The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The Night Train
by Stacey Turner
“I’m going to ask you one more time. What happened to Garrett?” The police chief glowers at me across the table. Any other time I’d be petrified, but now, I’m numb. Once you’ve seen what I’ve seen, a police chief doesn’t seem so scary.
I return his stare, unblinking. “I’ve already told you.”
He slams his hands down on the table as he rises and storms from the room. I don’t flinch at his violence; I only sigh. No one believes me, of course. I didn’t think they would. I wouldn’t believe me if I hadn’t been there.
Garrett had been my best friend almost from birth. Our moms were friends who’d grown up together, gotten pregnant at the same time, and so we spent all of our time together. When we turned fourteen, Garrett’s parents were killed in a car crash and he came to live with us. Don’t look so scandalized, it wasn’t like that. There’s never been anything romantic between me and Garrett. The thought makes me ill, like kissing your own brother would.
Garrett took his parents’ death hard and started to get into trouble. I got into trouble with him because I couldn’t just leave him alone. We were a team, where one went—so did the other. It had been his idea to see the Night Train. We’d grown up hearing the stories, but no one had ever actually seen it. No one sane, anyway. Old man Peters, the homeless guy who digs through everyone’s garbage, claimed to have once. Folks didn’t believe him, but they had to admit he’d never been the same. Supposedly, the Night Train was a ghost train came down the tracks bordering the town on one side and the forest on the other. It only passed by every year, just after midnight on Halloween: the Day of the Dead.
We were out by the tracks by 11:30. The night was chilly, but not cold, and the fallen leaves made a crunching sound as we walked. I love this time of year. Well, I did. The moon was a waxing gibbous, spilling plenty of light without our flashlights. About ten minutes before midnight, I heard something. It didn’t sound like a normal train, more like a squealing, wailing, metal upon metal whine. High pitched and horrible. I glanced to the north and saw a glow headed our way.
“Holy shit! There it is!” I punched Garrett, who’d been dozing.
“What are you talking about, Beth? I don’t see a damn thing,” he grumbled at me.
“But you hear it, right?” I couldn’t tear my gaze away from the glow getting brighter with every passing second. The whine began to hurt my ears.
“No, I don’t hear anything either.” He waved his hand in front of my face, but still I couldn’t stop watching the glow in the distance. “Knock it off, Beth. You aren’t funny.”
Finally, I turned my head. “I’m not being funny! It’s coming. I can see the glow, and how can you stand the noise?” I threw my hands over my ears and glared at him.
He gave me a disgusted look and climbed to his feet. “There’s nothing there.” He strode over to the tracks and stood in the middle of them, frowning in the direction I’d been gazing “Nothing!”
I screamed at him to get off the tracks; the train was fully visible now. The engine was the deepest black I’d ever seen, as though it drew the darkness into itself. Sparks flew from the tracks as the metal wheels spun and struck them, constantly grinding. From the stack, bright orange steam rose into the air and trailed behind. I shrieked and tightened my hands on my ears, transferring my horrified gaze from the train to Garrett.
I knew the moment he glimpsed the train. His eyes widened, and his mouth flew open, but far too late. The train slammed into him moments later. As the train rushed past, I continued to bear witness, unable, unwilling to close my eyes. The lights shone in the passenger cars, illuminating windows filled with screaming faces. The very last face, pressed against the glass of the door of the final car, was Garrett’s. His eyes wide, mouth open in a scream lost in the noise of the passing atrocity. And I realized the Night Train wasn’t a ghost train, but the train to Hell, filled with the souls of the damned. And Garrett, my Garrett, was on it.
Fiction © Copyright Stacey Turner
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from author Stacey Turner:
Morbid Metamorphosis: Terrifying Tales of Transformation
Metamorphosis occurs every day as caterpillars become sweet fluttering butterflies, tadpoles become gorgeous frog princes and chameleons become one with the beauty of nature – but you won’t find any of that here.
The transformations you’re about to witness are unnatural, sometimes gruesome and deeply psychological. They will make you question reality and take your mind places it was never meant to go.
Terrifying Tales of Transformation from Greg Chapman * Roy C. Booth & R. Thomas Riley * Terri DelCampo * Dave Gammon * Nancy Kilpatrick * Rod Marsden * Jo-Anne Russell * M.J. Preston * Stacey Turner * Tina Piney * Suzanne Robb * Franklin E. Wales * Donna Marie West * Suzie Lockhart * Cameron Trost * Daniel I. Russell * Simon Dewar * Amanda J. Spedding * Ken MacGregor * Erin Shaw * Gregory L. Norris * Nickolas Furr