By Anita Marie Moscoso 






There’s something buried in the Gardener’s Shed and why would someone bury something that wasn’t dead yet?

The thing in the shed isn’t buried very deep, so if you were to crawl over the dead fall in front of the door and were able to push your way through he matted cobwebs and you didn’t mind the smell of rotting leaves and small unburied creatures you’d see there under the window a slightly raised mound of earth.

Were you to look at the raised mound long enough and the light somehow managed to find it’s way through the little panes of glass covered with dust and dirt you’d think someone was lying there on their side with one arm cradling their cheek and the other laying comfortably on their side.

Wouldn’t you?

If you brought a flashlight and the beam was bright you might think you could see something wrong with the entire left side of the sleeping figure’s face. You might think that maybe that the face was gone, smashed in by something like that shovel in the corner.

Isn’t that right?

They might wonder what you were doing back there in a rotting shed behind the Manor House in the dead of Night, they might see you take the shovel and try to smooth and pound that little raised mound of Earth flat.

That’s what they’d see wouldn’t they?

So I must ask you again, why would you bury something that is not dead yet? Go ahead you can tell me. Just keep your hands were I can see them.



Do you know what’s buried under Riversleigh Manor? Do you know why it gets so dark there at night even when the lights are on and blazing?All you have to do is follow the shadows.

At nightfall the shadows break away from the corners and come from under the beds and out of the closets and they creep and crawl and hiss along the cold hardwood floors. They pass over sleeping faces and pull at hands and feet silly enough to stray from under heavy blankets and quilts sewn by women dead for over a hundred years.

They search the attics and basements and linger over places like the front hall where Mrs. Undercroft was found dead and cold with small purple flowers clutched in one hand and more of them falling from her lips.

They pass quietly over the desk where Mr Undercroft took the life of his daughter Elizabeth. He crushed the back of her skull with a small stone gargoyle carved from marble and he held it against her wound as it fed.

Then the shadows move to the attics where Mrs. Undercroft’s daughter Bedelia was kept. The darkness liked Bedelia Undercroft and spent hours with her as she gave reading and math and music lessons to children born from Bedelia’s insane and unstable mind.

There were no children with Bedelia in that room.

That’s what the residents of Riversleigh would say; there were no children up there with Bedelia.

They’d cover their ears and chant over and over “ there are no children up there, there are no children up there”. They said that louder when they heard the laughing and chuckling and small voices dutifully repeating Bedelia’s lessons.

Bedelia gave art lessons to her Phantom school children and their dark and twisted images of screaming faces and twisted bodies with to many or not enough limbs were tacked to the walls under little green tiles decorated with the alphabet and ducks.

But the darkness knew those little students that attended Bedelia’s classes, and it was the darkness that took the students away when their lessons were done. Even the Manor’s soon to be gardener Mr Erasmus Undercroft (at the time he was simply known as Uncle Erasmus) would stop by and watch Bedelia teach her little pupils about bones and hearts and curses and poisons and fear.

Mr Erasmus Undercroft who took lives and souls for the pure pleasure of the act (and he knew several dark acts) was stunned and humbled by the wealth of knowledge Miss Bedelia had at her fingertips.

And then one day after giving a long and difficult lesson in something Bedelia called
Sin Eating the carpet under her feet began to buckle and twist and she was pulled down through floors and then the ceilings over and over again until she reached the foundation of Riversleigh.

“ Bedelia, Bedelia teach me what you know,” something said into her ear.

Bedelia couldn’t really answer because her mouth was full of sour dark earth. But she opened her mouth and from the back of her throat she hissed, “ yesss… I’d love too.”

And she taught Riversleigh everything she knew.

She hasn’t stopped teaching Riversleigh and she never will.

So now you know what’s buried under Riversleigh and that’s why it’s so dark there  no matter how many lights are blazing.

Aren’t you glad you asked?



Riversleigh Manor isn’t just a house and it isn’t named for the River that runs below it that dried up and died years ago.

It was named for a family called Riversleigh.

The person who know this story best is named Acantha Deverell
and she takes her tea at Riversleigh Manor by Moonlight. If you’re really curious about Riversleigh and most of the guests here are you could join her and ask her about the Riversleigh Family.

Acantha is always dressed in black and she sits alone in the library
every night as she sips her hot poisonous drink and nibbles on her deadly dessert and admires the little fine bone china cup crafted by her own hand at her Father’s request.

The request came one dark winter many years ago on the night Mr Riversleigh rode out to Deverell Hall and demanded to see Mr Albido Deverell.

 Mr Riversleigh stood in the Great Hall and called out over and over again until Albido appeared right behind him where he was warming his hands over a cold dark fire in the massive marble fireplace.

“ Mr Riversleigh what on earth would bring you out on night like this? What am I saying? What on Earth could get you to leave the Manor at all?”

Faxon Riversleigh could barely speak, “ you know why I’m here and I want you to do something about it. That new Sheriff from that town down the river in Duwamish Bay, she’s the reason I’m here. She knows about us and she’s coming for us all.”

Albido Deverell smiled, and Faxon backed up and away from those jagged pointed teeth “ she’s from the Sawajinn Family and my friend there is no getting away from them. Not for people like us. “

“ I don’t care what family she’s from, get rid of her.”

“ And why should I bring the Law and the Warden of Sawajinn into my house Riversleigh when you’re the one with the bodies. My heavens man they’re in the walls and below the floorboards and the River…how on Earth did you manage to kill that?”

“ I did it for you Deverell, I fed you and this nest of creatures you have as a family. “

“ And in return Riversleigh…oh the things you’ve received in return have you forgotten them? You handed me flesh and bone and in return
 I handed you gold and jewels and art and immortality Riversleigh. Don’t forget that my friend… the immortality. Nothing can kill you, you and yours will never die.”

“ Oh thank you so much for that, my insane children, my wife has
turned into a living corpse that spends her time in the catacombs
below my home thanks you so much for that. “

“ You’re welcome. I’ve always liked Elizabeth.”

Riversleigh would have liked to twist Deverell’s head right off of his shoulders and he would have if he thought it would have made a difference.

“ The Warden only comes for things that bring attention to Duwamish Bay. She’s ready to take us all to Sawajinn and  I have to say, I’m not anxious to go back there. So I’ve made a deal of sorts with her” Deverell sounded very pleased with himself.

“ With the Warden?”

Deverell wasn’t smiling now “ a most unpleasant creature to deal with. She was no sport at all. We’ve come to an arrangement.”

“ What’s going to happen to us? “

“ She wants assurance that you and your family never leave Riversleigh. If I can keep my end of the bargain she won’t take me back to Sawajinn. That foul beast assured me she would take me back piece by piece and to prove her point she killed my wives and staff right in front of me.” Deverell actually choked up and cried out in agony “Do you have any idea Riversleigh how hard it is to find good help now days? “

Riversleigh knew it was pointless to yell or run or beg so he just asked, “ are you going to kill us Deverell?”

“ The deal Riversleigh is to keep you in your house and I think I’ve found a way to do that, in fact I’ve started already.”

There was a mound of ash at least four feet high in the massive stone fireplace and Riversleigh saw scattered around the fireplace lttle gold and silver buttons and small bits of bone.

“ My daughter Acantha is a talented artist Riversleigh and she’s been away learning a new craft. I must say I found it a bit unappetizing but we do what we can to support those we love. Don’t we? She’s learned to make something called Bone China. Have you heard of it?”

Riversleigh shook his head and the floor dropped from beneath his feet.

“Go down to the basement where she works Riversleigh I think you’re going to be amazed at what you can create from a little ash and sand.”

Three months later Acantha brought a set of beautiful bone china teacups and a lovely teapot to Riversleigh Manor. Mrs. Clark, the housekeeper, allowed Acantha into the Manor and she watched as the young woman carefully set the table for tea.

“ It’s a shame Mrs. Riversleigh isn’t here to see this lovely setting. I don’t know where the family is. You know how they are Miss. The Riversleighs have always said they’d never leave this place.”

The delicate cups sat in a ring around the teapot and Mrs. Clark saw that there was one for each member of the family. They were painted with small purple flowers and little raised bumps that looked like eyes rimmed the saucers.

They were strange little things but all the same the Housekeeper felt her hands twitch and she was about to reach for one of the cups when she thought she heard Mrs. Riversleigh calling out to her. Or could it have been one of the girls? How faint and at the same time how close their voices sounded!

Then the sounds were gone.

Acantha brought one of the little cups to her cheek and smiled “ They’re closer then you think Mrs. Clark.  Would you care to join us for tea? “








january 2006-march2006






Hidden from the safe roads and safe streets and quiet parks and green forests and the sunlight is my hometown…its called Faraway and no one comes here on purpose.

Maybe it’s because everything here is covered with dust…the people, houses buildings trees and plants. I guess it could be because no one speaks loudly here, no one is awake here. Faraway is the place where nightmares live and once you’ve been to Faraway you can never really belong anywhere else again.

So what do we do here, Faraway from the rest of the world?

When the sunsets we like to go out to the Middle of the Desert where the Wells of Angra Lei are and we drop stones down into them and listen to them fall and fall and fall and sometimes we swear you can hear them hit the bottom…but of course that’s not true.

These Wells have never held water and they are out here, away from anything alive for a reason.

The air that comes up from the Wells of Angra is so poisonous one whiff could melt your heart in your chest and your poor eyes would run like rivers down your cheeks. Nothing has ever come up from those wells except for Death…and why should that surprise you?

It has to come from somewhere…Death you see comes from Faraway.

My Mother use to visit the Wells during the daylight, she would lean over the sides and whisper things down into the Wells and sometimes she would laugh and sometimes she would curse but she did it by daylight.

She was also very, very insane.

She was you see, from Faraway and nothing here is familiar or safe. Nothing Faraway is what you think it is.

Living in Faraway will change you.

Being from Faraway will damn you.

Like it did to my Mother…and what it did to me.

And what it will do to you, if you’re not careful of Faraway.


There is a woman who is voiceless from wailing and wasted from weeping and Death visits her from Faraway at Midnight.

Death finds her in her long dead garden tending to weeds and thorns and sticker bushes and poisonous plants and as she harvests and picks and adds each deadly plant to her basket woven from human hair Death shudders and hides in the Shadows and is grateful the Woman can’t see him.

All the same she knows Death is there and when she senses it, she reaches into her basket and lifts one of the plants to her lips and pushes it into her mouth. She chews and swallows and screeches into the darkness, “ Where are you? Why aren’t these working…someone tell me why this isn’t working! “

Death would squeeze it’s eyes shut if it had eyes, so instead it raises it’s pale cold hand to it’s empty eye sockets and covers it’s face the best it can. It’s fingers press against it’s mouth and it does this to keep from calling out, from screaming because the Woman who is voiceless from wailing and wasted from weeping is a corpse and a shell and once long ago she murdered a man.

He was the husband of a woman who came from a place called Sawajinn, and a very long time ago the former resident of Sawajinn cursed the woman who is voiceless from wailing woman over her husband’s poisoned body

Her curse was simple and horrible.

The Weeping Woman would never die; she would never meet her own Death.

Instead she was cursed to meet her victim’s Death.

His Death comes from Faraway every night at Midnight and watches her from the upper branches of a dead twisted oak tree. Of course his Death can’t take her, it only visits her and then it leaves her at each sunrise.

Before it leaves Death shows her something it carries in its left hand.

It shows her a small bottle of white powder and it holds it up and the Woman sees it. She knows what it is, the little bottle once belonged to her, after all.

She puts her hands out and calls, “ Please, please give it to me, take me with you. I can’t live like this anymore! “

Death can see her in the half light and it can see the maggots and flies tangled in her hair, crawling from the corners of her eyes. It can smell her flesh rotting on her bones and it can hear the skin on her legs and back splitting apart.

I’m not your death. But I’ll visit you, I’ll never stop visiting you.”

“ I can’t.”

And as the Sunlight works it’s way into the shadows cast by deadly sweet blossoms and fragrant green leaves dripping with deadly venom Death leaves for Faraway and the woman who is voiceless from wailing and wasted from weeping begins her wait for Death to visit at Midnight.



In my hometown, which is a place called Faraway, a man named Mr. Nightfall stands under a pear tree full of light green poisonous fruit and waits for the Sun to set.

Mr. Nightfall is my neighbor and our streets, like all the other streets in Faraway are lined with deadly fruit trees and deadly gardens. All these dark shady places are kept and tended by people with pale faces and empty eyes and here in our town Faraway no one is Sane and no one really lives because no one is really alive.

When Mr. Nightfall comes from Faraway sometimes he brings storms and in that wildness all you’ll see, all you’ll hear is Mr. Nightfall. You’ll know he’s coming and worst of all you won’t be able to stop him.

When Mr. Nightfall crosses your path and he settles over your town you’ll know he’s there because your skin will start to feel to tight and you won’t be able to pull air into your lungs.

Everything will seem…very Faraway.

That’ when you’ll know Mr. Nightfall is close enough to put out his cold, dark hand and lay it over your shoulder.

Once I followed Mr. Nightfall to a city with stores and cars and a coffee stand where the woman who served me wore a picture on her chest of a creature with stars in her hair.

 I asked if the creature in the picture was from the Well of Angra Lei and the Woman squeezed the cup of coffee so tight at the sound of my voice that the top popped off and the scalding hot coffee filled her eyes and mouth and she didn’t cry out. Not even a little

The woman had turned to stone, her face was frozen into a mask and her eyes had rolled up into her head and I could hear her someplace deep inside screaming and screaming and screaming and she will never stop.

They never do when they are taken Faraway.

Mr. Nightfall didn’ come back for me, he never turns back but he did call out to me and I followed him through the town and the entire time he cursed and spat and hissed like one of the cats that’ not really a cat from back home in Faraway and he said, “They know I’m coming.”

“Of course they know you’re coming Mr. Nightfall, don’t they always?”

“No, not like this they haven’t known me like this for centuries I don’t like this Miss Praecox. No I don’t like it at all.”

This time the people in this little town by the sea knew Mr. Nightfall was coming. There were candles in windows and there wasn’t a soul on the street. They were locked behind doors and the curtains where drawn and they knew they were very aware Nightfall was coming.

As Mr. Nightfall crossed the city I stopped here and there and looked in windows and when I could I found people and I touched them, carefully, quietly with my left hand and I told them my name and their minds stopped liked old clocks.

I could hear it loud as thunder as gears and cogs and wheels that turn their minds
ground to a halt and I could hear what they took with them to Faraway.

My name.

” Enjoying your visit Miss Praecox?”

” I always do Mr. Nightfall.”

He reached out to pat me on the head and thought better of it, ” Just like you’re Mother, we were a team in our day to. We worked well together.

The Praecox have always done their best work with Nightfall.”

” So what’s happened here Mr. Nightfall, where is everyone?”

He held a newspaper up and showed it to me. I couldn’t read it of course and he ran a cold dark finger under the headline and read it to me.

” Hurricane Force Winds Strike Seattle, Power Outages State Wide, locals ready for Nightfall and freezing temperatures. They were ready for me this time. Lord I hate the press”

” Killjoys” I said with feeling.

” Well, there’s always tomorrow, isn’t there Miss Demetia Praecox?”

I agreed because everyone knows Nightfall comes from Faraway and sometimes it brings madness with it and it always will.




Mr. Erasmus Undercroft tends the cemetery in a place called Faraway.

He’s the Chief Gravedigger, the Lead Mortician and sometimes the Sole Mourner and Mr Undercroft smiles no matter what his duties are on any given day.

This is Mr Undercroft’s Home and he always welcomes visitors.

So go ahead and take a walk down that little white gravel path that runs like an artery choked with blood through this dark place in Faraway and you will come to a chapel with no windows that sits in the back of Mr Undercroft’s Cemetery.

It’s hidden among the nightshade and Wolfsbane and bright white flowers that smell faintly of smoke and no matter the time of day it’s always Nightfall here.

After you’ve made your way this far go ahead and enter the vestibule and you might see a dark blue casket with bright silver handles sitting all alone in the center of the Windowless Chapel.

If you are feeling overly confident go inside the Chapel itself and look down into the the casket and laying there in his finest, blackest funeral wear is a tall thin man who’s pale thin hands are crossed over his narrow airless chest.

That man is Mr. Erasmus Undercroft.

Let me prepare you; he will be smiling and his eyes are shut but you know he can see you all the same.

Once long ago before Mr. Eramus Undercroft came to Faraway he lived in a town called Riversleigh.

He tended the gardens at Riversleigh Manor until the day the Servants all disappeared and upon discovering “ something horrible in the Shed” the Riversleigh Family was scared enough to leave their home in the darkness and by foot to the next town which was twenty miles away.

The only living thing the Police found at the Manor was Mr Undercroft standing alone in his Gardener’s Shed smiling.

The headlines of the town’s newspaper declared:
” Where are the Servants of Riversleigh? ”
The mysterious question has been answered by
Grisly Find in the Gardner’s Shed…

“ What did you do to them Mr. Undercroft?” the Law had asked, “ What did you do to all 35 of those poor Souls?”

Mr. Undercroft opened his hand and dropped something onto the table and smiled his cadaverous smile and said, “ Why I sent them Faraway.”

On the table were teeth, 7 teeth and from then on for a very long time Riversleigh Manor was called “The House of the Seven Teeth” and no one locked the doors of Riversleigh
Because nobody would go near the house that went on living after everyone in it had died.

Eventually Mr. Undercroft went Faraway too, but before he left he stayed for a short time in a place called the Prefontaine Asylum for the Criminally Insane in a town called Ravenswood.

When the staff there disappeared and the Patients were found wandering the treacherous hillsides it was quickly noticed that all two hundred of them were all missing their left eye the people of Ravenswood decided it would be best to not go looking for Mr. Eramus Undercroft.

They hoped and hoped he was Faraway…and he was.

That was long ago and now in the shade and fog shrouded village of Faraway Mr. Eramus Undercroft drives a black hearse that is so dark it’s invisible when the sunsets and the sun always sets when it knows Mr. Undercroft is out. He digs graves and feasts on the poisonous fruits that grow in Faraway and when it rains the little droplets of water hiss against his skin.

Mr. Undercroft’s best friend is a man called Mr. Nightfall and when he’s lonely he calls on Miss Praecox and they picnic in the ruined Cemetery Mr. Undercroft calls home.

Across the street from the Cemetery is a little house painted light blue.

It looks empty and should be empty but of course it’s not.

It’s the home Mr.Anthropophagite and Mr. Undercroft has admired Mr.Anthropophagite for a very long time. He just wishes that his pale friend wouldn’t do his own special brand of gardening at the Cemetery.

When the Wardens of Sawajinn come to Faraway in search of Mr.Anthropophagite who lives there inside the Blue House of Shadows it’s Mr. Undercroft who sends them away with little cloth bags full of presents from Mr. Undercrofts days at Prefontaine.

Nowadays Mr. Erasmus Undercroft rides out in his dark black hearse at Midnight and he looks for things to take Faraway.

When he brings them back he turns them loose in Faraway and sometimes he buries them and sometimes he feasts on them and the juices turn his teeth black and make his eyes
Water and the tears eat away at his face like acid.

Mr Erasmus Undercroft is the Chief Gravedigger and Funeral Director in Faraway and he buries the things best forgotten, the things you hope are Faraway.

Only sometimes for fun and it amuses him every single time Mr Erasmus Undercroft brings them back from Faraway.

When his passengers leave his car and swarm and ruin and corrupt everything in their paths you will hear in every storm, fire, war, and plague ridden town he visits…one sound above all the rest.

It’s screaming you’ll hear, and if you listen close you will find it’s not many voices its always one voice and it is not screaming it’s laughing.


 This additional story was inspired by a project that just started at the Soul Food Cafe:


it’s called the ” SOUL FOOD ALPHABET 

and can be found at:



The science of alchemy is the science of the conversion of things into other species”Dominicus Gundissalinus, scholastic philosopher.

(flourished ca. 1150)

Faraway at Riversleigh

Riversleigh Manor has been left in darkness and behind the Black House in the Gardner’s Shed Mr. Undercroft, The Undertaker from the town of Faraway is packing a bag.

His pale blue face is smiling and his hair is combed back and his suit has been cleaned and ironed and on his work table among the dusty jars and rusted pruning shears and dirt encrusted garden trowels are shiny sharp tools with curved hooks, thin razor sharp edges, jagged edges and bone handles. As he packs he takes inventory of the clean tools with his long skeletal fingers, not his eyes and when he’s done he carefully folds the tools up in a white linen  cloth decorated  in blue ink.

Then he places the bundle into his black leather case and snaps it shut.

“Leaving us Undercroft” a voice says from the window, “leaving us?”

Undercroft doesn’t look up because he knows there is nothing to see. Instead he looks down and says to the rotted floorboards “not for long, don’t worry I’ll be back.”

“What a shame. We do hate you Undercroft.”

“Likewise” Erasmus Undercroft snaps as he pulls the bag off of the table “likewise to be sure.”

As he leaves the little shed behind the Black House the darkness follows him.

It always does.
Erasmus watches Riversleigh disappear; she’s hidden herself behind an orchard that has been pretending to be green and alive.

No more pretending now.

He can see the windows crack, the marble fountain in the Courtyard crumble and the curtains turn to dust on their rods. Doors are slamming shut and rusted tumblers are falling into place and locking themselves.

Erasmus can hear the floorboards settle and spilt, he can hear support beams crackle and snap and struggle to hold themselves together. He can feel the Riversleigh’s foundation buckle and crumble and turn to dust under the house.

After its done Mr. Undercroft places his hat on his head, and smiles at the dead house and waves a little before he turns and walks into the hills.
It could have been days, or weeks or years or minutes before Mr. Undercroft arrived at the Abbey. On that first night the  Black Monks of Fallen passed him on the road up to the gates and he nodded a greeting and they laughed back and one called out, “Good luck to you Undercroft “
Erasmus startled at the sound of his own name. He wasn’t use to being seen…felt but not seen and he frowned a little and started to think…
Mr. Undercroft found his place in the Abbey, he’s in the Catacombs.

In the miles and miles of tunnels, among the bones and crypts and walls that whisper he was whistling and humming and unpacking his bag and when the door behind him swung open “Kamahra!” a voice calls into the darkness, “before we loose you down there why don’t you take the time now to come upstairs and say hello and have something to eat. You must be famished after your long trip.”

Mr. Undercroft doesn’t answer, there’s only the darkness and the sound of his unpacking, then he remembers to say in the dead woman’s voice “ Starving” Mr. Undercroft says as we puts on the dead woman’s face “I’m Starving”.