The Saga of Miles Forrest

I didn’t have to look, I could smell it.  The devil’s emissary was sitting there.  I wondered if anyone else could smell his stench in the car, or was I the only privileged one.
    “Friend Miles,” came the snickering voice.  “Are you having a bad day?”
    I wanted to close my eyes and just ignore it, but Merker was there–somewhere.  “I can tell you where he is,” came the voice.  
    Looking in his direction, I received a cackle.  “Not that easy,” it informed me.  “Remember, a life for a life.  Hmmm, who will I take?”     
    Death is a mocker!  Death has always mocked man and it mocked the Lord Jesus, but because of His victory death no longer has any sting.  I hadn’t said anything, but when those thoughts went through my mind I saw the Pale Rider recoil.  I wasn’t about to make any deals with the devil or any of his minions.  I wanted to thump him good with the Greener, but knew it wouldn’t do any good; a man can’t fight spirit with flesh and blood.
    Turning my face I focused on the passengers in the car and began to quietly whisper a prayer.  With that the Pale Rider started in again.  “You can’t get rid of me that easy.  I’m on your trail.”
    Without turning I said, “I don’t have to get rid of you to know that you’re defeated.  The cross of Calvary took away your power over me,” then I slowly turned my head.  “In fact, death is really the beginnin’.”
    That brought a snarl, and a revelation.  Death was gone, riding away on his pale horse, but I also knew where Merker was.  Something inside me said that Merker was up on the tender car.
    I opened the door quietly and found the noise of the train on the track deafening.  Slowly I ascended the ladder up the back of the tender car.  I peered over and hunkered down on the coal was Merker.  He saw me and quickly fired a shot.  I jerked, one foot fell off the ladder and I was holding with one hand and handing on to the Greener with the other.  Finally, I was able to bring my foot back to the rung.  Descending I went quickly back inside the passenger car and thrust my shotgun at the person in the seats.  
    She was an old, white-haired bespectacled lady and her eyes widened as I placed the Greener in her hands.  “Don’t let anyone have it!” I ordered, then went back outside and up the tender car.  
    As I reached the top I saw Merker now moving up over the coal.  He looked back and fired at me.  I took a shot at him; the bullet found his hip and he fell.  He was half crawling, half trying to stand to make it over the coal and into the locomotive.  All I could see was his foot; I took aim and the bullet found its target.  Even with the sound of the train, I could hear him moan.
    He was twisting around to where he could get a shot at me.  I was moving up on the coal trying to balance myself with one hand while the train swayed back and forth along the rails.  There came a curse, another shot; I felt the tug on my sleeve.  He was pushing himself down into the cab; I shot at his knee, it was the only thing that was exposed, then he disappeared.  He must be in the cab with the engineer and fireman.
    Crawling along the top I found it wet with blood; lots of it.  I peaked over the edge.  Merker had the fireman in his grasp, barely able to stand with his gun pointed at his head.
    “This is it, Forrest!  Climb down or I’ll blow his head off!” he screamed.
    I don’t know how he was standing.  There were two bullets in one leg and another in his other hip; he had to be weakening.  Looking down I saw his foot exposed.  “Why not?” I thought to myself.  
    “Buddy, hang on!” I yelled, fired and my bullet shattered the bones in his foot.  Merker jumped, just enough that the fireman was able to pull away and grab hold of something.  The train was swaying and it was it finishing rounding a curve.  Merker was falling to the floor when there was a jerk.  Merker screamed as he off the side.  The engineer began immediately to put on the brakes while I climbed down into the cab.
    It takes a while to slow down a locomotive, especially without the brakemen given notice, but I had to be sure this time.  It was near a half mile from where Merker fell off when the train came to a stop.  I jumped off and started running back almost colliding with the conductor near the caboose.  I noticed that the brakemen were on top; they must have jumped up there as soon as the engine began to put on brakes.
    Running down the tracks I came across a severed leg lying by the rail.  In a few minutes I saw a crushed, mangled body of Merker lying partially on the tracks.  I slowed to a walk.  When I came to him, he was a bloody mess; his clothes half torn off.  He was twisted and when I turned to confirm his face I saw something that made me jump back.  That grin was there; the one I had first encountered during the War–the Devil’s Grin.
    By that time the conductor reached me, followed closely behind by the two brakemen.  “Lewis Merker,” I told him.  
    “Who’s Lewis Merker? he questioned, looking down at the deceased.
    “The man who has been tryin’ to kill me, my friends and family for several years,” I replied, then turned.  “Get his body wrapped up and placed next to the man in the baggage car.  Walk up after we’ve started again and I’ll fill you in.”
    I almost grinned, but it was not the one that Merker was carrying.  It was a grin of relief, I uttered a prayer of thanks to the Lord and thought, “a life for a life.”