A Train Story

One of my stories is being published in an anthology in January 2023. Yes, it’s a horror story, a creepy tale about a train that used to travel along the tracks behind the house I lived in as a kid. It’s appropriate that this is a horror story, because the town had a major road called Slaughter Street, the local doctor was Dr Butcher, and the visiting dentist was Dr Vlad (of course, we called him Drac, which he didn’t appreciate).

The train was a talc carrier, with hundreds (or so it seemed to a young person) of carriages, all open-topped and bleeding white dust clouds. The wheels screeched at every turn, and the whistle blew three times as it traversed the boundaries of the town: the silo, the slaughter-street crossing, and the junction with the main track to the city.

People set their watches by the morning train (0500), and told tales of the weird things experienced on the train and along the track.

My story incorporates one of those town myths, focussed on the incident where a train travelled too fast into the stopblock on a terminus (the end point of a short line) and flew into the salt lake, disappearing into the sticky black mud for all time. Okay, I didn’t tell the story the same as I heard it, but close enough.

This train, this engineer, and this story come from my childish fears of the monster inside the fearsome noise of one particular train. And that’s where the engineer’s fear comes from, too, and he told everyone at the pub every Friday night that the soul of this particular train was evil. The story goes one step further than the tall stories. The engineer experiences it first hand, and if he doesn’t stop it getting onto the main track, more people will die and the train gets stronger and less inclined to work with a partner.

It’s the end of the line for one of them.

There are a few other stories in the anthology, but I don’t mind if you read mine first. Then you can tell me all about your creepy train stories.

The Haunted Train: Creepy Tales from the Railways, available on pre-order

31 thoughts on “A Train Story

  1. I have had to spell ‘Ehrhardt’ for 47 years, explain that it is German in origin, state that no I am not related to Amelia, and battle the IRS and everyone else for the right to be Alicia BUTCHER Ehrhardt, all because I didn’t want to be Dr. Butcher.

    My cousin who is became an orthopedic surgeon at 40, after being a computer programmer, got so tired of his belief that it cost him clients, switch to Mezaros (the Hungarian version), along with his wife and children (and the blessings of our entire family) because he didn’t want to be Dr. Butcher any longer.

    Sigh. Not fun when your name is a joke.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve known a few people with interesting names: Hoare, Hussey, Crapper (the name of the man who invented the first pay toilet), etc. It doesn’t matter what the name is, there will be someone who finds a way to make fun of it (take Dunn – it becomes Dunny and every rendition of anything associated with toilets).


      • I was not aware of those connotations; they must not be American (duh!).

        Now I am – not sure that’s an improvement for YOU.

        So you know how hard it is to deal with the people who say, “You must be related to Amelia!” for the 86,589th time, and think they are original. (She spelled it Earhart, so there’s spelling challenge there, too).

        Fortunately, there is an amazing array of possible rejoinders, and you can pick one that suits your current and future relationship with the speaker. And your mood of the day.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I tend to ‘not see’ the person who makes the joke, and they get ignored for as long as it takes for them to understand.
        I never said I was a nice person.


      • I can see that for your particular name – people making those jokes are not on your potential friends list (unless they are neurodiverse, something I always take into account, and have no/fewer/different filters from NTs).

        Miss Manners would approve of the icy ignoring.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I had 32 foster kids. It didn’t take long to figure out what worked fastest and saved the energy of thinking, responding, and narking. Respect (and attention) is earned, and not by making fun of anything about a person.


    • I think that train was what taught me to wake up at a certain time, which I still do now. I hope you enjoy the story, and retain the fond memories of your childhood train.


  2. I assume you called Dr. Vlad “Drac”, short for Dracula. In Romanian, “drac” means demon/devil, even Satan in some contexts. Where was he from, do you know?

    Trains remind me of youthful fun. Late at night, when there’s little vehicular traffic, I can hear one or two late trains just screeching their way to the station. I haven’t taken the train in a while, and am hoping your story can fill in that wistfulness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Um, sorry, Tudor – my train story doesn’t come with wistfulness fulfilled.
      The dentist? A horror on his own. Most people who saw him once decided it was better to drive 4 hours to the city rather than suffer his skills a second time. One story of his work detailed how the needle got stuck in the gum and had to be cut out. Makes me shudder.
      So, devil, demon, satan – all as appropriate as the Dracula for him.


  3. I like the humour in this interview as well the idea of the story. A train that is somehow alive and has an evil soul is definetly a promising read.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations, and wow, what a town you lived in as a kid! It’s like you had no choice other than writing horror stories. I like it when myths get revisited, they provide pretty interesting starting points for stories. Can’t wait to read this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t know how all these creepy names got together in the same town but I love how the train wanted to adapt to the atmosphere in the area and finally became the main character in your story. Can’t wait to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

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