Salish Horror (Draft II)

Salish Horror (Draft II)

A Story by I Cast a Shadow

Told from the mouth of a mysterious Native Salish Orator rather than the traditional legend style gothic fiction.


Chief Miakoda the Salish Horror (Draft II)

by Casey Martin

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” - Howard Philips Lovecraft of  Providence, RI

The following legend is widely unknown and was carried down through a peaceful group of people known in their time as the Salish and the Kalispel. Their legends of mysticism might come off as superstition but one must keep this in mind -- the universe is infinite and the forces within it are unknown. Many phenomena have been rationalized by science, and religion attempts to solve phenomena in a similar way that legends do. However, there are phenomena that cannot be explained by either and are simply not the workings of chemical reaction, God’s divinity, Poseidon’s might, or in this case, the Raven’s supernatural power. The spectrum and understanding in which humans view the universe is remarkably narrow as it is limited to Earth; a mere spec floating silently in an ocean shared with other specs, currents, and giants. So narrow, in fact, that the inability to conceive the unknown thereby causes humans to suffer from subtle to severe cases of anxiety, which leads to fear. This is a legend of anxiety, fear, and phenomena that could only be explained if the universe spoke in a voice which Man could decipher. 

-The Northwest- 

Desert; clad in endless sage spread across swollen and bulbous hills that roll strangely, and valleys; trapped in time away from the oceans and fault lines but not so far to reap bounty of their power. This sacred place is fed by the rich and teeming waters of the Columbia River and protected by the wise and stern mountains surrounding. Scorching hot and arid summers contrasted equally by brisk and gripping winters. The desert lands of what are now Eastern Oregon, Washington, and Southern Idaho border a wide and trailing river; let free from an enormous and ancient prehistoric glacier in the North where it so freely and with unyielding force carved out what is known now as the Columbia River Gorge. The river spread further still into several tributaries that tangle and twist wildly like giant watery roots through immense woodlands that eternally gaze out on the Channeled Scablands to the West. A land once claimed by the Kalispel and the Salish people between the regions of Kootenai to the North and of Coeur d’Alene to the South forms the setting of the following legend. A rail road separated the land as yet another solution to Manifest Destiny. 

-Oral Tradition-

An elder Native Salish man stood beyond a camp fire. Loose fitting deer skin breechclouts draped over his feeble, though still capable legs, above rabbit skin moccasins. He wore a deer skin shirt that was well-worn. The face he also wore was magnificent and long. The wrinkles from his neck all the way up to the forehead were like the rivers and valleys that the tribesman lived on; deep, high, and full of wisdom. The crackling fire cast eerie shadows upon him. He stood nearest it and around him were children, women, and men alike, their tribe all dressed in traditional garb. This particular night was a special occasion. The Chief celebrated this night in acknowledgment of the strange happenings of generations before. This elder chief called Demonthin. He was the last of the men that lived among the one who is called “Old Chief Blood Moon” for no one can utter the real name of a passed chief, Chief Miakoda or “One Born During Earthquake”. The Kalispel tribe as well as the Salish would never again utter the name of a deceased, however, in this strange and special occurance, they gave him a new name that would live on forever. On this chill, twilit autumn night the air was stagnant and there was not a stir in the woods. One could almost hear the sounds of space and the stars burning high in the abysmal outer reaches of the galaxy. This night marked the night of Chief Miakoda’s mysterious disappearance. Chief Demonthin would recall and tell the tale that led up to his disappearance for the first time since it occurred more than sixty years before. Chief Demonthin explained that the stars must be right. Descendants gather around close to the fire away from the cold shadows behind them and listen with reverence and eagerness to a Legend never yet heard. Chief Demonthin began the oration with the construction of the rail road.

-The Rail Road-

“It cut like a crude bone saw through the land; killing all and scarring it under its tracks.” Chief Demonthin orated pointing in the direction of the rail road to the South. “Immense beasts of steal and iron tore through the land day in and day out mocking the neighboring Salish tribesmen. Our tribe of the Kalispel and the Salish watched with patient and hungry eyes from our remaining lands. Like large starving beasts kept in small and tight cages. We could not do anything!” he waved his hand violently. 

“It is said that on one black night, a tribesman called Cocheta delivered a boy during an earthquake. The moon was wet that night and seemed to drip with horrifying fury a fiery liquid down to Earth making it shudder. The baby boy is now called Chief Blood Moon but they knew him then by another name.” The audience all knew he meant Chief Miakoda though none dared speak it. One young Native edged nervously toward the fire. The Chief continued, “Blood Moon grew slowly. So slowly that his body could not hold his spirit without causing him suffering. His parents knew something was wrong when Blood Moon turned one year old and he had not changed in physique but in size only. It was as if the very presence of his spirit within his body was not new but old and worked to stretch out the body it rested in. Blood moon gained stretch marks and was constantly in discomfort. He would cry for hours until his parents gave him herbs to settle him. By the age of five years, Blood Moon had developed a small hunch. His skin was stretched hard and tight and looked always as if it was about to tear open. He thrashed and weeped less from pain. He had become used to his aches and pains of uncomfortable growth. The grotesque image of Blood Moon became an oddity to the tribe. They could not explain it and only recalled the night on which he was born. The earthquake.” Chief Demonthin grew quiet and the audience grew closer to hear his words. 

“Some say that it was the earthquake that set free a spirit of a forgotten god. One full of anger and bitterness and melancholy from the depths of the Earth. Some say the earthquake distorted the spirit that entered his body and made it disfigured and wrong. Some others say that it wasn’t the earthquake at all. They insisted that it was the moon that night -- the gateway in the sky to another realm of gods. They said that the gods saw what the white men were doing to the Earth as they began to fulfill Manifest Destiny and they saw our anger and frustration as a tribe. They began to believe that Blood Moon was a gift to their people’s anger and hostility toward the White man. Our people of the past felt that Blood Moon was a gift from the supernatural world brought by the Raven through the gateway of the moon to punish the White man.” The Chief casted a hand shadow by the light of the fire -- a bird -- an ember burned brightly in the bird’s shadow staring from the head of it. It was strikingly eerie the way it angrily burned and then faded out as the chief continued on. “They believed that Blood Moon was a tool of destruction. A dark engineer of malevolence.” The Chief cleared his throat and began speaking in a clearer and more pronounced and informative way.

“Blood Moon continued to grow and was trained as a warrior and a hunter. His strength was incredible and surpassed the rest of the boys in his group. He surprised them all with his disfigurements. He was fifteen years old but still only looked like he was about ten or eleven. His hunch was slightly more pronounced now. One of his eyes was lazy and the other appeared dead though he admitted he could see perfectly well in an already low and rasping voice, torn from the constant screams and cries of his childhood.

The tribe’s initial beliefs of Blood Moon being an old spirit and a dark messenger seemed to be verified at his absolute and intense hatred for the train. He would be up all night sometimes screaming in long guttural moans and shrieks that trilled and howled on for hours sometimes.  While he was awake or asleep the tribe did not know for he was isolated for the comfort of the other tribes people. He could not control his anger of train’s presence and thrashed through the forest at night without fear of the beasts that dwell there. For years and years his anger slowly built as he grew more and more lumpy and gruesome until one night. . . One cold and bitter Winter night. . .  His horrible rage could be contained no longer.

By this time he had been taught almost everything that the tribe had to offer and still he only craved for more.” The Chief’s voice began to shake almost out of fear. “It was terrifying and horrible! There were cries and screams of more than one voice!” The chief looked frightened and eyed the cold shadows behind the audience. They too began to fear the shadows and turned around -- alert. “I heard them clearly. Crying and howling in horror! It seemed like it lasted for an hour with short periods of silence. Then. We all awake and watching. Heard the irregular footpace of Blood Moon as he hobbled with immense strength from the twisted wood. He came slowly out of the shadows with two full sized wolves over his shoulder; both dead and dripping with blood. He confessed that he had slaughtered a whole pack of them and sure enough, when the sun rose, we went out to see.” His voice became more calm, “The first two looked like their necks were broken and one also had a broken jaw with its tongue lolling out but the rest of the pack. . .” He paused and then with wide shining eyes continued, “The rest of the pack was found in a small span of wood not far from this very spot. They were all ripped apart and strung up in the limbs of the trees. The tribe asked him why and he only replied in a hoarse, low voice: 

“The trains.” 

“After that, the chief at the time had told him to speak to the shaman. The shaman had told him many things -- revealing to him the truth of his birth and how they though him to be a dark messenger. The shaman and Blood Moon looked at one another for a long time after the shaman finished speaking about how they did not want to affect his upbringing. Blood Moon knew that he was different and had rationalized it. He knew he was special. He was stronger because of his disfigurement. He had a gift of long life, it seemed as he aged twice as slow as those around him. But it wasn’t until now that he felt like a monster sent by the supernatural realm of gods and spirits during the time of the train’s construction and completion. Blood Moon’s wildly disfigured face from his wide thick lips like slugs and his pointed chin, from his strangely pronounced pointed nose out to his likewise ears like a goblin, from his asymmetrical and glazed eyes up to his lumpy forehead, from his largely protruding head following his long long thick black hair that we cherish so deeply, he contemplated and thanked the shaman. He went out and collected up the wolf carcasses and returned to his tipi where he stayed for three months. While in self exile, he chanted an eerie song that none of us had heard before. It wasn’t even in our tongue. It was dark. . . slow. Not a chant. But a drone.” Chief Demonthin tried to replicate the sound as he remembered and two of the children began to cry. Their mothers looked troubled and looked at the Chief with pleading eyes and he stopped the horrifying drone to continue.

“He came out one day wearing thick skins and furs of the wolves and said that he had survived on their meat while exiling himself to his tipi just outside of the tribe’s clearing here where we are sitting. Blood Moon told us that he had also been visiting the train tracks every night for the past month. He told us that he had been inspecting them and knew how they worked. We were all wary of him but also inspired by him as he spoke in almost growls. He had found a lone train engine and figured out how it worked. Even our chief at the time was inspired and humbled by his actions. He recognized that he could no longer carry the tribe any longer as he was growing ill and passed the title of Chief down to Blood Moon. The old Chief gave Blood Moon praise and felt that he could lead the tribe into a more successful day beyond his own.”

“He taught all of us warriors and hunters how it worked. The boiler, pumps, injectors, valves, gauges, brakes, blower, buffers, pilots, cylinders, bells, whistles, and so on until it became easy to understand like we had built it ourselves. It wasn’t until then that any of us had seen the train close up. He took us down to it. Before then we could not go down there in fear of being spotted and killed but now with Chief Blood Moon, we were no longer afraid but somehow felt more powerful.” The chief began to pass loaves of camas (a Native made bread) around.

“It was on a night very much like this night, tonight, that Chief Blood Moon took us down to the train. He had a plan and we all knew what it was.” The Chief gripped a chunk of camas and tore a piece greedily between his teeth, chewed, and swallowed. “We followed his strong heavy, lurching, crutchless (for he never used or seem to need one with his immense strength that seemed to outweigh his deformities). . . Where was I? Ah, yes. Crutchless hobble all the way down to the tracks and to the lone train engine where he showed us all how the train operated. We all understood. And then. He told us. To wait.”

“We waited with anticipation. Chief Blood Moon gazed down the tracks with the patience of stone. It began to rain, and rain hard. Many of us sought shelter but not Chief Blood Moon. He stood like a statue gazing down the tracks beneath the cold downpour without a word or a shudder. Then we felt it. A strange vibration and the distant deep bellow of a train whistle and the chug that was slowly decreasing in rhythm. It came into sight. We were all frightened and anxious. It stopped and for a moment we starred in awe at the electric lit train. It was almost glorious. The door opened and the people inside saw Chief Blood Moon and stopped for an instant. The Chief bellowed in a booming voice. The signal!” 

With these words, Chief Demonthin exploded with dramatic poses; stamping his feet and raising his clenched fists with a warrior’s fury as he shouted out the scenes with violent detail, “All of us armed with obsidian knives and some with large blunt tools from nearby the tracks left behind sprung suddenly leaving behind all senses of fear and instead gained strong spirits of savagery! Passengers. Mouth agape. Choking suddenly on his own blood as a knife was dragged behind it. Woman and children stabbed repeatedly into a pulp of expensive city clothing and gift boxes. Screams of bloody murder and massacre. It seemed to last a lifetime. A lust for chaos. We felt every stroke. Every bead of blood mixed with our sweat. And we saw as Chief Blood Moon began to rip open the freshly dead and strung them up the trusses of the train by their own innards. None alive. Sinews of meat and organs strung like decor. Bones stripped clean and attached to outside fixings. The battle cries were deafening and insane as if possessed by the spirits of the spirit world. Many believed they were.” The Chief’s voice didn’t slow but began to take on a rhythm that drove the legend like a train starting up and now in full swing.

“Chief Blood Moon became the driver, another man in charge of the boiler, and myself, the engineer. We operated the train and drove it along a mining track that was seldom used for passenger trains. We began reworking the train and rebuilding it to the Chief’s orders. The bells and whistles were removed. The headlights were dimmed with the blood of the passengers. And finally the bodies were all carefully taken down piece by piece and used as fuel for the train.” The boys in the tribe were wide-eyed in fear and excitement. The girls looked away to their mothers who disapprovingly eyed Chief Demonthin, while some girls sat with the boys either listening or huddled close together. The men sat enthralled just as much as the younger men and children.

“The next night. We, under Chief Blood Moon drove the engine and cars as if it were a regular scheduled train having studied the logs and schedules from a journal kept from the previous engineer. As we neared our destination, Chief Blood Moon would direct us in his eerie chant. Horrible. Like from outer space. The Chief told us that he heard it in dreams and that it came from “Red men” though not unlike us that lived in the Earth. Asleep. . . We chanted and droned loudly continually until we reached our destination. The train came to a halt and hissed. The sounds of our drones. The smell of burning flesh and diesel fuel and the air dark with its noxious fume. The potential passengers were agape with horror and frozen stiff as we greeted them with happy battle cried and almost inhuman shrieks that echoed and rattled them so into madness.” 

The Chief’s mouth dripped with increased saliva and his stare was enough to penetrate any member of the tribe into instant submission. His flashbacks were vivd and terrible. “Again, no one was left alive. We left the bloody mess and kept the bodies as partial fuel. We worked diligently and obsessively under the quiet Chief Blood Moon. We stopped at dozens of stations across the United States murdering dozens of people at a time.” Suddenly, The old man stopped and sat down beyond the fire wiping his face from sweat and saliva. Everyone watched him and not as much afraid of the legend now but almost more so of the chief. And then began slowly again in a stern and serious voice like a parent warning a child that they must never do something that might kill them.

“On this very night sixty-three years ago,” he said. “We were coming back this way from tracks in the East and the train began to run out of fuel. The chief called to me. Though not in speech. I heard him in a dream or vision. . . He spoke in a strange tongue with many trills, growls, and short striking coughs. . . It was like he was trying to succeed his own physical being and attempting to speak in a tongue unattainable by man. . .” He spoke with his face beyond the flame, difficult to make out though the audience could hear him awfully well. “Though it was a strange and frightening language, I understood it perfectly. In the vision or dream, (for I cannot recall whether I was sleeping or merely in a trance), he came to me from flames. The flames burned deafeningly loud and were trailing downward from up above. I saw no room where I was. Only blackness all around. He protruded through the darkness wearing a robe much like our customary funeral robes though they looked like they were once white and now stained and crusted over in blood. His stare was penetrating and his eyes burned brightly. . . He told me that he was leaving us to be with the Red men that he claimed visited him the night of the massacre of the wolves. He said that I would become chief after him and that the engine was to be dismantled. He said that he would come back to take us with him where we could live forever and told us not to be afraid.” The Chief’s voice dropped suddenly into a bass drone whisper.


Then the Chief’s drone grew deeper and harsher and vibrated loud. The audience of descendants could feel it within them. His mouth descended, jaw agape, and distortedly drew open longer and longer and the flames grew higher and higher. “MÖØØØØomm------------MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!” Out from the distance in the black and icy wood they also heard an irregular and guttural chanting heard in a bass voice in chaotic harmony with a droning hum and a locomotive chug in the distance beyond view at the station down the way. The train gradually getting louder though they see nothing. Then. They see it. The dim reddish glow of the moon uncovered by dense, black Autumn clouds and of a headlight beyond the bend in the trees accompanied by the foul and abominable stench of diesel and burning bodies as the train begins to near. A ghastly phantom train charging at unholy speeds smashing through the trees and through the audience as an ear-splitting sound echoes through them and the morbidly disfigured visage of Chief Miakoda  Blood Moon bursts into their mind when they close their eyes reaching out for them beyond the shadows and pouring down deafening flames in his blood stained garments! “MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMØØØØØØØHHHHHHHHHHHHIIIIIIiiiiiIIIIII!!!”


Some say that there was one that had not been taken that night so that he or she could tell the legend of Chief Miakoda Blood Moon. The legend is indeed weird as it is frightening and so little known but however little known that it is, people that go near the train tracks and experience a horror not easily described. Near Sandpoint, Idaho are where the tracks run. On nights unexpected, whether it cold and miserably wet or hot and dry as a bone, will come the distant hum and chug in horrific harmony and there will be the putrid stench of burning flesh and diesel. To come lastly is the most horrible of all. In the dark recesses of the forest wherein hides the sounds and the stenches come the sight of a faint red glow that grow as they approach slowly. Closer and closer and louder and louder until the inescapable spectral roar of the engine has them and for a better place to close their eyes shut, the maddening and disfigured visage clad in black and scorched red appears in their mind! Many have thrown themselves onto these tracks and some say that the Ghost Train tore into their minds before they were drowned or ran down. Far worse it is though to have survived the cursed horror near Lake Pend Oreille.

© 2012 I Cast a Shadow

Author's Note

I Cast a Shadow
Reflective Memo

This story was not the original that I had written at all. First, I had taken elements of Poe in terms of graphic horror and gothic fiction and tried to also incorporate the anxiety effects applying it contrasting onto Native Americans with an anxiety of the white men rather than vice versa the way that it appeared when gothic fiction really began to emerge in early America. My first draft was successful having taken on the form of a legend modeled loosely after the headless horseman. It was really good but I rushed through it a bit too harshly and it felt flat in the middle so I decided to rewrite it with a different view as told rather than read. That is where I felt I went wrong. I really do not like much of this draft to be honest and I can assure that it is far from done. I am going to take elements from this draft and apply them to the last draft that I need to transcribe as instead of saving the old draft, I deleted it completely writing this draft. I learned much doing research and writing as well. I will try to get the first draft turned in as well. I imagine the old draft with much more vivid imagery similar to this draft without getting over the top graphic like a King novel. I also would substitute the introduction I wrote for this story to the one that I wrote for the rough draft. I hate Chief Demonthin. He’s cheesy and distracts from the story and that was not my intention.
I grew up with ghost stories as a child and trains always frightened me. I went camping a few times and would hear them roaring after my Grandpa would tell an old ghost story called “The Golden Arm” about some miners. I also grew up near a court house that had jails in the basement and at night I would hear the prisoners howl and scream. I grew up in the Columbia River Gorge and the culture runs through my veins and I take pride in it. I felt it appropriate to introduce the landscape and the people during the time it takes place. My next step is to try to make it very dark and haunting. I want people to have nightmares! I love the culture of the Natives in this area and thought this story to be a great revenge piece. My goal was to make it haunting and very frightening but I feel I failed greatly in the second draft. Once I finish the third draft, I will post it. Hopefully it will be the last. I'd like to move on with the Red Men Chronicles. This was more for me to figure out the story than for you to read but I thought I would put it up anyway.

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I liked this. For starting the story, the first draft is better. This would actually be a good continuation in the Chronicles.

Posted 11 Years Ago

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Added on April 20, 2012
Last Updated on April 20, 2012
Tags: horror, Salish, native american, draft, train, cosmic, fear, unknown


I Cast a Shadow
I Cast a Shadow

Portland, OR

I read classics, science fiction, philosophy, and very little fantasy. I am inspired by Taoism and other Eastern philosophy, anarchy, new concepts, my ancestry, my muse, her family, my own family, .. more..