I swear I heard a gun shot in the night last night. I’ve got to be gaining on them. What little supplies I’’ve managed to get along the way are dwindling though, and as much as I hate to admit it, I’m going to have to take a day off from the pursuit in order to stock up again. I can’t be wasting away and have no energy when I finally find them. I have no clue how I’ll take them all on yet, but I can’t see it going well if I’m already part dead on my feet before they have a go at me.
Where was I? Oh yeah, the ultimatum.
I didn’t have a clue what the space cowboy was on about. Sitting there in his luxurious seat, in his suit and tie. A small boy chained at his feet. What a freakin’ nut bar. At this stage I need to point out, I had not said a word to the guy. It wasn’t out of bravery, or wanting to be all cool and blasé about it. It was the deep seated terror I felt in the pit of my stomach, the dizzy wooziness of having just come around after my brain had been pounded against the inside of my skull – twice – and the fact that in front of me was one cold hearted, evil mother, and behind me was a train carriage of behemoths ready to tear my head off and drink from my skull. I wasn’t sure which I feared more, and so I just stood there trying not to kack my pants.
I looked up at the Boss man questioningly, obviously confused by this whole Gauntlet versus Third Class bizzo he was ranting about. So he enlightened me.
“This train is made up of two 450 Desiro diesel locomotives, hauling seven carriages made up of this one you stand in now, acquired from the London to Cambridge Orient Express, though we picked it up somewhere around Stevenage from memory. The other carriages consist of staff quarters, livestock,” He said this with a smirk, knowing I knew there were people in those carriages, “Food and storage, the Armoury, and what we refer to as Third Class, which houses a host of Lurkers.” At my confused frown he translated: “The walking dead people? Zombies if you will?” I knew what he had meant. My confusion was as to why they would have a carriage full of them. Noticing I still looked confused, the realisation as to why dawned on him. “A long train journey can get rather boring for those of us,” At this he nodded at the door behind me, “Lacking in the mental department to keep one’s self out of mischief. Therefore we carry a number of the Lurkers for entertainment purposes.”
He continued his blathering. I felt like I was in one of those movies where the arch-nemesis reveals his evil plot just before the good guy, hopefully me, escaped and ruined the dastardly plans before they could come to fruition. I looked around the carriage for some escape route that didn’t take me into the path of something shiny and pointy while he continued.
“This train used to hold a large number of happy families, making their way back and forth across the country in search of a safe home. I travelled with them for some time until a few of the boys you met in the previous carriage joined us and started rough-housing and messing about with some of the woman. This didn’t go down so well, as I’m sure you can imagine, with the kind hearted folks and so both sides soon came to what could politely be called an impasse. You see, the original inhabitants of the train didn’t like being beaten up, raped and some of their number mysteriously disappearing, and the boys in black couldn’t bring themselves to refrain from said activities. That’s where I stepped up and mediated for both parties. I think we all came to an amicable conclusion where we fed most of the original travellers, less a select few, to a hungry hoard that had been following the train for about a hundred miles by this stage, and kept the train for ourselves. Everybody was happy. Well, those unhappy no longer complained anyway.” With this his eyes crinkled up in what must have passed as glee to him. Me, I just stood there and tried not to hurl chunks.
He then reached up and pulled on a crimson cord which hung the length of the carriage just above the windows and looped through silver hooks. Somewhere behind him there was a distant ding of a bell and the train immediately began to slow with a squeaking of breaks until it came to a complete stop.
“Before you need to ask, let me assure you that the boy of yours will be looked after. Not well, mind you, but looked after all the same. So, what will it be? The Gauntlet through the carriage behind you, or Third Class in the last carriage?”