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Sunday, October 12, 2014


Denise Covey has the prompt for her WEP Halloween posting: Ghost Story


The Orient Express slowed as it rounded a sharp bend in the shadowed rails that snaked through the tangled forest.

"I am the Cowboy now, Nein?"

The Nazi guard beside me grinned at his two friends on the bench opposite me.  My black Stetson on his blond head, he admired his reflection in the private compartment's window.

"Mein Gott!"

"What is it, Hans?"  frowned Staltz, the Nazi opposite me.

"A little girl out there in the freezing night!  And those deer didn't even see her!"

The other Nazi, Hoffman, stood up and stared out the window.  "I see nothing."

"She was out there I tell you!"

Hans was regarded with silent sneers.  He slammed the Stetson back on my head as if I were somehow at fault.

He glared at me.  "I hope the Führer tortures you to death, swine!"

I thought about saying "Oink" but remained silent.  

Obviously, the silver cuffs on my wrists and the iron hobbles on my ankles lent him courage.  

The Orient Express rocked its way for hours, luring my three guards to sleep.

Hans' eyes kept going to me.  Had he imagined growing up to be a sadistic killer when a boy?  

Only the weak blame parents, their race, their times, lack of good fortune, or the quirks of fate.

Everyone has it within his power to say, "This I am today, That I shall be tomorrow." 

The wish, however, must be matched by deeds. 

Hans' eyes flicked to the mirror behind me.  Elu?  

No, my blood brother who dwelt in mirrors was angry at me for surrendering to Major Strasser 

to spare the lives of those gypsies captured by Captain Reinholt.

He reached out and roughly shook Hoffman by the shoulder.  "Wake up.  Wake up!"

 "What?" Hoffman sleepily muttered.

"Do you see her, Hoffman?"

"Her?  Her who?  Where?"

"In the mirror!"

As if compelled, I turned about and froze just as still as Hoffman.  A little girl's face wavered like mist in the mirror's depths.

Staltz was now wide awake, his face pale in the cold caress of the moonlight.

Staltz frowned.  "Sh-She is saying something.  I - I can almost hear her."

He got up and leaned his ear to the mirror as Hans rasped, "No, Staltz.  No!"

But the Nazi only leaned closer.  He suddenly stiffened.  His shoulders began to shake.  

Hans edged away from him.  Staltz's shaking grew more and more violent.

Then, Staltz started to shriek in insane laughter.  The sound of it pealed higher and higher and higher.  It grated on my very soul.

He bent suddenly to Hans who tried to squirm away but the window stopped him.

Staltz whispered into Hans' ear.  The blond Nazi went stiff as if his friend's words were venom in his mind.

His face twisted so I thought the flesh would tear loose from the man's skull.  Hans reared back his head abruptly as wild shrieks of mad laughter burst from his lips.

His peals mingled with those of Staltz as if in a chorus from some asylum.  

Hoffman hesitated a moment too long in shocked stillness.  Hans seized him.

Though Hoffman twisted his head frenziedly still Hans managed to whisper into his ear.  

He froze but for a moment then became a tittering lunatic like his two friends.

The three suddenly took notice of me.  Eyes locked on mine, they laughed the louder, reaching out for me.  

The spacious compartment was suddenly too cramped.

"You boys get any closer, and I will knock you into the next Reich."

Adventure is just a romantic name for trouble. 

It sounds great when you read of it, but it's hell when you meet it face to face in a dark and lonely place.

The compartment's door burst open, 

Major Strasser in the doorway. 

Hoffman, still pealing in mad laughter, wheeled to grasp Strasser.  The Major drew his Luger and shot the man in the throat.

Hans and Staltz stumbled over their fallen comrade to attack Strasser.  Knowing what I did of the man, I was rooting for the lunatics.

As with much of my life, I didn't get what I wanted.  I watched them bleed out on the floor, laughing with bloody spittle on their writhing lips.

Strasser growled, "Mein Gott, McCord, what happened?"

I thought of all the true answers to that question that would result in Strasser shooting me.  "I believe they were ... poisoned."

From down the hall, a nervous voice rang out.  "Are you unharmed, Major?"

Strasser snorted, "Yes, Lieutenant.  It is now safe to approach.  But do stay where you are.  McCord and I will come to you."

"Really?" I asked.

"Yes.  I have a mystery, and you are a detective."

"Texas Ranger."

"The same thing."

No.  And that kind of thinking was what would lose the war for Hitler.  You must see your enemy for who he is if you are to defeat him.

Strasser tossed me the keys to the cuffs and the hobbles.  I tossed the hobbles and kept the silver cuffs. 

 The revenant, Strasser, glared at the silver.  

I shook the silver cuffs.  "Hitler's idea, right?

He knows me even less well than you."

As the Lieutenant stayed far to our rear, Strasser and I walked through the empty dining car.

Obviously, the regular troops were sitting in the third class compartments.

"What's the mystery?"

"Captain Reinholt has disappeared from this car.  One moment he sat next to me.  The next he was gone.  Do you see any clues?"

The Lieutenant yelped from behind us.  We wheeled about.  He was gone.  

The room was empty.  But there was a figure in the mirror on the still swinging door.

The little girl ghost had added a bloody knife to her wardrobe.

"One," I drawled.

There was a wild splatter of gushing blood that smeared the mirror ... from the inside.  And screams hollowly shrieked from the now obscured surface.

I spun to Strasser.  "You lied to me!  Reinhold killed those gypsies, didn't he?"

Strasser sneered.  "You are an enemy of the Third Reich.  What is a lie to you?"

"A mistake," I snapped.

I took one silver cuff, snapping it on the sizzling flesh of his right wrist and locked the other cuff on the flesh of his left ankle. 

 He toppled like the House of Cards he was.

Due to the silver, he could no longer turn to mist.

I snatched the Luger from his holster.  

I ejected the shell from the chamber and dropped the clip from the pistol.  I tossed the Luger to the far corner.

The little ghost girl blurred in the mirror's surface, but I could tell she was motioning for me to come closer.  

I walked slowly to the mirror ... very slowly.

"Nein, McCord!  Are you mad?  She will kill you, and I will be left alone and helpless!"

"As a revanant, I thought you knew: Death is always a door one-man wide."

Though the little girl faded, the room within the mirror still showed, and it was smeared in the Lieutenant's and Reinholt's blood:

The unseen little girl spoke softly, and I leaned in towards the mirror

"Nein, McCord!  Do not listen.  Do not!"

The little girl's whispered voice said, "They ripped out Grandmama's teeth ... for the gold."

Strasser screamed, and I turned around.  Well, merde.

Grandmama was standing over a terrified Strasser, and I drawled, "Grandmother, what sharp teeth you have."

The little girl ghost from the mirror behind me giggled, "I have a sharp tooth, too."

I snatched the flashing tiny wrist holding the blood-smeared butcher knife that darted for my throat.  

"Darling, I've fought Apaches.  You're a mite slow compared to them."

Speaking of Apaches, Elu appeared behind the little girl ghost and thunked her on top of the head with the hilt of his own knife.

As she dropped from sight, 

Elu grabbed me with both hands and pulled me into the depths of the mirror as Strasser screamed for mercy behind me.

Strange how those who never give it ask for mercy.

I sputtered as I rose from the shallow waters of a frigid lake's edge to which Elu had transported me.  

The Orient Express clattered away from me into the night mists.  

I looked down on a scowling Elu who shook his head at me from the reflection in the water.

"Dyami, not everyone the Nazis arrest is innocent."

The screams from the Orient Express lasted long after the train disappeared from sight.

I am not a fan of pranks, and these went too far I think:
Someone should have gotten sued on the 2nd segment of this one:


  1. I'm not a fan of pranks or gore, either, but what weird things you find, Roland. And that is a positively creepy Strasser - McCord tale. A haunted train, however, captures the imagination.
    (And I forgot that the Thanksgiving dates vary for the US and Canada. . .)

  2. Oink! Good one, Roland. Always enjoy a McCord tale, and this one's perfect for Halloween.

  3. Now that was a scary excerpt. Excellent!!

    I am a fan of pranks and gore :) I am glad none of the old ladies on the elevator died of heart attacks though. This was a good laugh for a sunday - my sister woke me up way to early.

    Happy birthday Roland :)

  4. D.G.:
    Nazis make the perfect prey for monsters. And McCord fell victim to the same mental fallacy he criticized the Nazis of -- he judged all victims of Nazis innocent without looking beneath the surface.

    I thought you would like a new McCord tale. :-)

    I added a third prank video after you commented. As I said above it: I am sure if this was done in America, someone would have been sued over the 2nd segment! I would have died of a heart attack myself!!!

    Happy Birthday to you, too. :-)

  5. A trip on the Orient Express has always been on my bucket list, but maybe I'll cross it off after reading this gory tale Roland. What murder and mayhem happening here. I like the 'Oink' too. You've got the atmosphere down pat. Those images certainly make things scarier. Gulp!

    Excellent story for the Ghost Story prompt Roland.

    Denise :)

  6. Denise:
    I think a ride on the Orient Express was classier during the 1930's with all the intrigue and rumblings of the world war to come.

    Yes, I tried for the scariest flash fiction I could come up with for your WEP.

    Nazis and vengeful ghosts ... and the Orient Express. What a combo, right?

    Like you, I have always wanted to ride the Orient Express. But now, I think I'll take McCord!! :-)

  7. What a good spooky story with a great twist at the end. Yes, even the Nazis could arrest an evil man once in a while.

    A couple of sentences here reminded me of Hemingway, especially "You must see your enemy for who he is if you are to defeat him."

    A haunted luxury train like the Orient Express--what an inspired setting for a McCord tale!

  8. Helena:
    I'm so happy you enjoyed my little spooky tale! It occurred to me that is easy to think that everyone the Nazis arrested were innocent.

    If only I had the genius of Hemingway!!

    The image of McCord chained in the custody of Nazis aboard the Orient Express has been in my mind for years -- I finally got to put it into a tale.

    I awoke this evening from an evocative dream that spanned generations, concerning two important families on the North California coast with McCord seeing their sad, empty graspings from the early 1800's to the present -- a sweet, simple soul Indian girl bruised by the hateful prejudice of her day becoming a tall staute of a beloved saintly icon in the present: with predator con artists arm-twisting donations in the name of the young native who only gave and never took.

    It would take so long to write, and I do not know if there would be a market for it. :-)

  9. What an incredibly eerie and spooky tale!! Very apropos for this time of year :)

  10. So glad I read this during daylight hours. Nazis, a train, and a freaky girl ghost...too much!

  11. Hi Roland .. I certainly won't think of the Orient Express in quite the same way and it leaves from London once again ...

    Ghastly ghost story .. but so well told by McCord - excellent Roland .. cheers Hilary

  12. A great Halloween tale, but I really hate killer kids! Truly creeps me out! LOL

    I do love the cool McCord!

  13. Seriously creepy, child ghosts are hard to fit into my head, give me the shivers every time . And that bit about Nazi's not capturing only innocents - the creepiest bit of all. A very satisfying Halloween story.

  14. Wow, too scary for me to finish reading. Well done.

  15. A quirky, creepy story. Kept me on the edge! "Adventure is just a romantic word for trouble" - brilliant.

  16. So Roland I came by to see if many WEP participants read your entry. It would be very nice if you could return the visit on one or two. Don't bother about mine.

  17. You are so good at telling these kinds of stories and I love the voice of your protag. Well done and very gruesome!

  18. Hi Roland
    Scary. And the pictures make it even more terrifying. Did love the Nazi's getting what they deserve.