The ghost train stood in the center of the abandoned amusement park, flooded in moonlight. The wooden beams holding up the front facade had begun to collapse. The once vibrant skeletons and ghouls that adorned the walls and roofs were now cracked and faded. Ivy crawled over the walls. Trees had grown up through the holes in the rotting floorboards, branches twisting through the tunnels and rooms. The years of rain and sea spray had rendered the building a sad ghost of its former self. There was no denying that the place was spooky. Most of the town kids had heard stories about the old ghost train being haunted, but very few knew the truth about what happened there many years ago, one fateful Halloween night. Rummaging through a pillowcase bloated with candy, Elliot's older brother, Owen, produced an orange flashlight. Holding the glowing torch beneath his face, features shadowed and skewed, he spoke in a deep and mysterious voice.
"On a dark Halloween night, many years ago, two kids - nine year old twins - were finishing up a long evening of trick-or-treating. Reluctant to call it a night, they decided to walk home through the amusement park. It was nearly closed, and they were the only kids there. That was when they spotted the ghost train. Neither of them had any money, so when the owner wasn't looking, they snuck into one of the carts, and disappeared into the darkness of the ghost train. And they never came out..."
Owen paused for a moment, and then, words dripping with melodrama, continued with the story. "They were halfway through the ride when the lights turned off and the cart crashed to a halt. As the twins sat in darkness, the owner, unaware that the twins were in the ride, locked up the ghost train and drove home. The mechanically locked seatbelts that lay tight across the twins' waists wouldn't budge an inch. As hard as they tried, they couldn't wriggle out of the cart. That night, the ghost train owner died in his sleep, and the ghost train was left to rot. And so were the twins..."
Elliot glanced over at the crumbling building, which now looked more like a tomb than a theme park ride. "But the story doesn't end there. One November night, a witch laid eyes upon the empty ghost train and decided to take up residence there. I mean, what better a home for a witch than an abandoned ghost train? So she must have been delighted to find the two children waiting for her. No-one knows if they were dead by the time she got there. Some say they had died of starvation. Others say they were poisoned by the witch. And some say the witch slit their throats right open...” He grinned, running a finger from his left ear to his right.
"Well, eventually the entire theme park went under, and the rides were all shut down. Some of them have been demolished, but the ghost train remains. And so do the witch and the two dead twins... But on every Halloween night, every year, the witch brings them back to life. The twins, and the ghost train. The lightbulbs glow with a supernatural energy. The rusting mechanisms jerk back to life. The ghost train props awaken, animatronics creaking into motion... And the twins, imprisoned in the rotting carcasses that used to be their bodies, are forced to ride the ghost train... Round and round, until sunrise..."
Owen clicked off the flashlight, and the two of them sat there in the murky darkness, hanging off the words, daring each other to move or speak. A cold breeze blew over the park, and a strange sound drew their attention to the ghost train. The structure began to glow with an eerie luminescence. Green light poured from the cracks and holes in the walls, projecting ghostly light onto the sea fog that now swirled around the building. The sounds of the ghost-train echoed through the twisting corridors and out into the chill Halloween night air. The scratching of rusty cogs grinding against each other. The screech of wheels scraping across metal tracks. And rising above the mechanical wails of the ghost train, the bone-chilling cackle of the witch.
Dedicated to Colin and Jacqui Hawkins for the inspiration
And to my dad for the endless help and support