CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
The three of them looked at each other as they gathered their breath along with their wits before Marcus finally spoke and addressed his himself to Greg.
“Jacob and I will wait for you in the next compartment it’s a storage carriage so we should be undiscovered while you go along the carriages and look for Cain.” The professor said calmly as he adjusted his overcoat.
“Why him Marcus on his own?” asked Jacob showing a certain amount of concern in both his voice and expression. “Because my dear fellow Cain has never seen our good detective here and therefore will not recognise him.” Marcus said with the inflection one uses when explaining something to a child.
“You are assuming he has never seen me professor?” Greg interjected with a slight note of concern in his voice this time.
“I know what you are both thinking and we have all risked so much already but if we are to have a chance of not endanger the lives of innocents on this train then it’s simply the way it must be.” Marcus stepped back from the group and raised his hands in the air as he spoke fixing them both with a steely stare.
Greg placed his hand on Jacobs shoulder just as the Chaplain was about to speak.
“Its okay. I agree with the Professor.” He said calmly as he smiled at both the men before him.
With the plan decided Greg made his way out of the carriage and along the train slowly working his way towards the passenger cars. It wasn’t long before he came across the first carriage with a smattering of occupants sat in it some of which were dozing in their seats; their heads cradled on make shift pillows. The occasional passenger looked up at his approach before returning to whatever was occupying them on this long journey north. Greg casually ran his gaze over each and every male passenger in every carriage he came to; studying each one in turn before walking slowly along the narrow walkway to the next carriage. The minutes seemed to tick by slower and slower as Marcus and Jacob waited in the freight carriage each of them occupied by their own thoughts before Jacob finally broke the silence.
“What if something has happened to him?” His face was a picture of concern as he spoke.
“I think we would have heard a certain amount of screaming by now if something had don’t you old chap?” replied Marcus as he gingerly slipped his finely crafted pistol from his inner pocket and set about priming it with another silver ball.
“Marcus?” The chaplain watched the Professor with an almost pained look upon his face as he asked
“Why in the name of the lord didn’t you make a gun that held more than one bullet?” Jacob made the sign of the cross as he mentioned the lord’s name.
“You know how I feel about guns and John all but forbade me from owning a real firearm in my house. Both he and I believe they only invite the escalation of violence. Besides a gun could have been discovered by an intruder and this way it was exactly where I needed it when I needed it.” Marcus patted his ornate pistol as he finished his sentence then paused briefly before speaking again.
“Anyway you are a fine one to talk. You speared an intruder earlier this evening with a medieval weapon for heaven’s sake!” His tone was lighthearted almost jovial as he spoke.
A brief silence descended on the men as they looked at one another until Jacob replied breaking the silence.
“Yes I did didn’t I just.” He said his face curling into a broad smile.
Laughter from both old friends broke the nervous tension that hung heavy in the compartment and they both breathed a heavy sigh of relief as they waited and listened to the rhythmic chugging of the train.
Cain pulled his overcoat around him as he tried to get more comfortable in his seat; the wound from the silver bullet still pained him and it would take time for the poison to work its way out of his system.
“Why don’t you try and get some sleep darling? I will wake you when we arrive.” Jerusha said as she smiled warmly at Cain.
“I am as always your obedient servant my dear” Cain smiled back at Jerusha before laying his head on his seats headrest and closing his eyes. The trains interior lights flickered as it sped along towards its destination and Jerusha stared out of the window into the darkness; her eyes seeing far more than the humans around her ever could. She could see the movement of the cows in the field, invisible to the naked human eye, she could smell the cheap cologne of the man sat sleeping at the end of the carriage. Her ears heard the soft whoosh of pressurised air from behind her as the door to the carriage opened at the other end. It was very faint at first but she suddenly caught a familiar scent from whoever had walked into the carriage. It was difficult to tell what it was at first as there was such a strong mixture of blood and smoke and yet there was something familiar mixed in with it too; a scent she was all too familiar with.
Greg hit the release button to the next carriage doors and with a soft whoosh of air they opened before him and he stepped into the carriage; before him he could see a male who appeared to be asleep and was about fifty pounds heavier than what Cain was. Walking further into the carriage he could see ahead of him what he thought was another man but it was hard to see as the man had his face turned into his headrest and sat opposite him was a woman; a very beautiful woman Greg thought to himself as she turned to briefly gaze at him. There were no other occupants of the carriage and Greg carried on walking towards the couple so he could get a look at the man. As he neared them his heart began to race as he recognised Cain; who appeared to be sleeping.
‘Who was the woman? An innocent bystander perhaps? I need to find a way of drawing him out of here and back to the others’
Greg thought to himself as he carried on walking past the two of them.
Jerusha inhaled deeply as the man walked past her and the hairs on the back of her neck began to stand on end as her mind processed the smells that washed over her. Then as the male turned and walked back past her again she smiled at him politely. As he passed on by she recognized the faint smell of her children on this man. At first she was puzzled; then she remembering what Cain had told her about the fate of her children and that there might be men pursuing them this night. The realization that one of the pursuers and one of those responsible for the deaths of her children began to consume her as she felt anger seeping into her soul and her hand gripped the arm rest so tightly it began to crack under the pressure.
Greg turned and as casually as he could began to walk back along the carriage past Cain and the mystery woman once again. The woman smiled as he approached and he couldn’t help but smile back at her but there was something odd about the way she looked at him; something he thought he recognized in the way she gazed at him but he couldn’t quite figure out what. Whether or not she was an undiscovered travelling companion of Cain’s or just an unfortunate stranger he was unable to ascertain right now but he had most importantly discovered the creature they sought. Without looking back Greg increased his pace slightly and made his way along the carriages again towards where he had left Marcus and Jacob lying in wait. His mind was already formulating ways of getting Cain safely away from the other passengers but he would need the other two to do it safely; or as safe as one possibly could when dealing with such a creature.
Perhaps if he had not been so preoccupied with thinking of ways to safely extract Cain from the carriage and he had stopped for a moment and looked back he would have seen that Jerusha was now following him at a discreet distance but then he had no reason to think he was being followed; he had seen Cain asleep and the woman was just another passenger for all he knew so he carried on oblivious to the threat that now stalked him.
Marcus slowly paced the floor of the freight carriage his thumb firmly over the end of his pistol as he tapped it against his leg while he walked.
“He should have been back by now. He should have found him.” Marcus just finished his sentence as Greg appeared at the door.
With a silent hiss the door folded in on itself and Greg stepped into the carriage.
“Professor! I found him; he is….” but before he could finish his sentence Greg was struck with force from behind propelling him through the air and sending him crashing into the professor. The two men collapsed into a tangled heap at the end of the carriage; with the professor’s pistol skidding along the floor. Its precious silver cargo spilling free and bouncing upon the floor; slowly the small silver bullet rolled along the mottled carriage way until it finally came to an abrupt stop. The small silver sphere nestled in a hole that had been gouged in the wooden floor by the loading and unloading of cargo over countless years.
Jacob looked at his friends in a state of shock before quickly looking back at the doorway as Jerusha stepped into the carriage. Already she had begun to transform; her hands were elongated with sharp claws tipping each finger. A short muzzle and wolf like ears distorted her once beautiful human face; as her mouth parted Jacob could see row upon row of razor like teeth within it. In a few short strides she was upon Jacob her clawed hand wrapping around his throat; pinning him up against the carriage wall. The chaplain dangled helplessly as the creature held him by his throat pinning him to the wall as he watched in horror as its flesh pulsated and its bones cracked into place until it finally finished transforming before him. He could feel its breath as its now elongated wolf like muzzle drew close to his face its feral eyes burrowing into his soul. Jacob began to choke as the creatures grip tightened around his throat and its claws began to draw blood. The pain from its claws which were now digging into his flesh seemed to snap him out of his paralysing fear and he began to search his coat. His hands franticly patted at his clothing searching for the object he had hidden inside his coat. Finally his hand wrapped around the object he had been hunting for and with one swift motion he pulled it from within his coat and plunged it deep into the chest of the werewolf that had him pinned to the wall. With a howl of agony the creature released Jacob; dropping him to the floor and staggering backwards. The creature looked down and could see a silver crucifix protruding from its chest. The creature continued to stagger backwards as it wrapped a clawed hand around the cross and attempted to pull it from its chest. She howled in agony as she felt the silver spreading through her body from the cross which had pierced deep into her flesh. Wrapping her clawed fingers around it she cried out in pain and frustration as the silver crucifix began to sear the flesh on her hand. Jacob seeing that he had little time to act staggered to his feet and rushed past the beast, as it struggled to pull the cross free from its chest, to the door release controls which operated the large double doors in the cargo pod. Pausing for a moment to catch his breath he pushed himself against the carriage wall trying to stay out of reach of the creature but all the while frantically trying to think of some way to deal with it. His eyes wandered to the controls next to him and he glanced at the large freight doors that dominated the carriage. Hitting his fist against the button marked for freight there was a long moment’s pause before the doors hissed and slowly began to slide apart. The werewolf unaware of what was happening, as it wrestled with the crucifix protruding from its chest, did nothing to change its course and carried on staggering backwards towards the now opening carriage doors. Slowly the doors slid open and the werewolf teetered on the precipice of being sucked out of the moving train and dashed on the rocks below as the train found itself crossing one of the many bridges leading to Ayr. Suddenly the creature flung out one mighty clawed hand; it dug into the carriage wall halting its backward momentum but it was still left teetering dangerously close to the edge. Jerusha had managed to stop herself from falling to what would surely have been her death but she still moaned in agony and anger as she wrestled with the crucifix protruding from her chest. With a renewed determination fuelled by the thoughts of her dead children and those responsible being there so close to her she once more gripped the cross and began to pull it from her chest howling in pain as she did so.
Marcus groaned as he regained consciousness his hand reached for his head as he felt it still pounding from the blow he had received hitting the carriage wall. As his vision cleared he could see his friend Jacob crouched down next to the loading doors of the freight cabin they were in and framed in the open doorway was the werewolf teetering on the edge of the doorway. Marcus began to slowly extricate himself from the tangle he was in with Greg all the while observing the events unfolding before him but it was too late for him to act.
With a triumphant snarl the werewolf pulled the silver cross from herself spraying blood across the carriage wall as she did so. She curled her lips in disdain as she flung the hated object across the room with such force it embedded into the carriage wall opposite her. Steadying itself the creature pushed itself away from the doorway slowly stepping from the precipice as it did so. Jerusha stopped having only taken a few steps from the doorway, and to safety, as she felt herself growing weak from the poison now flowing through her body. Her once powerfully strong legs suddenly felt weak and reaching up with her hand to the open wound on her chest she touched it briefly before staring at her clawed fist which was covered in blood; her own blood. The silver had begun to break down upon contact with the creature’s blood and it began to course through her veins; already the poison was causing her to feel weaker and preventing the wound from closing.
Marcus had managed to just about free himself from beneath Greg; his eyes searched the carriage frantically for his pistol as the werewolf turned its attention towards him and roared. Stretching out his hand he tried to reach the pistol but it was just too far out of reach; his fingertips futile in their attempt to reach it. Looking up from the floor Marcus steeled himself for what he knew was to be his certain death at the hands of the creature. Before either he or it could do anything his friend Jacob sprang to his feet and wrenching the cross from the carriage wall threw himself at the werewolf. Catching the beast completely unawares the creature staggered back from the impact as the chaplain slammed into it; his momentum propelling both Jerusha and Jacob through the open doors and from the train.
“Noooo!” cried Marcus as he staggered to his feet and rushed to the carriageway door; looking out of the carriage he instinctively reached out his hand to catch his friend but it was too late. As Jacob tumbled down towards the rocks below entwined with the creature it sank its fangs deep into his flesh and its claws began to rip at his body but he ignored the pain and with both hands firmly grasped around the silver crucifix he plunged it deep into the creatures back. Jerusha let out a howl of pain as the cross pierced her flesh and the silver once more began coursing through her veins. With the wounds and the poison being too much to allow her to maintain her wolf like form she began to transform back into her human form once more. Slowly the two of them tumbled through the air; locked together until their bodies slammed into the rocks far below killing both man and beast instantly.
Marcus turned away as he watched his friend slam into the rocks below; slowly sliding down the wall of the freight carriage he hit the button near the doors and they slid quietly shut once more. Marcus heard Greg groan and he forced himself to his feet moving quickly over to the detective and helped him to his feet.
“What. What hit me?” was all Greg could say as he tried to focus his fuzzy mind.
“You were followed by another one of Cain’s associates. I believe it was his brood mother.” Marcus said as he bent to pick up his pistol and scanned the cabin for the silver ball that had escaped earlier.
“The woman! The woman that was sat with him. I just thought she was another passenger or perhaps a travelling companion but another one of them; my god professor how many of them are there?!” Greg shook his head as he lent forward his hands on his knees trying to focus still.
“Where is Jacob and what happened to her?” He asked tentatively once he was able to focus.
Marcus looked at Greg solemnly before he spoke in a voice tinged with sorrow.
“They both fell from the carriage. Jacob sacrificed himself to save us both.” Marcus drew his hand down across his haggard looking face.
Rising to his feet unsteadily Greg held his head in his hands before taking a deep breath and almost exhaling the words “Professor; Cain is here on the train in the last carriage!” The detective motioned towards the front of the train as he spoke.
“Quickly then there is no time to lose he may already have become suspicious of her absence.” Marcus said as he patted Greg on the arm before bending down and picking up the small silver ball that had become wedged in the flooring. Carefully he slipped it back once more into his pistol and closed his thumb around it. The two men forged ahead through the carriages towards their quarry with a renewed sense of purpose despite the recent tragic loss of their travelling companion Jacob. Both of them could feel their hearts beating in their chests as they made their way through each carriage every step taking them closer to Cain. Suddenly the lights dimmed and both men were thrown from their feet as the train came to an abrupt skidding stop. With the emergency brake pulled the doors on all the carriages opened automatically including the exterior doors. Cain glared down the corridor and watched as his pursuers tried to struggle to their feet; before either Greg or Marcus could regain their footing Cain leapt from the train and bounded towards the woods that covered the surrounding area. Marcus clambered to his feet and raced to the doorway levelling his pistol as he did so but it was too late and Cain had vanished into the twilight of the woods; there was no trace of him to be seen.
“Who the bloody hell pulled that cord” An officious and rather angry looking driver said as he walked up behind Marcus.
Without waiting for a reply and turning his gaze towards Marcus as he blurted out.
“Is that a bloody gun?” The driver said stepping back slowly away from the professor.
Thankfully Greg had managed to get to his feet and he diverted the driver away from Marcus wielding his warrant card in the drivers face as he led the man away to explain why it would be a good idea not to talk about this and to get the train into Ayr as soon as possible. Marcus continued to stare out into the woods even as the doors slid shut his hand slamming against them in frustration.
“I will end you Cain. I will end you.” Marcus mouthed to himself as he tried to pierce the darkness with his fury. Slumping down into a free seat he half listened as Greg came and sat down next to him as his mind wandered.
“The driver was sceptical about what I told him but he says we should be in Ayr within the hour” Greg said cautiously as he tried to get comfortable in his seat.
“That’s good my boy then we will have Cain once we have tracked him to his estate.” Marcus replied almost absently; his thoughts still clearly thinking about how this night had cost him the lives of two of his oldest and dearest friends.
“How can you be so certain he will go there Professor?” asked the detective.
“I am certain of one thing my dear boy and that is when an animal is wounded they retreat to their dens, a place of safety, and regardless of what you think Cain is he is still more animal than man.” Marcus finished his sentence and stared intently out of the window as the train slowly pulled away. The two men sat in silence lost in their own thoughts thinking about what had just occurred and what was yet to unfold before this night was done. Both of them knowing that before the night was over this pursuit may yet cost them their lives too.