The Train: Episode 33

Back at the hotel, Michael headed for the stairs to his room, Dennis Hodge still slung over his shoulder. When he passed the hotel bar, the bartender looked at Michael and lifted an eyebrow in curiosity.

“Told him he couldn’t hold his liquor,” Michael said in a forced drawl.

As Michael struggled up the stairs, Nicole followed while Dr. Ricer carried a sleeping Lucy behind her.

At the door to his room, Michael stopped and announced, “I’ll keep Hodge in my room, and we’ll go for Gwendolyn in the morning.”

With a silent approval, Nicole and Ricer headed for their rooms. A few minutes after Michael rested his head on the pillow, he slipped into a deep sleep.

­

 

*          *            *

Michael woke to someone hitting the soles of his feet. When he turned over, he found himself staring into the barrel of a gun. His eyes still heavy with sleep, Michael looked up into the menacing face of one of Reginald Lawson’s men.

“At first you were merely a thorn in my side. However, Mr. Elliot, it seems you have begun to fester.”

Michael turned his head in the direction of the voice and saw that Lawson was waiting by Hodge’s bed.

Hodge slowly opened his eyes and sat up, rubbing the spot on his neck where Nicole had tazed him the night before. When he saw Lawson, he quickly held up both his hands and began apologizing profusely.

“I am so sorry, sir. I told them I did not want to leave, but they abducted me. I swear.”

Lawson reached over and patted him on the shoulder.

“I understand, dear boy. Quite all right. Head on downstairs now. We have someone waiting for you. Do not you worry.”

Fumbling for his shoes, Hodge thanked Lawson and quickly left the room.

“Normally, Mr. Elliot, I would have you shot, but I wanted you to see what I have in store.”

Lawson walked over to the window and tapped the glass pane. Then he looked over at the door and nodded his head, signaling his man to let Michael move. Michael rose from the bed and went to the window. Glancing out into the darkness, he saw that a gallows was being built at the crossroads of town just outside the courthouse.

As he moved toward the door, Lawson said, “This is my town, son, and I will not allow anyone to interfere with my rule here. As far as these people are concerned, I created them and I can destroy them. I am their god. No one questions me or my rule. This young man you were so determined to liberate shall be made an example of to remind others to whom they owe their loyalty.”

“People aren’t going to just sit by and let you hang an innocent man!” Michael protested.

“Who will stop me? I own this town and everyone in it,” Lawson smirked.

“Oh and after the hanging, Mr. Elliot, you might want to leave town. It is no secret that you have been endeavoring to free this young man. After today, the people of my town will see you and run, that is if they do not run you out of town first,” Lawson laughed.

The moment Lawson left the room, Michael pulled on his boots, buckled his gun belt and quickly grabbed his coat. After checking the ammo, he slipped the weapon into his gun belt and headed for the door. As he opened the door, he was struck in the head with the butt of a rifle and fell backwards to the floor stunned.

As Michael lost consciousness, a voice above him said, “I would rather you not ruin things before I am ready.”

 

*          *            *

When Michael came to, the sun was up. He quickly scrambled to his feet to check on the others.

Peeking in to Dr. Ricer’s room, he saw that both the doctor and Lucy were asleep. Michael looked at Ricer and said,

“I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to break my promise.”

From there he hurried to Nicole’s room and slowly opened the door. She was gone. He started to worry about her but quickly remembered that she could take care of herself. Hodge was the one who needed help right now. Michael closed the door and hurried downstairs.

 

 

*          *            *

 

Slowly Dr. Ricer awoke and rolled up to his feet. His sore muscles ached as he struggled to stand. Outside he heard a noise that sounded familiar. When he realized that it was hammering, he panicked and rushed over to the window. In the street below, a crowd had already gathered at the crossroads.

“No!” Ricer shouted.

Lucy woke up suddenly and sat up.

“What’s wrong?” she asked in surprise.

“Wait here,” he ordered and fled from the room.

Ricer checked Michael’s room and found him gone.

“No!” he breathed in fear.

When he discovered that Nicole’s room was empty as well, he cried out,

“This can’t be happening!”

Ricer ran downstairs and exploded out onto the street. The harsh glare of the midday sun blinded him as he shaded his eyes with his hand and squinted, looking away from the light.
“Put yer hat on, stranger,” a voice called out.

Ricer glanced over to see the old man, his skin leathered from too many years in the sun. Sitting in the dirt as he rested against a wooden railing, he displayed a wide smile with the few yellow teeth he had left.

“NO!” Ricer shouted and ran for the gallows.

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Published in: on February 16, 2014 at 3:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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