TB Excerpt 3

Chapter 14 (pages 112 – 116) – Santascoy invades the Riders’ camp – on a mission!

Jackson Trachsel awoke to the sound of shouting and screaming. Pulling the tent’s zipper down, he yanked it open and emerged to discover chaos all around him.

Taking several steps toward the melee, he saw Track Pirates everywhere. Fists, along with anything not nailed down, flew through the air. Wick and the other Rail Riders were presently holding their own, but the Pirates outnumbered them.

When Jackson saw Zagar, the bald-headed Pirate, straddling Preston while raining fists down unmercifully, the young man did not hesitate. He ran headlong at Zagar, slamming into the Pirate’s side, knocking him off Preston. The two men rolled around on the ground exchanging blows before Jackson jumped to his feet. Leaning forward, he swung his left fist down at the Pirate’s face, but Zagar blocked the blow with his arm, then returned the favor with a kick to Jackson’s gut.

This sent him staggering back, giving Zagar enough time to leap to his feet. He lunged at Jackson, knocking them both back to the earth. A couple well-placed punches to Jackson’s face and body took some of the fight out of the young man.

“Enough!” yelled Santascoy, who accentuated his voice with a loud gunshot. The pistol he bran- dished looked more like a prop from a pirate movie than it did an actual gun, though it sounded plenty real. The huge divot blasted into a nearby maple tree looked menacing. “Rail Riders, my good friends, kindly move yourselves toward the tree I just shot. We have some quick business, and then we will be on our way.” Looking around at the scared and bleeding crowd, he turned and pointed the pistol at Jackson. “You there, Mac’s young nephew. Come here, dear boy.”

When Jackson refused to budge, two of the Pirates walked over to him, each grabbing an arm, and dragged him over. Tossing him at the Pirate King’s feet, Santascoy laughed as he addressed the Pirates. “Thank you, Smitty. And thank you, Edison. Now boy, look at me.”

Jackson glared upward, holding his left cheek. “What?”

“Now where is your brother, hmmm?” He scanned the crowd, but when he did not locate Jam, he continued, “I wouldn’t have pegged him for the cowardly type, but no matter. Let’s begin. First, what is your name? I’m tired of calling you ‘boy’.”

When he did not answer, Santascoy motioned for the men flanking Jackson to lift him to his feet and pull him even closer. Speaking slowly, and enunciating each word carefully, Santascoy said, “What is your name?” Jackson still did not respond, so he gestured at another Pirate, a harsh looking man named MacCart with a menacing scar just under his right eye. He walked up to Jackson, grinned maliciously, and landed a fierce blow to his solar plexus. “Feeling a bit more talkative now, perhaps?”

Again, Jackson remained silent, so the Pirate King cocked his pistol and aimed it into the crowd of Riders. “I’m not going to keep playing this game with you, boy. You answer my questions or I’ll shoot … oh, I don’t know … how about the woman over there with the apron? Yes, I think she’ll do wonderfully.”

“Okay, okay, fine,” said Jackson with a grimace. “My name is Jackson.”

Lowering the pistol, Santascoy displayed a self-satisfied grin. “See, was that so difficult? Now Jackson, I only need one thing from you, and then I’ll leave. I’ll take my men, and we’ll roll away from here post-haste. So tell me, Jackson, where is your uncle’s handcar?”

Jackson’s face crinkled with confusion. “Why do you want our handcar? You have plenty of your own, and they’re all rocket-powered or whatever.”

Releasing a slow, ominous-sounding laugh, Santascoy again motioned toward MacCart. The Pirate marched over and landed another devastating blow, this time in the stomach. Jackson slumped as Santascoy said, “Jackson, this isn’t a discussion. There’s no give and take, no witty repartee between us. I ask the questions, and you answer them. I get what I want, and you get to lick your mounting wounds. So, unless you wish to have even more wounds to lick, I suggest you answer me. Where is Mac’s handcar?”

At that moment, Jackson wished he could muster up some saliva. He had seen it in enough movies where the captive good guy could not mount an offense. In that instance, the hero would bring up a gob of phlegm and spit the gooey mess directly into the villain’s smug face. Unfortunately for Jackson, after all that exertion, he had a rather dry mouth. All he could muster was a drop of drool, which rolled off his lip and hung embarrassingly on his chin.

“Boss,” yelled Zagar from the other side of the compound, “I think I found it over here!”

“Bully,” said Santascoy, flashing another super-ior grin. “Looks like you won’t need to answer my question. Good for you, remaining vigilant in the face of adversity. Your dear uncle would’ve been so proud, had he lived. By the way, you’ve got a bit of something hanging there,” he said casually, gesturing toward the drool precariously balancing on Jackson’s chin.

As Santascoy turned to walk toward Zagar, the other Pirates tossed Jackson to the ground. He landed hard, though despite the pain, he quickly pulled himself to his feet.

“You can’t take our handcar. He willed it to us, you chud-head!”

Pausing, Santascoy slowly turned back to look Jackson directly in the eyes. “I can do whatever I want, Jackson. Mac couldn’t stop me, and he was easily twice the man you are.”

Taking a step toward Santascoy, Jackson again felt hands tighten around his arms. This time, however, they were not Pirates. Instead, Riders held him back. Wick whispered in his ear, “Not now, Jackson. Let the smug bastard go.”

Rebelliously yanking his arms away, Jackson mumbled, “You’ll get yours.”

In response to his words, Santascoy yelled back, “Oh, I’ve got mine … well, technically, I have yours, which will lead me to mine.”

Two of the Pirates picked up the handcar and sat it on the tracks behind one of the motorized cars, then attached a rope between the two vehicles. As fast as they had arrived at camp, the Pirate posse rolled away, the handcar in tow.

Once gone, the Rail Riders gathered around the fire to assess their damage. While no one had sustained serious injuries, nearly all the members had some sort of abrasion or contusion. Jackson’s stomach and chest ached. “That was insane!” he shouted. “Why did they want Uncle’s handcar? It makes no sense.”

Shaking his head slowly, Wick replied, “No idea. Perhaps it’s just a souvenir of his rivalry with Mac. It’s hard saying.”

Defiantly, Jackson said, “I don’t care why he wanted it. My brother and I will take it back. It’s our property, our legacy.”

Wick shook his head again, but a bit slower. “I understand your feelings over this, but I just don’t think it’s a good idea. Those Pirates are crazy, especially Santascoy. It’s just not worth it.”

“Oh, it’s worth it!” said Jam as he and the others emerged from the forest. “But not for the reason you think.”