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!
Using a cane to help him walk, Bart walks into the car where the remaining gang members are waiting to be attacked. He trips and falls an instant before the men and women open fire, their bullets missing him by inches. The shooting stops when they see that it is only an old man who appears to be lost and confused. Bart gets back to his feet and continues walking across the car, his chrome trench coat dragging behind him. He pauses when he comes to the only standing table and sits in a chair that threatens to collapse under his weight. Picking up the menu, he squints and puts his face against the paper. Shaking his head clear, the inventor searches his pockets until he finds his glasses and puts them on upside down. His attention is stolen by a spoon, which he picks up and shows to the nearest gang member.
“There’s a spot on this, so please get me a new one,” Bart politely requests. He continues staring at the woman, who looks to her friends for help. “Never mind, I’ll just take this one over here. Only me and my wife for lunch, so we don’t have to worry. Let’s see what we have here. I would like the boiled chicken and a lentil soup. Have to stay away from red meat because of the old ticker. What would you like, dear? Huh, I guess she went to the bathroom when I wasn’t looking. Is the fruit fresh or from a can?”
“Do we look like waiters?” a tall man asks from the back of the group. Aiming his gun at the inventor, he is surprised that the only response is a slight nod. “We’re the ones who took over this train. How did you get out of the prisoner cars in the back? Do you realize what kind of danger you’re in?”
“Well, I do get dizzy if my blood sugar drops, so I should get the fruit no matter what,” the old man replies with a friendly smile. Rolling up his sleeve, he checks a hippo-shaped watch and clicks his tongue. “It looks like my nap went longer than I expected. Was the takeover what all that noise was about? I thought it was a party. You know how those youngsters like their loud music with the gunshots and the cursing and the grunting. Nothing like they had in our days, right, dear? Where did she go?”
The gang member slams his hand on the table and shoves the silverware onto the floor. “I don’t want to tell you twice. Get out of here, old man. There’s never going to be another lunch on this train. Not for you anyway. Go back to the rear cars. Otherwise, I’m going to have to shoot you right now.”
“Calm down, Trunt,” a young woman whispers before easing her enraged friend away from the table. Leaning over Bart, she does her best to smile even though her lips are pierced with chains to keep them in a permanent frown. “Let me try to explain this to you. We have claimed the train and are driving it into Nebraska. Once over the border, we’re going to kill everyone here and refurbish this as our own moving fortress. So, you’re kind of in our way, mister. How about you return to your wife since there won’t be any lunch served here? Best to enjoy your last few hours together, right?”
“Can I get two sandwiches to go?”
“I don’t think you understand.”
“My wife likes Reubens, but I’m prefer turkey on pumpernickel.”
“Nobody here is going to make you a sandwich.”
“I heard my wife knock. Can you get the door since she’s in a wheelchair?”
The young woman waves for one of the others to let the woman in and she turns back in time to see Bart envelope himself in his jacket. It takes her a second to realize that the lining material is really an armored fire blanket. She is unable to shout for her companion not to touch the door, but still tries to rush across the room. Standing between the cars is Cassidy with a dining cart that has multiple barbeque lighters and gas canisters duct taped to it. One twist of a dial on the side opens all of the faucets and unleashes a roaring blast of fire that kills the woman and her ally instantly. The mercenary kicks the unstable weapon into the room and slams the door closed as the other gang members raise their guns. One of the canisters bursts and sets off the rest of them in a small explosion that is more flames than force. The billowing fire washes across the room and forces several of the people to jump out the window, which adds a flood of oxygen to the mix. With incredible speed, the inferno kills all of the gang members and destroys the furniture. A loud beeping goes off as the sprinklers turn on, the water putting out the flames and allowing everyone to enter the smoky room.
“Glad I brought my favorite blanket,” Bart declares through his oxygen mask. Standing up, he tosses the jacket aside and accepts help from Luca. “Thanks. I’m far too old for that kind of excitement, so I think I’m going to take a seat in the next chair that I find. Good thing that contraption didn’t explode and kill me. Honestly, the odds were more in favor of that happening than my plan working. God must be looking out for me today.”
“That or somebody wants you to back for at least one of the sequels,” Lloyd says, handing the old man the bolt gun. The smell of burning flesh makes him nauseous, so he rushes to open the door. “Let’s get moving, people. We’re far too close to Nebraska for my liking and those gang vehicles are still following us. Somebody should probably do something about that. Any volunteers?”
“I’ll go with Dale,” Luca offers before handing Bart over to Katie. Realizing her mistake, she takes him back and walks him over to Lloyd. “There are some rocket launchers and howitzers in one of the rear cars. Mr. McHale put it there in case security had to deal with pursuers. Shouldn’t be too hard to hold them off as long as we don’t go over the border. I doubt we have enough weaponry to take on all of the gangs. Where did the dyke go?”
“Guessing she’s not in earshot since you didn’t get killed for that,” the serial killer mentions as he looks around. Poking his head in the other car, he sighs at the unsurprising disappearance of his partner. “That kid needs to learn some patience . . . I really have been a bad influence on her. Let’s do what we can since I’m betting we’re now one step behind Cassidy. I swear, I haven’t gotten to slaughter enough people on this trip. My time better be coming soon or I’m going to mope like I’ve never moped before. We’re talking the watery eyes and quivering lip at the same time.”
Refusing to be drawn into the lunatic’s insane rambling, Luca grabs Dale by the arm and heads back the way they came. Lloyd takes the lead for the group going in the other direction, which forces Bart to walk on his own. The inventor falls behind very quickly, but he waves his two companions ahead since he has no interest in getting involved in firefight. With only one car between them and the cabin, they take their time and prepare their weapons. Coming to a door that is chained shut from the inside, they get out of the way in case Cola tries to shoot them through the painted window. Waiting a few minutes, the trio hearing nothing on the other side even if they use cups against the thick wall.
“Do we knock?” Lloyd asks as he reaches for the door. The train lurches forward and he bangs his head against the entrance. “That was rude, but oddly comical. All I’m missing are the birds flying around my head. If only we had a way to talk to Cola and convince him to let us inside to murder him. Something like this intercom that one of us really should have noticed before.”
“You’re out of friends, Cola!” Katie shouts over the speaker. She hears a crackle from the other side, which is followed by muffled voices. “I’d like to make a deal with you, but too many people are angry. Just let Tyler go and jump out the window. He can let us in and you’ll have a head start if anybody decides to hunt you down. Maybe one of our pursuers will survive what’s about to happen to them and give you a ride home.”
“Don’t talk like you have the advantage,” Cola replies, the faint voice of Tyler talking behind him. The conductor sounds nervous and he loudly slurps down a soda that adds to his jitteriness. “Doesn’t matter if you killed the others. Once I get the train into Nebraska, you’ll be overrun and slaughtered. Those who are worth ransoming will be kept alive, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. I’ve already told our leaders that the Duchess and her two bodyguards are better off dead. Besides, who would drive the train if you killed me?”
“That would be me,” Bart casually states before returning to his seat in the corner.
A sputtering cough can be heard and the intercom screeches from getting sprayed by the soda. “Like an old man can handle modern machinery. He’s probably some kook Lloyd and Cassidy met in Minot. I was told to make sure that if I died, the train could never be used by anyone.”
“I’m guessing a password or you made the schematics too confusing for anybody who has limited knowledge of mechanics,” the inventor says with a chuckle. Opening the speaker, he rewires it to remain on from both sides and has the buttons spark if they are pressed. “They don’t call me Bart the Best because it rhymes. I’ve been working on machines since I was a kid and I kept learning about the newest technology. Even got my hands on the plans for the Holly Sage Express a few months ago. If you helped design it then you made a mess of the fuel lines on purpose. They work, but you sacrificed a steadier flow by adding all those twists to confuse others. I noticed that various parts of the electrical system have been made to fail if you don’t replace them at planned intervals. There’s a strange box marked as emergency flares on the central coupling too. Betting that’s an active bomb that you’ve been disarming every two or three days. Correct me if I’m wrong, junior.”
The sound of breaking glass can be heard over the intercom, which is followed by a single gunshot. Katie chuckles as she puts her shotgun away and pats Lloyd on the shoulder, the lanky man letting his machete fall to the floor. They listen to the chains getting removed from the door, which swings open a minute later. Cassidy comes out and wipes the glass from one of her sleeves, some of the shards sticking into her fingers. Her other hand is dragging Cola’s body, which has a single bullet hole going through his right eye. The mercenary walks over to the window and waits for Lloyd to hold it open before tossing the corpse outside. The faint sounds of explosions can be heard and everyone looks out to see the remaining gang members driving away, nearly all of the vehicles smoking and on fire.
“This is going to take some time to fix,” Tyler says as he steps out of the cabin. Rubbing his bruised wrists, the businessman takes a seat and swallows several of his pills. “I think I speak for all of us when I say that I could use a drink. Does anybody hear a rumbling? Not the train, but something else. For the love of God, what else could go wrong?”