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: http://mybook.to/ghosts. 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

GHOSTS AND OTHER SUPERNATURAL GUESTS, winner of the GOTHIC READERS BOOK CLUB Choice Award…

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

GOTHIC READERS BOOK CLUB Choice Award

http://gothicreadersbookclub.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/pj-hodge-ghosts-and-other-supernatural.html

Available as ebook and paperback from Amazon: http://myBook.to/ghosts

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:

http://myBook.to/ghosts

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

flaming spectre

THE FLAMES OF STALBRIDGE MANOR, one of 12 tales of haunting from GHOSTS AND OTHER SUPERNATURAL GUESTS by P.J. Hodge.

Available as Kindle ebook and paperback from Amazon:
US – http://www.amazon.com/dp/1493637703
UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1493637703

“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 HAUNTED PALACE says…
“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……!”
http://goo.gl/uyszCU