A man pushed to the breaking point takes justice into his own hands.
“Get your fucking hands in the air!”
The clear shout cut through the ambient chatter of the room in an instant. Suddenly everyone was looking at the crazy man with a gun. They didn’t seem scared, not at first, they were more shocked. This wasn’t a bank, it wasn’t a jewellery store, it wasn’t even a convenience store. This was the main room of a train station. Not just any train station either, it had several notable features. For one thing, it was the oldest building in the small border town, looking like something out of a western. There were five booths where prospective passengers lined up to buy tickets and a few staff only rooms branching from this open area. Past the booths one could see the trains themselves. There was no fancy security, no metal detectors, no cameras, just a few men with uniforms. Aside from the historical value of the building there was but one other notable feature. It happened to be run by some of the most hardened criminals ever to engage in human trafficking. Everyone in town knew it, but no one did anything about it. Possibly due to the connection between law enforcement pay cheques and said criminals’ profits.
After their moment of shock wore off, the majority of the people in the station did exactly as the man had ordered them. They raised their hands over their heads and even went so far as to huddle whimpering in various corners. The only ones who didn’t do so were those employees in the booths, who simply hid beneath their counters, and the uniformed individuals who were rather preoccupied with pulling firearms from the insides of their jackets.
The supposedly insane man saw this and smiled slightly, reinforcing the suspicions of those near him, and readied himself to die.
As the facts would have it, the man was not really insane at all. Stupid? Perhaps. Foolish? Of course. But none the less in full possession of all his faculties. This man’s name was Thomas Cunningham, and he had recently lost his wife. But perhaps more of an explanation is in order.
Just over a month before this incident, Tom returned home from his latest tour of duty in the Middle East and found his wife missing. After the initial few days of waiting for her to return, Tom asked around town in an attempt to determine exactly what had happened. He dropped money into all the right pockets and asked all the right questions of all the right people. In the end he had gotten exactly zero answers. This did however allow him to puzzle out what had happened. He knew one fact that solved the entire issue. Nothing happened in this town without someone knowing about it. On those occasions where those people “didn’t hear anything about it” the only remaining possibility was that the Railway had something to do with it.
The Railway was the name of the organization that ran the train station and half the town. It was made up of men who made their living in one of two ways. First, there were the bean counters who kept up to date on all profits, costs, losses, wages, and everything else involving numbers. The other was through violence. On a typical night there would be a shipment of ‘cargo’ that would enter the station on one train to be transferred to another. This transfer would be undertaken in secrecy at an appointed hour. After that transfer, the ‘cargo’ would be taken over the border into Alaska to be shipped somewhere in Eastern Europe via a small airport also owned by the Railway. Beyond that everyone assumed that sales were made and that the Railway had little else to do with the process.
This ‘cargo’ that is so very valuable takes the form of human organs. These organs are transported in the most efficient way possible, living people. This provided the most profit for the least cost, or so the bean counters said. Occasionally there would be a special addition to the load as well. This addition generally consists of people who have hard evidence or who have seen a little too much, or in the case or Tom’s wife, who had the misfortune of being disliked by important members of the Railway. That’s all it took, nothing glorious, she didn’t discover a way to bring down the organization, she just happened to get on the wrong person’s nerves.
Tom was a practical man, when he learned that his wife had been taken by the Railway, he didn’t attempt a rescue or try to alert the police. He knew that she was dead and that there was nothing he could do to fix that now. Instead he did what any husband would do if their wife suddenly died, he grieved. He locked himself in his home and didn’t step out for nearly two weeks. Even then, he only was out long enough to get some basic groceries before locking himself in for another couple of weeks. At the end of his second period of isolation, he stepped out of the doors of his home clean shaven and looking quite presentable. He greeted his neighbours with friendly hellos and said he was off to catch a train. After waving his farewells he headed to the station directly.
Upon arriving he made his way to the centre of the room and casually pulled a finely polished .44 magnum out from the holster under his arm. It was the only gun he owned and the only gun he wanted to own. A soldier by trade, he had gotten his fill of firearms in real combat. He had bought the large revolver, and the licence to match, as a mantle piece stemming from his love of Dirty Harry movies. He had never thought he was going to use the thing. Luckily for him, he had also bought a few bullets and the holster just in case he ever decided to take it out to a range for target practice.
Having removed the weapon from its concealed position, he noticed a few shocked stares and realized that it was time for his statement. Raising the firearm into the air he shouted at the top of his lungs, “Get your fucking hands in the air!” He marvelled at the sudden attention of everyone in the room and their attempts to get out of his way. He then noticed the weapons appearing in the hands of the five uniformed thugs scattered around the room. Lowering the gun to his side, he gave a nod of satisfaction. This is what he came here for. He wanted to be with his wife again.
He wanted to die.
Unfortunately for the thugs, he also intended on giving the bean counters some losses to work out. With that thought in mind, he swung the gun up and squeezed the trigger. Not checking to see if he hit the mark, Tom turned to the next gunman and fired again. Again, Tom didn’t bother to confirm the kill and he dropped to the floor in time to hear the snaps and thuds of rounds hitting the wall behind where he had just been standing. Quickly scrambling for cover, he managed to slide behind the solitary ATM against one wall. It wasn’t much as far as cover went, and he was barely able to fit himself behind the damn thing. He was lucky that it was one of those old chunky ATMs that were big enough to provide some use, if it had of been a newer model he probably would have been able to cover one leg at best. As it was he was gratified to hear the sounds of bullets hitting the machine without passing through to hit him.
He glanced to the side to see that most of the civilians were taking their chance to escape. Through the small crowd that was rushing past, Tom could make out the still form of the thug who was watching the door. That and the howls of pain coming from the other side of the room convinced him that he hadn’t missed. He waited another few seconds and the hail of bullets assaulting his hiding spot seemed to stop all at once. Tom allowed himself a small smile as he heard the small clicking that indicated that the thugs had to reload. As he rolled out of cover he realized that he had been lucky again. The three men he faced were amateurs, more experienced at stealing people in the dead of night than gunfights. They had all fired at him in unison, not expecting him to survive their first volley. If they had of been soldiers, he would be dead.
Sure enough, as soon as he was clear of the mangled ATM, Tom could see the three of them franticly jamming new clips into their weapons. Now fully in the open, Tom fired a quick two rounds at the nearest of the three. Both shots hit home, with the first tearing through the thug’s abdomen and the other putting a hole in his neck. The man dropped to his knees and barely managed to raise a hand to his neck before the life left him. Raising himself to his feet, Tom fired at another of the thugs. This man took the hit to the leg, shattering his shin and causing him to collapse, screaming in pain. Tom then broke into a run, crossing the floor with long strides. He fired the remaining two rounds at the injured man hoping for a lucky hit. Knowing he didn’t have time to deal the man regardless, as soon as the last shot was fired, Tom focused only on the man still standing.
Seeing that Tom had almost reached him, the thug dropped his half reloaded gun and pulled a switchblade from a pocket. Knowing that he was at a disadvantage, Tom stopped just out of arms reach and slipped the gun smoothly back into its holster while eyeing the knife. Once the gun was away, Tom took a step forward into the thug’s reach. Never one to disappoint, the thug took the opportunity to thrust aggressively at Tom’s gut, hoping to disembowel him. Expecting this, Tom was prepared. He deftly shifted to the side and seized hold of the thug’s wrist. Mentally thanking basic training, he shifted his weight with his hips and carried through the thug’s momentum, not only dodging the attack, but bringing the thug down on his stomach with Tom kneeling on his back and the thug’s arm in a lock.
Hearing a sound behind him, Tom used his free hand to pull his gun from his holster and turned to find that one of the employees who had until now been hiding beneath a booth, had picked one of the dead guard’s guns, and was aiming it at Tom’s head. Tom’s mind searched for a solution, but only one came to mind, and it was a long shot.
Giving the employee his most menacing glare, Tom pulled back the hammer on his revolver and said, “I know what you’re thinking. ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself,” Tom paused to give a meaningful glance at his own gun, “But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky?” Tom gave the man a cold stare, “Well, do ya, Punk?”
Maybe the man hadn’t seen the movie, or maybe it was the fact that he was personally staring down the barrel of a .44. Either way, the employee was shaking so badly that it was a wonder he didn’t accidentally pull the trigger. When Tom motioned for him to put the gun down, the man very nearly fell over in his enthusiasm to comply, and when Tom motioned for him to leave, he just seemed to disappear out the door. Refocusing his attention on the pinned man under his knee, Tom called out to the other employees, “If you want out, now is your chance. I highly recommend running.” In response, the remaining three employees rushed from the train station and to safety.
Finally remembering the man he had shot in the leg, Tom turned to survey the room. All of the bodies were still, either dead or dying. The walls were riddled with holes and the ATM in particular looked like it had seen better days. Looking down on the pinned man Tom remarked, “looks like its just you and me.”
Now only half heartedly trying to escape the guard strained to look at Tom and asked, “So, which was it?”
Tom was rather surprised at the question and responded accordingly, “Which was what?”
Half chuckling, half grunting in pain, the guard replied, “Which was it? Five or six?”
Tom glanced at the revolver in his hand as the guard waited for his answer. Tom gripped the gun tightly and brought it down hard on the back of the man’s head, knocking him unconscious. “Six,” he said as he stood and began reloading his gun.
About half way through reloading, he heard the creak of a door opening behind him. Snapping the cylinder back into place, he spun around. He made the turn just in time to feel the shock of an impact on his chest. He staggered back a step in shock and looked down at the small hole in his shirt that was quickly being lost amid a red stain. He tried to see his attacker, but his vision was blurring and all he could see was a dark shape walking toward him. He felt a dull pain and realized that he had fallen on his back. Through the haze of pain and blood loss, his mind continued to try to make sense out of what was happening.
Then he remembered.
This wasn’t a movie. He wasn’t Clint Eastwood. This was real, this was war. He had dealt with it for many years, and the familiarity comforted him in a strange way. This was his job. He fought the bad guys. Criminals, Terrorists, Soldiers, it didn’t matter. He was a soldier. His job was to help protect people from these things. He had just forgotten that in reality, the good guys don’t always win. It didn’t bother him that much though. He had gotten what he wanted. He was going to see his wife again. It was going to be alright.
And with those thoughts, Thomas James Cunningham died.
Had he lived, he would have known that there is another side to reality as well. He would have discovered that the good guys do sometimes win. He would have known that his last stand was just loud enough, and spilt just enough blood, that it managed to go over the heads of the local police. He would have known that an investigation was called by the government to discover what happened in the small border town in the Canadian wilderness. He would have remembered that in real life, the government isn’t stupid.
And so, Tom managed to bring, with a gun in his hand, a little justice back to a small town that no one had heard of. He started a chain of events that began with a .44 Magnum stuck in the air and ended with a great deal of arrests.
Harry would be proud.