At the last train station there was sign that they’d been there. A dead (again) station attendant lay in several pieces across Platform Two. The windows and door were smashed in at the small coffee shop there, but can’t have provided them with much. The vending machine on the platform had long since been ransacked. I feel I can’t be that far behind them now, and I know it’s my imagination, but I can still hear the echoes of the howls and whoops from the gang as they tore through the place, finally unleashed after hours sitting on a slow-moving train. I’m going to find them, I’m going to kill them, I’m going to find my Adam, then I’m going to kill them all again.
So this Boss Man, what did he say? Let me think, it was quite profound, and probably something he practised in front of the mirror, if the mirror could stand the sight of him for long enough without disintegrating.
“So after all these years we’re still pulling in refugees.” He looked me up and down, then slowly and deliberately pulled a knife out of somewhere and placed it on the table. It wasn’t really a knife, more a dagger of some sort. I think they called them stilettos back in the day, and they were used more for throwing or stabbing. Whilst I’d just had a close encounter with a blade that could have sawn a tree down, I did not feel any safer with this obviously off kilter character and his stabbing device. I simply looked at the dagger, looked in his cold eyes again then quickly looked at the floor. I soon found the eyes of the lost child again and simply locked on to those.
“I don’t have the time or need to find out your name, so we’ll just skip the introductions altogether. All you need to know to get you through the remaining minutes of your life,” This made me force down a baseball sized lump in my dry throat, but I did not look up from the huge blue eyes blinking up at me from below the table. “Is that you’ve found yourself aboard what the boys have dubbed the Meat Wagon. It’s not a very nice name, I know, but it is, I assure you, quite fitting. You might be thinking to yourself: What is it I could be doing right now to get myself and, I’m told, quite a lovely looking boy, away from these scary people?”
With that his hand flew under the table and wrenched the boy up to his eye level by his hair. The dagger point was denting the skin of his scrawny neck and it had all happened in less than a heart beat he was so quick. The boy let out a whimper as a thin trickle of blood ran down from where the dagger had nicked his neck and continued to press, and tears welled up in his huge, pleading eyes that stared into me.
The cold blue eyes of the Boss then tore my helpless gaze from the boy and into the depths of the depraved man’s world.
“You see, I’ve gotten by in this so called life we now all find ourselves in, by speed and intelligence. Those Neanderthals you saw back in that last carriage survive purely by brute strength and brawn. You look like a fairly intelligent specimen to me.” In saying this he places the dagger back on the table again and lets go of the boy’s hair. The boy immediately curls back into the foetal position at his feet under the table and rubs at his neck where the dagger had been jabbing him. “As one of the few remaining intelligent members of the species I will therefore give you two choices.” He pauses here, whether savouring the moment, pausing for dramatics, or just that he’s lost his train of thought as the pink elephants and crazy pixies of his addled brain distract him for a moment. “You can choose to travel Third Class, or Run the Gauntlet, and most probably then travel Third Class anyway.” He sniggers to himself, without a drop of humour, at his own little in-joke.