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!
Cassidy stops in the dining car doorway when an overeager waiter puts a tray of champagne glasses in her face. Taking the only pink one left, she starts to reach into her pocket and hand the young man a tip, but he quickly moves on to the next guest. Sniffing at the drink, the mercenary scans the crowd in search of her friends and makes a note of anyone who seems suspicious. She catches a few people doing the same to her, but she does not stand out thanks to a dark blue pantsuit she borrowed from the friendly woman staying in the room next to hers. Taking a sip of champagne, Cassidy shivers from the tingling in her mouth and grabs a small plate of food from a passing waitress. Not wanting to drink any more alcohol on an empty stomach, she devours the unfamiliar appetizer and covers her mouth when she reflexively tries to spit up the extra salty caviar. Pretending it was nothing more than a mild burp, the mercenary forcefully swallows the snack and makes her way further into the crowd in the hopes of blending in.
Spotting Tyler behind the bar, Cassidy is about to approach him when she sees him swallow a few of his pills. He serves drinks to his guests while Dale stands to the side with a mug of whiskey in his hand, the anxious businessman never cracking more than a faint smile. She follows his repeated glances to the punchbowl table where a group of nine teenagers have taken over the area. Their laughter and loud voices carry over the other conversations, most of the words insults about the guests and how they hate being on the train. Not wanting to get involved in another incident so soon after her last fight, Cassidy continues on her way and pretends that she does not see Tyler looking in her direction. Ducking under a man’s arm and sliding around a woman’s ample rump, she eventually bumps into Katie and Lloyd near a window, which is cracked open to help cool the packed room.
“Yes, I’m a lesbian in a pantsuit, jackass,” Cassidy bluntly states, cutting off the serial killer’s looming tease. Recognizing the food on a passing tray, she grabs a plate of meatballs and devours one immediately. “There’s no way to hide weapons in a dress with no back and a skirt that makes it look like I lost a fight with a horny badger. I mean, are those things made to be sexy or simply give easy access? Not that I won’t wear it later if I find someone worth showing it off to. Wait, did you try to get me to wear lingerie to a fancy party? Why would either of you do that to me?”
“It’s called fan service, kid, and I’ve already done my part,” Lloyd replies as he tries to maintain what he believes is a debonair pose. Wearing a black tuxedo, he looks nothing like his usual self and even has an air of sanity about him. “This reminds me of a fancy party I snuck into when I was a whimsical killer long ago. I was disguised as a waiter and didn’t hurt anybody, but it was sickening to see all the decadence. There was a chocolate fountain that people were bathing in and you don’t want to know what they did with a roasted pig. Clothes were not as mundane and colorful as this with a lot of leather and-”
“For the last time, you’re talking about a fetish orgy,” Katie snaps when people nearby start to eye them in disgust. Taking a meatball from Cassidy, she pops the food into her man’s mouth and keeps his lips pinched shut. “There are times I consider hiring an escort to do these things with me. Just can’t take you out in public whenever I want. Although, I will agree that this isn’t nearly as much fun as I’d hoped. Probably early trip jitters and Tyler isn’t straying from the safety of the bar. By the way, we heard about you saving Cola. That definitely won you some points with our host. He is thinking of having you act as his emergency bodyguard. He’ll pay you in car parts, fuel, and whatever else your jeep needs.”
“Now I feel bad for pretending not to notice him,” the mercenary admits before turning to wave at Tyler. He flips a bottle into the air to wave back, the man catching it on the way down and neatly filling three shot glasses. “Somebody has experience bartending. Since Dale is there, I think I’ll find someone to have fun with. Not that I don’t enjoy spending time with you two, but I’m sure you want some privacy. Maybe I’ll make some friends at the punchbowl. Although, I don’t think any of those guests are legal. Rich kids do tend to have bored mothers or maybe some older sisters.”
Her hand moving like a serpent, Katie catches the other woman by the wrist and pulls her against the window. “Sorry for being rough, but I’m going to give you the same warning I gave Lloyd before we walked in. Be careful on this train. You two aren’t roaming bars and dealing with gangs here. Most of the passengers are influential and won’t take kindly to your usual antics. This means no starting fights, tone down your cursing, and don’t go hunting for a romp like a lioness in heat. For example, those teenagers are to be avoided at all costs. They call themselves the Unsupervised and each one is the spawn of an important warlord or trader. Those insipid brats get away with everything even if it’s obvious that they’re to blame. Yes, I mean everything from destruction to killing to rape. I had one of them get hurt in my territory and it took months to smooth things over with his parents. Cost me an entire supply of rocket launchers that I know went to Laurencia. If anything happens to them on this train then Tyler is going to have trouble, so we stay away.”
“You’re really going to dangle a carrot like that in front of me and say I shouldn’t take a nibble?” Lloyd asks while licking his lips. He is about to look at the teenagers when Katie grabs him by the tie and pulls him in for a quick kiss. “Fine, but only because you’re a devious negotiator and I know that’s a taste of what’s to come. Though, I’d be happier if you used some tongue. Any idea how long we have to stay here? I’m already bored and the only interesting thing is that chubby guy climbing onto the table near the piano.”
“What?” his companions ask while turning around.
The instant Katie spots the problem, she groans and chugs the rest of her drink before grabbing another. As more people notice the portly man, they have similar reactions and a few reach for their guns. Pulling a remote from his pocket, the smiling figure hits a few buttons to zap the threatening guests and burn holes in their weapons. Flipping his leather jacket to reveal the tie-dye lining, he spins around to show that he has more controllers and a collection of empty vials on his back. A voice rings out to compliment the stranger on his shirt, which depicts an old band logo that is starting to fade from being washed too often. Scratching the bald spot in the middle of his brown hair, he waits for Tyler to push through the crowd. When the businessman gets within reach, the man kicks off the piano and sends the instrument to meet his scowling host. Cracking his knuckles, he throws up his arms and sprays sticky glitter over the nearby passengers.
“Face the apocalypse with a smile!” the man declares with a charming smirk. Pulling a rainbow-colored paintball gun from his jacket, he fires a few pellets that explode with seltzer water. “My name is Andy Hofnar and I’m here to give the Holly Sage Express a beautiful send off. Some of you may know me from my previous pranks. Like the man over there who believed his wife was the spy of a rival warlord and acted accordingly. Then, we have the terrified couple in the back who must remember the circular scavenger hunt I sent them on. All because they thought they would find a soup horde in the Rockies . . . during bear mating season. Honestly, this place is like a collection of my greatest hits. Did you ever finish getting the paint off your new portrait, Duchess of LaSalle? Thought you could use a little enhancement since it was going up in a children’s hospital.”
“What do you want?” Tyler asks, snapping his fingers. Dale steps forward with his weapon drawn, but is immediately blinded by glitter pellets to his eyes. “Please just go away because I’ve had enough to deal with today. If you want something specific then ask and I’ll get it for you. All I desire is that this train makes it to Portland.”
“So much for being tough in front of your friends,” Andy teases, a flicker of sympathy on his face. Bouncing on his toes, he looks out over the crowd to make sure nobody is preparing to shoot him. “What I want is to have fun and take some of the piss out of these stiffs. Your train is a symbol of elitism that needs to be knocked down a few notches. Don’t get me wrong, Mr. McHale. I appreciate what you’re doing, but everyone onboard is influential and wealthy. Did you even consider letting the less fortunate on? There was an orphanage two blocks from the station and the kids were on the roof watching the departure. They would have been so thankful for the experience.”
“I owed too many people for the help.”
“Such a sad excuse.”
“The next trip can be for the orphans.”
“Too little, too late.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I think you mean, what have I already done?”
The shattering of glass and a chorus of cheers draws everyone’s attention to the punchbowl table. As if they are in their own world, the Unsupervised gulp down their drinks and greedily devour the food before tearing down the curtains. Two of the girls pretend the fabric is a dress and pretend to be princesses that are repeatedly insulting the clothes of those around them. The largest of the boys flips the table and tears off his shirt, revealing a fiery tattoo that is infected around the edges. A couple makes out on the floor until they are accidentally stepped on by the others, the young man laughing at the footprint on his girlfriend’s shirt. People move away from the teenagers as they begin screaming obscenities at their parents, who merely avert their eyes in shame. Rushing the bar, the Unsupervised grab several of the bottles and stampede through the confused crowd. Before anyone can stop them, they escape toward the front of the train and lock the door behind them.
“You shouldn’t have kids unless you want to be a parent!” Andy declares with a cackling laugh. Bowing low, he scoops up a fallen glass of champagne and drinks the little bit that has remained inside. “A little too dry, but not bad. Don’t worry because I didn’t spike the punch. It was the tray of pastries that they kept to themselves because of course those spoiled brats wouldn’t share those. You might want to do something about those kids, Mr. McHale. I can only imagine what their parents will do if they get hurt or killed on your train. This is why you really need to think about who you associate with. Have the wrong friends and you’ll find yourself in horrible situa-”
Andy lets out a high-pitched yelp as Cassidy and Lloyd rush out of the crowd, each of them grabbing him by a leg. Due to their height difference, the mercenary is forced to jump as they slam the prankster into the piano. Putting their hands on his chest for extra force, the partners manage to drive the confused man through the instrument and down to the floor. Leaving him groaning in the wreckage, they shrug in unison and head for the door, which is easily opened by a solid kick from Cassidy. The crowd is about to start talking when Lloyd rushes back inside to play a quick cartoon song on the broken piano and run out once more.