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 and Luca cling to the side of the train and work together to kick in the window, the pair swinging inside an instant before the Holly Sage Express goes into a tunnel. Tiptoeing around the sleeping drunks, they sneak to the state room’s door and listen carefully to make sure nobody is in the hallway. The sounds of partying are muffled even though the celebration is a few cars behind them, which makes them fear that Tyler can show up any minute. Another lurch of the train acts as a warning that they are quickly approaching Portland, so they rush out of the room and sprint towards the caboose. Shouldering through the locked exit, they enter the vestibule and try to separate the deadly car from the rest of the train. Within seconds, the pair finds that the couplings have been welded together, so they sigh in unison and look to the final door.
“We should have known it wasn’t going to be that easy,” Lloyd says, his attention drawn to the sound of tank fire in the distance. He is tempted to go back and look through a window to check on the others, but knows that the risk is too high. “Bart said we can call him over the intercom when we take care of the guards. I didn’t want to mention this before, but you’re kind of naked here. No, your barely there top is still protecting the important parts. All I mean is that you don’t have a gun.”
“All that just to ask where my weapon is?” Luca asks with a shake of her head. Putting her fingers on the door handle, she pushes her companion back and prepares to strike with all of her strength. “There’s a bomb in there. Last thing we should do is go in shooting. I’m fine with my fists and using whatever sharp corners I can find in there. Once I get this door open, you go rushing in like a lunatic. With any luck, those you don’t kill will jump out the back.”
“Causing pee-inducing fear is one of my specialties,” the serial killer proudly declares. He is about to get in position when an idea pops into his head and he quickly grabs the bounty hunter by the wrist. “This is going to get us killed. If they’re standing guard then the only entrance for them to watch is this one. We’ll be gunned down before stepping inside. Out here, there’s no bomb for them to worry about. Take a very deep breath and go that way.”
Each of them goes to a vestibule door, but Luca is lost on what to do since they have been welded shut. Hearing a small crack, she turns around to see that Lloyd is gently removing the glass from the window frame. Following the serial killer’s lead, she is only half a step behind him when they squeeze through the tight holes. Both of them wince at the feeling of a few lingering shards piercing their skin, but they eventually get out and climb onto the roof. Fighting against the wind, they cling to the eave and shimmy towards the back of the caboose. Lloyd is nearly blown off when the train picks up speed, but he manages to dangle between the windows and press his body to the side. With a grunt, he slowly flips himself back on top and uses his feet to help maintain his balance and grip. Unlike the serial killer, Luca has no problem staying on the roof and only stops to spit out the bugs that repeatedly fly into her mouth.
Five minutes have passed by the time they quietly lower themselves onto the rear platform and grab the handle. They throw open the door and are about to rush in when they see Dale facing them with his machinegun. Spinning off to the sides, they narrowly avoid the deafening assault that damages the railing. Lloyd shrugs before waving his machete and causing another spray, the sound a little louder than the first time. Curiosity getting the best of her, Luca takes a peek and immediately jumps back to avoid getting her face blown off. They hear the click of an empty weapon, but Dale reloads too quickly for them to get inside, so they are forced back into their hiding spots.
“I only have to hold you off!” the bodyguard shouts as he shoots again. He fires at random intervals to keep them at bay and kicks his box of ammo whenever he wants to get closer. “You didn’t think I’d notice the sound of movement on the roof? Both of you are smarter than that. I’m really insulted by you, Luca. Mr. McHale brought you on to help and now you’re with the people trying to stop us? I’m glad you’ll be one of the first to get blown up.”
“Nice going, blabbermouth!” Luca shouts while avoiding Lloyd’s quizzical stare. She pulls a security badge out of her back pocket and tosses it into the doorway. “Do you really think I’d still have one of those if I wasn’t working for Tyler? It’s called being a double-agent, moron. My job was to get close to Katie and let them go after the bomb. Then, I turn on them when it’s too late for them to try again. Can’t really do that with you shooting at me! Let me in because I’m on your side.”
Lloyd glares at the woman, who puts up her hands and cautiously steps into the open. “I’m going to invent a new way of gutting people just for you. Know that this isn’t over because I’m the hero and traitors always get their comeuppance. Unless this is where the bad guys win, which means I’ll haunt you for eternity.”
“That’s the best threat you can make?”
“I’m kind of pressed for time, traitor tits.”
With a roll of her eyes, Luca grabs the serial killer’s wrist and yanks him into a gut-quivering punch. She knocks the machete from his hand before flipping him into the car and spinning to put pressure on his arm. Desperate to escape, Lloyd plants his feet against her stomach and shoves with all of his strength. The bounty hunter flies back and accidentally knocks the machinegun out of Dale’s hands. Rushing forward, Luca kicks the weapon out of reach and delivers a clothesline that knocks the air out of her former ally’s lungs. She notices the blood seeping from his wound, so she tries to kick him in the armpit when a sweep takes her legs out from beneath her. Lloyd attempts to pounce when Dale catches him by the head and hurls him against the opposite wall. A streak of red is left on the metal panels as the serial killer slumps to the floor, but he immediately gets back to his feet.
“I was hoping I’d get to kill the great Lloyd Tenay,” the bodyguard says with a smile. He rears back to throw a punch, but his arm is suddenly grabbed by Luca. “What do you think you’re doing? Oh, you want to do it yourself. I can understand that considering how obnoxious this bastard is. I’ll just get out of your way.”
“Oh, you certainly will,” Luca says before pulling Dale toward her. She practically roars as she gets the large man on her shoulders and faces the back door. “I’d make a witty remark, but my spine is killing me. Just get off the fucking train, you pathetic lapdog.”
The bounty hunter runs for the exit and leans forward to get Dale through the narrow entrance. She hurls the man over the railing, but his upper body hits the metal bars and he catches a hold. Luca walks away as he struggles to get back onto the platform and is almost up when she returns with his machinegun. Dale freezes in terror until he sees that she is holding the large weapon by the barrel. He only makes it another inch before she swings the firearm and breaks it over his face. The bodyguard falls onto the tracks and screams when his armored prosthetic arm hits the third rail.
“I could have done without the beating,” Lloyd complains, catching his machete when it is tossed to him. He takes a sticky patch out of his pocket and slaps it over his wound, the impact making him gasp in pain. “Nice trick and I apologize for the threat. Let me guess. The power of love changed your heart. If not that then was Cassidy just that damn good in the sack? Don’t have to go into the details, but I would like a number from zero to one hundred.”
“Your partner is really good, but the deal Katie made with me weeks ago was better,” Luca replies with a grin. Turning to face the bomb for the first time, her heart sinks at the sight of the room length machine that is covered in lights and dials. “I’m betting most of these things are for show and to cause confusion. Let’s call Bart and see what he can tell us. Uh, where’s the intercom for this car? Fuck, they removed it!”
“Is it really that big a problem since it’s the two of us on the case?” the smirking man asks as he walks the length of the bomb. He can practically feel the bounty hunter’s eyes bore into his back, so he shrugs. “Good point. I stab things and you hit things. We’re the worst ones for this job. You were a cop once, right? Shouldn’t you have learned something about bombs? At least know where the kablooey parts are located.”
Luca scratches her head and walks over to the largest panel, but stops short of hitting any buttons. “I wasn’t on the bomb squad and only learned the basics. There’s no way I can figure out something this complicated. I’d have a better chance getting the intercom to work again, but Dale put a few bullets in it. Is this thing fastened to the floor?”
“I don’t see any screws,” the serial killer announces from the other side. He stops when he hears a faint voice and spins around in search of the source. “One of you two hit me pretty hard in the head. I hear voices and not the usual ones telling me to either kill all of humanity or have an extra piece of cake. There’s also this one that keeps repeating Edgar Allan Poe stories. I can figure out this problem later.”
“What’s in your back pocket?”
“A headset that really should have broken in that fight.”
“You moron! We can talk to Bart with that?”
“Oh, then I’ll just put it on. The Stab God and Officer Ab-tastic calling the Mad Scientist.”
A screech of static comes over the speaker before Bart’s voice can be heard. “I’m not going to ask. I’m assuming you two are at the bomb and eliminated the guards. How bad does it look over there? I need to know the details to help you. Is it big or small? Do you smell anything funny? Is it connected to the floor?”
“That’s a lot of technical terminology,” Lloyd mutters while he walks back and forth. He stops at the window and his mouth goes dry when he sees Portland on the horizon. “It’s not attached to the floor, but it runs the entire length of the car. There’s a chemical smell like someone was cleaning a room after a really bloody murder. Also, the faint undertone of gunpowder and . . . coffee. I don’t want to know. There are buttons, lights, switches, and panels all over this thing. Would Tyler even want this to have a disarming process since he planned on dying along with the train?”
“Dang, I didn’t consider that. Give me a minute,” the inventor says before a small burst of interference. His voice returns only a few seconds later, but there is a quiver that his natural confidence is unable to hide. “The only thing you can do is find the actual explosives and work from there. Most of that has to be casing and electronics designed to stop you from getting to the heart. Now, test all of the panels, but do not-”
The headset pops and sparks, forcing Lloyd to throw it out the door. He smiles at Luca before approaching the bomb and using his machete to pry off one of the plates. Finding only empty space, he moves on to the next one and waves for the bounty hunter to help. She carefully removes panels without undoing the wiring underneath, which is a mess that makes her pray she does not have to cut anything. Opening one section, she scowls at the sight of an old bagel that is stuck between two hunks of metal that are warm to the touch. Not finding anything, they try to work faster while repeatedly glancing out the window. The train lurches forward again and the pair stop their search with more than half of the bomb exposed.
An idea comes to Lloyd and he hurries over to the large panel that Luca has already removed from the device. He reaches into the hole and finds that his arm goes deeper into the device than he expects. Searching around, his fingers graze a glass orb that is cold to the touch and shifts very slightly. He steps away from the machine and waves for Luca to copy him by lying on the floor at the other end of the room. Lloyd runs his finger along the base of the bomb until he finds a hidden handhold while his companion does the same. On the count of the three, they pull out a large drawer of glass globes that release the chemical stench that is gradually giving them a dull headache. Half of the orbs are filled with a greenish yellow liquid and the rest have a white powder, the explosives arranged in a pattern that makes Lloyd think of a snake basking on a beach.
“There’s a battery attached to this end,” Luca mentions, holding up her hand to stop their progress. Running a finger along the wire, she tries to figure out if it is a trigger that can be cut without setting off the bomb. “It looks like this whole thing is designed to send a charge through the metal drawer and set off the explosives. The battery is a failsafe that will go off as soon as the wire is broken. Any ideas?”
With a sigh, Lloyd checks to see that there is a battery on his side and follows the wires as far as he can. He flashes Luca an insanity-dripping smile that causes her to stand and prepare to leap out the nearest window. Before she can move, the serial killer lifts the drawer enough that he can crawl underneath. He crabwalks the drawer enough that he can stand and hoist it clear of the rest of the machine, which he does without any warning. Lloyd tries to run forward, but the back of the long drawer drags on the floor at the same time as the wires separate from the batteries. Electricity ripples along the metal container and the serial killer fears that he has made the biggest, and final, mistake of his life. His muscles ache from the constant zaps and he notices that there are more batteries along the inner side.
To his relief, Luca picks up the other side of the drawer and pushes enough to help him move towards the door. Ignoring the jolts that run up their arms, the pair rush the explosives out of the caboose and knock down most of the broken railing. Putting his hands over his head, Lloyd rapidly pushes the drawer like a hamster running in a wheel while Luca continues charging. They collide and grip the remaining bars as the container crashes onto the tracks and the deadly orbs bounce in every direction. Using the last of their strength, the pair scramble back into the car and sprint for the far door. They throw their aching bodies against the exit and crash into the vestibule as the explosives go off with enough force to tear the caboose off the rest of the train.
“Stop touching my ass,” Luca growls before she realizes that it is her own hand. Rolling onto her back, she can hear people in the next car screaming in fright. “At least I don’t hear the tanks any more. So, what the hell were you thinking?”
“You’re already giving me too much credit,” Lloyd answers with a pain-filled chuckle. He can feel the train begin to slow down, so he tries to get on his hands and knees. “Honestly, I was looking for a false bottom, which is how I found the drawer. After that, I thought the best idea was to get the boom balloons off the train. Cassidy has zapped me so many times that electricity doesn’t scare me that much. What would you have done?”
“Picked up the orbs and thrown them out one at a time.”
“Well, somebody doesn’t know how to create a climatic ending.”
“You mean climactic.”
“Are you sure because I feel like I’ve been tag-teamed by Zeus and Thor?”
“I swear, you’re an idiotic, foul-mouthed, skunk-smelling, one-balled, brain damaged maniac.”
“You forgot partially charming.”
Luca is about to utter another insult, but she cannot think of doing anything besides laughing. She holds her aching gut while Lloyd joins in, the serial killer reaching up to press the bandage against his reopened wound. The pair groan as they get to their feet and start walking towards the other car when the door opens. Standing in the entrance, Tyler goes pale at the sight of the two survivors and the lack of a caboose. They stare at the businessman for a few seconds before continuing their advance and causing him to run screaming towards the engine of his precious train.