All the men working in the Melt Shop of the steel mill soon learned to be very careful around the furnace and the ladles full of molten steel. Every worker feared what would happen if the chains holding the ladles full of hot liquid ever broke while they passed overhead. Burning to death in molten steel might be a quick demise, but it would be agonizing.
One poor fellow who used to work in the Melt Shop had tripped over a rigger hose back in 1922 and had fallen into a ladle of hot steel. His body was immediately liquefied; there was nothing left for his family to bury save for a small nugget of steel that was skimmed from the tainted ladle before its contents was dumped into a vacant lot. From that day onward, the workers said that the workman’s ghost clanked and moaned its way around the Shop at night, searching for his dead body.
Now the newest steel worker, a young man recently moved to Johnstown, laughed mockingly when he heard the story about the ghost. He even volunteered to work the late shift just to prove to the other men that they were wrong about the ghost. The young man liked the extra money this earned him, and soon his reputation for fearlessness and his scorn for the ghost were the talk of the mill.
There came an evening the young man found himself alone on the furnace floor. It was the slow time between shifts, and by rights he should already be on his way home. However, he had stayed behind for a moment to complete a small task, and he hummed contently to himself as he bent over his work. He gradually became aware of a muffled sound coming from somewhere to his left. He ignored it, since the mechanized processes all around him often made strange sounds.
The sound grew louder, and the young man looked up from his labors to see a glowing white mist gathering in the air a few yards away from where he stood. The mist emitted a faint rapping noise, which slowly clarified into steady thud of a workman’s approaching footsteps.
The young man gasped, his arms breaking out into goosebumps in spite of the heat from the furnace. He watched with unblinking eyes and pounding heart as the mist solidified into the glowing figure of a workman making his rounds. Suddenly, the workman tripped and fell downwards in slow motion toward a shimmering ladle full of steaming molten steel. The phantom workman’s body plunged into the hot liquid, and he tried in vain to grab the sides of the ladle and pull himself out, unwilling to believe that he was doomed. Then, his body liquefying beneath him and his face hideously twisted with pain, the ghostly workman screamed desperately for someone to save him as he sank downward into the red-hot ladle. With a final, hair-raising shriek, the apparition disappeared.
The young man’s scream of sheer terror was so loud that it cut through the voice of the phantom, echoing and re-echoing through the furnace room. Dropping his tools as if he himself were burning up, the young man raced for the exit, followed by the gut-wrenching sound of maniacal laughter.
The young man packed his bag as soon as he got back to his lodgings and returned home, never to enter a Melt Shop again. But the ghost of the dead steel worker continued to haunt the Melt Shop until it closed.
They say that to this day, people walking near the spot where the Melt Shop once stood can still hear the steel worker’s dying scream, followed by the sound of maniacal laughter.
-ron ( email@example.com )