Otterman’s Quarry (A Story from the Madhouse)

     The full moon broke free of bondage behind a once overcast evening as the clouds began to move on, unable to hold back moonlight any longer. The children welcomed the new light with relief, for story time was about to begin and there were always too many ghost stories shared.  Within the small camp at the bottom of Otterman’s Quarry, a remnant of Miss Hoffman’s seventh grade class, eight boys and six girls, all huddled around the small camp fire waiting for fright night to begin.
     The school bus stood nearby, at the edge of their small camp where several tents were pitched.
     Each year, Miss Hoffman volunteered to take her English class out on a camping trip in the spring, with a couple of parents as chaperones and a bus driver. The only requirement was that each student in attendance had to come up with their own story to tell. Those that couldn’t make the trip would have to write a story for homework, while the rest were graded on oral presentations at camp.
     It was Cynthia’s turn to spin a tale, as Miss Hoffman was fond of saying. Cynthia looked around nervously, reaching for her story that was folded up on a sheet of paper.
     “Once upon a time,” She began, “there was a girl who had a doll that spoke.”
     Timmy Horace, self appointed class clown, snorted from behind Susan Crawford. Soon all the kids were laughing.
     “Don’t you start, Timmy!” Miss Hoffman scolded. “Or would you like to tell your story first?”
     That was enough to silence the crowd and keep Timmy in line. Scary stories were one thing, but nothing was more frightening then having to go first. Cynthia’s shaking hands were a testament to that fact.
     “Go on, Cynthia,” Miss Hoffman encouraged, “You’re doing fine.”
     Cynthia continued her story about an evil talking doll and the mischief it caused. She relaxed by the time she was half way through the telling. As Cynthia neared the end of her tale, she said, “Late one night, the little girl was crying because she missed her dog that had mysteriously went missing.” Cynthia got into her tale now and finished in a creepy voice, “That was when the doll finally spoke to her and said, ‘Little girl, it was I that killed your dog!'”
     This gave them all chills, even Timmy the clown.
     “Well done, Cynthia,” Miss Hoffman said, believing her tale finished. “Now, who would like to go-”
     Cynthia interrupted, “Then the evil doll looked at all the children who rode the bus that night.” Cynthia’s voice seemed to change as she said this, pausing to point at each of the kids around the fire, “Then that doll said, ‘You are all fucking dead, every single one of you!'”
     This made them all shift uncomfortably, including Miss Hoffman who was stunned. She regained herself quickly, “Ok, Cynthia, that’s quite enough of that. You scared everyone pretty good. Who’s next?”
     Cynthia looked confused and said, “Sorry, Miss Hoffman, I don’t know where that came from. It wasn’t part of my story.”
     “That’s ok dear, you just got a little carried away,” Miss Hoffman said.
     “I’ll go next,” volunteered Timmy.
     Surprised and relieved to have a new distraction, Miss Hoffman said, “Ok, Timmy, please proceed.”
     Timmy started telling a story of space aliens that took over the world by farting on earthlings. Then something happened as he interrupted his own tale, speaking in a voice not his own, “All of you fell from the sky, and died horribly in the fire.”
     Again, the kids were caught off guard by this. But some were slowly becoming aware of something strange.
     “Timmy! What was that nonsense?” Miss Hoffman asked. First Cynthia with her story, now Timmy was acting weird.
     Timmy appeared shocked and covered his own mouth, afraid of what would come out of it next. He then sat down, giving Miss Hoffman a troubled look.
     Miss Hoffman grew alarmed with what she saw in Timmy’s eyes. He looked afraid. Before she could address this, Susan Crawford stood up and started her story.
     “Headlights in my eyes! Headlights in my eyes! Horns blaring!” Susan shouted.
     Before Miss Hoffman could say another word, Jason Boyd got up.
     “Scratching! Scratching! We couldn’t get out! Windows jammed! Sparks flew across the night!” Jason said.
    “Guardrail gave way!” Another girl added.
     Then Timmy repeated, “All of you fell from the sky! Burned alive!”
     Miss Hoffman was alarmed. She wanted to believe that she was the victim of some terrible joke the kids were playing. But their faces held no humor.
     “Boom! Boom! Fire!” Cynthia shouted from directly behind her, making Miss Hoffman jump.
When she turned to look at her, Cynthia’s face appeared disfigured with burns. 
     Miss Hoffman backed away, “What is this? What are you kids doing?”
     They were all up now, chanting, “Boom! Boom! Fire!” 
     Every one of them were now badly burned.
     Miss Hoffman wanted to scream but couldn’t get it out. She turned for the school bus, anything to escape those charred children’s faces, and found the blackened remains of an old blown up and heavily damaged vehicle instead.
     “What the hell is going on?” She shouted.
     From inside the destroyed bus, someone opened the door.
     Of course, Miss Hoffman thought, the chaperones! They must be in on this! Some very bad and tasteless joke!
     She found it strange she had not thought of them, or seen them all evening until now.
     Were they in the bus this whole time? Miss Hoffman thought.
     Before she could enter, she saw the remains of a severely burned man sitting in the driver’s seat. The man turned his head toward her and said in a raspy voice, “Hey teach, you’re not supposed to be here. It’s time to go.”
     Miss Hoffman screamed then fell backwards into the ashes of an ancient fire pit that was lit just moments before. She continued to scream, raising her hands before her face, as she heard the footsteps of the children approaching. Miss Hoffman looked up at the first child. It was Cynthia, but she was no longer burned.
     I’m losing my mind, she thought.
     “No you’re not, Miss Hoffman,” Cynthia said with a smile.
     Miss Hoffman looked at the rest of them. They were all normal looking again.
     “What’s happening to me?” She asked.
     “You’re not supposed to be here, Miss Hoffman,” Timmy replied. “None of us are.”
     “You keep bringing us back here,” Cynthia added.
     “What on earth are you kids talking about?” Miss Hoffman asked. That was when she noticed her own hands were covered in burns. “What? What is this?” She then closed her eyes and shouted, “Just get away from me, whatever you things are! Just get away!”
     Cynthia and Timmy looked at each other. Cynthia said, “She’s still not ready to hear it.”
     “I know,” Timmy responded, shaking his head sadly.
     As Miss Hoffman rolled into a ball in the center of old ashes, the children looked over to see two burned chaperones step off the mangled old bus and wave for them to get on. The kids looked back at Miss Hoffman as Cynthia said, “Miss Hoffman, it’s time to go. Will you come this time?”
     Miss Hoffman was now covering her ears and sobbing uncontrollably.
     The children loaded the bus and simply disappeared, along with the two chaperones. A few minutes later, Miss Hoffman faded away as the first traces of morning kissed the horizon.  All that remained was the burned up and rusted hulk of an old school bus.
     By the next evening, they would all be back to tell stories, stories they’ve told again and again for five years now. Miss Hoffman kept coming back. Miss Hoffman kept bringing them all back.


     At the top of Otterman’s Quarry, the remaining students of Miss Hoffman’s class had erected a small wooden cross near a busted out guardrail five years ago. Each year they took turns coming back to remember their friends that died when a drunk driver swerved in front of the school bus and caused it to go over the quarry and crash below. The bus exploded on impact killing everyone in the inferno.
     Otterman’s Quarry has been closed to the public ever since.
     It’s been said that on nights the full moon is out, especially near Halloween, you can walk near the cliffs of the quarry and hear the voices of children coming from down below carried by the wind.  If you listened real close, you might catch a ghost story or two.


“Otterman’s Quarry” Copyright © 2010 Scott Scherr.  All rights reserved. From the new book “Madhouse Theater” by Scott Scherr and John Ecko.


We hope you’ve enjoyed this ghost story from Madhouse Theater.  Happy Halloween!  



From the collaborative madness of story teller and poet, Scott Scherr, and visual poet, John Ecko, comes this twisted collection of short stories, poetry, and visual nightmares from the darkest corners of their unbalanced minds. The stage is set, our props have been sharpened and our cast of characters are ready to perform their torture on you, fair reader. Within these pages wait a vast assortment of sickos, maniacs, boogeyman, monsters, myths, ghosts and much, much more. Please, take your seats and welcome to the theater. We hope you enjoy the show…although you’ve been here all along.
Madhouse Theater is now available for purchase.  Please go and check out my new blog to see an expanded preview of what’s inside the Madhouse.

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2 Responses to “Otterman’s Quarry (A Story from the Madhouse)”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by j. michael raymond, John Ecko. John Ecko said: Otterman's Quarry (A Story from the Madhouse): […]

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