An Actual Blog Post

As in, this is non-fiction. So if you want to stop reading right there, that’s okay with me. More stories eventually.

I can’t remember the last time I did one of these. Hmm.

The thought of doing this just popped into my head. It’s the last day of a huge heat wave here. It was about 110f all this week, with the highest being 113– that’s about 45 celsius if my ability to roughly translate the two still exists from my time in France. If you ever watched one of my vlogs in the past, you may know that my house is poorly insulated and with no central air. That means trying to not go crazy when the internal temperature goes up to 91f (32c????). Heat that makes just sitting around watching YouTube videos barely bearable. But enough complaining!

Did you enjoy Impasse? It was my Camp NaNoWriMo story this July you might have guessed. It’s seemed to have done good numbers both here and on Inkitt so far. Speaking of Inkitt, it may be easier to read my stories from there, in regard to readability and ease of navigating through the chapters. I don’t mind if you go there to do your reading, and new chapters are uploaded simultaneously here and there.

I don’t know what my next story may be right now, but as always, I have ideas hanging about. The big thing next to look out for is the second book in The Color of Houm series. Look for a sneak peek of it soon? Hopefully, I won’t get too caught up in Minecraft again and let the editing process drag on much longer.

In final news, if you want to call it that: I disabled my contact form here on the website! It was actually getting a lot of use, but… only by spammers! Nope, I don’t want your questionable SEO services or your explicit pics and/or viruses. I was slightly worried that the spammers were the ones pumping up my traffic here, but in fact, them no longer having an exclusive forum in my domain here has done nothing for the page hits and likes I’m getting. Thank you, real people, for your engagement as always!

I’m going to finish off the night here with some hard seltzer and go to sleep knowing that I won’t wake up tomorrow morning covered in sweat. Cheers!

-Sandwich Sean

The End of It All

Impasse – Chapter Twelve [Final]

“Jess called us,” the chief explained as Farva returned to relative consciousness in the back of the ambulance, the warmth burning his digits.


“You don’t deserve that woman, Farve,” the chief muttered, shaking his head. “If I called my wife in the middle of the night, expecting her to pick up, I’d get home to a bowl of soggy cereal to eat, leftovers from the kid.”

Farva draped his hand across his face, blocking out the light from the ceiling of the boxy vehicle. “I… don’t. You wouldn’t… know…”

Schultz snuffled and sat back against the wall, his body shuffling up and down with the bumps. “When we picked you up tonight… at the motel on the edge of town… you know what goes on there, right?”

“I know very well, chief. But… it’s already too late for that.”

Schultz stroked his mustache, shaking his head slowly in thought. “You need to make things right with her. Whatever that means for the two of you. Before the ambulance here showed up, we made sure to call her back. I imagine she’ll be at the hospital to meet us.”

“I’ve… had the time to think about… what I imagine her saying. What I’ll say, too.”

Schultz sighed slowly. “I can at least tell here what you did, the good and proper part. What convinced you to head off down the tracks in the middle of the night in the freezing cold, instead of listening to my orders?”

Farva looked up at the ceiling shaking his head. “The train wasn’t the answer. It was… me.”

“You?” The chief scoffed, looking down at him.

“No, never mind. Sometimes, you just need to retrace your steps, find out what went wrong. And even if you can’t… fix it, you can make it up the best you can.”

Schultz chuckled. “Sorry, I shouldn’t laugh at a time like this. But for the records, I’ll have to repeat the stuff coming out of your mouth right about now. We’ll be at the hospital soon enough, just to make sure the cold didn’t bite you too hard.”

Farva shuffled slightly, feeling the blanket on his chest shift about. He found his hands somewhere under the covers, pulling them out before his face. His fingers were restrained under bands of gauze, leaving the sensation of circulation uncertain. He finally allowed his arms to relax and drop his hands back down by his sides. “What about… those people?”

“Well, they’re all fine thanks to you,” Schultz smirked. “The cold didn’t hit them too bad compared to you. We got them back to the train, those who were still there. The others who went off searching were found farther down the line just a little while ago, too. They’ll set off soon enough. There was a con artist, they said, onboard— pulled a fire alarm, had them evacuate, then started up the train when everyone was off. Stole a bunch of valuables, then ditched the train.”

“I told you so…” Farva mumbled.

“Did you?” The chief shook his head. “No way, Detective. Hey, we’re here.”

The chief shifted side to side as the boxy vehicle stopped roughly. The doors open soon after and the detective’s stretcher was yanked down, its wheels folding out to meet with the ground. As it was wheeled up and towards the front of the hospital and its florescent lights, Farva caught sight of the dark-haired woman by the door, hands tucked into her heavy jacket.

Jess caught up to the medics rolling him in. “I’m the wife. I’m here, Robert.”

“He’s stable, Mrs. Farva,” the EMT noted. “But we’ll need to get him in to assess his condition further.”

“I see that. Can I at least talk to him?”

“Of course.”

“Jess—“ The detective sat up slightly.

Her hand found his shoulder as they rounded one last corner and into the observation room. “We’ll have someone in here soon enough to take your vitals, sir. Hold tight.”

Jess had her arms folded at the side of the bed as the employee exited the room. She shook her head slightly, the corners of her eyes moist.

Farva looked down at his toes poking up past the heavy blanket. “I understand if you don’t want to have anything to do with me after this.”

Jess shook her head and ran her fingers through his hair. “This is something we can get through together. You can explain everything when you’re feeling better.”

“But… but I saw… it must have been a dream… you disappearing from… my life.”

“Well, right now… I am going nowhere.”

<– Previous Chapter

Through Darkness

Impasse – Chapter Eleven

Detective Farva found his stride over the wooden stringers, the light in his hands directed forward into the falling snow. He alternated the trajectory of the beam between the steps ahead and those still far in the distance, looking for anything out of the ordinary. It wasn’t long before the strobing police lights disappeared out of his peripheral vision.

The wind tugged at him, sucking the warmth out of his body even through the waxed canvas of the jacket. Like a gash cutting the town in two, the rails continued, fenced off on either side, with bits of old infrastructure and family-run businesses beyond the chain links. Signs protruded from the ground, final warnings for the train operators to slow before entering the city limits and encountering the crossings. Taking a moment, Farva shined the light back, examining the reflective surfaces with markings he couldn’t immediately decipher. I have to keep going, even if this doesn’t make sense. Before the chief or the others find out I’m not inside the train.

The detective’s free hand worked its way into his pants pocket, fishing around for the folded cell phone. The screen inside lit up and offered him the time – 3:13 A.M. I should call now. Before it’s too late. In case something happens. Nothing will happen. I’m solving this. But… she needs to know.

Farva’s eyes darted back and forth between the phone’s keypad and the void of darkness at the furthest reaches of the beam. He could barely feel the buttons with the cold skin of his thumb, but he managed to dial the number nonetheless, the one belonging to the landline back home.

The ring reverberated in his ear, finally cutting off and replaying the message he himself had recorded, way back when he and Jess had moved in together. You’ve reached the home of Robert and —her voice cut in, simply to speak her name— Jess Farva. Say what you want to say after the beep.

He found his breath as the tone played in his ear. “Babe, I know you can hear this, but please… don’t pick up. Please let me say what I need to say. I… wasn’t at home tonight, not because… of the bar, or work, or any of that. All I can say is… I’ve messed up. You’re a smart woman. Don’t… make me say it. And… it wasn’t my first time, either. But… I love you, I love you still. Nothing will change that. And that’s why… I can’t put you in this position. I think…“ Beep.

Damn it. He yanked the phone from his ear and watched the call end, the answering machine having accepted as much as it would allow. His finger shook while pressing the redial button. The phone rang, offering him time to find the next words, but the time in his own mind was cut short.

“Robert,” Jess answered first.

“Don’t do this to me, Jess.”

“I won’t say anymore,” she said softly. “Let it out, and I will listen.”

Farva shook his head, blinking into the darkness, his footsteps slowing across the ground, glowing slick. “It was one night, at the bar. I got too drunk. I ended up with another woman, in the car. And it could have, it should have stopped there. I should have told you. That’s about the time we brought up again… thoughts about starting a family. You started talking about a family. I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you then. You remember when my schedule changed not long after?”


“I put in a request to have my schedule changed. So… so I could avoid those talks, avoid your advances. If… I had caught something, I didn’t want to give it to you. If I went to the clinic to get tested… it would have gotten to you. You know how word travels in this town.

I’ve… paid for other women since then, telling myself it didn’t count. That using protection with them would be enough to keep me, keep them safe. They don’t stay in town for long, those sorts. But… I think I’ve messed up this time. Slept with someone who gave me something worse. And there’s… there’s only so long I can go on lying to you, avoiding you…”

“Robert…” the voice cracked, eaten away at by the poor signal. “I… there’s… no one else…”

Farva pulled the phone away from his ear and glanced at the signal bars on the screen, wavering between little and none. He sucked in a quick breath and shoved the speaker back to his ear, feet planted in place. “Listen. Listen, please. I want to fix this. But I don’t know if—“

The signal went dead, the screen showing off the ending call before the pixels on the screen hid themselves away. The detective’s bare hands could barely move in the cold, one on the flashlight and the other phone. Shoving the device back in his pocket, he rubbed at his knuckles the best he could, attempting to find any last signs of circulation. The beam of light still glowed outward, tracing the parallel tracks. To his rear was only blackness, the final stretches of the city limits.

There’s no turning back now. What am I going to find out here? I’ve come this far, turning back would make no sense. What am I saying? How long does this rail go? Damn, it’s so cold.

The detective’s feet began to act before his mind could make a decision. Though slippery, he planted his boots on the wooden stringers, one after another, the beam of the flashlight bobbing in his hand. The flakes of snow streaked across his line of sight, gathered on his shoulders and hair, and found their way into his collar to melt and trickle down his neck.

Farva’s hands shook, each taking turns in the cold to hold the heavy light while the other hid away in his jacket pocket. A low cry sounded out from the dark. For the first time since setting out on the tracks, he allowed the beam to stray from the metal rails and find the edges of the berm. The dry grass left over from the previous seasons had all but been matted down by the winter weather, leaving only a few slender, bent stalks to poke out from the otherwise barren ground. Thick metal stakes held rough stretches of wire fences bordering county land or property owned by those who despised the thought of neighbors and the decencies required with the sort.

Another cry, high-pitched and tormented, whispered out from beyond the reach of the light. Farva jerked back and pointed himself to the opposite side of the tracks, imagining finding the glowing eyes of a coyote or a mountain lion, only to find more of the same desiccated wild. The rocks under his heel shifted and settled, causing his legs to tense. In the stillness, he felt the skin all over his body tingle in the cold, the wind sucking away what little energy he had left. The cry echoed through the night once more, just near enough in the darkness.

Gripping tight on the flashlight, Farva picked up the pace, praying that his body could continue despite the cold and fatigue, able to reach the sound in the distance. The beam bobbed up and down and the tracks continued, the pattern of rocks and wooden stringers and perfectly straight rails repeated over and over endlessly.

The cry came once again, louder, longer, nearer. In the weak stretches of the beam there laid a hump in the center of the rails, shifting, crying, and as he moved closer, there was a low shushing heard between the intermittent cries of an infant.

“Hello?” Farva called out, rushing forward, the beam held steady as he could. “Do you need help? Are you from the train? I can help you.”

The detective hobbled over the tracks and attempted to round the figure hunched there in the middle, the light finding the blanket-draped woman, decorated with melting snowflakes, codding a small child in her arms. The woman’s eyes traveled up past her bangs, her face identical to the woman who was asleep back in the detective’s home. “Jess? No, you can’t be here. You’re… she’s…”

The ground shifted under Farva’s feet. Down far off in the distance, the horn of a train sounded out in a low, long blast. He dropped the flashlight lightly and jumped for the woman and her child. “You need to get off the tracks, there’s something coming. This… this isn’t safe. You’ll be hit, killed.”

Despite his words and his yanking against the woman’s blanket and her clothes and her arm, her body didn’t move, nor did her eyes shift, her grasp on the bundle of a child tight and unyielding. The light of the train cut through the night and the falling snow. Its whistle blew. Like a ghastly face, it tore through the night screaming and offering no sign of stopping. His cold fingers failing, Farva fell back, his grasp leaving the woman on the tracks.

The engine roared and the countless wheels clacked and whined and the gravel rumbled and the wind tore at his hair and clothes. It was only a matter of seconds before it was all over, the sounds of the train absent from the air completely, not even a sign that it had been there ever. Farva stumbled and reached for the light, still aglow, and pointed it to where the woman had been, his breath imprisoned in his chest. But nothing remained, as if she were never there to begin with.

“Hello? Is someone there?” The voice carried on the low wind from somewhere down the track. “I saw a light. Hello?”

The detective found his footing and shined the light further down the tracks, his ear to the wind to attempt to catch the voice again.

“We’re this way! Stranded! Can you hear us?”

Farva’s eyes readjusted to the dark after the blinding light of the train. The flashlight held in his nearly frozen hand continued to shine along the rail, his feet crunching over the rocky edge of the tracks. The beam finally came to land upon a figure in the dark, then two. Blinded by the light, those in the beam remained still, whispering among each other.

The detective continued to march forward, eyes locked to the first figure. He shined the light in the man’s face who cowered from the brightness and stumbled back. He scanned further, finding a group of others, cowered and huddled together in a group further down the berm, several blankets shared unequally among them. “Is he here to help us? Why isn’t he answering?”

Farva reached his hand up, finding the texture of the first man’s clothing. “What are you doing out here?”

“I should be asking you the same question,” the man said lowly, arms held tightly to his chest.

“I’m… with the police force… but…”

“Oh thank god.”

“But…” Farva bit his lip and pulled the phone from his pocket. It displayed a desperate flashing line in the corner of the screen, constantly seeking out a signal. “I’m not supposed to be out here…”

“What’s that supposed to mean, buddy? None of us, either.”

“The conductor woke us up in the middle of the night and had us evacuate, then he took off without us. We’ve been in the cold nearly an hour.”

“We’ve got kids here!”

“Some went off already, the other way. You’re saying we’re within walking distance of a proper town?”

Farva hunched over, his body cold. “I… don’t know how long I’ve been walking. It’s… too cold.”

“We’re screwed out here!”

“We’ll just wait for the morning.”

“The snow is getting worse.”

“Other lights—“

The detective breathed heavily, the flashlight just barely in his grasp. Tugging on his collar, he turned back just enough to look in the direction he had come. The bright high beams of the oncoming vehicle lit up either side of the tracks. The heavy crunching of tires came next, stopping as their lights met with the group of people. “Farva!” the chief called as he shoved the door open.

“Schultz…” The detective failed to force himself up, the breath cold in his chest. The men from the group rushed forward, their voices bombarding the officer.

<– Previous Chapter | Next Chapter –>

The Point of No Return

Impasse – Chapter Ten

The body next to Detective Farva there in the bed was warm. He sat up to put his hands to his face in an attempt to ease the throbbing of his head. His bare shoulders outside the covers riddled themselves with goosebumps and the brunette stirred, attempting to pull more of the blankets over her body.

“Lay back down, it’s cold,” she mumbled, eyes relaxed shut. “These places never have enough blankets.”

Farva felt the pain retreating from his head. He glanced about in the low light, identifying the tacky, tar-stained floral wallpaper of the motel. “Just why is it so damn cold?”

“I suppose it’s going to snow, they said.”


“That’s what the TV in the lobby was saying when we checked in,” the woman said more clearly, sitting up to find her grasp on Farva’s arm. “Maybe a white Christmas. Come on, lay back down, you paid for two hours. I’ll be sad if you want to ditch me this early.”

The detective flung his legs out of the bed. “Christmas? What day is it?”

“Uh, the 17th. No, the 18th now?”

“Of December?”

“Uh, yeah,” the woman giggled. “Was it that good that you lost yourself?”

“It’s moving backward—“ Farva said out loud, not thinking about the words. “It’s always been moving back.”

“Moving back, babe?” The woman asked, puzzled. “What is? What are you talking about?”

Farva leaned over and turned on the bedside light, casting the orange glow through the shade and across the bed. He turned back to the woman, sat up innocently. Small dots of red adorned her face and neck, up against her hairline. “It’s you. It was you. Damn it. Damn it!” His yell echoed about the room, and he turned his face back.

“Hold on now, stop it. You’re scaring me.”

The detective shook his head furiously. “When’s the last time you got tested?”

The brunette huffed, eyes averted, kneading the pillow by her side. “I use protection, you tool.”

“I don’t think you understand that isn’t enough. Damn it. Fuck. Fuck me!” His cursing found the corners of the cheap space once more. “You should know damn well that isn’t enough. Have you looked at yourself in the mirror? Wondered what that rash is?”

The woman thrashed the pillow and lunged up out of bed. “You’re going to shove that in my face, now? You think I have the luxury of going to the doctor for every little allergic reaction? Fuck you!”

As the woman stomped to the bathroom, retrieving her clothes off the bedspread and floor, the detective couldn’t help but shake his head. We’re back to this. This is where it started. Where… it wanted me to be. “It’s not your fault, I’m sorry,” he said loud enough to be heard in the bathroom. “You’d never had known. It’s too late for the both of us.”

His slacks were discarded on the floor. The lump in the pocket was his phone, silent and still. He extracted the device, flipped it open, and stared at the screen. It’s supposed to ring. The chief… he’s going to call me out… to the tracks… downtown somewhere. Second avenue is the crossing. I… can do something different this time. What haven’t I done? Why isn’t he calling? I need the excuse to get out of here.

He glanced back at the light creeping under the closed bathroom door. There was a fumbling on the other side. Shortly after the brunette had entered, she exited, fully dressed, and made a beeline for the door. “Why don’t you get your own self tested, hypocrite? Whoremonger!”

Farva kept his head down, shaking back and forth, as the woman exited, slamming the door behind her. If I end it here… how much further back will I go? Can I go back again? He thought of the gun in the glove box of the car outside. While deciding what to do with himself, the windows lit up with red and blue flashing lights. He stood and pushed open the blinds to view the sole patrol car outside. The yelling, huh?

The sound of knocking radiated from the nearby doors as the detective dressed himself. The knock finally came to his own door, and he was prepared to swing it open. “We got a report of some yelling, sounded like a threat, and— Farve?” The chief greeted him, questions prepared, beyond the entrance.

“I wouldn’t have expected you yourself to be here,” the detective murmured, glancing past Schultz at the parking lot for anyone else from the force.

The chief put himself in the way of Farva’s gaze. “Why the hell are you at a motel? Did the wife kick you out for the night?”

The detective stepped back from the door and looked at the ground. “Sure, something like that.”

Schulz clicked his tongue. “Listen, the person next door said the yelling came from this way. Did you… were you…? Hell,” he paused, turning around, hands in his pockets and cold air drafting in the open doorway. “This is gonna sound like bullshit, but before I got this call from dispatch, I was about to call you, specifically. I shouldn’t even be here, tell ya’ what, but you’re familiar enough with the calls we answer out here in the part of town.”

“Something… going on elsewhere, Chief?” Farva asked slowly, hiding what he knew and felt.

Schultz shook his head and turned back to face the detective, hanging just inside the door frame. “There’s a damn train stopped on the tracks, down on Second. Gives me the chills, weird fuckin’ situation it is. I’d be great to have your help, but seems like you’re already going through it…”

“No, I’ll come,” Farva answered decisively. “Let me check out, I’m not coming back here again.”

The detective had joined the Chief in the patrol car, the strangely familiar words of his explanation playing out from the driver’s seat. Farva sat and nodded, watching the beams of the headlights bounce up and down over the rough roads. As they wound up downtown, flakes of nascent snow began to tumble down from the sky to glow briefly in the light before melting on the asphalt. “Great, now the weather wants to gum things up on us,” the chief muttered lowly as they pulled up to the railroad crossing. “Hopefully the serviceman get here before we get snowed in.”

“Let’s hope,” Farva responded, unbuckling himself from the seat, hand on the door latch. “Hey, chief?”


“I’ll need your flashlight.”

“Wasting no time? Sure. Here.”

Farva grasped the knurled handle tightly through the cold. He punched the pliable rubber button to turn on the beam, perfectly round with wrinkles of oddly reflected light inside. The chief cleared his throat. “We’ve tried the main side doors. They don’t want to budge.”

“The caboose, then?” Farva pointed the light down the side of the train as far as it would reach. Even further was the rearmost car with a way up.

“You’re on top of things, it seems,” Schultz said, breathing long clouds of condensation. “The title detective is coming to fit you. I’ll get back to my reports, then. Be safe, eh?”

Farva nodded despite being out of the chief’s sight. He pointed the beam down and let it guide his path under the guard rails and over the ballast rocks, already slightly slippery with sleet. His free hand traced the edge of the train cars, one by one, until he reached the very end where a set of narrow stairs invited him up.

Will it be different this time? I’ve seen the cars of this train… how many times now? How could I ever know? Every time… it was empty. I know… I remember that. There should be passengers. How does an entire train of people disappear? There must be names, passengers, staff, people who have families and friends elsewhere. The last time… I left this little shithole town was to… get tested. But… that hasn’t happened yet here.

The beam fell upon the rail just below the final metal wheel of the train car, crossing endless treated timber ties and infinite parallel stretches of rail. It isn’t the train I need to look at, but where it came from.

Farva’s boots crunched the rocks as he stepped over the first rail, finding a footing on the long timber between. Out of the shelter of the tall train, the wind blew, pulling at his hair and the tails of his jacket. Hunching his shoulders up allowed his collar to barricade a decent amount of the wind from his neck.

The beam of light fit perfectly between the two stretches of track. If I keep walking… what will I find? Anything? The detective took one last glance back at the train, then began forward.

<– Previous Chapter | Next Chapter –>

Return to the Tracks

Impasse – Chapter Nine

When the detective came to, he was sitting in the back of a patrol car, an emergency blanket spread over him. The car was running, hot air from the heater blowing into the back seat and crinkling the thin, metallic material across his shoulders. The cold grasps of air from the outside were blocked partially by the chief, leaning on the edge of the door frame. “Farva, you with us now? What were you doing in there? You’re lucky the power wasn’t on.”

“I… wasn’t thinking, Chief.”

“No, you weren’t. I thought it was weird that your car was still here,” Schultz huffed. “It’s fortunate the serviceman from the touring company showed up early. I was letting him look around. Just by luck, he decided to check out the fridge in that kitchen car there.”

“Travis…” Farva mumbled.

The chief shook his head. “You’re thinking about him? You might have seen, we cleaned up after the scene he caused. It’s a shame, but like I said, nothing you could have done. It’s just as much my fault, sending him off inside.”

Farva pushed the blanket down and leaned forward, allowing his hands to catch the heat directly from the vents. “Why… how did he manage… what he did?”

Schultz stood up and clicked his tongue. “How should I know? Is that what you were in there for? Farve, this is out of our hands. The coroner is going to make the call, the cause of death. Best we can do is make sure his family isn’t going to go through it too hard.”

“The train isn’t right,” the detective muttered.

The chief grasped the car’s door frame hard, leaning in close. “The only thing that isn’t right is you. You’re just going to end up stepping on people’s toes if you can’t learn to stop, stop trying to solve problems that aren’t yours to deal with. You think you’re some big, brainy TV show detective ’cause you have a badge and a fancy jacket? You were lucky I was able to negotiate enough money for you at city hall. Let you stay in the force, fancy title and all. You ID transients who OD or freeze to death in back alleys, nothing more. I need your mind on things that will actively help us out, especially with all the bullshit we’ll be dealing with from here on out.”

Farva grasped his hand hard, allowing the feeling to return to his fingers little by little. The chief yanked open the driver’s door and leaned in to twist the keys off, killing the idling engine with a sputter and a shake of the car. “You warm enough, now? Get back in your own car and head back home. Get some sleep. Spend a night at home like a normal person. I want you fresh tomorrow morning. Got it?”

Farva yanked the mylar blanket off and twisted himself to the door. His legs wobbled just slightly as he found his balance. The chief slammed the door behind him and stood, unmoving, as he trotted back to the Lincoln parked on the other side of the road.

Through the frosty glass of his windshield, he could see Schultz making his way back to the train. Farva dug around for his keys in the deep pocket of his jacket, pulling them out and shoving them into the ignition. The car cranked whinily, once, twice, three times. Another twist of the keys gave the same result even after a few pumps of the gas pedal. He yanked and spun the window down, offering him enough space to poke his head out and look for the chief once more.

A cloud of his breath dissipated out the window. The chief had already disappeared into the train. What if he ends up like Travis? Like… me. The two of them. I need to go.

Farva pushed out the door, shutting it quietly, window still down. He made his way quickly up the road and the berm, under the guard rails, watching the frosted-over windows for any movement. His feet tread carefully over the rocks, attempting to stay as quiet as possible, as he retraced his steps. Down the tracks, up the stairs of the caboose, through the doors, and finally in a straight shot through the series of train cars.

The detective pushed carefully through the doors in the case that the chief or the technician was beyond. He came across the galley kitchen once more, just as he had left it, including the rack of knives, all as he had last seen them. His heart beat harder with each car he traversed, the next door possibly the one with the other two men.

His chest was tight as he opened one final door, only the coal car and locomotive beyond. Striding across the gap, he found himself between the two tall hoppers. While finding his footing, a small clack entered his ears.

Looking back, he found the hollow end of a pistol pointed his way, chest height, held in the chief’s tight grasp. Schultz’s eyes were cold and hollow, looking right through him, his skin pale. Farva held his hands up the best he could in the tight space. “You don’t want to do this chief. My car… won’t start. I… promise, I wasn’t back here for any other reason. Just… put the gun down.”

A metallic dragging and scraping came from the other side. The technician, eyes fixated like the chief’s, had stepped out from the cabin, a long wrench in his grasp over his shoulder. “What is wrong with you two? Listen to me!”

The chief inched forward, the pistol unmoving in his stiff grasp. The trigger was pulled. The detective felt the sharp, sudden feeling of the bullet piercing his side. The floor creaked under the technician’s movement. He swung the wrench, but it was too late to feel the pain from its contact with his skull.

<– Previous Chapter | Next Chapter –>