Friday, December 20, 2013

Olde Haunts

Olde Haunts

Fireplace embers glowed a complacent orange. Frost covered the windows with fingernail marks. A cold, malevolent wind stirred a line of snow across the rooftop, and moaned down the chimney.

It had been welcome here, once. Welcomed by bitterness, bound with blood.

A tendril of cold slipped down the chimney, and the embers dimmed. There was a draft in the room.

It found the house swept and put in order.

With a gust, it gathered brothers from the seven points of the compass, and they plunged together down the chimney. There was a shower of sparks. The house went dark.

“Whenever five or six English-speaking people meet round a fire on Christmas Eve, they start telling each other ghost stories,” wrote British humorist Jerome K. Jerome as part of his introduction to an anthology of Christmas ghost stories titled “Told After Supper“ in 1891. “Nothing satisfies us on Christmas Eve but to hear each other tell authentic anecdotes about specters.”
The practice of gathering around the fire on Christmas Eve to tell ghost stories was as much a part of Christmas for the Victorian English as Santa Claus is for us."

(Jeffrey Peterson, Telling Ghost Stories Is A Lost Tradition on Christmas Eve, Deseret News)

This is my effort in the annual Advent Ghosts 100 Word Storytelling put on by my friend Loren Eaton at I Saw Lightning Fall. See other entries there. Thanks, Loren!

Read my 2012 story: The Madness of the King
Read more about The Origins of Ghost Stories at Christmas.


  1. Where has that article been for the past five years? It nails it exactly. Awesome find, James. And a nice story, too. Am I correct in deducing an allusion to this?

  2. Never leave that fireplace untended or unwatched. That malevolent wind certainly gave me a chill.

  3. a hundred words and not a one wasted, every one an important piece bringing it together.

  4. Your tale painted a vivid picture, James. Excellent writing.

  5. I love little prose-poems like this. Beautiful and mysterious and creepy all at once. Great work, James.

  6. That's good. I love it. I kept asking, "What's going to happen?" Then, "It found the house swept and put in order." Oh, that's what's happening.

  7. Thanks everyone - sorry for my late response!

    Loren & Phil - yep, that's what's happening. It's always freaked me out a little.

    John, I'm glad it worked for you.

    Michael, that's high praise indeed. Many thanks.

    Pattinase, have you ever felt like you could see a cold draft? That's how I imagine them sometimes!

    KJ and D, thanks for taking time to read along. I'm very glad you liked it.

    A merrily belated Christmas, everyone!