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Ghosts roam the interlocking, chained corridors. Among them are

the ghosts of the past; friends, relatives, sons, fathers and brothers.

These ghosts slide their misty, frostbitten hands along the stone walls

and chill the air with their haunting whispers. Then the ghosts of the

future suck away the sweetness of time and snap the delusional

dreams stretching to escape. But the present ghosts; those are the

most poignant. Plagued with stale thoughts, their heavy feet slide

along the dank floor and slop their trailing rags through the murky

puddles. Fading and distorted memories poke the ghosts forward,

reminding them why to move while the forgetful ghosts curl in their

corners and stare with cloudy eyes at the stones.

You stop and lethargically turn your head to the northern wall, where a hole

reluctantly allows a wisp of light to seep in, only to drown in the bitter,

unwelcoming darkness. You reach desperately and shiver uncontrollably, your

mouth curving up from the pitiful source of hope. You raise the other arm and

slowly circle your fingers around the icy, jagged bars separating that mythical

paradise from inside. A deep sigh escapes your lips and your body soon collapses

against the stone wall. The ghosts of the past whisper. First one. Then two. Soon

a frosty chorus of moans fill the air. They lay soothing arms around your waist

and your eyes prickle with exhaustion. Your hands unlatch from the bars as you

drift to the welcoming floor. The ghosts twist their slimy bodies around you and

their whispers grow louder. The floor blankets you in an inescapable coldness.

You struggle once more towards the pathetic ray of light and watch dancing

particles in the air. Their liveliness mock you and drift in and out of the window.

In and out. In and out. In and-

Further along the prison corridor, a rusty door swings open and sings against

stone. Your past ghosts hiss at the noise, unravelling from you and slither away

into the protruding darkness. Your head falls to the side and your eyes struggle to

adjust to a different moving particle – a much larger particle – making

indistinguishable noises.

The present ghosts stiffen as the man moves past. With each

swing of a thick, black baton ghosts cringe against the walls,

attempting to melt into the stone. They lift shivering hands over

their heads and jerk at the memories the baton brings. The man

gestures back to the door where another man stands. No. Not a man.

Ghosts’ eyes widen as they stare towards the foreign figure and her

eyes widen in reply.

The woman studies her hands and stares back at herself, laughing

in a field beside a man hugging her waist. Her lacy, white dress drifts

in the wind as autumn, red leaves swirl around. Emptiness

Ghosts Of

The Past

Marina Altson


Literary Award

Winner or Highly