Listen to ““OFF THE RAILS” by Scott Donnelly #MicroTerrors” on Spreaker.
Welcome to Micro Terrors: Scary Stories for Kids, where it’s always the spooky season – full of chills, thrills, and spine-tingling spooks! Micro Terrors are family-friendly frights for those ages 8 and up. And while our stories are for younger ears, we are still talking about things that go bump in the night, and some children may not be able to handle what others can. Parental consent is recommended. Now… for tonight’s MICRO TERROR!!!!
“OFF THE RAILS”
“Just go outside and play!” Ricky’s mom yelled, basically chasing him out of the living room. He dropped his game controller and scampered out of the house like one of those internet videos where a cat gets spooked by a cucumber.
“We used to play outside until the street lamps came on!” Ricky heard his mom shouting as he scurried through the backyard and hopped the fence into the wooded area behind their home.
Her voice was faint now, but not completely gone. He hurried through the brush and trees until her voice was completely muted.
“You don’t tell me what to do, you old soggy cucumber!” he shouted back at her, fully aware that he was too far away for his mom to have heard him. But that was fine. He always wanted to talk back to her, but never had the guts. So being able to say his thoughts out loud without her hearing them was preferred. He got it off his chest and she didn’t hear it. It was the best of both worlds.
Now, Ricky needed to figure out what he was going to do. His video games were back home. His phone was back home; he didn’t have a chance to snatch it off the coffee table before the old cucumber chased him away. What was there to do in the woods? He wasn’t a wild animal — he had no business being out here.
He knew of a stream close by. Maybe he could look for crawdads. But that would make him feel like he was in an 80s movie that was supposed to take place in the 50s. He knew of overgrown and abandoned train tracks nearby. He could walk them, kicking stones and finding old railroad spikes. But, that would be the whole 80s/50s thing again. This was the modern times. Train tracks and streams were out.
Ricky then heard something up ahead. A thick cluster of trees and low-hanging branches blocked wherever the noise was coming from, but it was clear to him that it was voices. Children’s voices, possibly.
He picked up a stick and snapped it in half to get a sharp end; he didn’t know if he was going to need a weapon or not. Children weren’t native to his area of the neighborhood; it was mostly made up of old people and the closest kid — a young girl named Liz — lived over a mile away. Regardless, Ricky moved forward, pushing the leaves and branches out of his way until he made it to a clearing where the abandoned train tracks cut through.
The tracks were just as he remembered seeing them once before; old, warped and broken with wild vegetation sprouting from the moldy wooden boards and stones. He did spot a railroad spike right away though and exchanged his sharp stick for it.
He heard the children’s voices again; they sounded hollow as if they were confined within a metal box. He turned to his right and was instantly stunned by what he saw. A single train car sat on the tracks. It was red, rusted and looked old — very old. The voices were coming from inside the car.
Ricky felt a little bit of jealousy that some other kids had made this wicked awesome discovery before he did. He picked up his pace and rushed over to the train car. Sidling up next to it, he looked in through one of its open sides.
Three kids sat inside of it. One was covered in a white sheet, like a super lame Halloween costume. But Halloween was still seven months away. Another kid, a girl, was dressed in an outfit that looked to be made of brown burlap. There were dark stains all over it, as well as several rips and tears. She wore a burlap hat as well with black dots of ash, or paint, on her cheeks and nose. The third kid, another girl, was dressed as a doll with a homemade, papermache mask on with shallow divots where eyes should have been. How she could see without cutout eye holes was beyond him.
Once he showed himself within the threshold of the train car, all three kids went silent and turned their heads to look at him.
“Sorry,” Ricky said, now assuming he interrupted some sort of secret society of Halloween fanatics.
The girl in the burlap, scarecrow outfit shrugged. “It’s okay. Wanna join us?”
Ricky thought for a moment, but not too hard. “Sure.”
He climbed up into the car and plopped down next to the scarecrow girl, directly across from the ghost and doll girl.
“I feel underdressed,” Ricky joked. “Early Halloween party?”
The three kids remained silent and just looked at each other. Ricky suddenly felt uncomfortable.
“I’m not going to be sacrificed for stumbling across you guys, am I?”
The scarecrow girl shook her head. “Of course not.”
Ricky looked around the train car. It was old and dusty. There were wooden crates along one wall, dark stains on the floor and an open tool chest sitting against the other side.
“Where did this thing come from?” Ricky asked. “I don’t remember a train ever coming through here. I thought these tracks had been abandoned for years.”
“Seems that way,” the scarecrow girl softly said.
“Where’s the first car? Like the one that drives the train?” Ricky said, not familiar at all with train terminology or what the cars were actually called. He did know what a caboose was though; it may or may not have ended up in numerous punchlines of his in reference to the human rump.
None of the children responded to Ricky’s question about the other parts of the train.
“You guys don’t talk much,” Ricky said. “Look, if I interrupted something, I’m sorry. I’ll leave.” He stood up and glanced at the three kids again. “Do you guys live around here?”
“Used to,” the scarecrow girl said.
Ricky lowered his brow. “So you’re visiting someone? Do you guys know Liz?” The scarecrow girl shook her head. The doll girl shrugged. White sheet ghost kid didn’t utter a word and remained still.
“Well,” Ricky said, defeated by the lack of information about the strange train car and its three tiny occupants, “sorry again for bothering everyone.” He twiddled the railroad spike in his hand and realized his mom wouldn’t let him keep such a sharp object. He eyed the open tool box.
“You guys can have this,” he said, walking over to the rusted metal box. Just as he was about to drop the spike in, the contents of the tool box caught his eye. He sat the spike down on the car floor and knelt to his knees to get a better look. He saw another railroad spike inside, but this one looked a lot older. A flaking coat of rust had taken over the entire thing; a dark substance had stained it years ago, and wispy threads of what appeared to be burlap were stuck between the lifting flakes of rust.
Ricky looked back at the scarecrow girl and saw the dark stains, rips and tears in her burlap costume. She just stared at him in silence. Ricky looked back into the tool chest and spotted two large buttons. Threads still hung loosely through the pinholes at their centers. He picked up two buttons, both red and slick.
The doll girl was suddenly behind him, startling Ricky to his feet. At eye level, he stared at the emotionless paper machemask. The shallow divots where the eyes should have been also had pinholes that matched the placement of the buttons. The girl extended both of her hands, palms up and whispered: “Those are mine.”
Ricky, now completely unnerved and trembling with a swelling fear, placed the buttons in the girl’s hands. She clasped her fingers around them, slowly turned around and sat back down next to the kid veiled by the white sheet.
Ricky looked back down into the tool chest, assuming there were more strange secrets within it. He spotted another tool, or stick — whatever it was was white and cracked. He reached in and grabbed it, slowly pulling it out to look at. He studied the object, trying to identify exactly what it was. He looked it over from one cracked end to the jagged other end. The closest thing he could think of that it reminded him of was a—
“Mine,” a gritty, hollow voice announced behind Ricky. Ricky jumped again and spun around, trying to catch his breath from the sudden shock. The sheet slowly slipped off of the kid, falling down him like the final curtain call of a terrifying play. Underneath the white sheet was a skeleton, white and cracked, just as the object in Ricky’s hand was. The hollow sockets of his eyes were vacant of anything, and its body popped as it moved, like someone cracking their knuckles.
The skeleton reached out with its left arm, its boney fingers and palm awaiting the object in Ricky’s hand. Ricky was shaking in fear. He noticed the skeleton’s other arm stopped at the elbow. He then realized what he was holding.
Ricky dropped the bone and ran from the train car. He leaped out of its side and raced through the woods and scaled the fence into his backyard. He rushed up the stairs and into his bedroom where he jumped in bed and pulled the sheets over his head.
A knock at his bedroom door made him scream. He ripped the sheets away and saw his mother standing there with her hands on her hips.
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked.
“I – I saw – g-ghosts!” Ricky stuttered.
“What?” his mom said.
“Out in the woods. On the old train tracks. There was some kind of – ghost train. There were kids on it. They were dead. They’d been killed …or something.”
“You’ve lost your mind, Ricky,” his mom said, growing annoyed.
“No I haven’t!” Ricky yelled back. “Has anything terrible ever happened on those tracks?”
“What?” his mom said. “I don’t know what—”
“Mom! Has anything terrible ever happened on those tracks?”
His mom sighed, an annoyance growing within her. “Yes,” she admitted, “but it was like a hundred years ago. There was a Halloween party on the train that passed through this area. The Railroad Spike Slayer was on board. He went on to become one of the most prolific butchers of all time. But I highly doubt you saw anything out there,” she said.
Ricky couldn’t believe it. Why was she not believing him?
“Mom, I saw what a saw! Ghost kids, a skeleton — I saw the railroad spike the slayer used! It was—”
“It was nothing compared to what’s about to happen to you,” his mom said. Whatever had been annoying her had reached a boiling point.
“Wha–what do you mean?” Ricky said, now strangely nervous in the presence of his own mother.
“You’re grounded,” she said, dropping the unexpected bomb.
“What? Grounded? Why?” Ricky said, all of his fear of the ghost train now being replaced by confusion and frustration.
“No one calls me an old soggy cucumber and gets away with it,” his mom said.
“Wh–what?” Ricky was blindsided.
“That’s right. You didn’t think I heard your little soggy cucumber remark as you scuttled away into the woods? Well… a mom knows everything.”
Thank you for listening to Micro Terrors!!! Join us each Saturday for another scary story! For more fun, visit our website at MicroTerrors.com where we also have spooky games you can print out and play — like wicked word searches, mysterious mazes, and more! MicroTerrors.com is also where you can find us on your favorite social media and even send in your own scary story for us to tell! Plus, you’ll learn more about our author, Scott Donnelly, who has other horrors for both young and old! I hope you’ll join me again soon for Micro Terrors: Scary Stories for Kids!