Emma stared over the table at her boyfriend, Anthony. He was cute, with jet black hair and the richest chocolate brown eyes she had ever seen. He was a picture of perfection.
Her elbow was bumped. She rolled her eyes. Sitting on her side of the booth was Anthony's best friend, Scott, the brainless oaf.
Emma looked at her friend Kristy, trying to work out how they managed to sit opposite their boyfriends in the four person booth in the Mismatch Diner.
Kristy shrugged apologetically. Scott was a handful, that was no hidden mystery, but he was a gentleman when she needed him to be. Although, she had seriously thought of drop kicking his video gaming ass to the curb.
Anthony seemed unaware of any tension among the group. He signalled for the waitress, making writing movements with his hand. “Check please!” he called to her. She nodded and headed back to the counter.
Once they had paid for their meal, they headed out to Anthony's old Mustang. Emma had often teased him about his love of the car and that he needed to get a new one, but Anthony dismissed her with a wave of his hand. He loved the Mustang. It was reliable, durable and above all, was a classic. He felt all manly whenever he would drive through town in it.
They climbed in, Emma sitting in the back seat with Kristy while Scott called shotgun.
Silently, they drove through the streets of their small hometown. Emma couldn't wait until she finished high school, then she was out of there, leaving Hill Ridge for good to attend Brown university.
“Hey, do you guys want to hear a true story?” Anthony asked, breaking the silence.
Scott drummed his fingers along the dashboard and turned to stare at his friend. “A true story? Like what? How you two fell madly in love at Cordelia's party? We already know that story. You were both drunk and high and it resulted in a rather pleasant exchange of bodily fluids.” He winked.
Emma groaned. Scott clearly didn't have a filter from his brain to his mouth. He often said whatever popped into his head and made no apologies for it.
Anthony clucked his tongue. “No, but thank you for bringing that up, again,” he said. He turned down Bakers Road. “No, I'm referring to a local ghost story. Bakers Road Crossing. Ever heard of it?”
“You mean the railroad crossing that's further along this road?” Kristy said. Anthony nodded. “What about it?” Kristy demanded, leaning forward in between the two front seats.
Anthony didn't say a word. He just continued driving. Kristy swatted his arm. “Tell us,” she said, her voice urging him to get on with his story.
Anthony just grinned as the car approached the railroad crossing. He stopped the car, turning the engine off. Kristy sat forward. “Um...why have we stopped on the tracks?” she asked nervously.
“You want to hear my story so I stopped,” Anthony said, grinning madly. He unfastened his seatbelt and got out of the car. He popped the trunk, got something out and slammed the trunk closed again.
Emma tried to see what he was doing. Through the dirty back window of the Mustang, she could see he was sprinkling something white over the trunk.
Anthony discarded the packet of flour he had used to cover the top of the trunk and climbed back into the car. He locked the doors. Then he turned to face the others and began his frightening story.
“Thirty years ago, today, there was a bus filled with young school kids coming back from a field trip at the lake that broke down in this very spot. The driver climbed out, along with the teachers, to see whether or not he could fix it, but he couldn't. Suddenly, the door on the bus slammed shut, trapping the children inside. The driver and the teachers began to panic, attempting to pry the doors open with their hands and nails. The driver even tried to throw a rock through the window, but the glass wouldn't shatter.
A sound in the distance made the panic heighten. It was the sound of a trains whistle.”
“What?” Emma couldn't believe what she was hearing. She was starting to wonder about what the abundance of maple syrup he poured on his pancakes did to his mind.
Anthony didn't miss a beat. “The teachers and the driver were trying everything to get the kids out. They even tried to push the bus off the tracks but it was stuck. Eventually, they had to abandon the bus and the kids.
It was tragic. The wreak was awful. I couldn't imagine what those poor people saw. The mangled wreckage of the bus smashed and wrenched under the train. Just horrible. But the story doesn't end there. Ten years after the accident, a young woman was driving when her car came to a complete stop, right here on this crossing. The engine just died. Then she heard the train whistle so she kept turning the key, hoping that the car would suddenly start. But it didn't.
She was about to climb out when suddenly the car began to roll. As you can see, there's no hill or anything here to indicate that a very strong wind pushed the car. In any case, by the time the train got to the crossing, the lady had avoided death by the spirits of the children who died here.”
“Fuck off!” Scott had a stupid grin on his face, not believing a word that Anthony said. “There's a bullshit ghost story in every town,” Scott added, cynically dismissing the story with a wave of his hand. “It's not real.”
“It is,” Anthony insisted. “If it wasn't real, then why is it every ten years, someone gets saved on this spot? First it was the lady whose car broke down. Then it was a mechanic. He said the exact same thing. The car had been pushed off the tracks.”
“Lucky break,” Kristy said, tossing her hair back. “Nothing more, nothing less. Coincidence.”
A faint noise made Emma's head snap up. The train whistle.
“Anthony, start the car now!” she cried.
Anthony didn't move. Scott grabbed at the door, trying to open it. “Fuck. Let me out!” he cried, throwing his weight against it, hoping it would give. It didn't.
Calmly, Anthony opened his window and tossed the keys outside. “What the fuck?!” Scott demanded, looking a little thrown. “Dude, this is just an urban legend. And I'm sure as hell not wanting to test it.” Scott rolled down his window and climbed out, with Emma and Kristy following suit.
The train was in clear view. It barrelled down the the tracks, hurtling towards the car. The car in which Anthony resided in, his calm demeanour not changing despite the apparent sudden death charging towards him.
His hands were firmly placed on the roof, showing the others that he wasn't touching the steering wheel or anything.
“Get out!” Kristy yelled. “Anthony, don't do this!”
Emma watched with horror as the train got closer. Squeezing Scott's arm in fear, she prayed that Anthony would come to his senses.
As the train got closer, the car began to rock. Just a little at first, but then it became more violent. Slowly, the car began to inch forward. The train hurtled towards it, blowing its whistle.
The Mustang suddenly lurched forward and became clear of the tracks. The train safely passed by while Anthony climbed out, completely unharmed.
Scott stood there in disbelief over what he just witnessed. Kristy's mouth hung open and Emma launched into a tirade about not goofing around or tempting fate.
Anthony, in silence, took her hand and dragged her to the trunk of the Mustang. She gasped and beckoned the others to follow.
Together they stood there and stared. For in the flour that had been caked on the back of the car were five sets of children's hand prints.