The Boundless

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

Book: The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kenneth Oppel
caw of laughter. “And I suppose you drove the last spike too!”
    â€œI did,” said Will, tired of Mackie’s sneering.
    â€œCrazy and a liar,” Mackie scoffs. “I seen that photo of the last spike, and you are not holding the hammer.”
    â€œI wasn’t in the photo,” Will says, “’cause—”
    â€œBecause Donald Smith bent the spike,” Sticks says, nodding. “I’ve heard this story. They said a boy drove it in. So.” He looks at Will. “That was you.”
    Will nods.
    â€œAnd this Brogan,” Sticks says, “what happened to him up there?”
    â€œHe got attacked by a sasquatch. Thrown over the cliff. Everybody thought he was dead.”
    â€œYou believe all this, then?” Mackie asks Sticks.
    â€œI do. I’ve been around people long enough to know a liar. This boy is not lying.”
    â€œWe’ll find out, I suppose,” says Mackie.
    â€œI doubt this Brogan fellow works on the train, though,” says Sticks. “There’s all kinds of rough sorts hanging about the Junction.”
    Will looks at the clock. “How will I get back?”
    â€œWell,” says Sticks, “the Boundless is more than nine hundred cars long, and it’s a good five miles before you even get to colonist class. It’s no easy stroll over the top of freight cars, unless you’re partial to jumping in the dark.”
    Will knows the Boundless isn’t scheduled to stop until tomorrow afternoon.
    â€œIf your father’s the general manager,” Mackie says, “why don’t he just stop the train for you?”
    â€œHe won’t even know I’m gone,” Will says, realizing. “He’s driving the Boundless.”
    â€œThen he’ll know there’s a freight close behind us, and the Intercolonial not far after,” Sticks says. “Stopping’s out of the question. We can’t be blocking the whole track. And there’s no siding long enough to hold us. Most likely you’re stuck with us until tomorrow.”
    â€œWell, ain’t that a joy,” Mackie mutters.
    â€œMackie,” says Sticks, “another unkind word from you, and you can sleep on the roof tonight.”
    â€œMight prefer it, the stink coming off that boy.”
    â€œWash the dishes. After that I want you to take a note up and tell the fellows to pass it forward.” To Will he says, “We can work a message to the front to the conductor. There’s a brakeman every twenty cars.”
    â€œThe fellas won’t like it,” says Mackie. “Not in the dark.”
    â€œWe’ve got a straight stretch for a good while,” Sticks says.
    â€œEasy for you. You won’t be the one up top. And it looks like there might be rain.”
    â€œRight now there’s a full moon. Plenty of light. Anyway, this is important. If a guard’s been murdered, they need to know about it. Especially if the killer’s on board.”
    Will’s insides clench. “You think he might be?”
    â€œCould be. But there’s a Mountie aboard who’ll sort things out.”
    â€œIt’s Sam Steele,” Will says, trying to make himself feel better.
    â€œThere you go. No one finer than Samuel Steele.”
    Sticks walks over to his desk, picks up a pen, and starts writing a note.
    Reluctantly Mackie gets up and pumps some water into the sink, sluicing the dirty bowls and cutlery. Will remembers a sink like that in his old apartment, before they were rich. He sees a dish towel and steps forward to help.
    â€œMy father used to be a brakeman,” he says to Mackie.
    Mackie grunts. “Then you know it’s pretty much the most dangerous job in the world, ’specially in bad weather. Them running boards get all slick. Rain drives into your face. You get a sudden rumble or curve in the track, you slip and get thrown.”
    Before he can stop himself, Will glances at the

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