Summertime Killer – Part Three

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Serial Fiction

The train sped through the orange desert, billowing dust in its wake. Sunlight gleamed off the metal exterior and the shimmering heat of the American expanse surrounded it. Sat inside one of the many passenger cars was Brad, wearing a Hawaiian shirt, shorts and flip-flops, as he held a grey briefcase close to his chest. It had been an hour on the train; the station he had departed from said that the journey would take a little more than two more to arrive at his destination. He had tried to sleep, but it was noon and he was too nervous anyway. He had to be alert. Rumors were flying that his company’s competitors were up to something.

The briefcase the man held in his hands was heavy and locked tight. His supervisors had not disclosed its contents, but had specified it was to be delivered to Miami, which was across the country from where he worked. Brad was promised a lot of money for this job — he wanted to do it right. He was told a plane journey would be too easy to track, so his route was planned for him. After getting off this train, he was scheduled to pick up a taxi and get to a hotel in the nearest town of his choice. From there, he’d receive his next set of instructions.

The rumble and clicks of the train went on, the steady beat lulling Brad into a daze. The sun continued to beat down on the desert outside, and the people sat around him all resembled folk who had lived under it for a very long time. Dry, orange skin and many wrinkles were common among the people Brad saw, and he wondered to himself about where they were going, and how they’ll adjust to the different climate further east. He had been all over the country, from the freezing woodlands of Canada to the concrete high rises of Manhattan. These people on this train were probably leaving their hometowns for the first time, judging by how they looked longingly out to the desert. Brad brushed these thoughts aside and focused on something else. He looked down. The briefcase stayed in his lap, its grey, corporate sheen an inconspicuous disguise to whatever it held inside.

From a hilltop far ahead of the train, a pair of eyes peered through some binoculars and watched it approach. He could see far to the horizon, across the shifting sands and dirt of this place, but now he had to focus on something more in his immediate vicinity. Looking at the preparations he had laid on the tracks, Harvey cracked a smile.

The train continued on, and Brad drank from his canteen, water trickling down his dry throat. He was more relaxed now, confident in the plan. It always worked out; why wouldn’t it now? He looked at the time despairingly, but it had only been a couple of minutes. He wanted to get off this train as soon as possible.

Harvey watched as the train neared the package laid on the tracks, and as it sped over, he pressed the red button in his hand. A split second later, an explosion shook the ground.

In an instant, Brad was hurled across the compartment, hitting his chest onto a suitcase rack and he dropped to the floor. Loud rumblings filled the air and vibrations shook the train as it derailed. The briefcase, still clutched in his hand, had suffered a dent and a few scratches, but it was intact. Brad could faintly hear the screech of metal and the piercing wail of many screams, but his ears were ringing from the explosion. A couple of minutes passed; it seemed as if the train had stopped moving. He waited a few moments to catch his breath, and then tried to get up. Pain shot through his legs, and he instantly reversed his movements, putting his head down back onto the floor. Brad slowly looked down, to see his legs mangled under a sheet of metal that had fallen in the derailing. More pain began to filter through as the adrenaline left his system. His legs were trapped and broken. He saw the desert sun beaming through a gap in the crash, and the horizon beyond. Suddenly, the gap was filled by a dark figure holding a silver object that glinted in his hand.

Harvey raised the Glock to the disheveled man in the train cabin, and unloaded a shot into his face. His brains plastered against the wall as blood trickled down, dripping onto the sand. The Summertime Killer clambered into the wreckage, finding the briefcase next to the body. As he went to pick it up, he noticed the now cold-dead fingers of Brad clutched around the handle, still serving their purpose. One at a time, Harvey pulled the fingers away from the case and grabbed it. There was a dash of blood smeared onto the front. Harvey walked out of the compartment and stepped over several lifeless bodies trapped in the wreckage. Sand drifted across the desert and he found himself looking back at the devastation he’d caused.

The train was ground into the dirt, tumbled over sideways, orange flames spreading slowly across the front end. Harvey snatched his eyes away and walked over to the getaway car he’d placed near the tracks under an overpass. He got in, placed the briefcase carefully in the backseat, turned the ignition. The car fired its engines and Harvey sped off into the desert, the smoke of the crash drifting across the sky.

 

next: Summertime Killer – Part Four

previous: Summertime Killer — Part Two

more by AMADEUS LINSKILL

photograph by Josh Nezon

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