The hazy winter’s end day was drawing to a close. It was only a couple of weeks now until the funfair at the end of the Seaside Pier would open for business for the new season, and this place would be teeming with young kids once more. Amongst them would be the thrill seekers, drawn to the big dipper, and the speed kings, lured in by the dodgems. Many, however, would be attracted once again by the unique lure of the Ghost Ship.
Nothing that exceptional about the ride itself – a succession of mild scares experienced from a carriage as it makes its way along a track through the dark. Except for one thing.
A tragic accident occurred here 14 years ago this summer. Shania Malone, a 17 year old summer hand, had been making earnings to help her way through college, until being fatally injured one awful day, when the ride failed during a maintenance check. The park had been shut down as a result, and the resulting inquest, and health and safety litigation, sufficient to put the owners out of business.
For three whole seasons the park had lain empty, until the new owners had taken charge. With fresh investment, it was now flourishing and, finally, health and safety certification was no longer an issue. However, one vestige of the previous regime remained.
Each summer, the press reported the sudden death of another young woman who had recently ridden the Ghost Ship. In each case, when coming off the ride, the woman had reported seeing the image of a young girl at the same point – the place where Shania had died. Death would come two, maybe three, weeks after the sighting. Sometimes it was due to a surprise illness or a tragic road accident. There was no rational way it could be connected with the ride, but it always occurred.
All of which added to the mystery and allure of the park. At the onset of a new summer season, the owners knew that the media coverage ensured a fresh round of young daredevils eager to sample the ride, to see if they might encounter the strange ghostly image. All publicity was good publicity, they felt.
And as the last of the winter hands finished oiling the mechanisms, and shammying down the carriages, there was one thought never far from their minds: this summer, who would be next?