The Old Railroad Bridge

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: July 07, 2019

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Submitted: July 07, 2019

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MATT ROLLED out of bed and slipped on his shoes.  He walked down the stairs of his house and crunched into the night stand at the bottom of the stairs. He then doubled back up the stairs and got his glasses.  His older  brother was still asleep on the couch and the computer games were running.  His food containers were scattered all over and Matt kicked through them on the way to the door. 
 
His brother barely moved.  Matt went out the front door of the old apartment and stepped into the goo that was the front yard, always wet since the pipes leaked and the land lord kept promising to fix them.  He got on his small motorcycle and revved the engine and took off down the road toward his job.  About the time he reached the small crossroads where he turned left to go into town he realized it was Saturday and he was off.
 
Matt turned his bike around and puttered back up the road and as he did a sight caught his eye that he had not though about before.
 
To his right the ground curved down into a stand of trees where some boards covered the entrance to an old covered bridge.  Matt had heard the stories in school, and he stopped his bike for a moment, looking down into the trees.  He could see bits of the boards through the overgrowth and he looked down toward them.  Legend said that a railroad had once ran through here and crossed the river into the city.  The confederates had wanted weapons that were on the train, and unknown to them there were two car loads of passengers. 
 
They blew up the tracks, the train crashed and all 137 passengers died, well almost.
 
According to the story there was one little girl who had survived and she lived into her old age haunted by being the one person who had lived.
 
There was a small cemetery down the road where the others were buried. Supposedly the train would come back now and then and pass through the old bridge.  Matt didn’t believe in any of that stuff.
 
He eased his small cycle down the side of the road into the trees and  drove toward the boards.  As he moved the bridge loomed closer and he came to a raised area where there were old overgrown tracks leading into the huge door, big enough for two sets of tracks.  Matt stopped.  He had a knife on him, but no other tools. 

Matt walked toward the old bridge and saw some of the rotting boards had been pried loose.  He went up to a large gaping hole and peered into the darkness.  The old bridge was fascinating.  He could smell wood and rot and see the tracks where they had been for decades. 
 
Matt decided to check it out.  No one would miss him.  Since his mother had sent him to live with his brother, no one cared about him coming and going as he pleased.  Matt climbed through the hole where the boards were off into the darkness.  The stood inside of the bridge and waited to get adjusted to the light. 
 
Matt sat down for a minute and remembered the stories he’d been told about the bridge and the old steam train that came roaring down it, one from one direction and another coming the opposite way.  He had seen the little graveyard nestled between two sets of houses that had some of the people who’s families had not claimed them.
 
Matt got up and stepped into the looming darkness that was the bridge and he could see the old rails laying on the ground, torn loose over the years.There were pieces of wood all over and the smell of decay and mold in the air.  Matt walked along the tracks and looked way down into the darkness, at the other end of the bridge.  He began to enjoy the atmosphere like walking into a haunted house during Halloween.  Matt saw the rusted rail spikes and the plates of metal on the ground, touched by streaks of light from the sun coming in through cracks in the boards.  There were big fancy archways on both sides and wood carvings with cracked paint falling off of them.
 
Matt was walking along when a sudden explosion of noise came from overhead.  He looked up and was terrified to see two huge black wings flapping toward him and he began to scream. He felt his stomach tighten as if he was about to pee in fear.  Matt turned to run and a large black bird flapped around his head then went up into the dark.  It crawled over some wooden ribs and vanished outside as Matt stopped running and fell to his knees.
 
In a few minutes Matt realized he’d been scared by a bird, and once he collected himself and muttered in anger, he got up and continued to the other side of the bridge.  Once he got to the barrier over the other door, Matt turned and looked at the wooden bridge and concluded that it wasn’t really all that scary.  He then strolled to the hole he had entered through, and now that he was satisfied with his adventure, he fired up his motorcycle and rode down the road to the house of a friend of his, Rex, who was into all sorts of weird stuff.
 
Rex was in his front yard when Matt pulled up.  He was trying to make his own small amateur haunted attraction and he was making gravestones and other things out of cement and wood. 
 
“S’up?”  Rex called as Matt came to a stop.  “Not much.  I thought I had to work today, but since I don’t I’m just messin around. I went to that old railroad bridge and walked around.” 

  “Oh the old one that is supposed at be haunted?”

  “Yeah while I was there I found a rotting old skeleton hanging from the roof."

With a rope.”
“That stinks.” 

“ Yeah she kinda did but I needed the rope so I cut it down.”

“That was nice of you.”
“I know, I’m naturally heroic.”

After the two boys had a laugh, Matt became involved in helping Rex make props for his project.  There was a big long stretch of grass next to his house and Rex wanted to use that and the old barn that was there to set up his attraction.  He expected to make a nice profit from all of the neighbors coming to visit each fall.
 
As they worked, another motorcycle came down the road, an old one that had some body damage here and there and ran a bit rough.  It was another neighborhood weird person named Mike who lived down the road in a very old house that was in need of repair.  Mike pulled in the yard and Rex sat back, covered in cement dust, and relaxed for a minute while Matt went up to the bike.
 
What’s up man?”  Matt asked as Mike got off the bike.  “Just curious as to how things were coming on the house.”  Rex exhaled and a bit of cement dust puffed into the air.  Mike looked surprised.  “Wow. You take the project very seriously don’t you?”  He asked.
 
Rex smiled and blinked his eyes.  “There’s good money to be made scaring people.  They enjoy it.  There’s something about being scared out of your pants that makes the average person into a happy person.”
 
  Mike smiled.  “It’s the thrill of danger since they know the things can’t hurt them for real.”  Mike looked over the gravestones and Rex noticed that Matt was giving him sour looks.  He wondered why, then he noticed Matt’s expression change. 
 
“Hey Mike you ever been to that old bridge the trains used to cross?”

“Never been there, but I know what one you mean.  It’s neat.  I’ve gone
Down and shot pictures.  It’s boarded up though, so you can’t get in.”
“Oh the boards are loose.  I looked in a few times, it has some old junk in it, that's about all, along with  an old train.”
“Really?” 
“Yeah.”  Matt said, starting to grin.  Rex knew what he was up to but he  kept to himself.  He wasn’t overly fond of Mike to begin with, he was a nerdy kid with little education and lived in a run down house.  He had few friends if any.
 
Matt was still grinning.  “We could go down there and check it out if you want, we need a break anyway, right Rex?”  Rex looked worried.  “I guess.”  Matt picked up a hammer and some nails and said “yeah that would be cool.  We can board the place back up.”  Mike thought a minute and decided it would be fun, so he agreed.
 
The boys didn’t leave right away though, they took some time to make a few more stones and eat lunch as the sun crossed the sky into the afternoon.  At one point Mike went to the bathroom in the house and Rex asked Matt “What’s up with the bridge thing?”  Matt took off his ball cap and laughed. 

“I just figured we’d have a little fun.  I don’t plan on doing anything much, just scaring him a little.  I don’t even like him.”
 
Rex knocked cement off some tools.  “Why not just tell him to get lost?”

Matt smirked.  “Why not have some fun instead?”  He asked.  Rex shook his head.  “This is your idea.”
 
Mike came back out and the boys put away the tools as they talked.  Rex filled Matt in on what he knew about the bridge.
 
“The bridge is really old and we know that a lot of trains went on it.  I’ve been to the cemetery and seen the graves of the people who died there.  They all have various birth dates and it’s creepy to see all the death dates being the same.  They say the train comes down the tracks still from time to time.”
 
Mike got excited as they talked and finally they got on the motorcycles and drove down the road to the stand of trees where the old bridge was.  They got off their bikes and walked into the trees, and the nails dug into Matt’s leg through his pant leg.  He endured the poking and kept chuckling to himself.
 
The sun began to get low enough in the sky so that the shadows were long and it illuminated the front of the railroad bridge and made it look much bigger and more menacing.  The boys advanced to the front of the bridge and the hole where boards were missing looked like a doorway into a  great abyss, with blackness on the other side.
 
Rex, Matt and Mike stood at the mouth of the hole and looked in.  Mike grinned.  “It’s just an old bridge.  Nothing so terrible about it.”  He stepped through the hole, and Matt joined him for a moment.  To his surprise and delight, Mike began walking right into the bridge’s interior.  “This is neat.  I always wondered what it was like in here.” 

Mike moved along the old tracks and looked up at the old wooden top of the building and he turned to see Matt coming along slowly, smiling. Rex stayed at the door to the bridge and as they moved, Matt was slightly startled when the same bird that had scared him launched itself from the ceiling again.  He saw Mike put his arm up as if reaching for the bird, which hovered and flapped over him then turned and flew into the darkness.
 
As Mike moved, Matt turned and walked back to the opening, then stepped out into the waning sunlight and grabbed two boards and fitted them over the hole in the barricade.  Rex was surprised.  “What are you doing?”  He asked.  “Mike will be terrified, he might not even get out!”
 
  Matt put a nail to the first board.  “He’ll get out.  So what if he doesn’t like me anymore.  He just won’t come around bugging me.” 
 
The sound of Matt hammering the nails echoed through the bridge and as he finished, the angry voice of Mike was on the other side.  Rex walked away quickly as Mike roared in anger at Matt, who chuckled and kept walking. 

Matt and Rex got on their bikes and left, and in a few minutes they had forgotten about Mike. 
 
Matt rode home after dark and as he rode past the trees where the old bridge was he glanced to the side and noticed that the bridge was black and invisible in the dark.  He stopped his bike for a moment, but not hearing any noise told him that Mike had found his way out.  He knew Mike would hate him, but he really didn’t care about he kid from down the road.
 
A few days passed and Rex resumed his classes as Matt went back to his job.Nothing was heard or said of the subject of Mike, and after Saturday came and went again, Matt was overwhelmed with curiosity.  He began to worry that if anything had happened he might take the blame. 
 
Matt was stuck cleaning a grease vat till later Sunday, but when he finished he joined Rex and they rode their bikes to the bridge.  Matt had a small pry bar, and they both noticed how dark the bridge was even at this time of the day.  They were in a hurry, since they were both leery of being there in the dark.
 
Matt and Rex were surprised and worried to find that the boards were still in place.  They hastily pried the planks down and Rex pulled a flashlight from his back pocket and climbed in.  Matt saw the setting sun and muttered angrily.
 
Both boys trotted swiftly into the dark with the flashlight beam illuminating the tracks and the layers of dust.  They moved along, shining the flashlight in every direction but saw nothing inside the bridge.  Matt stopped, a dribble of sweat coursing down his face and Rex looked at him in the limited light.
 
“One thing worries me over not finding Mike in here.”  Matt looked surprised.  “What?!”  Rex replied There is no hole where Mike got out!”
 
As the two boys walked they had almost decided to leave the bridge when both of them saw a dust cloud whiff across their path and they plainly saw a face outlined in the dust, looking at them, hanging in space, then vanishing as quickly as it had appeared.  Rex spoke in a shaky voice. “You saw that too, right?”Matt nodded.
 
The boys were about to turn to leave when they heard the flapping of the bird explode overhead, and this time Matt angrily swung at it yelling loudly.  The bird whipped around and vanished.“STUPID STUPID STIPID INFERNAL IDIOT BIIIIIIRD!!”Matt wailed in anger.
 
The two continued on a few more feet, hearing their own heartbeats in their ears, then Rex spoke up.  “I’ve had enough.  Bone brain is nowhere in here.  I’m gone.”  He said.
 
The two boys turned to leave when they felt the ground begin to tremble.  They stopped in their tracks and just stood frozen.  The flashlight blinked out and the boys stood in the pitch black.  Rex whimpered and Matt tried to speak but could not.  He was frozen with terror, which got worse as he heard the echo of a chugging engine.  Matt thought of all the places he would rather be than rooted to this spot.
 
The entire bridge was bathed in blackness and they could no longer see to get out.  Rex stammered that they should follow the tracks, but neither could get their legs to respond.  As tears of fear welled up they heard a phantom chugging sound echo through the bridge and their legs shook in terror.  The front of the bridge began to glow blue and suddenly a light appeared in the center of the old barricade and got brighter and brighter till they could tell it was the phantom light from a ghostly train. 
 
Matt and Rex stood in the tracks and began to cry out as the phantom outline of a train appeared and the roar of old steam engines became louder and louder.  They saw clouds of steam roll to the side from the train which was there…but at the same time was not.
 
The train roared down the tracks and the light in front of it blazed down on the boys who gave vent to screams of terror.  The train loomed bigger and bigger in the dark and the rails trembled, the sound of the engine drowning the screams of the boys. 
 
Down upon them it bore till they could see the engine and it instantly was upon them, then passing through them in a powerful rush of exploding air. Matt’s hat flew away and the flashlight flew back as if it was weightless. Rex’s jacket flew like bird wings and was torn off of him, flying behind into the bridge.
 
As the specter of the ghost train blasted through them, the two boys could see into it’s pale interior, men and women outlined in transparent darkness, misty figures of men in tall hats and women in large dresses. 
 
The train roared down past them and the end of it came, passed through them and rumbled to the end of the tunnel.  Both boys ran for the barricade in a mindless panic.  They almost jumped over the wood, and as sweat streamed off of them, they mounted their motorcycles and took off down the road.
 
Rex disappeared toward his house and Matt rode home, still shaking as he went into the house, glad that his brother was gone, and hoping he would be gone for a while.
 
Matt sat down in his bedroom and after some time he began to calm down.  Matt wondered what had become of Mike, and he went to the bathroom, shaky, almost afraid to turn on the light. 
 
When light illuminated the bathroom,  Matt was about to wash the sweat off his face, then he saw his image in the mirror.  His hair was white, as if bleached.  He just stood and stared at it for a moment.
 
Eventually Matt saw Mike in town, rolling along on another motorcycle and looking normal.  For a brief moment he turned and saw Matt.  Mike stared for a moment, and without a word or nod of his head he rode off and vanished.  Matt never saw him again and Rex never brought up the subject of the bridge after that.
 



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