Watch your step while boarding. Have your ticket ready. What else do conductors say? I can’t recall, but I can announce:
After the End of the Line:
Railroad Hauntings in Literature and Lore
has arrived early!
This anthology — mixing fiction, newspaper articles, memoir, narrative poetry, and more — is now available at Amazon.
There are selections written by authors you’re likely to recognize: Charles Dickens, Bret Harte, Amelia B. Edwards, and Algernon Blackwood. However, when searching for material, I came upon a number of long-buried gems. I especially like “At Ravenholme Junction” and “B 88,” both published anonymously.
“At Ravenholme Junction” (1876) was possibly inspired by Dickens’ classic ghost story “The Signal-Man” (1866), since both have a signal station as their main settings. Still, they’re very different tales, almost two sides of the same coin in that the first is about glimpses of future tragedies and the second involves a past tragedy witnessed in the present. Both works are in After the End of the Line.
Similarly, “B 88” (1871) might have been influenced by Edwards’ much more famous “The 4:15 Express” (1866). Again, both head in very unique directions, yet both follow the old, old outline of a ghost appearing to a fairly ordinary, seemingly random witness. That witness then becomes the ghost’s living proxy, nudged to reveal a terrible secret (as well as where the body can be found). These two stories are also in the anthology.
Besides putting such works of “forgotten” fiction alongside the well-remembered greats, what makes After the End of the Line distinctive is its inclusion of railroad hauntings found in other narrative forms: journalism, autobiography, and poetry. There’s even a creepy account of a spectral manifestation in the railway yards that I found in an 1897 compendium of allegedly true ghost stories.
Fans of this kind of ghost story might find After the End of the Line to be a worthy companion to two other anthologies that feature completely different short stories: The Platform Edge: Uncanny Tales of the Railways, edited by Mike Ashley, and Railroad Stories, edited by Trevor Denyer.
I hope you’ll take a moment to consider After the End of the Line: Railroad Hauntings in Literature and Lore. Find yourself a seat, and it will take you places. Dark places. Chilling and unsettling places. Train travel at its very finest!