Chapter 1: A Perilous Venture.

In 19th century America, A rickshaw crew aboard an old freight train has been assigned the special task of secretly transporting a few once thought to be mythical creatures cross country.

(Collaborative work I'd like to work with others on to be edited in the future)

Jesse leaned up againist a splintered post of the local hotel balcony. The young man covered in the dust of the town put a rolled cigerette to his lips and sighed.  Through Squinted hazel eyes he watched overhead as the people round him rush in their old world manners. Ranchers dressed in dusters and boots fitting of their profession, and ladies following close behind. Such was common of  this little community,  the familiar was rampant, the unique unheard.

However on this day, A Thursday round noon, Something peculiar filled the air. A tumbleweed blew into town with more spring about it, airborne on the whimsical wind it rode. Even through that splintered old town wood, that air came into the darkest corners of  shops and saloons. A new man walked in, down the path between the hotel and the freight train that ran through. The direction he came from was that of the wilderness. Few lived that way or dare settle for fear of the stories told. Natives and the locals alike had terrifying tales of beasts and animals, creatures of mythology haunting them both by day and by firelight in those areas of the known world.

The man intentional in his stride never strayed, neither left nor right the horses, people and even the tumbleweed found their way around him. A long grey duster and a large grey hat matched his similarly colored beard and mustache. Wispy, his facial hair was, salt and pepper in color as were his furrowed eyebrows so very focused on the path ahead. 

Jessie leaned forward, perplexed by the novelty of the man. He was like a great cloud or fog, slowly moving about the the crowd but it was evident to any observer outside, he was not of this collection.  A few more things to note about the strange man. Amongst his smokey demeanor and wardrobe, were three rather mismatched pieces, The first was a feather, a golden brown feather like that of an eagle, placed in the brim of his hat. The second was a walking stick he held carved with care and detail too small to recount from afar. The third, the strangest of all was a trevelling chest of sorts he carried, the handle on top  firmly griped and below it was the box though angeled, almost shaped like a paper lantern from Japan.

Jessie put out what was left of his cigarette on to a railing and began walking down the stairs to get a closer look at the box. Jesse was keen on items of value. For that matter those of color in dry earthy world he lived in stood out.  He dusted himself off fixed his hair and returned to the inside of the hotel. Swanky could not be used in wording to describe the hotel, however it was the establishment's expectations, Fine hats, and clothing were on display atop even better looking people. Pushing through the snobbish attendees of the hotel,  He grabbed his hat from a rack and stepped outside to the porch at ground level and searched for the mystery figure.

"Looking for something?"

Jesse turned to the voice across the porch, and all thoughts of the strange figure faded. His distraction from these thoughts was that of the woman who stood before him. He swallowed.

"There was a man on the street with a case" he said. She smirked and looked at him coyly

"Lots of men with cases," She said looking out, Jesse frustrated did the same and muttered still scanning the crowd.

"You'd know this one." Jesse sighed. The girl looked on at his intent and without turning to her he heard

"the hermit looking fellow with a feather in his hat?" Jesse's eyes widened meeting hers

" Yes, so you've seen him?" She squinted, inquisitive as to her response's reaction.

"I've seen him, he went back round one of those far train cars." Jesse pushed off from the balcony he was leaning on and shuffled down the staircase his hat still in hand looking left and right and beginning to run along the parked train between cars. The girl watched curiously as he stepped to the other side of the train out of sight. What could cause such an interest in such a strange man?

Far north from Jesse's location the man in grey climbed aboard the front of the train.

"Sir you can't be up here!" the Engineer said placing himself between the man and the train's controls.

"I'm looking for the Engineer..." The man said in a hushed tone.

"I am him sir, but passengers must stay in the passenger cars"  a silver revolver appeared from under the the Man's grey cloak, it was placed against the Engineer's face, and slowly cocked.

"I need you to listen closely" The man said after the gun's click.

"I'm listening" The engineer said.

"I have placed cargo aboard this train, that cannot be hindered cannot be harmed, cannot be harassed. I need this train to carry it to it's destination and to not stop under any circumstances."

"You're not the first to deliver items of danger aboard my train" the engineer said exhaling.

"This is like nothing you've ever dealt with before..." The man whispered running the gun barrel along a bead of sweat. "I can do your work but I'd rather keep it such that you live, can we agree on that point of interest?" Shuddering the Engineer nodded feeling the gun press into his temple.

"I agree!, I agree!" The gun lifted from his skin, leaving a round impression. The man in grey smiled a crooked grin.

"my gradtitude shall be made evident...in the near future, as for the train, we will leave this station as scheduled not a minute, nor a second, too early or too late. And never ever open car 38" The engineer sunk down to the floor, a began to wipe tears and sweat from his face before turning to the controls. The man in grey turned and pulled his duster into him, the sound like a sail in the wind as he walked back to the passenger's quarters.

Jesse still looking along the carts stopped for a moment, he heard other sounds, faint strange sounds, placing his hands against the cart he stood by he leveled his ear against the metal.  Violent purring like a large cat, chirping chatter, like those of apes, and low bellows  that could only be compared to that of an alligator. Mixed alongside  whoops and whistles Jesse had nothing to compare too. A small rusted hole perfect for peering was seen by Jesse above him, but in order to reach it he would have to stretch.  And so he did aligning his pupil with the space and opening his eye, to feel somebody touch him from behind and the train's whistle scream.

"Find what your looking for ?" the voice said Jesse fell to the ground in fear looking up to see the girl from before.

" I uh never did" Jesse said.

"That's a shame" The girl said, " I would of liked to know the Mystery" Smiling she helped Jesse to his feet. "Train's leaving soon, you best get away from these tracks and all the spying you're doing, conductor is coming round looking for somebody to throw in the jail" Taking his hand from the girl's Jesse smiled.

"Thanks for the warning Miss..."

"Adeline" the girl said hearing the train whistle erupt once more. " I must go I'm boarding now maybe I'll find the man"

" I hope if you ever do return you'll tell me his story"

" I hope if I do you'll tell me why you were so very fascinated with him"

" I will indeed" Jesse said smiling, watching the girl cross back over to where the passengers were loading.

"Until then." The girl, Adeline said tossing that coy look once more before disappearing.

The train awoke and began to sound as if it was breathing, and as it's breath quickened Jesse thought about his little town of no changes, he thought about the man and his mystery and moreover he thought about the girl, who while not covered in grey or carrying strange trinkets seemed to captivate him like no other had before.

"Damn." he said, and he hopped onto one of the cars to sneak aboard and the train left the station as scheduled not a minute, not a second too early or too late.

 

The End

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