Serial Saturday: Nightmare Engine of Doom Part 12 – Trouble On The Train

By the time I’d snatched a revolver from my bag and followed, he was disappearing through the door at the end of passageway. I tucked the revolver into my coat pocket and raced off in pursuit. Xavier was well-known to be a dangerous sociopath, so I was taking a risk in chasing after him willy-nilly, but if I couldn’t stop him, he’d get word to the Countess that Enzo and I were not dead, and the element of surprise would be lost.

I stepped out of the car, into the open air with the tracks rushing below me, just in time to see the door to the next car closing. I followed, and saw him half-way down the aisle of another sleeper car. He was raising a weapon of some kind, and I threw myself into the nearest compartment as he fired.

I fell through the curtain within and, despite the lack of light it was fairly clear that the person I landed atop was a woman, even before she started shrieking and flailing at me. Unfortunately, it took me a considerable amount of time to get free of the bed and curtain with all her thrashing about, and I fear I inadvertently grabbed hold a great many things I shouldn’t have in my struggle to rise.

Even more unfortunate, from my point of view, was that whatever Xavier had fired, it had been silent, possibly a magnetic a thaumaturgical weapon (he was known to dabble in dark arts, so this latter would hardly be surprising). Had he fired a normal gunpowder weapon, I may have been able to convince the lady that my abrupt entry into her compartment, and indeed bunk, had been warranted, but as it was I fear she did not believe my stammered explanations (not that I was particularly articulate under the circumstances). When another woman emerged from the compartment’s other bunk and began laying into me with some sort of metal object, I decided to dispense with an attempt to defend my actions and simply leave.

It seemed prudent to poke my head into the aisle and make sure Xavier was not lying in wait for me, perhaps prepared to shoot me when I emerged, but the women were having none of this, and when I peeked out I found myself propelled into the corridor with enough force that I rebounded off the opposite wall and nearly compounded my embarrassment by falling back into one bed or the other.

Fortunately, Xavier was not in evidence, although as I picked myself up I realized that his flight presented me with a new problem, that of tracking him down after the unfortunate delay. I quickly determined that my best course of action was to continue down the path Xavier had been following when he’d paused to shoot at me, and in a few moments I had left the outraged shrieks and unladylike cursing behind and plunged through the door. It was a foolish thing to do, given that Xavier had already ambushed me once, but the urgency I felt to get through the door before anyone could get a clear look at me saved my life.

I heard the clang as another projectile hit the platform directly behind me, and looked up to see Xavier’s form ducking away from the edge of the car roof above me. I threw myself at the ladder, truly caught up in the pursuit now, and clambered up it. This time I was wise enough to duck as I came over the edge of the roof, and I felt another shot go just clear of my ear.

It was dark now, but as I heaved myself up onto the roof there was enough moonlight for me to see Xavier flailing at the weapon he carried. After a moment, he cursed in Belgian and threw it aside. It had either jammed or run out of ammunition, it seemed.

He made a peculiar motion with his arm and something dropped from his sleeve into his hand. Another flick of his wrist, and a long, gleaming blade telescoped out of it. I laughed as I stood there, the wind of our travel whipping at my clothes.

“So, Xavier,” I said as I reached into my coat pocket. “It seems you’ve brought a sword to a gun…”

I trailed off as I realized that the revolver had fallen from my pocket during the struggles in the bunk. Xavier grinned in the moonlight and stepped forward.

Copyright © 2011 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on December 31, 2011.