The train to Vienna would take us through the Alps via Innsbruck. Not usually a strenuous trip if you weren’t wanted by the law. But we were. So yeah.

‘I wasn’t sure if you wanted bacon or chicken, so I got one of each and thought you two could swap,’ Mos handed out the sandwiches.


‘Oh, I don’t like mayonnaise,’ I said.


‘What’s there in mayonnaise to like or dislike?’ Nakia glibbed, ‘it’s the blandest filling glue you can fi-’


Nakia noticed something down the corridor and tensed.


‘There’s polizei on this train,’ she flinched, ‘they’re searching carriage by carriage.’


‘How did they find us?!’ Mos gathered everything and stood, ‘Ross, you said you lost them!’


‘I did! I-!’ I felt the part of my shoulder Sabine had gripped and peeled off a black patch, ‘oh god damn it.’


‘Right, we split up and hide,’ Mos decided, ‘no matter what happens, one of us has to get to that opera house, got it?’


We nodded and scattered. I don’t know how the other two managed it, but there aren’t really that many places to hide on a train. Inevitably, I found myself trapped in a connecting corridor with polizei approaching from one end and Valerian Strauss marching up the other end.


Then I remembered that one movie. Well, I say “one movie,” there’s been at least five different versions of the original novel, but whatever, it was whichever movie led me to do something really dumb and open the door to the outside.


I clung to whatever meagre hand hold kept my grip in the biting Alpine wind. The mountainside was whizzing past awfully fast. I edged my painstaking way to the far carriage past the polizei. Fortunately, having remembered the movie, I’d climbed onto the side of the train facing away from the other track. Unfortunately, this left me perilously vulnerable to the tunnel rushing towards me.


I flattened myself against the train as darkness blatted me. I could feel bits of brickwork and lighting slicing inches from my back. I don’t know how long the tunnel lasted but it was way too long for my liking. Sunlight broke as blessed relief, and even more relieving was Mos opening the window behind me.


‘Good thinking!’ Mos shouted over the breeze.


‘It didn’t feel like good thinking at the time!’ I yelled back.


‘The polizei found the patch, they’re calling off the search!’ Mos held his hand out, ‘we’re in the clear!’


‘Oh you’re clear to me, alright!’ another voice cut the air. It was Valerian! He had followed me onto the side of the train! The nutter! He had a gun aimed right at me in his free hand, ‘thanks for leading us right to them, Mr Hopkins! I knew you’d make the right choice eventually! Now stand still so I can give you your reward!’


Mos leaned out and blocked me, pulling out his own gun. But Valerian was already pulling the trigger. A shot cleaved the Alps and Mos twisted in agony, clutching his chest. Before the light faded from his eyes and his body clumped down the mountain, he fixed on me a determined stare, as if to say “it’s all on you now, don’t screw it up.”


‘Shame, I’d planned to take him alive!’ Valerian smiled and queued up another shot, ‘oh well, doesn’t make much of a difference either way, I guess!’


‘DAMN YOU!’ Nakia cried, leaping suddenly out of the window nearest Valerian. They both tumbled down the mountain, bare knuckle fighting as they went, leaving me clinging to the train and feeling like a right numpty.


I climbed inside and smiled at the confused old lady in the seat next to mine.


My next stop was Innsbruck. I had to stop there and lay low until the heat died down.

Nice enough place. Very scenic.

I couldn’t stay here long, I had to get to Vienna!