IronHorse: The locomotive man CHAPTER 1
y’all tell me what I missed?”
Maria still had that one simple phrase
running through her head as she gazed at the metal man in wonder.
It had been about three days since she had fired up IronHorse and
she still could hear those first words ringing in her head.
he sat. Almost the exact same spot where she had left him last night.
The only difference was he was watching a different tape, and a few
more notebooks had been filled beside him.
Maria still was still reeling
from meeting IronHorse, but soon he was far more shocked to find out
over one hundred years had passed since he was last awake. His eye-visor
seemed to change shades with his moods, and when she told him what
year it was, well the usually bright red light went pink with shock.
“Two… THOUSAND and four?” He had asked. She nodded mutely. Heck she
found it hard to talk and only barely mumbled the year as an answer
to his first question.
“Two thousand… Holy Mary Mother of God… What
happened? Did the courts forget about me? Guess so if over a hundred
A massive gauntleted hand rose and smacked himself
in the fore-head. He sank to the floor and sighed, steam escaping
all of his joints.
“This’ll make it a SIGHT harder keepin’ my promise.”
Maria, after picking herself off the floor, came over to the locomotive
man. Initially she thought he was weeping. Perhaps for some lost family
or something. Instead, she found him scratching in the dirt with his
finger. It was all numbers, ratios, and equations. Something she never
“Whoof… By my reckoning… This load of coal ya’ filled
me with should last about half a day. Only a half load huh? Worried
I may have done something?”
Again Maria nodded and IronHorse snorted.
The steam wiped the numbers off the floor in a cloud of dust.
should really clean more. And despite whatever you heard… well probably
read by now. I didn’t do anything like what the courts said I did.
It was that damned Anthony Dumas.”
“Du… Dumas?” Maria stammered. The
massive metal man nodded as he stood and looked about the room.
Dumas. He was the bugger that framed me and stuck my bits here.” He
ran a hand along the crate he was packed in. With a gentle squeeze
he reduced it to splinters and smiled. “Nice to see my tomb become
fuel for a new life.” Before Maria could act IronHorse has ripped
the packing crate to shreds and pushed the majority of the aged wood
into his furnace. He sighed as his eye-visor lit up with a brilliant
ruby red flare.
“Man… That’s like eatin’ a 12 course meal after starvin’.
Never tasted anything so good.”
Slamming his grate shut he dusted
off his hands and then paused. A slight squeak from his wrist caught
his attention. “Hey… Y’all got some oil here? Seems you missed a spot
puttin’ me together.”
“What?” Maria whispered.
“I said… Y’all missed
a spot puttin’ me together.” Her eyes were wide with shock. This seemed
to let loose a series of laughs from the locomotive man.
know my name but I don’t really know yours.”
“Ma… Maria. Maria Estavez.”
IronHorse thrust out his massive hand. “Well Maria, it’s a right pleasure
meetin’ someone who knows good work like I am. Oh! And thanks for
stickin’ up for me to your boss!”
“How… How did you know about that?”
“Heck I could hear you arguin’ with the curator about my significance
for the exhibit above. Granted I’m not the best KNOWN historical steam
powered thing, but I can damn well say I’m the most unique!” He gave
a flex like a wrestler and tilted his head from side to side.
really, what riverboat could showoff like I do?” This lead to a series
of giggles from Maria, and then full blown laughter.
“I’m nuts… I
have to be… You CAN’T work like this. No WAY! I mean… I know the technology
and I know all about you. You’re… well you’re impossible.”
that a lot from the ladies.”
Maria blushed and shook her head. “O.K.
then tin-man. Answer me this, how did you know what I was talking
about with the curator before I put you together? How can you function
like you do? And why should I trust you when the only written document
about you is a court order to disassemble a malfunctioning piece of
machinery? I mean really, besides that and a few show posters with
your picture there is nothing historically about you other than conjecture
IronHorse nodded to each point and then sat down. “O.K.
first off I’m made outta Iron and Steel, no tin in me. Second, I don’t
rightly know why I function why I do, but I’m willing to bet you don’t
really know what makes yourself work either. We both may known the
nuts and bolts of our bodies, but never really understand what makes
them LIVE. I’m alive is all I can say. Don’t know how, and don’t really
care. I just intend to enjoy it. As for the court thing, well if nothing
more survives of that whole kangaroo court trial, you’re gonna just
have to take my word that I won’t hurt you or anyone else who don’t
deserve it. I give you my word on that. Oh… and I never really did
like my pictures in those posters. Never got my head right.”
and looked about before reaching over Maria’s head and grabbing a
can simply labeled “Oil.” This he squirted onto his wrist and moved
it about a bit.
“Sorry… that was drivin’ me nuts. Kinda like a sore
joint to you. Now as for how I heard you before… I didn’t. Least not
really. You see ever since they took me apart it’s like I’ve been
sleeping and dreaming. I had no concept of time or people, just voices
and sounds kinda filtered in and out. It was one helluva nap but it
was restful… I heard you before I guess, and your muttering about
how I am SO significant for the display above, as well as something
about me being a masterpiece of machinery… I like that one by the
Again Maria blushed but now was staring at IronHorse with rapt
“So when you cracked open the crate I could feel light
and hear sounds, but still it was filtered though sleep and dreams.
Um… I will say that when I was taken apart it hurt like hell. They
were not too kind let me tell you. But you… Heh… well you puttin’
me back together is the closest I’m ever likely to come to bein’ intimate
with a woman. You touched all the right places if you get my drift.
You’ve got some damn talented mechanics hands.”
Maria was now a brilliant
shade of red and giggling while trying to hide her face. IronHorse
laughed again and slapped his hands together.
“Oh lord don’t be ashamed!
Not like I’m built anatomically correct! I’ll just take what I can
get hun.” His eye visor warmed to a pale red, and she could tell he
was smiling and joking with her.
“So uh… IronHorse… Now what?”
paused and then sat down with an audible thump. He shook his head.
“Damn good question Maria… Damn good question. I think the first thing
I should do is get caught up. I need to know what happened in the
world while I was gone.”
This lead Maria to introduce him to the museum
library. It was hard maneuvering IronHorse through the displays at
night, partly because of his massive size and weight would only be
supported in certain floors, and partly because he stopped every five
feet to read or gawk at something.
“Holy crow…” He uttered when they
finally hit the library. “Holy crow I HAVE missed a lot.”
and got him started on some books and set up a reading spot in the
backrooms away from sight. From there she also covered for his disappearance
from the storeroom by telling the curator the crate was empty and
stuffed with rocks. He snorted his thoughts on the matter and haughtily
stated that Maria was a fool for chasing down legends and dreams.
“Ground yourself in the NOW young lady. In the NOW.” He always said.
She wondered how the irony escaped him that this message came form
a man who worked in a museum… and how he would feel if he met the
living history and legend in their backrooms.
IronHorse for his part
was a wonderful guest and apt scholar. he read voraciously and then
insisted on seeing this “tele-vision thing.” He called it mind blowing
and began to watch history unfold on DVD and tapes thereafter, reading
to fill in the gaps. He gaped in awe when Statesman appeared and then
flew, he marveled at the wonders of the city he had wound up in, and
he was shocked to hear of how many wars had gone on since he was asleep.
“So many folks… So many I coulda helped… That Dumas character has
a LOT to pay for now. Well… his family will… maybe… Can’t hold the
sins of the father...”
He mumbled like that a lot, and took notes
on everything. Especially mechanics. He jotted down things here and
there and shook his head in wonder of all the changes he missed. Maria
read the notebooks from time to time with him as he asked her questions
and chatted with her. Many were notes about possible “upgrades.” His
latest question was if he could replace his old boiler with something
from one of the new locomotives. Like a diesel engine or one of the
magnetic jobs like in Japan.
Maria found him charming, witty, funny,
and above all charismatic. He joked, laughed, and never seemed to
let things get him down. Oh he complained from time to time, but more
often than not he just vented some steam and went back to what he
Three days, three days of constant reading, studying, watching,
learning. His boiler was fed by coal Maria gathered, but he stated
anything that could be burned he could use as fuel.
“Just some things
are better than others. Kinda like the food you eat. I’ve developed
a taste for things. Coal is the best but I like wood too. Paper is
like candy, quick but not filling.”
As she reveled in the thoughts
of the past three days IronHorse slowly stood and came over to her
side. His eye visor was bright and cheerily red. He was smiling, and
in a totally unexpected act he gave Maria a massive hug.
It was not
cold, but warm. Warm metal, not too hard, and not too soft. Gentle
but she could feel the strength in his body.
“Maria… I can’t thank
you enough for savin’ me.” She smiled gently again and looked at him.
“Now I wanna ask you a favor… I’ve been cooped up in here for three
days… I wanna see this brave new world.”