As she does every Wednesday, Kristi Simpson urged everyone to write something. One of her suggestions was a ghost story, so I thought, why not? I’d just published a creepy tale of desolation for the WEP challenge yesterday, so I thought I’d go for a different tone with this one.
It was the only word that came to mind standing at the old train station. Greyhaven had never been a busy town, but it got its share of visitors. Back then. Only memories and echoes inhabited it now, haunting abandoned buildings and gliding along empty roads.
A soft breeze dislodged a few chips of mottled green paint from the side of the train carriage, revealing a bit more of the rust underneath. At the same time, unseen hands pushed the station doors open, bidding me welcome. It was a quaint little building with a dark sloping roof and brick walls that were probably bright red once. Shadows danced behind broken window panes, creating the illusion of activity inside, but there was not a soul in sight.
I walked through the the station, surrounded by vacant chairs, past a ticket window that was overgrown with cobwebs and through to the other side. The town of Greyhaven lay spread out before me, now true to its name. Had it really been twenty years since life had left this place?
Rows of desolate shops stood before me, their wares turned to dust long ago. Whatever hadn’t been stolen anyway. I walked past the old bookstore. Its shelves, once carefully arranged, were strewn about in chaos. Dr. Carver’s pharmacy was unrecognizable. A place of healing, now a marker of death. The post office had collapsed on itself a long time ago, before the town had been lost. There were plans to rebuild it, but perhaps it was an omen for the troubles to come.
Neatly trimmed lawns were now a tangle of weeds and shrubs. A fallen tree rested itself on what had been Mrs. Simm’s garage. The breeze picked up, whistling through the leaves and over the bare streets. The sun was making its way toward the horizon, painting the sky in hues of gold and crimson. Night would come soon enough, plunging the whole town into darkness. Truth be told, even the dawn didn’t bring much light here anymore.
Just before the last rays of sunlight disappeared, I arrived at the house. It was so beautiful once. Simple, painted in plain beige with a dark brown roof. A cozy living room decorated with family photos and my wife’s knick knacks. Two bedrooms upstairs; the kids always complained about not having their own rooms, but they got along so well together. The rooms were home to only dust now, the house’s decaying walls a sorry reminder of what once had been. In spite of that, I felt glad to be home.
Tomorrow, I would go out again and walk around the town. The same walk I’d taken for the past twenty years, through abandoned buildings and along empty roads.