Not Patrick

a story
2021-05-10 15:45:01
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A Moment on The Tracks


He was puzzled for a moment when Mr. Morton called out, wondering who Patrick was. Then he remembered that he was Patrick, and he hurried out of his bunk with a sinking feeling in his stomach. Mr. Morton only used his name when things went badly or had the potential to do so.

The first time, he was jut confused. Mr. Morton had known Patrick O'Leary, the original Patrick O'Leary, and just didn't call him by any name. The first time, it had been to wave the article about the the death of Charles Button and point out the last line, about the technocracy rounding up suspicious characters. He'd said, "That won't be a problem, right, Patrick?" The message was clear. It didn't matter if there was something shady in his past, as long as he is willing to denounce that past. Also, if they started asking questions, he should know that Patrick O'Leary was innocent.

He had nodded. There was nothing else to do but agree. A man was nothing without a job, and Mr. Morton was the reason he had a job as a wanted criminal. Or maybe wanted criminal was the wrong way to put it. He hadn't committed any crimes, as such. He had simply disagreed with the Technocrats, and really, that had mostly been his parents. He had just been lumped in with them. Not that he actually liked the technocrats any, but he hadn't been trying to push for an alternate political system the way his parents had. It was a shame really. The D.A.M and the technocrats had aid the same thing: that the monarchy, as it existed, wasn't working. The way they went about solving it was different though, and the technocrats didn't like competition. He had wondered, that first time, if Mr. Morton knew the name he'd been born with, the name that he still used. Mr. Morton had known Patrick O'Leary, the real, original Patrick O' Leary, who was dead now. Mr. Morton knew he was not Patrick, and didn't care. Perhaps that was enough.

The first time hadn't been the last though, and this time, there clearly was something going on, so he scrambled to Mr. Morton's side, and said. "Here I am." The train was slowing as they neared a crossing point, so clearly there was another train that had signaled that it wanted to get by. Mr. Morton took him by the shoulder and brought him out to the back of the last car so that they could see the train that was passing theirs. It was something he'd done occasionally, back when he'd been new to working on the train, jut because he was curious, but now he seldom bothered. Apparently, though, Mr. Morton thought he ought to see this train, so he followed, and he stood and he watched.

The train was huge, almost twice as wide as the train they were on, and cluncky with what seemed to be armor. Newer, and better maintained than most trains, though despite it's inelegance. And there was a solemnity to it. This was a train with a purpose. As it passed, so close he could have reached out and touched it, he took in the details. He could swear he saw weapons mounted like a warship. It had a name printed on the side. Most trains had at least one car that had one, and it was usually the name of the railway company. Trains didn't have names the way airships did. Or at least they didn't write them on the side. Sometimes one engine or another had a nickname, but those were known only to those who worked the trains. This one said, "The Inquisition".

When the other train had passed and the brakes were let go and those currently on duty were moving to get the engine burning hot again to get the train moving, Mr. Morton turned to him. "Do you know who Judge Sandoval is?"

When he shook his head, Mr. Morton looked him dead in the eyes and said, "You should. He is the one bringing justice and order, at least his own brand of justice and order, to the western frontier. And you should hope, Patrick, that he never finds out who you are."