I have always wanted to write fiction and Thunderhooves is a great subject. Thunderhooves and the Ghost Train is not where the story begins but I could not pass up the challenge of writing a ghost story.
Darkness fell on Windy Acres as Merry and Ember headed out to the lower field to graze. It had been a warm autumn day but now as the temperature dropped a ground fog started to form and swirl around their legs. The fog muffled the usual sounds of wildlife settling down for the night and all that Merry could hear was the sound of Ember tearing at the grass close by. Even the cars on the nearby road were silent, only noticeable from their headlights which threw an eerie diffused light across the field briefly as they came round the corner. But it was cold, the fog was getting thicker and the cars got fewer throughout the evening as people decided to stay indoors.
Suddenly Ember threw her head up and Merry felt her stiffen and tense beside him.
“What was that?” she asked
“Whummph was whummph?” he replied through a mouth full of grass
“That noise, I heard a noise!” she exclaimed turning round to look across the field
Merry stopped chewing and listened hard, he could hear a low rumbling noise, it was getting louder.
“Its coming from the old railway line” Ember continued “But Duncan said that trains had stopped running on there 40 years ago, and all the tracks have been removed!”
Just then a high pitched whistle sounded, Merry jumped behind Ember and then peered round her to look in the direction of the noise.
“Whaaatt waaasss thhaaat?” he whispered.
“I don’t know” Ember said back in a hushed voice “but look!”
Merry followed her gaze and saw a shape moving along the old railway track, it was huge and black and a plume of white smoke was bellowing upwards from it. There was also the sound of a whinny, it didn’t sound sharp like a normal whinny, but almost remote and distant. Then suddenly the shape was gone, the sound receded and they were left again in the soundless fog.
Ember started to march across the field “We need to see the Donkey Council”
“But” said Merry, jogging to catch up “They are not due to meet for another couple of days, at the full moon”
“But I need answers now” replied Ember determinedly.
When they reached the secret gap in the hedge they pushed through emerging on the other side. The Donkey Council was held at the Donkey Sanctuary and in order to reach it they had to cross the old railway line. Ember clambered up the embankment but Merry hung back “Are you sure? That thing might come along again?
“Nonsense” replied Ember “We would hear it first and I want to know whats going on”
She set off leaving Merry to scramble after her.
When they reached the Donkey Sanctuary, they saw that some of the donkeys had started gathering in the back field, the one furthest from the house.
They also recognised a few of the local ponies that attend the Council
“Look” said Ember “There’s Belle and Beauty”
“And Caramel and Logan” added Merry
“This must be a special meeting, c’mon, lets hope we aren’t late”
They reached the others and whickered a few greetings to their friends. Before long their attention was gained by Duncan, the wisest of the Donkeys and head of the Donkey Council.
Suddenly everyone was talking at once, asking questions, wanting to know what they had seen.
Duncan let out a loud bray and all the donkeys and ponies fell silent.
“Now I know you all have questions” began Duncan now that he had everyones attention “All I know is the legend of the Ghost Train”
There was a sound of murmuring, and snorting amongst the assembled equines. Duncan let out another bray and they fell silent.
“The legend goes that a hundred years ago this very night a train was travelling along the line here, the night was similar to tonight, it was dark and foggy, with no moon. No one knows exactly what happened, some reports say the driver fell asleep, others say that an axel broke, but the train derailed just outside the village. It was a terrible crash, it was thought that everyone died, but when the police arrived at the scene they found no bodies, they searched the wreckage and the surrounding area but found no sign of of anyone at all. But they did find a horse that had been travelling in a livestock car, it was weak but still alive. He was taken to a local farm and nursed back to health. When they checked the records of the railway company they discovered that the horse belonged to a young lady who was travelling on the train, the horse had been requisitioned for use during the Great War and she was taking him to the barracks herself, she had bred and raised him herself and although she desperately didn’t want to see him go she knew the importance of horses to the war effort.
The horse recovered from his injuries and lived on the local farm, he died exactly 20 years to the day after the train crash and on that night was the first time the ghost train was sighted along with the sound of a horse whinnying. It has been sighted every 20 years for two nights only ever since”
Duncan stopped and looked around the group, there was a hushed silence, until Merry piped up “Wow, that is cool, is it true?”
Duncan looked down his nose at Merry “It is just a legend young one, but you did see something tonight didn’t you?”
“What do you think it means?” Merry asked Ember as they made their way back to Windy Acres, the fog was now clearing and a weak moon was just visible.
“I not sure” she answered thoughtfully “But I thought ghosts appeared when there were lost souls”
“Lost souls?” asked Merry “But there was no one there”
“Hmmm” agreed Ember and walked off across the field “We’ll see”
“Wait” called Merry, scampering after her “Do you have a plan?”
“Maybe” she answered enigmatically. Merry tossed his head impatiently, it was so annoying when she did that, and he knew he wouldn’t get anymore from her tonight.
The next night as it was getting dark, again a fog started to form.
“C’mon” said Ember “Let’s go and see what we can do”
“Are you sure?” gulped Merry “It was very scary”
Ember turned and looked at him with a smile, “Not us, let’s change”
“Oooh yes” breathed Merry “Let’s”
He reared up and stamped his feet on the earth three times, there was a rumble like distant thunder and he became Thunderhooves.
Meanwhile Ember spun round three times her long mane flying, there was a burst of stars and she became Sparklehorse.
They cantered across the field, squeezed through the hedge and up onto the embankment. They were greeted by Black Magic (Beauty) and Lightening (Logan)
“I am glad you are here too” greeted Lightening
“There must be something we can do” agreed Sparklehorse.
Just then came the low rumbling sound they had heard the previous night.
“We need to think of something quick” shouted Black Magic
“Maybe we should stop the train” exclaimed Sparklehorse
“Stop a ghost train?” asked Lightening “How would we do that?”
The train was in sight now, hurtling towards them
“I think I know” shouted Thunderhooves and set off at a gallop along the track, the train was going very fast and was almost upon them, it was gaining on Thunderhooves.
“Faster!” they all urged him on.
Just then the train let out a piercing whistle, shreeeek! Thunderhooves pinned his ears back, almost feeling the bulk of the train behind him and raced on as fast as he could, Bdumn, Bdumn went his hooves on the track, if he just just get far enough ahead…
Then he realised his was pulling away, the others were galloping beside the train still urging him on
“Almost there” he heard Sparklehorse “You can do this”
They were almost out of the village, he knew he had to stop the train before it vanished at the crash site, it had to be enough room.
Thunderhooves skidded to a stop, spun round on his hind legs and stamped his front feet down heavily. Booooomm went his hooves on the ground, the train didn’t look like it was going to stop, he reared up and stamped again, BBoooooooommmm.
The train suddenly came to a stop in front of him, he had stopped the ghost train.
The others had now caught up with him
“Now what?” asked Black Magic
They all looked towards the train and could see people on it, just then they heard the ghostly whinny sound.
“Look” said Lightening turning towards the train carriage, the doors had opened and a young lady was descending the stops desperately looking round her and calling “Trooper Trooper is that you?”
The whinny sounded again and the girl’s cries became more desperate “Where are you Trooper? I can’t find you”
“Why can’t we see the horse?” asked Black Magic.
“I’m not sure” murmured Sparklehorse “But maybe if I….” and she spun round several times showering the air with stardust.
Suddenly a horse appeared next to the train, the girl ran forward and hugged him “Oh Trooper, I knew I could hear you, I was wondering what had happened to you”
Then suddenly the train gave another shrill whistle and blew out a huge cloud of steam which enveloped it and all the horses.
When the steam had dissipated the horses looked round and saw that the ghost train, ghost girl and ghost horse had all disappeared.
“Did we stop the crash?” asked Logan as they made their way back along the old railway line, no longer as their alter egos but as Ember, Merry, Logan and Beauty
“We can’t change history” replied Ember “But hopefully we helped some lonely souls”.