* * *
When 6 a.m. rolled around on Wednesday, April 24, 1929, before the sun was even up, the passengers were ready to go back to their rooms. Agent Sanderson allowed it and everyone wandered out of the parlor.
â€œIâ€™ll protect you girls,â€ Brubeck said as they left the parlor, much to Johnsonâ€™s displeasure.
Johnson was so annoyed that several good people had died and Brubeck remained alive.
Each of them went back to their rooms and went to bed. They had just fallen asleep when there was a knock on their door in almost every case. It was Clarence Marlin, the porter, who told them there would be a meeting in the dining car at 9:30 a.m. and urging them attend.
* * *
At 9:30, as the train roared through the countryside, the dining car was crammed to capacity with passengers. Hushed mumblings and whispers filled the car until the porter called for attention. Both he and Father Delarove tried, in the most strategic way, to explain the events of the previous night. They quelled any rumors that were circulating. That included the rumor of someone looking at the moon. Another passenger said he heard the killer could walk through walls but that was likewise refuted. Something about cannibalism came up as well. Although they didnâ€™t have much information, both the porter and the priest assured everyone that proper authorities were working on it at that very minute and they would have the fiend in custody before reaching New Orleans.
Father Delarove made himself available to anyone who needed his services. The porter explained the necessity of moving about in groups of no less than two and letting someone know their whereabouts.
â€œThese precautions will make it much harder for the killer to strike again so that, God help us, we can avoid another tragic evening like last night,â€ he said.
A few of the passengers were missing, including Mrs. Leighman. Brubeck wasnâ€™t there though the girls were. Sir Christopher, who had stayed awake all night in the parlor, was also not present, though his ward was.
Both Father Delarove and Marlin took questions from the passengers. Agent Sanderson was also asked several questions before the meeting broke up.
* * *
After the meeting, Johnson found DeLuve and urged him to skim through the book with him. He wanted to find out everything he could before that night. DeLuve handed over the book.
â€œYou donâ€™t want to read it with me?â€ Johnson said.
â€œI have things to do,â€ DeLuve said. â€œI canâ€™t spend it reading a book.â€
â€œOkay,â€ Johnson said.
He went back to his stateroom, conferring with Sanderson and letting him know heâ€™d be in his room reading the book if he needed him.
* * *
McCree went to his stateroom and went to bed, as did Agent Sanderson.
* * *
DeLuve took a four hour nap, getting up around 1 p.m. He went to the forward passenger carriage and examined the back of the train tender, noting the broken ladder again. He looked around hoping there might be some kind of tube to communicate with the engine but didnâ€™t see one. He looked up at the top of the carriage and the tender before going back into the car.
He went back to the baggage car and examined the coffin in the daylight. Close examination proved there was dirt shoved down in the cracks between the velvet lining of the casket.
* * *
Joell Johnson skimmed the book all day and got the gist of what it was about. It seemed to be about a place called Severn Valley and a terrible, stagnant pond that housed the horrible ancient god Glaaki. It discussed the god and his associated cult and servitors that, once pierced by one of the terrible spines of Glaaki, were killed but then rose from the dead as endless, undead things. It also discussed the green decay which befell older servitors, destroying them if they exposed themselves too much to the sun. They were easily to identify by the horrible wound in the center of their chests. The book had two spells. One allegedly allowed for the actual summoning of one of the servitors of Glaaki, causing it to appear before one. The other one was to contact and talk to Glaaki itself.
* * *
They met for dinner that night in the dining car along with the rest of the passengers, including Nickerbocker. Sir Christopher approached them to ask how the investigation was going.
â€œWe donâ€™t have a lot of leads on who it might be but it seems to be good when weâ€™re all together,â€ Agent Sanderson said.
â€œThereâ€™s a rumor that it goes through walls, this person?â€ he said.
â€œWe donâ€™t think thatâ€™s true. Thereâ€™s no evidence of it.â€
â€œWhy were all put together?â€
â€œJust for numbers and sheer strength in case the thing busted a window open or come through a door.â€
â€œAh. Are we going to have to do that again tonight?â€
â€œJust to be safe.â€
â€œAll right. I do not sleep well sitting up.â€
He headed for the front of the dining car.
DeLuve and McCree were talking quietly about the possibility of getting onto the tender and the engine. DeLuve wanted to see the engineers.
â€œHey, McCree, you wanna give me a boost?â€ DeLuve said. â€œInto the tender?â€
â€œSounds dangerous,â€ McCree said.
â€œYeah, but you could give me a boost and I could pull you over.â€
â€œSounds excessively dangerous.â€
â€œBut we need to get to the engineers.â€
â€œTheyâ€™re alive and theyâ€™ll stop the train when we get to New Orleans.â€
â€œHow do we know theyâ€™re alive? Also, how do we know they arenâ€™t the thing?â€
â€œBecause itâ€™s doubtful.â€
â€œBut weâ€™ve gotten everybody else.â€
â€œI heard Joell might be able to help you.â€
That frustrated DeLuve.
Sir Christopher stopped at Father Delaroveâ€™s table and chatted with the priest for a few moments before he left the dining car with Miss Shelton. Father Delarove left shortly after that.
Mrs. Leighman ate and left, still very distraught.
â€œSee, itâ€™s all over,â€ Brubeck said, puffing on his cigar and laughing it up with the ladies. â€œEverythingâ€™s fine!â€
Johnson had the book at the dinner table and cursed under his breath. He hated Brubeck.
DeLuve approached Agent Sanderson.
â€œYou want to give me a boost into the tender?â€ he said.
â€œYeah,â€ Agent Sanderson said.
DeLuve didnâ€™t really want to go in the dark, though.
â€œCâ€™mon girls, weâ€™ll go hide in the room!â€ Brubeck said to the women.
Johnson told the others about what heâ€™d read. Hearing it, Agent Sanderson went to Miss Brownâ€™s room to look at the bodies. The room was starting to smell a little bit. Agent Sanderson examined the corpses, looking at their chests. He found nothing unusual about them and searched the room, finding the window locked and a book on the floor that had obviously fallen from a shelf. The book was H.G. Wellâ€™s War of the Worlds.
* * *
Johnson and DeLuve were in the forward passenger carriage with McCree and Agent Sanderson later that evening. Sir Christopher and Miss Shelton were there, playing backgammon until about 8 p.m. Then Sir Christopher headed out the back of the car while Miss Shelton went to their room.
â€œWhere are you going, Sir Christopher?â€ Agent Sanderson asked him.
â€œIâ€™m going to see â€¦ Father Delarove,â€ the other man said.
â€œOkay,â€ Agent Sanderson said.
Sir Christopher exited the car with a whoosh of outside air. McCree headed that direction too.
â€œWhere you going, McCree?â€ Agent Sanderson said.
â€œIâ€™m keeping an eye on Christopher,â€ McCree said.
â€œOkay,â€ Agent Sanderson said.
McCree got into the second car in time to see Sir Christopher knock on Father Delaroveâ€™s room and enter. McCree continued on down to the parlor in that car.
The train roared through the night, the click-clack of the wheels beneath the cars and the swaying of the carriages almost soothing.
* * *
In the forward carriage, there was a crash and sound of breaking glass.
â€œItâ€™s outside!â€ a woman cried out. â€œHelp me!â€
Johnson ran to Sir Christopherâ€™s room, where the commotion was coming from. He threw the door open, baseball bat in hand.
In the room, Miss Shelton was screaming and he saw the window was shattered. She pointed to the window, crying.
â€œIt was clinging to the side of the car like a spider!â€ she cried out. â€œHe was black with orange eyes and great wings! Teeth like a serpent! I began screaming and I hurled my valise through the window and it disappeared!â€
* * *
In the second car, McCree got up and went to Father Delaroveâ€™s room when he heard the screaming, throwing the door open. His suspicions were correct. Sir Christopher and Father Delarove were locked in combat. Father Delarove had slashes across his face and he let out a cry, grabbing his crucifix and pressing it against Sir Christopherâ€™s head. There was a hiss and a terrible stench of rotten flesh. Sir Christopher screamed and stumbled backwards. The priest had blood all over his face.
McCree put his shotgun to his shoulder and fired both barrels. The blast struck Sir Christopher in the midsection, blowing a substantial hole in the man and splattering a good amount of blood and gore against the window. The glass of the window was shattered and the wind blew in. Father Delarove cried out as a little of the buckshot struck him in the arm and fell to the ground. Sir Christopher was knocked back against the wall and started laughing before he turned into mist and faded away.
* * *
The others heard the blast of McCreeâ€™s rifle.
â€œWe need to get you safe,â€ Johnson said to Miss Shelton. â€œGet in the parlor and we need to see whatâ€™s going on with those gunshots.â€
â€œOkay!â€ the girl cried out. â€œOkay!â€
She grabbed her suitcase, her eyes wide in terror and rolling around in her head. She breathed heavily through her mouth.
â€œLetâ€™s go!â€ she said. â€œLetâ€™s go! It was right outside. Oh my God. It was right outside!â€
She pushed Johnson out of the room, following him quickly. He ran into the parlor and saw Agent Sanderson heading out of the front car ahead of him and he gave chase. As the three men and Miss Shelton ran down the passageway of the second carriage, Sam Club stuck his head out of his stateroom door.
â€œWhat the hell was that!?!â€ the private investigator shouted.
He ran out of his stateroom and followed them, gun in hand. They saw the door at the end of the car suddenly slide shut.
They found McCree over the bloody priest in the last stateroom, trying to perform first aid, the door wide open and wind blowing in through the shattered window.
â€œHe attacked me!â€ Father Delarove said. â€œHe attacked me!â€
* * *
DeLuve ran the opposite way of the rest and knocked on the door at the front of the car.
â€œThereâ€™s been another murder and weâ€™re meeting in the second car!â€ he yelled.
There was a terrified shout from inside the stateroom.
â€œWho died?â€ he heard Brubeck call.
But it was too late. He was running towards the back passenger car.
* * *
Johnson headed for the door at the end of the car. Agent Sanderson was right behind him.
â€œItâ€™s Christopher Alexander!â€ McCree called out. â€œApparently he doesnâ€™t like crosses!â€
â€œWhat?â€ Miss Shelton said.
She seemed confused as she ran after the two men, suitcase in hand.
â€œIs this our stop?â€ she said.
McCree picked up the priestâ€™s crucifix.
* * *
As DeLuve entered the second passenger car, he knocked on Mrs. Leighmanâ€™s door.
â€œJust leave me alone!â€ he heard her call out.
He continued towards the back of the train.
* * *
Johnson and Agent Sanderson entered the darkened dining car. They thought they saw Sir Christopher at the far end of the dining compartment. He backed away, smiling at them in the darkening car as all the lights went out. He seemed to be floating. Then he was out of sight.
Johnson slowly followed as Agent Sanderson got out his flashlight. They went through the passageway that ran by the kitchen and saw that, when he reached the outer door to the car that led to the baggage compartment, Sir Christopher, standing there, seemed to fade into mist and disappear.
Johnson ran towards the door, flinging it open. The small balcony was empty and the door to the baggage car was closed. There was no sign of Sir Christopher. Johnson thought for sure both Sir Christopher and his wife would be there. Miss Shelton had followed them, seemingly in a maddened and confused state.
* * *
â€œDoctor! We need a doctor in here!â€ Sam Club called from Father Delaroveâ€™s room as DeLuve down the passageway. â€œHeâ€™s bleeding! Someone did a terrible job in here!â€
Dr. Adamson exited his own stateroom with his medical bag as DeLuve passed it. The man ignored the commotion and ran towards the back of the train.
* * *
Johnson flung open the door to the baggage car and saw it was pitch black within. All of the lanterns had been extinguished. Agent Sanderson shined his flashlight around the boxcar. He didnâ€™t see anyone but there was plenty of places to hide, including in the crate the coffin lay within. Johnson turned to look at Agent Sanderson and was startled when Miss Shelton thrust her head forward between them.
â€œIs this our stop?â€ she said. â€œIs this our stop?â€
She clutched her small suitcase to her chest.
â€œIs this the station?â€ she asked, her voice strange and distant. â€œIs this the station?â€
â€œStay back here,â€ Johnson said to her.
â€œIsnâ€™t this the station?â€ she said.
Behind them the door to the dining car opened and McCree stepped out, shotgun in hand.
Agent Sanderson headed into the boxcar, gun in one hand and flashlight in the other, making for the crate. Johnson followed him more slowly.
They saw that the lid was off the crate. When Sanderson got closer, he saw the lid of the coffin was closed.
â€œIâ€™ve got an idea!â€ McCree cried out.
â€œDoes anybody have any silver?â€ Agent Sanderson said. â€œOr a stake?â€
â€œI have a cross,â€ McCree called.
â€œSilver!â€ Miss Shelton said. â€œI have silver!â€
â€œGive it to me!â€ Agent Sanderson said.
â€œIâ€™m sorry,â€ she replied. â€œSo sorry.â€
She opened her suitcase partially and started to pull things out, throwing them to the floor. There was some clothing, a few bottles of perfume and a few toiletries, and some underwear.
â€œOh!â€ she said, pulling out a sickle.
She swung at Johnson. Johnson leaned back as the horrible weapon swung by him and it missed him for the most part. He felt a little of his hair drop onto his shoulder where the weapon had sliced right through it.
At that same moment, something fell from the roof of the boxcar onto Agent Sanderson, knocking him to the floor. It was Sir Christopher. He was on top of the man scratching at him.
â€œMove!â€ McCree shouted.
Agent Sanderson managed to get his pistol between himself and Sir Christopher. He fired the gun and saw the bullet rip out of the manâ€™s back. Sir Christopher laughed and vanished into mist.
On the catwalk, McCree blasted Miss Shelton in the side at point blank range, the blast knocking the beautiful girl a good ten feet into the boxcar, falling just short of Sanderson and sliding towards him, leaving a trail of blood behind.
The mist went up towards the top of the boxcar and looked like it went through the roof of the car.
A figure stepped out from the left of Johnson. The man was partially rotted and obviously long-dead. He had a terrible wound in the center of his chest from which vein-like markings projected. It rushed passed Johnson and at McCree, crashing into him and trying to grab at the man.
* * *
DeLuve had gone back to the parlor when he saw the dining car was completely dark. Moments later, he heard gunfire from the back of the train.
â€œThey are trained professionals,â€ he said to himself.
* * *
Agent Sanderson looked around and saw the naked walking dead man on the balcony next to McCree. He was terribly shaken by seeing the horrible thing. Then the thingâ€™s head turned all the way around to face the man, itâ€™s eyes seemingly piercing his very soul. Another of the things appeared inside the boxcar and then another and another and another. They all smiled at him, their backs to him but their heads facing him.
Agent Sanderson fired at the first one, the bullet striking the boxcar just above Johnsonâ€™s head. Johnson ignored it and turned, swinging at the thing on the catwalk. Unfortunately, he misjudged the width of the doorway he stood in and the baseball bat smashed against it, losing all momentum and power.
McCree kicked the horrible dead man, knocking the thing down onto the catwalk between the cars.
Agent Sanderson fired at the thing again, hitting it in the back as the others in the room came towards him. The blast blew a large hole in the thingâ€™s chest, a greenish ichor spewing out. It should have killed or incapacitated the man but he continued to get to his feet as if he didnâ€™t even feel it. Then Johnson struck the thing in the side of the head with his baseball bat solidly enough to knock it completely over again. It fell to the catwalk again and stopped moving.
McCree broke open his shotgun and shoved two shells into it.
Agent Sanderson put another bullet into the head of the thing on the ground even as the others faded away all around him, obviously merely the product of his own delusional mind. More of the greenish goo spewed out.
â€œYouâ€™ve made a terrible mistake,â€ Sir Christopher whispered into McCreeâ€™s ear.
The man felt someone slash his back, his jacket and shirt being ripped open and pain running through him where he felt like someone had slashed him with a knife. He stumbled forward with a cry, one of his feet slipping from the catwalk and nearly sending him tumbling off the train.
Johnson spun around and saw the horrible man there. He stepped forward and swung his baseball bat. Sir Christopher backed effortlessly and gracefully out of the way. Johnson saw blood on the manâ€™s right hand which seemed to have long, nail-like claws upon it.
â€œYou do not know what you deal with,â€ Sir Christopher said to him.
He looked at the shotgun and smiled.
â€œYou cannot kill that which is already dead!â€ he yelled. â€œYou cannot kill the vampyr, but I shall drink your blood.â€
McCree turned and punched Sir Christopher in the face with his left fist, Father Delaroveâ€™s crucifix wrapped tight around it. There was a sound of hissing and the vampire let out a screech and flew off the catwalk, disappearing into the darkness.
They all looked around a moment.
â€œTry to destroy that coffin!â€ McCree said.
He knelt and pressed the cross into the horrible dead man who had the strange wound on its chest. Nothing happened. A quick look proved Miss Shelton dead as well.
They quickly moved into the boxcar as DeLuve arrived, having made his way through the dining car when he heard the screams. The four men pulled the coffin from the crate and dragged it to the end of the boxcar, opening the door there. They shoved it off the edge and it shattered to pieces when it hit the tracks at 40 miles per hour.
DeLuve took photographs of the dead bodies for his personal collection.
Sam Club entered the boxcar, gun in hand.
â€œJust in time!â€ Johnson said sarcastically.
â€œYou are late, sir,â€ McCree, still bleeding from his back, said.
He headed for the front of the train.
* * *
Dr. Adamson tended to McCreeâ€™s wound as best he could though it was quite terrible.
They searched Sir Christopherâ€™s room and found more of the black dirt in his bed. McCree took it upon himself to fling the dirt and the sheets off the train, but only after he touched it with the crucifix. They found a small cigar case with lid polished to a mirror finish. They recognized the cigars as belonging to Professor Leighman. They also found one of the suits in the room had splatters of blood upon it.
The train didnâ€™t slow and, when daylight came, they discussed trying to get to the engine. DeLuve wanted to as he was unsure if the engineers were working for the horrible man as well. He pointed out they would all possibly die if the train crashed into another one.
Johnson said it was a stupid idea.
â€œBut if we do just keep barreling into New Orleans, weâ€™re all going to die,â€ DeLuve said.
â€œWhy do we need to go up there?â€ Johnson said. â€œIf theyâ€™re not shoveling coal into it, we wouldnâ€™t be going now.â€
â€œWhat Iâ€™m saying is if they keep shoveling coal into it, we could crash.â€
â€œIf theyâ€™re alive, then theyâ€™re shoveling coal into it and we keep going.â€
â€œInto the train yards. Where we crash.â€
â€œWhy would they keep on shoveling coal?â€
â€œThe brakes arenâ€™t gone, just our way to tell â€˜em â€˜hey stopâ€™ is gone.â€
â€œZombies are shoveling coal. Itâ€™s a zombie train!â€
â€œNo, I mean they could be working for â€˜vampyr.â€™â€
â€œYes! All of this is crazy!â€
â€œOkay, but do you know whatâ€™s more crazy? Thereâ€™s a difference between crazy of vampires and zombies attacking us then zombies getting together to man a train and saying â€˜Well, if we donâ€™t kill â€˜em, weâ€™ll just throw the train. Weâ€™ll organize into a union!â€™â€
â€œI never said that. Fine, weâ€™ll let the train roll out.â€
* * *
As the train approached New Orleans on the late morning of Thursday, April 25, 1929, they watched the engine closely to see what would happen. They saw two people leap from the engine, crashing the ground and soon being lost to sight. After a short while, the engine slowed, finally coming to a stop.
â€œIt was zombies!â€ Johnson said. â€œWhat the heck!?!â€
* * *
The authorities soon arrived and they told them Sir Christopher was the murderer and at the end, he just jumped off the train as he was obviously a madman. They also told police Miss Shelton was helping him. Men came in to move the train and they were all questioned. There was some confusion about the conductor killing someone and then committing suicide but all of them, including Agent Sanderson, reported Sir Christopher being the madman who killed Professor Leighman and then attacked them.
Johnson kept the strange book they had found.