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!
“Where is Tyler?”
“My son lost two teeth!”
“My daughter is traumatized and possibly pregnant!”
“We’ll sue you so hard this train won’t make it to Wisconsin!”
“My son is too scared to-”
Having cornered Cola against the door to Andy Hofnar’s temporary cell, the mob of angry parents only stop their yelling when they hear footsteps behind them. They turn around to see one of the men in the back slump against the wall, his hands clutching his groin and tears streaming down his cheeks. Wearing her favorite boots, Cassidy glares at the influential people and takes a limping step towards them. Nobody backs down even though their eyes are filled with fear, the sight of their friend sliding to the floor making the other men wince in sympathetic discomfort. The instant a woman opens her mouth to shout, the mercenary draws one of her handguns and puts the barrel in the rich person’s mouth. She keeps her thumb on the safety and walks to force her flailing captive back into the mob.
“I’m going to spay and neuter every one of you assholes if you don’t shut the fuck up and get the fuck out of here,” Cassidy growls, galvanizing the crowd into action. Even the injured man scrambles along the floor to get away from the terrifying mercenary before she violently snaps. “Tell Tyler that I’m sorry for that, but I’m not in the mood for their whining. Not in a good mood since I’m walking around with an icepack in my panties, which is a sensation that I could live without. The whole pelvic region hurts, which ruins my evening plans. After I’m done getting information from the jackass, I’m taking a long bath and longer nap. Anybody who interrupts better be a doctor or talented as hell.”
“I’ll relay the information to Mr. McHale,” Cola nervously replies. He scratches at the red side of his hair before clearing his throat. “I know an herbal remedy for muscle pain. It’s a salve that you smear on the area. We used it for arms and legs in Nebraska, but I have all of the supplies here if you’re interested. It doesn’t smell very nice and you might have some temporary discoloration. Maybe some numbness for a week. To be honest, I’m not sure what it would do to that specific part of the female anatomy since-”
“And this is where I thank you for caring, we end the conversation, and we go our separate ways. Talk to you later, Cola,” the mercenary blurts out, her cheeks slightly flushed. Watching the conductor walk away, she tries not to laugh since any sudden movement causes her lower body to ache. “Not even at the first stop and I’m regretting this entire debacle. How are you doing with the prisoner, Lloyd? Soften him up enough that we can get out of here before this ice melts? What the fuck are you doing, dumbass!?”
Lloyd and Andy stop in the middle of what they are doing, the prankster gulping down the bite of sandwich in his mouth. With a charming smile, he gestures to a small platter of food and a pitcher of beer on the table. Seeing that Cassidy is unamused and on the verge of drawing a weapon, Andy hops to his feet and pulls out a chair in an attempt to be gentlemanly. It takes him a moment of awkward tension to realize that her eyes have not strayed from his wrists, which are no longer in cuffs. Slinking back to his chair, the prankster takes his sandwich and puts himself back in the manacles, which are attached to the table. Unable to reach his mouth, he is forced to behind down for another bite while listening to Cassidy lock the door.
“I only wanted his autograph,” Lloyd contends while he pulls out a bendy straw. Putting it in Andy’s glass, he fixes it into a sloppy spiral and moves it closer to the edge. “You know I’ve admired most of his work and how often do we run into people as infamous as us. Most of them are killers and thieves, so we fight instead of socialize. This guy is harmless . . . except for the pranks that get people hurt. I was going to lock him up again when he was done signing this white t-shirt I stole from someone that I now realize is a lot smaller than me. Think you’d want it for a birthday present? Can you act surprised?”
“Not anymore when it comes to you. I go right to frustration these days,” Cassidy replies, taking her seat. Unable to get comfortable, she stands again and glares when the two men stare at the wet patch on her pants. “I hurt my groin because of this asshole’s stunt, so there’s an icepack against my crotch. It’s melting. First one to crack a joke about it will get a punch to the balls every hour for the next two days. Now, why the fuck are you here?”
“To face the apocalypse with a smile, of course,” Andy answers before slipping his hands out of his cuffs. He puts them back when Cassidy draws her gun and puts it to his temple. “I can see you’re not in the mood for humor, so I’ll stop playing. As you know, I enjoy targeting the more pompous denizens of our splintered land. We live in chaos and fight every day to survive, yet there are those who act superior. Why? Because they happened to find the right supplies or killed the right people? Just look at Mr. McHale. He was a bartender from Portland, but was at a funeral in Virginia when everything fell apart. As you know, everyone in Portland disappeared without a trace, which included his family. The man was lucky to avoid that fate and even luckier to pull off the trades that created the Holly Sage Express. This whole event was just asking to be taken down a peg.”
Cassidy grabs a sandwich and takes a bite before walking around the table. “So, you’re an amusing anarchist. This still doesn’t explain why you’re here, Andy. You just said your targets are pompous, which doesn’t describe Tyler. Is there another reason you broke your usual modus operandi to come here? I can believe it was to go after the Unsupervised and their parents, but that doesn’t explain why you would target Tyler too.”
“I want to add something here,” Lloyd interrupts, claiming his own food. He leans back in his chair and puts his feet up, the bloody bandages making the others look away. “We’ve already had a few strange incidents here. Not counting the stolen key, I had to kill an assassin and Cassidy foiled a beating. It’s clear that there are people who want this trip to fail, which means it’s going to be a constant battle on the way to Portland. Are you part of something bigger that you wish to tell us about? Please keep in mind that a person’s autograph goes up in value after they die. I am a fan, but I have my own reputation to uphold.”
Reaching into his jacket pocket, Andy takes out a piece of paper and carefully unfold it on the table. He slides it to Lloyd while Cassidy gets closer, their diverted attention allowing him to finish his sandwich in peace. By the time the pair finish reading the official bounty, he has put himself back in the cuffs and goes about flashing the biggest smile he can muster. The expression fades when he fears that he is going to be struck, the tension in the room thickening as the others think about their situation. He finally relaxes when Lloyd hands the flier back and returns to eating, the serial killer lazily refilling everyone’s water glass with no care about spilling.
“As you can see, I’d be a fool not to take advantage of that action,” Andy explains with a yawn. Scratching his thinning hair, he leaves trails of glitter on his exposed scalp. “Tyler’s train has somebody really pissed off. They want this trip stopped and the man humiliated or eliminated depending on what people like me decide. My plan was to do it while taking on the Unsupervised, which would give me a two for one victory. Don’t sit there like you wouldn’t have taken that bounty. All of us could use the five years’ worth of food, water, and fuel. Figured hitting before the first stop would put me ahead, but so much for that. So, what does all of this mean for me?”
“Tyler is going to hand you off to this guy named Grannus in Wisconsin Dells and then you get locked up. I hear it’s a waterpark, so you might enjoy it,” Cassidy says as she feels her sore legs start to stiffen. Taking a seat on her chair, she ignores that discomfort from the ice pack and focuses on the prisoner. “Sharing this information might help get out of trouble with Tyler, but I think those parents want you dead. Personally, I’m thankful for your honesty because I had a bad feeling something like this was going on. It doesn’t explain the assassin who went after Katie, but that goon I killed could have been after the reward. Maybe someone hired him to do the job and then they’d take the credit. We’re bound to have a lot of enemies waiting for us at every stop, so anything can happen between here and Portland. Don’t even want to imagine how many guests and employees are really here for the bounty. Hey, is anybody else having trouble moving?”
“I thought I was just getting tired,” Lloyd replies while struggling to move his limbs. He tumbles to the floor and finds that he is paralyzed. “One of the parents must have drugged the sandwiches. They’re going to kill Andy once they think enough time has passed. We need to think of a plan to save him.”
The prankster chuckles while walking around the table and clicking his heels. “Actually, I laced all of the other sandwiches with a drug. You never questioned why I had to check what was in all of them before choosing one? Maybe you’ve survived so many traps that you no longer think you have to be cautious. Either way, I won this round and will happily make my escape. You two should be fine in ten minutes. Less if you get really angry, but it will be too late to stop me. Now, where did you put that key, young lady? It doesn’t seem to be in your pockets and you aren’t wearing a bra to hold it. Sorry, I’m a gentleman, but such a hiding place is rather . . . obvious.”
“It’s the ice pack.”
“Well, I know that cold causes-”
“No, I mean I slipped the key into the ice pack when I first sat down. That’s why there was such a big wet spot.”
“Do you really think I won’t put my hand in your pants to get it?”
“How long will the drug last if you piss me off by crossing that kind of line with me?”
Andy stops to think about the effect of such an adrenaline rush and notices that one of her fingers is already twitching. “Not long enough for me to get safely off the train. Well, I guess this round really goes to you, Cassidy. Bravo. I look forward to my stop, inevitable escape, and hearing about the rest of your journey. I’m sure I’m only the beginning.”
“More like chapter four,” Lloyd says from the floor. He can sense the others staring at him quizzically and sighs. “Never mind.”