The Train: Episode 32

Reginald Lawson’s mine was more a prison yard than a mine. From a nearby grove of trees, Michael spent the better part of the day watching, learning guard patrols and escape routes. The mine compound had one road in and out, circling four buildings, the closest a small guard post. Just past that was a supply building where the equipment was locked away after dark as the last shift finished for the day. When the prisoners filed in heading for the barracks, they passed Lawson’s office, positioned where the foreman could keep a good eye on the operation. During the day, thirteen men were scattered throughout the compound with snipers all along the ridge. But after dark, the number dropped to a handful of guards patrolling the grounds while the day shift slept in a house outside the compound. Each of Lawson’s prisoners was locked away in the barracks till dawn. Michael knew this would be a hard job, a job with injuries, but he would get Hodge out of this place. From his post among the trees, he had spotted Hodge around noon heading into the mineshaft and coming back out at dusk.

Michael left his post among the trees and joined the others who waited nearby.

“All right,” he said, letting out a long sigh. “Here it is. Some distance down the hill at the back of the compound, there’s a house where the day staff will be sleeping. If we hit after dark, we have five guards to take out before they can raise the alarm. But if we alert anyone, they’ll signal the others and this place will be swarming with firepower.”

Grabbing the rifle she had stolen earlier in the day, Nicole placed the butt of the gun on the inside of her shoulder.

“I’ll just pick them off from here,” she suggested.

“No!” Michael said. “That won’t work. Even if you shoot all five at once, the others will hear the shots and come running. Besides, the good doctor asked that we not kill anyone, so that makes things much more difficult.”

“Okay. So what’s the plan?” Nicole asked.

Michael turned his bag around and pulled a Taser from one of the pockets.

“Nicole, you take this and work your way around to the barracks. You meet anyone along the way? Stun them. And get those prisoners out.”

Michael reached into the bag again and came back with a collapsible baton in his hand.

“I’ll take care of the guards.”

 

 

*          *          *

When the day shift and snipers were settled in for the night and the five night guards had started their rounds, Michael lowered his body close to the ground and crept up to the guard post. Risking a peek in the window, he saw two guards in conversation playing cards. He straightened up and slowly walked around to the front of the building. Taking a deep breath, he reached forward, and pulled open the door. Both men stopped talking and turned to see who it was.

“Sorry, guys. Don’t mean to interrupt. Just need the keys to the barracks.”

With a face full of surprise and confusion, the guards looked at each other then back at Michael.

As Michael focused, everything seemed to shift into slow motion.

Time to stand up, one second. Time to draw pistols, .25 seconds.

“Move!” Michael shouted to himself.

Pulling out the baton, he bolted for the nearest man, grabbed his gun, and fractured his wrist. Then he quickly spun and struck the second guard across the jaw before he could aim his weapon. The guard’s head twisted to the right, and as two teeth flew out of his open mouth, he hit the floor. Grabbing the first guard’s broken wrist, Michael pulled it behind the man’s back and slammed his head into the wall. Just as he fell, a third guard exploded through the doorway. Michael turned and threw the baton, striking the man on the forehead and knocking him out.

Quickly looking outside, Michael saw the last two guards unconscious at Nicole’s feet. Grabbing the keys from the guards’ belts, Michael raced out of the guardhouse and hurried over to Nicole.

“Thanks. That didn’t go exactly as I planned, but hey.”

“There are no places to hide here,” Nicole pointed out.

“Yea. I didn’t think about that. Next time, you plan the seek and destroy,” Michael smiled in the darkness.

At the barracks, they worked through the keys until they unlocked the door. When they looked inside, everyone was asleep, exhausted from the day’s work. As they walked across the wood floor, looking for Hodge, a few of the prisoners woke. One look at Nicole, and some of the men sat up and remarked,

“Howdy, ma’am. You sure are a purty little thing.”

The few who dared to touch her soon regretted their boldness when she quickly used the Taser to set them straight.

When Michael finally found Dennis Hodge, he shook him awake.

“What?” Hodge exclaimed, his eyes full of sleep.

“Quiet. We’re here to free you,” Michael said.

“No. I can’t leave,” Hodge said. “If I escape, Lawson will kill my sweetheart.”

“Trust me. She’ll be fine. We have to go before the guards wake up!” Michael urged.

“You don’t understand. If I leave, if they find me gone, Lawson will kill Gwendolyn,” Hodge tried to explain.

“I can rescue her. You have to trust me,” Michael said.

“No one can rescue her. Lawson owns the entire town. Nobody stands up against him.”

“Who are you anyway?” Hodge asked.

Before Michael could answer, Nicole hit Hodge with the Taser.

When Michael looked up in surprise, she calmly said,

“He was taking too long. Someone had to hurry him.”

Michael turned, lifted Hodge over his shoulder and ran out.

At the compound gates, Dr. Ricer and Lucy waited with the horses.

When Michael saw the unasked question on Ricer’s face, he said,

“Don’t worry, Doc. Everyone’s alive. Maybe busted up, but alive. Let’s get out of here and you can scold me later.”

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