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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Flash Fiction: Under a Dead Sun

Chapter 31

Billy tossed the kindle into the fading engine, trying to coax the last few ounces out of the dying machine. He could see Hicken's Gorge around the bend, he only needed a few more miles out of the train until they could be safely away. He looked back at Katee, beautiful Katee, battered and worn out. Her faded red dress a tatter of rips, streaked with blood and scorched marks. Her hair had tumbled out of its simple bun and flapped in the breeze. She held her pistol at the ready, looking for any signs that the undead behind them had escaped the Pullman's.

Billy stopped, wiping a mixture of sweat and blood from his brow, the ringing in his ears lowering to a dull throb. The were approaching the bridge. By blowing this bridge it should cut off anything that escaped from Contention by several days at the least. Contention was isolated, the nearest town a hard two days ride along these tracks. Along the other directions you were separated by a week or more of tough country, surrounded by Indians and tough mountainous trails. Billy looked over to Katee.

"Get the dynamite Kat, it's almost time."

Billy threw the last few logs in his stack into the kiln and stretched his back. The train was still pulling along nicely, though all the gauges were shot so they were going to have to hope that they had enough speed to clear the bridge in time. Helping Katee onto the fuel cart, they made there way back to where the Pullman's attachment lever.

As they crested the fuel cart, Katee spotted it first. Some of the creatures had broken through the door of the final Pullman, and were on the carts balcony. Two of the creatures feebly clawed at the edge, but were unable to pull themselves onto the fuel cart.

"As soon as we fire on'em they are gonna know we're here. We could alert the whole cart. If there are more of 'em, we could be in trouble."

Katee held up the pistol, flashing him another of her rare smiles. 'You cut the cart, I'll handle 'em."

Grabbing another piece of wood, he eased himself to the edge, trying to make as little noise as possible. Resting his boots on the lip, he eased his body down, lying prone on the wood pile. Billy glanced up at Katee and nodded. Katee took careful aim, and fired once, twice. Each of the creatures heads exploded, spraying yellow and black pus across the cart.

Billy levered his back up and sprung from the fuel cart, dropping to the connecting switch below. Billy hit hard, losing his balance. His equilibrium weakened from the explosion earlier forcing him to grab the carts railing, grabbing in time to prevent pitching over the side. Steadying himself, he turned to the switch and started pulling, the screeching coupling slowly pulling apart. He glanced up to see another monster emerge from the Pullman, mouth still fresh from whatever it had been feasting on. Billy was forced to swing out with the kindling, smashing it against the side of the monster's face, erupting in an explosion of wood splinters. The creatures head flew sideways, but it quickly turned back, its broken face embedded with splinters.

Billy, weaponless now, arched his back as it took a swipe at him, narrowly missing him. Then there was another shot and the creature thudded back. Then another and Billy felt pus and bile spray him as he futilely covered his face. Looking up, he saw Katee, her pistol still smoking.

"Hurry up Billy, we're almost at the bridge!"

Lowering his shoulder, Billy leaned all of his weight, straining against the lever until it grudgingly pulled apart in a final protesting screech. Quickly hopping back onto the fuel cart, he could see the the earth fall away beneath him. They were at the Gorge. Pulling himself up, Katee was pulling out the dynamite.

They had already twined the last six sticks together onto a single fuse which Katee held out to Billy.

"Light the match Katee."

Realizing they were quickly running out of time, Billy pulled out his knife, cutting of a length of fuse. If they were going to have any chance of stopping the rest of the train from crossing before the explosion, they were going to have to hurry. holding out the bundle, Billy lit the fuse off her match. Tossing it off the edge, Billy tackled Katee and covered her with his body.

It was up to God now.

End of Line.

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