Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Light Ray Blues, Series 2, Instalment 13: Door #3

If the men-in-black weren't obnoxious enough, two other guys Ed Bryce fell in with were worse. That reminds me, I need a cough drop before this starts . . . 

The bureaucrat twins didn’t take any chances. They strong-armed me down the corridor, pushed me into an unlocked janitor’s room, and then injected some sort of drug into my arm. Before I was out, but still docile, the one who had my arm in a hammer lock released it, unfolded a wheelchair stashed in a corner and jammed me in it. What happened next, I have no idea. I guess they just wheeled me away like a pair of devoted nephews entertaining a feeble uncle out on a day pass from the home.

All I remember is where I woke up, flat on the floor of a baggage car squeezed between two crates of barking dogs. The one on the left held some sort of little yap-yap dog that probably had never been out of its owner's purse, and the other held something that was more bear than dog and I wasn’t sure how that thin-walled plastic crate it was in could contain it. If it broke out, I’d use Mr. Yap-Yap as diversionary bait.

My right leg was aching. If gnawing it off with my teeth would have eased the pain, I’d have gladly done it and thrown the remains to the bear to shut it up. 

I sat up and took stock. My leg hurt. My watch was gone. My wad of cash was gone. Keys, gone. Wallet, gone. Tickets, gone. At least I still had my clothes. And that hand-cuff was still on me, but instead of my wrist, now my left ankle was cuffed to a tie-down in the floor. 

There was one thing in my favour though: those twins were idiots. They didn’t secure the floor tie-down. All I had to do was slide the tie-down to the end of the floor track by the side-wall and pop it out at the end, so that’s what I did. I scuttled down the floor, and when I got to the end, lifted the tie-down out of the track and stuffed it along with the cuff into my sock. It rubbed my ankle like hell, but I was free. My subscriptions to those train magazines had just paid for themselves.

I sat on the floor by the end of the tie-down track and leaned against the baggage car’s side wall. I desperately needed to take a whiz before my bladder exploded. I looked up and down the car. This wasn’t a baggage car at all, but one of those configure-your-own-railcar things made in Sweden. You buy one of their railframes with trucks and you can configure it in a million-and-one ways with all their accessories. You order the parts from their catalogue and voila!, a few days later flat boxes stuffed with parts and a giant key - well, ok I exaggerate, a big tool box - show up at your loading dock for you to assemble your new rolling office, school room, dentist office, optometry, workshop, dormitory, or whatever. This car I was in was a fairly common configuration: big open area with some rooms at either end. I struggled to my feet and limped down to the left end to look for a toilet. I had guessed correctly, and in a couple of minutes I no longer felt explosive.

Feeling renewed and adventurous I hobbled down to the rooms at the other end. There were four small ones, two on either side of the car separated by a very narrow aisle. Some sort of cubicle offices. All had doors and none had windows. I rattled the knobs. 

My rattle on door #3 was responded to by a faint “Hello?” in a woman’s voice.

I put my ear to the door and answered, “Hello?”

There was a pause and then a timid rely, “Who are you?”

I decided to risk it, “My name is Ed Bryce.”

In a more relieved, low tone she replied, “It’s me, Mary Ellesmere. Is Leslie with you?”

I was relieved too and replied “I’m glad you’re ok. Leslie isn’t here.”

“I’m locked in”

“Give me a second.”

I looked carefully at the walls and door. This was one of the cheapest wall systems you could buy from that Swedish catalogue.

“Can you stand against the car’s side wall, away from the door? I’m going to try and break out the door handle.”

There were sounds of movement in the little room.

“Ok. I’m against the wall.”

This was going to be interesting. My right leg was already aching and soon some other part of me would join in. Misery loves company. I leaned against a vertical strut in the wall opposite the door and tried putting my weight on my right leg. It ached some more, but I could stand. 

“I’m going to give the door a kick.”


It took about five kicks, but eventually I had whacked a sizable hole around the door handle and was able to work it free with my hands. The door was a cheap, thin hollow panel. Once the handle and lock were removed, I swung open the door carcass.

“Hello Mr. Bryce. Funny meeting you here.”

“Hello Dr. Ellesmere.”

“Just Mary, please.”

“Ed’s good with me.”

We both laughed.

“Welcome to my home. Won’t you have a seat?”

There was no furniture of any sort in there. I pushed aside bits of broken door and we sat face-to-face on the floor. I sat near the door opening and stretched my bum leg into the aisle.

“That was easier than I thought it would be,” she said as she surveyed the remains of the door.

“This stuff,” motioning all round with my arm,” looks substantial, but it’s not. It’s barely legal. Most owners don’t assemble it correctly, so it’s rickety and unsafe to boot. In fact, this is one of the original railframes and its illegal these days. I’m surprised it’s still in use.”

“You know about these things?”

“I read a lot.”

Then she asked the obvious question, “What now?”

“Well, if the floor was assembled as poorly as the rest of this thing, we may have a way out.”

I slowly sat up on my knees and started to feel around the edges of the large, square floor panel that was between us. After a minute or so I found the latch I was looking for and swung the panel up. Below, ties and rails roared by our newly found escape hatch.

Mary stared at the thinness of the floor panel and then peered into the hole, “Jesus! Is that all that’s between us and the track?”

“Yeap. They didn’t screw down the floor, only latched it in place. Makes installation faster. Another reason why these things are illegal.”

At least the sound of the train running over the track masked the sound of barking dogs. 

I looked away from the opening and asked her, “Has the train ever stopped?”

“A couple of times, but only for a few minutes.”

“If it stops again we’re leaving.”

Mary looked away from me, through the hole, back to me and replied, “Ok.”

I looked her in the eye and instructed, “We can’t hesitate. As soon as we come to a full stop, go out, stay low and get away from the train fast. Don’t stop. Once you’re clear, stay low and find a place to hide. I’ll follow. Once the train is gone I’ll come find you.”


We had a lot to say to each other, but we didn’t. Noise from the track. Barking dogs. And the tension of wondering if the train would stop. We just sat, kept our thoughts to ourselves, and cast each other occasional glances.

This seemed to go on forever.

But even forever has its end. 

Squealing brakes cut the tension. 

The car began to slow. 

And then stop.

Mary did just as I asked and then I followed. 

When I was clear I saw her scramble behind some bushes down from the car and a few metres away from the track. I followed. 

Mary and I laid on our stomaches on some scratchy ground and watched the train. It was almost dark. There seemed to be a station. I couldn’t see much from this vantage point. I didn’t hear people sounds. After what seemed like only two or three minutes, the train slowly pulled away and within a few minutes more it was gone. 

The next pulse pounding instalment can be found here.

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