Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven do not belong to me. This fan fiction was written for enjoyment purposes and no copyright infringement is intended to CBS, MGM, The Trilogy Entertainment Group, The Mirisch Corp, or TNN. The song Runaway Train is the property of the band Soul Asylum and lyrics were reprinted without permission. No copyright infringement was intended.
Author's Notes: This was something my muse bashed me in the head with and would not leave me alone until it was written. I gave the rough draft to my beta, Cin, and she added to and made coherence out of the late night ramblings. Her perspective gave more of an edge to this piece and added to the angst and emotional impact.
Warning: Main character Injuries Occur. Do not read this if the concept upsets you. You have been warned.
The four men grabbed him just outside his place, connecting a solid blow to the back of his head and stagger-walking him into their van. As the van moved off slowly into the early morning blackness, no one took notice of his peril. Most respectable people already lay snug in their beds at one in the morning, oblivious to what happened outside their windows. He received another knock on the head as three of them held him down and bound his hands and feet. His futile attempts at freeing himself only resulted in more attention until they delivered him into blessed unconsciousness. They stripped him of his weapons and checked his ID before tossing them off to the side. Finally, the assailants, whose own personas hid behind black facemasks, covered his head in a burlap sack, tying it off at the neck with a thick, long rope. They gave no thought to his comfort; it was not their intention at all.
The quality of the pavement decreased as the van left the more civilized sections of Denver for the outskirts. The unwilling passenger remained blissfully unaware of the rough ride. Reaching their destination, the four men dragged the now semi-conscious man over broken, rough-edged cement to the edge of the water. At least, it smelled like water and it felt like damp grass through the feeble protection of his clothes. The sudden rush of cold water attacking his face through the burlap sack brought him to full wakefulness, bringing the thought they might just drown him.
After repeated dunking, they finally dumped his sodden body on the cold, moist earth. Ears vainly tried to ascertain the whereabouts of his captors. Perhaps they had left. . .and then he wished they had as the torture began. Blind and unable to evade them, he was beaten and kicked from one to the other like a rag doll, all the while they twisted and pulled on the rope until it almost choked him. It went on and on until they felt sated, satisfied with their handiwork. He never saw their faces, could not recognize their evil laughter. His ribs ached, his leg throbbed, he no longer felt his shoulder, his neck burned, and breathing was difficult.
It was quiet again, so he fought his weary body, straining to hear, trying to prepare for the next unknown assault. A metal door slammed in the distance. They were leaving. A pop. . .searing pain hit his thigh, but his throat wouldn't allow him to scream. Another pop. . .he slammed into the earth, but strangely only felt an added heaviness in his shoulder, but there was no pain. He heard them laugh as he twitched when the bullets entered his body. Rough hands grabbed him, he waited for the final blow, then suddenly his bindings were cut, and he was free. They left him to die then.
He heard the thumps as his guns and ID landed beside him just out of reach, followed by more metallic slams. The engine roared and he was truly alone in his agony. A strange bump-bump noise and loose gravel spit from under the tires.
He struggled to get his body to respond. Finally he got his good arm to the rope around his neck and pulled it free along with the burlap sack. His throat burned fiercely. He was cold and shivering, yet his hand found warmth escaping from the wound in his shoulder. Feebly he held the sack there and tried to think.
The sound of a song reached his ears. He looked around and saw the lake he lay beside in a crumpled heap. The patch of dirt and grass his body sprawled upon contained used syringes and condoms. He refrained from moving as not to expose himself further to this filth.
In the way the van left, an abandoned building rotted away, gaping holes where windows once sparkled. A familiar shaped sign gave him another piece of the puzzle - Railroad Crossing, explaining the heavy thumps of the van as it left crossing the tracks.
Dimly he made out the lights across the water, their warm glow reaching out to him. Apparently there was a party going on, light sounds of voices and laughter drifting across. . .and there was a song. A song he had heard before. What was it? Ah. . . . "Runaway Train" on constant repeat. . . was this to be his final anthem? He tried yelling but the thick rope burn on his neck where they twisted it would not let him break a whisper. All he could do was lay in silence and hear the words.Call you up in the middle of the night
His phone! Did they take his phone? Weakly searching his jacket pocket, he found his cellular telephone. With shaking fingers, he found the often-dialed numbers. It rang once, twice, and finally the sleepy, slurred voice came through.Like a firefly without a light
"Vin..." he whispered. His throat could not form words without the sensation of razors ripping the soft, tender flesh.You were there like a blowtorch burning
"Who is this?"I was a key that could use a little turning
"Hurt." He detested needing anyone but he could not do this alone.
"Oh, God! Where are ya?" Vin's heart raced as he heard the weak voice on the other end of the line. He fumbled to find his clothes and drag them on. "Come on, keep talking. Can ya tell me where ya are?"
"Lake." His voice was fading as his blood continued to seep from his body.So tired that I couldn't even sleep
"No, come on, stay with me. Lake where?" A cold feeling filled his soul; he finally recognized the owner of the weak voice.
"Out...side...Den...ver..." he was losing his fight to stay awake.
Vin paused in his dash to the door to use his house phone, the cellular still planted in his ear. "Damn it, keep talkin' to me, don't quit." Hearing the agitated voice on the other phone answer, he shouted out his information, "Hey cowboy, Ez is hurt. He's at a lake somewhere outside Denver. I've got him on the cell but he's fading fast. I'll meet ya at the office. Get the others." He hung up before his friend and boss could say anything. He knew he would call the rest of the team and get them there.
"Ezra? EZRA!" It frustrated the sharpshooter when Ezra did not answer; he heard him breathing, a blessing in itself, but it sounded labored. Like the man on the other end fought for each lungful.So many secrets I couldn't keep
Ezra heard his mother's voice in his ear. "Ezra, get yourself out of that bed this instant. We have work to do. You're not allowed to be sick."
"But Mother," the ten-year-old started.
"No buts, Ezra. We must earn our keep."
"You mean me, Mother. I must earn our keep."
"Yes, of course, that's my very good boy."
And work he did, too well, no pretense needed. He was suppose to fake an injury but because his mind was slowed by illness he actually did get lost and fell down some stairs, breaking his leg. His mother made him swear not to tell the truth and it would be their little secret when the family paid for the bills and gave them money to remain quiet as they planned on opening the elaborate chateau for tourists.I promised myself I wouldn't weep
He felt an uncommon wetness on his face as he remembered how many times his mother dropped him off at a distant relatives' house, to go and find herself a new mark unencumbered by a small child. That small child's pain now mingled with the adult's agony.One more promise I couldn't keep
Ezra wept with despair.It seems no one can help me now
I'm in too deep, there's no way out
This time I have really led myself astray
His mind drifted as he forgot the world around him. He forgot the phone in his hand; he let himself cry at the hopelessness. He cried at the excruciating pain. He cried at the knowledge of dying.Runaway train, never going back
No going back to the life he knew before.Wrong way on a one-way track
Death felt one-way to him. He wanted life but it hurt too much right now.Seems like I should be getting somewhere
Where was the white light? The tunnel? The peace?Somehow I'm neither here nor there
He felt himself floating, his mind wondering. He wanted to say goodbye to his friends, friends he'd never thought he'd have. Nathan, the person he agreed to disagree with. Josiah, the warm-hearted father figure he wished he had when he was growing up. Buck, the rascal who was always there to have a fun time with or lend an ear. JD, the enthusiastic innocent with a generous heart and unquenchable faith in everyone. Chris, his boss who earned his respect, who gave him a second chance, one of the first to ever do that. He actually trusted him and became his friend. And finally Vin, his partner, so opposite yet so much alike. His fading mind held on to a mischievous grin that challenged him and refused to give up on him.Can you help remember how to smile?
"EZ! Answer me, damn it!"
"Vin?" He blinked trying to see his friend.
"Stay with me, Ez. I ain't leavin' ya. Talk to me. What do you see?"
"Lake. . . Party. . . Dirt."Make it all somehow seem worthwhile
"Give me more, Ez. Any houses?"
"Big house. . .other side," his voice faded at the end.
"Don't give up! Don't you dare give up. I'll kick your ass!"
"Welcome. . .try."How on earth did I get so jaded?
Many people tried kicking his ass, Ezra thought to himself. Probably because of his smart mouth and worldly attitude. His mind told him about all the things he had seen and done in his lifetime, how he treasured the innocence of youth and wished he could still experience that joy of living.Life's mystery seems so faded
Been there, done that, got the embroidered polo shirt. He giggled at his thoughts, so unlike him and more like the man on the other end of the phone.I can go where no one else can go
Chris Larabee stormed into his office to find his sleep-rumpled team hard at work triangulating Ezra's cell phone signal. JD, their computer expert, sat at his terminal and hacked into the cellular carrier's system and activated a phantom program on tracking the signal. He gave no thought to his hair sticking out at all angles or that his T-shirt was inside out; his sole focus on finding their friend.
"Got it! It's a fifteen mile radius just outside Denver."
Buck grabbed the maps and started plotting.I know what no one else can know
Vin felt in his bones Ezra was starting to give up. The man had stopped responding to him. He knew he was in a lot of pain, he could hear it in his voice, and he was giving in to it. The Texan could not tell the others; he just kept talking trying to keep their undercover operative with them.Here I am just drownin' in the rain
The sky opened with the boom of thunder, adding to the already dark and dismal atmosphere. Ezra felt his life drain away with the water that washed over his shivering body. He welcomed it, knew it was washing away the pain. Nothing seemed to stop the pain.With a ticket for a runaway train
The pain overwhelmed, blocking out everything but its incessant demand for attention. He moaned, not realizing it carried to his teammate.
Vin punched the wall in frustration, hearing the weakening cry. He gasped in pain himself as that moan reached his soul and shredded it. They needed to find him now.And everything seems cut and dry
Day and night, earth and sky
Chris yanked the phone from Vin. "Ezra, talk to me! Tell me what you see? That's an order, Standish." He used his best command voice hoping to kick-start the Southerner's desire to live. "You're not running out on me. . . you hear!!!"Somehow I just don't believe it
A chuckle escaped the battered lips. "Water. Rain. Lake. Party. Music. House."
"What else?"Runaway train, never going back
"Blood."Wrong way on a one way track
"Mine."Seems like I should be getting somewhere
"Darkness. . . Light. . .broken cement..."Somehow I'm neither here nor there
Chuckle. "Train . . .I hear . . .train." The faint thunder of the metal on metal down the rails near him gave him something to focus on besides the slowing of his heart.Bought a ticket for a runaway train
He started to feel disconnected from his surroundings. He was not going to end it like this. He was one to laugh at pain. . .at life . . . so he did.Like a madman laughin' at the rain
"EZRA! Quit laughing. You're by a train?"Little out of touch, little insane
"Nose...cold."Just easier than dealing with the pain
"Ezra, don't quit now. We're coming. . . hold on!!"Runaway train, never going back
Not one of the six men rushing to the rescue of their injured, downed teammate would consider leaving him behind or letting him go. They would fight the devil himself for their friend.Wrong way on a one -way track
The train thundered closer and he absurdly wondered what would happen if a train went the wrong way, kind of like him right now. Maybe he was not supposed to die yet. Maybe...Seems like I should be getting somewhere
Nothing ahead of him, plenty of things behind him. A choice, a fork in the road. Which way should he go?Somehow I'm neither here nor there
He felt at a crossroads, standing there and trying to make a monumental decision. Fight or Flight. The center of the storm offered him peace, a momentary respite, a time to think, to reflect, to decide.Runaway train, never comin' back
No one looked back as they tore out of the office and piled into vehicles, Nathan grabbing his first aid kit and Josiah calling for a helicopter and ambulance.Runaway train, tearin' up the track
Traffic laws became insignificant as the lights flashing on their dashboards gave them impunity while they sped through the night. All that mattered was Ezra.Runaway train, burnin' in my veins
He felt the last of the pain start leaving him.Runaway but it always seems the same
Ezra tried letting go, knowing then the pain would quit, but he could not. Death felt too much like quitting. He would run away as a child but it never solved anything. He had promised himself, he had promised Larabee, no more running.
Just as he made his decision, he felt warmth. Not the warmth of the blood flowing from his body, the warmth of hands, so many hands. People shouting words he could not understand, but he welcomed those hands. Another feeling was in those hands. Safe . . .he was safe in those hands.
His befuddled mind grasped onto one last note, as he was lifted into safety. The music changed. He felt relief. His runaway train was stopped by six men. . . six friends determined to make him live. No, he knew he would never have to run away again.