While connecting the slaughter of a train crew to the disappearance of an engineer from a deserted rail yard, a male and female Philly detective face stonewalling and a bewildering array of suspects.

Locomotive engineer TONY MARZIANO vanishes from a deserted rail yard. DET. RENEE DeSILVA quickly blames marital problems--despite Mrs. Marziano's protests and the engineer's "voluntary" departure being so abrupt that his unsecured train rolled away, almost killing a coworker.

The mystery faded, railroaders choose work "runs". TILLMAN and WASHINGTON nearly fight. Engineer PACE complains about conditions as an "extra", trying to talk McANDREWS out of taking the only run Pace could hold with his low seniority.

A "deadhead" train carrying employees stops in a remote location. Unable to contact it, the dispatcher sends Foreman MULLENS. Startled in a dark car by trainee TORRES, Mullens then finds Washington and McAndrews, seemingly asleep, in another car. Mullens charges in to fire the men until his flashlight reveals they were butchered.

Renee's partner, EDDIE CENICEROS, investigates. Was it robbery? (Receipts are missing.) "Sleeping" Torres? Bad blood between Washington and Tillman? Is stonewalling just the "Code of the Road"? Are stories meant to deceive? FORCEY opines that the Marzianos were "too close" with engineer WAYNE GAMBLE and wife GRETA. Another reveals how Washington ruined an engineer's management opportunity. Yet a Tillman vs. Washington fistfight is denied by all-- except Conductor SWEENEY, who worked with McAndrews before his murder and eagerly drops dimes. Sweeney calls that fight racial, then offers Pace as another suspect, with seniority as the incredible motive. Pace fumes but doesn't retaliate. Renee recognizes Sweeney as the conductor who also worked with Marziano the day he disappeared. Eddie wants him arrested.

A dozing businesswoman awakes on a dark, empty train. While negotiating a maze of yard tracks and trains, she's accosted and knocked out by VERNON BROOKS. Her husband's arrival causes the shadowy figure carrying her (presumably Brooks) to flee, ostensibly averting a rape. Next morning, Brooks is found at a nearby cliff base, an apparent suicide.

Days later in the rail yard, Conductor MICHELLE flees ROLLO, a hideous, reeking hobo. This surprisingly intelligent suspect tells detectives he just wanted to calm her. His innocence claim takes a hit when a rail buff buys Marziano's bloodstained brake handle from a merchant who admits selling items Rollo scavenges. Dying hitman ASSISI knows what happened to Marziano and requests a priest. His nurse alerts Renee, who has devout Eddie reluctantly don clerical garb. Assisi describes the contract but is comatose before Renee can bring him photos to I.D. the payer. Police find Marziano's body exactly where Assisi described, clearing Rollo.

Greta Gamble admits to a fling with Tony Marziano. LORETTA MARZIANO reveals she not only knew about it but that she and Wayne Gamble set it up in a perverse scheme to assuage their own guilt. Wayne vows to prove railroaders didn't commit the murders. He falsely tells Pace he's taking the run vacated by McAndrews' death as a surprise to let Greta quit her job. Eddie realizes the link wasn't Sweeney but the run; Marziano died filling in for intended target McAndrews. Eddie races downtown as his worried wife phones Renee.

Pace brags to Wayne how he corrected the botched hit by killing McAndrews himself. Pace forces Wayne to a walled-off track, pushing him into a trench where he begins suffocating. Greta, intending to surprise Wayne, encounters Pace. Unsuspecting, Greta reveals that she knows about the run. Pace forces her to the trench but winds up trapped himself. Desperate Greta finds Eddie and Tillman. Tillman crashes a train through the plywood wall, then lowers Eddie on a cord to rescue the men. Emerging, Pace shoots Tillman and fires at dangling Eddie, who's saved by Renee.

Loretta is stunned to find lilies--the couple's special flower--growing at Tony's death site. Well-intended Renee covers remnants of seed packets Tony carried when slain. Loretta dutifully visits this "sign" for years. Suddenly, all traces of the lilies are gone, which Loretta attributes to Tony's spirit moving on. She finally warms to recovered Tillman's romantic interest as he spies grinning Rollo, wearing Vernon Brooks' distinctive boots, carrying away an armful of lilies.

Written by:
Starring Roles For:
Hispanic male, 30s
Portia de Rossi
Ray Liotta
In the Vein Of:
Basic Instinct
Mulholland Drive
Pacific Heights
Author Bio:
David A. Campbell of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, earned a B.S. degree from Drexel University, majoring in Business and minoring in Psychology while taking writing courses. Though a writer at heart, he heeded Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, deciding that food and shelter come before self-actualization. Bored with management, he took a job requiring constant travel, then rehabbed 19th century Philadelphia houses for resale before securing his present employment as a locomotive engineer.

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Contest Results:
StoryPros International (Semifinalist) [2009]
Blazing Quill (Semifinalist) [2011]
Eerie Horror (Semifinalist) [2008]
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