Chapter 5: The missed stop

Help me

If one more minute were to pass, the people around him were going to duct tape Sergeant Jackson’s hands to his brief case. He was strumming his fingers for a half-hour while waiting for Sergeant Chamber’s train to arrive at the station. This was Jackson’s first real case and he was looking forward to Chambers counsel. He held in his lap a case full of the initial investigation information that Chambers wanted to review upon arrival. The wait was killing Jackson since he knew time was of the essence. Upon hearing the announcement over the PA system stating that the train was arriving, Jackson felt a heavy weight left from his chest.

Jackson stood up as the passengers began to disembark from the train, scanning the crowd for the first sign of Chambers. As more and more of the passengers passed through the gate, Jackson grew concerned. Walking up to the agent at the gate, he inquired about the location of Chambers. “No sir, he hasn’t checked out yet,” the agent replied, causing Jackson to pull out his bad and ask for permission to board the train. The agent called for security, and soon after, he was escorted to the tracks.

After boarding the train and walking through a few passenger cars, Jackson and the guard reached the berth registered to Chambers. Opening the door, it was soon clear that Chambers had not checked off the train as his belongings were still lying about. Searching around, Jackson found keys, a book that was being read, even his police badge sitting on the table next to his bed, but no sign of his wallet. Asking the guard if there was a dining car on the train, Jackson wondered if Chambers might had taken a visit to the bar at one point, so they decided to search there next.

The night bartender was called down to the dining car to meet with Jackson, who confirmed that Chambers had in fact visited the car earlier in the morning for a drink, and then departed to his room following payment of his bill. Nodding to the guard, the guard called in to the station requesting the train be held for investigation. Jackson asked the bartender to pull out the receipts from the night so he could begin to piece together a timeline. In addition, he asked the guard to contact the conductor to request the train logs to piece together where the train was at the time Chambers paid for his drink. This has turned into a missing person’s investigation.

Within a few hours, the train had been thoroughly searched and interviews conducted, including with a young lady who departed the dining car right after Chambers. She recalled seeing Chambers in her car as she went to her room, but did not recall seeing nor hearing anyone else. The bartender noted that besides the young gal, no one else had left the dining car within a half-hour of Chambers’s departure. The conductor estimated the location of the train at the time Chambers paid for his drink. Jackson was reviewing his notes when it was reported that one of the transition access doors was tampered with, adding confirmation to what he feared. Chambers did not make it to Cincinnati. Using the conductors estimate, Jackson called in for inspections to be made along the tracks in Indiana.

The search dogs were barking and rescue teams were calling out Bill’s name along a hundred miles of tracks, searching for any clue in the disappearance of Chambers. From small towns, to open fields, to the woods, teams were on the ground. In the background, the barking of the dogs was heard.

Bill laid motionless along the same tree for almost twenty-four hours, praying for a miracle, hoping to be found. He fought off the cold of the long night and the fear that he might not be found in time. Unable to move and too soar to call out, all he could do was wait until the rescuers to reach him. And he didn’t have to wait long as a light shined upon him and a dark silhouette approached. “Help me,” Bill cried out in his mind. Kneeling down along side of Bill, his savior in the dark laid a hand upon his chest, giving Chambers a sense of calm, knowing that he was safe. He closed his eyes and slipped into unconsciousness, the sound of dogs barking far off in the background continuing.

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3 Responses to Chapter 5: The missed stop

  1. ilikeverin says:

    Haha, that’d be awesome. And a bit confusing if people thought he was just looking at an atlas… which might not be out of sorts for you and I but for all I know it would be for Bill.

    There’s something a little strange going on in Paragraph 1… remember that you should probably keep all of this from Jackson’s point of view, so starting out with the people around Jackson as the subject of the first sentence might not be the best idea. Maybe you should have Jackson thinking that the people around him were probably going to form a mob to duct tape his hands to his briefcase, or something like that, because I think it’s a good way of expressing his nervous habits.

    In paragraph two “badge” is spelled “bad”. The last sentence of that paragraph should clarify the “he”… something like “…and soon after, Jackson found himself being escorted to the tracks”. I wouldn’t use “escorted”, though, as being “escorted by security” usually has connotations I don’t think are intended.

    I recommend you take out some of the intermediaries when Jackson starts ordering people to talk to people to do things. Unless it’s critical that the reader know that the random officer has to talk to the conductor to get the train logs, the conductor can probably go without being specifically mentioned. The last sentence of that paragraph is a little melodramatic; it’s something that would be in a corny TV show (being spoken, not narrated).

    You use “gal”? 😀

    I’m not sure a missing persons investigation can simultaneously call out the number of dogs necessary to search hundreds of miles of tracks, except mayyyyybe for a Caucasian child or a Caucasian young woman. Not a hard-boiled middle-aged detective, probably. Plus, Indiana is only 140 miles wide (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indiana). You might also be interested in a rail map of Indiana: http://indiana.railfan.net/maps/inmap.gif. (I know that’s a bit obsessive in terms of detail but bear with me here :)) To solve this problem, I’d suggest letting people calculate the place where Bill likely dropped out a bit more exact. The train was likely on “autopilot” during the night, so solving the puzzle of where he fell out is a matter of algebra. Heck if I know how fast trains go, but if he went missing in a 30-minute timeframe that would be… what… 30 miles to search? Tops?

    Sorry for spazzing a bit on you 🙂

  2. ilikeverin says:

    Oops, forgot to mention that I liked the ending. You did a good job of keeping who rescued him a mystery, and sets us up for a good twinge if he remains missing. (one typo: “soar” should be “sore”) But right now you have us in suspense about four or five disappearances. We’re getting close to our quota if we haven’t exceeded it yet; if many more people start leaving it’ll be impossible to keep track of everyone without pencil and paper.

  3. Ethel says:

    Didn’t you mention in the previous chapter that he was catching a connection in Cincinatti? To me a connection, means that he’d have to get on another train. Maybe this isn’t the case with trains? If he misses the connection then his stuff would still be on the first train. Perhaps instead of a connection, it can just be a stop??

    Searched hundreds of miles of track after piecing together a timeline based on the dining car and train records? Surely the detectives can narrow it down better than that? You mentioned 2 am in the previous chapter. If a train is traveling at 65 mph for 4 hours . . . 🙂

    Getting knocked out, thrown off a moving train in a wooded area, and surviving . . . makes a really good fish story. Maybe the train needs to slow down to switch tracks, come near town, about to cross a bridge which had a lower speed limit, etc.

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