Tag Archives: ghosts

All Hallows’ Eve



All Hallows’ Eve approaches fast
when rotting dead come out at last,
and humans run and flee, aghast
to see the ghosts of days gone past
approaching through the evening mist
as cloudy shapes or smoky wisps,
who reach for you with open fist
protruding from a bony wrist.

Dead paupers and the hangman’s bait
drag heavy chains that clank and grate,
impatient from their year-long wait
in crowded grave at old Highgate,
while others play a sneaky game;
as floorboards creak, they sigh your name,
they slam your window, break the panes,
drip blood on walls and block your drains.

Though normal mortals hide away,
in terror of this haunting day
when skeletons from graveyards stray
to frighten folks in phantom way,
I have no need to turn and flee,
I prowl about impatiently;
I know his bones will hear my plea,
and drag themselves back home to me.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The ferris wheel



They say that some nights, if you stand downwind, you can hear the screams of those children who never went home from the fair.

It happened way back in the ‘forties. The first time, it seemed like a tragic mishap; the second, a terrible coincidence.

All the same, word got around, and kids were too frightened to ride on that ferris wheel. The proprietor swore that all the bolts were tightened, but people were still scared. Teenagers woud dare each other to try it, and the bravest of them paid their money and climbed on board, alighting safely at the end of the ride.

After a while confidence picked up, and a couple of ten-year olds went on it. The car broke away and crashed to the ground, like the other times. One boy was killed instantly; the other died later from his injuries, bringing the number of fatalities to eight.

A journalist had been following the story, digging up dirt. Turned out the ferris wheel guy had lost a son. This lad had foolishly climbed the big wheel, to the top. He lost his footing and fell, breaking his neck.

The journalist reckoned the father was reeking his vengence on innocent children. He alerted the police. An enquiry began. The day the police went to the fair to arrest the man, he scaled the wheel, and leapt to his death.

They say that some nights, if you creep closer to the sound of screaming children, and look up at that rusting car, right at the top, you may see a misty man sitting in it, hugging a wispy young boy close, expressions of love and joy written across both of their faces.

Written for Michelle’s Photo fiction #59

©Jane Paterson Basil

They come to me


one by one
they come to me
those wakeful nights
floating like a grey dream
their water-stained bodies painted
in bony monochrome
shadows of what they used to be
lost souls in supplication
straining for what they think they need
I don’t know why they come
to me

in a queue
they come to me
each one with a request
uttered in urgent words that I can’t discern
then as if sticking to
a rule of etiquette for the dead
they pass by my shoulder
making room
for the next
sad shred of lonely memory
to beg for a lost possession
or physical release
and in this
seemingly endless stream they come
to me

limbs askew
they come to me
with their lips shaping silence
in some far language
unknown to I whose beating heart
pumps blood
I whose clear eyes can relate a story
and yet, desperate for help they come
to me

they come to me
leaving with no more than their pain
no more than a picture of human pity
and I wonder if they know
they are ghosts

Written for The Daily Post One Word Prompt #Ghost

©Jane Paterson Basil


I walk along the wooden bridge, my shoes sharp on the boards, my legs efficiently striding, businesslike. Stepping outside my body, to check myself over, I see a purposeful woman with dark brown hair, cut in an expensive bob. The pencil skirt kicks out slightly at the back, adding a feminine air to the boxy jacket. I nod slightly, satisfied with the sheen of success. I am steel, under the guise of linen.

At the middle of the bridge, I stop and look down into the shallow, slow flowing water. It was not always so. We used to come here on drowsy summer days long ago, to swim and gossip and make plans for our future, so far away.

I listen: there is no echo of our laughter. The others are all dead now. No doubt they have more recent enemies to haunt.

I am the sole survivor. Nobody alive hates or despises me for my subversive treachery. There are no whispers to taint my flawless reputation.

I notice a small stone lying at my feet, and kick it into the water. It splashes, and I watch the ripples as they circle outwards. They reflect inside me, uncomfortable and unwanted, tickling my gut and climbing to my chest, my heart.

I feel accusing fingers. They point at me. Perhaps the ghosts have settled themselves here after all.

© Jane Paterson Basil