Serial Saturday: Nightmare Engine of Doom Part 18 – Deadman’s Bend

Thinking quickly, I used another of my arcane thaumaturgical devices, a smoke bomb hidden in my cuff, and seized Enzo’s collar to haul him away under cover of smoke. He was his typical uncooperative self, however, and the spell I had woven into the little device was not quite as well as I had thought, and much of the smoke had cleared before I had hauled the cursing and struggling man halfway to the door, and the gathered gentlemen were all staring at us with expressions ranging from curiosity to hostility. Fortunately, the curtains at that point caught fire. This was not strictly according to plan, since one of the spells I had used was supposed to suppress the flames brought on by the accelerate in the little device, but it served to create a new distraction, and to spur Enzo toward leaving the car by working on his instinct for self-preservation.

“We have to get that revolver,” I said as we burst onto the platform between cars.

“Messes wherever you go,” Enzo replied, opening the door to the next car. “I can see that I’m going to be cleaning up after you the whole time, before we finally find the Countess.”

“That porter was the last person to have the gun,” I said, ignoring him. “Hopefully he still has it. All we need to do is overpower him, or steal it by subterfuge.”

“We have to find him first,” Enzo replied. He seemed to be warming to the idea of helping me, presumably because it involved mayhem perpetrated on an innocent railroad employee.

“Where do porters hang out?” I asked.

Enzo shrugged. “They sort of wander around, don’t they?”

I snapped my fingers as an idea occurred to me. We were in a half-empty passenger car, and with a triumphant smile, I turned and pulled the cord used to summon porters.

“Brilliant,” Enzo said dryly. It seemed the cord had worked even better than I hoped, for in a few moments the door at the end of the car slammed open and two porters approached at a dead run. They both ignored us, however, and would have rushed right past had Enzo not grabbed one by the belt.

“Can’t talk,” he shouted, struggling to remove Enzo’s grip, “there’s a fire in the dining car!”

“The revolver, damn you,” Enzo said. “The revolver that the strange pervert lost. Where’s the porter who had it? We’re undercover railroad detectives.”

“Taken to the engine for safe-keeping,” the porter said, at last dragging himself free. He rushed through the door, following his fellow, and I reflected that the fire I had inadvertently set had helped us again, for it prevented the porter from closely examining Enzo’s ridiculous tale.

“To the engine,” Enzo said, a gleam in his eye. By now the train had come to a complete stop, and during our journey through the various cars we were passed by several more porters and once by a group of men who looked, to my eye, to be plainclothes policemen. It seemed that my little fire had once more come through for us, diverting the police who had boarded the train from their original objective.

Soon, we had arrived at the engine. “You leave this to me,” Enzo said, turning as we reached the door and raising a hand. “We’ve had enough of your ridiculous diversions. This requires a bit of subtlety.”

He strode into the engine, which proved to be a cramped, noisy place, filled with levers and dials. Two men dressed in coveralls and the classic engineer’s hats I’d heard so much about lounged in the cramped space, but my eyes were drawn to my revolver, sitting near several throttle levers.

“You can’t come in here,” said one of the men.

“What’s that over there?” Enzo shouted, pointing to one corner of the room. This was apparently the start and end of his diversion, for he followed it by rushing toward the revolver. He had not, naturally distracted the men for more than a moment, and one casually reached out and scooped him up as he went by.

“Now, then, my little friend-” he began, breaking off in a shriek as Enzo first bit his arm then punched him in the groin. Not knowing what else to do, I grabbed the second man and soon we were all wrestling in the cramped space. My opponent proved to be quite a scrapper, and I was so busy battling him that I nearly missed the shriek from the other fight taking place. Moments later, however there was a lurch as the train began moving again, and we both looked up.

The startled expression on the engine man’s face grew momentarily even more surprised, before the monkey wrench Enzo was holding slammed into it. I extricated myself from the limp form of the man, and stood, to find Enzo struggling to haul the man toward the open doorway.

“Give me a hand,” he snapped.

“What are you doing?”

“These men have seen us,” Enzo grunted, still dragging the man. “We have to get them off the train or it defeats the whole purpose of getting your revolver back.”

“Of course,” I replied, and set to helping him. I was reminded, however, as we tossed the engineer out the door, that the train was once again in motion. “How did we start moving?” I asked as we watched the engineer bounce along the grass beside the track, slowly disappearing behind us.

“I started it,” Enzo said. “No point in tossing those two over the side if we’re just sitting at the platform.”

There was a certain logic to that, and I snatched up my revolver and followed Enzo from the engine. Soon were lounging casually in a handy passenger compartment, smirking to one another occasionally as various train employees rushed hither and thither.

“I say,” I said to one porter who had paused near us, hands on knees to cough for a time, “what’s all the excitement about?” I winked at Enzo as I said this, and he put a finger to his nose, and I reflected that it was nice that we had at last reached some sort of fellow-feeling thanks to our mischief-making.

“The fire in the club car is spreading,” the porter gasped, “and some fool started the train and jammed the throttle. We can’t find the engineer, and we’re headed for deadman’s bend at eighty miles and hour and picking up speed.”

Copyright © 2012 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on February 11, 2012.