Saturday, June 23, 2007


Everything was in place for the afternoon train. Coyote was in his element, arranging and rearranging people and equipment as he got new ideas. Finally the explosives were set, fuse lines run, rifles and extra ammunition placed in optimal spots. There was even a small fire where they staged bows and quivers of arrows with flammable tips, in case some of the fuses proved to be duds and didn't ignite the powder.

Coyote peered down the track through the binoculars, kicking a loose tie and frowning at the empty horizon. "Let's get our horses," he said to Will.

"Is the train coming?"

"It's got to be. It always comes through about this time."

They waved to Galileo, who brought them their horses. "My only concern," the man said, gazing up the track, "Is what if it turns out to be a dedicated troop train? There's no way even with the explosives, we could kill them all."

Coyote mounted his horse and tugged on its reins. "That's the only thing we don't have enough supplies to handle, so there's no point worrying about it."

"Maybe I should wake Diana," Will said. "Just in case we have to make a run for it."

"No, she's safe."

Will wasn't sure if that was a pronouncement from "them" or simply an ordinary guess, but there was no time to ask, because they saw a hint of movement along the horizon. Coyote sent Will and Galileo to their stations and trotted his horse up and down the line, watching as the train went from a pinprick to a rapidly growing line of diesel engines and dusty cars.

He tethered his mare to a tie lying in the grass and readied his flints and signal flag, breathing hard with anticipation as he waited for the perfect moment. When he could bear it no longer, he waved the flag, lit the tinder, and touched off the fuses. The twine sparked and caught, and the flames raced down the line in pursuit of the oncoming engines.

The earth rumbled and the chugging of the engines became louder. With a screech of metal on metal, the wheels hit the first of the spikes scattered along the rails and began to skid. The engines rocked, the motion moving down the line of cars and setting them all swaying. Then the first of the charges lit, and the sound of the pistons was drowned in a series of explosions. More metal on metal as the engine careered wildly, picking up loose spikes as the engineer scrambled to set the brakes.

The engine and lead cars hit the diverted section of rail and veered off into the grass, tumbling over and crashing as the last of the charges went off, shaking the ground like an earthquake in a thunder of flame and smoke.

1 comment:

Alice Audrey said...

Now I've got to know what kind of train it was - troops or not.