Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ghost Story

Written By:  Levena Lindahl 

            He had been walking for a very long time, his legs felt like lead weights as he traveled down the side of the road.  It wasn’t as dark as it could have been, with a full moon in the sky, even though clouds had it partially hidden.  However, the sun had set more than an hour ago and there hadn’t been any traffic on the road since then.  Far off in the distance came the low tones of a train whistle, carried in on the night breeze.
            He could see a small patch of light off in the distance, a promise of at least a rest stop to rest his weary body.  He was running out of time to get to his destination, and a sense of urgency was starting to creep up his spine.  He forced a bit more speed out of his tired body, speeding up his walk as he neared the light that marked the rest stop.  His feet set up a steady rhythm that matched a song he knew, and he hummed it under his breath. 
If you're blue and you don't know where to go to, why don't you go where fashion sits, Puttin' on the ritz.’  He whispered softly as he came up on what he could now see was a rest stop.  He was no Harry Richman or Earl Burtnett but he could remember the words to the songs he heard on the radio and could sing ‘em to himself.  When you worked the hours and for the people he worked for, it was pretty important to be able to entertain yourself.  He might not have had a head for numbers, schooling, or anything like that, but he could remember things and he was good with his hands, and that was all a man really needed to get by anyways.  As he walked into the rest stop he could again hear the train whistle in the distance, closer now.
            There were three other people at the rest stop, all crowded around a map having a heated conversation.  Two men were arguing and there was a woman with long dark hair nearby who was watching them with an expression that was at once exasperated and fond. 
            “I am telling you Oscar, if we drive for another hour we can get to the next town and actually sleep in a motel.”  The red-headed male glared at the taller brown haired male.  Seeing them both getting ready to start arguing again, the woman stepped up.  Johnny watched her quietly; she was quite pretty in a flowing skirt with silver bracelets decorating her wrists.
            “Okay, hold up both of you.  Alfie,” She cast a glance as the sulking redhead, “you were right about the last exit.  Oscar, you are going to have to turn around and stop being so stubborn.  As it is, we are all tired, so we might as well camp out here.  We haven’t seen anyone for miles and it’s going to take ages to get back to the exit, not to mention if any motels will even still be open this late.  We can camp out and get going bright and early, alright?”  She gave both the men a smile when they gave her answering nods of agreement.  “Perfect!  We have our sleeping bags, and it’s a beautiful night.  Alfie, see if you can find any scrub or anything to burn and we can have a little campfire.  Oscar, you and I will set up the bags and figure out something to eat.” 
            He stepped forward to the edge of the light, and cleared his throat loudly which made the three figures jump.  “Beg pardon, don’t mean to intrude.”  He said softly, a nearby trains’ whistle nearly drowning out his words. 
            “Jeepers creepers, man!  Where’d you come from?”  The brown haired man, Oscar asked, subtly stepping in front of the girl and the other man. 
            “I don’t mean any trouble, I’m just walking.  I have a place to be, you see, and you people are the first I have seen in a while.  My name’s Johnny.”  He tipped his dusty hat at them and they seemed to relax.
            “Well, I am Oscar, this is my girlfriend Isabelle and this is our friend Alfie.  How long have you been walking?” Oscar extended a hand to shake as Johnny slowly came closer. 
            “A while.  I’m nearly there now though, and that is alright.”  Johnny replied, shaking the other men’s hands and nodding politely to Isabelle, who gave him a welcoming smile.  “Ya’ll just passing through?”
            “Yes, stopping for the night here and then tomorrow evening we should be finally getting to the Winchester mansion.”  Isabelle offered, watching as Johnny stared off into the distance, his dusty face and clothes soft edged and indistinct in the moonlight  where he stood at the edge of the rest stop’s light.    
            “Do you need a ride?  We could give you a lift to the next town in the morning if you’d like.”  Oscar offered, shooting a no nonsense look at Alfie who looked horrified at his offer, silently waving his arms in protest. 
            “Kind of you to offer, but I need to keep going.  I have a train to catch.”  Johnny gave a faint smile and nodded at them again.  “Travel safe.”
            He started to walk past, hearing their hushed conversation behind him before the screaming started as he stepped into the moonlight. He kept going but looked back at the three people and the screaming ratcheted up. His momma didn’t raise him to be rude, but he had to keep walking, that bone deep sense of urgency was starting to make his skin itch with the need to get to where he needed to be.  The train was so close now, the sound of the whistle practically on top of him.
            He hadn’t gotten very far; perhaps a half mile past the rest stop and the three horror struck travelers when he stopped.  The ground was shaking faintly, little pebbles and the dirt trembling as he knelt to work on timbers that weren’t there anymore.  The sound of the train whistle was nearly deafening, the roar of the engine drowning out the echoes of the screams from behind him. 
            It was over in a half second, just like the first time.  He’d been working when the train had roared by, catching a loose piece of bar too near the tracks and sending it flying.  He hadn’t even seen it; it’d gone straight through his head near the base of his skull and out through his left eye.   Soon he’d get up and start walking again.  He had a train to catch, after all.


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