It’s finally starting to feel like fall! Sorry, had to get that out.
Okay, let’s start a new adventure =)
“Do you have the time?” the gentleman beside you asks.
You glance at your watch, a gift from your best friend. “Twelve thirty,” you say and go to look back out the window but then you do a double take.
The man doesn’t seem to notice your look. He’s staring vacantly toward the front of the car while tapping his long fingers on his knee.
You shrug and go back to looking out at the passing farmland. On the other side of the train, the view’s taken up by a blasted rock face. You’re glad you managed to get the outside seat where you can see the open expanse of land. Otherwise, this ride could be boring in the extreme.
“Do you have the time?”
Your head swivels around but the gentleman’s smile is enquiring without a hint of jest.
You glance at his wrist. “Twelve thirty five.”
He glances down, sees his watch and does an “oh, imagine that.” A grin covers his face while he investigates the gold timepiece. He holds his wrist up to show you and nods. “Forgot my wife gave it to me,” he says.
You smile to be polite and turn away.
Between the train and the fields runs a road. You can’t actually see the path but a line of dust drifts into the air from a wagon. Whoever’s driving must be in quite the hurry.
The line of dust curves. At first it ran parallel the tracks but now it’s heading on a collision course with the train. Perhaps the person wants over the tracks before the train crosses the road but, if that’s the case, the person’s cutting it close.
You grip the armrest without realizing it.
“Do you have the time?”
You open your mouth to answer by mentioning the man’s watch but your words are drowned out by the screech of the brakes. The car lurches and you catch yourself by grabbing the windowsill before you’re dumped into the seat in front of you.
The gentleman’s not so fortunate. His head hits the seat and he grunts. When he sits back, his hands shake where he holds them against his knees.
Finally, the train comes to a shuddering stop.
“Are you all right?” you ask.
He looks over with wide eyes and mouths something. No sound comes out.
“Stay in your seats!”
You both look toward the front of the car to see a man at the door. His head about brushes the ceiling and, in his hand, he carries a pistol. Strapped to his back hangs a riffle.
“It’s a colt,” the gentlemen whispers. “.45 caliber revolver with a custom grip.” He licks his lips. “Haven’t seen anyone but law enforcement carry such a weapon in these parts.”
The tall man’s clearly not law enforcement. You mention that fact.
“Clearly,” the man agrees. “They picked quite the spot for a heist. Nearest lawman’s at the next station couple hours away.”
You both fall silent as the man walks the isle of the car. He drops a bag in the center and returns to the front of the car.
“One at a time, walk to the bag and drop in your valuables. We’ll start with you.”
He points to the woman at the front of the car. She squeaks but gets up and shuffles to the bag while taking off her earrings and necklace.
“Rings too,” the man reminds her.
She whimpers but does as told. Tears stream down her cheeks.
“My watch,” the gentleman grasps his wrist.
“What about it?” you ask.
“Was a gift from my late wife,” he says, stripping the timepiece from his wrist. He stuffs the piece under the seat cushion.
“Won’t work,” you say and point to his skin. The place the watch sat is white against his tan arm.
He stares at that tell tale sign and his chin quivers.
A. Give Him Your Watch?
B. Roll His Sleeves Down?
The Watch Option A: Give Him Your Watch
Although your watch was a gift from your friend, you can’t value it above this man’s life. You peel your own watch off and stuff it
in his palm. Thankfully, the watch was a recent gift because you lack the obvious tan line that would have given the man away.
He gives you a watery grin.
“You next,” the highwayman points the colt at you. The watch was all you carried of value. Besides it, your bag holds a few changes of clothing and a notebook but you’ve no jewelry or coin. In fact, your friend paid for the train because he knew how badly you wanted to see your family.
You stand up so the man can see you better. “I’ve nothing,” you say and pull your pockets inside out.
“Rubbish!” the man stalks down the isle. “You can’t be traveling without at least some coin.”
You shrug and hold your arms out to the side to show him you’ve nothing to hide. This doesn’t seem to appease him. He grabs your shoulder and pulls you into the isle. The jostling bumps you into the poor gent who holds your watch like it’s a lifeline. You apologize out of reflex.
The back door of the car slams open.
“Tuck! Lawmen on the way,” shouts a second highwayman.
“How far out?” asks the first man, Tuck apparently.
“Right there,” the man points out the window.
Every head turns to see five horses approaching the train.
Tuck growls and shoves you toward his partner before grabbing the bag of valuables off the floor.
“Hostage,” he tells his partner and shoves you again so you stumble into the grasp of the second man. Before you can react, the man spins you around and pulls your arms tight behind your back where he ties them together. Your eyes meet the gaze of the older gent holding your watch. He seems to be fighting tears, so you try to give him an encouraging smile. Who knows if he actually comprehends what’s going on?
You’re spun around again and pushed out the door.
They jostle you around until you’re positioned on the far side of the bench seat in full view of the arriving lawmen.
“Don’t shoot or we’ll kill this one!” Shouts the man holding you.
“Give it up,” answers back the lead lawman. “You can’t get very far.”
The highwaymen laugh in response and the wagon jerks into motion. You try to stay still, especially with the pistol against your temple, but it’s hard with the uneven ground.
One of the lawmen pulls a rifle and uses his partner’s shoulder to take aim at the retreating wagon. The highwaymen sink into the bed of the wagon and the driver continues to use you as a shield.
Aa. Sit Still?
Ab. Bump the Driver to Give the Lawman a Shot?
The Watch Option Ab. Bump the Driver
Once the highwaymen escape the sight of the train and the lawmen, they’ll have no use for you. This brings to mind what they might do with a useless passenger. Dump you from the wagon, shoot you… all of the possibilities you come up with are not comforting.
You eye the lawman sighting down the barrel of his rifle. Hopefully he’s a good shot because he’s your best chance at the moment.
In one move, you slam your elbow into the driver of the wagon and duck away from the pistol he’s holding to your temple.
There’s a grunt but it’s drowned out immediately by the clear, deep boom of a riffle shot. Elation brings a smile to your face.
The smile disappears just as quickly as the driver slumps over and drops the reins. Then he slides off the seat and hits the horses.
They jump, neighing in panic. You grasp the seat of the wagon in your own panic at the horse’s sudden run that bounces the wagon in a teeth-jarring rattle. The reins by now have fallen off the seat. They drag by the horse’s pounding feet. You scramble over the seat to make a grab for them but someone pulls on the back of your shirt.
The pull becomes stronger and you’re forced back into the bed of the wagon.
It’s Tuck. He tries to pin you down but the wagon hits a bump and he’s thrown off balance.
You stand up but before you can attack him back, another man grabs you. The wagon jostles and you both hit the side. The man pinwheels his arms, grabs your collar in a mad grasp to stabilize himself and only manages to pull you over the side with him.
In the fall, you have a moment of relief when you see you’ll land on top of him but the relief vanishes the instant you hit.
The man cushions your body but your legs hit the rocks and a sharp, mind numbing jolt shoots up your left leg. You roll on the ground until the momentum from the fall fades and you can stop. Then you just lay there, blind with pain. The left leg’s broken, you’re sure of it, but even with the pain, you hear the satisfied chuckle behind you.
Rolling over with your teeth gritted, you find Tuck with his Colt pointed at you. In the distance behind him, you spot the dust from running horses. The lawmen. Tuck hasn’t noticed them yet.
You could keep him distracted until they can surprise him but from what you’ve seen, Tuck might be a bit trigger happy. Or you could point out the lawmen and hope he takes the gun off you in his worry over the lawmen.
Ab1: Keep Him Distracted?
Ab2. Point out the Lawmen?
The Watch Option Ab2: Point Out the Lawmen
The pain from your leg makes thought difficult. Focusing enough to keep Tuck distracted until the lawmen can catch him by surprise is probably more than you can handle.
“You know,” you say, “You’re on your own now.” You gesture around, indicating the shot driver, the unconscious man you landed on and…you look and can’t spot the third man. Then you see him, strapped to the back of one of the lawmen’s horses. When he fell off the wagon, you’ve no idea but it doesn’t matter now.
You point to the third man, which successfully points out the approaching band of law enforcement.
Tuck spins around. He apparently isn’t worried about you moving with your leg.
“STAY BACK!” he shouts and waves the Colt in the air.
The horses slow down and come to a stop. They’re well within hearing distance and just far enough away for Tuck to feel safe.
He’s still waving the Colt. “I’ll shoot every one of you if you come closer.” He looks around but the wagon’s gone along with the horses that pulled it. The train’s not a good way out and he can’t just walk away.
It seems everything is at a stand still.
“Give it up, Tucker Frost,” the lead lawman says. “There’s no where for you to go.”
“You’re going to let me walk away,” he says and takes a step toward you like he’s going to use you as a hostage again.
There’s a boom and Tuck collapses.
You instantly look to the riffle lawman who shot the driver but he doesn’t have his riffle out. Instead, he’s holding a pistol.
Then you notice all the lawmen looking over their shoulders. You follow their gazes until you spot a man standing beside the train. He’s just lowering a riffle and you notice his shock of white hair.
The gentleman you gave your watch to. You’re sure of it.
“Old Master’s still has it,” one of the lawmen says.
“Sorry?” you ask.
“That’s Mark Masters,” responds the man. “Memory’s not all there anymore but he used to be the best sharp shooter we law enforcement had in the area. Seems he just saved your life.”
Sure enough, it was the old man you gave your watch to. He agrees to give your watch back once you tell him where his own watch is. He stays with you to make sure your leg is set right and then helps you while it heals.
You and he end up becoming close friends although, the older he gets, the more you have to remind him who you are, and what time it is.
Yay! You survived and made a new friend =) Although the journey to get there was a bit rough, well done =)