After security kicked us out and the theme park closed for the night, the nine of us huddled outside the bolted gates. Under the silhouette of the Ferris wheel against a full moon, we made a plan. We would write in with a strongly worded letter of complaint. We would go to the police, then the media. We would make our story heard.

Let’s begin with a fact: nine of us were on that carriage when it crunched to a halt at the end of the ride. There was a tenth soul at the beginning. This, we remain adamant, is also a fact. The other was a boy, so little you could drag him across an oil slick and he’d leave no trace.

The staff denied his existence. They told us the ghost train has height restrictions. They told us they’d have never let a boy that size on it. The owners here are extremely strict when it comes to height restrictions, they said. Have been for the last thirty years.

We made them check CCTV. CCTV showed no sign of a little boy.

He was so small, we said. Small enough to get submerged in the crowd and evade the cameras. So small you wouldn’t be able to see the top of his head peeking over the top of the carriage.

When they stopped writing back, we went to the police. The police said there’d been no children reported missing from the theme park. Not in the last thirty years.

The press told us it wasn’t a story. Not without a photo of a missing child. Not without a teary plea from a sleep-deprived parent.

But there are others like us. Hundreds came forward after we posted our story online, that is another fact. As is this: all gave similar accounts of a boy on that ghost train, at different dates over the past three decades — all when the theme park was bathed in the light of a full moon.

Our group represents a wide cross-section of society. Cut us open and we’ll bleed from different backgrounds, belief systems, generations. We have in-fighting. We have disagreements on how to move forward with our campaign.

In truth, there is only one thing we have in common: we can all describe the same feeling in our veins. One that startles the nervous system worse than a hundred manufactured jump scares. One that prickles the skin in a way the brush of a synthetic cobweb or broomstick never could. One that cuts into you, deeper than the cryptic etchings on the fake brick walls; that pierces your dreams more vividly than the cackles of any mannequin with rotting flesh and a rotating head.

The feeling slits the pit of your stomach. Leaves your guts in freefall. It snatches at your calves from underneath. Wants you know what it’s like to slip between those rickety slats; to lie undiscovered for days in the nooks and dips beneath the tracks, where one must fight the ghouls until the only option is to join them forever.

Ask anyone who’s been on that carriage when the moon is full. They’ll be able to describe what’s chugged through their arteries ever since, like a smog that never shifts.

It’s been this way for thirty years.

 

***

 

Neil Clark is a writer from Edinburgh. It’s been this way for thirty years. His work has been published in places such as The Molotov Cocktail, Cheap Pop, Mystery Tribune and others. Find him on Twitter @NeilRClark or visit neilclarkwrites.wordpress.com for a full list of publications.