A Trail of Iron

Hell to Pay: Chapter 12

Teivel awoke.  It was dark outside, save the moonlight drifting down from the waxing moon, almost full.  He felt the crusty dried blood on his arms.

The ground was cold underneath him, and the trickling water played a calming tune in the background.  Sitting up, he gazed into the trickling water.  The moon shimmered lightly in the stream.

Damp clothes still clung to his body, sending numbing chills up his arms and legs.  His stiff fingers slipped into the water, and he ran them up and down his arms, washing off the blood.  Teivel could feel the cuts in his arms, forming disgusting crevices in the form of the symbols he relied on.

He picked himself up, taking a minute to remember where he was. He had fallen into the stream, and crawled across.  The only thing he could do was continue.

His sack sat in the mud, soggy papers resting beside him.  They had become completely ruined, but everything he needed from them was now a part of him, either in his mind or carved into his arms.  Taking the papers in his hands, he ripped them ungracefully with a wet tear.  The two halves went into the stream, drifting lightly into a rock downstream.

The air was still, and beside the stream, the night was quiet.  Tranquil, Teivel picked up the bag and slung it across his back.  By the light of the moon, he could find a path through the trees.  The darkness was his ally, if nothing at all. 

The warmness enveloped him as he marched through the tall grass.  He could feel his clothes drying in the still night air.  His stomach was empty, but for the moment, he could deal with it.  The Hazelnuts from before had killed his appetite.  His feet were tired, and arms sore, but the light of the moon felt revitalizing.

The light of day started to eat at the darkness along the horizon.  The air was clear.  Teivel had lost track of how long he had been walking, how many days had passed since leaving his home.  Against the orange sky, he spotted a pillar of smoke rising up, following a path as if the source was moving.

Teivel walked in the direction of whatever was producing the smoke.  The ground produced a faint rumbling, and he had an idea of what it could be.  The daylight was coming upon the land, and he could move faster through the undergrowth.  A clear rumbling was felt in the ground this time.  Wanting to reach the source, Teivel shoved his way through the vines and undergrowth.

A clear chugging was heard this time.  Teivel jumped out from the vegetation. There was a clear cut through the forest, the sky in open in plain view.  A rail line.  He had only ever seen the trains departing from the city, let alone walk the tracks. He could feel the rumbling under his feet, and a peak of smoke puffed up along the trees.  He looked both ways, the rails took a curve into the forest.  He jumped back off the rail, just before a large steam engine came roaring by.  He felt the air pressure blast him backwards, pushing him to the ground into the gravel that was stacked up to the edge of the forest.

The cars passed, one-by-one in a blur.  Some were passenger cars; many men were pushed inside, speeding by before he could make out any details.  Others were flatbed train cars, carrying various machines of war.  Before Teivel could take it all in, the train had passed him fully and roared off into the forest.  Smoke from the engine adorned the sky, making a trail that followed the tracks.

The tracks would lead him somewhere, anywhere.  He was tired of wandering through the forest with no end in sight.  He picked himself up from the ground, and placed himself one one of the rail ties.  The gravel was rough, but the ties were just the right space apart for his stride.  Looking up at the sky, he continued.

There was no rumbling, no roar of the engine.  They had both disappeared into the silence of the forest.  Something sounded in the distance.  A shout.  Teivel continued on, more cautiously.  The rails curved again.  He looked up in front of him; something was stopped on the tracks.  It was the train he had seen before.  For whatever reason, it was stopped there in the middle of the forest.

Teivel dropped down to the edge of tracks, in the case he needed to run off into the forest.  A stick cracked.  Before he could react to it, something grabbed him.  Teivel couldn’t break free.  He realized how weak his body had become from lack of food and rest.  It was a man, at least two heads bigger than him, dressed in the uniform Teivelk had come to hate.  The man pushed him forwards, barely letting him touch the ground.

He shouted ahead to other men who were standing around by the stopped train.  “You were right, there was some kid wandering around out there.”  The big man brought him up to one of the big iron wheels of the train, while other men surrounded him.  Teivel clenched his fist, and made sure the knife was still strapped on his belt.

“He’s all dirty, you think he’s feral?  I’ve heard about them, living out here in the woods.”  Some of the men laughed.  One of them grabbed at his arms.  Teivel tried to pull them back, but failed.  They pointed at his cuts and scars.  Especially the star.

Some of the men grimaced.  “He’s some sort of freak.  He’s all covered in blood and has all sorts of drawings on him, cut into his flesh.”

Teivel attempted to push them away, but they stood, encircling him menacingly, laughing back at him.  “Fuck you all.”  Teivel spat at them.

“Oh, so he can speak, the dirty jew boy.  Did you escape us?  We’ll have to bring him with us.”  “Ja, let’s go.”  The men dispersed, but the large man stuck around him.  He picked him up by the wrist, swinging him around with little effort.  Teivel went to reach for his knife, but the man swatted his hand away, grabbing his opposite wrist and holding them together.  Teivel kicked and thrashed, but he felt weak, and the man was built solidly.

He found himself being swung up onto the platform of one of the cars.  The door opened to reveal a train packed with men like those who has taunted him.  He was tied up, thrown to the corner of the train.  Men were packed in around him, shoulder to shoulder, and Teivel felt himself barred behind their legs like bars on a jail.  At the very least, the train was warm.  Exhausted, despite the uncomfortable position, he felt himself slowly loose his grip on consciousness.

Teivel was jolted awake by the movements of the train.  He tried to shift his stiff legs outwards.  Instead he was met with a wall of men still surrounding him.  They prodded at him with their hulking boots, still clean and proper; not yet met with action.  Their gazes down at him seemed like sneers.

A rough splinter of wood jutted out from the side of the train.  If only he could extract from himself his own life force, he could force his way out.  Scooting over as stealthily as he could, he felt the large splinter dig into his shoulder.  He gyrated his body up and down, drying to get it to dig into his skin.  He winced.  I didn’t go unnoticed.

“This kid is trying to off himself.”

A hefty grip wrapped around the rope that held his arms to his sides.  It picked him up like a freshly-hunted rabbit, and pulled him to a seat.  Without empathy, he was flung down.  His head hit the back of the seat hard, and he saw stars.

“If you try anything else, we’ll kill you.  Even if you are a kid.”

End of Hell to Pay: Book 1


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