I was able to catch the last train to Grandma's house after a late soccer practice on Halloween night. I was so tired that I fell asleep, and when I woke up there was no one else on the train ...
... But oddly, the train still appeared to be moving. I blinked a few times, only to find that the people once there were monsters! All of the ones from books, movies, songs or tales. The headless horseman, Frankenstein : but one particular horrorist caught my eye: the Grim Reaper. Wasn't he supposed to come when someone was about to die?
Before I came to a conclusion to my theory, Dracula (well, the train driver, that is) shouted loudly, "OK, last stop! We're here at the Halloween Gift Giveaway Party! Get off board or meet your doom!" All of the creatures scrambled out of the train car. I had no choice but to follow, so I stuck with the Reaper for a while. I overheard a ghost complaining how he was already dead.
The night was dark, but a lit bonfire in the distance crackled. As we all neared, I observed the monsters that already sat on the surrounding logs. I took my seat. Soon, a shroud-covered ghost passed out numbered tickets. Mine was 1324. Then I noticed a table with all sorts of creepy gifts laid out neatly. A raffle! Suddenly a small, slender silver bone caught my eye. It was the most beautiful thing in the world the way it shimmered in the moonlight. Then a strange skeleton held the first gift over his head - a golden goblet engraved with spiders. "3064!" he shouted. The headless horseman, who obviously could not talk, held out his ticket and took the goblet.
Many gifts later, the skeleton held up the silver bone. I crossed my fingers. "1-3," my palms began to sweat. "6," I tried to control myself but continued shaking. "5!" the skeleton finished. My heart sank as the reaper approached the award, and then took it for himself.
As I sagged into the train seat, the reaper walked over to me. To my surprise, he held out the silver bone. I was about to reach for it when I remembered my manners.
He didn't answer, but still offered the gorgeous bone.
"Thank you!" I really meant it.
I slid the bone into my pocket. Then, startled, I lurched awake to the sound of the train brakes. The monsters were now replaced with people. Was it a dream? I reached into my pocket and found the silver bone still shimmering in the moonlight.
Story by Madelyn Lawrence
Quail Run School
... The only other person on the train besides me was the conductor. I rubbed my eyes and looked out a window. The surroundings were very unfamiliar, perhaps because much of the scenery was shrouded in fog. Had I missed Grandma's house?
"Excuse me?" I shouted, attempting to grab the conductor's attention. "Where are we?"
The conductor did not respond at first, but then turned his head in my direction and replied, "This train's done its rounds for the night."
"I need to get to my grandma's house!" I told him, panicking slightly.
"That's too bad, sonny," the conductor responded. "I ain't goin' back 'til tomorrow."
"How am I going to get home?" I asked.
"I dunno," was all the conductor said. He then turned his head back and ignored me.
This is ridiculous, I thought angrily. He can't just leave me here! I slammed open the door to the conductor's area and yelled, "Take me home!"
"I told ya, we ain't goin' back!" he retorted. His voice seemed to change just then, as if he had gained a second voice. The second voice was very eerie in contrast to the conductor's rustic accent.
It was then that I lost control. I balled my hands into fists and pointed them at the conductor threateningly. "Go back, I said!" I warned him.
All of a sudden, the conductor laughed. His second voice was louder this time; it was a voice that could make babies cry and men tremble with fear. "Don't you get it?" said the conductor. "We ain't nowhere near your grandma's house."
I looked out the window in the conductor's area. It was then I noticed something: there were no tracks! Before I could say anything, the conductor grabbed a dagger from his pocket. I scampered away, wanting nothing to do with him. The conductor got out of his seat and began to stalk me.
What's going on? I thought. And who is this guy? He's insane!
I saw nowhere else to go into the train, so I squeezed through an emergency exit in the top. Surprisingly, I felt no wind blowing on me. The train wasn't even moving! I was so shocked by this I briefly forgot a madman was stalking me with a blade. I ran to the caboose of the train, jumped down, and opened the door. I slammed it shut behind me.
The room was very dark. I noticed a candle and some matches, so I ignited a flame and lit the candle. If I would have been holding the candle, I would have dropped it from what I saw. The room was filled with skeletons. Many of them had rats crawling over them, eating away at their rotting flesh. All of the skeletons had one thing in common: they all had a "G" carved into their skulls.
Moments later, the door burst open, revealing the conductor. He smiled a grin that gleamed as brightly and ominously as his dagger.
"Please don't kill me!" I pleaded. "I don't want to die! Don't!"
"I ain't gonna kill ya!" the conductor told me. "In fact, I need you alive."
"What?" I said, confused.
"Let me explain," the conductor began. "My name is George. I'm a spirit that took control of a conductor's body in the 1880s. Ever since then, I've operated the Ghost Train. Whenever my body gets old 'n' worn, I'll replace it with a newer, younger one on Halloween."
I gasped, realizing what was going on. "I'm:" I breathed.
":My next body," the conductor finished. Suddenly, he lunged forward and grabbed onto me. I felt an intense, malicious entity surround me. Before long, I lost all control of my body:
Well, this body sure is comfy. It'll do me good. Now I must do somethin' with this old one. Time to mark his head with a G for George. Then I'll put 'em with the other bodies. He'll be just like 'em in a little while.
Story by Ryan Scott
Lexington Trails Middle School
... I shivered and pulled my jacket on. The moonlight filtering through the frost-covered windows illuminated my compartment, the only empty compartment left on the train. Outside was an eerie, unmoving scenic view of a pine forest. We had stopped. As I made my way back to the door, the black mist covering the floor seemed to be reaching up to pull me down into its unfathomable depths. I opened the door and poked my head into the corridor.
"Hello?" I called. My voice sounded muffled, as if I was in the band room at school. "Is anybody there?"
I wandered down the hallway, the dreary, dark fog still clutching at my legs.
I looked into several compartments, but none were occupied. I silently continued my search, yet every once in a while I could swear that I could hear someone calling my name.
Suddenly, a fierce gust of wind hit my back. Wheeling around, I saw a great, impenetrable cloud of black fog rolling toward me. I tried to turn and run, but my legs were paralyzed.
The cloud rolled closer, taking on the shape of a man draped in black, billowing robes. He had skin the color of the full moon, with a bald head to match. His coal black irises seemed to be boring a hole in my soul.
"Lukas," he said to me. His voice was a complex combination of sadness and anger that seemed to wrench at my soul and destroy my hope.
Almost automatically, I replied, "What?"
"Once today, you have escaped me. But no more. It is your Time," he said. He spoke in a menacing way, as if he was trying to intimidate me. He didn't have to try very hard.
"What are you talking about?" I said.
"The asthma attack that you had today should have killed you, yet something in you survived. But now is your Time. The train has crashed and you are dying. You must surrender your soul to me, lest you are eternally damned to wander the Earth, never to see happiness." He seemed rather agitated at the fact that I had escaped him once, and was determined that I wouldn't do it again.
"You were at soccer practice!" I exclaimed, suddenly remembering his face. "You were watching us, but disappeared when I had my attack!"
"Yes," he said. "But you were Fated to Die here. Now is your Time." He took a step toward me, his hand reaching out to claim my soul.
Somewhere within me, I felt the urge to run. Suddenly I found myself tearing through the pine trees, dashing through the branches as if they were the smoke that not long ago pursued me.
Soon, I came to the road that led to my grandma's house. I tore down the lane, and not long after, found my grandmother's home. I darted inside and locked the door behind me.
I spun around. There he stood, his robes blown about him by a nonexistent breeze.
Almost immediately, my legs froze. "Who are you?!" I exclaimed.
"Did you really think that you could escape Death? It is not Fated for any mortal to gaze upon my face and live to tell the tale. Once already you have seen me, and lived. But no more."
Unexpectedly, my legs gave way beneath me, and I sank to the floor.
"What do you want?" I screamed in terror.
"Your soul," he said.
"You can't have it!" I was so horrified that tears were welling in my eyes.
"Then you are not giving me your soul? You wish to wander the Earth, eternally damned?"
I thought about his words for a moment. I could feel him probing at my Soul, trying to tear down my defenses. Did I really want to become a purposeless specter?
Slowly I stood up and said, "Take it, take my Soul."
And with that, I let Death take my soul.
Story by Austin Baragary
Tonganoxie high school