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Smoky Mist

The Legend of the Ghost Train

by C.J. Baty

Smoky Mist - C.J. Baty - Legend of the Ghost Train
Part of the The Legend of the Ghost Train series:
  • Smoky Mist
Editions:Kindle: $ 4.99 USD

The Legend of the Ghost Train

Today, people say that on a quiet night in the mountains of Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky, you can hear the far off shriek of a locomotive whistle and the rumble of the train’s cars as they clamor across the tracks. The legend claims the train moves through the valleys and mountains searching for lost souls that need a lift to the other side.

In the early Twentieth Century, railroads were not only a way to transport people, they also carried all types of goods across the country. Lumber from the forests of Tennessee, coal from the mines of Kentucky, and tobacco from the fields of Virginia were just a few of the industries that depended heavily on the railroad system. Even the Vanderbilt’s built a train system to carry the products needed to construct the great Biltmore Estate.

The Legend of the Ghost Train series will carry you off to a simpler time before WWII and the Great Depression. It’s about the love between two men that wasn’t spoken of and ghosts of past loves that still linger in the mountains. Some haunt the living looking for a loved one. Some want revenge for wrong doings. And, others are evil and will stop at nothing to repeat the past and kill again.

Jesse Lawson was never afraid of the strange and unusual dreams he had. But lately, they were becoming darker leaving him with a need to discover why he was having them. He believed he would find answers at the site of logging camps in The Great Smoky Mountains. His great grandfather had lived and died there, and Jesse was sure it was Jackson Douglas haunting him.

Carter Thompson never knew his great great uncle George Thompson, but he inherited his land, home, and money. George had come here to America to find work in the lumber camps. Meeting Jesse Lawson was about to turn his world upside down. Jesse’s dreams somehow involved Carter, and the more they searched the closer they became.

George left journals that could clear up many mysteries, including Jackson Douglas’s death. Now it seemed that something was trying to destroy Carter and Jesse’s growing attraction to each other. Whoever it is will stop at nothing to keep them apart, even if they have to repeat the past to do it.

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Excerpt:

Chapter One

 

Present Day

George ‘Carter’ Thompson pushed his way through the under foliage of the dense forest that was the Smoky Mountains. He loved these parts of the forest where tourists didn’t travel. This place was on the maps but there were no marked trails, so few inexperienced hikers came this far up in the mountains.

Spring had come early this year. New grass poked up through the ground bright green in random spots along the trail. Dogwood trees and rhododendron bushes had buds waiting for a stray beam of sunlight to reach them and draw them open. There were fresh bear scratching’s on a few trees, announcing to any human who strayed this way, “we’re awake.”

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He loved it. This was his home. His family had lived here for generations. Carter knew all the stories. It was sad to think he was the last of the Thompson clan. Arriving in America from Ireland in the early 1920’s, his great grandfather and his younger brother came to the Townsend Valley in Tennessee to work in the lumber yards. The two men worked for three seasons cutting down and processing the trees for shipment all across America. Carter’s great grandfather actually worked in the saw mill in town, while his brother worked on the mountain. He was athletic and somewhat of a loner, perfect for the solitary life lumberjacks lived. There wasn’t much information about the man accept what Carter had discovered in the Railroad Museum in town.

Carter volunteered at the Little River Railroad/Lumber Museum in Townsend to keep the history alive. He was named after his great grandfather’s brother. That’s where his first name, George, came from. He liked Carter better so that’s the name he went by. Still, there was much he wished he knew about George. After a train accident left his left arm and leg broken, he moved high up into the mountains away from any civilization. He took his setoff house to live in while he built a cabin nearby. It was years before he finished the cabin. Carter owned it now but didn’t live there year round. There was no paved road and no electric. He was truly roughing it when he went there. Fortunately, George had planned the location well. There were plenty of trees to keep the area shaded and an off shoot of the Little Pigeon flowed nearby, providing clean water year round.

Carter continued to walk until he came to his favorite thinking spot. He stretched out leaning his back against one of the few remaining indigenous trees. It was nearly thirty feet tall. There was a cool breeze blowing under its shady leaves. Few tourists knew that most of the forestry was harvested in the late 1920’s and what they saw now was second generation replanted trees. At the museum, they could see pictures of those majestic trees that had once stood hundreds of feet in the air. Some with a girth that a dozen men with outstretched hands could circle around.

There was a part of him that longed to live back then. Life was simpler. People were simpler. No rushing madness or jobs in office buildings with windows you couldn’t open. Carter had hated working in those buildings. Fresh out of college, he really thought being an accountant was the way he wanted to go. Life in Atlanta had been stifling. And, another part of him knew things were no easier for gay men back then. They were solitary figures living a lonely existence. At least today if the right man ever came along, he did have the opportunity to settle down, raise a family… live. Like that was going to happen while he hid away in these mountains.

Carter laughed at his inner drama queen. He’d been to the clubs in Knoxville and Atlanta. Sometimes the need to touch and be touched out weighed everything else, but there had never been anyone who had struck a deep cord in him. He’d even tried dating women. That had been another huge mistake. So, when his grandpa passed away and left him George’s cabin and the land it sat on, along with more money than he could ever spend, he came home.

He bought an old restaurant on the main road leading into Townsend. Spent a year remodeling and redecorating the building. Made it into the kind of place he would love to hang out in. The Train Stop Bar and Grill opened with a quiet crowd in the fall last year. Tonight, they would have people standing outside, sometimes waiting an hour, just to get a table. He didn’t advertise. Didn’t even have a web page. He meant it to be a local place and if anyone knew about it, it was because someone told them about it. Word of mouth was the best kind of advertisement as far as Carter was concerned. The Train Stop was his baby and it would never be a tourist spot, which was just fine with Carter.

The longer he sat there, the more his mind drifted. Mr. Pillar had contacted him about finding another engine part in a remote section of the Tredown Camp area. He’d go check it out tomorrow. There’d been an email from Mark Winslow that he should answer. The guy was nice enough and the night they’d spent together had been good, but Carter just didn’t think it could become anything more than it was. Then, he remembered that damned letter was still sitting on his desk at the museum. He refused to give it any of his free time today. A framed photo flashed briefly across his mind.

The picture hung at the museum. It was dated September 1923. Two men stood side by side in front of a train car loaded down with thirty foot logs. The older of the two, the more grizzled one, had his arm draped across the other younger man. He glanced up at the older man with fondness in his eyes. Even in the old and faded photo is was clear to see. How had they gotten away with that, Carter wondered. They were more than friends. He knew that they had lived together in the setoff house during the days when the camp was at it’s busiest. Could they have been lovers?

The older man was George Thompson, Carter’s great, great uncle. His grandpa had told him that he remembered George and Carter looked just like him. It was hard to tell with the bushy beard that covered his lower face. He also wore a wide brimmed hat covering the top of his head. There were no pictures of him without the beard. Something else his grandfather had said floated through his sleepy mind.

“We never found his journals. Your dad and I searched the setoff house and the cabin but never found them. My pa was sure he kept journals and thought they would make a good book about the times.”

If George had kept journals, Carter wondered where they could have been hidden and why. His eyes closed and he thought of the picture hanging in the museum again.

The younger man was Jackson Douglas, sometimes referred to as Jesse. There was little information known about him, accept for the fact that he died in a train accident. He married a girl named Rose who lived on a farm close to Maryville. When he died, she was carrying his unborn child that he never saw.

Carter closed his eyes and drifted off to the sounds of the forest that surrounded him. He had time for a nap before he had to be back at the bar.

 

COLLAPSE

About the Author

CJ Baty lives with her very patient husband and two encouraging adult children. The recent move to include a second home in Tennessee has fulfilled one of her life long dreams. The mountains have always provided her with inspiration and a soothing balm to the stresses of everyday life.

The dream of writing her own stories started in high school but was left on the back burner of life until her son introduced her to Fan Fiction and encouraged her to give it a try. She found that her passion for telling a story was still there and writing them down to share with others was much more thrilling than she had ever expected. Publishing her own stories has been a highlight in her life. It just goes to prove, you are never too old to follow your dreams!


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