The shrublands looked unhealthy to someone from the East coast. Dusty, yellow, endless. Who would ever want to live -here-?

A green van pulled over to the small kiosk on the side of the road. Its family of three spilled out: One mother, one father, and their blonde- haired daughter. The father went ahead and held the door open. The woman and girl held hands as they went inside.

Lit by flourescent lights, gleamingly tiled, the inside of the kiosk was as well-kept up as most gas stations, if a bit smaller and lacking gas pumps. Everything within the store was shiny and new except for a massive, old-fashioned oak desk by the door.

"Welcome to Violet Falls," said a guy at the desk. He had massive eyebrows.

"Thank you," said the mother curtly, "Lila, don't touch."

Lila's hand retreated from a glass globe.

The father picked up a tabloid, flipped through it, and guffawed. "Only morons would believe this stuff." He put the tabloid back on the shelf. The guy at the desk raised a huge eyebrow disdainfully.

"Look Mom, a train!" Lila said.

"That does seem to be the theme here," the woman replied.

Lila stretched towards a shelf with golden plaques on them. The plaques had trains etched into them, as well as words:

"Sometimes you can hear a train here. No railroads cross the streets, have ever crossed the streets, or ever will. The lonely call rings high on winter nights, and wheels scrape and churn. Indigo smoke rises where indigo smoke should not be.

"Children see the Ghost Train.

"Adults cannot see it, but they can still hear it threading through the sky."

Lila's mother snorted. "Put that down, Lila, it's just nonsense. Fred, have you found a map yet?"

"Look at the size of this thing!" Lila's father held it in the air. "This place is so tiny, I bet we don't even need the map."

"Even so," the woman said. Lila's father sheepishly bought the map for three dollars.

~_________~

Intrigued yet? There's more on the way! (*~Espers)

(Updated with fuller, more descriptive version on 10/31/03. Yay for Halloween!)