Kaiser Angst could barely keep his eyes open. Sasha was telling everyone at the table the same old story Kaiser had heard for the past three years, and though the story improved with each retelling, Kaiser was too tired to listen. Unable to resist any longer, his eyes slowly closed and he slipped effortlessly into the rhythm of the train traveling on the old tracks to their destination. As his mind drifted along with the movement of the train, he no longer heard Sasha’s voice. The backdrop of sounds coming from the Club Car disappeared and Kaiser’s consciousness floated outside his body.
Kaiser could see the table and booth where Sasha sat playing the violin for a young woman who looked familiar. The surface of the table was covered in beer and Kaiser’s little dog, Hermann was madly lapping it up. It was years since Kaiser had seen his deceased dog–he felt intense joy at seeing Hermann again. He picked up the dog and they walked outside, alongside the train as it continued to gain speed. He tried to keep up but his car didn’t have enough power as he ordered breakfast in the dining car and tried to climb onto the back of the elephant on the train….
Kaiser resentfully opened his heavy eyelids and saw Sasha standing, placing money under the empty beer pitcher on the table. Sasha was saying something to him but his ears were still asleep. Sasha pummeled Kaiser’s upper left arm and Kaiser’s groggy brain leaped into action–Kaiser cursed Sasha in American, then sheepishly excused himself and staggered off to the men’s toilet, but, without noticing, stumbled into the women’s instead. His eyes scanned the walls for a urinal but registered a toilet and sink only. He thought it odd but adjusted his needs to the equipment at hand just as an old woman opened the door and stepped in. As he stood at the toilet as though frozen in soup du jour, the justifiably startled woman shouted at him in what Kaiser guessed was some Eastern European language. As she turned and left, Kaiser realized why there wasn’t a urinal in the room.
Feeling more awake then sleepy, Kaiser decided to walk through the train to the cars carrying the animals. At dinner, Lamo indicated he was going to visit his horses. They were always a little nervous the first night on the train and he wanted to comfort and reassure them. That meant Sophia would be alone in their sleeper–maybe. He looked at his watch and decided the hour was far too late to catch her alone. Kaiser was not the only one who heard Lamo say he might sleep with his horses that night.
The first animal car he reached was the one carrying three of the seven elephants. The other four were being transported by trucks. Iris, Daisy and Rosie were the only ones of the seven that liked riding the train and always behaved themselves. The three elephants were gently rocking from side to side in time to the rhythm of the train. He patted Daisy as Rosie snaked the end of her trunk into his coat pocket, looking for treats. He quietly walked over to the larder and selected three apples, trying not to wake Sirake in his sleeping bag. The apples were well-received and Kaiser patted each and continued on through to the stable car, where Lamo’s six white horses expressed their annoyance with the intrusion with snorts and nose blowing. He petted each and looked around the car and didn’t see Lamo where he usually slept by Euripides. His sleeping bag and a few odds and ends were inside Nero’s stall–it looked like everything was just thrown there. Kaiser thought Lamo must have gone back to the sleeper.
Kaiser was getting sleepy again and headed back through the horse car to the elephant car. The three elephants were visibly vexed and Rosie was pushing against her stall gate. Sirake was still asleep but Kaiser knew that the nervousness of the elephants could excalate so he called to Sirake. He didn’t move. He smacked him on the shoulder and still he didn’t rouse. Kaiser grabbed the torch and trained it on Sirake whose eyes were open but unresponsive. Kaiser gingerly searched for a pulse on Sirake’s wrist and his neck. He didn’t want the elephants any more upset than they already were so he got three more apples and gave one to each and petted, patted and stroked their heads and trunks. As casually as he could muster, Kaiser walked out of the car, then ran through the various cars looking for the Conductor. He finally found her in the staff car and told her what he had found. She took off towards the elephant car as quickly as possible without running.
Kaiser finally laid down on the bunk and with his body sprawled out, he felt like a beached clown. He was beginning to drift off when Sasha slapped him on the shoulder. He tried telling Sasha what happened and that he was up all night with the police. The train stopped at a small station and three officers got on to investigate Sirake’s death. Sasha began laughing, telling Kaiser that he must have seen the dream police because he just ran into Sirake coming out of the dining car. Kaiser continued to protest, but Sasha shook his head and told Kaiser he was meeting one of the aerialists for breakfast. Kaiser was too tired to argue with Sasha and quickly fell asleep after Sasha left.
“Kaiser! Kaiser, wake up. I’m hungry.”
Kaiser opened his eyes and saw Sophia sitting across from him in what looked like the observation car. “Sophia. What are you doing? Where’s Lamo?”
“Ah, what do you mean where’s LAMO? You know where LAMO is….”
“I looked for him last night. Was he with you? I found Sirake dead but I couldn’t find Lamo.”
“You’re dreaming, Kaiser. Wake up!”
“I am awake. Did you hear about Sirake? Where is Lamo, Sophia? The police want to talk to him….”
“What are you talking about? You’re all mixed up. You need a vacation, Kaiser.”
“I don’t know what you’re playing at, Sophia. Ask Sasha, or that woman Conductor–I didn’t catch her name.”
“The Conductor is over there, Kaiser. Do you want to call him and tell him that someone died on his train?”
“The Conductor is a woman. Maybe they changed shifts since last night….”
“That is the Conductor, Kaiser. He was here when we got on the train this morning.”
“We’ve been on the train since yesterday. I….”
“You’re crazy, Kaiser. I’m going to get something to eat. Don’t bother to come with me if you’re going to talk crazy.”
After Sophia stormed off, Kaiser stood up and inched his way down the crowded isle towards the Conductor who was talking to a young couple. Just as the Conductor turned to acknowledge him, Kaiser slipped away, having decided to check the Club Car for Sasha. Luck was with him. Sasha was playing cards with two roustabouts and the woman from the night before. It looked like they were playing the children’s card game, “Duck, Duck, Moose.” Finally, Kaiser got Sasha’s attention and asked to talk with him in private. Sasha finished the hand and he and Kaiser sat in a booth in a corner of the lounge. He told Sasha about the altercation with Sophia, and he related more details about Sirake’s death and not being able to find Lamo. At last, Kaiser stopped talking and looked at Sasha, not knowing what to expect.
Instantly, everything changed. Kaiser was no longer in the Club Car. He was aboard a spacecraft and Sasha was in a uniform–a Marshall’s uniform with the Medic insignia, and Kaiser was handcuffed to him.
“What’s going on, Sasha? What’s happened?”
“We are on our way to a prison asteroid where you will be interned for life.”
“What? That’s nuts. It’s a mistake. I didn’t do anything that warrants imprisonment. What did I do? What horrible thing did I do?”
“I’m not at liberty to tell you. I’m along for the ride because you have to be accompanied by a Medic.”
“That’s crazy. Did I have a trial? Did I have a chance to defend myself? Answer me, Sasha!”
“Look this over. You will be required to sign your surrender orders for the Director of the prison.”
Kaiser’s hands were shaking as he took the tablet from Sasha. Everything was a blur. He was too upset to read anything. He flipped through the document until something caught his eye. He rubbed his eyes and looked again. His heart started pounding and he chuckled.
“You’ve got the wrong guy. This isn’t me…it’s not me. It’s for Lamo Gants. It’s not me.”
“It’s for you, alright. You’re Lamo Gants.”
“Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?”- Alfred Lord Tennyson
Inspiration Monday: Dream Police at Be Kind Rewrite
Prompts: Dream police, frozen in soup, the elephant on the train, Duck, duck, moose, Beached clown
Word Count: 1503
Lots of special thanks to our special Stephanie Orges at Be Kind Rewrite for hosting Inspiration Monday. You are my Orges–my Monday.