Hobo: Henry P. Gravelle
In Hobo by Henry P. Gravelle: A rogue vampire takes siege of the midnight express.
Hobo is a horror novel
“Why didn’t you pull the emergency cord? It would’ve saved you a cleaning.” Freddy said, looking at Ed’s coal stained uniform. He grinned as Ed continued to brush off coal dust.
“Cause I know you wouldn’t want to stop on a grade. Besides, he’s dead…can’t change that fact by slamming on the brakes,” Ed said.
“And I’m happy you didn’t. We gotta make that damn bridge before this storm washes it out,” Freddy quipped.
“Think that hobo kilt Carl?” Junior wondered.
“Who else gonna do it? Freddy snapped, “We never have a problem ‘till one of ‘em low-life’s sneaks a ride.”
“Musta been some fight, Carl died pretty violently like,” Ed added.
“Looking for a strongbox more than likely,” Freddy said. “Better check on Hardy, goddamned hobo’s trying to rob us.”
The emergency brakes applied with a jolt just as Ed opened his mouth to report Hardy was okay. All three men in the cab lurched forward. Sparks filled the rail bed as the steel wheels ground against steel rails. The locomotive came to a rest, on the incline, its cowcatcher pointed to the Braveman Tunnel entrance cut under a rocky shelf one-mile ahead.
“Jesus, mercy!” Junior exclaimed as he rubbed a bruised elbow.
Ed clamored down the locomotive’s steps to the gravel road-bed. “I’ll see who pulled the cord.”
“They better have a good reason, goddamn it…” Freddy snarled and spat a wad of displeasure against the hissing boiler door.
Ed ran back to the first coach, passing through escaping steam from the locomotive’s drive pistons. He began to raise his collar to the gale flowing through the pass like a rogue ocean current, but thought, would be the same as pissing on a forest fire.
He jumped onto the stops steps to the coach car’s platform just as Raymond opened the door.
“You pull the emergency?” Ed asked loudly over the wind. Raymond nodded a few times holding onto his cap which almost flew off.
“Yeah…one of the passengers, a woman…” He turned to point out the seat she had occupied. “She went out the window.”
Ed glanced though the door window. Inside he saw the Mayor and his bodyguard collecting the scattered pages of the speech. The cowboy removed his wet gun belt and slung the dual .44’s over the woman’s seat. The window frame, wall, and seat were soaked. A parasol lay on the floor in a puddle of rainwater. Ed turned back to Raymond.
“What do you mean she went out the window, a suicide—?”
“I’m telling you, she went out the window. That cowboy almost grabbed her, but she went out as if sucked through a drainpipe. I pulled the emergency so we could find her, she might be hurt.”
“Ha…” Ed laughed. “Might be hurt? Boy, if she ain’t in a few pieces I’ll be a monkeys…”
The blast from a shotgun cut Ed’s words short. The sound came from Hardy’s RPO mail car. Raymond and Ed ran to the car and pounded on the door.
“Hardy…Hardy, open up, it’s me, Ed…”
Raymond tried his passkey in the lock, fumbling with the latch. It finally swung open. Ed and Raymond peered in cautiously before stepping in.
“Hardy, are you all right?” Ed said.
The silence was familiar, the same as when he found Carl. He stepped inside. The lanterns were still burning. Ed scanned the area with Raymond close behind.
“Oh god, no…” Ed said finding Hardy’s body. He could tell Hardy met the same fate as Carl. His body was under the sorting table, his two feet showing in the swinging lantern light.
Raymond knelt beside the body. “Maybe he’s okay?”
Raymond rose quickly to his feet and moved away after viewing the full nature of Hardy’s injuries. Ed found another fire blanket and covered Hardy. A dark splotch seeped through the wool blanket where it touched his head, a deep gash at his throat.
“Oh damn, what could do that to someone?” Raymond said, almost in tears.
“Something evil…” a voice said breaking through the morbid silence. Ed and Raymond straightened with surprise, their eyes wide in fright seeing the cowboy standing at the end of the sorting table.
“You scared the be-Jesus out of us, mister. What you doing in here?” Ed huffed.
“Investigating these killings,” the cowboy said, nodding to Hardy under the table. He held up a silver badge shaped like a star. “Name’s Thomas, a detective with Pinkerton.”
“Pinkerton?” Ed repeated. “You boys usually chase robbers, like the Daltons and James gangs, don’t cha?”
“So why you on this train, we ain’t been robbed?” Raymond said.
Thomas nodded in agreement. “Yes, sir. We track down robbers, as well as anyone else who cause problems with the line. That’s why we’ve been looking into several murders over in Penterville; something over there killing folk…much the same way this ‘ere fella died.”
“This ain’t killing, mister, this ‘ere is mutilating,” Raymond said, nodding to Hardy’s body.
“This kinda murder ain’t natural, don’t know of anyone who ever died like that ‘cept a fella I knew got ripped up by a grizzly,” Ed added.
Thomas knelt beside Hardy and pulled back the fire blanket. He leaned closer to examine the throat wound. “No bear did this.” Thomas replaced the blanket over Hardy’s head. “We got problems on this train, and I mean a serious kinda problem.”
“How come the Penterville Sheriff or U.S. Marshal ain’t looking into this? Why they got Pinkerton hunting this butcher?” Raymond asked. Ed waited for an answer, also.
“The killings happened on rail property. The Sheriff is investigating, but his jurisdiction doesn’t include the rails. The Marshal could, but he’s got over three hundred miles to cover and right now he’s up North. That makes it a railroad problem, and the railroad will take care of it.”
“So what has Pinkerton found we’re gonna look for?” Ed asked.
“We ain’t gotta look for nothing, mister. This thing’s looking for us.”
“Thing…?” Raymond said.
Thomas nodded toward Hardy’s form under the fire blanket and grimaced. “We got us an honest to God vampire, and from the looks of the wound, this one’s a thirsty bastard.
ALSO BY HENRY P. GRAVELLE
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