I should’ve listened to my mother about visiting the train tracks alone at night. 

I should’ve listened to my mother about visiting the train tracks alone at night. As young as I can remember, she was strangely persistent that I “never, ever go alone to the abandoned tracks on the outskirts of town at night.” The few times I asked why she would only tell me that the area wasn’t safe. However, when I was a teenager, there was this one time that I felt extra rebellious, and I edged her on about the story. She threatened me with losing ten years of my life if I ever did go there. I felt terrible after provoking her, so I never brought up the subject again. Over time, I just kind of forgot about the tracks.

If it weren’t for my dorm mate igniting my curiosity, I probably would’ve never gone. With Halloween approaching, we got into a casual discussion about urban legends, and I brought up the abandoned tracks. After some goading, I drove out there at about 11 p.m. 

From inside my car, the two sets of tracks looked ordinary enough. With my phone fully charged, I walked on them, looking for anything unusual or creepy.

But there was nothing.

Not even graffiti or trash or even strange noises. There was a faint smell of a wood fire burning but no smoke or flames. After about an hour of walking alone, I made my way back to my car when the rusty metal railings I was on lit up in bright purple.

I jumped off to the other set of tracks when a giant shimmering disc made of a fiery violet light sparked to life over the tracks down where the purple glow stopped. Engulfed in bright neon purple-pink flames, a train with the face of a human skull burst out from the disc, passing me faster than a race car into another purple disc down the way. Despite the train’s size, the train itself was relatively quiet. The only noise the train made was from the slicing of the air. 

Before I could process what happened, the track that I moved to lit up purple. Recognizing the sign as a warning, I leaped completely off the tracks as the train sped out from a disc to another disc.

With my car in sight, I ran. A red disc of light appeared on the ground beneath my vehicle. The train erupted from the portal, sending my car flying as the train drove into the sky through another disc. My car landed upside down.

“Fuck!” I screamed. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

A fiery disc appeared not far from where the car landed, and the train leaped out of the portal, like one of those monstrous worms in a sci-fi movie. Spheres of purple lights filled the skull’s eye sockets with rage as blue-white flames seeped out of its mouth. I rolled to the side – the train narrowly missed me. I got back up and continued running. I repeatedly looked over my shoulder, watching for the portal to appear. Then I looked at my arms and noticed a purple glow. That’s when I looked up and realized a gateway had opened above me.

I closed my eyes as the train smashed into me. I felt my body being tossed around in a metal box like a ball in a washing machine. When the pounding sensation stopped, I opened my eyes. I was unharmed on the floor in the middle of an aisle inside a modern passenger train car. The smell of the car made me think of brunch. There were no other passengers. Outside the windows were stars and rolling hills of forests. 

A chime dinged over the speakers, and a cheerful voice announced, “We will arrive at our next destination in 10 years.”

Mother's Warning - art by Chen Kang at Design Pickle

This week’s short story was brought to you by the following writing prompt: “Your mother told you to never go near the train tracks alone at night. You should have listened.”

Think that ghost train would look cool as a t-shirt or hoodie? Well, the train does and you should get yourself one in my store!