PW #212: Middle Grade Contemporary Horror: GHOST TRAIN

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Rebecca Petruck
Mentee Name: Liz Edelbrock
Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Contemporary Horror
Word Count: 42,000


As the only living passengers on the Lost Souls Express, bickering siblings must work together to avoid evil haunts and a Conductor who can’t abide stowaways. It’s a race against time to escape the ghost train—or die trying—before they reach the End of the Line.


Heat radiated off the pavement in waves, making the air around Beckett’s scuffed tennis shoes shimmer as he trudged down a street full of candy-colored houses. His little sister’s complaining was a steady whine in the background, like an annoying fly he couldn’t get to quit buzzing around his head. Beckett thought about the Zombie Smash guidebook in his pocket and wondered where a hungry, sister-eating zombie was when you needed one. Grandma’s neighborhood seemed like prime undead real estate.

Grandma lived in a historic district on the outskirts of St. Louis called Meramec Highlands. “Historic” basically meant “old” because people weren’t allowed to tear down the buildings. Since Beckett and Lucy were spending the summer there, Grandma thought it would be a good introduction to wander the streets and teach them its history. If she was hoping to introduce the summer as the most boring ever, she was doing great.

Lucy tossed her dark braid over her shoulder and fanned her face as she continued to grumble about their parents until Beckett couldn’t take it anymore.

“Give it a rest! It’s not like Mom and Dad wanted to work overseas for two months. We’re here. Deal with it.”

“I’m just saying, it’s super selfish they’d take off and make us miss the entire summer with our friends.”

Beckett gasped in mock surprise. “You have friends? Why didn’t you say so? I’m sure Mom and Dad would have let you stay home for friends.”

Grandma gave a piercing whistle and Beckett winced.

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