THE DIKERSTOWN GHOST TRAIN MYSTERY
by JK SPAETH
o you wanna know about the ghost train, huh? Well, the ghost train always makes its run past Dikerstown at 4:30 in the morning. Except when it don’t. Ghost trains are notoriously unreliable, that’s what Granny Jenkins always said when people asked her what she thought. She said she was a psychic medium and could read palms and throw tarot and talk to the dead. She never answered me when I asked her if there was dead people on the ghost train, she looked away and changed the subject.
“There’s one time you can always count on the train passing through and that’s on the anniversary of the night it got derailed, April 18th. Stories around town said it was old Mr. Kelpie. It was 1952 when it happened. They said he welded a couple of big rebar rods to the track, all sideways and slanted. They say the sheriff talked to him long and hard about it but couldn’t stick him with it, and he sure denied it was him, but everybody said it was him.
“Kelpie helped make bombs and guns and tanks and stuff during the war, he was a welder, but then after the war they turned the big plant -- it’s down the way a few miles almost in another county, but anyway -- they made it into a place that made prefabricated appliances. Prefabricated meant nothing had to be welded, and Mr. Kelpie was let go. He didn’t want to do anything else, he didn’t want any new training or nothing. He just sat around in that big old farmhouse of his outside of town and drank and swore.
“When he came into town to buy stuff, mainly liquor, he’d tell anybody around him how he felt about the whole thing. He was none too happy. I guess he hated people and he hated the plant and he sure as hell hated Dikerstown. Don’t know where he got his money, I never caught that bit of the story. Just thinking about that old house of his gives me some shivers. It was all run down and falling apart -- nothin’ but dead grass all around it and dead trees and some of the windows were boarded up and some were blacked out with tape or paper or something.
“So people said he did it, he welded that rebar to the tracks that night, and it makes sense. He was an odd man, a drunkard, didn’t seem to have any friends or people caring for him. And like I said, he was a welder. So on April 18th, 1952, that train hit those rods and it crashed out of the tracks. And it was going pretty fast so all the cars hit into each other and it was a huge mess of twisted iron and whatever else they make trains out of. Of course this happened a long time before I was born, so all this comes second or third hand.
“After the incident, Mr. Kelpie stopped coming into town much - not that he came in often anyways. People rarely saw him. And when he did come into town, there’d always be a few bold righteous folk to hassle him and yell at him, sayin’ “Why’d you do it Frank? Why’d you do it? We know it was you Frank,” that was his name -- Frank… Frank Kelpie. My older sister Francie told me that Aunt Weezy -- well, Heloise, but we called her Weezy -- but Francie told me Weezy was one of those people and I can believe it. Still, he always denied it outright, and said he’d never do nothing that black hearted.
“One day though, a few years later, they found old man Kelpie strung up hanging from one of those dead trees in his yard -- likely a suicide. It wasn’t a regular suicide though, if any suicide can be called regular as such. They found him naked, buck naked, and he had these weird scratches all over his body. Big scratches - long and deep. They weren’t cuts though, they were scratches. I guess the coroner could tell the difference. The sheriff did a big investigation, cause he thought maybe a vigilante had got to him, but he said it was a suicide and the coroner said it was a suicide. So that’s the official line on how he met his end.
“Course the way they found him got folks talkin’ and spreading rumors. Some people say it was some kinda monster or something, but personally I bet you it was just a bobcat or a bear, we do see those around from time to time. A real smart hunter though, Bill Henry, he said it wasn’t the type a thing you’d see from an animal, he said they woulda brought him down and chew on ol’ Kelpie. Bill’s a real old man now, but he still says whatever made those scratches wasn’t no regular animal, and he knows a lot about nature and wildlife and all that.
“Well, when they went into the farmhouse it was stuffed to the brim with trash and rotten food and too many empty gin and whiskey bottles to count. They finally bulldozed that old place when I was a kid - probably 10 or 11 - to make room for some shipping warehouse a big company wanted to put near the train station. The track that the train went off of though, it’s not used anymore -- not for a long time. It’s all ripped up in places and covered in weeds and grass, so when you hear something coming down that line you know it’s the ghost train. You can hear the cars rumbling like they do and you can hear the whistle -- it’s an older kinda whistle.
“I’ve never seen it, but some folk claim they have, and some swear to it on the bible and their mother’s grave and everything else you can make them swear on. But they all say it looked different, like one says it was black and kinda transparent, another says it was solid but on fire. One guy swears it was made entirely out of human bones. So in my opinion I don’t think anybody’s seen shit, but you sure can hear it. Every April 18th, 4:30 am. I’ve heard it. Everybody’s heard it.”
J.K. Spaeth is a 30 year old writer who has a deep fascination with all things terrifying, weird and creepy. A nocturnal creature himself, most of his writing is done during the witching hour, when dark ideas flow most naturally. He lives in the small town of Caldwell, Idaho and is an Idahoan from birth, a lover of the outdoors and his dog Mandy, his constant companion.
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