by Thomas E. Hartman

Part 1

Historian’s note: 

This story takes place between the events in “Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase” and the first season of “What’s New Scooby-Doo.” The gang would be in their “WNSD” garb.


It was mid evening in early summer as the Mystery Machine traveled southward on Interstate 55, the main highway linking Chicago to St. Louis. The gang had attended a seminar for young detectives in Chicago, conducted by Dave Dikes, a field investigator with the FBI’s Chicago regional office. They had a great time. Many of the other young mystery clubs was also in attendance, including members of Clue Club, the Teen Angels, and even Butch Cassidy’s group showed up. Everyone enjoyed each other’s company, swapping tales of their adventures, “war stories” as they called them. And everyone agreed that the seminars were most informative. But now as the multi-colored van headed south on I-55, night had fallen, and everyone was growing tired.

“Gee, I don’t think we’re going to make St. Louis by a decent hour,” Fred Jones, the leader of Mystery, Inc. said. “Velma, do you think you can find us a place to stay for the night nearby?’

“I’ll do what I can,” Velma Dinkley, the brown haired, brainy, bespectacled girl replied. With that she took out her own laptop computer, complete with wireless Internet access and connected to the Web. “According to the GPS, we’re getting close to Springfield, about 15 miles away. There should be plenty of hotels there.”

“Springfield?” Shaggy Rogers, the “hippy beatnik” of the group responded. “Like maybe we’ll see the Simpsons there!”

“Reah, Rimpsons!” said Scooby-Doo, Shaggy’s pet Great Dame and mascot of Mystery, Inc said.

“Don’t be silly, Shaggy,” Daphne Blake, the young, red head beauty giggled. “The Simpsons aren’t real. Besides, I think if they’re were, they would live in a different Springfield.”

“Springfield is the capital of Illinois,” Velma said, looking up from her laptop. “It’s also where Abraham Lincoln spent his adult life, practicing law before he successfully ran for President in 1860. After he was assassinated in 1865 by John Wiles Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington, his body was returned to Springfield, where he is buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery on the north side of the city.” She paused, then turned back to her computer. “Gang,” she added, “I just got us two rooms at the Novell Motel, at the corner of MacArthur and Wabash Avenues, across from the Wal-Mart. Got a miniature kitchen and a full bath in every room, and even has a swimming pool. And Scooby would be welcome.” She proceeded to print out a map and handed it to Fred.

“Kitchen?” Shaggy said. “Like, good deal!” to which Scooby added, “Reah!”

“Across from a Wal-Mart?” Daphne said, slightly disappointed. “Too bad it couldn’t be across the street from a ‘Club Banana.’ I’m almost out of ‘Kissy Girl!’”

“It’s settled, then,” Fred told the group. “Novell Motel, here we come!” 

Twenty minutes later, the Mystery Machine arrived at the motel on the city’s southwest side. The gang quickly got checked in, the girls taking one room, the guys and Scooby the other. Fred had ordered four large pizzas to be delivered; one for him and the girls to share, and three for Shaggy and Scooby. While they were waiting for their pizzas to arrive, Daphne and Velma were lounging in their rooms, talking.

“Gee, Vel,” Daphne said, “You sure had ‘eyes’ for that Dikes character.”

“Ah, get outta here,” Velma said, teasing her friend. “He’s kinda cute. And besides, can’t a girl have a crush?” 

“He was kind of handsome,” Daphne replied, thumbing through the Springfield newspaper, looking for the fashion pages. She then found something in the paper that caught her eye, then exclaimed: “Jeepers! Gil Lopez! It’s Gil Lopez!”

“Gil Lopez?” Velma asked. Who’s this Gil…wait a minute…isn’t he the Latin bandleader…kind of like Ricky Ricardo…plays for your father sometimes?”

“Why yes!” Daphne practically shouted with glee. “Plays the conga drums, a real Latin dreamboat!” She paused, then began reading out loud, “Live…Friday and Saturday Night …Gil Lopez and his Musica de la Salsa Orquestra at the Casa de Salsa Nightclub, Rico, Illinois…Music and dancing eight to midnight…Phone number…” She pulled a cell phone out of her purse and began dialing. “Casa de Salsa?…Uh uh…okay…four, please…good…will pick up at show…Blake…Daphne Blake.” She then began to recite her credit card number (has it memorized, don’t you know), then continued speaking, “…Directions, please…we’re in Springfield at the Novell Motel…okay, straight west on old 36 to Rico, about 20 miles…turn right on Van Buren Street to Main, just before the tracks…left on Main…can park on the grass between Main and the tracks…good. Thank you. Gracias!” She flipped the lid on her cell phone, then turned to Velma and squealed in a tone as if she had found all the new spring fashions under her Christmas tree: “Jeepers! I got us tickets to Gil Lopez Show tomorrow night! I can hardly wait!” 

“Uh, Daph, I hate to bust your bubble,” Velma said, “but shouldn’t you have talked to Fred first? He might have something else planned.”

“He won’t mind,” Daphne said. “We got nothing better to do. Besides, it’d do him good to expand his musical knowledge. In fact, he’d probably love it.” After a beat she gleefully added, “Must see GIL LOPEZ!” About that time, there came a knock on their door, Fred’s voice calling, “Pizza’s here!”

Daphne was right, Freddy didn’t mind. In fact, he thought it’d be fun to see this show. Velma had gotten the gang’s motel reservation extended through Saturday night. They were now gathered in Fred and Shaggy’s room, chowing down on their pizzas. Fred was regaling the gang with a story about what happened when him and Daphne were driving along in the Mystery Machine.

“Remember, Daphne, that time when you and I were in the Mystery Machine and I ‘accidentally’ put on that Salsa…”

“Salsa?” Shaggy interrupted. “Where?”

“Reah, ralsa,” Scooby replied. “Yummy!”

“Not the kind of salsa you eat, silly,” Daphne said, giggling. “We’re talking about the hot Latin dance music.” But then realizing what Fred was getting at, asked, “Freddy, must you tell this story?”

“As I was saying,” Fred continued, “I ‘accidentally’ put on that Latin CD, and you went wild!” to which Daphne sighed, “Oh boy!”

“I thought you had the ‘hebbie gebbies!’” Fred added. “I had to put on some Irish folk music to get you calmed down!”

“Oh well,” Daphne said, slightly embarrassed. “You know the sound of conga drums have that effect on me. That, photo booths, and roller coasters.”

“Hey, wait a minute,” Velma said. “I just thought of something. My Uncle John lives not far from here. Perhaps he could join us…”

“I’m sorry Velma,” Daphne replied, “but he can’t come to the show with us tomorrow night. I only got us four tickets.”

“Oh, no, I didn’t mean for him to come to the show with us,” Velma said. “The show isn’t till eight o’clock, so we’ve got all day to kill. He lives in Decatur, and that’s only forty miles from here. Perhaps I could have him drive over here, show us the sights, maybe even have a picnic in the park…if he’s not out on a run. Daph, may I borrow your cell phone?”

“Sure,” Daphne said. Good thing I get free air time at nights and on weekends!” 

“Thanks.” Velma took the phone and began dialing. “Hello?…Uncle John?…It’s me, Velma! Good to hear your voice again. Listen, I’m over in Springfield with my friends and I’m wondering if you could come over and visit with me…we’re at the Novell Motel on MacArthur…You can?…Jinkies, that’s wonderful! Okay, I’ll see you in the morning. Love you, Uncle. Bye.” She then turned to her friends and announced, “My uncle will be here about nine in the morning. I can’t wait to see him again.”

“I look forward to seeing him again, too,” Fred replied. He then added, “Okay gang, it looks like we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow. Why don’t we turn in and get some sleep. With everything planned for tomorrow, we’re going to need it.”

“Like sounds good to me, Fred,” Shaggy said sleepily. “Come on, Scoob, let’s get some shut eye. Good night.”

“Good night, Shaggy,” Fred said. And after wishing each other a good night, the gang retired to their rooms, and in no time at all, everyone was sound asleep.


The next morning turned out to be bright, warm, and clear, a perfect summer morning. True to his word, Velma’s Uncle John arrived at the motel, driving over from Decatur in his 1972 Chevrolet pickup truck right around nine. Velma was very happy to see him; she threw him big bear hug. John was happy to see the rest of the gang, to; he remembered them from the Viking Lake mystery some years back. After grabbing a continental breakfast at the motel (John commenting that he had never see two living things, namely Shaggy and Scooby, put away so much food in such a short period of time), everyone began an impromptu tour of Illinois’ capital city. They first visited Lincoln’s tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery, drove by Lincoln’s home near downtown, then briefly toured the capital building, after which they had a picnic lunch in Washington Park near the capital. It was a beautiful park, the rotunda of the capital building soaring majestically above the trees. During the picnic John regaled the gang with stories about his being a railroad engineer. He told them how he started on the interurban. Later, when the Illinois Traction converted do a “diesel” freight road, the told them about how he spent his years switching cars at the Decatur yards. Finally, after the “IT” was merged into a bigger system, he told the gang about how he began making mainline runs. But the topic he was most passionate about was his relations with one of Velma’s other uncles, Cosmo, who John thought was a bit of a weirdo and whom he generally despised.

“Geez, I can’t understand why Cosmo has to spend his time looking for archaeological evidence of extraterrestrial life,” John was telling everyone. “What a waste of time and brains! And he’s teaching his students this garbage? I say, the university should can him. Why there’s no evidence, none what so ever that man came from extraterrestrial life. I believe that man was created by God, and that he sent his only Son Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for our sins.”

“Thank you, ‘Reverend’ Dinkley,” Velma said sarcastically. “Cosmo believes in what he believes in, and you believe what you believe in. Come on, why can’t the two of you just get along? Every time we have a family gathering, you two end up in a shouting match. Why when Aunt Edna died, you practically threw him out of the funeral home!”

“That little weirdo had it coming,” John told his niece. “And the time he sez to me that the railroads were dying: that if I wanted to haul freight, why couldn’t I drive a semi instead? I showed him!”

“I remember that, at the family reunion in Coolsville, two years ago,” Velma recalled. “You two started pushing and shoving, it took half the family to break it up. I bruised my shoulder trying to pull the two of you apart. Can we change the subject, please? I get depressed listening to stories about the two of you bickering.”

“Okay,” John said, taking the hint. He then recalled some of the vehicles he’d owned including a 1957 Chevy Bel Air and a ’64 Impala.

“You had a ’57 Chevy? Wow!” Fred exclaimed.

“Jeepers, a ’57 Chevy. What a classic!” Daphne piped in. “Daddy has a ’57 Chevy in his collection. Why did you get rid of it?”

“Didn’t need it anymore,” John replied. “Still a good car, figured some one else would put it to good use.”

“And you had a ’64 Impala?” Shaggy asked. “Like wow, man! That’s a popular ‘low rider’ car!”

“Got rid of it for the same reason,” John said. “But don’t worry. I don’t plan on getting rid of my ’72 Chevy truck anytime soon. I still love driving it. I have a ’98 Honda Accord I use for every day, but I plan on keeping my old truck until either I die or it dies.”

“I should hope not,” Fred said. ’72 Chevy trucks are becoming classics, too.” Right about then, John’s cell phone chirped. “Hello,” he answered. “Uh uh…139 train…okay…okay…due 4:30…I’ll be there. Thank you. Bye.” John turned to the gang and announced, “Boys and girls, I’m gonna to have to cut this short. I gotta get back to Decatur. I’ve been called to take a train out of Decatur to Moberly at 4:30. Wish I could stay a while long longer, but you know…Nice seeing all of you again. Take care.”

“See you,” the gang called in unison. John motioned Velma to come over. “Give me a hug.” He said. Velma came over to John and gave him another big bear hug. “Bye, Uncle John,” she said.

“Bye Velma. Take care,” John said to his niece. He began walking to his truck, then turned to face Velma, and added, “If you see Cosmo, tell him that if he ever crosses me again, I gonna take one of my shotguns and stick it up his…”

“UNCLE!” Velma cried. “I’ll do no such thing, and neither will you! Jinkies, Uncle, you don’t have to like the man, but can you at least tolerate him? I hate it when you talk like this!”

“Okay, I’ll try, I’ll try,” John said to his niece. “I’ll tolerate the man, but I don’t have to like him. Later, Velma.” She watched her uncle get into his truck and drive away. As she watched the truck disappear in the distance she muttered under her breath, “Jinkies, sometimes I worry about those two.”


The gang stopped by the White Pines Mall on the city’s far west side to shop for clothes to wear to the show. Velma and Shaggy decided they would wear their regular outfits to the event, Latin music not exactly being their cup of tea. Velma was still a bit worried by her uncle’s parting words, but gradually came to the realization that her uncle was “all bark and no bite,” as it were. He’d never harm Cosmo. Besides those two had a relationship not unlike that of the cat and mouse in the old Tom and Jerry cartoons. Those two were happiest when they were fighting, screaming opinions at each other. Knowing that made her feel a lot better.

Daphne, meanwhile, had selected a white Spanish maiden dress. Fred had wanted to wear a “zoot suit” to the show, but Daphne pointed out that would make him (and her) a laughing stock, and Daphne wanted no part of it. Instead, she suggested a Spanish “conquistador” outfit, not unlike that of a bullfighter, to which Fred was agreeable. After they bought their outfits, Daphne, by luck (of the Irish) just happened to find a “Club Banana” store and replenished her supply of “Kissy Girl.” That done, the gang returned to the Novell Motel to change and get ready for the show. 


John Dinkley and his conductor Wendell Smith who also was his good friend boarded Dash-9 locomotive 8929. Behind the lead loco was a Dash-8, numbered 8696, and 89 car train of boxcars, tank cars, covered hoppers, and auto-racks. Train 139 originated in Bellevue, Ohio with cars mostly from industries in the Cleveland area. Upon reaching Fort Wayne, Indiana, it added a block of cars out of Detroit, mostly auto racks full of sedans, pickup trucks, and SUV’s, along with boxcars filled with auto parts bound for Kansas City. It also added a block of cars from Cincinnati, but this block arrived in Fort Wayne late, thus tonight’s 139, scheduled to arrive at Decatur at 4:30 didn’t get in until after 7. Once there, yet another block of cars were added to the consist, mostly tankers full of corn syrup and vegetable oil from the local grain processing industries, bring the total car count to 51 loads and 38 empties. The carknockers were just finishing up the federally mandated 500-mile inspection as John and Wendell entered the cab. Just then the radio crackled to life: “DDC” (Decatur Dispatch Center) “to C&E, Extra 8929 West.”

“This is Extra 8929 West. We copy you. Over,” John replied. (On this, and many other railroads, freight trains even though they may operate on a daily basis, generally do not appear in the timetable, thus operate as a non-scheduled or “extra” train. The dispatcher and train crew of the 139 will refer to this train as “Extra 8929 West,” the number being that of the lead locomotive. The “C&E” refers to “Conductor and Engineer.”)

“C&E, Extra 8929 West, you may proceed when ready on Number Two track to westbound home signal, Mosser Street. Be prepared to stop at Mosser Street. Amtrak 381 will overtake you and cross over onto single track there. Once the signal clears, you may follow 381. You may pick up some yellows, but he’ll rapidly outpace you to Springfield, so you’ll have nothing but high greens after a few miles. Once past Springfield, you’ll have the railroad all to yourselves all the way to Hannibal. Just be ready for you know what at Rico. Have a safe trip. Over.”

“We copy that, DDC. Over.” John looked at his track warrant, a document that governs train movements over the railroad, not unlike the flight plan pilots file with the FAA. And sure enough, this instruction was there:


“That’s why I hate being assigned this run on Friday and Saturday nights,” John complained. “We have to sit over there and wait until they get tired of playing bongo drums before letting us through. Oh, well.” Right then, the Amtrak train the dispatcher spoke of overtook Extra 8929 West on the Number One track. John released the train and engine brakes on his locomotive, shoved the reverser lever into Forward, and notched the throttle into Run 1. And slowly, Extra 8929 West eased into motion.


Fred eased the Mystery Machine onto the grass between Main Street and the railroad tracks about a block west of the Casa de Salsa nightclub. (Scooby had to remain in the Mystery Machine, as the club didn’t welcome dogs.) The street was jammed with cars, and a steady line of people steadily made their way into the club, a pair of Spanish style stucco buildings, which seemed out of place in an otherwise typical Midwest farming village. This building, the gang would later learn, originally stood in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was threatened with demolition when a resort hotel was planned for the ground it stood on. Oscar Martinez, the club’s owner, had the building dismantled, piece by piece, transported to the States, and reconstructed on this site. A companion building was later moved to the site and added to the original structure. Finally, the gang reached the door of the club. A bouncer greeted them. “Good evening senors and senoritas. Name and number of people in your party, please?” the bouncer asked with a heavy Spanish accent. 

“Blake. Daphne Blake. Four,” Daphne replied. The bouncer consulted what looked like a guestbook. The bouncer then turned to the group and replied, “Si, senorita. This way, please.” The gang followed the bouncer into the Latin dance club who led them to a table next to the dance floor. “Gracias, senors and senoritas. Enjoy the show,” the bouncer said, bowed graciously, and returned to his post at the door. Right about then, Gil Lopez, conga drummer and leader of the “Musica de la Salsa Orquesta” noticed Daphne, winked, and came over to speak with her.

“Estas muy requetebien esta noche, Daphne,” the young Puerto Rican bandleader said to her. Fred rolled his eyes in disgust.

“Si senor. Gracias!” Daphne giggled. 

“Gracias for coming tonight, senorita Daphne, Gil replied. “Ah, I see you brought friends here. Would you like to introduce them to me?”

“Si, senor. This is my boyfriend Freddy Jones, this is my best friend Velma Dinkley, and this here is another good friend of mine, Norville Rogers.” The gang answered with a chorus of “Hi” and “Pleased to meet you.”

“Si, senors and senorita. Pleased to meet you as well.” Gil paused for a beat, then added, “I’d very much like to sit here and talk to you all, but it’s about time for me to get up on stage. We’re about to get started here. Enjoy the show.” With that, he returned to the stage and took his place behind his drums. He looked in Daphne’s direction and winked at her again. Fred then turned to Daphne and asked her, “How long have you known this, uh, Ricky Ricardo type?”

“Please don’t be jealous, Freddy,” Daphne replied. “Gil Lopez is an old friend of Daddy and me. He plays at many of Daddy’s social functions.” Right then Mr. Martinez stepped up to the microphone and began his introduction:

“Senors and senoritas, Welcome to the Casa de Salsa. Tonight we have a real treat for you. Direct from New York City, one of the rising stars of Latin music, please let’s give a BIG Casa de Salsa welcome to…GIL LOPEZ AND HIS MUSICA DE LA SALSA ORQUESTA!”

A mighty cheer went up. Gil immediately began pounding on his drums and launched into a driving Latin rhythm. The piano and horns quickly joined in, and Gil began singing in Spanish. Upon hearing the exotic rhythms, Daphne immediately stood up, grabbed Fred by the arm (almost pulling it out of its socket in the process), rushed onto the dance floor, and the two began to dance up a storm! Many other couples quickly joined them, and thus began an evening of tropical rhythms and dancing.


Extra 8929 West, the 139 train was rolling westbound at 55 miles per hour. Amtrak 381 “The Pride of the Prairie” had caused a brief delay at Mosser Street on Decatur’s West Side as it crossed over onto single track ahead of the 139. But now the Amtrak was miles ahead of the 139, and was in fact, clearing the main line at WABAL interlocking in Springfield, on its way into the station there, where it would terminate its run. 139 now had the railroad all to itself and would not have to follow another train or meet any opposing train until it reached the Mississippi River at Hannibal. Aboard Engine 8929’s cab, John and Wendell was discussing the fact that Wendell’s teenage daughter, Michelle had just been accepted into Stanford University.

So, your daughter got into Stanford, Wen,” John said to his friend. “Congratulations. It’s a good school. My niece graduated from there.”

“Thanks, John,” Wen replied. “She coulda gone to the University of Missouri at Columbia, Southeast Missouri State at Cape Girardeau, or Washington University in St. Louis, but she had her heart set on Stanford. I’m flying out there next week with her to tour the school”

“You know, I tried to get my niece Velma to attend college closer to home, too. She got accepted by Ohio State, Miami U. of Ohio, Princeton, the University of Michigan, and my personal choice, the UIUC over in Champaign. But like Michelle, she wanted to go to Stanford, and that’s where she went. Can’t say I blame her, though.” Right then a trackside sign emblazoned with a black “W” came into view warning of a road crossing ahead. John gave the prescribed horn signal: two long blasts, followed by a short, followed by another long. Up ahead the tiny town of Dinkley came into view in the starry night, a grain elevator surrounded by a small cluster of houses. Between the train and the hamlet, a single green light on a trackside signal pierced the darkness. 


“Signal three-nine-six-four, East Dinkley, clear!” John called.

“Signal three-nine-six-four, East Dinkley, clear,” Wen repeated.

John then radioed the DDC the signal aspect: “This is Extra 8929 West at East Dinkley. Signal three-niner-six-four clear. Over.” Almost immediately the DDC responded, “ We copy, Extra 8929 West. Signal three-niner-six-four clear. Over.”

“Roger, DDC. Extra 8929 West out,” John responded. It was right about then that Wendell noticed something near the switch where a dead-end spur came off the main line that served the town’s elevator. It was a glowing object, a spector. “Will you look at that,” Wen gasped. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say that was a ghost.”

John saw it too, and commented, “Ah come on, Wen. There’s no such thing as ghosts. Probably a kid pulling a practical joke.” Both men glanced again, and the spector had vanished. Both men began to chuckle about the incident when suddenly, amid the high pitched squealing of wheel flanges in protest, the engine sharply curved to the right, then left, then straightened out again. “What the…” Wen exclaimed, surprised.

“We’re on the siding!” John cried. He slammed the reverser into reverse, and dumped the air, putting the train into emergency.

“But that’s not possible!” Wen responded. “That signal woulda been red back there!”

“We’re never gonna stop in time. Get ready to jump for it!” John called out. Then he saw something in the headlights looming on the siding a short distance ahead---two covered hopper grain cars which were loaded with soybeans from the elevator. “HIT THE DECK!” John screamed. “WE’RE GONNA---“

A tremendous explosion of noise cut off John’s warning as the 139 train slammed into the parked grain cars at 45 miles per hour-the sound of bending and tearing metal was laced with the shattering of glass, and the splintering of wood. This racket continued for several seconds as the cars behind the engines slammed into the wreckage and piled up. The entire area filled with twisted debris, spilled grain, and mangled metal, shrouded by a giant dust cloud. Then almost as suddenly, the noise abated and save for the barking of dogs in the tiny hamlet, all was silent. Then came shouting voices as the townspeople, literally shaken by the tremendous noise, came running out of their homes:

“Holy cow, there’s been a train wreck!” “Somebody call nine-one-one!” “There’s men trapped in the engine!” “We gotta try to get them outta there!” And so on. In the distance, a siren began to wail. But John and Wendell were aware of none of this as they lay within the smashed wreckage of the 8929, for both men were unconscious. And amid the tangled wreck lay a potentially deadly secret; a tank car loaded with poisonous chlorine gas.


Fred and Daphne had a wonderful time dancing Salsa that night. It left them happily drained, but united in mind, body, and spirit. Even Shaggy and Velma got out on the floor for a couple of dances. But it was now eleven and the band had switched to playing boleros, soft romantic love songs. They would have loved to stay, but since everyone was getting tired, Fred thought it was time to make the twenty-mile trip back to Springfield. 

“Whew, what an evening,” Fred told everyone as they piled back into the Mystery Machine. “I don’t think I danced so much in one night since my high school prom!”

“I’ll say,” Daphne said. “If I wasn’t so tired, I could have danced all night. Jeepers, I love that music.”

“Well as for me, like I still prefer the Grateful Dead,” Shaggy replied. Since Scooby had to be left in the van, Shaggy had obtained a big sack full of Spanish rice and beans and burritos for his pal. He proceeded to pour this food into Scooby’s bowl. Scooby happily munched down this food. “Like the music they played in there was, uh, how should I put it, too weird, for my tastes, anyway.”

“Thank you, Mr. Music Critic,” Velma said sarcastically. “Where’s your sense of adventure, of trying something new?”

“Well,” Shaggy responded, “I didn’t say I hated that ‘bongo-congo’ type of music. I just prefer something more American.” 

“Well, gang,” Fred said, “I guess we’ll have to settle for American music now.” He started the van, turned on the radio and proceeded to back out onto the street.

“You’ve got ‘Springfield’s Hottest Hit Music’ on your radio. We’re about to kick off 25 minutes worth in just a second. We’ve got Britney Spears, The Back Street Boys, Simple Plan, and we’ll kick off this set with the latest from the Hex Girls, ‘Baby, You’ve Put a Hex on Me.’ But first we’re following a major news story. The town of Dinkley, in eastern Sangamon County, has been evacuated following a freight train derailment there earlier tonight.”

“Gee, Velma,” Daphne said. “I didn’t know you had a town named after you!”

“Actually, it was named after one of my ancestors who moved here from Ohio,” Velma replied. Then she hissed, “ Shhhh, listen!”

The radio continued, “This evacuation was prompted by the discovery of a derailed tank car carrying chlorine gas. This car, though derailed is not leaking, and the evacuation is strictly a precautionary move. A shelter has been set up at the First Baptist Church in nearby Buffalo. Interstate 72 remains closed between the Buffalo and Illiopolis exits. We repeat, the tank car with the chlorine gas is not leaking and the evacuation is purely a precautionary measure.

“Details are sketchy at this time, but authorities believe the wreck was caused when the train was diverted onto a siding and collided with parked grain cars. Sabotage or vandalism is highly suspected. The two crew members aboard this train, engineer John Dinkley of Decatur, and conductor Wendell Smith of Moberly, Missouri were pulled from the wreckage, and was taken to a hospital here in Springfield. Their condition is described as serious, but stable…”

“UNCLE JOHN!” Velma cried. “OH MY GOD!” She then began to sob uncontrollably. Daphne leaned over and began to comfort her friend. “Who could do such a thing to my Uncle?” Velma kept asking between sobs. “Who?” No one else spoke a word the entire trip back to Springfield.

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