Kate Shelley's Lantern


Kate Shelley








Presence near an upcoming transportation accident

Collected by

Gerald C. Demall



Date of Collection

August 15, 1933



Heavy rains one summer night washed out the supports of a bridge overpassing the Des Moines River. A locomotive didn’t notice the missing track until it was wading in the waters below. Two of the four crew survived. Young Kate Shelley heard the commotion afar and remembered a larger, passenger train was due to cross at midnight. Her father and younger brother had both fallen into the depths. She had an hour to act.

The waterlogged men told her to warn the nearest stationmaster to stop the oncoming train’s route. Shelley crawled along the ruined tracks positioned several hundred feet above the torrent. Her lantern immediately cracked, lightning swirled around and the downwards slope threatened her balance. On arrival, she was seen as a lunatic until a family friend on shift took her word. Around 200 lives were spared. The Shelley family was thanked with frontier supplies, along with a lifetime pass of free rides.


Doesn’t work like it was intended. The bulb will never light no matter how much energy or frustration is throttled into it. Instead, it makes the user into a light. Any strong source of illumination (sunlight, electrical arcing, gas fires) causes the holder to flash intermittently with a pretty strong glow. Bright enough to see their immediate surroundings in near-darkness.

Damages tendons throughout the limbs with prolonged usage. Bones and muscles stop moving in unison, causing pain while standing or lifting objects. Forces wielders to crawl or use assistive supports to move around.

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