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!
Lloyd checks the window one more time to make sure it is locked before sneaking across the room to examine the door. The chain looks a little loose, so he searches the suite for a screwdriver until he has to settle for a nail file. Using the rounded end, the serial killer works to tighten the latch until the thin metal tool snaps in half. Knowing that he will get in trouble for the damage, Lloyd gets some glue and ends up putting the parts together wrong. He hopes that Katie will be happy to have a file that is raspy on both sides, but quickly realizes she might not see the humor and attempt to introduce his creation to his shoulder. Against his better judgment, he opens the window and tosses the broken piece of metal out into the thick grass. He glances in both directions to see if anybody is hiding on the far side of the tracks, but the dwindling sunlight and strong breeze make it difficult to spot any danger. The voices and crashing carts from the platform on the other side of the train add to the distractions, so he closes and locks the window to feel safe once more.
A loud knocking on the door causes Lloyd to leap over the bed and yank his machete out from under a chair cushion. Spinning around a lamp, he kicks his paintball gun into his hand and aims both weapons at the entrance. A chill runs up his spine when he gets near the bathroom, the darkness drawing his attention away from another bang on the door. Scenes from every horror movie he has ever watched and memories of his own stealthy kills run through his mind to increase his fear tenfold. The sweating murderer thinks he sees a shadowy figure and fires a volley of itching powder paintballs. Using the machete to turn the light on, Lloyd discovers that he has defeated Katie’s bathrobe, which is now crumpled on the floor. After putting the garment back on the hook, he backs out of the bathroom and spins around when he hears a loud crash outside.
“Are you in there, Lloyd?” Cassidy asks from the hallway. The doorknob jiggles when she tests the door, the movements stopping with a final thud. “I know you hate being in Wyoming after the Wendigo clan incident, but you’re safe on the train. Katie said you can join her for a movie . . . It’s about surviving in the wilderness and cannibalism. Luca picked it out after winning the coin toss. I’m sure we’ll leave the station before it gets graphic. Can you open the door?”
“You could be a cannibal who learned to talk like Cassidy,” Lloyd argues while inching towards the entrance. A piece of paper is slid under the door and he carefully picks it up with his toes. “Shut the fuck up, Lloyd, and get out of that room. Not very convincing since anybody could have written that. Why does this note smell funny? Hey, this is the bacon-scented air freshener I bought to mess with attack dogs. You’re making some good points, but I’m still not opening this door even if you threaten me with death.”
“Like I’m going to say something so bland and basic,” the mercenary says with a sigh. She casually knocks around the door, the noise turning into a vaguely familiar beat. “Some of us are worried about you. Ever since the train crossed the border, you’ve been twitchy and slashing at shadows. Tyler is on the verge of charging Katie for the curtains you keep attacking whenever you go by an open window.”
Lloyd sticks his machete into the middle of a potted plant, a hidden sheathe protecting the blade. “I have every right to be nervous. Cannibals seem to be attracted to me. I can’t have an adventure without running into somebody wanting to take a bite out of my tender rump. Let’s also remember that we’re about two miles away from a place called Devils Tower. That’s just asking for trouble.”
“This one of those protagonist things?”
“Okay, I guess you are the real one.”
“What about the idea that there’s safety in numbers?”
“True, but there’s also safety if you stay in a locked room.”
“Unless the killer is already in there.”
Before he can argue against the idea, Lloyd hears a faint creak from the other side of the room. With paintball gun in hand, he inches towards the bed and crouches to take a peek underneath. Out of the corner of his eye, the serial killer senses a flicker of motion and shoots several paintballs at the pillow. The combination of glue and itching powder creates a mess that he hopes to hide by flipping the cushion over. Lloyd is about to return to the door when he hears the noise again and whirls around to open fire. The projectiles hit Katie’s makeup box, a slice of pizza he was saving for dinner, and knocks over a bottle of lotion that splatters onto the carpeting. Getting closer to that side of the room, the serial killer realizes that the sound is coming through a vent that connects to his neighbor’s suite. He abruptly remembers seeing a rocking chair through the open door a few days ago, which he prays is the source of the eerie creaking.
“False alarm!” Lloyd declares, heading for the door. He tosses the paintball gun into the closet, which he briefly considers is a bad idea. “Okay, how about we make a deal? I’ll stay in here until the morning because night is when cannibals are most active. Kind of like raccoons, but the pimply people eaters prefer incest to salty language and insanely large guns. Besides, I could use a little extra sleep.”
“Katie told you not to eat so many hot peppers before bed,” Cassidy points out, her voice slightly fainter. Her footsteps reveal that she was across the hallway and the tips of her boots are barely visible through the crack beneath the door. “Look, I’m going to grab some food. If Katie happens to come back with something for you, please let her inside. She doesn’t have to stay, but I’d like someone to get a look at you. Not that I think you would hurt yourself. It’s more that I expect you to start painting weird symbols on your body and doing something that would be more problematic than cannibals.”
“That doesn’t sound like anything I would do,” he claims without adding that he forgot to get paint. Checking his pizza, he sniffs at the ruined slice and frowns before tossing it into the trashcan. “You have a deal, but only because I don’t have anything to eat in here. There’s only so much flavored lip balm you can ingest before your stomach resigns. Hard to get that stuff out of the teeth too. Can I request a salad and some pasta? For some reason, I don’t have an appetite for meat or soup.”
With a chuckle, the mercenary slides a menu under the door and gives a solid knock. “I have to hit the shitter, but I’ll come back in a few minutes. Write down what you want and I’ll see what I can do. No sense in making this worse by getting you a dish that will make you whine on top of hiding like a baby chicken. Some big, scary badass killer you’re turning out to be. One crazy family treats you like a Thanksgiving turkey and you shiver at the mere mention of Wyoming. The two of us are going to talk about this later.”
“Only if we get to discuss your insistence that the seventh movie in that sci-fi series was better than the fourth,” Lloyd says as he grabs a glass of water. He splashes it in his face to get the sleep out of his eyes, the lukewarm liquid having very little effect. “Maybe I am being an idiot here. All I have to do is stay on the train. We’re leaving in the morning too, so this will be over before I know it. Well, not that quickly considering all the dwelling. Anyway, handle your unladylike business and I should be ready to leave by the time you get back. Need to make sure I don’t smell like the inside of a cheap burrito left out in the sun.”
There is no response from the other side, so Lloyd heads for the bathroom with the intention of taking a quick shower. He stops at a stack of body sprays and checks all of the scents to see if any of them strike his fancy. A shiver runs throughout his entire body, which he originally thinks is because of the strange smell combination wafting off the cans. It is only when it happens again that he realizes the window is open. Scratching his head, Lloyd tries to remember if he closed it after throwing out the nail file. A voice in the back of his head is screaming for him to run, but he chalks it up to his paranoia and walks across the room. He still grabs a serrated knife from inside a floor lamp, the weapon comfortably warm to the touch.
“This is going to turn into a bad idea,” Lloyd mutters as he looks out the window. He is abruptly grabbed by two hands from above and another pair from below. “Son of a bitch! I fell for one of the oldest movie killer tricks in the book. Was really hoping to get through at least one state without a problem, but stories don’t work that way. Uh, are you two going to pull me out or are you just copping a feel? Wait, is the person in the grass wearing orange pants?”
Taking advantage of his attackers’ hesitation, Lloyd blindly strikes the person below him with a sloppy punch. He can feel a nose splinter beneath his fist and flips over to escape the grasping hands, the movement tearing his skull-patterned t-shirt. Planting his bare feet on the window sill, he lurches up and slams the knife into a naked man who is painted to blend into shadows. The weapon drives between the attacker’s ribs and sticks him to the side of the train, his fingers clenched tight on the ledge even after he has stopped breathing. Before he can get back inside, Lloyd is snared by a rope that catches him around the chest and arms. With a violent yank, the serial killer flies off the train and disappears into the grass with a muffled thud.