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The Wreckhouse by Christopher Butt




“If I told you once, I told you a hundred times, don’t run the Wreckhouse during a storm!” John’s voice roared over the radio.

  Tucker Wallace ignored his boss and put the hammer down as he pushed the eighteen-wheeler through the driving wet snow. Even though the ferry had docked in Port au Basques two hours earlier, Tucker had to pause his drive to meet his supplier, Dinkie.

  “Don’t delay. My man in Deer Lake is ready to run this stuff up the coast. I’m sure your boss won’t quibble about you stopping for a bite to eat before the long trek to St. John’s.”

  Tucker grunted in agreement as he took the five packages and placed them in the hidden compartment in his trailer. The lack of respect was noted by Dinkie.

  “This is serious shit, Tucker. Miss that rendezvous, and it will mean consequences for all of us. This isn’t some outport druggie you’re dealing with. These pricks are from the mainland, and they won’t hesitate.”

  Tucker shrugged his shoulders. “My cut?”

  “Upon delivery.”

  “Whatever,” Tucker said and, ignoring Dinkie, climbed into the cab and fired up the engine.

  Now as he made his way up the highway, Tucker laughed.

  “Old Dinkie, thinks he’s an arch criminal pushing a little dope.”

  Tucker, however, knew full well that the packages contained something new and more potent, and these gangsters wouldn’t give a shit about anything happening on a stormy night on the west coast of Newfoundland. Be on time or you will be of no mind. Besides, Tucker had debts of his own to pay, the hazardous kind. This payday would clear those debts.

  The howling wind brought Tucker back to the job at hand. He knew the winds at the Wreckhouse were deadly and many times he had seen trucks overturned in the ditch. If he could get through this stretch unscathed, he could hammer down and be early for the meeting. It would be good for the delivery and his health.

  Wet snow smeared the windshield as Tucker engaged the wipers. The lack of visibility forced him to slow down. He was fifteen kilometres outside Port au Basque when Tucker’s lights spotted something reflective in the distance. He downshifted and spotted a figure walking along the highway.

  “What the hell is that idiot doing?” he said, slowing down. He didn’t have time to pick up passengers but something inside him told him to stop.

  Tucker pulled up next to the figure and engaged the brakes. He felt the cab shift as the person climbed up and opened the door. A young elfin face stared at him from under her parka hood. Tucker smiled.

  “Need a lift?”

  The young woman climbed into the cab and shut the door. Tucker engaged the interior lights as his new passenger pulled her hood back. Long blond hair fell over the young girl’s shoulders as she unzipped her coat.

  “Put your coat back here," Tucker said pointing to his sleeper. The girl casually threw her coat on the small bed and straightened herself out.

  “Two questions. Who and Where?” Tucker asked.

  The girl answered, “Sally Mcgee. St. John’s.”

  Tucker studied Sally. It was a long journey to the Provincial capital; he would work on her. He envisioned them sharing his bed. He smiled at the nasty things he would do to her.

  “Alright, but I have to make a stop in Deer Lake. Have some business. Shouldn’t take too long. Hope you don’t mind.”

  “No matter to me,” Sally answered.

  Tucker grunted and disengaged the interior lights. He put the truck in gear and slowly pulled ahead. Tucker glanced at the girl again, feeding his desires. He was also struck by the name. It was familiar to him; however, he couldn’t place it. He pushed the thought away and concentrated on the road.

  After a few minutes of silence, Sally asked, "You're not going to ask me where I’m from?”

  Tucker snorted. “Does it matter?”

  “I guess not. How about what I was doing out on the highway this time of night.”

  “Lady, at this point, I need to concentrate on the road. I have deadlines to make. So sorry if I’m not really giving a shit about who you are right now.”

  “Fair enough.” Sally stretched out her arms above her head. Tucker glanced out of the corner of his eye. Sally was small but nice and fit. Her black turtleneck hugged her body, and he envisioned ripping off her jeans. He shook his head and turned his attention to the road.

  “This is some truck,” Sally said. “When I saw you coming up the road, you looked like an Angler fish coming out of the darkness.”

  “A what?” Tucker asked.

  “You remember that monster fish from ‘Finding Nemo’? Real nightmare fuel. I felt like a small fish about to be eaten.”

  Tucker smiled at the analogy. He hoped in a few hours it would be true. He stared out the window at the blackness of the night. The silence in the cab was deafening. He could hear her breathing and it made his pulse race. He took a couple of deep breaths to get it under control.

  As they passed the sign for Codroy Valley, Sally piped up. “Soon be at the Wreckhouse, eh?”

  Tucker grunted. “I know all about the Wreckhouse.”

  “Strong winds. Bet you they’re wicked out there tonight.”

  “Possibly.”

  “Did you know that when the trains used to run on the Rock, the winds were strong enough to knock the trains off the track?”

  “So?”

  “In fact, the Railway once ignored the gentleman who used to provide the wind gust info. Twenty-two cars went off the track. Bad scene.”

  Tucker said nothing.

  “Lockie MacDougall, that was his name. Had a way with the land, old Lockie did. Could tell the strength of the winds by standing out in it. He and his wife Emily lived in the Wreckhouse. Tough Newfoundlanders they were.”

  “Is that a fact?”

  “True as true can be.” Sally stretched out again. “They also say that you can see the ghost train run through the Wreckhouse on a stormy night, waiting for souls.”

  Tucker snorted and downshifted as they came over a small rise. He could already feel the wind shaking the truck. For the first time on this trip, Tucker started to question his decision to run through the area. His thoughts went to the five packages and Dinkie’s threats.

  “What kind of business do you have in Deer Lake?” Sally asked.

  “The none of your business kind,” Tucker replied.

  “Rude. Does it have anything to do with those five packages in the trailer?”

  Tucker shot her a look and returned to the road. “What five packages?” he asked, brushing off her question.

  “The five old Dinkie ‘The Rat’ Robinson gave you,” Sally stated. “Everyone knows you run drugs for him.”

  Tucker concentrated on the road but inside he was seething. How did this stupid girl know about the dope? Dinkie. He was always running his mouth off after a few pints. Small town gossip, easy to point the finger at a low life with money and no job.

  “Old Tucker the trucker, they call you,” Sally continued. “Dinkie’s bitch. He’s the dealer and you’re the wheeler. Why should he get his hands dirty when you can take the rap for him?”

  Tucker’s knuckles were turning white as he gripped the wheel. Evil thoughts entered his mind.

  “Oh, I know those thoughts. What are you thinking about, old Tucker? How to get rid of me or silence me? That would crush those dreams about sleeping with me.”

  Tucker turned to Sally who was smiling at him. Before he could say anything, Sally piped up and pointed ahead of them.

  “There’s the sign.”

  Tucker turned back to the road and saw the fortified wooden sign for the Wreckhouse, half-covered in snow. Tucker could still make out the train engine portrayed above the lettering. The whole area opened in front of them.

  “Oh, the wind’s blowing hard out there,” Sally said. “Even old Lockie wouldn’t be out on a night like this.”

  Tucker felt the whole cab rattle as he came into the open area. He could feel the trailer swinging behind him. He downshifted which steadied it.

  “Are you sure you don’t know my name?” Sally asked. Tucker downshifted again. He didn’t dare touch the brakes with the snow on the roads. He shook his head.

  “Are you sure? It happened around here somewhere. Sean Blake was his name. Did awful things to me. He rides the train now.”

  “What bloody train are you talking about?” Tucker yelled as he fought for control of the truck. “There hasn’t been a fucking train in years!”

  “That one.” Sally pointed out the passenger window.

  Tucker turned his gaze toward where Sally was pointing. Tucker stared in horror as a silvery white train emerged out of the snow and ran along the side of the highway. He could see in the windows of cars. Ghostly figures with deep black holes for eyes were pointed at him. Tucker could hear a low humming coming over his radio. The sound became a chanting. Tucker soon realized the chant was his name.

  “Tuck-er. Tuck-er. Tuck-er.” Sally chanted along with the radio.

  Tucker let the wheel slip through his fingers. He could see the figures reaching out through the windows. He turned back to the road and screamed as he saw several ghostly figures on the road in front of them.

  Panicking, Tucker hit the brakes. The truck swerved to the left. As Tucker tried to respond, he saw the trailer jackknifing in the side mirror. He had seconds before the trailer smashed into the side of the truck. The side window exploded and threw broken glass into Tucker’s face.

  “Whee!” Sally yelled.

  Tucker, stunned from the impact, lost control of the wheel. The truck straightened out and the front wheels caught the side of the ditch. Tucker’s world went upside down as the truck flipped over. The force of the impact wrenched the trailer free, and it fell on its side.

  Chaos reigned inside the cab. Papers and food wrappers flew around the cab, and time seemed to slow for Tucker as he saw Sally floating in the air as he hit the roof.

  The truck landed upside down. Tucker groaned from the pain in his legs. Reaching up and grabbing the wheel, Tucker pulled himself up into a sitting position. Stars filled his eyes as he glanced down at his legs. The shin bones were sticking up through his pant legs. Tucker threw up. He also noticed that Sally wasn’t in the cab.

  Through the broken windshield, he saw the glow of the train which had stopped. He saw several ghostly figures walk towards the truck. He recognized Sally. She stepped through the walls of the cab and stood in front of Tucker.

  “Ah, Mr. Wallace, it seems you’re in a bit of a jam. Don’t worry though, because you will soon be on the train. It has a special car that’s just for people like you.”

  Tucker groaned and nodded. He lay back and felt his life leave him.

  “I wouldn’t worry about being alone for long, though. From what I understand, Dinkie will be joining the train in a few days. All over a few packages of self-destruction.”

  Tucker closed his eyes. When he opened them again, he was on the train. He saw Sally waving to him as the train pulled away. It would be the last moment of peace he would ever have.

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