Halloween Ghost Story Contest -- 2012
Adult Winners

First Place

Our first place Adult winner is Our second place winner is Ryan Dale Deardorff of Merriam, Kansas. Mr. Deardorff also took home a victory in this contest in 2010.

Moonlight Express

Ryan Dale Deardorff

Somewhere between sleep and consciousness the train whistle blew, jarring William awake. Consequently, the coffee cup in his hand slipped from his fingers and fell to the floor, spilling its contents. He grumbled in self disgust as the aroma of coffee began to rise from his feet.

A young lady attendant rushed to his aid, armed with a towel. "Don't worry sir, I'll clean it up," she assured him as she soaked up the spill.

"I'm usually not this clumsy," said William. "But I just can't seem to stay awake tonight." He looked around with envious eyes at the others in the passenger car who appeared to be pleasantly sleeping.

"So why stay awake?" questioned the attendant.

William tapped the briefcase on his lap. "I have a business proposal tomorrow and I need to finish my notes. I doubt I’ll have time in the morning."

"Then I'll get you another coffee," smiled the attendant as she stood back up.

"That would be perfect,” grinned William. “Make it black." As he sank back in his seat, he sleepily added, "Thanks Andrea."

The attendant nearly dropped the empty coffee cup in her hand. She stood frozen, starring awkwardly at William.

William didn’t meet her stare; he kept his eyes on his briefcase, but he acknowledged her confused disposition. "Andrea is your name, right?"

"Yes, but I’m not wearing a name tag and I don’t recall telling you my name.” "You didn’t." said William.

"Then it must have been a good guess.”

William shook his head. "It wasn’t really a guess. You may find it hard to believe but I've always been a bit psychic, or rather, clairvoyant. It's hard to explain but I sometimes see a little into the future, and you would have eventually given me your name."

The attendant grew a look that shared both disbelief and fascination. "So let me get this straight. You believe you heard me tell you that my name was Andrea, but sometime in the future?”

"Yes," said William suddenly pointing at her, "and there, you just spoke your name and that is what I had heard, although admittedly, a bit muffled, but I knew it was either Andrea or Andy, so I took the logical guess."

The attendant grew pale which contrast the darken passenger car around her. Her eyes searched William for a more logical explanation for knowing her name than the one he gave.

William laughed. "Well don't look at me like I'm some kind of a monster. It's just something I've always been able to do. The near future whispers to me in different ways, and depending on the situation, it sometimes roars."

Andrea lost her look of fascination but kept her look of disbelief. She seemed to want to say something more, but she instead awkwardly turned and left to retrieve William another coffee.

William could tell he had confused her a bit. He usually didn’t like to expose his unusual talent, but this time it kind of slipped past him. Perhaps because he was tired or charmed by a pretty face, he figured.

After clicking on the overhead light, William opened up his briefcase. He decided to first pull out a newspaper instead of his business notes. He figured he needed his brain to wake up a bit more before tackling his business proposal. Upon unfolding the newspaper, he began to scan the front page. The full moon though the far window suddenly splashed its beam across the page and headlines and newsprint seemingly began to blur while photographs began to change shape. He caught one name in the headline before it began to refocus again, “Alexander”.

Blaming the phenomenon he was experiencing on fatigue, William began to rub his eyes. He then turned and focused them on the window across the aisle. The full moon flickered as it disappeared and reappeared behind distant trees as the landscape raced by. He blinked his eyes a couple more times as the trees thickened up, hiding the moon and returning darkness to the passenger car.

Andrea reappeared with his coffee.

"Thanks," said William as he wrapped his fingers around the hot beverage. "You’re a life saver." He took a sip and decided it was too hot to drink just yet.

"Um, Sir?" asked Andrea a bit awkwardly. "I hope you don't find this strange, but I was thinking about how you knew my name earlier and I was just wondering, well, that is if you don’t mind, could you try guessing what my middle name is?" She grew embarrassed. "You don't have to, of course.”

"No, I don't mind," said William with a smile, making her feel at ease.

Within the debts of his mind, like a distant echo, he heard her speak her name. This was accompanied by the vision of a foggy outline of what he figured to be a bird.

William thought for a moment and then said, "It’s not very clear this time, kind of put me on the spot, but I would have to guess its Raven, or rather - Robin."

Andrea had a blank look on her face then quickly turned up a smile. "It is Robin," she said. "That's amazing."

Their conversation was suddenly interrupted when an elderly lady sitting in front of William grabbed Andrea by the arm and said, "Miss, can I bug you for a pillow?"

Andrea quickly turned her attention to the lady.

Over her shoulder, through the window on the other side of the isle, the full moon began to dance between the passing branches of nearby trees. William’s heart nearly stopped. Andrea's appearance began to change with the flashing of moon light. For one second, she appeared to be bleeding, with torn clothes and broken bones protruding from mangled flesh. With the next second, she appeared her normal self; young and beautiful. Again and again this transformation took place as the moonlight flashed through the windows of the passenger car.

"I'll be right back with your pillow," said Andrea as she turned and shot a grizzly smile William's way. Her face was mangled too, with deep gashes exposing muscle and bone.

As she moved away, William found himself staring out the window across the way. Only when the full moon finally disappeared behind distant hills did he realize he had failed to breathe for about a minute.

His head spun dizzily and the coffee cup in his hand nearly fell again. He quickly pondered the meaning of his vision. He of course had had visions before, but never like this. He figured Andrea was in grave danger but the horror of his vision and his lack of sleep seemed to be clouding his mind. He knew he had to do something to get his head on straight, so he set everything aside, stood up and staggered his way to the rest room.

Once inside, he pulled the door shut and stumbled to the sink. There was no need to turn on the light; the full moon had returned and was shining through the window. He turned on the water and began to splash his face. He searched his reflection in the mirror as if consulting it for answers.

Andrea was in danger. William knew he had to warn her. He had to tell her his vision. Her life seemingly depended on it. She had heard him guess her name, both her first and middle. Surely she would believe him no matter how fantastic his vision was. He felt confident of this.

As William reached for a towel to dry off his face his arm crossed into the beam of the moonlight. His eyes quickly widened in terror.

Are those gashes? Is that bone?

He pulled back his arm as if pulling it away from a fire. It was normal again. With heart pounding, he slowly moved his face forward into the moonlight. It too was mangled, much like Andrea's had appeared, with the flesh missing from most of the right side of his face.

The moon suddenly disappeared behind distant hills and the room became pitch black.

William lost all breath. He frantically turned and searched for the door handle. He fumbled for several seconds until finding it and tearing open the door, almost falling out into the passenger car. The dim light of the passenger car seemed to settle him a little. The sleeping passengers all appeared rather cozy. Somehow, yelling and carrying on about his visions just didn’t seem sane at the moment. He composed himself as best he could and began to walk back to his seat.

The full moon returned, shinning through the windows. William looked upon it as if it was as menacing to his eyes as starring at the sun.

He looked back into the passenger car. The slumbering peaceful appearance of his fellow passengers had turned to one of sheer terror. They were all bloody. They were all mangled. They were all dead.

William stumbled to his seat, his mind reeling. He wanted to scream but he had no breath. He shook in his seat, unable to do anything.

The full moon disappeared behind a distant hill. The world around him turned back to normal.

Andrea reappeared with the pillow she had promised the elderly lady.

"How much longer do we have?" questioned the elderly lady as she tucked the pillow behind her head.

"We’re about to enter the Alexander Tunnel," said Andrea.


William watched her beauty fade to gore as the full moon appear again. His fellow passengers again appeared mangled and broken. He turned his eyes down to his own hands.

Flesh appeared torn from them. He then took notice of the newspaper next to him and grabbed it. He held it up to the moonlight. The newsprint began to change. The date skipped a day forward. The headline morphed into another. He shuttered as he read it with disbelief.

"Passenger Train Derails in the Alexander Tunnel: None Survive.”

The passenger car suddenly grew much darker as the train entered the Alexander Tunnel. The air seemed to squeeze out of William’s lungs. The clack of the wheels upon the rails seemingly became deafening to his ears. A cold rush fell over him like the shadow of the Grim Reaper. He had not put the puzzle pieces together in time. He knew it was too late.

The breaks of the train suddenly began to squeal. The dim lights began to flicker. Metal began to twist and grind. The passenger car began to roll...

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