The Train: Episode 45

The woman stood rigid, her eyes staring intently.

Seething at her silence, Tommy could hear his pulse pounding in his ears.

“Why? Tell me!” he demanded, grinding his teeth.

Stone-faced, the woman made no response.

Losing patience, Tommy grabbed a pistol from his waistband, but before he could fire off a shot, he saw a muzzle flash and felt the pistol fly out of his hand.

Slowly, the woman began walking forward, her weapon leveled at Tommy’s head.

As she drew closer, she stepped into the light from the cabin. Her platinum blonde hair was covered in soot and ash from the burning car. Beads of sweat rolled down her face, and her eyes were cold fury as she stared unblinkingly at him.

“Do it already!” Tommy barked.

Her finger resting on the trigger, she held her gaze.

“What’s wrong? You a coward? Do it!” Tommy snapped.

As he looked into her eyes, it hit him.

“Wait a minute,” he said with a smirk. “I know you. You were with that punk I flattened running away from the cops.”

Her hand tightened its grip on the weapon.

Tommy laughed, “Yea, I remember him. Folded like a bad suit when I hit him. Poor sap didn’t have the spine to take it like a man. Went down like a sack of potatoes.”

When she pulled back the hammer on the pistol, Tommy heard a voice behind him say,

“Nicole, you mustn’t do this.”

Tommy spun around to see a tall man in a black suit standing behind him.

For the first time, the woman’s eyes left Tommy’s face as she looked at the man.

His hands raised he said,

“I know what he did. I know it was wrong. But you’ve lost sight of your objective, Nicole.”

“How would you know what my objective is?” she snapped, turning the gun on the man.

“That’s enough, Hoss,” a voice with a thick drawl ordered.

With rifle raised, a man wearing a Stetson stepped into view. Closely behind him trotted a gray and white husky, its right eye shut tightly.

 

 

*          *            *

 

 

Nicole found herself outnumbered, with the rifle drawn on her.

“You’re supposed to be watching over Michael, Elliot,” Nicole pointed out.

“I am,” Elliot returned.

“Nicole, you have seen me before, in a picture taken with my wife,” the man in the suit explained.

He saw Nicole’s eyes darting from Tommy to him to Elliot.

“Nicole, listen,” he said.

When she didn’t respond, he tried again.

“Please, Nicole. Listen.”

As a look of panic crossed her face, he knew he was losing her.

“The train sent me,” he finally said.

Nicole’s eyes stopped moving and settled on the man.

“My name is Charles Everett Sherwood. My wife and I were newlyweds on the Fairbanks Falcon in 1903. When that heavy storm hit us, we started on a course through time much like you. We were the first team. You and the others took over for us.”

Sherwood gestured to Elliot,

“Mr. Elliot Tombs there is protecting me while the Elliot Tombs of your time is protecting Michael. You see, the train exists outside of time, and even though when you boarded the train, I was long dead to the world, in reality I am very much alive, still out there somewhere. The train dropped my wife and me off here to handle a series of unsolved murders.”

“Then why are you here? Fix your own problems and I’ll fix mine,” Nicole admonished.

Sherwood softly responded,

“My dear, the murders are those of the Carpenter family.”

Nicole’s eyes widened as she flinched.

“You meant well, Nicole, but I fear you are lost, falling back on what you were trained to do. This is why Michael is so important. He can balance the players and keep everything organized. The only way to fix this part of the time line is not to kill Tommy.”

“So he just gets away with it?” Nicole asked.

Sherwood smiled with understanding at her frustration.

“Fear not, my dear. I already have that part worked out.”

At that, Sherwood stepped up close to Tommy, peering into his eyes.

“Listen, lad. I can help you survive this, but you must do something for me. If you fail, this lovely young lady will hurt you in ways that would make H.P. Lovecraft shudder.”

With a confused look on his face, Tommy stared at Sherwood.

“Who? I don’t understand,” he said.

“H.P. Lovecraft is a writer who. . .,” Sherwood began. “It’s of no matter.”

He tried again.

“Understand me. Nicole will do things to you before killing you that will make a crime reporter retch.”

When he saw that Tommy still didn’t comprehend his meaning, he dropped his head in exasperation.

“Listen, son, do what I tell you and not only will she let you live, but also to the other families, you’ll look like a hero instead of a dummy.”

The change in Tommy’s eyes told Sherwood he had gotten through.

“What do I do?” Tommy asked.

Sherwood pointed to Ronald Brewer waiting at the bottom of the cabin steps.

“It is really very simple. Let us go see Detective Brewer over there and he’ll tell you.”

Tommy thought for a moment then agreed.

“Please excuse us, Nicole,” Sherwood said and walked with Tommy over to Brewer.

“Remember our deal, Detective,” Sherwood said handing over his car keys when they reached the steps.

Brewer nodded and left with Tommy.

“Good man,” Sherwood said as he joined Nicole and Elliot. “He just got a little turned around.”

“Where are they going?” Nicole asked.

“Oh don’t worry, Nicole,” Sherwood answered.

“I mean what’s going to happen?” Nicole pressed.

Suddenly Sherwood heard the train. With no answer to her question, he said,

“Oh there’s the whistle. Time to go, my dear. My wife left a lovely car for you just over there beyond those trees. Elliot and I have to go. You know how impatient that Roscoe is,” he said smiling.

Sherwood and Elliot reached the cabin just a young woman appeared on the porch. When they opened the cabin’s front door, Nicole caught a faint glimpse of the train station before the three stepped inside and disappeared behind the closed door.

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