So this story starts out when I moved to a little town in Michigan called Vernon. It’s so small that it’s actually considered a villiage. I moved there from Flint when I was in 5th grade and started making friends in the neighborhood by the time middle school started.
Some time in 6th grade my friend Brandon and I were walking through town at dusk to head over to his house so I could spend the night. As we were walking, we came across a railroad track. I looked down the tracks and could see that it led to a wooded area. I asked Brandon if we could walk down there to see what’s there.
He said, “You don’t want to go down there. My older brother told me that there’s a man that lives under a bridge,”
He then pointed at the street light on the road by the tracks, “And he said that he saw the man standing under this light at night time just staring at him,”
The sound of that fascinated me. It gave me goosebumps but I indeed drew interest about a little town having a stranger lurking. Brandon then told me that at night time, you can hear him howl like a wolf when a train passes.
I can tell he regretted telling me this because I thus insisted on going down there. He being the frightful one, he stayed by the road to watch out for anybody. Even though I was curious, going by myself had me a little uneasy to find out what was down there.
Only about a half a mile walk did I finally come across a bridge. The tracks that I walked on led to a small railroad track about 40-50 ft. over a river. But as I got closer I looked over to my right and there was a second bridge. It looked exactly like the one I was standing by just older and rustier. I could see that on the steel beams were just worn out 4×4’s barely mounted to it.
Today I still wondered how that bridge came to be. I wonder if the track originally led to that but then they decided to build a new one just 50 yards away. And between the 2 bridges was a very steep valley that leads to the river.
By this time it’s starting to get dark and I carefully descended down to the river to find a bunch of graffiti all over the concrete foundation of the old bridge.
I then start to hear footsteps above the slope and Brandon asking if I were there. He came down to me because standing by himself in the dark was starting to scare him.
With him and I searching, we found what seemed like a campfire and a sleeping bag. Now even 6th grader me could’ve realized that the man Brandon was talking about was a hobo. So in a way I thought , “Oh it’s just a hobo,”. But after some thought I realized that Brandon was right. Even if it’s just a ‘hobo’, he still could be dangerous, he’s clearly living here, and we have no clue where he is.
Brandon and I both looked at each other and agreed that we should probably leave. As we started climbing back up the deep slope on the newer bridge we started hearing shouting from the woods. It both made us freeze. I felt my blood rush down my body. We heard shouting but couldn’t understand what was being said. And then loud mumbling echoed through the river bank. I didn’t realize until looking back that whoever it was, was drunk. We thought at the time that the man found us because we started climbing as fast as possible.
When Brandon and I finally made it to the top that’s when we heard a shout of “HEYY!” And that’s when I never been so scared in my life. We both started sprinting down the railroad tracks as fast as possible.
I could start to hear the branches of the top part of the hill start to rustle. So now I can tell he is almost on the tracks. And I didn’t look back for the life of me.
So coincidentally guess what happens to arrive. Just like the movie Stand By Me, I see the bright lights of the train infront of us coming from the street and head straight towards our direction . That’s when I crossed to the other side of the track, pulling Brandon with me on the hope that zig-zagging each side would have the train cut us off away from this man. And I could see the redlights of the train crossing sign getting closer and closer as that train horn blew. That horn frightened the hell out of me because after that horn I no longer could hear how close the man’s footsteps and shouts were getting. I was waiting to feel a tug on my shirt on any moment as that train brushed past us shaking our clothes.
Finally we made it to the street. It being such a small town, there were no cars waiting to pass, so there was no body to help us. I looked down the tracks to see if he was still chasing us and I saw no figure. “Thank God!” I said to Brandon, “He’s on the other side,”
With much haste, we headed over to his house not wanting to be any closer to that train, let alone those woods. And I finally looked back to see the train fully move past. Once able to see the other side of the street, there he stood in the light with a bottle in his hand staring at us. The train horn blew, he leaned back and howled.
Brandon and I tried to avoid that area of the town in case we would ever encounter him again and we warned everybody in our grade. We told stories like he might one day decide to kill the whole town because I still hear every now and then of people who claim to have seen him. He’s like a town legend that goes by “The Man”. I haven’t been back to Vernon since I moved out in High School but I still wonder if that man is still alive or lurking around those woods.