Today’s story comes from Spirits of Christmas: The Dark Side of the Holidays, by your hostess with the mostest ghosties…
Rufus Porter was a well-regarded journalist who lived in the Pike’s Peak region near Cascade, Colorado. Porter was known as the “Hard Rock Poet”, and he wrote many short poems about the human condition — not fancy poetry, but words that ordinary people could enjoy.
In December 1960, Porter was riding the rails from Spokane to Seattle. For want of a ticket, he was huddled in an open boxcar. When the train started to cross the Cascade Mountains, the temperature, already brutally cold, fell to below zero.
Porter knew he couldn’t survive much longer. Near Leavenworth, Washington, he caught a glimpse of a work camp. He jumped the train and headed painfully towards the camp to seek shelter. He made his way to the watchman’s cabin, where a light burned a cheerful welcome in the window. With the last of his fading strength, Porter pounded on the door.
An older, bearded man with kind eyes opened the door. He ushered Porter into the cabin, out of the bitter cold. He sat him down next to the fire, knelt before him, and slipped his cold boots off. He fed Porter, and treated his frostbite. But when Porter tried to thank him, or engage him in conversation, the man would only reply with one simple phrase: “I am your brother.”
After a night spent in a warm, comfortable bed, Porter left the work camp and made his way to Leavenworth. When he got to town, he told his story of being rescued by the watchman, and of being invited into the warmth and safety of the cozy cabin.
Porter’s tale was met with sideways looks and outright denial. The work camp outside of town had been deserted for years, people told him, and the watchman who had supposedly cared for him was long dead.
Porter refused to believe this. The man’s glances of kindness, his generous care, the humble way in which he would say, “I am your brother” — it all stayed planted firmly in Porter’s mind. He decided to go to the work camp in daylight to see things for himself.
He found the camp abandoned, just as the men in town had told him. There was no sign of life anywhere in the camp. And the ashes of the fire on the hearth in the watchman’s cabin were cold and dead.
If you enjoyed this story, there are many, many more between the pages of Spirits of Christmas: The Dark Side of the Holidays. You can find copies on Amazon — the ebook version is here — or at Bookshop.org. (Here’s the Bookshop link. I like sending people to Bookshop.org because with every purchase, you’re supporting independent bookstores. Amazon doesn’t need our help.)
Also if you enjoyed this story, head on over to www.weirddarkness.com . I’ll bet they have cookies …