The Train: Episode 53

Strong winds pushed lightning bearing storm clouds across the late November sky as the rumble of thunder filled the air, shaking the ground. At the cliff’s edge, Michael Montgomery looked down at the churning water and watched the surf as it crashed against the rocks below.

“How many tragic novels end this way?” he wondered.

“I’d rather you not jump,” a voice said behind him.

“The further I get into this, the more I think I should,” Michael answered.

“There is still much to be done,” the voice said. “I can’t let you do this.”

Just then a sheet of lightning lit up the sky and the thunder sounded as Michael felt the light touch of a raindrop splashing the back of his neck.

Suddenly the wind picked up and the rain came down harder.

He turned his face toward the sky and let the drops trickle down his face and neck.

“And the blood of brave men was shed like the shedding of rain from a black cloud,” the voice said.

Michael lowered his chin and turned to face the voice. An old man stood nearby studying Michael.

“Seems fitting if you ask me,” the old man added.

Michael watched as the old man’s army of loyal followers stood at the bottom of the hill chanting and waving torches.

“I will end this tonight,” Michael said, “either by jumping off this cliff alone or taking you with me.”

The old man smiled and said,

“Help me. We shall go together like brothers into the open arms of death.”

“Never!” Michael swore.

“Why do you resist?” the old man asked, rain soaking his white hair and robe.

“Because I have fight left in me. Because my heart still beats. Because I have at least one breath left in my body,” Michael said.

“You are like a wounded animal that runs from the hunter,” the old man smiled. “Fear has clouded your mind, my son. You are already dead.”

“You won’t win! Others will come for you. I was the first but I won’t be the last,” Michael said.

“You believe the train will bring others to stop me? If that were true, wouldn’t I be dead?” “No, my son,” the old man said, slowly shaking his head. “Your team is gone. The cowboy is gone. You are all that is left.”

Why?” Michael asked.

He knew it was a cliché to ask for a motive, but he needed to know what he had missed.

“Because I have to see it,” the old man explained.

“Oh but you’ll never see it! Not while I’m here,” Michael spat.

“Then I shall go through you if I must,” the old man pointed out, reaching into the folds of his robe for Michael’s gun.

Just as the man raised the weapon, pointing it at Michael’s head, Michael heard the train whistle.

* * *

65 years earlier

“Ripples: The Siren”

Michael knew time was relative on the train. He could rest for a week and still arrive on time wherever the train needed him to be.

“Strange thinking of the train as a sentient being,” he thought.

Someone had mentioned an engineer, a special man of legend. But Michael had never seen him and knew little else about him.

As he rested against the pillows, Michael considered,

“What about spending the rest of my life or the rest of eternity on the train? I didn’t have much of a life, really, especially compared to everything I’ve done since boarding this thing.”

“Hey!” Elliot barked. “Quit yer daydreaming and get up here! We’re pulling into the station.”

“Already?” Michael asked.

“You had enough time to rest. Move!” Elliot snapped.

Michael lazily rolled out of bed. From the moment his eyes opened, he had felt it in his bones. The train would be stopping soon. He had already prepared. His bag was loaded, his guns cleaned, and his mind rested. Once again, it was time to step off the train and fix the past.

He walked up to the main car just as the train pulled into the station. It looked like all the others. Hidden underground, empty except for a few chairs, an abandoned ticket booth, and a lonely door on the opposite end of the station.

“Where are we headed?” Michael asked as he stepped onto the platform behind Nicole, Dr. Ricer and Lucy.

“That way,” Elliot said, pointing to the door at the end of the station.

As they headed away from the train, Michael suddenly stopped. He felt something, a heaviness in the air. Turning back toward Elliot, he saw that the cowboy was watching with a solemn look.

Michael walked up to him and asked,

“What’s wrong?”

“Can’t tell you,” Elliot said with a heavy heart.

Michael had heard this before. The crew of the train was expressly forbidden to get too involved in the actions of its chosen agents. They could only sit back and wait.

Michael shrugged but as he walked away, he heard Elliot say under his breath,

“No man can ever run fast enough to escape the consequences of his actions.”

Stopping again, Michael looked back to ask Elliot what he had said but saw that the cowboy was already on the train.

He made a mental note to ask him later then hurried to catch up.

* * *

New York

December 1943

When Michael and the others stepped through the train station door, they found themselves in a nightclub. Both Michael and Dr. Ricer wore dark suits with crisp white shirts. Nicole looked stunning draped with a red evening gown, and Lucy wore a look of pure innocence in a powder blue dress.

Throughout the room, people relaxed at tables laughing and sipping their cocktails while others danced to the music of the band and the sorrowful voice of the beautiful woman caressing the microphone.

“Why are we here?” Nicole asked, clearly uncomfortable in the gown.

“The woman singing is Cynthia Cooper. This New Year’s Eve, she and her eight-year-old son will be murdered,” Ricer said.

“We have four days to find the killer.”

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Published in: on October 18, 2015 at 7:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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