C2 Ghost Train: Chapter Two
Over the next few days, Garth got into a routine at work. The amusement park was busy and the ghost train seemed to have a permanent queue of people eager to be scared out of their wits. By the time his breaks came around, it was all he could do to slump on a bench and suck down his favorite iced coffee. As an employee, he got discounts at all the park’s food stands and the girl working the drinks van always slipped him a life-saving extra shot of espresso. He avoided the deep-fried doughnuts with martyr-like restraint, but had a soft spot for the chocolate-dipped fruit that came from a striped hut behind the carousel. His daily visit also gave him an excuse to wave to Stevie.
Though they didn’t make any definite arrangements to meet, Clem appeared at lunchtime every day and joined Garth on his bench. Clem sat with his legs stretched out, crossed at the ankles, one arm resting along the back of the bench behind Garth’s shoulders. He always seemed in complete control of whichever part of the world he occupied at the time, something that made Garth’s nerve-endings tingle. He craved Clem’s touch with every atom of his being, but all Clem allowed him was a single, soul-searing kiss at the end of each day when he dropped Garth off at home—something else that had become part of their unspoken routine. In his bed at night, alone in the darkness, Garth’s imagination took his body to places where pain and pleasure were inseparable and it was all Clem’s fault.
By the end of the week, Garth was looking forward to his day off with the single-minded focus of a desperate man lost in the desert sighting an oasis. He staggered toward the greenery through a haze of exhaustion caused by dream-disturbed nights. It was all he could do to make sure his passengers followed the rules and scrape up a smile for them as they emerged from the darkness shrieking in terror. When he glimpsed Clem in the distance talking to Adam, he thought he might be hallucinating. Through the crowd of people, he couldn’t be sure, but both men were tall, well-built and one of them was wearing a blue top like his own. He shrugged. He couldn’t think why Clem would need to talk to Adam and he had too many people lined up for the ghost train to spare it much thought.
Garth took his break for lunch later than usual because his cover took an age to show up. His favorite bench was occupied so he carried his iced coffee and chicken salad wrap to one of the green areas where he could sit with his back against a tree. He moaned his pleasure as the first sip of chilled coffee hit his taste buds, and closed his eyes.
“You have an entire set of luggage under your eyes, boy. Not sleeping?”
Clem. Garth cranked open an eyelid, blinking into the sun until Clem moved to provide some shade. “How do you always manage to find me? And I’m not your damn boy.”
“You’re not that difficult to track down. The blue shirts are easy enough to spot and, as far as I know, you’re the only male park employee with black hair and blue eyes who doesn’t wear regulation trousers.”
Garth fiddled with the zip across his thigh. “You won’t find me here tomorrow.” It seemed important to let Clem know.
“I’m aware of that. It’s your day off. I’ll pick you up from your place at nine.”
“But, I…” Garth couldn’t find room in his confused brain for words.
Clem loomed over him. “Nine. Be ready.”
Garth sighed. His will to resist had dissolved at some point in the last few days. He should question how Clem knew it was his day off but didn’t have the energy.
“I’ll remind you again tonight when I drop you off.”
“You don’t have to…”
“Not your decision.” Clem grinned. “Boy.”
Clem strolled away before Garth could summon the will to come up with a suitable retort.
* * * *
Garth was finishing his close-down routine that night, killing time, waiting for Clem to show, when he thought he heard a noise from inside the ride. He could have sworn there was a muffled shout followed by a metallic bang, then nothing. He shook his head. It was probably his imagination playing tricks on him. The park was quiet, all the lights dimmed and music silenced. He had already walked the ride and seen nothing out of order. It wasn’t possible for anyone to have got past him, unless an animal had snuck in.
“Stray dog, maybe. Damn it.” He couldn’t leave a dog in there overnight. Quite apart from his soft heart for anything with four legs and fur, he’d have to clean up the resulting mess come morning and poop scooping did not figure on his list of ambitions.
He shoved his bag back into its cubby. There was still no sign of Clem, so Garth grabbed his torch before punching in the code to unlock the main door to the ride. The only lights were for the special effects and he didn’t fancy being surrounded by an eerie red glow—besides, he’d have to fire up the computer again to switch them on and that would mean leaving even later after he’d closed it down again. The instant he got inside, another distant clang made his heart pound.
“Fuck. There is something in here.” Grumbling under his breath, he followed the route of the tracks through room after room, checking the displays and the occasional stationary car. The sound seemed to have come from near the back of the building rather than above him, so he was hopeful he wouldn’t have to explore the upper floor. The beam of his torch cut through the gloom, picking out macabre scenes and bloodied models. Garth tried to remain stoic but, for a logical scientist, he was blessed with an active imagination. Every bad horror movie he’d ever seen flashed through his head. What he was doing put him in the ‘dumb victim’ category. He was alone in the dark. Nobody knew he was inside the ride and somebody, or something, was definitely in there with him. His heart pounded and he forced himself to move a bit quicker, patting the back pocket of his jeans as he went.
“You moron.” He’d left his phone with his coat and bag. He pictured a knife blade slicing toward him out of the darkness, already dripping with blood and gore. “This better be a cute dog. Even a giant rat would be okay. They have fur…” Garth’s foot made contact with something on the floor. He stumbled then pitched headlong, unable to stop the fall. He lost his grip on the torch, which clattered to the ground then went out, leaving him in pitch blackness.
Keeping still, Garth did a mental check of his body. All his limbs seemed to be intact. His left knee throbbed, the heels of his hands were sore, most likely scraped, and his left shoulder ached. Nothing was broken. He got to his knees and groped for the torch, trying not to panic. In his head, he ran through his entire extensive inventory of swear words. When his fingers closed around the rubber grip, he whispered a small prayer of gratitude and another for forgiveness after all the cursing. After a bit of jiggling, the torch came back on to reveal the flash of a pair of eyes. Garth yelped then scrambled away, landing on his arse. The beam of light from the torch swung around and just for a moment he thought he saw…
He blinked and tried to refocus, the cold creep of fear traveling the length of his spine. He redirected the beam and, to his horror, found that the obstacle he had fallen over was a corpse, its sightless eyes open, staring straight at him. Bile rose in Garth’s throat and he fought back the urge to vomit. Close to panic, he shuffled backward in an attempt to put some clear space between him and the body.
“Garth? You in here?” Clem’s confident tones sounded from somewhere close by.
“Thank God. Yes!” Garth’s voice came out as a pathetic croak. He tried again and seconds later Clem appeared, illuminated by the powerful lantern he held in front of him. He spotted the body immediately.
“What the… Garth, are you okay?” He circled the dead man, taking careful steps.
Garth struggled to his feet, his nerves scrambled. “I fell. Over that.” He gestured in the general direction of the body. “I heard a noise. Thought a dog had gotten in here. Then I found… I found…” His voice went. When Clem pulled him to his feet and into a comforting hug, he leaned into his warmth, soaking up his strength.
“It’s okay. I’m here now. I’ve got you.” Clem murmured the words near Garth’s ear, rubbing his back in gentle circles.
“Wait!” Garth pulled away, even though it was the last thing he wanted to do. “I think there’s someone else in here. I saw…I’m not sure what I saw. It may have been a face from one of the tableaux or the murals. The eyes were red, but they seemed so real.”
Clem swept the room with light. “There’s no one here now. First things first. I get you out of here and call the police.” He took a firm hold of Garth’s wrist. “Ready?”
“Yes, Sir.” The honorific slipped out before Garth could stop it. He found he didn’t regret it. It couldn’t be unsaid. The bondage of Clem’s fingers wrapped around his wrist was as good as any leather cuff. Everything about the man screamed Dominant and it was a perfect moment to give up control.
“That’s right. You’re safe with me, Garth. You always will be.”
The journey out of the ghost train seemed to take an age, though it was probably no more than a few minutes. Garth stuck as close as he could to Clem, not ashamed of his need to be within grabbing distance. Garth took frequent glances back, terrified that they were being followed. When they hit the cool night air, he let out a shuddering sigh of relief. His nerves were shot and he saw faces in the shadows where there were none. Clem hadn’t let go of his wrist for a second. He even made his call one-handed.
“It’s me. I’m still at the park. You need to send a team over here. There’s a body.”
He listened for a while.
“Yes, I think it’s him. I also have a possible witness in my custody. No…not gonna let him out of my sight.”
The realization that Clem wasn’t just an IT geek seeped into Garth’s overwrought brain. He tugged against Clem’s hold.
“Who are you? That wasn’t nine-nine-nine you called.”
Clem sighed. “Stop wriggling. You’re not going anywhere.”
“You going to handcuff me?”
“Tempting, but not right now. Later.” Garth smirked. “If ever a man needed to be tied up and spanked, it’s you. Your arse will be permanently red once you’re mine.”
“I… You…” For once, Garth had no idea what to say. He fell silent, letting the scenario Clem had described sink in.
Garth growled. Clem brushed Garth’s palm with his thumb and that slight movement was enough to switch Garth’s brain from infuriated resistance to submissive acceptance.
“That’s it. The cavalry will be here soon. Once they arrive, I’ll take you home to collect a few things. You’ll be spending the night with me.”
There was no way Garth would ever admit how relieved he was not to have to face the hours of darkness alone. Clem guided him to a low wall where he could sit and take the weight from his trembling legs. Clem remained standing and Garth missed the grip on his wrist straightaway. He touched the skin there, not knowing what he expected to feel. His previous nausea returned and he leaned forward, dropping his head between his knees. When he closed his eyes, all he could see was the dead body, or rather its staring eyes, as the rest of it was just a vague shape in his mind. Clem squeezed his shoulder.
“It won’t be long…” As he spoke, blue lights came toward them. There had been no sirens to mark their approach, but there was a panda car from the local force and a plain sedan following close behind. Several men and two women got out of the cars and Clem went across to meet them. Garth stayed on his wall, its solid presence providing an anchor. He didn’t trust his legs to work just yet. He watched Clem with interest. It was clear that he knew the people he was talking to. Two uniformed policemen headed into the ghost train while another positioned himself in front of the entrance doors. One of the women began to talk into a radio while the other walked toward Garth, Clem at her shoulder.
“Hello, Garth, I’m Laura Benton. I’ll be taking charge of the situation here. I’ll need a full statement from you, but that can wait for now. Clement will escort you home and I understand that you’re going to stay with him tonight. Is that okay with you?”
Garth nodded. “I should call my boss. He needs to know what’s going on.”
“You don’t have to worry about that. We’ve already been in touch and he’s on his way. His only concern was that you weren’t hurt.”
“I guess I was just a bit shocked,” Garth said. “I don’t come across many dead bodies, studying physics.”
“Probably a good thing.” Laura grinned. “I don’t recommend that tripping over corpses becomes a regular habit.” She moved away, already punching a number into her mobile.
“Nor do I.” There was a hint of reprimand in Clem’s tone that suggested he would not be best pleased if Garth got himself into any more dangerous situations. Garth rolled his eyes. Clem didn’t own him, nor was he responsible for Garth’s safety, though from the tension in his stance and the set of his shoulders, Clem had stepped into the role of protector with accustomed ease.
Garth decided it was time to show some backbone.
“It’s not like I intended to find a body.”
“No. You just heard a suspicious noise then went into a pitch-black shed alone. Even though you knew I was coming to meet you. You have no sense of self-preservation whatsoever.” Clem glowered. It crossed Garth’s mind that Clem was even sexier when he was mad.
“So you’ll have to punish me.” He glanced at Clem through his lashes.
Clem sighed. “You need it, that’s for sure, but I think adrenaline is interfering with your thought processes, because your brain-to-mouth filter is blocked.” He held out a hand. Garth examined the offering. There was a scar at the base of Clem’s thumb and a red ink stain on his index finger. The hand seemed strong. Capable. Safe. A good home for Garth’s smaller, paler version…which was already nestling in Clem’s warm grip. Garth stared at his own appendage as if it were an alien being. He didn’t recall reaching for Clem’s hand, yet he was being pulled to his feet and led away from the chaos of a crime scene. ‘Surreal’ didn’t begin to describe it.
After fetching Garth’s belongings, Clem held his hand all the way to the gate then down the street to where his van was parked. It crossed Garth’s fuddled mind that he’d left his bike behind, which meant a long hike the following day.
“Bike.” He tugged at Clem’s sleeve like a toddler.
“Forget it. It’s your day off tomorrow, remember? And besides, how many times have you ridden it this week? It spends more time in my van than it does on the road.”
Garth tried to straighten his thoughts into a semblance of order.
“And our date still stands. I’ll bring you into work after that.” Clem had all the answers before Garth even asked the questions. When Clem opened the van door for him, he scrambled inside without a word.
“Rest. Close your eyes. You’re safe.”
At that moment, obedience didn’t seem like such a bad idea. Garth’s eyes drifted shut and the next thing he knew, Clem was giving his shoulder a gentle shake.
The night air was a shock after the warmth of the van. It took Garth a moment to realize he didn’t know where he was.
“This isn’t where I live.”
“And this is why you’re some physics genius.” Clem shook his head. “We’re at my place. I have everything you need for tonight.”
“Your clothes won’t fit me,” Garth said.
“You’re smirking.” Garth managed a scowl.
Garth worked out that they had come up a drive and parked in front of a triple garage. There were no other properties in sight and solar lamps cast a warm glow on neat, landscaped gardens. At the front door, Clem used some kind of remote device to disable an alarm system before using his key. Garth stumbled up the single step, his legs not behaving in the way they should. Clem caught him before he fell, then supported his weight with an arm around Garth’s waist.
“Bed for you, sunshine. You’re dead on your feet.”
The phrase made Garth’s nausea return.
“Sorry, bad choice of words.” Clem pressed the backs of his fingers to Garth’s cheek. “Cold. You’re in shock.”
“’m fine,” Garth mumbled. “I’d really like to take a shower though. Feel dirty.” He shrugged off his jacket.
“Sure.” Ignoring the discarded garment, Clem pushed the front door shut with his arse and kept hold of Garth. He wrangled him along a wide corridor then into a spacious bedroom. “This is the guest suite. There’s a bathroom through here.” He led Garth to a door on the far side of the room.
Garth stared at it for a while. He didn’t understand what was wrong with him, but his brain wasn’t working as it should. He could still recall molecular physics equations, but the function of a bathroom was beyond him. Clem gave him a nudge.
“You need a hand?”
Garth shook his head, unwilling to admit that he did. He took a few paces and found himself in a cool, tiled space. The walk-in shower looked inviting, but the chrome dials were far too complicated. To his utter relief and chagrin, Clem took over. Soon, hot water cascaded into the cubicle, beating a steady rhythm against the porcelain. Garth’s arms lifted, attached to invisible strings, as Clem pulled his shirt over his head.
Clear instructions helped. Garth dropped to the floor to remove his footwear and socks. When he was done, Clem hauled him back to his feet.
“Unless you want to shower in the zip-fest that passes for your trousers, you’ll need to take those off too.” When Garth failed to move, Clem took matters into his own hands. Soon a pile of black denim pooled around Garth’s ankles. He stepped clear, awarding himself several gold stars for not falling over. He spotted an intriguing gleam in Clem’s eyes. Fascinated, Garth rolled his underwear clear of his hips and held Clem’s gaze. Clem licked his lips even though his eye contact didn’t waver. He made no attempt to view the skin Garth had uncovered.
“Like what you see?” Garth was half-curious, half-irritated.
“I see a traumatized young man whose mouth is still not connected to his brain. That gets you a pass. For now. Don’t think it’ll continue.”
Garth gasped as a sharp smack connected with bare flesh.
“Shower, then sleep.” Clem exited the room, leaving the door ajar. Garth stepped beneath the spray, rubbing his abused behind. The small hurt improved his focus and he couldn’t help but wonder what a proper spanking might feel like—not just with Clem’s hand but with a crop or a paddle, preferably when Garth was tied down and helpless. Operating on automatic pilot, he washed the smell of fear from his body, enjoying the heat as it soaked into his tense muscles. He turned off the spray then stepped from the cubicle, reaching for a towel hanging on a hook behind the door. He had no clean clothes and there was no sign of a robe, so he fastened the towel around his hips as best he could then went in search of Clem. He didn’t have to go far because Clem was waiting in the guest room, sitting on the bed, propped up against the pillows.
“I threw your clothes into the washing machine.”
“You’re hurt.” Clem swung his legs over the side of the bed. “Why didn’t you say something?”
“I kind of forgot. I got a few scrapes when I fell over the body.” Garth wandered across to take a look in the mirror. His reflection showed him that one knee was grazed and the red patch on his shoulder was working its way up to become a bruise. His hands were a bit scraped from where he’d tried to save himself, but that was it. He’d had much worse from coming off his skateboard in his teens. “It’s nothing, I’m fine.”
“I’ll be the judge of that.” Clem pressed close behind him, his hands on Garth’s hips just above the towel. Garth was very aware of his state of undress. The flick of a finger and he’d be naked. His cock jerked.
Clem stroked a single finger across Garth’s shoulder and down his arm. “Not too much damage from what I can tell, but the only marks on your skin should come from me.”
“All you have to do right now is what I say, Garth. You need to sleep. Everything will be clearer in the morning.” He gave Garth’s butt a gentle pat before moving toward the door.
“Are we still going to have a date tomorrow?” Garth asked.
“Absolutely. I don’t say things I don’t mean.” Clem grinned. “Sleep well.” He left the room and closed the door with a click. Even that slight sound made Garth jump.
He scuttled into bed, dropping the towel on his way. The covers were soft and the cool sheets soon warmed. Garth hid beneath them, feeling like he had years before after watching illicit horror movies with his friends. He closed his eyes but couldn’t shake images of the dead body and the monster he thought he’d seen. Blood, flashing blades and sightless eyes merged to form a horrific tableau in his head. He did his best to picture a fat, woolly sheep instead then counted it and the rest of the flock as they bounced over a low fence. It didn’t matter that he’d never seen a sheep attempt to cross a boundary of any kind—the childhood ritual was comforting. The monotony dulled the feverish meanderings of his brain and he drifted into sleep.
“Garth. Hey, wake up.”
Garth sat bolt upright, a scream on his lips. Someone held him in a strong grip and for a moment he fought the hold, desperate to get away from his nightmares.
“It was a bad dream. You’re safe. It’s not real.”
“Yeah, it’s me. You’re in my guest room, remember?”
“Sure… I… Something was chasing me, no matter how fast I ran, I couldn’t get away. I was pelting down a dark corridor and it got narrower and narrower like something out of Alice in fucking Wonderland. I couldn’t run any faster. My heart was pounding and I knew I wasn’t going to get away.” Garth gasped for breath as if he really had been running, but relaxed in the safety of Clem’s arms.
“You want me to stay?”
“No… I…” Garth didn’t want Clem thinking he was a pathetic wuss who couldn’t handle sleeping alone.
“Let’s make an agreement right now that you never lie to me again, okay? You’re not good at it.” Clem shoved him down onto the bed. “And I can be very creative when it comes to thinking up punishments for disobedient subs.”
“I’m not your submissive.”
“And that was another lie.”
Clem’s weight pressed Garth into the mattress. Garth felt obliged to struggle a little bit, if only to let Clem know that he wasn’t a pushover. Clem moved to one side and made himself comfortable. He dragged Garth close so that Garth’s backside nestled against Clem’s groin and it was at that point Garth remembered he was naked. Clem was shirtless but had some kind of pajama bottoms on, because there was a thin layer of fabric between his stiff cock and Garth’s skin. It wasn’t much of a barrier and Garth pushed back, craving closer contact. Clem slung one arm around Garth’s waist and curled his fingers around Garth’s burgeoning erection.
“Go to sleep.”
In the darkness, Garth rolled his eyes. Right, like that’s going to happen now. He sighed, but his lips curved into a smile. Clem wanted a submissive. Clem wanted him.