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!
Working by flashlight, Cassidy does her best to repair the jeep’s grill and undercarriage. It takes more time to clean the debris out of the crevices than buff out the scuff marks and dents collected during their latest escape. Checking the tires, she breathes a sigh of relief that they only show use instead of damage. A broken taillight is easily repaired, the common problem having taught her to carry at least two spares. The temptation to raid a nearby cage full of car parts and tools is strong enough to make Cassidy bite her lower lip until she forces herself back under the jeep. She curses at the sight of an oil leak and searches her supplies for anything that she can use as a temporary patch. All she can find is a roll of duct tape and some rags, which she uses after adding gaskets to her shopping list. Wanting to be thorough, the mercenary lifts the hood and is about to check the engine when all of the lights turn on.
“You have to push the switch into the wall while flicking it to on,” Cola explains as he makes his way through the cars. He fixes the straps of his overalls and nervously taps the heels of his boots together, anxiety etched on his face. “Mr. McHale wanted me to find you since the dress picked out for you is still on your room’s door. One of the maids put it inside, but he sent me anyway. They also prepared a warm bath with some scented soap because you have been on the road for so long. I had to pass through here anyway to check some of the rear cars. Do you need anything?”
“A shower, a nap, some barbeque ribs, an oil pan gasket, some car polish, and a valve spring that isn’t on the verge of breaking,” Cassidy replies without turning around. Wiping the grease from her face, she becomes acutely aware of her own odor and guesses that is why the man is staying back. “In my defense, I didn’t see a point in cleaning up until I finished tending to my baby. Can’t always depend on others to get the work done, which is why I’ve put a lot of effort into learning how to do these things myself. Besides, I feel rather guilty. The Bulbosas were very nice to her, except syphoning most of the gas out of the tank. She took a lot of abuse on the way to Chicago, so it wouldn’t be right to leave her in this state while I get free food and drink. Pretty sure a gearhead like you would understand.”
Cola goes into the cage and quickly comes back with the parts that Cassidy needs. “Hope these will do the trick. I’d be acting the same if something damaged the Holly Sage. You don’t find many people who genuinely care about machines these days. Most get into the business for supplies and look at it only as a job. The reality is that cars, trucks, motorcycles, and this train are some of the remaining links to our old world. Without them, we couldn’t travel and this country would have fallen even further into anarchy. By the way, these repairs might take too long since the party is in two hours. If you want, I can have one of my people do it while you get ready. After all, you are a guest.”
“I’m still not entirely convinced about that,” the mercenary admits while she gently closes the hood. Grabbing a canteen, she puts it against her closed mouth to let the water touch her dry lips before taking a long drink. “Thanks, but I think I’ll do what I can in the next thirty minutes and finish it tomorrow. Knowing I have the parts takes some of the edge off. Guessing both parts are a six hour job for someone like me, so I’m just going to bottle the remaining oil and finish the grill work.”
“I thought you said it wouldn’t be right to leave her in this state.”
“That was when I thought I’d have to jury rig her with duct tape and rags.”
“Don’t knock it since that’s the only thing keeping the wheels on the third car together.”
“Please tell me you’re joking.”
“Yes and I feel terrible for trying to be funny.”
Pretending to roll up the sleeves of her sleeveless shirt, Cassidy puts a bottle with a funnel beneath the jeep. She notices that Cola is still hanging around while she opens the oil tank and watches it drain. The black liquid causes her to scowl and wonder if there is another problem with her baby. Running through the possibilities, she is about ready to growl in frustration until she considers that it might be the simplest solution. With a sigh, the mercenary checks the air filter and finds that the dirt-caked part is falling apart. Crushing the fragile piece in her hand, Cassidy storms over to the cage and searches for a replacement. Finding one in the back, she is about to return to her baby when the door is slammed in her face and she is sent crashing into the shelves.
“I’ll get to you in a bit,” a tall figure in black mutters. He lumbers over to where Cola is leaning against a car, the conductor nursing a blow to the head. “Somebody paid me a good amount of money to rough you up. Nothing fatal, but they want to send a message to your employer. This train is a threat that won’t be tolerated. Not unless Mr. McHale makes the right deals and promises.”
“What are you going to do?” Cola asks before he is grabbed by the arm. The stickiness of his skin causes the man to let go and back away, a flicker of tension in his muscles. “Sorry, but I’m not be the neatest drinker when I get started on a two liter. You don’t find them as often as you used to and they taste so good when cold. I’m more than willing to give you what I have if you leave me alone.”
“No amount of diabetic cocktail is going to turn me,” his attacker states, chuckling at his own wit. Drawing a knife, he tosses it from one hand to the other and backs the conductor against the jeep. “You’re lucky because I’m usually hired to kill. Getting to maim is a treat that I’ve done my homework for. Even brought a roll of gauze for you to use once I’m done. Figure broken bones will make it too hard to do your job, which we all depend on to live through this experiment. That’s why I’m planning on some creative slicing and dicing. I do need to prove the job is done, so you will lose a pinky toe.”
Ignoring the pounding on the cage, the hired goon licks his lips and raises the knife to bring it down on Cola’s shoulder. The conductor whimpers and faints, which causes him to fall out of the weapon’s path. With a high-pitched shriek, the blade hits the jeep and scratches down the side. A loud pop and hiss echoes throughout the garage as the goon punctures the tire, his attempt to wrench the knife free making the damage worse. The man curses when he scratches his knuckles on the wheel well, which bends slightly from the solid impact. Giving an angry kick to the vehicle, he cracks the hubcap and sends it clattering to the floor. Still annoyed, the goon bangs his fist a few times on the hood and kicks off the side view mirror to make sure he will not take his rage out on Cola.
“You cock-chomping, brainless, shit bird!” Cassidy roars as she runs at the man. Coming at him from the side, she catches him by surprise and slams a large wrench into his chest. “Be thankful the wire cutters broke before I cut a big enough hole to slip through. Otherwise, I’d have started removing pieces like you just did to my baby. Now my clothes are torn from kicking and squeezing my way out of there. I’d say you owe me, but dead men aren’t known for paying their debts. Stop coughing up bone chips and stand up, so I feel like it’s a fair fight.”
“Like a scrawny bimbo can take someone like me down,” the goon declares while he struggles to his feet. Turning to face the mercenary, he raises his fist to throw a punch, but freezes when he sees her forehead scar. “Oh, fucking hell. Look, I didn’t realize this was your jeep. Just let me finish my business here and I’ll make it up to you. They’re giving me an entire closet full of clothes and a barrel of cooking oil for this job. Telling them that I pissed you off and you hold them partially responsible for the damage can get you new parts. Maybe even some upgrades. Honestly, I wouldn’t have done any of this if I knew it was your jeep.”
“How the fuck am I supposed to kill you if you’re groveling like a broken bitch?” Cassidy asks with a growl. Turning her back on the goon, she is relieved to hear him laugh under his breath. “People always think I can be undone by flattery or begging. As if being female means I’m more emotional than Lloyd and can be convinced to let a person live. The thing that people forget is that I became an adult in this world where being nice and kind will get you killed. I’m much quicker to put someone down than a man who still cries during the funeral scene in his favorite cartoon. It’s so pathetic. So, if you think I’m going to be manipulated by a few tears then you’re a fucking moron.”
Spinning around, Cassidy swings the wrench up and catches the goon in the chin before he can bring his knife down. Gripping the tool in both hands, she proceeds to beat on his chest and stomach while he stumbles backwards. The man flails wildly and shatters the driver’s side window of the jeep, which only makes the mercenary angrier. Cassidy wails on the man even after taking a shallow slash to her upper leg, the stinging wound barely slowing her down. She jumps away from another strike and slams down the wrench on her enemy’s groin, which causes his entire body to convulse. It is only when Cola starts to get up that she stops hitting the goon, whose head has been turned into pulp and bone shards. Seeing horror in the conductor’s eyes, the mercenary tosses the wrench aside and grabs a nearby rag to pat at her face.
“So, you said something about a scented bath?” Cassidy asks with an awkward smile.