….for many years, something very strange has been happening in a small town in North Carolina. At certain times, a strange light emerges from a graveyard and travels over to the nearby railroad tracks. The light will hover around the railroad tracks, sometimes moving back and forth, up and down. If someone approaches, the light will move closer, as if it has a question to ask. Before dawn, the light will travel back to the cemetery and disappear into one particular grave. The story of what this light is and how it came to be takes us back, to a time when things were a little more exciting than our sleepy town is now.
More than a century ago horse racing, carousing and gambling were all common pastimes in North Carolina. A little town, newly built on the railroad line between Wilson and Goldsboro would throw festivities every summer. Tourists would take day trips from the cities to take part in the excitement and to enjoy the libations that flowed freely all day.
[ “…Bolton was a giant of a man, massively built… with a particularly enormous skull…”]
A regular at these events was a local man by the name of Bolton. Bolton was a giant of a man, massively built, a hulk of muscle and bone, with a particularly enormous skull. He was also a very, very heavy drinker. Whenever there was racing and gambling going on, Bolton would work the crowd performing feats of strength in exchange for a drink. His signature trick was smashing a barrels to pieces using his giant head. He would celebrate his triumph by gulping down a drink that the appreciative onlookers passed his way.
On one of these festival days, the weather was good, the crowd was large and generous, and Bolton had drunk more than even his usual share. He began to boast, saying he could smash anything with his head. He was soon breaking bottles and two-by-fours on his head without seeming to feel any pain. As he became more and more drunk, Bolton’s boasting grew until he declared he could stop a train with his head.
[“…he swaggered down to the railroad tracks and stood right in the middle of the line, sticking his big head out in the direction of the next arrival…”]
By this time, the crowd was nearly as drunk as Bolton, and they cheered him on as he swaggered down to the railroad tracks and stood right in the middle of the line, sticking his big head out in the direction of the next arrival.
In those days, trains ran on time, and so before too long the crowd heard the whistle and the the rumble of the express rolling down the tracks. Now, the sound of an oncoming train was enough to sober up a few of the crowd, who tried to pull Bolton off of the tracks. But he refused, and as the train drew ever closer he loudly proclaimed that he was tougher than any train.
The train soon proved him to be very, very wrong about that…
The crowd gathered what remained of Bolton and carried him down to the graveyard. They found the local preacher and poured enough coffee into him so that he was sober enough to say a few words. After they had buried him, the drinking and carousing continued, but became a wake for Bolton. Folks figured he would have wanted it that way.
Ever since that night, that mysterious light has been seen rising out of the graveyard and traveling to the spot on the railroad tracks where Bolton met his end. Folks who have gotten close enough to the light to get a good look say that inside that eerie green glow seems to be the shape of particularly large human skull. And a few have even said they’ve heard a spectral voice coming from the glow. The voice is indistinct, as coming from another world, but it seems to be asking a question.