“Strunke City Derail” – a short story by Murphy Edwards


Yeah okay, so I’m really late on posting this, but for this year’s R.I.P. challenge, I decided to read 13 short stories, 3 by “mainstream” (whatever that is) authors and ten by local, “indie” (whatever that is) authors. I blogged about one of the mainstream stories, Axolotl, previously, and this time I’d like to feature one of the ten indie/local author stories, Murphy Edwards’ “Strunke City Derail,” which I own as part of the “Terror Train Anthology.” (My list of stories I read for R.I.P. may be found here, but I’ll probably only end up posting about a few of them.

Strunke City Derail

There are some great moments in literature and cinema where machines have become our enemies. Somewhat rarer moments, however, are when beloved characters must enlist the aid of machines when they find themselves physically overmatched by whatever foe an author or film director has served up. For example…


(“Get away from her, you BITCH!” A machine-fortified Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in “Aliens” delivers one of the great lines in cinema history)

Anyway, on to this story…

“Ain’t every day you witness your own sweet Daddy swallowed up by some oozin’ stink-lump from a train wreck.”

This story is told in the first person by a young boy, and in a rough, redneck-ish patois that is likely common in the fictional “Strunke City” – “a little ol’ piss-hole of a town located just about twenty miles outside of Who Gives a Shit.” The boy rides along with his father (“Daddy-paw”) to retrieve a forgotten item at his job site at the railyard one day, and they arrive upon a scene of great carnage…

Seems there has been a train derailment, but there’s much more than that going on. Among the wreckage is a rail car unlike anything any of those present has ever seen before. It’s sides “was painted up all black and orange with an evil lookin’ silver quarter moon on each corner.” The lettering on the side of the car indicates its origin as “Shull Fruit and Vegetable Express,” though our narrator says that “I ain’t never seen fruit hauled in nothin’ lookin’ like this.”

(Below: the iconic quarter moon-face logo of Procter & Gamble. I searched online but I can find no record of a Shull Fruit and Vegetable Express anywhere in that conglomerate’s corporate structure. 🙂 )


Turns out the car contains an epic monster of unknown origins, one that makes short work of one of the rail yard’s workers, Jim Ed Sommers, and is partway en route to doing the same to the narrator’s daddy-paw. This is when the young narrator fires up “one of them big and dangerous track hoes what they use to dig at dirt and coal and such” and takes on the beast…

(Below: I’m not sure if this is what the machine looks like that the young narrator of this story uses to take on the monster, but I’m imagining it as something similar…)


I enjoyed the story a lot, in particular the written “voice” of the young narrator. Want to listen to this story? It’s available as an installment of The Terror Train Podcast at http://terrortrain.wordpress.com/ you’ll have to scroll down a bit to get to this particular story, and of the 27 minute audio, the actual story begins about 5 minutes in, after a lengthy introduction. And the story ends about the 22 minute mark, so that’s about 17 minutes of listening time. :-). The book itself may be found for sale on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Terror-Train-Mathias-Jansson-ebook/dp/B00KYWRWS2 – Kindle version only $3.99.

(Real world train derailments are nothing to be amused about – below From The Columbus Dispatch via foxnews.com a July 2011 derailment near Columbus, OH.



  1. Matt Cowan said,

    November 10, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    Great review of Murphy’s story, Jay! Murphy is a fantastic writer!


    • Jay said,

      November 10, 2014 at 11:03 pm

      Thanks, Matt. I’d read another story of his before – I think it was called “Bumper Music”(?). It was good also. 🙂


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