As usual, here is your warning that this story has cursing, sex (not graphic), innuendo, and violence. It’s my Rated-R action adventure called Derailing Bedlam. This is the fourth outing (third official) for Cassidy and Lloyd, so feel free to click on one of the two covers to see how it started. Each one is 99 cents!
“Are we easy?” Lloyd asks as they drive down the highway. Receiving a sideways glance from his companion, the lanky man leans back and puts his feet on a towel that is draped over the dashboard. “I mean, we didn’t really put up much of a fight for this. You were given a new gun and I’ve been promised a sweaty good time. The thought of getting a train ride is intriguing, but we both know bullets are going to start hitting brainpans at some point. Kind of how our lives work when strangers we can’t see are staring at us. Really hope none of them are watching me when I pee. What was my point?”
“You feel like we agreed to this without a second thought and you’re right,” Cassidy replies before stopping the jeep. A herd of moose casually walk across the road, the towering bull snorting at the vehicle. “Keep this between us, but I was going to play hard to get until Katie got . . . weird. I had a strange feeling in my gut and it wasn’t because I ate half of the pizza. It was a sense that she wasn’t really giving us a choice. She’s planning something, which means she wants our help without making it clear that we’re on a job. Besides, I could have said no and then you’d be on the outs with her. Last thing I want is to hear you whining for weeks about being in the doghouse and asking me how to win her back.”
“I would never do that again. You always suggest giving her chocolate and putting it in like you’re some foreign dating game,” the grinning serial killer retorts. Taking out a film camera, he takes a few shots of a baby moose that has wandered over to his side of the jeep. “Now that you mention it, Katie did seem a little too submissive around Tyler. I don’t know if she’s after something or he has dirt on her. If that bastard is using her then I’ll tie his head to the train whistle and pull on the chain until I’ve mastered that video game song I keep humming. Be cool if it rains once I get it right. That look on your face means we have to play nice until we know what’s going on.”
Cassidy scratches her head as they slowly roll down the road, her eyes watching for any moose that were lagging behind the herd. “We’re in the dark here, so all we can do is trust that Katie is on our side. She’s been a good source of work, supplies, and a place to rest when we need to heal or recover our sanity. You know what I mean. One could say we owe her, but I’d like to think we’re friends more than partners.”
“I’m also having sex with her.”
“Shut the fuck up, Lloyd.”
Coming to the edge of Crystal Falls, the pair quickly notice that there are no other vehicles in sight. A few people are walking among the buildings, but they do not glance at the slow-moving outsiders. Heading further into town, Cassidy taps Lloyd on the arm and subtly nods at the side of the road. He shrugs until they pass an alley, which gives him a glimpse of an artificial cave sitting behind what is either a bar or a small grocery store. When they reach an intersection, the pair see that there is a mushroom farm behind every building. Unsure of where to go, Cassidy turns the jeep to the south and does her best to drive in a way that they can examine the terrain and not draw attention to themselves. As they continue, they find that some of the farms are caverns while others are a collection of transplanted tree stumps. The open air ones are surrounded by electrified fences that hum until a starving animal touches them and is killed by the crackling explosion. A strange aroma wafts through the windows and makes them feel slightly queasy until Lloyd sprays an air freshener.
Pulling into an empty lot, Cassidy gets out of the jeep and stretches her stiff limbs. She keeps her eyes on a group of soldiers, the men and women wearing black helmets and white jumpsuits. The mercenary is mildly disappointed in the rifles and handguns that they are carrying since none of the weapons are in good condition. Pretending to tie her boot lace, she watches as a local farmer hands over a large sack of mushrooms that are immediately counted by a kid in a wheelchair. The bottom half of his face is covered by a demonic mask, which is connected to tubes that run to an armor-plated oxygen tank. Only wearing shorts, the blonde-haired youth is able to show off the tattoos that depict his skeleton. Several of the bones are broken, the faint cracks added after the initial art to denote previous injuries. Getting the sense that she has picked a bad place to park, Cassidy gets back in the jeep and waves for Lloyd to do the same. Before her companion can close the door, she is on the road and heading towards the southern border of Crystal Falls.
“Okay, we have a big problem,” the mercenary admits as she stops at a red light. Seeing a police car nearby, she fights the urge to blow through the intersection even though there is no traffic. “I have no idea where they would keep the train key. We could grab a soldier and interrogate them, but I doubt the street level grunts know anything. Our best bet is to follow someone who looks important like that wheelchair kid. Something about a prepubescent looking badass makes my fucking skin crawl. Remember what happened in Texarkana? I’m praying we don’t have another Bowie incident. That’s just heaping onto our problems. We really should have stayed in Owosso a bit longer to get more info, but I rushed when they mentioned the tight timetable. Do you think the Bulbosas are already heading to Chicago with the key?”
“That thought crossed my mind,” Lloyd answers while they stop to wait for another moose herd to cross the street. He is about to reach over for the horn when Cassidy slaps his hand away and points at the nervous bull. “Well, if we’re trying to use stealth then getting all of these moose to stampede through town could be good cover. I remember watching an old Western movie where the heroes drove cattle into the bad guys’ hideout. Although, they didn’t have electrified fences to worry about and we have no idea which building is the family’s home. The key has to be on one of the top members.”
“Spinning our fucking wheels and getting nowhere,” Cassidy mutters before smacking the steering wheel. Putting the jeep in park, she leans back and stares at the bulletproof dome in the ceiling. “It’s going to start getting dark in an hour, so let’s find a place to sleep. I can’t think straight on so little sleep and the mushroom smell is getting to me. We can ask whoever puts us up about the Bulbosas and uncover a time of day when they’re in the open. Bound to catch a lucky break at some point.”
The serial killer digs through a bag for his least favorite type of granola bar, which he holds out the window for a curious moose. “That only happens when our backs are against the wall. I can only assume that this is where we get into our first batch of trouble. Really hope it’s a chase because getting captured is so humiliating. Just doesn’t feel right that we’ve already been on this adventure for so long and haven’t broken any traffic laws. Not even a tricycle-riding assassin mime, which I still swear is the reason you needed to get a new tire outside of Cleveland. Wish that silent screaming bastard got stuck in the undercarriage to prove my story. Uh, is this herd stopping in the street?”
Leaning forward, Cassidy notices that there are mushrooms scattered about the road to keep the animals in place. She catches a quick view of somebody running through the herd, a trail of morels being left in the person’s wake. Sensing that a trap is about to close, the mercenary honks the horn and grabs her pistol to fire a shot into the air. None of the moose react even when Cassidy flashes the high beams and revs the engine, their owners having trained them to ignore such noises. Unable to move forward, she starts to speed in reverse when she notices a spike strip has been placed behind them. Praying that her baby really has puncture resistant tires, she drives over the obstacle and spins around to retreat further into the town. An explosion hits the pavement in front of them, the surprise attack leaving a hole that the front end of the jeep falls into. Before either passenger can reach their weapons and escape, soldiers pour out of the buildings and surround the area with their rifles aimed at the incapacitated vehicle. Cassidy and Lloyd consider fighting with the built-in machineguns until they notice blinking lights on their enemies’ chests.
“All of them are set to explode if they’re killed,” the mercenary points out. Rolling down the window, she slowly puts out her hands and allows herself to be cuffed. “We’re either dealing with a sadistic genius or a deranged maniac. Personally, I’m hoping for the second option because those are easier to bait into screwing up.”
“I don’t make mistakes that often.”
“I wasn’t talking about you.”
“So, I’m a sadistic genius?”
“No, you’re a deranged, maniacal genius with sadistic tendencies.”
“Awww, I love it when you compliment me while we’re being captured.”