The Essence: Chapter 8: The Tracks

i


Overcoming astronomical odds can be humbling; as they are often accompanied with many failures, and stories of horror along the way. Life is dangerous like that, but it always leads to growth in the end. Everyone loves the story of an underdog. The kid that finally stands up to the bully in the schoolyard and humbles him. The woman that finds the will to leave her abuser, though bruised, beaten, and emotionally scarred. The hospital patient that defies all odds to survive a deadly brush with cancer, when it seemed hopeless and they were at death's door. The drug addict that does the impossible, and beats addiction, becoming that five percent. Life can be endless sequences of David versus Goliath. The end results are nice to see, and tales to tell for sure... but the tracks, the real tracks, taken to get there, they often get ignored and lost in the shuffle. The blood, the tears, the wanting to just give up and give in, because death sounded more comforting than the struggle to get up and fight another day. Every fighter has had their unseen moments of shame, when they had lain themselves down on the tracks, and waited for that train to come. They had thought they had given up and lost their will. A memory of shame. But in the end they hadn't. In the end they'd arrisen, and walked those tracks.


At this moment Goliath was getting the best of Alan Dushell. He was sitting on a couch in his girlfriend's apartment, picking at the tracks on his arms. The train of addiction was rolling through his veins. All aboard! All aboard! His girlfriend Mary was also an addict, unable to keep still, ignoring her two meowing cats.Withdrawal symptoms were weighing down upon them like a kept promise. Anxiety, paranoia, and a sense of impending doom was all they could feel. No time for love. Alan prepared their next fix.


In a haste, he shot himself up with the poison. All of his cares seemed to slip away. He felt warm inside, a sense of artificial love. This was the only way he could experience love. He then prepared Mary's fix for her, and shot her up. He zoned out on the cats when a knock came about the door.


"Shit!" Said Mary as she scurried to hide the paraphernalia. "Who the fuck?"


They were not expecting company.


"I need to hide!" Said Alan, also known as The Deuce. "I know it's them, they are finally here to get me!"


"Stop being paranoid Alan, no one is out to get you. Act straight." Said Mary.


"You don't understand..."


Then came another knock. This time a little louder that the first.


She looked through the peephole and saw the two men standing outside waiting. "It's just two guys, probably just Mormons or salesmen. I'll handle it." She said turning up the charm.


"Don't answer..."


It was too late though, she had already cracked the door open.


"How can I help you gentlemen?" She asked.


"We're looking for an Alan Dushell." Said Brad. Yes, it was Brad and Tim and they had come for more than just questions.


"Never heard of him." Said Mary.


"M'am we know he's here." Said Brad. "No need to play cute. We aren't cops. He's in great danger, and we are here to help him.


She went to shut the door, but again she was better at being late than never. Tim forced his way in and locked eyes with Alan, who dumped the cat from his lap, and tried to make a run for the bedroom. Brad bolted towards him before he could get too far and tackled him to the ground.


"I've told no one!" Cried Alan.


"Told no one what?" Asked Brad.


"About what really happened to Dr. Cain! I swear it! I've kept my mouth shut."


"We aren't here to to hurt you Alan." Said Brad. "We're here to protect you, but you need to come clean. Now I'm gonna let you up, but you got to promise you aren't going to run."


At this moment Mary was eyeballing the telephone hanging from the wall in the kitchen, and slowly tipped towards it. "I wouldn't do that." Said Tim. We are really here to help." She stopped in her tracks.


"Tell us what you know." Brad demanded. "We know Dr. Cain's death was no suicide. We know he was murdered."


"Okay, okay. I'll come clean. I can't live this way. I can't hardly sleep, I can't eat, I can't do anything but get high, and try to forget. When I do sleep all I dream of are vampires, coming to kill me and suck the life out of me, with their glowing blue eyes. Just like the man I saw that night, when I was going to kill Dr. Cain. I'll tell you everything."


ii


Tell them everything, is exactly what he did. He told them how Carol had promised him the cure to his addiction, but only if he were to take Dr. Cain to meet his maker. She told him where Dr. Cain would be, in Apple Valley. That he would be there alone. She had told him where he would find the shotgun, and it would be all too easy, as Dr. Cain would be under the influence of the Essence, and in a trance. He would be a sitting duck. All Alan had to do was put the shotgun in hands, point it to the head and pull the trigger. He wouldn't even put up a fight, as he would be oblivious.


"But I couldn't go through with it. I was strung out of my mind, going through withdrawals. Carol had promised me the Essence and that I would never feel withdrawals again. But when I got there and saw him innocently in a daze, like in a state of nirvana, looking so happy. I couldn't go through with it. That's when this old man came in. I swear he wasn't human. The way he looked at me with his eyes, it was worse than any withdrawal I've ever felt. He said he was going to start calling himself Richard the Wrench, since he was always fixing others mistakes. He grabbed my hand and pulled the trigger. The old man told me to get lost, and that if I ever told anyone, he would do worse than death to me. He told me I would feel that withdrawal for an eternity and I could see it in his eyes that forever meant forever. All that blood, I can't unsee it."


"Richard the Wrench huh? Sounds a lot like our Richard Labble." Said Brad. "Here's what's going to happen Alan. You may not be worthy, but we are going to protect you. You can bring Mary too. We'll get you set up with the US Marshals in protective custody. You are going to testify though, and accept responsibility for your role. We can keep you safe from the pale ones."


Alan gave Mary a look, she nodded. "Okay I will cooperate, and I can assure you Carol isn't dead. I saw her after her fake alibi staged death."


"You can tell it later we need to get you guys out of here, it's not safe, and we need to leave..."


Before Brad could get the last word out, a loud knock that was more of a bang came from the door. The nature of the knock was more than just unpleasant. The whole door shook, and before they could react, it was kicked in and off its hinges. The beast of a man standing in the doorway was one Tim had seen before, and he had a round in the chamber.


"I'm here for The Deuce." Said Billy Bob. "But I'll happily kill you all if I have to!"


Tim got up, and tried get in between Billy and Alan, but Billy hit him with a hard left. It was the hardest Tim had ever been hit before. He was out cold before he hit the floor.


iii


When Tim awoke he was confused with a moment of amnesia. Who was he? Where was he? How did he get here? "Oh yeah." He thought.


He was in the backseat of Brad's Beamer and they were driving fast. Mary was in the passenger seat, Brad was driving, but The Deuce was gone.


"Well look who's still alive." Said Mary.


"What happened?" Asked Tim. The bone under his right eye was swollen and looked like golf ball.


"He knocked you out!" She said. "I've never seen anyone get hit that hard in real life. That monster kidnapped my Alan, but we're hot on his tail." She was still very much high on heroin, which gave her a false sense of euphoric security. Things didn't feel quite real to her.


Brad was driving fast and focused on the road, while on his car phone talking to the man from the lodge in speaker mode. "We're on the 395, heading north towards Ridgecrest." Said Brad.


"I'll send some agents, and be there as soon as I can." Said the man from the lodge, abruptly ending the call.


The chase pursued up and down hills, sometimes windy, on the lonely highway, as they headed north. The desert of California, was just that... lonely. Most think of California as a state with big cities, and huge populations, but the deserts were desolate with only Joshua trees. Miles and miles of emptiness.


Tim was wide awake now. Adrenaline had kicked in, pumping through his heart to the brain, in a straight line. The fastest path. His face looked fallen, his pupils dilated. He was scared, and his face ached. Bob was a monster and he felt like they didn't stand a chance against him. He was thinking about how this all started that morning in Apple Valley, and now, how would it end? True love and true blood touches everyone at least once in life. He had the worst feeling in his gut. The worst.


The road came around a windy curve, and for a moment Bob's vehicle was blinded from their sight. The road then sloped downward, it was uphill both ways, leading down to a valley where there were some train tracks. Bob was stopped at the crossing and there was no where for him to go. A train was passing through the valley and the road was blocked for now.


As they pulled up behind him, Bob got out of his car. The wind from the passing train was blowing into his jacket from behind him. He was angry and it had been ages since he had experienced any kind of love. His heart had died a long time ago. Violence was his one and only true love now, and he was going to make these fuckers pay. They were them, the scapegoats for all of the pain he had experienced in this life. He was going to hurt someone.


Bob pulled out his plastic gun. There was only one round left. He aimed and fired it into Brad's BMW. Brad and Mary both took cover and ducked under the dashboard. Tim was still dazed from the punch though, and slow to react. The bullet went through windshield, and made contact. It was like slow motion to him as he watched the glass crack and shatter. He didn't even feel the bullet hit him, but it did. It had hit right between where his shoulder and chest met, just missing his heart. He was bleeding out fast, and in shock. He had never been shot before. He felt no pain, it had happened too swiftly. He felt weak and dizzy though, and just wanted to go to sleep.


Brad popped up his head to see Bob drop his weapon, and that he was now unarmed. Bob saw the bright blue star tattoo on Brad's arm. He became even more infuriated. The blue star of David represented everything he hated. It was his most hated scapegoat. They were the ones he felt were responsible for all of his pain and suffering. It was one big conspiracy against him, in his mind.


"How about we settle this like men!" Yelled Bob over the rushing train to Brad. "You and me! One on one! Winner takes all! I lose you get to keep this loser junkie. I win and well, well I kill of you!"


Brad looked back at Tim and saw the blood leaking from his left chest. "Are you okay?"


Tim nodded, but his face was pale. He looked like he was ready to pass out. Mary was now in the back applying pressure to the wound.


"Hang in there buddy. I'm going to finish this." He then exited his BMW. "Let's do this then!" He yelled to Bob.


Brad rushed towards the tracks and Bob, as cargo freight went by. They embraced into a struggle, with arms locked. Bob laughed as he looked down into Brad's eyes.


"You think you are a match for me?" Bob then laughed some more, and came on Brad with a hard head butt, that smashed his nose, and made his ears ring. Brad was able to get one of his arms free though, as he was a strong man himself. He struck with clenched fist, and hit Bob as hard as he could. This hadn't fazed Bob though, he seemed to enjoy the pain. "Hit me again!" Brad did, and again Bob laughed. "Feels good!" He came down with another head butt to the face, and Brad was almost unconscious. "Now I'm going to kill you!" He began to choke the life out of Brad. There would be no tapping out, Brad's eyes rolled to the back of his head. Bob then threw Brad's lifeless body onto the gravel and raised his arms victory, with the wind from the train still passing from behind. "No one beats me!"


Tim was completely passed out in the backseat. Brad was on the gravel, and looked defeated. Mary shrieked in horror as Bob made eye contact with her.


"You're next bitch!"


Unknowingly to Bob, Brad had regained consciousness. His body was built to take a beating, and it would take more than that to defeat him. The clouds above became dark, as thunder rolled. Brad looked down to the gravel, and grabbed a rock, that was about the size of a marble. It was heavy though for its size. Bob looked up to thunder as if it were calling his name oblivious to what Brad was doing. Brad looked into those evil eyes and aimed for the left one. He had been an ace pitcher in highschool and his aim was fine and true, like the telling of good news.


He threw the piece of rock with everything he had. The pointy edge whistled through the air as if it had been shot out of a slingshot. Bob didn't see it coming, he was too busy celebrating, and it plowed into his left eye, popping it right out of the socket, landing on the gravel below without even a bounce. He had never in all of his life been hurt like this. He became disorientated. In a panic he instinctively began looking for it with his good eye. A foolish plea, as finding it wasn't going to do him much good. He took a large step backward in desperation, and started to slip on the loose gravel. He tried to correct himself from falling, but that only caused him to slide even further backward towards the tracks where the train was crossing. He lost his edge, as Brad watched. Bob fell backwards into the train tracks. His head landed on the tracks, perfectly timed like magic, between passing freights. The next one came swiftly though, decapitating his head. The wheel pulled his decapitated head around the axel and shot it out into the road, where it rolled right into Brad's lap.


Brad held up the lifeless one eyed head in both relief and disgust, and dropped it to the floor. It began to rain as a black helicopter approached from above. The train went on its way. The helicopter had landed and a man got out. It was the man from the lodge, and he was holding a bag full of cheeseburgers. Unmarked vehicles began to arrive from behind. The US Marshals had arrived.


"Is everyone okay?" Asked the man from the lodge.


"Tim's been shot."


The man from the lodge then radioed to the chopper, and a couple of men came out with a gurney. They began first aid on Tim and loaded him into the helicopter.


"We're going to fly him out to a hospital in Los Angeles. I've got a guy there, he's a member, best surgeon around. We'll get Tim fixed up. He then looked down to Bob's lifeless head and dropped the bag of cheeseburgers. "I'm a man of my word. May you rest in pieces asshole." He then looked back to Brad. "We'll take it from here. The witnesses will be in our protection now. I've got another one that just came forward. You guys really spooked the coroner, he's back at the office now singing like a canary."


The scene was taped off, and Brad went to his Beamer, to leave alone. Not quite how he hoped it would be, but they had accomplished their mission. He hoped that Tim was okay. The train was now far off into the distance of the tracks. The black chopper arose into the rain which was now pouring. A rainbow appeared over the tracks like an upside down smile. From above inside the chopper it looked like a smile of color.










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