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!
“It’s so weird seeing you do this,” Lloyd says as he sits at the ice cream bar. He is about to start teasing Cassidy about her hairnet and apron when she slides a ten scoop sundae with the works to him. “Did I say weird? I meant you are the frozen confectionery goddess that this horrible world deserves. Forgive me in advance for talking with my mouth full or cursing from an ice cream headache that is totally worth the suffering.”
“That was actually for the guy next to you,” Cassidy groans while awkwardly smiling at the skinny man on the other side of her partner. Taking a bite of her own sundae, she goes about remaking her creation and prays nobody else approaches so early in the morning. “Heard that we crossed into Idaho thirty minutes ago. Means we’re almost done with this trip. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be happy when it’s just us and my baby. Being on this train has been one disaster after another with only a few bright spots.”
“I beg to differ and for some extra rainbow sprinkles,” the serial killer states with an exaggerate pout. He happily claps his hands when she drops a handful onto his sundae. “Sure, we’ve had carrier beasts, cannibals, tanks, and a long list of other problems. That’s to be expected when you’re on an adventure. Instead of dwelling on the things that make this story worth reading, focus on the benefits we’ve enjoyed on this trip. What about sleeping on a comfortable bed and taking a bath in a tub that we know for a fact was never used to dismember a body? The food has been great and we haven’t had to give up our trading supplies for our meals. You have a new appreciation for eating seafood.”
“The whole mermaid thing.”
“Oh . . . That’s a good one, Lloyd.”
“I hope so because I’ve been saving it for days.”
A high-pitched scream rings out and Cassidy draws a pistol from under the counter in case there is trouble. It takes her a second to realize that the noise has come from a couple sitting on the other side of the room. Staring at her pale-faced husband, the woman is on the verge of tears and wringing her napkin. She reaches out with shaking hands to take a piece of paper out of a teleprinter. Handing it over, she glances out the window and shivers even though it is very warm in the car. Both of them jump when the door opens and Tyler walks in, the businessman standing only a few feet away. He leaps behind Dale when the diners rush towards him, the man and woman babbling at the same time. The bodyguard does his best to act as a wall, but they are too panicked to listen and give their host space. Not wanting to hurt them, the towering figure gently pushes their hands down while backing away to protect his boss. The retreat makes the situation worse as Tyler is driven into the far corner where it is easier for the mana and woman to reach him. It is only when Cassidy purposely breaks a glass that they snap out of their fear and timidly hand over the message. Feeling embarrassed, they take their teleprinter and the soupy remains of their sundaes to their room.
“That was some quick thinking,” Tyler mentions, taking a seat next to Lloyd. He points at a picture of a banana split before reading the message and feeling his appetite slip away. “I was really hoping that we would make it to Portland without any more incidents. We finally managed to recover the lost time and now we have another madman after us. Do you two know anything about Admiral Krutz and the Idahoan Navy?”
“No, but I was never into that kind of music,” Lloyd answers while stealing the cherry from his neighbor. He pops it into his mouth and goes back to his meal before the man turns away from an attractive woman. “I get the feeling that we’re about to be sent out on another mission that will go to hell faster than a televangelist. What’s a navy doing in landlocked Idaho? Maybe I should be asking how since I don’t see many sea battles happening here. Then again, I don’t know about the local river system and the Great Lakes out east have shipwrecks. My point is that I’m confused and need to read more.”
“Thank you and I appreciate you working here,” the businessman says as Cassidy gives him his order. The first taste is enough to help him relax, his eyes briefly closing to let him savor the moment. “The Admiral calls himself a Naval Anarchist, but he’s really a gang leader working out of an old base that was used for submarine tests. The rumor is that he used to be a fisherman until he found the base and figured out how to work the equipment. His territory is Lake Pend Oreille and the connected river, which is popular among Wilders and campers. The Admiral has a reputation for sneaking up on sites with his submarines and raiding like pirates. I heard about him firing missiles at ships and trucks too if he thinks they are a threat.”
Taking off her apron and handing it to the next shift, Cassidy climbs over the counter and drops onto a stool. “I’d ask what this has to do with us, but this type of conversation usually ends with a request to stop, scare, or kill. Who were the people who gave you the message anyway? I never saw them before.”
“Guests who got on at Great Falls for a ride home to Clark Fork,” Tyler states before checking the message again. He hands it to Cassidy, who is careful to take it without making contact. “They were paying their way by using their teleprinter on my behalf. It was altered to intercept telegraph messages, which are common in Idaho. Good thing we met them too because we would have been caught by surprise if I rejected their offer. The Admiral plans on attacking the Holly Sage Express as we cross a bridge that spans the entire lake. He fears that our station in Clark Fork will draw people away from his territory or create a bigger city, which could lead to him being hunted. Most of the towns in this area are small and not heavily guarded, so they don’t have the power to oust him. Blowing up the bridge with us on it would effectively put an end to his fears.”
A strange noise erupts from Lloyd, whose teeth and fists are clenched tight. He grinds his knuckles against his temples and falls off the stool, the man’s eyes bugging out of his head. A spasm runs along his body, which causes him to rock back and forth. Rolling onto his hands and knees, the serial killer curls into the fetal position for a few seconds. Without warning, a loud burp bursts from his mouth and his muscles relax. Sprawled on the floor, Lloyd stares at the ceiling for a minute before calmly sitting up and returning to his seat. He takes a big bite of his sundae and cringes from the pain behind his eyes, his face making everyone think he is going to have a relapse of whatever struck him down earlier.
“Ice cream headache and really bad gas at the same time is a sensation that I would gladly wish on my worst enemy,” Lloyd declares with a grin. He sticks his spoon into the rest of his food, the break giving him enough time to regain his tolerance. “So, you park at Clark Fork and then we’ll head out in the jeep to stop this guy. Shouldn’t be very difficult, which means we’ll be back at the station in no time. I like the sound of this since we have the element of surprise and the kid hasn’t used a sniper rifle at all. One shot to the brainpan and we can call it a day. Why are you shaking your head, Mr. McHale? Also, random question, you ever serve in the navy? I just get this sense that you’d fit in there or something.”
“I went through basic training, but the collapse happened soon after I finished,” Tyler replies, his attention more on stirring his melting ice cream. He examines his face in the mirror and reaches up to rub the mole over his left eye. “As I said, we recently made up for lost time, so I can’t afford to wait in Clark Fork. You two will get out there and stop the Admiral, but we will be leaving as scheduled. If you don’t make it back in time then you will have to catch up like you did in the Dakotas. It won’t be as bad since we’ll stop the train once we see you or get a message that you’re only a few minutes away. I’m truly sorry about the situation, but I’m already under a lot of pressure due to the previous disasters. People need to speak highly of this journey to make sure there’s a second one. Arriving in Portland on time is essential to that. Are you two willing to do this given the circumstances?”
“Well, the alternative is that we stay on the train and get blown up,” Cassidy says while she writes on the back of the message. Sliding the paper back to the businessman, she flashes a friendly smile and licks her lips. “This is what I want as a down payment for this job. Keep in mind that you want us to drive to a hidden base, kill a crazy gang leader, possibly face a submarine armed with missiles, and then catch up to a speeding train. That goes beyond a basic favor. Honestly, it’s mostly fuel and special ammunition. There’s one difficult item on there, but Bart should be able to help with that. Give me all that I ask for and you have a deal.”
“She’ll throw in a sloppy joe special for free,” Lloyd happily chimes in.
“What are you talking about?”
“You look so fetching and intimidating in that hairnet.”
“Shut and eat your stolen sundae, jackass.”