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The Raven




12-30-2019 06:48 pst

The font and style of elements throughout the site have been streamlined for ease of reading. Each page follows suit from the index and we believe readability on mobile devices and smaller displays has been improved markedly. This change has been in the works for some time and we are pleased to view everything in the new state. Little tweaks here and there may still take place in the coming weeks, however the new look is here to stay. The italic is gone, for the most part, and the appearance feels fresh and bright.

'The Passion and the Impossibility' has been taken offline yet again due to concerns over the flow of that composition. As we move toward the end of the calendar year, admin is having difficulty with several entries from our past as they relate to the holiday season. We will send it back to the production environment as soon as we are allowed.




The Antithesis and the Arsenal

Part Two

read ( words)

"The Bellagio fountains. Lighting. People.

Andrea whispering into my ear... 'Fuck me, love.'

My head wraps itself around her loving words along with the gorgeous and playful expression on her unbelievably beautiful face. Andrea's fingers are gently sliding up and down the inside of my arm as she looks to me with huge, emotional eyes. Inside me is a heart beating as if the sky is about to fall on our heads. I look at her and cannot believe how beautiful she looks against the colors and dramatic scenery of the south Strip. We have been connected for weeks on end and every single second feels like the dream of my life. Andrea's huge heart and endless affection are unlike anything in the world thus far. She looks at me as if I created the beauty of the universe... I look at her as if she saved my life and brought me to a place previously unimagined. The lights bounce off her eyes and I leap into the exosphere like a rocket launched from the core of love itself. There is nothing else in existence. Just the two of us and the blissful bubble which has encapsulated our hearts for what feels a lifetime. Fingers intertwined as always, eyes on fire, my entire being welded to her beautiful soul, and...

Slam... Broken... Gone... Sadness immediately drives me into suicidal thoughts and the knowledge that the dream has been destroyed. I am on the concrete and surrounded by strangers enjoying the luxurious life that I have lost forever. Cocktails, laughter, the sounds of happiness, and palm trees elegantly lit from below.

Eyes wide open.

The woman is there next to me, staring, breathing. Why? How? I am on the pavement and cannot see much. Just her. There is no blood, either. Seconds ago I stepped off a ledge ninety floors above with the answer. I thought Julia was going to help me, but in the end she may have been there only to push.

She is clinging to me just as Juliette did when things went awry in the HoB. Clinging. I can smell her hair. Both arms around mine and her head resting against my shoulder. The woman is tiny and seems frail. My natural instinct is to help and protect her, after which I can hopefully learn of what happened a short time earlier. For the time being, just walking. I have to find something... Anything comfortable in order to regroup us. In only an hour of walking I already feel close to her. Like she is as important as Julia or myself. The ledge and her words continue to spin me. Everywhere is sand and Yucca again. The temperature is better, though, and that means I am able to think more clearly than the walk to Vegas. No boxes, and no scorpions. I guess that point was made. Thinking of their words reminds me of the woman next to me and her harsh lesson. She is all of them. But how many? Does that go back before Jasmine? Or is she the culmination of just three? Four? I will not ask until such time as we can locate comfort.

To my left is a locomotive. On the right? The haunted hotel. I see nothing else anywhere. The scene has changed dramatically from mere moments ago. A train. Damn it. The remainder of the Vegas skyline is gone.



339



Her name eludes me. She did not tell me anything other than she is all of them. No name? Whatever. I am too tired to wrestle with anything, let alone trying to pry into someone who quizzed me at the end of my life. Plus, I sort of do not care. I would rather see the scorpions pierce my skin than figure out anything further in this fucking place. Seeing the hotel standing there -- and yes, maybe ten or eleven floors high -- pushes me to believe that my encounter with the blonde version of Julia may not have taken place. I simply cannot believe that she would not do more to help me through such a puzzle. On top of that, her demeanor toward me felt harsh and unfriendly. Very different from the sweet, caring woman I knew before. Was it her? A test? Someone else? I don't know. She was very pointed in her dissatisfaction with my efforts to improve and basically slammed such a point home right out of the gate. As difficult as that was to hear, I suppose I cannot disagree. I have slid along in the comforts for years, and when confronted with a real issue, well, faltering is not surprising. All of the little smidgens of trouble have been pushed aside for me to point my antenna toward surviving each day, and that meant anything larger was shoved away. Julia's words were tough to swallow, but such is me. As I consider the meaning behind some of the strange looks and occurrences in the resort, my attention swings back to the woman on my arm and her role on high.

On the upside, she is lovely. Like a petite version of Juliette. Yes, even in crisis and surrounded by clues I am supposed to follow, the obsession emerges. I just hope the other problem remains at bay.

I stop, she clings. Like an extra appendage, the little beauty is against me with her arms tight. Am I supposed to protect her from something? I can barely hang on, but I suppose trying is not out of reach. As we move along directly between the two hideous options, my mind goes back to the other train and so much uncertainty throughout that frozen trip. I have no wish to repeat such a journey, however the options are limited. Pausing our walk, I inquire as to her mindset. Still no name and very few words. Every time she looks up at me, I cannot help but feel something inside, like Julia telling me she was a part of me and what that felt like in the middle of nowhere while worrying about the future. Now the worry has compounded. Which way to go? Looking at her makes we wish to know more. I need it. I need something. The decision is made to begin with a name.

Another Julie. Really? And a Julia? Why?

Whatever.

We have to head in one direction or another. Straight ahead is nothing, so one of us has to make a choice. Julie points to the train. Ugh. As much as I do not wish to board another fucking locomotive, I suppose the machine can take us away from this place, anyway. The rails are straight as an arrow, too. The last time I spoke with Julia with her flaming anger toward my decisions, she told me the ultimate destination of that journey was the hotel standing to my right. Hmm. If the rails do not curve around at some point, this locomotive's direction is different and I do not know if boarding is a good idea. I bounce the idea off Julie (fuck, I cannot get over that name again) and she looks at me like I am in charge. Her eyes are frightened and I see that she has begun to appear one-hundred percent dependent upon me. Wonderful. Splendid. Marvelous. I can barely care for myself these days. On top of that, I have to take us to the train, board the thing, and cruise to somewhere. All of my decisions and motives on the previous trip have been questioned, meaning my head is now crammed with not only trying to get the fuck out of there but also considering the opposite of each choice, just in case.

'Let's go back to the hotel.'

That was pretty positive, and the end of me trying to pick a direction. Turning right, I see it standing there and dominating the landscape of desert. The resort looks beautiful from a distance and I feel a strong urge to head there and sink into the atmosphere of my choice for years. I take Julie's little hand again and point us to the place where we both died. I still cannot get that image of her lying there in the shower, and then standing, arms wide, and with those unfeeling black eyes. Right now she looks gorgeous, soft, inviting, and very sensuous. Hair blowing slightly, eyes wide with wonder as if she is a ten-year-old about to walk into Disneyland, and the motions of so many forms I dreamed about in the past. Julie is cute beyond words and it kills me to know that her insides have been twisted by this fucked up situation, just as mine. I want to help her, help myself, and understand beyond the ledge. I can only hope. As we approach the place of worry and death, my grip tightens a bit to indicate that my first choice would have been the Goddamned train.



357



The hotel looks different, like more in order or some such thing. The lights are no longer flickering, the music sounds better, and the people behind the big registration counter are stunning, yet this time their makeup is impeccable. Again, everywhere I look there are picturesque faces and bodies. I still do not understand, but at least things look normal. Hopefully the elevator and floor layout is a bit easier to follow. Julie still clings tightly, my head trying to process the scene for the second time.

Check in. The cashier is so beautiful with proper makeup that I nearly falter. Jesus, what a stunning woman. And that with such beauty right next to me. We stroll toward the main casino and Julie stops me with a dramatic look. I see caring and something else. She pulls me into a quiet corner and asks of my well being. Huh? I just heard more words from her mouth in twenty seconds than the last several hours. I sit her down and we talk for a long while, going over her reason and understanding of the situation along with my need to figure things out. Julie knows that I really fucked up on the train according to Julia. Her face quickly changes from concern to stern. I see fire in those eyes and ask of what is going on.

'My love, take care of them.'
'Huh? Who?'
'Me, all of them. Remember?'
'Yes.'

Fuck me. I have no idea what I need to do. My face shows a touch of confidence in defiance of what is going on inside. I no sooner try to project myself as strong when my head goes through a second harsh push from beyond this scene and haunted landscape. The past melts away like ice cream on the sidewalk in the summer sun as the issues of late return. One flies in on the heels of the other. I am supposed to figure out just exactly what has been taking place out here in the hellish plane, yet the reality of my difficulties continues to stroll in and take over with force. I have no solutions at all, and each passing day brings another new layer. Boy do I need a fucking drink. Grabbing Julie's soft little hand, I decide to take charge and get a bit of a heater going while leaving things alone for a while. I need time. Julie follows along as I pull her to the same bar where I dashed away to find that gorgeous woman lying dead in my shower. Oy.

The lounge is the same as before with one slight difference. The lovely bartender's makeup is very nice. I pull us up to the left end of the bar and look across to see none other than the blonde version of Julia again. God damn fuck shit. Why? Will there be a voice again, too? Am I supposed to take care of Julia? The blonde hair freaks me the fuck out, while the black hair seems much easier to take. Julie holds my hand comfortably as I sit and try to work through so many puzzles. I need clear answers but none seem available. I worry of the voice coming soon, the issues spin inside me, and from one moment to the next I cannot seem to relax and compose my head enough to actually figure out anything. I am beginning to fall, and the past trips to Vegas in which I drowned myself into alcohol and sex in order to delude life's issues begin to surface and press me down. Whenever day-to-day life became too arduous for one reason or another, I knew I could fall back on a getaway. Julie sits there with big eyes and awaits my words or decisions. The other one is in the shadow, like always. Part of me wants to shake things up, while the remainder wishes to sit and drink until falling to the floor. I am losing it.

The bartender's wavy hair and tapered breasts are not helping, either. Something has to happen, and soon. I take a long draw off my scotch and decide to throw a wrench into the gears. Like a lucid dream, I think I can press a button outside the scope of what may be expected of me. This place is too strange, things are too static, and I need to do something. The nature of what feels like a parallel universe is becoming too much with which to deal. I have the two issues in my head that will not go away, I cannot find a path to work through either of them, and the fucking hotel situation is pissing me off at an alarming rate. The decision is made to fuck around and see what develops. All at once a plan forms as I sit and keep myself against the lovely Julie. My right hand takes the initiative to the back of her pretty head. I plant my lips to hers, kiss deeply while my respiration peaks, and that is that. The wrench appears in my head, I stand and square up a bit, guzzle the remaining booze, and take a bead across the room.

The heavy, empty rocks glass in my left hand. Here we go.



358



One step back and I hurl the glass with as much force as I can muster. The target is a large, framed mirror beyond Julia's position. My quiet atmosphere is shattered as the weighted glass strikes the mirror dead center and I see shards flying in all directions. Not enough. Another step back as I grab at the barstool and choose another target. The chair is heavy and I see another glass pane advertising Grey Goose Vodka a bit closer and destroy it with a swing of the stool. The intense mayhem caused by my outburst causes the few patrons to quickly find the exit and flee for their lives. Julie is clasping the bar and crouched below as I find another projectile in the glass bowl filled with salty snacks. The bowl flies behind the bar and obliterates several bottles perched atop a lighted shelf. The gorgeous bartender dashes around and through the entrance while I scream bloody murder at the fucked up scene which has taken part of my sense away. I am so sick of everything being foggy and confusing. Fucking tired of the whole shitaree. My anger flares again as I begin to throw every object I can find in random directions. No one is left at the tables. I see debris all over the bar and floor which feels satisfying in a way only a person seeing blood red can understand. Just as I decide to find matches and set fire to the curtains, my eyes are drawn to the swinging pendants at the other end of the bar and the place where Julia with blonde hair sat mysteriously. She is not there, but a second later I see her rising from under the bar's overhang. She moves left enough for me to spy an intermittent image of anger in her lovely eyes as the light swings to and fro. Fuck. I thought she had fled with the others.

Julia immediately steps to me as if I am going to be struck like the mirrors.

'You fucking idiot. Why?'
'I had to do something. I am sick of this shit.'
'Sit down. We need to talk.'
'Yeah. Whatever.'

I take to a mostly-clean booth along with both women, and then quickly turn to grab some alcohol and a glass from the thrashed bar. Sitting and pouring, Julia looks at me with disdain and begins to lecture as if I am twelve. Fuck her anyway, but I listen as she describes in harsh detail the situation just before I stepped off that fucking ledge. I did everything wrong. The blonde bombshell sits without blinking and tells me that my path was to save Julie and take her away from the hotel. Huh? How? More detail... Julie represents the three loves that I cannot move past. My head returns to them daily and Julie was in my room as an image of the results and outcome of my decisions to latch on to those women and then cut them off and return home to a life I no longer wished to lead. Her blood was the fallout, her death the end of each relationship, and her instructions on the ledge were quite correct. I should have gone back inside, cared for her wounds, and exited the resort on the train that was to appear upon my realization that I could actually learn something about myself and move past the issue of need. Well, I fucked everything up bad. By stepping off that high floor and tumbling to yet another demise, the events Julia set in motion were immediately halted and distorted into another world along with another chance. And finally I feel something inside telling me that after rising from the pavement with that little girl and moving on with the situation in the fucking desert, I really was taking part in the lesson and thinking more clearly than I had thought possible. Calmer, less flaring toward destroying more of the scenery, and much more thoughtful than days passed. Julia softens and begins to look sympathetic as Julie clings to my shoulder and drowns my shirt with tears.

I am floored but still partially uncaring and angry. The woman again comes across as a combination of every therapist I have ever visited. She is brilliant, frightening, and quite correct every fucking time. And though she is addressing me with information that I can use to maintain my sanity, still the two issues remain flanking whatever comes through my ears. Julia does not see it and leaves me no pause for comment. She continues somewhat quieter with each problem I have caused along with those I created while she tried to guide me through the tough parts of my life. And despite the seriousness of the situation, I still need to jump both of them. Yep, broken and weak, to the last. I am just about ready to tell everyone to take a flying leap and let me destroy myself in the worst possible manner.

Still she lectures, looking like dessert. Julie clings with her face buried in my neck.

After a long while -- and some words I can actually take to heart -- Julia stops her tirade to sit and breathe. At last, my chance to ask and hopefully learn why these places were created for me to suffer. And? Nothing. Julia states with authority that my brain caused all of it, from the fucking train in the frozen wasteland to the desert and crazy, backward resort. The pretty people are there to force me into dealing with how the look of attractive bodies and faces affects me and burn the issues. She knows that I am driven by both, yet a slave to them at the same fucking time. At least I have more information to digest.

'Lead that poor girl upstairs and rest.'
'I will.'



359



I take Julie in hand and lead her to the elevator vestibule. She clings to me, weeping, and without saying a word I receive a big hug with trembling arms. The car arrives with a normal-looking attendant and we slide upward to the high floors in comfort. Upon entering the room, Julie plants a sweet kiss to my cheek and begins to smile at us finally being alone again. I cannot disagree. The room is comfortable and smells of appetizers just like my initial visit. As I peruse the big space, sure enough there is a trolley loaded with snacks, booze, water, and the table is set up for two. Very nice. Whatever negatives and craziness have grown and taken place in this nut house of a hotel, they always seem to get the comfort right. Looking further, I see that everything appears normal and there is no blood in the shower. I wish that was funny. Julia was correct, we need rest. And I need to figure some things out.

Sitting at the window is relaxing. A little bit to eat, some nice conversation, and I begin to feel as if we are on a vacation rather than in a place full of questions and mysteries. Julie finally appears at ease for the first time since latching to me. And then I wonder... How well does she really know me and things of my past? Seeing traits of other women while we ventured here and there was beginning to make me worry of my sanity. She seems to be herself as we converse quietly about the last time we occupied the room. Tears, eyes displaying much sadness, and her hands caressing mine. I need to hold her and remain quiet for a time in order to regroup and think. I wish to care for her, help in any way, and hopefully get us the hell out of this newest of nightmares. To the bed, sans shoes. Oy, God does that feel nice. No Julia voice, no weird things floating about, and damned near no noise at all. Finally. We drift off, all wrapped up in each other's arms.

Hours.

I awaken to hear the shower and look to the window for bearing. Yep, we are still there, and below I see the familiar gardens, desert beyond them, and that locomotive off in the distance. Everything seems to be the same and Julie's clothing is all over the bed. Just like before, there are things in the closet and dresser for us to don after refreshing ourselves. The scene designed for the two of us means we are not only in the right place, but carrying on without issue. Things are beginning to form somewhat in my head, and that means perhaps she and I can go downstairs, confer with the blonde bombshell again, and get the fuck out of this place with more knowledge than when we arrived. Please. The water ceases and out trots Julie wrapped in a soft robe and without any makeup. God damn that woman is stunning. A peck to the cheek, the indication that we need to get out of the room soon, and I take her place in the hot water. After dressing, I see that the little trolley now holds coffee (thank Christ) and assorted morning goodies. One cup for each of us and we take to the long hallway in search of whatever may come along. An inkling in my mind to destroy the resort flashes on and back off. Hmm... Will it come to that?

'You're wonderful, love.'

Damn it all, Andrea's loving voice again. Immediately I need to jump into her clothing and do as I please, but business and investigation which can hopefully save us must take priority. Turn it off, for fuck's sake. Upon reaching the ground level, I notice that the hotel seems to have a larger footprint than before. The casino reaches in both directions, whereas before it was only built away from the lobby. Hmm. We venture toward the new area to see what is what. Through the valet parking exit I see all the way across the sand to that fucking locomotive sitting idle in the desert. Something tells me that we will be on that damned machine before long. My grip on her little hand tightens as thoughts of my trip in the freezing cold come up and greet me. That was a test on many levels, and one which I have no desire to repeat.

A small lounge off to the right helps to extract the memories of dying in the snow. Julie follows along as if we were meant to spend our lives together.

We take to a corner booth and I see that the suite of stunning women on the other side of the casino has continued here. Immediately we are approached by a tall, wondrous brunette with breasts bouncing. I love it. The atmosphere I know all too well is carrying forward and into each new discovery. Inside I am still ruined over all of the shit taking place, but at least I have Julie's never-ending and rotating beauty along with a slew of goddesses upon which to lay my deviant gaze. There is no understanding as to why every woman is so beautiful, but I have to go with it. Soon enough, we may be in that locomotive... All alone. I do not wish it, however there may be to turns on this journey of confusion. The engine is something I know intimately and the idea of powering through the desert with that little beauty attached to me is not terrible. I just wish there was a caboose again. Heh.



360



Drinks dropped at our dim table by long legs and a devilish smile. Nice. And then...

'We will be out there on that train, love.'
'Huh?'
'You know.'

Damn it. I thought so. After such a positive statement from Julie, I decide that the mysterious nature of our conversations, coupled with so many strange occurrences working on my head, add up to more questions for her. I inquire of her sometimes knowing what is going on and other times not. Julie tells me that if I am to learn of myself and what I need to do in order to change enough to accept mistakes, I need to follow along and go with the atmosphere and clues. Hmm, okay. I also should look around and give things time before jumping to conclusions and becoming reactionary. Well then, no more questions. We sit and stare at each other for a while before I can completely clear my head. I feel like I need to start from scratch and go over the other journey on the rails. Yes.

Julie is quite correct. I already knew the fucking thing was out there for a reason, and considering the past and all of my relations to the rails, there was never really any doubt. There have to be answers there, and just as I begin to calculate what another train ride could mean, Julie speaks again.

'Your journey of realization was set forth by my counterpart in order for you to face the past and what it has done for your life. The difficulties in that car and on the rails represent the pain inside, and could have ended right here in this hotel. The man you killed was false, unreal, and there to make you think about moving on without violence. Upon ending his life, your journey took a turn for the worse and enabled your childhood to face you and speak. He asked if you survived and you felt you had. Well, that was incorrect. You have not survived. With daily reminders of your trauma along with the manner in which it relates to desire and fulfillment, you still chafe. Threats of suicide, yearning for that comfort which is becoming less and less available, and journeying along the path of words, a part of you has died and cannot return. That does not mean you are off the hook toward yourself and can simply cruise along. It means you must search and never cease. Do you understand what you have done?'
'Jesus.'

Julie went on about my being selfish, lazy, and still leveraging others to get what I want. Wow, that little goddess of a morsel now looks like a therapist I never wished to face. Fuck me, I guess I have no idea what I'm doing after all. Shit. Am I so bad that these scenes have been created out of a need to force me to change? All that will accomplish is pushing me into anger and then a severe retreat from others. If I am truly that fucked up, I do not see a way out. She laid it out better than Julia ever did, and seemed to approach my issues just as a clinical psychologist. Damn it, I just wanted to sit with a cocktail and relax before concerning myself with that fucking train outside. I had no idea such a woman would rail me the way she did. I know Julia and her lessons, severe tone, and body language were there to indicate just how dire my situation has become, but for God's sake... Does it have to be that bad? Am I that bad?

The tall beauty returns to ask of our needs. Instantly Julie glares as I peruse the woman's features. Fuck me, I can't even gawk without a stern reaction.

'Focus, please, my love.'
'I will try.'
'You must. The alternative is this film going on forever. You will not like it.'

What the fuck? Is that a threat or fact? I am already unhappy, to say the least, and do not often see any light ahead, but does Julie have to do that to me? Damn it, my choices are narrowing.

Our second round arrives and Julie tells me that something to eat would be nice. And then a smile, for a change. That feels nice. She calmly whispers that we can break from the issues for a while and enjoy the atmosphere as much as possible before venturing into the heat and a stroll across the sand toward my train. Thank Christ, some comfort. We drop the drinks and head out toward the avenue of food, hand in hand. Her grip is soft, caressing, and something I need more than anything right now. I am quite certain that without that little beauty offering affection I would be in worse shape than I already am. Across the beautiful carpeted casino, I see the row of choices. My first would be another bar, of course. And there it is... The colorful marble flanked by chefs and the scent of joy. We amble in, her hand never leaving mine, and take to a large booth away from others. Again we are approached by a woman looking like a physical dream. Fuck. Everyone is so beautiful that I cannot easily shelf it in favor of focusing upon those aspects of my personality that need amendment. Whatever. Gorgeous server, gorgeous restaurant, and the same sitting against me. My brain cannot avoid the sex. Ugh.

The main subject in my head at any given moment, and I have to keep it under wraps. Great.



361



We order, are given two glasses of water, and when the server walks away I dream of dining within her lingerie. Long legs wrapped in a short skirt, breasts moving to and fro, and those lips which look like ocean waves upon which I need to surf. God damn fuck me anyway. There is just no end to it. Julie's stark disapproval is written all over her face like a legal document in need of a signature. I guess damaging the bar with my shit attitude was not the worst thing I've done. My head and encapsulated obsession takes to the head of the line every single time. No matter what takes place on a given day, one vision and I am instantly elsewhere. I cannot deny that, nor can I argue against such a fact with any ground beneath my feet. In short, I am cornered. Fucked. Great.

Quiet for a long while as I consider the locomotive again. Julie looks stunning but my eyes must remain on hers. The supermodel brings us some lunch as I keep thinking that Julie's tirade is far from over.

More quiet as we enjoy a light meal, all the while Julie's lips draw me like a gun. Pressure. Big surprise. She seems to know everything so I have to extricate all sexual thought as best I can. Food, silence, desire. After a long while Julie tells me that we have to exit the hotel in favor of a little ride through the desert. Crap. I was hoping to enjoy the atmosphere in which I grew up a little longer before being put through the proverbial wringer. We wrap the meal as I blow a kiss to the walking work of art and her stunning body. A sharp squeeze of my hand sends a message that I need to back off. Wonderful. Thanks, doll. Leave me be, please. Some things are above all others, death or otherwise.

'We will get there. Please try to relax.'

And once again Julie gives me a line that proves I really do not know what is going on. Wonderful. I have been trying to keep up with all of the information given by her and Julia alike, but the little jabs at my personality are really beginning to drive me into a hole. Of course Julie is trying to help. For crying out loud, though, a few insights once in a while would be nice. I believe I deserve that. We roll on out of the place with others paying no mind and head straight for the courtyard. As we approach the windows and doors of the side entrance, I begin to see the next part of our journey sitting and awaiting commands.



401



The locomotive sits rumbling with its massive energy. I am reminded of feeling that endless power when I pressed the throttle and went cruising forward through the snow. It felt good at the time, like I had no worries while in command of such a machine. All that mass rolling along under my feet. I loved the ride, for a while. Julie has knowledge of the trip and trials I lived through with Julia. A big hug from her as I perch her tiny frame on the big seat and fiddle with the familiar controls until motion. Immediately she pops up and grabs me, frightened. I cannot blame her, and there is no way she is a part of Julia. That woman stood dead center in the cab and rode the motion as if she lived it every day. Julie knows nothing of such things and it shows. I hold on as the locomotive moves with authority, and the view out the small windshield brings both comfort and trepidation to my already mixed up head. Thirty miles per hour.

No switches, signals or bungalows anywhere. Just straight rails leading us away from the hotel. I do not know what to think. As we peruse the desert landscape, Julie moves to me and wishes to have a conversation. Ugh. Here we go again.

I remember her answer to my question on the ledge. Julie stood there with arms outstretched and clearly told me that she was representative of 'all of them'. Had I not been on the verge of stepping into oblivion, the will to learn more may have found me. I did not understand, especially considering when I found her face down in the shower and lying in blood. Did that mean I destroyed every woman? Hurt them? Julia laid everything out in the bar, but I need to know of Julie's feelings on the subject. I ask, and Julie responds with loads of answers... Some of which I do not wish to hear. Selfish behavior, uncaring motions, shutting people out, and lunging toward anything in sight which struck me were the norm. But how could I have hurt them? She tells me that my needs were the key. I forced everything aside to clear the way and embrace a drunken obsession which changed those women from people to objects. What? Fuck no... I loved them, cared for every second and did my best to please.

'They are gone.'
'Yes.'

What the fuck can I say? Julie is being cold with her cryptic responses.

'So am I, but you do not see it. You will.'

More shots at me for being so overwhelmed by the female form and all of the money gone in search of comfort. Julie then goes into my never-ending push to commit suicide while beginning to caress my hand and cheek. I feel the caring from her before she crams the next few sentences down my throat. I have hurt others by leading them down that self-destructive path and causing worry at every step. They held me up and feared that to do otherwise was equal to saying goodbye in the worst way. Letting go, allowing me to do what I threatened was hurtful. In leading those women to believe that I was hanging by a thin thread, I had been unfair and removed joy from one side of each relationship. They saw no choice, no out, and remained at my side supporting every need. In return, there I was filled with those deviant desires and available for throwing money at the situation like a machine. But was I that bad? Yes, she states. Julie will not let up as I see tears forming. My heart is breaking via the realization that lavishing those beauties with everything I was actually did more damage than I saw. I was blinded by the forms, lingerie, and scenery in the exotic goblet. Days and days of everything I wanted and needed right there at my fingertips, connections beyond imagination, high-end dining and tons of expensive booze all took me outside everyday life and had me floating in a cloud. Flip-flopping between living and dying? Every moment. And it taxed them... All of them. Right in front of my eyes is a representative woman expressing all that I had done wrong.

I feel horrible. The rails begin to curve right.



546



Julie quiets for a bit to allow herself to regroup and give everything I have been told time to absorb. I have nothing. Defeated, drowned, exhausted. And then the second half is kicked off. Family, work, and tertiary relationships are the push. I am getting lost in her gentle attack on my character. And though I cannot disagree, thoughts of shutting her gorgeousness down are entering my brain quickly. I cannot stop dreaming of her dark beauty and the memories of Julia and I jumping each other during the crazy train passing and our passion in the locomotive. Yes, I want her more and more in spite of the relentless press upon my character. One feeds the other... Her words are diminishing my life experience, and as such are reminding me of the many occasions finding me throwing everything away in favor of the carnal needs. Julie continues to slam me with details of my selfishness and isolation when my family chased me around the country. Again, I have no defense. I did it.

Julie is ruining me. Rails curving. No Julia.

'Stop it, please. Let me think.'
'Okay my dear.'

My attention turns back toward the locomotive and view forward. The rails are continuing to tighten right as I look over two big displays indicating plenty of fuel and temperatures within the green. We are still cruising slowly and there is no reason to gain speed. I do not know where we are going, nor do I believe the trip serves any purpose aside from her lecturing me. But I get it. I really do. Julia threw it at me as well, and the combination means I am in the wrong. Neither of them will get an argument, no matter how shitty I may feel. I pull away from the warmth of Julie and focus upon the rails again. The last few locomotives represented places of learning and this current cab seems the same. The only difference is my familiarity with operating such a machine. I am not concerned with control or power, only where we may end. And I want to be close to the beauty. That may be the only joy that I find. The more I look at her mane of curls, the more I desire being all over her. And then the horrible image surfaces of that woman lying in my shower while her counterpart tried to pick my fucking brain apart. Well, fuck her anyway. I died twice trying to follow her guidance. Julie looks stunning even with loads of concern all over her face. Back and forth and back and fucking forth between cursing the world or jumping her shit in a hot second. What a wreck I have become. Sex and suicide, and then more of each. Jesus God, she looks so bright and beautiful. Concentrate, idiot.

Straight rails again. This is like the simplest model train layout... An oval. Are we going back to the hotel? Circles? Like my life? Ugh.

I look to the rear camera and see nothing. Ahead? The same. No scorpions, though. Desert sand and roadbed into the infinity of the horizon. Julie is perched on the second seat and appearing much calmer than hours ago. That helps me to relax and think in the quiet cab. The instruments tell me that the heat has fucking flared to well over one hundred. Cabin air is a comfy seventy. As I consider all that transpired within the crazy hotel before my screaming tirade, thoughts of Andrea and Juliette creep in. The love, caring, and understanding that we shared was wonderful. Entire conversations without a word, moments of mutual need warming my heart, and those cozy nights with bliss wrapped around me and feeling as if the world could end at any second and I would not bat an eye. Looking back at Julie, I cannot avoid dreaming. The machine sways slightly and causes her gorgeous hair to sweep gently back and forth. I can smell it again. Distraction is becoming more than a necessity, but I must consider where we may be headed and keep hold of Julia's wisdom all along. Thinking of what she called the failure in the cold is not helping. I did my best out there and ended up dying, alone and frozen, but honestly did not see another out. No fuel, no outside contact, nothing. What was I supposed to do? Those things have to remain in mind as we cruise through the desert. Something must have been overlooked by yours truly. I just have to stay sharp and keep the beauty at arm’s length during the process. Tall order.



684



After a long straightaway, the rails curve right again. The oval. Hmm. Perhaps we are headed for the hotel.

I stand and approach Julie. Her eyes are wide with emotion, pushing me to help. After our moments on the ledge, I need to learn why Julia left us there with damned few clues as to why that situation developed and carried us to an end. Was it another test that I failed? I have to ask. First? Closeness. My initial question is clear.

'May I hold you?'
'Of course.'

Holy God does that feel nice. Julie holds tightly and buries her beautiful face into my neck. I can smell her again and feel her warmth from head to toe. For the first time since being in the desert, I am where I need to be... In the arms of a caring woman. Her origin is still a hell of a mystery, even after hearing that I caused the problems yet again. She is all of them. Yes, a combination of women from my near and far past. Julia likely created her to keep my head pressed into the ground. That fucking goddess has been flip-flopping between a lover and demon since I arrived at the hotel. Her voice resonated again, and like the rail journey it filled me with questions and uncertainty. And she is a part of me. Yeah, ok. Julie's arms feel like the first step into a jacuzzi in winter. I just love it. A long time passes as we stay quiet and hold on. Something in the corner of my eye... A bungalow. Huh? There is no switch in view.

And there in the distance stands the massive hotel. Throttle down.

As soon as Julie sees our destination she is immediately attached to me like a frightened child. Her eyes begin to well and the serene expression on her beautiful face has changed to worry. I cannot blame her. The situation that played out ninety floors up was horribly frightening. And then the drop. Not good. Julie died twice as a lesson to me. The poor girl looks as if the end of all things is in that hotel. In addition, that fear is being tempered by her beauty. I just cannot help it. All those days and nights spent with gorgeous women in the Vegas atmosphere have taken their toll and left me a bundle of desire all the time. Closer we roll as I ease the throttle until we are creeping. Creepy? Yes, very. The lighting seems to have changed, like the Haunted Mansion Holiday, except darker and less inviting. Likely more costly, too. My insides twist a bit as I realize the scene is vastly different than before, and my instinct to press the throttle and blow through the area is taking over. I relay my fear to Julie.

'We need to see what is in there, my love.'

Ugh shit fuck crap damn. I was hoping we could just stay in the cab. And when she speaks to me sweetly I want to halt the machine and dive into her pants. But I have to focus. The building appears different than before... Larger, sprawling, and every bit as tall as I remember upon arriving. My room kept changing locations around the hotel and the last was toward the peak. I see a number of floors above, like penthouses but not as appealing as before. Lots of dark blue lights dot the exterior, making the window ledges and other features appear to stand out from the walls. Everything is foggy with halos around each fixture. I do not wish to see more. Julie is still tight to me, and as much as I wanted to be close, the reason is not the same. Just in the space of hours, the resort we knew as welcoming and full of luxury now appears straight out of a horror film. The building is so huge that crawling along at five miles per hour does not seem to be bringing us any closer. As soon as I see enough detail to realize that the hotel is going to be a huge problem, Julie decides to lay some wisdom at my feet.

She begins to tell me exactly what went wrong on the previous train. I did not try hard enough, I did not see details on the route which would have led to clues as to my ultimate destination, and I failed to embrace Julia's lessons to the point at which I would have known better how to deal with the passenger car, the covered gondola, as well as keeping myself alive. Well, what the fuck was I supposed to do? I didn't know the first thing about how to move the thing, learned that on my feet, and made the journey as best I could. I tried, for Chrissakes. None of it was easy, to say the least.

'Not enough.'
'Great.'



685



'I am trying to help you, lover.'
'Let me do as I please, my sweet.'
'Not yet. Problems come first.'

Fuck me in a caboose. Why? Have I not done enough in working through this shit? Damn it anyway. Julie goes back to normal in an instant and looks even more enticing than before her harsh words.

'I love you. Remember that. Your desire has been the problem all along. Do you see?'

Ok, something has to change. Yes, I want to devour her entire body, but I know nothing will take place in such a vein until she is satisfied with my progress. Inside, however, is a storm of passion. I remove my eyes from Julie and focus upon the ever-larger haunted scene in the windshield. Back to the controls and back out of my damned obsession. God how I wish Julia would have been clearer in her push.

Slower. Three miles per hour. I see large gates adorned with gargoyle-looking creatures that are most decidedly not static. They are moving with glowing red candles in grip. The fear of that place is mounting inside, but still I know this was built both by me and for me, so some of the worry is misplaced. There is a feeling deep down that all will be well and I need not be concerned about anything harming either of us. And for the first time since the outset of the frozen journey through that frightful netherworld, I miss Julia's commanding voice. The sex flies out of me as the huge gates slowly draw back to reveal a dying garden rife with odd features and water tinted like blood. The lower floors are lit from inside and show off female forms writhing in passion. As the gates finally rest wide open, I see the rails come to an end far enough inside for the closure to lock us in. I do not wish to go further, but nothing will change unless I move through this sordid world of decay.

I pull the locomotive into a massive courtyard, crawl to the buffer stop and lock the machine just shy of striking. No sooner is the train motionless when Julie latches to me as if the end of the world is down the ladder. The display indicates one hundred eighteen degrees outside. Holy fuck, the opposite of my nightmarish ride through the ice. There is so much anxiety swirling within that I am hesitant to exit what feels the most secure and comfortable place in the world. We have to do it, though. We simply must move along what has been laid out in order to learn and get past the difficulty, whatever that may entail. Julie stays glued to me with both arms wrapped, and the rare occasion that I am not completely heated up by the contact is apparent. Too much turmoil and fear. I want to be comfortable and enveloped in her loving embrace but the door and ladder await our departure from the only stability I can find. Up, open, out into the searing heat. God help me if there is no air temperature change within the resort.

Resort? Hmm. And Julie is looking at me with Andrea's eyes. She moves next to me and I realize her height has increased. She is taller... Very tall, like Ashley. What? How?

'I am frightened, old man.'

Holy fuck, now she sounds like Ashley. What the hell can be happening here? First Andrea, then Ashley, what next? I do not understand at all, but must get us into the hotel and out of the heat. I take her now-slender hand and lead us along a pathway past the buffer stop and through forests of poison ivy and thistle. The sidings appear haunted, like everything else. There are no other people around and I suppose that is due to the temperature. The building now appears older, as if it has been abandoned for decades, yet the lighting is still functioning. I am hesitant to simply roll inside as if I own the place, but that instinct has been ingrained throughout years of walking with confidence in my overly-flamboyant manner. I have always felt right at home in the gaming atmosphere, so turning off that aspect of my personality is not easy. Julie's hand is close to cutting off circulation. We must find cool. Approaching the dramatically tall doors causes motion and I finally see the interior of my fear. Holy fuck, what a scene. Julie's hands are now both clasped as we pass the threshold and move into a glowing scene akin to a late-night cemetery.



697



Wow. Julie is holding me and walking like Ashley. She said she is all of them but I am losing my sense of reality. The big smile is absent, though. Ashley had a hell of a face and her smile warmed my heart. Julie is exhibiting the opposite... Worry. I cannot blame her after the past two days (was it?). She has been through more than anyone should. I have, as well, but I did create all of this with my fucked up head. To my left, the big registration desk looks as inviting as the dying garden outside where my precious locomotive is idling. I can still hear it. And then I turn back to the gazelle on my arm and her outfit is impeccable. The black dress Ashley wore for work, heels, and back-seam stockings. Her hair is longer, like much longer. The more I look, the more I see. Now I want her even more after knowing of the passionate connection Ashley and I shared in Vegas. Oy God, what is this? To the desk...

'Welcome back.'
'Um... one room please.'
'Yes sir.'

A big smile and then hands flying on the keyboard. She is the same woman over which I drooled a short time ago. The difference is everything seems normal, albeit straight out of a horror movie. I feel very nervous about proceeding upstairs and even Julie's presence cannot keep me grounded. Fear and concern are spinning me and making me wish to visit the lounge again for a bit of courage. The woman's fingers are gorgeous as she works the machine, finally producing two key cards in little folders covered in cobwebs. Wonderful. The theme carries through to everything I see. Julie still clings silently and I notice that the lights are no longer electric. All are flickering gas lamps as if we went back in time a century and a half. We must explore. The lounge and Alexandra await my glaring need. Julie stops us and addresses me with huge eyes... Just like you-know-who. She desires some comfort and quiet so we can regroup after so many strange occurrences. I cannot disagree. I suggest the bar and receive the first smile in quite some time. All at once she looks amazing and my need for the same pushes me in for a kiss. Holy fuck, what a feeling. Again the big eyes. Her hands caress mine as we begin the stroll toward the long end of the club. Along the way I am feeling the love from Julie which helps to keep my gaze positive. I am reminded of the countless occasions in any number of hotels with a beautiful woman on my arm and happy to be with me. All those trips, near past and long, in which my self-esteem had been derived from the attention I received from them. I always ended with a serious fall off the edge of the world, but at the time it was worth the bliss and comfort. Julie is beginning to hold me up with affection and attention, two things that have maintained my breathing for over a decade. To the bar and another scene I will not soon forget.

There she is... Alexandra looking like a dream and dressed for a Halloween party.

We sidle to the bar and get cozy. Julie plops her little ass next to me and out of nowhere her hair is dark brown. Andrea’s mane and scent wafting through the smoky air. Damn it anyway, what is this? A lesson in memories? I don't get it, but the opportunity to sit with the angel is incredible. Her heeled foot is sliding along my leg and those flirty eyes are all over mine, just like the days at the outdoor HoB bar in Florida. My head is slammed with dreams of what we shared. Everything hurts and I feel that Julia is the cause. She seemed to be the catalyst for both trains as well as this resort in the middle of nowhere. Or maybe everything truly is my fault. I just do not know for certain. Fuck me, here comes Alexandra with a big, inviting smile.

'The usual?' Oy.
'Yes, please... Goddess.' Bigger smile and a touch to my hand.

Julie/Andrea/Ashley grabs hold of me and plants a deep kiss conveying the idea that I am occupied in the highest sense of the word. Jesus fuck, I was not expecting that. Alexandra waddles away and returns with two drinks as I feel a heavy tap on my left shoulder. Turning sharply, I see none other than the gunslinger, complete with belt, spurs, and a beautiful black hat. He gestures toward both of us to join him in a booth. Huh? I never spoke to that man in the passenger car, exchanging only facial expressions which communicated more than I can describe. Julie looks to me for approval and we move toward the corner and a dimly-lit, circular lounge. The man who helped save my life exhibits a bearing unlike I have seen outside a tense western film, firmly shakes my hand and takes a seat after Julie. I do not know what to think. The scotch is nearly as welcomed as the woman wrapped around my arm. My head is awash with the situation as it played out in the frozen wasteland, and capping my spinning memory is the other man’s neck coming apart before my eyes. With Julie’s hands nearly crushing mine, the gunslinger speaks.



698



'You did not fail.'
'What do you mean?'
'Stay on track, do what you have to do.'

What the fuck? He is telling me the opposite of Julia. I trusted her (still do, really) at every step of these journeys and changing that would take an act of God. Yes, she angered me with her harsh words just a day earlier, however the straightforward fact remains that she guided me with love. Julia was a companion unlike any other, providing solace and relief almost constantly. At the hotel and in my room, she took issue with the railroad journey but I could not disagree. Even though I made it through all the trials, my demise at the bitter end was apparently not to be. I must stay sharp and pay close attention to each detail now. The gunslinger’s words come from elsewhere, yet still I hear Julia's wisdom when he speaks. His guidance in the worst scene of my life cannot be overstated.

'Vigilance, my friend. Be forthright in your actions.'
'I will, sir.'
'Think.'
'Yes.'

And with that, the man rises and shakes my hand firmly. One nod and tip of the hat to Julie and he strolls out, spurs ringing. I see that he left his gun belt on the chair. Oh boy, something is going to happen, but after such an exchange I do feel as if I have some semblance of control. That is a first. I did throw a tantrum in order to garner some sort of response, like realizing a dream and throwing a wrench into the works, but nothing came of it other than Julia chiding me for flipping out. The scotch is dropped down and I take the gun belt and lover back to our stools. Upon perching at the bar, I see that Julie still resembles Andrea. There is no mistaking the height changes and hair color. She even looks at me with the angel's eyes. The differing looks began in the locomotive and I do not know what to expect. Julie has told me that she is 'all of them'. Hmm. Maybe more booze will ease the trial of so many things going sideways. Alexandra returns, pours, and her face is driving me nuts. I did notice that the more I stare at her gorgeous torso, the more Julie squeezes my hands. Turning my attention back to the beauty next to me brings a smile and the tense nature of her grip is eased. A clear sign that gazing at others is not something in which I should be engaged. I decide to remove Alexandra and the front desk gazelle from my head and focus upon Julie. She is a part of this entire affair and someone I need close. The others fade away as I return to those eyes I have missed for years. Andrea again shines through, pulling me in for a kiss and embrace. My heart begins to leap, and then she speaks.

'Dinner, love.'

Damn it all anyway. Tears, trembling, and I fall down hard at hearing Andrea speak through Julie, thus allowing me to travel back in time to the little world we had created together. God, can I even recover from this? The gunslinger showed confidence in me and I need to remember his stern words if I am to make it through. The current reality is now pushed back so far that I cannot imagine anything being normal ever again. And with the resort and people being so odd, how can Julie want dinner? Is it even time for that? My sense of time is skewed. In fact, I cannot even remember what time or day was displayed in the cab. Maybe I should go back out there and see if our only means of escaping this horrendous resort is still idling in wait. I cannot help but fear that the idea of this day running aslant, forcing me to snatch Julie and drive that machine through the gates. Plus, shaking up the status quo could be enjoyable. Nothing really came of my conniption in the bar, so larger measures are becoming appealing... Just in case. Like a backup plan. I will inform the loveliness at dinner. We discuss cruising the entire club and seeing what is available, and then a long embrace with her face in my neck follows. Fuck, does she ever smell like Andrea. The sensation is wonderful and frightening at the same time. When Alexandra returns, I bid her farewell and take Julie’s warm hand for some walking.



699



A haunted house. We see very few people and lots of cobwebs with dim or flickering lights. I recall the Halloween walks through scary imagery and startling sounds from visiting attractions in the past. No one else seems to pay much attention to what we see as odd. They are simply going about their casino business while my brain tries to figure why such an appearance has been crafted. The hotel and surrounding grounds were stunningly beautiful when I rolled in from the desert, but now all is very dim and feels uninviting for a public place. The air is cool for the most part, and for that I am thankful. Julie still carries the dark brown hair and smells of cucumber. She is driving me nuts along the dim, carpeted pathway. Andrea always intertwined one finger between mine whenever we ventured on foot, and Julie is following suit. My heart is flipping back and forth from the bliss we shared for weeks and the knowledge that I will never see her again aside from this nightmarish situation. I need answers, clues, anything. At some point this situation is going to come to a head and I would love to know how to deal with it. And Julie wants dinner. Oy.

Through restaurant row, I spy a very dim, wood-paneled steakhouse with its own bar and that is right up my alley. The little room charge card awaits a lavish meal, so I steer us into the beautiful waiting area. Upon reaching the stunning hostess, something happens in my hand. That finger which I love moves slightly and lengthens. My head snaps right and there is Ashley’s super-long hair and bright eyes again. Fuck me in a rain gutter, the woman is confusing the hell out of me by switching looks often enough to curb my thinking for any given length of time. The doll saved me from myself so many years ago. Those eyes melt my heart and I cannot even speak to the hostess. And damn it all, another goddess before me. What is this? Everyone is beautiful. Jesus fuck, I have to concentrate and lay out at least the beginning of a plan for learning of why we are here again. Wait a minute. There was no loop, no oval. I rolled the engine into a rear courtyard and to a buffer stop. Does that mean we have to back out? The trackway is single-ended? Or were we on a stub? A spur? Damn. Back to the beauties before my head explodes. Maybe I can ask Julie for some insight. The girl does not speak much, however. Hmm. The hostess grabs two wooden menus and gestures toward the dining room. Um... Nope. No thank you.

'We will dine at the bar.'
'Very good, sir.'

You're fucking right, lady. I will not sit near other tables. The bar is empty and welcoming, unlike the dining room. And yet another fucking tall, gorgeous bartender. She reminds me of Juliette. What the fuck? Can I catch a break from the picturesque women, please? I guess not. The Julie doll person perches her delicious ass next to me without losing contact for a second. I am starting to go out of my head with desire but the hotel and everything related is still a mystery. I need answers and cannot seem to fully relax without some kind of understanding as to the lessons of which I am apparently unaware. We order cocktails and I decide to pry into my partner a little. Questions. Caressing. Eyes. Fuck me, I need something.

And then Julie changes back to Andrea’s feature set and floods me with all I have done wrong for two decades. Here we go again. She tosses all manner of shit at me with the most serious expression and very intense eyes. But those eyes are beautiful. They are Andrea’s. Damn it anyway. I shut off the memories and listen to her harsh words and cutting facts. Julie carries through all the running away, shutting others out, and my slinging spare parts into the machine of life at every step in order to wedge myself within the warmth of a female embrace. All of it is true. I begin to fold up. Julie holds both of my hands and tries to calm my diminishing mood before a full tilt breakdown and that brings on the need to bury my face into her slender neck and cry. Keep it together... Learn... Understand. Try. Deep breath.

Nope. Tears.

'Why did you throw a tantrum in the bar, love?'
'I had to do something. I am tired of the mysteries.'
'All will be clear soon.'

Uh huh.



700



I have to take charge and get out of this place. The only security I can imagine is that locomotive. Julie follows along with my wishes as we finish the light meal. My head begins to scramble for ideas but there are limited options. The machine idling outside can be backed out of the courtyard, but then to where? The rails dictate our direction with authority and I do not remember seeing anything aside from one bungalow. Normally that would mean a switch or siding. In this backward and strange world that may not be the case. Still, I see no reason to remain in the hotel. Up and out of the booth, with a path straight back toward the only avenue which feels promising. I need it. And I need Julie.

As we make our way across the massive casino, I can see that things have changed yet again. The lighting is darker, there are less people around, and outside the window the sun is heading into the horizon. Dim, with a cold reality that I cannot deny. Inside, all of the information given me throughout the last few days is creating a storm that I may not be equipped to handle. I am beginning to feel the need for a change and visions of the ledge high above the ground feel enticing. I can just end it. I did it a little while back and ended up on the pavement completely confused, so the idea of that happening again is the only save against me killing myself as an exit. If I do send my body flying off a high place and wake up in yet another strange, mysterious location, that could be the end of trying. I have continued to be tested and chided. The others keep going, they push and push me to learn but things are not clear enough for me to get out of such a difficult life and move upward. Some of the issues those women have thrown at me can be dealt with a little at a time, however I cannot change who I am at the core. I desire, I need, I run. Those facts have molded me into the human being I am today and I will not apologize after being complimented and loved without limit. Maybe the locomotive will open more doors. If not, I will ram this fucking surreal nightmare and destroy it. Why not?

Julie holds tight and is back appearing as her lovely self. Big eyes full of fear. I need a drink.

I steer us back toward Alexandra's domain and straight to the same two barstools we occupied a short time ago. There are few others in the lounge, and thank Christ no Julia with blonde hair. As Julie takes her seat, I see those big eyes telegraphing desire. Huh? I thought that was off limits until such time as I could find myself. Well, I don't give a shit. If she is feeling like being close, I am not the person to shut her down. I have wanted to jump her shit for the entire day and beyond.

'One drink and then let's go outside to the train.'
'Yes ma'am.'

Wow. Sex in the locomotive again? I don't care where it is. I just want her like nothing else and the feeling is akin to seeing those forms and throwing my life into the trash in finding satisfaction in the arms of a loving woman. A quick drink. Check, please. Alexandra smiles. Out the door.



701



And now there is a boxcar and caboose behind my locomotive. Where did they come from? Does that mean we are to head out on a journey? The way I feel after being attacked verbally by Julia, well, I want to destroy the hotel and surrounding grounds out of spite. I am sick of it all and need it gone. Julie still holds tight to me with an expression telling me that all is my decision. However it may have arrived, she knew the cars were there. She fucking knew it and asked that we visit. I want to see inside the caboose and learn if it is going to be just as the other rail journey. That was our little cozy space during the trials of the train and if it is the same, that comfort may ease my difficulty and allow us to get the fuck out and away from this strange place. The boxcar is a mystery, however. Stepping closer to the rumbling engine, I can see that the doors on the boxcar are chained and locked in a manner consistent with military methods. Hmm... What could be in there? Half full of booze, I lead the little beauty to the rear ladder of the caboose and see that inside is a glow just like before. Up, open, and there it is. Like a multi-dimensional space, the inside is larger than what could be confined by the size of the outside. I love it and lead Julie into the cool, dim living area. She exclaims joy at finally finding something we can understand. A long embrace and kiss later, we sink into the plush sofa to relax and think. I can hear the outside activities of others which prompts me to close and lock the rear door. That is that. The world is now shut out once again.

Huge eyes. Her eyes. Holy shit. Desire approaching the limit.

'I need to change. Give me a few minutes, love.'
'Anything you wish.'

The cool of the caboose is nice after being outside even for only a few moments. I can feel the rumbling diesel engine just ahead and the familiarity of this car combined with such sound is heartwarming. Once of the most comfortable nights I have ever spent was with Julia just after my trial of trials in that fucking passenger car in the middle of nowhere. I felt more drained after that than any other time in my life and her solace and warmth brought me back to myself. We slept intertwined and everything related to being nude and against her gorgeous body melted away in favor of calm and quiet. I never dreamed that I could find such peace again. Julie remains in the small bath for a while as I take in the memories of that hellish journey. When she emerges, my mind is thrown.

Standing before me, at the proper height of five feet eight inches tall, is Julie in the lavender lingerie and carrying Juliette's huge mane of black hair. I can already smell the fruity, sexy scent of her perfume and see the exact shape of the dream with which I spent days so many years ago. All brain function ceases as she approaches me with the walk of a gazelle and breasts bouncing. The hotel, train issues, strangeness of this world, and all other difficulties fly away at internet speed only to be replaced with desire and the need to swallow her entire body in one shot. Holy God, does that woman ever look beautiful. Julie's expression is one of a predator about to attack me in the best possible way. She takes my hands in hers, leads me slowly to the same sofa where Julia displayed every single facet of my years-long obsession, sits me down and climbs on top. My face is grabbed as Julie plunges her tongue deeply as if she had never kissed anyone before. The pressure and strain hits the red immediately, leaving me a pile of sexual desire not felt since Natalie stood doing dishes in her kitchen with the pants of my dreams. My hands paint her skin all over as hers hold my cheeks and run through my hair. And then I feel the need to shower. A slight pause pulls her face from mine and I see that the passion is shared in spades. Holy fuck in a Goddamned dream, I want her so badly and had hoped the entire time that we could find the space to ravage each other. The traits of three disparate women which have surfaced and changed so many times are spinning circles within my head and disallowing any hesitation.

'Shower?'
'Yes, my dear'. Juliette's voice. Fuck me.

Julie stands me up and pulls everything off my body, leads me into the small bath, and drops her tiny lingerie with a heated smile. Into the hot water, we take to each other lovingly until I can stand no more. To my knees, her foot on my shoulder, and into the clouds. God help me for my never-ending desire to consume heroin as if the world is ending. And that just may come to pass... Soon. All of it. Everything, everywhere.

To the sofa and some light conversation. Still Julie resembles Juliette. Despite the bliss and warmth of that woman all over me in the hot water, I have to know what is going on outside. I do not wish to leave the loving embrace of our caboose, but I must know. We dress, and Julie seems to know without any words from me just exactly what I have in mind, God love her. Back outside.



702



The boxcar is secured with a heavy chain and padlock. I simply have to know what is in there, so searching the caboose and cab are my only choices. I cannot continue to move through this strange world without a clue as to why the train grew a boxcar, especially considering the role of the cars in the past. The hopper was a situation I will not soon forget, and as much as I do not wish to repeat something so difficult, the need to know is overpowering. I search, with little Julie connected to my side. After a few minutes of going through drawers here and there, I look at her to see one finger extended and pointing toward the closet. Hmm... Sort of like the ghost of Christmas future with his bony, skeletal hand indicating that Ebenezer should look at his own grave. Julie is otherwise motionless and I am getting creeped out again. To the closet.

Behind a few hanging garments, my safe rests in the back. Oy gawd.

I immediately unlock and open the door to see just exactly what I knew was there. Again. Yes, an ornate key with the same fucking number as the one Julie dropped at the threshold of life by that balcony. The number. Time to check it out. I take Julie's little hand again and head outside to search for more information which may help. The boxcar sits and awaits my decisions. I keep thinking of the previous train and the idea that others had been telling me that my choices led to my demise, and then the lecturing before stepping off the balcony to the same. Thinking, wondering, wracking. I have to do what I am supposed to do but still do not know of an end. The key fits like a glove -- just like the door that was locked right before my eyes -- and turns smoothly. The heavy lock drops open and I am free to see the interior of the boxcar. Unlatch, slide, holy shit. The cargo is explosives. I see kegs of powder labeled just as the propellant we used to fire the big light-gas-gun at the larger range, and beyond those are smaller cans of the fine powder which fired off the smaller range. I recognize them immediately after many years of being separated from that atmosphere. The entire floor of the car and end shelving are stacked with what must be over a half-ton of explosives. Wow.

Julie with the huge eyes.

Ok, this is too strange for me to calculate standing before such a mass of black powder. I drop myself back to the pavement and slide the door closed. Latch, lock, done. Time for a little meeting, so I pull at Julie to return us into the caboose. That is the only place I have felt safe. Upon entering, a wave of comfort engulfs me and I feel that the time will be well spent. Sitting Julie on the cozy sofa, I inquire as to what she may know about the car just ahead being filled with Armageddon. Nothing. Just a cautious look. Hmm. Perhaps the next time I hear Julia's haunting voice I will scream back with my own line of questioning. Yes, shake it up again. In the bar I flipped the fuck out and enjoyed every second of seeing things flying around the room and being broken up just like my thinking. It felt good to go outside what seemed a road with no turns. This time, and considering the amount of danger piled in that boxcar, I could destroy everything should the need arise. And then a thought... Opening the door of the boxcar had to be the right decision. If I was not to see the arsenal of powder inside, why would my safe appear again with the same combination and the key which fits? The whole series of events has to be correct, but I have to stop short right there. Just because the safe and key appeared and worked as they should does not necessarily mean that I am to do something with the explosives. The material there could simply be a reminder.

'Just in case.'

Yeah, I wish I could feel that way. Julie's small voice is adorable, if frightened. I immediately wish to set fire to the car and watch the entire resort go up in a fantastic detonation. In the meantime, however, more investigation is on tap. As long as nothing comes by to push my head south, we will be just fine in the hotel. Julie may or may not know anything and I cannot be certain. Julia's absence and quiet is unnerving to say the least, but I have to move forward and learn. Back into the dim lobby we cruise, with the sexual escapades still fresh. Time for more tipsy.



703



The situation within my favorite lounge has changed dramatically. Alexandra is behind the bar again, but the other patrons do not appear to be socializing in any way. The room is darker than earlier, others seem to be sitting with their refreshments with blank expressions, and the quiet is nearly unnerving. There is no conversation to be heard. Typically a bar is a place where subdued speaking rules the roost, especially considering the nature of this place. People do not venture to an exotic locale and then sit without speaking to one another. Blank faces are everywhere. No words, very little movement, and several glances toward us are pushing me to leave. Fuck this. Out the door and stepping toward our entrance.

Angry. Do I take control and do as I please? The deep feelings are burying me in the past, and those three women seem to be absent at long last. I do not know which way to turn. Julia left me again, Julie is back to her original self, and the hotel looms there above that horribly dangerous garden. Others are staring, like a zombie film in which there is only one principle character who seems aware that things are very wrong and must deal with the entirety of the world alone, surviving at whatever the cost.

I hear steps and turn to see some of the others walking toward me and some walking away. What the fuck is this? Am I supposed to understand while in the fucking clutch of a horror film? Was I supposed to follow along from a to b to c while frightened and tormented by the past? The fucking passenger car was something I never could have imagined and it scared the shit out of me from first sight. Now I am standing with a woman who relies upon me for survival and I am being asked to figure shit out again. Well, fuck you, Julia. Your lessons are no longer going to push me into worry and fear. I am going to take control like I should have upstairs. I should have saved Julie/Andrea/Ashley/Juliette/Whoeverthefuck. I should have taken her with me and tossed everything else away. I fucked up, but not on the train. The first train, anyway. Fuck that trip. Fuck all of it. Time for me to lash...

Now they are moving with purpose but do not look like zombies. They look like anyone off the street. I skin the revolver, Julie pops behind me with both arms tight, and the fun begins. Open fire. Six rounds. Empty cylinder. Fuck me, but six less people approaching. Julie screams out as I decide to end it all. I have nothing left to offer this sordid, hellish situation, and have lost faith in every single person trying to help. On my own with a stunning woman stuck to my back. To the locomotive once again. I have a plan. The answer finally pops into my sweaty brain. Finally.

I step with haste toward the locomotive and pull the tiny Julie up and into the cool cab. The idling below gives me a brief sense of power, just as it did when I decided to slam the throttle during the worst trip of my life. I lock every possible entry, unlock the drive and begin to slip us back out of the courtyard. I can see the goofy people following along as if they are going to catch us, but the simple fact is my train is short and can accelerate quickly enough to force them to fall away. If they attempt to board, the gun comes out again and I will split them into pieces. I have had enough of this bullshit. Just fucking enough. Reverse. Thirty. The caboose and boxcar obey as they should. No one attached, at last, and the hotel is preceding in the windshield just as I had hoped. Goodbye, everyone and everything, and fuck off.

You too, blondie. Throttle. Forty.

A few miles back I decide to bring us to a halt and engage the last idea I will ever hatch. Julie looks to me with concern but I can offer no solace. I must take the entire affair and destroy it along with my own worry. Have I learned anything? Who fucking cares anymore? She asks of my intentions.



704



'We are finished here. Hold tight to the seat, I will return in a few.'

Worried look, but the beauty does as I ask. Door open, ladder, down to the sand with that key gripped in my shaking hand. I walk back to the boxcar, unlock the huge door once again, and climb into the piles of powder. In the center there is a box with various items, a small computer being the one in focus. Wire is unwound in every direction as I rush to engage an electrical connection between the kegs. Twist, turn, next. Several moments later, I see a large network of messy wire leading to the spool. Two more, that is all. The spool rolls over itself continuously as I pull the small device from the box and lead the wires toward my locomotive. Up and into the cab with the end of all things connected to the arsenal of life. Julie no longer appears frightened, she is now calm and with an expression of hope. Wow. Explosives, strange people looming as we left the garden, and a plan which has become all-encompassing in my mind, and Julie is not showing fear. God damn, what a woman (women?). To the big seat I dash, and with visions of mass destruction spinning me into a flurry. Unlock, throttle, we go.

The deck plates respond in kind. More throttle... Forty. Soon after? Fifty.

Sixty. Toward the limit. Rumbling beneath my feet and inside my head. I cannot wait.

As we see the resort growing in the distance. Julie begins to be very affectionate with me. She is in constant contact with one of my hands, her other roaming my back as she stares at the little controller and wires leading to the door. I power it up and see a glowing numerical pad awaiting instructions. Yes, at long last, the number on the warm key in my pocket will be put to use after so much concern and confusion. I know what I have to do. Throttle, nearly seventy miles per hour. We are going to make a splash unlike anything those fucks have seen. A big splash, to be certain. Closer. And then the flashing starts, just like on the ledge. I see everything, everyone. Horrid looks, worried people, sex, alcohol, plane tickets, blood everywhere.

I know what I have to do. Keyed sequence. Beeps. Counting. Julie attached to me as if the end of the world is the end of that count. Because it is. Fuck yes, fuck you. Fuck it all. We cling. Closer, rumbling, beeping, nearly there. I see people scrambling and lights flickering. Nope, you assholes cannot escape my wrath. Closer. The limit.

The gates give way and fly to pieces in all directions. Julie. Julia. Me. One kiss. The answer that I had on the ledge? I was wrong. Dead wrong, and there is no right. We are about to die again, but I know nothing is over. I still do not understand.

'I love you.'

Buffer stop. Flash.

Silence."



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