The Crawling, an echo of the macabre

victorian ghost story

“It was in her arms,” he continued, “the infant, that is.” “You see, she had lost her mind to such a degree that she had begun gnawing the skull of the child… and with the fingers and toes of the baby tied to her hair.”

“Good God,” I uttered, a deep disgust throttling my voice. “Such a thing—!”

Read the story here: THE CRAWLING

GHOSTS AND OTHER SUPERNATURAL GUESTS, 12 tales of supernatural terror by P.J. Hodge is available from Amazon as ebook and Kindle here: Winner of Gothic Reader Book of the Year.

THE CRAWLING, an echo of the macabre

ghost baby

“Do I believe in ghosts?”‘ echoed Mr. Jensen, our village oracle and bootmaker. “Yes, I do. Listen, and I’ll tell you about one I saw the other night. It’s different from most ghost stories as it’s perfectly true.”

The conversation had moved beyond the hour when a shadow of indiscernible origin had passed across us. Up to this point we had struck upon several, all entirely wholesome, subjects to converse upon, that which were most prominent in our thoughts, but the appearance of the shadow had the effect of shifting the conversation to a far less familiar and, in hindsight, rather disquieting territory.

“You know Mr. Fullen, who lives over at the mill? Well, he wanted his new wellingtons badly; he must have ’em, for he was off to Nettleham market next morning early with a load of pigs. I worked at the boots till about eleven o’clock. The wife says, ‘Peter, you can’t go over to mill this night, it’s a raining cats and dogs and goodness knows what else…!’ I must go, Eliza; and away I goes, after I had put on my cloak. It was a long walk, and I often wished myself back again. I reached the mill at last, wet through to my skin. Mr. Fullen gave me a drop of something penetrating, and kept me yarning till it was after twelve. The night was then darker and thicker than when I left home, and big drops of rain were falling. I walked on quickly, trying hard not to think of something Mr. Fullen had been reading out of a local paper…”

Mr Jensen reached for his glass. His breathing had appeared to quicken at every word; now his lips waited for his lungs to regain composure.

“Terrible thing it was: a young woman what had gone mad, murdered her baby, and rushed through the streets of Marshbury and….”

I leaned forward in my chair and enquired after my companion: “Do you wish to continue, sir?”

Mr. Jensen took another sip and told me that he had no intentions of quitting though, he had to admit, his tale was a rather gruesome one.

“It was in her arms,” he continued, “the infant, that is.” “You see, she had lost her mind to such a degree that she had begun gnawing the skull of the child… and with the fingers and toes of the baby tied to her hair.” Continue reading

Horror Wood

haunted forest

The most wonderful thing about Haines — whom you will perhaps remember for his story, “The Unnatural Encounters of Mr. Bergen,” published in Short Tales of Mystery and Suspense a week or so back — was that you knocked up against him in the oddest places. Never would you find Haines seated on the famous terrace of Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo; but if you took your life in one hand, and a revolver in the other, and entered the dangerous slum district which skirts the citadel of the same city, it is ten to one that you would run into him sitting outside an obscure and oil-lit American cafe, having his boots cleaned, and reading a Greek newspaper with the utmost composure.

Yes, always you will find him at a cafe, sipping his beloved absinthe, be it in on a hill overlooking the Golden Horn in Istanbul, or Saint-Denis, an unpleasant suburb of Paris, or on the Rhinebank at Cologne, which is even more unpleasant.

However, a year or so after he had told me the story of Mr. Bergen, who he had known personally, in Marseilles, I met him again, this time outside the Dardanelles Cafe, which lies on the northern side of the Place de la Constitution in Athens. He greeted me with his usual friendliness, and, on my asking him if he had experienced any further eerie adventures since I had last seen him, he filled his glass and said: “Ever been in a place called Hajdúböszörmény?”

I looked at him in horror. “My dear Haines,” I said, “You surely don’t think I value my self esteem so lightly to allow myself to be seen in a place with a name like that? Where is it— in Cochin, China?”

”No,” he replied tranquilly, “in north eastern Hungary. You take the train from Buda-Pesth, jump off at Dobreezen, get on a nag, and after about twelve miles of rough going, you will land at the place with the awful name.”

Haines lit a cigarette. “Between Hajdúböszörmény and Nyiregyháza,” he added, “lies a stretch of forestry which is known to the natives as Horror Wood. Here, old boy, have a drink…” Continue reading

AT THE CURVE OF THE LINE, a ghost story for Christmas

railway ghost story

Yes sir, as you say, an engine driver needs to have his wits about him. With a train-load of passengers under his care and at his mercy, he hasn’t much time for wool-gathering.

I often think what a terrible thing it would be if by some mysterious means a driver and his stoker were to suddenly die on duty when the train was rushing along at full speed, leaving the engine to go on its own sweet way. No living power would be able to stop it, and it would have to go on and on, either until it met with some obstacle, when its living freight would be hurled to destruction, or until the fires got too low to supply the steam pressure.

A queer thought? Well, yes, you’re right: and I admit there is little likelihood of such things happening; but it is a possibility all the same, and you can’t stop a man’s imagination from running on strange fancies.

As a matter of fact, I was once on the verge of sudden madness myself, when I thought there was only a minute between me and eternity. And I have had one or two other unpleasant, blood-curdling experiences during my twenty odd years on the line.

As you say, it is very seldom you hear of a railway man going off his head, and those who are entrusted with the position of driver—even on slow trains— are all tried hands. In fact, on our line it is a standing rule that every man who wishes to become a driver must first serve for some time as stoker, then he is put on as a sort of probationer, and allowed to drive a goods train. If he proves himself steady and efficient, painstaking, and reliable, he is next promoted; and, finally, he has a remote chance of driving one of the great expresses.

Yes, I’ve had one or two accidents in my time, not through any carelessness of mine, though. Indeed, I don’t know of any driver on our system who has had fewer than I have, and I can honestly say that I have never once been reprimanded for negligence of my duties or failure to realise my responsibilities. Still, as I say, there have been a few accidents, and a few deaths, for which my engine was indirectly responsible.

No. I am glad to say I have never been in a collision —not a real one that is, though I once thought I was in for it. The incident happened two Christmases ago, and if ever a man was near losing his reason I certainly was that night. It was a most uncanny experience, but, as them novelist chaps say thereby hangs a tale: and a weird, ghostly tale it is.

Supernatural? Yes, I reckon that’s about what you would call it; but to me it was a very natural and serious happening at the time.

You would like to hear the story? Well, so far as I am concerned, you are welcome; but, seeing that you are going up tonight, I would not advise you to hear it unless you have a strong nerve. It’s a strange, unearthly tale, more so because it’s true.

Very good. Just as you like; only I didn’t want to frighten you. Continue reading


gothic readers book club

I’m delighted to announce that GHOSTS AND OTHER SUPERNATURAL GUESTS has just won the GOTHIC READERS BOOK CLUB Choice Award

P.J. Hodge’s Ghosts and Other Supernatural Guests is a fantastic Gothic collection. The writing style is reminiscent of the Victorian classics, but it’s adapted to a modern audience. The crisp pacing reads well, and the archaic touches make a great framework to give the stories a very authentic air. The stories focus on Victorian ghosts, hauntings, manifestations, and psychological fear. Hodge is skilled at building tension rather than using gore and violence as a narrative tool. Very well done.
If You Like: M.R. James, Henry James, Guy de Maupassant


Available as ebook and paperback from Amazon:

THE GHOST BUREAU, one of 12 terrifying tales for Christmas…

victorian seance

THE GHOST BUREAU, a spirit raised at a séance craves an earthly presence…

“Listen!” said she, “don’t you hear the sounds around us? Spirits coming to take me to heaven. I don’t want to go to heaven, I want this life again; but there is only one way to avoid it. The spirits want a soul to take away, and it must be a young woman’s soul. You – you are about my age, are you not?”

The first of 12 spinechilling tales for Christmas, GHOSTS AND OTHER SUPERNATURAL GUESTS (rated 4.5 stars on Amazon)

Available as Kindle ebook and paperback:

THE FLAMES OF STALBRIDGE MANOR, a torment from beyond the veil.

flaming spectre


Available as Kindle ebook and paperback from Amazon:
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“To his horror, he could see that the light stemmed from the brilliance of flames burning within. And then, in an instant, he felt an intense heat, blasting across his face as if an oven door had been opened. Only a moment later, from out of the inferno, came the most horrific of sights: a woman, her body aflame, shrieking with a hellish sound, pitifully attempting to pull the searing fabric away from her blistering flesh.”

“The tales range from childhood adventures with a tragic twist (The Viaduct); the truly horrific spectre of The Flames of Stalbridge Manor; to the heartwarming A Tip of the Hat. This is a perfect book to read, by a crackling fire, in a lonely manor house, on a dark and stormy night – was that a tree-branch tapping on the window-pane..or could it be Ghosts and other Supernatural Guests……!”

The ghosts of Berkeley Square

the ghosts of berkeley square

GHOSTS, as Ambrose Bierce said, may be only “the outward and visible sign of an inward fear,” but England and Scotland teem with stories of spine-chilling nomads who won’t stay put, but have spent centuries poking around and frightening the life out of people. No. 50 Berkeley Square, London, is a notoriously haunted house. The very walls of the house have been described as “saturated with electric horror,” and people living in the place have been known to go off their heads and die terrified. Presumably these also come back to haunt the place, so the whole business is a vicious circle!

London has, of course, a veritable feast of haunted houses. From time to time whispers have gone abroad about this mansion, or that; but, with very few exceptions, these reports appear to be idle gossip. An empty house, shuttered, silent, uncared-for, will soon earn, in any part of the world, a reputation for something sinister, whether it be ghosts or — accepting the more prosaic theory — nothing more harmful than vagrants and squatters. But of all the haunted houses there, none has stood the test of time nor earned a greater reputation than the house in Berkeley Square. This mansion has attracted attention on account of its position in the very heart of London, from the terrible nature of the supernatural phenomena of which it is said to be the scene, and from the fact that it is the setting of one of the most famous ghost stories in existence — Sir Edward Bulwer’s Haunted and the Haunters. Although this story does not claim to be anything more than fiction, it gives a very fair idea of the reputed happenings in the house in Berkeley Square.

The ghosts here seem to have taken a different form with various occupants. One story is that a virtuous young maiden once threw herself from the windows of a top room to escape a wicked relative with bad intentions. According to report, the poor girl can still, at times, be seen hanging on the window-sill and screeching her head off. Continue reading

WALK WITH ME (TO THE ESTUARY) – a ghost story

victorian ghost stories

WALK WITH ME (TO THE ESTUARY), one of 12 tales of haunting from GHOSTS AND OTHER SUPERNATURAL GUESTS by P.J. Hodge.

Available as Amazon Kindle ebook and paperback – GHOSTS AND OTHER SUPERNATURAL GUESTS

Rated 4.5 stars on Amazon and Goodreads!

The thick undergrowth is swept aside, his skin unaware of the tiny invasions, from holly and bramble, ripping through the flimsy cloth, tearing his calves, cross-hatching his flesh with slender red ribbons. Emerging, draped in a mesh of vine and stalk, he stumbles down the open face of the sandy bank, and bursts forth, into the esurient embrace of land against sea. And there, directly ahead, amongst a mass of chains writhing serpent-like, is a small boat, waiting for its captain.

“The tales also hark back to the classic Victorian and Edwardian ghost stories of the likes of MR James and Sheridan le Fanu to name but two; I found that Walk with Me (to the Estuary) was a particularly atmospheric tale with a slowly building sense of menace and inescapable fate that felt very Jamesian in colour and tone.”



I am delighted to announce that GHOSTS AND OTHER SUPERNATURAL GUESTS is now available in paperback.

Available here:

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UK –

and all other international Amazon stores.


P. J. Hodge spins rich, spine-chilling and beautifully written tales that tell of haunted ancestral homes, supernaturally-possessed objects and revengeful spectres that will not rest until their work is done.

Mesmerising, understated, and convincingly Victorian in tone, this is a frighteningly good collection of stories. Purchase at your own risk!

The book has received excellent reviews:

“PJ Hodge invites you to step outside your everyday world with tales that subtly entice you into a more liminal world, a world where the veils between physical measurable reality and the unexplained are drawn back to reveal unsettling truths and the inescapable terrors of the great beyond.

The tales range from childhood adventures with a tragic twist (The Viaduct); the truly horrific spectre of The Flames of Stalbridge Manor; to the heartwarming A Tip of the Hat. This is a perfect book to read, by a crackling fire, in a lonely manor house, on a dark and stormy night – was that a tree-branch tapping on the window-pane..or could it be Ghosts and other Supernatural Guests……..!”

“His style is very much in the tradition of the likes of Ambrose Bierce and M.R. James. So if you like that sort of fiction and the sort of ghostly short films that the BBC used to show at Christmas, you will certainly enjoy this volume …Hodge blends actual local folklore and fictional tales behind the places that have inspired him. Readers of his blog will know that his love of his native southern England and its landscape is his medium. There is no historic place, ancient or recent, that seemingly has not inspired the stories he tells. There is then, something quintessentially British about the work for these reasons and the sort of stories that were his inspiration. Ideal reading for this time of year, and then read them all again at Christmas!”