answered.

“I don’t want to take part in this whole whatever it is. Where can I exit?” Nicole asked in exasperation.

Elliot pointed to the door in the station wall and said,

“Through there.”

“Thanks,” she said, tossing her hair back as she flounced off the train.

“You’d better hurry,” Roscoe told Dr. Ricer. “This train doesn’t stop time. You have to arrive there before you’re needed.”

Dr. Ricer looked down at Lucy and instructed,

“Wait here.”

“I’m afraid she has to go along,” Roscoe said. “It’s the rules.”

Dr. Ricer hesitated then took Lucy’s hand and left the train. Michael Montgomery grabbed his backpack and cane and chuckled,

“This is insane. Thanks for the lift, fellows.”

As he was leaving the train, Elliot stopped him and said,

“They’ll need your help.”

Michael laughed again as he stepped off the train. The four passengers walked over to the door. Dr. Ricer was the first to open it and step through.

Michael stepped through last, and when he did, the door closed behind him.

“What do you think?” Roscoe asked Elliot.

“I think I’m going to be real busy,” he said.

He returned to his seat, leaned back, and closed his eyes.

“I’d better get some sleep while I can.”

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Published in: on April 3, 2011 at 5:17 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. ooookaaaaayyyyyyyy

    Heh. Wonder where this train is headed.

    I’ll keep reading

    • Tune in next month for more.


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