The Train: Episode 13

When Michael, Nicole, Dr. Ricer and Lucy climbed aboard, the Fairbanks Falcon, like a thoroughbred at the starting gate, bolted down the track, her wheels clicking.

Michael, stretched out in one of the seats, had just dozed off when the conductor Roscoe Bentley walked by.

Gently shaking Michael awake, he said, “You know you have a room available if you’d like to sleep there.”

Without a word, Michael nodded his understanding and rose to follow Bentley out.

As she watched them leave the car, Nicole was suddenly distracted by the deep drawl of Elliot Tombs.

“You did good back there.”

Nicole turned to see him standing behind her, his dog Samuel sitting faithfully by his side.

“And what exactly happened back there?” Nicole asked.

“What do you mean?” Elliot asked.

“I saw your dog. I know you were there. I want to know about my sudden. . .,” Nicole hesitated trying to find the right word, “auto reflexes.”

“I’m afraid I don’t follow,” Elliot said.

“Every passenger on the train has been given certain benefits—tools,” Bentley said as he stepped back into the car. “Mr. Montgomery, under special circumstances, will find himself with an unlimited supply of energy. Dr. Ricer, as you know, has a working knowledge base of anything necessary to the mission. You, Ms. Arceneau, have heightened and sometimes involuntary combat reflexes.”

“What about me?” Lucy asked suddenly from her seat a few rows back.

Elliot turned and walked back to Lucy.

“You’re the luckiest of all. Do you know how often children are completely overlooked?” he asked grinning.

Engrossed in checking his schedule, Bentley said, “As I told Mr. Montgomery, you each have a room available for resting and freshening up. Why don’t you folks get some rest? We’ve got a while before we reach the next stop.”

“If this train moves through time, it shouldn’t be hindered by time passing. The trip to the next destination shouldn’t take long at all,” Dr. Ricer calculated.

“That is true,” Bentley agreed, “but passengers need time to rest. Would you like to see your rooms?”

When Lucy jumped up and ran over to Bentley, Dr. Ricer sighed and rose to follow. Nicole slowly stood up, warily eyed Elliot and Bentley, then stepped in behind Ricer.

 

 

*          *            *

When he awoke, Michael felt rested and relaxed. After washing up, he opened the closet for a change of clothes. Grabbing a pair of jeans, a black flannel shirt, and leather boots, he quickly slipped them on. Everything fit perfectly. He wondered why he was surprised. Exiting the car, he ran into the conductor.

“I completely collapsed back there. What happened?”

“So that you won’t tire during a critical moment, you are given a steady amount of energy whenever you need it in combat. But the more energy you use, the more tired you will be afterwards,” Bentley explained. “We will be reaching our destination soon. I recommend you get something to eat.”

Michael joined the others in the dining car, and after an hour of breakfast and conversation, he felt the train begin to slow.

“We have reached our destination,” Bentley said, holding onto the rail as the train eased to a stop.

One at a time, everyone stood and followed Bentley to the exit.

“Things will change the further along you go,” Bentley explained. “Your clothes, for example, may suddenly change to match your new time. When these changes happen, I recommend you take them in stride. Whatever guides the train along is doing this to help you.”

Ricer had more questions, but as each question came to mind, he found he already knew the answer.

While Bentley stood on the platform, Michael exited the train followed by Nicole and Lucy, pulling Dr. Ricer along. They crossed the platform, heading for the station door. Just before the door closed behind them, Bentley called out,

“Good luck.”

“I’ll keep an eye on them,” Elliot said, stepping down onto the platform.

 

 

*          *            *

 

On the other side of the station door, Michael found himself standing inside a small house. He felt a cold wind pour through the gaping holes in the walls. Splintered furniture was tossed about the room, and broken light fixtures dangled from their wires. Through the shattered windows, Michael saw the bleak smoke filled sky. But three things held his attention: men and women, young and old, were bound together to his left; he wore combat fatigues and a helmet; and five men stood at the door and smiled while one threw a grenade into the room.

Instinctively, Michael reached out and caught the grenade, a grenade whose pin was missing.

 

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Published in: on March 13, 2012 at 2:01 am  Leave a Comment  

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