The Extended Tale of Carrie’s Ghost


October 1980


Often, during the fall and early winter, I pack my extra big backpack and haul my ass up the side of Sheep mountain to my hunting house. If I can even call it a house, more like a shack with a bed, a wood fire stove, and meat hooks. 

I mostly hunt small game like rabbits and squirrels and I do a fair amount of fishing at Lizard Lake in the summer but I’m also always on the lookout for deer and elk that I can butcher up and sell to friends and restaurants back in town. Sheep Mountain is situated roughly between Marble and Carbondale, it’s a beautiful place, like those you see in fancy gear magazines. Near the base of the West side of the mountain, there are immense open fields, and with the lake and river, it makes for the perfect hunting area.

On this particular day, I was out tracking a big herd of elk that I had heard bugling all night, and I was hoping today would be the day I finally got one. I headed out before dawn and was following Northwest along the Crystal river most of the day. It wasn’t till about 4:30, when I started getting nervous about darkness coming, that I realized I must be getting to the area near the outskirts of the Yule Marble Quarry, just on the edge of town. This area was always obvious due to the giant hunks of marble strewn about the ground and the eerie white glow they reflected on the rocks and trees. After about another half hour or so of poking around, I started heading back home, finally accepting that I had lost the herd. 

I heard an odd whimpering sound coming from a bramble of trees. I assumed it must have been an old pup that had run off and broken its leg on a branch. I didn’t have the heart to let it suffer till death so I tramped over towards the sound through the underbrush to put it out of its misery. 

“Shit,” I muttered as I got caught in the bushes, pausing because the whimpering had stopped abruptly. When I came around the tree, you would never imagine my surprise! There was not, in fact, an injured dog left to die but a terrified, ragged looking boy cowering on the ground. From the looks of him, he was about sixteen, just hitting the peak of puberty and it seemed like he hadn’t showered in days. 

I noticed the front of his shirt was spattered with blood. 

“Woah, woah. Hey, there kid, what might you be doing all the way out here at an hour like this?” I asked cautiously, noticing the way he wrung his hands and quivered his lip.

He said nothing, only stared at me with swollen eyes. Eventually, after coaxing him with beef jerky and water, I managed to get him to start walking with me back to the shack.

“What’s your name kid?” I asked as we stepped side by side. He had hardly said a single word to me yet.

“It’s Valentine,” he said softly and quietly as if he was trying not to disturb the wild.

“Ok Valentine, I’m James. Imma take you back to my hunting hut and get you cleaned up good, then I’ll hear your story.”



It started three or four days ago. I was headed over to the diner with my usual crowd: Miley Jane and Nicky Blinder. We spent nearly every lunch at the same little juice-stained table in the back of Sunshine diner, the only place in town where you could find a shitty cup of coffee no matter the time of day or night. It smelled of burnt toast and lemon floor cleaner whenever you walked in, and the toilet never flushed right on the first try but we had nowhere better to pass the time. It was a quiet day in the shop, no surprise since it was like that most of the time. 

“Anyone know a good ghost story?” asked Miley as we slid into the booth.

“My history teacher was spewing some bullshit the other day,” said Nicky, “about these sirens who snuck aboard these sailor’s ships and ended up dying, but then haunted those ships till the end of time. It was surprisingly engaging.”

“Wow, great story.” I said sarcastically.

“Ooh, am I hearing talk of ghost stories?” Tom, the guy who runs the diner chimes in. He’s a tall bloke with a growing beer belly and a thick, dark beard that’s only gotten scraglier since the death of his wife last year. He’s been behind the counter selling hot dishes and mopping the greasy kitchen floor since I can remember. Considering how much time we spent at Sunshine, we have all become rather friendly with him.

 “You kids obviously know about the old mine up the road, but have you ever heard the real story about why it closed?” he continued.

“I thought it was closed due to a lack of demand for marble during the war,” I said.

“That’s what the company put out to the press, but the real reason is a bit more interesting.”

We all gathered around the front counter with eager ears. It was rare for our little town, of only one hundred and thirty-four people, to have any sort of interesting story.

“The Yule Marble Quarry was a dangerous place to work even in its prime. Unlike most quarries, the deposits of marble are located deep underground at around 9500 ft, meaning miners had to cut and drill into the mountainsides. There were occasional deaths from rock falls or malfunctioning machinery but the most prominent death was the one of Carrie Smith. She was a sweet girl, always did well in school, and was involved in various clubs and things. Despite all that, she never seemed to really fit in. Always seen walking around alone, talking to herself. I know she sometimes got bullied and shunned for being a bit of a weirdo but no one ever did anything too bad to her. You see, she was the daughter of the rather influential man who owned and ran the mine and he simply adored her — light of his life sorta shit. It’s rumored that she would sometimes sneak into the mine to hang out with the boys on their lunch breaks but no one really knows the real reason she went in there.” Tom took a swig of his coffee and continued: “She happened to be down there the day there was an avalanche that ended up crushing all the workers down there at the time, and her. The tragedy wasn’t quite big enough to get into the big news but it was big enough for them to shut down the mine, and Carrie’s father, devastated by the loss, closed off all operations about a week later. These days people like to scare the kids and keep them away from the mine by saying it’s haunted by Carrie’s ghost. I don’t know if I believe it but I do know that weird things happen ‘round there and there’s not always an explanation as to why.”

We had hardly eaten our lunches by the time we had to get back to school but none of us seemed to care. 

“I think ghosts could be real. I mean why not?” I said as we walked back.

“No way! Like Tom said, they are only made up for stories to scare kids.” Nick laughed.

“I’m gonna have to agree with Nick on this one, sorry Val,” added Miley. “I feel like we would have to know more about them by now if, say they were real. Ya know?”

I’d heard some of the rumors that Tom had referred to about the mine being haunted and now it made sense to me why. I imagined what it must be like for Carrie’s ghost stuck down there for decades, trapped and alone. It made my heart ache thinking about it. Nick and Miley were still set in their beliefs. Only saying that I was being stupid and that ghost aren’t real. Despite that, we all seemed to walk a little faster as we passed the closed off turn leading to the quarry. 

The rest of the day went by like nothing at all and soon I was headed back home. I’d spent all of my afternoon periods thinking about what we had heard, about the untold tragedy of our own local quarry. As much as I was saddened by the image of all those innocent people being crushed and was a little scared knowing their bodies were still down there, I wanted more. 

I wanted more stories, more details, I wanted to know if maybe there was really a chance of ghosts down there. The road around me was quiet and empty. I looked around through the trees, a bit uncomfortably aware. A glint of shattered glass, drowning in a muddy puddle caught my eye and it was at this moment on the lonely road home that I had the idea destined to be my downfall: to visit the quarry myself, to quench my own curiosity and prove that, perhaps,  ghosts could be real. 

I felt feverish with excitement and terror and rushed home, up the stairs, slamming the door behind me. All that night I lay awake, eyes locked open with paranoia, thinking of how best to go about executing my idea. 

The next day, Friday, I rose like normal and went about my standard business, only with a little more spark behind my step. The morning had started off rather well but became more drab each time I glanced out a classroom window. I decided that this dreary weather might actually make for the perfect day to go exploring. I could sneak through the mist and quietly make my way up the abandoned road.

I knew I was being dumb, but I secretly hoped it would actually be haunted like people said and the possibility made me tremble slightly with excitement. I figured if any place were to be haunted it would be this crusty old mine, where the sun shone for about a solid five hours a day and the mist hung like a sheet over the valley.

Though I was determined and wanted to claim fearlessness around my quest, I still thought it would be much better with some company. As the final bell rang for the day, I hurried down the hall in search of my sister, Francis. She was a little mouse with sweet eyes and colored hair and would always jump at the opportunity to follow her beloved older brother around in his shenanigans. I thought about taking Miley and Nick but they both had after school activities. They didn’t believe the story anyways. The last thing I wanted was them bailing on me halfway there.

Francis and I started up the road through downtown, past cluttered thrift shops and ski gear stores. Soon, the buildings started to fizzle out of sight and we were left with the lonely road and the mystery ahead. As we walked, I explained the story Tom had told us, though I did sugarcoat it a bit so as not to scare her too much. She listened intently and seemed almost as excited by the possibility of seeing a ghost as I was.

“We can also search for cool abandoned trinkets and machines!” she said with a big smile.

“For sure,” I answered. I had packed in my backpack a flashlight, a couple granola bars, my favorite water bottle, my pocket knife, a lighter for my cigarettes, and a few other essentials. I was most thankful for the flashlight when we finally made it to the front gates of the mine because it was already dusk and the mountains loomed all around us like blackout curtains. All the roads were white and dusty and we were surrounded by stacks and stacks of cut marble slabs, each with neon blue numbers spray painted on the side. There were even still a couple old construction machines strewn about, left to rust.

Soon, we had followed the road all the way up to the face of the mountain, and before us gaped three giant cave entrances. The biggest opening probably went up over 100 feet and I felt like we were standing at the gates of Moria, my neck craning to see up into the shadows. The road continued right through the maw into the cave and there was no gate or anything blocking the way but the instant wall of darkness just inside the mountain created enough of a barrier.

“Are we sure we want to go in there?” Francis asked. I sensed a quiver in her voice and noticed that she had moved right to my side and was clutching my hand with white knuckles. 

“You can wait out here if you want.” I responded, though I really didn’t like the idea of going in alone.

“No way in hell. You go first. I’ll follow right behind.” She still clutched my hand as I stepped forward.

My blood was running so hot I hardly noticed the dramatic drop in temperature inside the cavern. It smelled of mold and I coughed from the white dust our shoes kicked up as we shuffled across the floor. A piercing breeze hit my face and I shuddered as the old air entered my lungs. I had to let go of Francis’s hand to scramble my way over and down the other side of a pile of fallen rubble, deeper into the cave. Once we made it back to flat ground at the base of the inner side of the entrance it was almost pitch black and I felt the sides of the earth closing around me even though I knew the ceilings went very far up and I could feel the vast space. I squatted down to grab my pocket knife out of the side pocket of my backpack, just in case, not that a knife would help against a ghost but it made me feel a little better. 

“Which way should we explore first?” I asked Francis. Ahead of us, further in the cave, there was a giant pit down straight into the earth. It had little wooden railings and ladders around its opening that looked like toothpicks on a bathroom floor against the cool marble. And it seemed like the wood was probably all rotten and falling apart. The walls of the cave were cut in even horizontal lines creating layers that reminded me of our field trip to the rock museum where we looked at layers of rocks and sediment. To our left, there were several normal-sized doorways cut clean into the wall. I tried to imagine how they used to work down here in the darkness without going mad.

I was about to suggest we head to the doorways when all of a sudden my vision went black, my body went cold, and I collapsed to the floor. I heard my sister scream and rush to try and catch me. My body felt foreign and I couldn’t tell what was going on.

“I haven’t felt this warm in decades.” A whispery sweet voice echoed throughout the cave.

“Francis?!” I called out, panicking.

“I’m right here Val, what’s wrong? Please talk to me.” Francis cried.

“It’s ok.” Sang the first voice again. It wasn’t my sister’s and I tried to thrash around and see where it was coming from but I couldn’t move. “Don’t be frightened, I just want to be your friend.” My body still felt limp and cold, and my stomach rolled with nausea.

“Will you be my friend too?” She asked. And it didn’t seem like she was talking to me but to Francis.

“Who are you?” I shrieked. I felt myself sweating and fatigued like I had just run a marathon.


“My name is Carrie.” I said, slightly out of breath, still trying to calm the boy’s body from my presence. I heard him shouting and felt him trying to strain against me but to no avail. I didn’t particularly care about him but I found my eye set on the girl. Francis her name was? It had been so long since I had spoken with anyone I didn’t quite remember the way you were supposed to go about it. And it’s not like I was any good at it when I was alive anyways. I was overwhelmed with excitement and knew the boy’s ears must be turning red.

“Carrie Smith? From the story? Is it really you?” The boy asked eagerly, though I could still feel him quivering with fear.

“Yes, Smith was my father’s name.” I paused and then continued, deciding to feed into his curiosity. “After the incident, it took me about two months to realize no one was coming to find me. And it took me about another three months after that to fully acknowledge the fact that I was dead, still am dead. When I heard your voices outside the cave it drew me out of the ocean of my mind for the first time in I don’t even know how long. Time tends to disappear when you’re alone and left to the cold and darkness.” My two new friends went silent and I felt the openness of the air on skin, a rather nostalgic feeling.

“Please stay,” I begged, speaking just to the girl now. “I don’t want to be alone like that again.” I was quickly getting attached to this feeling of human connection and was beginning to panic as I felt the growing fleetingness of it.

“I- I don’t think I can stay down here,” Francis whispered, slightly fearful.

“No!” I howled. My mind couldn’t face the idea of that emptiness again and who knows when another poor soul might wander into this quarry again. Not even thinking I lunged forward, grabbing Francis before she could try to run. I could hear the boy shouting even more, now hysteric. Francis tried to squirm away and run.

“You’re not going anywhere!” I screamed. The boy was shaking and sobbing so hard I could barely see anything. I felt the boy’s pocket knife still in his hand and in my hysteric and desperate state, couldn’t think of anything else. I plunged the knife into the side of her neck and felt it sink into her soft flesh. The sight of her blood as it sprayed from the wound onto the ground and my face made me nauseous and I backed away in shock as she fell to the ground. Her eyes were still open with surprise as I watched the color drain out of her face. I waited for what felt like an eternity, praying that I would see some sort of sign. Then a moment later, a deep cold washed over me, and her body began to convulse slightly. Like she was being pulled to the heavens her back lifted off the ground and a faint warm light gathered at her chest. Her limbs still hung on the ground as the light grew stronger and stronger. The glow continued upwards until it fully escaped her corpse and I stood in stunned silence. Before me now hovered a perfect, translucent replica of Francis.

“Am I dead?” Francis asked, then looked around the cave in terror. “I thought you said you were alone Carrie. Who are they?” Then, as if the lights had finally been turned on in this dark cave I saw that we were surrounded by a crowd of transparent white faces. They were all clad in dirty workers’ clothes and a few even held pickaxes. I felt my heart drop to the pit of my stomach at the realization of the lie I had been with since death. All I could do was cry.



The moment Carrie’s ghost left my body I felt warmth flood back into my limbs and I took a deep breath of the crisp air. Though my body felt warmer my soul and mind felt like an arctic blast. My sister was dead. Not only that but I had killed her. I had killed my dear little sister. I couldn’t bear the sight of her body collapsed on the floor any longer and I rushed out of the cave as fast as I could in my shaky, panicked state. I scraped my hands and knees as I scrambled over the rocks and the cuts stung as they filled with dirt. I didn’t even look back until I was well away from the entrance to the maw and I only stopped once I had made it out of the gate entrance of the mine. I doubled over and started coughing until I puked right there on the side of the road. Once I was done clearing my stomach I stood up and had the realization that I couldn’t go back home. Not in a million years was anyone going to believe that I had been possessed by a fucking ghost who killed my sister! I just started to run. Adrenaline carried me as I followed along the crystal river for what felt like hours, deep into the night. I don’t remember much of that night beyond that point. I know I was too filled with paranoia to get any sleep and time went by like a blur of fear and tears.

The next morning the sun woke me from my delirious state and I started to get the bearings on my situation. I still had my little backpack with me, though it had not nearly enough food and water to last me any significant amount of time. I fumbled for my lighter and lit a cigarette, thankful for the slight relief. I didn’t know where I was, only that I didn’t really have anywhere to go. I ended up finding a little alcove between a couple of fallen trees and I decided to make that my little camp for the meantime. After I found some water and ate one of my granola bars I lay down in the underbrush and finally fell asleep. I don’t know how long I slept. I only remember waking to the sounds of footsteps crunching through sticks and leaves. 



I wouldn’t have believed this kid’s crazy story if it weren’t for the terror I saw in his eye when I suggested bringing him back home. It had taken him well over an hour to get through his story as it was broken up by fits of tears and panic attacks. The hike back to my hut had gone fine though the boy slowed me down quite a bit and we didn’t get back until well after dark.  I lent him my extra coat and he clutched it around him so tight his knuckles turned white. 

As we walked he kept looking about at the mountain ahead and the nature around us. He even bent down and picked a little flower to shove in his pocket. It was an American Bistort, very common to the area, and a favorite snack for much of the wildlife. I refrained from questioning until we had made it back to the hut and he had gotten some food and hot tea. 

I honestly didn’t know what to do with him, it’s not like I could send him home and I wasn’t about to turn him into the cops, he was too young to face any criminal shit. I ended up letting him stay with me until we came up with a better plan for him. He mostly stayed in the hunting hut, occasionally coming down to my house on the edge of town. I supplied him with water and most of his food though he had quite a knack for hunting himself and would often catch squirrels and other small game to cook up for dinner. I had searched through the old storage boxes in my attic and came across some clothes from when I was little. They were pretty beat up but fit him alright so they were his. I couldn’t tell if he was just lost or confused but he seemed relatively content as it was and he was eternally grateful for my hospitality. Almost every time I saw him he would thank me again for being so understanding and gracious. I really didn’t mind having him around and occasionally I even put him to work: butchering animals, cleaning the hut, etc. If I’m being honest I think I actually really appreciated his company and liked having him around. Every once and a while I even found myself thinking of him as my own kid which freaked me out a bit. After about two weeks we were getting into a nice little routine, one day after an early hike up to the hut I hollered for him.

“Hey Val, it’s me. Guess what I brought? Some special pork chops from the butcher shop in town! I figured we could cook ‘em up tonight with some of them potatoes.” I set my pack down by the door and looked around, surprised that he wasn’t inside near the fire. Maybe he had gone out to the loo? It was too early for him to really be out and about. I began shuffling around the hut busing myself with little tasks and preparations. I started getting suspicious after about two hours and then when he didn’t come back before nightfall I knew something was wrong. I set out with my lantern and searched the area surrounding the hut but found no sign of him. When I went back inside I realized that his clothes and little backpack were gone as well and I put the pieces together. I had no idea where he could have gone and I knew he likely couldn’t have actually gotten that far. I continued to search the area for days but I never found anything, even to this day I still keep an eye out for him, half expecting to find a pile of little bones every time I hike through the woods. Though I knew it was for the best that he left it still hurt me a bit that he didn’t even leave a note.