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Ghost of the Ashwydds

At age ten, Filip Wiltgren realized that he wanted to be a writer. He then spent the next thirty years trying to gain the necessary confidence, until realizing that life was too short to worry so he might as well let his creativity roam. When he isn't writing he spends time with his wife and children, designs boardgames, or blogs about his creative experiences at wiltgren.com. This is his first professional fiction sale.
The house was dark, spider webs covering the chandeliers where gaslight used to dance.
"Here," said the no longer quite-so-young girl, "is the hall of the murder."
The audience oohed and aahed and sighed, and when her lover flowed through the wall in his faded finery they screamed and ran, solidifying him with their belief while the girl stretched out her hand to caress what could not be touched.
"And here," said the woman, "is the hall where the murder took place."
Her audience gawked, hoisting their candles high, the fat man with the electric light holding it highest of all. It cast a yellow glow, like rotten sunshine, and when the woman's lover flowed through the wall it competed for attention with his pale radiance.
The visitors still ran and the man with the electric light backed away, his eyes wide in fright, but the woman no longer cared about him, her attention entirely upon her lover's shade.
"And now," said the old woman, "we come to the main hallway, preserved exactly the way it was in the days of the Ashwydds when the murder took place."
The visitors, clerks and housewives and workers, shone their flashlights around the hall, scaring spiders and chasing shadows, and when the woman's lover flowed through the wall they drew together and looked askance at one another, but the woman had eyes only for the ghost, and worried how she could see the spider webs through his body.
"And this," said the crone, "is the hall of the murder. Imagine it, if you will, the way it was in its heyday, with gaslights casting their flickering glow over the walls as Lord Ashwydd, army revolver in hand, confronted his daughter's lover."
And the crowd gaped and their kids popped their bubble gum and held flashlight races on the walls and when the ghost flowed past in its faded tatters they oohed and aahed over the great effects and threw money and compliments at the crone but withheld their belief. And the ghost faded and the girl faded and the house faded and the world moved forever on.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, January 7th, 2016


I've struggled with writing, mainly in the internal-editor-from-hell department, but this story wrote itself. It started with an image of a dark, brooding house and the story flowed out of me, in nearly finished form, in under half an hour. Which was a really surprising, and enjoyable, experience. So enjoyable that I doubted that the story could possibly be any good. Had I not followed through on the advice of several online buddies (you know who you are--big, Big, BIG thanks) to let the editors sort the dross from the chaff, chances are that Ghost would still be lingering on my hard drive.

- Filip Wiltgren

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