This being Halloween, the lads and I over at the 7th/8th Grade Chapter of SMS Guys Read decided to use Patrick Carman’s 3:15 story style to tell you a little ghost story. So check out how 3:15 works over at Mr. Carman’s website and then enjoy our tale…
The Virginia Creeper
“Mom do I have to go?” I whined. “I hate biking!”
“Now come on honey, you know the Boy Scouts can be fun and Adam’s mom called me earlier and he is going. If anything it will be a weekend hanging out with Adam,” replied my mother.
“But biking is hard work,” I said, the whine not leaving my voice.
“Oh, a little exercise could really do both you AND Adam some good. Get out and get some fresh air and see some of the Virginia Mountains. It will be fun,” pushed mom.
“Fine, but you just wait, this is going to break bad, you just watch and see, I’m going to break my leg or something,” I countered and left the room to pack for this dreaded bike trip.
Adam and I were fast friends and did most things together, but the Boy Scouts was one place that our paths seemed to split. He loved the scouts and I just barely tolerated the meetings and outings, because I wanted to see Adam. It used to be I could see him whenever I wanted, he lived across the street, but about six weeks ago his family sold their house and moved a few neighborhoods away. He lives just far enough that we can’t walk, and I would have to cross a busy highway that my mother is convinced would be the death of me. Now he does still go to Salem Middle with me, but we only get the 20 minutes of lunch together, 20 minutes!, I mean really what human being can digest a decent lunch in 20 minutes? But I’m getting off story, back to the Boy Scouts and bike trip from hell.
The ride to Damascus took the 15 passenger Econoline van nearly 5 hours; so of course, we had to leave at 4:30 in the morning! Most of the scouts slept in the back of the van, but the pungent smell of Mr. Higginson’s coffee kept me wide awake. We fell out of the van at the White Top parking lot and stumbled to find our bikes and gear. We would be biking down to Damascus, some 19 miles down trail and then continuing on to our camping site between Damascus and Abington. The only thing I was looking forward to was the stop in Damascus and the Ice Cream that we had been promised. I had $20 in my pocket and my plan was to spend the lot of as much sugary goodness as I could cram in my face.
As we headed down from White Top, I think I was passed by about like a gazillion people. It was crowded and super bumpy. There were the typical punks with the Mohawk helmets riding old school cruisers, and the little girls riding astray from their parents on their Barbie bikes. I almost lost it when the fifteenth extreme biker going like 500 miles per hour shouting “coming up on your left bozo!” barreled by me. I almost crashed once too, when I spotted a young couple making out and tried to look away, but I crashed into this prehistoric old lady with a basket on the front of her bike.
Finally after a few hours of dodging bikers and having our filings jostled loose by the ruts in the trail, we came upon our goal, the ice cream shop named “Off the Beaten Path.” It was right next to a restaurant, but I did not care, all I wanted was the creamy, delicious ice cream. I’m pretty sure I was the first off my bike and in the line for those sweet treats.
So within five minutes I was standing out in the front of the ice cream shop, Adam to my right, and no place to sit.
“Where are we going to sit,” I asked Adam?
“Look there’s space at that table with the old fella,” replied Adam.
“I don’t want to sit with that crusty old dinosaur in coveralls, he’s creepin’ me out!”
“Come on, my ice cream is melting, grow up and sit down.”
So we sat with the old dude and started in on our deliciousness. After a few minutes of eating the silence was broken by the sound of the old man coming to life.
“So boys are you on a camping trip?” asked the old man pointing to our large backpacks and gear piled next to our bikes.
“Yea, Boy Scouts,” replied Adam.
“You boys ever heard about the Virginia Creeper?” asked the old man.
“Aren’t we on the Virginia Creeper,” I questioned.
“Yea, you’re on the Virginia Creeper trail, but have you ever heard the original story of the Virginia Creeper ghost?” croaked the old man.
“I don’t know if I want to,” said Adam Ghost stories freak me out.
“Oh come on Adam, it’s just a story, let’s hear it,” I said scarfing down another large bite of ice cream.
The old man looked off into the middle distance toward the trail, still filled with every manner of biker around and slowly began his tale.
“In the olden days when the iron horse steam trains still ruled the land, this little town and the others like it were dependent on the rails to move supplies and get needed equipment and news of the outside world to us. The line from Abington up to White Top was deemed the Virginia Creeper on account of how slow the train ran up and over the mountain. That train ran for many years and I saw many a good man work the engine as I stoked the firebox as a young boy. Finally the day came when the suits at the home office decided that the run was no longer makin’ money and they shut us down. Soon enough they tore up the tracks and leveled out the ground and made our run a silly bike trail for the likes of you,” said the old man pointing a withered old finger in our direction.
“But don’t you little boys worry none for me or the Creeper, she’s on her way back,” smirked the old man.
“What do you mean,” I asked?
“Well, if you find yourself anywhere near mile marker 22 at midnight, you might just find out,” responded the crusty old man.
I turned to Adam and asked, “Isn’t our camp for the night near mile marker 22?”
“I think that sounds right,” Adam replied.
We both turned back to the man to ask more but he was gone… nowhere to be seen.
“Wow, he was sure fast for a dinosaur,” I giggled.
The trip then continued and we made our camp with the rest of the boys further down the trail, and we were right we were just a short ride from mile marker 22.
“So are we doing this,” I asked Adam over a campfire hot dog later that evening?
“Doing what,” replied Adam?
“Going to mile marker 22 at midnight, come on let’s see what this old dude was talking about,” I pushed. “I’m going, you with me?”
“I’m not sure, it sounds a bit dangerous, out on the trail at night,” said Adam.
“Oh, come on nothing is going to happen and you know you want to see if something is out there,” I continued to push.
“OK, but I really am just doing this to keep an eye on you,” said Adam and our evening continued without incident or interest.