… and to all a good night
“Let me just verify the information. The car belongs to one Darren Hernandez, and a local store clerk remembered seeing him a few nights earlier. Correct? Ok, I will join up with the team as soon as I return home. The train has just left Denver and I’ll get a connection out from Cincinnati. Keep me appraised of the investigation. Chambers out.”
Cutting his vacation short, Sgt. Chambers responded to a call from his precinct regarding a black convertible found abandoned in the woods with no sign of the owner. One of the town residents indicated that Darren Hernandez was on his way to one of the local campgrounds to meet up with his friend Kyle Wright. After Darren failed to show up at the site, Kyle headed into town and filed a missing person’s report with the local sheriff’s office. While such a case usually wouldn’t require Sgt. Chambers’ presence, it was a call from Chip Mackey requesting his assistance as a favor.
Bill had spent the weekend skiing and taking a well-deserved break from the job. After assisting another department with a missing child case, he needed the time to clear his head and recharge his batteries. Taking the train only added to the alone time he needed as the rhythmic clacking of the wheels on the track allowed him to rest in his cabin with a good book. Mystery novels were his obvious weakness, though he also felt that they helps him think outside of the box when it came to his work examining crime scenes. But tonight the biggest mystery was on which page he would fall asleep reading.
The banking of the train as it winds through the countryside was enough to stir Bill from his nap. He replaced the bookmark in his book and slowly crawled out of his chair. Though it was only two in the morning, he remembered that the dining car had 24-hour bar service; and he really felt the need for a drink. After splashing some water on his face and slipping on his shoes, he closed his cabin door and headed down the length of the train to reach the dining car. The otherwise stillness of the night was interrupted each time he transitioned from one car to the other, even though it was only momentary.
He finally reached the dining car, and besides the three other individuals who seemed to share his semi-sleepless state. He asked the bartender for a scotch, and then took his drink to a nearby seat to enjoy the nighttime view. The glow of the near full moon illuminated much of the countryside; accenting the open fields and limbs of nearby trees as the train sped along the tracks. The periodic flicker of the lights inside the dining car only added to this sense of tranquility as he sipped his drink.
As the clanking of the ice cube in the glass reminded him that his drink was quickly ending, Bill knew it was time to return back to his cabin for the night. Taking a one last gaze outside the window, he watches as the fields gave way to the trees and the glow of the moon was obscured by the darkness of the forest. He stood up and raised his glass in the direction of his quiet strangers, bidding them goodnight before taking his last slip. Placing the glass and two-dollar tip on the counter for the bartender, he made his way back up the length of the train towards his cabin.
The swooshing sound of the tree branches near the train provided a distinctly different sound as Bill transitioned from car to car, but as before once the door closed, the car would become silent once again. He made it halfway down the first car when he heard the door behind him open and close. Looking over his shoulder, he noticed one of his dining car companions – a young woman – enter the berthing car and made her way just a few steps down the hall to her cabin. As Bill reached the door to transition to the next car, she had already entered her cabin and closed the door.
After entering into the next car, Bill couldn’t wait to walk the 75 feet to reach the door to transition into his car and eventually his cabin to get a few more hours of sleep before reaching Cincinnati. He had a chance to reflect on the case while enjoying his drink, and he could not wait to get to the scene and start some interviews, especially with Chip. His thoughts lingered with him as he finally made his way to the end of the car and opened the door. Closing the first door behind him he reached for the door to his car as the floor suddenly shifted underneath his feet as the train banked.
The sound of branches scraping against the side of the cars did not calm his nerves as he tried to regain his balance and reach for the door in front of him. The lights in the transition way flickered as he turned the knob, but the door did not open. Turning and pulling on the knob did not help as his relaxation turned to frustration. But finally he felt the breeze of the door opening, or what he thought was his door. Someone entered the transition behind Bill and quickly pushed him into the door before him. Grabbing him by the arm and back of the neck, the stranger continued to slam him against the door, making him lose consciousness somewhere between the second and third blow of the head.
Kicking open the service passage on the side of the transition way, the stranger threw Bill of the train, watching his limp body bounce against the bare earth and come to a rest against a tree. Within a matter of seconds, Bills’ body disappeared into the darkness and the train quickly passed him by. The sound of the clacking wheels against the track faded into the eerie silence of the night, and no one but the attacker knew of Bills’ whereabouts.