Memento Mori

by A.M. Moscoso 

Inspired by the Soul Food Cafe Prompt:
The Red Death
Completed October 30, 2004

This was the first story I posted at the Soul Food Cafe.
I’ve brought it back out because the little drawings that made their way into this story ARE real and they’ve been showing up around Seattle AGAIN.

No Kidding.

AMM

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Seattle Herald News
Seattle, Washington
October 30, 2004

After nearly 20 years of silence the Prospero Lab over looking Lake Edmonds will be re-opened and it’s secrets, now the stuff of urban legend will be revealed.

An Urban Tragedy

On May 18, 1984 the Prospero Labs opened and become home to some of the top researchers in the field of Genetics. It’s believed the Labs employed over 300 individuals but it’s exact count, who worked there and later what exactly was being studied and developed at the labs were never made public.

By later standards the Lab was small and somewhat unassuming. The one thing making it unique was the fact it was housed in the old King County Power and Electric Building.

Within a year of the Lab opening two more Labs opened on the same bluff over looking Lake Edmonds and those Labs dwarfed Prospero by 6 to 7 stories. These buildings were designed by one of the worlds leading architects and opened to much publicity.

Prospero was soon forgotten by the surrounding community.

However, on November 5, 1985 everyone in the Seattle area was made aware of the forgotten lab.

At precisely 11:15am an alarm sounded in and outside of the Lab. The alarm triggered a safety mechanism which shuttered the windows and doors. Within minutes the entire facility was locked down.

No one exited or entered the Lab or it’s grounds after that point.

Cars to this day still remain where employees had parked them that morning. No one has been allowed to take anything from the site or even approach it.

Family members tried to gain access to the Labs shortly after the accident and were at first turned away by the Police.

Later they were turned away by the military and after that the infamous I-5 Wall was constructed.

There are stories that individuals were able to breach the wall.

Reports say that the doors and windows are covered by huge blast doors. Some people tried to break through the brick walls only to find the same material covering the doors and windows was laying just below the brick.

Urban Legend Is Born

Soon after the accident strange drawings began to appear around Seattle.

They first appeared on the walls outside the Lab itself.

Soon they turned up on the outside walls surrounding the lab and then the drawings began to appear on buildings throughout the County on car windows, carved into trees and drawn on the sides of buses, bridges and even garbage cans

“Anything you could paint or ink to stick to” a local resident complained to this reporter.

It’s a very simple outline of a man’s face in profile and it’s always drawn in red.

“Have you noticed, ” asked Janet Speidel a bus commuter who passes the Lab everyday on her way to work “that those weird little drawings are showing up more and more now? At this rate, they’ll be on every building in town by the time they get those doors opened.”

How does she feel about the Labs being re-opened?

“They shouldn’t be opened. That’s how I feel. First of all, who knows what the hell is in there? And no matter how you look at it, that place is a giant coffin. Opening it is just wrong. It’s a grave now and we’re desecrating it. ”

“Let the dead rest in peace. That’s what I say.”

However, tomorrow morning, Halloween morning at exactly 5:30 AM the doors to the Prospero Labs will be reopened, the dead and their peace will be for the first time in over 20 years will be disturbed.

And the fate of those 300 plus workers will be revealed.

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FROM A RADIO BROADCAST ON RESTRICTED CHANNELS….
October 31, 2004
5:36am

>>>>>>>>>>>For Immediate Release>>>>>>For Immediate Release>>>>>>>>>To be Broadcast on ALL emergency bands >>>Repeat>>>>>>>This voice Broadcast is to repeat every 2 Minutes>>>>>

Despite the fact that extreme measures were taken yesterday Prospero Labs an accident has occurred at the former research facility

.No one will be permitted within the Seattle City Limits, no one will be permitted to leave.

Avoid all individuals displaying the following symptoms:Profuse Sweating, a dark red rash covering the eyes, mouth and nose. Some individuals may suffer mild to strong convulsions.

These individuals appear to sweat blood shortly before death occurs. Do not try to move or aid the sick.

Do not attempt to cover or handle human remains. Take every precaution to not have physical contact with anyone from this area.

Repeat: Be advised a tall man dressed in Grey, has been seen at almost every site of widespread outbreak. Do Not Approach this individual, do not make contact with this individual he was seen exiting the building shortly after the doors of Prospero Labs were opened.If you see him, do not approach this individual. Make no attempt to speak to or have contact of any kind to this individual. In Precisely 2 hours extreme decontamination of this area will occur. REPEAT>>>>>In Precisely 1 hour 59 minutes……Avoid this area…in precisely 1 hour 58….HAPPY HALLOWEEN FROM ANITA WITH A LOT OF HELP FROM MR E.A. POE

A Christmas Tale for Eventide

by anita marie moscoso 

Inspired by The Soul Food Cafe Alphabet Project:

” J ” is for Journey

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They were a Mother, Father and three children on a Ferry Boat sailing from Duwamish Bay to visit their Grandmother in Seattle.

It was Christmas Eve and the children, two girls and one boy were dressed up. The little girls sat up straight, careful not to mess up their hair or wrinkle their dresses.

The little boy was picking his nose and wiping it under the wooden benches they were sitting on as the black waters of Puget Sound parted dark and quiet below them.

The Children weren’t wearing jackets and they weren’t wearing hats or gloves and it was snowing outside, but it wasn’t in Kincross Benandanti’ s nature to involve herself  in why people did or didn’t do things the way you’d expect them too.

Human nature wasn’t something Kincross understood very well and it probably had something to do with the fact she was of a loner of sorts.

That didn’t stop her from noticing things though.

Kincross noticed that even though the Pale Family were still and quiet their eyes never stopped moving from one passenger’s face to the next.

She also noticed when she looked up and out the window  that the family were sitting next to that she could see her own reflection and the reflections of the passengers as they made their way around the cabin…

But the Pale Family cast no reflection in the window at all.

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Kincross went back to her book and every once and awhile she looked up at the Pale Family and sometime during the ride the Mother looked straight into Kincross’ face and smiled.

Kincross smiled and nodded and went back to her book.

Then the woman leaned over to the little boy and whispered into his ear and then she handed him something and pushed at his shoulder.

The boy took his time and turned a 10 second walk into something that lasted for almost five minutes. When he got to Kincross he reached out and handed her a little cookie shaped like a bell decorated with little red and green sprinkles.

She handed him a Kleenex and winked and the boy went back to his Mother and he sat quiet as a shadow for the rest of the trip.

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After awhile Kincross stopped reading and then she set her book down onto the empty seat to her  left. She fished for a coin from her purse and when she found one she held her hand out palm side down and placed the coin on top of her fingers.

Then the coin seemed to crawl and weave from finger to finger and with a snap of her fingers it disappeared.

She looked at her hand and then she muttered to herself, ” now how do you bring it back-” she reached for her book and started to read when she saw the two little girls standing in front of her with their hands folded across their chests.

” Are you a Magician? ” one girl asked

” Trying to be.”

The second little girl said, ” You’re not very good are you? “

” No, not yet. “

The two little girls wished Kincross a Merry Christmas and when they skipped off they did it without making a sound…it was like their feet never touched the floor.

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Kincross tried over and over to bring the coin back and when she decided it was lost she decided to get up and stretch her legs. She also decided to toss the book, ” 1001 Easy Magic Tricks ” overboard.

It was when she was coming back into the observation cabin that she noticed the man in the black jacket for the first time.

He was standing in a doorway watching the Pale Family.

Kincross watched the man and when he moved she jumped a little.

She had not expected the man with the flat dead eyes to do something as normal as turn and bump his shoulder and say ‘ouch’ as he left the cabin, but that’s what he did.

Curious about the living man with the dead flat eyes she decided to follow him.

She followed him down below to where the cars were parked and she watched him open a van door and reach in and when he stepped back she saw he was holding a black bag.

She heard it rattle as he reached into it.

 She watched him take out a silver mallet that he set on top of the Van’s roof and then he reached back into he bag and bring out five silver spikes.

Kincross frowned as she watched him inventory the rest of his bag…then she watched him carefully repack it.

She followed him as he made his way back up to the passengers cabin and then she watched him standing in the corner with his dead blue eyes locked onto the Pale Family.

And then she noticed they weren’t so dull and flat anymore.

They were burning.

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Seattle was ahead of them, wrapped in fog and cold and darkness.

 Kincross followed the man with the dead eyes out on to the observation deck.

She walked up behind him and said, ” cold night, isn’t it? “

” Very. “

” Get into Seattle very often? “

” Only when I’m needed ” he said ” and it looks like I’m going to be needed for a few days. “

” It’s Christmas Eve, maybe you should take the night off. After all the rest of us are.”

He backed away a little and when his back hit the door Kincross reached over his shoulder and held it shut.

He couldn’t move that arm, it was as solid and strong as an iron bar and Kincross said, “ I work out…a lot.”

 Then the Man found he was staring down into eyes so dark and black that it didn’t seem like there were any eyes in that face at all.

” Your eyes…” he whispered ” you have no eyes…”

” I can see you just fine. ” Kincross assured him.

Then as she leaned close the man choked and gasped and he said, “ your teeth…”

Kincross said as she brought her mouth to his neck, “ I Know! I Know! They’re huge… it’s a family curse.”

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Dark Travels

by Anita Marie Moscoso    

 a story inspired by  ‘The Grand Tour’ at the Soul Food Cafe:

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 Last Summer Mata Dark and her family took a vacation.

Mata was almost 20 at the time and during her entire twenty years of life none of the Dark Family had set foot off of the Olympic Mountain Range in Washington State. They had never traveled further then 40 miles away from their hometown of Leaning Birches.

It’s because Mata’s Father was a workaholic and he had this thing about being replaced. He was terrified of losing his job.

” Lord Derby, do you really believe there’s a line of people waiting for to take your job? ” Mata’s mom Rue screamed at the top of her lungs while waving around a bunch of travel pamphlets in her hand.

Mom had wanted a vacation in the worst way and she felt like if she didn’t get this trip she wouldn’t have the energy to fight for another.

Derby’s eyes crossed a little like they always do when he thinks to hard and finally he said, ” I’m sure there’s a few people who would love to do my job. And do you know what Rue? They’re probably a lot younger and smarter and quicker then me. Don’t ask me to take a chance on losing the only thing I’ve ever been good at in my life.”

Rue who’s eyes never crossed when she thought to hard lowered her voice and said ” Derby you are the hardest working man in town and you’ve earned a vacation. Promise me you’ll think about it.”

Derby who adored his wife and family as much as he adored his job gave in about a week after that argument. He came home one night from work and out of nowhere asked Rue would she mind if they took a road trip? He had a route and a destination picked out. He even had a leather folder that read “ USA TOURS” full of flyers, confirmation forms and event tickets.

The travel agent he had worked with in town had even got them t-shirts to wear.

Mata’s Mom looked through the folder and then she unfolded one of the T-Shirts and held it up. ” You’ve got to be kidding. ” was all she could think to say.

The shirt read:

                                   ” UFO PALOOZA 2006 “

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Derby smiled and shook his head. ” Pack up, we leave at Dawn “

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Mata’s brother 15-year-old brother Wilton not only wore the t-shirt the morning they left he went out to Joker’s Galore the night before and bought a set of ” Deeply Boppers” to wear on his head too.

The ” Deely Boppers ” were silver antenna with gold balls at the top that were the size of marbles. When you turned your head something in them shifted and made a crackling sound.

Mata took one long hard look at her brother, walked out the front door and then jumped on her motorcycle and rode at break neck speed into town and bought herself a set too.

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Mata and her brother Wilton had agreed with each other sometime during that very long drive that if Mom said the words, ‘ UFO’s? Are you kidding me Derby UFO’s? Our one and only vacation as a family is to celebrate something that doesn’t exist?” one more time they were both going to jump out of the car and take their chances on the New Mexico Desert, the New Mexico Sun and until they decided it sounded like fun the mutants that were suppose to have been created by the first Atomic Test back in 1945.

” Hey Mom ” Wilton asked, ” do you think there really  are Radioactive Mutants out here? “

” Well I haven’t seen any but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist…am I right Derby? “

Derby reached over and patted her shoulder and said, ” That’s the Spirit Querida “

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The little town was almost full of people dressed up like aliens, there were also a lot of people not dressed like aliens and they all seemed to know a lot about space travel and where you could get ” Saucer Burgers “, ” Milkyway Meals ” and everyone wanted to know if you were able to get reservations to stay at the ” Station 51 Hotel “

Most of the Dark Family were secretly pleased they were staying at the ” Place to Be ” for the Festival but they kept it to themselves because of the look on Rue’s face.

Rue’s face was this mask; she looked like someone had attached strings to her eyebrows and yanked them straight up.

She had speechless since they arrived in town, which was actually a relief.

Finally she opened her mouth, breathed and said ” God in Heaven ” and then she went back to the hotel and ordered a blood red steak and drank Strawberry Margaritas until she couldn’t focus her eyes.

After that she went back out and joined her family.

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Derby talked Rue into joining a UFO Watcher’s Group and by the time they got back from spending an evening learning to plot their own star charts and joined in on a few debates about the Roswell Incident and watched a video of a genuine Alien Autopsy it was obvious Rue was having a good time.

At least her eyebrows had gone back to their normal spot on her forehead and she had quit saying ” God in Heaven ” everytime someone walked by.

So it really turned out to be a good trip and on their last night Rue and Derby went out with some new friends to make arrangements to get together for next year’s festival and Mata and Wilton went shopping.

Mata and Wilton decided to go and pick up some souvenirs for their friends back home and they spent a lot of time talking to Mr. Fanshaw who ran the little Museum just around the street from the hotel. 

They talked to Mr Fanshaw about their Mom and their Dad and their home back in Washington.

Mr Fanshaw, Mata and Wilton were pleased to discover knew all about Aliens and he also knew at least an hours worth of  top drawer ghost stories and as he packed up Mata and Wilton’s purchases he asked, ” so tell me about your Mom, in the end she had a good time? Is she a believer now do you think? “

” Doubt it, ” Wilton said “she doesn’t have much going in the way of imagination.”

” Sorry to hear that…its a curse of the Modern Age ” Mr Fanshaw said sadly. Then he asked, “and what does she do for a living? “

” Homemaker, ” Mata told him ” she use to be a Phlebotomist. That’s how she met our Dad. See the offices she worked at used to get busted into and vandalized all of the time. One night she got attacked and our Dad actually saved her from being killed. They’ve been together ever since”

” And what does your Dad do? ” Mr Fanshaw asked.

” He’s a Vampire Hunter ” Wilton said from behind a stack of packages and then he and Mata thanked Mr Fanshaw for all of his time and as the two young people left the Museum Mr. Fanshaw heard Mata say ” hey Wilton we should talk to Dad about The Triangle for our next trip…”

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EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR

BY Anita Marie Moscoso 

Inspired By The Soulfood Alphabet Project:
C is for Facing Chaos

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Binnie Cardea worked  for a company called Bannatyne and Hayman.

Well, that’s not exactly true, she lived for a company called Bannatyne and Hayman, she existed  for Bannatyne and Hayman, she would have been nothing and I mean nada but another little fish in the big overcrowded fish pond of life where all the little fishes looked the same if it hadn’t been for Bannatyne and Hayman.

Each weekday morning Binnie Cardea’ s alarm clock would go off at 5:00 and she really did jump out of bed –just like the people in the commercials that advertise how grand life is if you buy the right mattress to sleep on.

Then she  would snap her alarm clock off with a happy tap and sing as she started her shower.

She would hum as she washed her hair and she even whistled as she dressed.

Then she  would collect her work tools from the sideboard in her hallway and…I kid you not – she would practically skip to her car.

One day Binnie got to work at 6:30am sharp, her tool kit clenched in her happy relaxed hand when she saw everyone, and that included the office staff, the salespeople and even the clean up crews standing around the workshop.

They were standing around with worried lines creasing their foreheads, no one was smiling or making for the box of doughnuts on the ‘treat bench’ that held their coffee machine and cups and the little ice color underneath where they kept their juices and pops and bottled water.

“ What’s up? “ Binnie asked with a song in her heart and a smile on her face to no one in particular.

“ The Morana’s are opening a plant up in Edgewater.” She heard a voice say from across the workshop and her heart really did freeze up in her chest- right along with the smile on her face.

“ Oh,” Binnie said and everyone turned to face her “ oh is that what they think they’re going to do?”

That’s what the Morana’s did…a company like the Morana’s did to small companies like B&H what the locusts do to crops and the cold virus does to anything with a respiratory system.

They invaded, they ate they destroyed and there was nothing you could do to stop them.

Here in the States, there’s really only one very big, very successful company like Morana and their line of products was impressive and their delivery system was unsurpassed which counted for a lot when your product line were coffins.

Binnie went through her workday on that somber Tuesday without as much as a smile or cheery hello to anyone. Her dark cloudy expression was frightening, especially when she started to talk about those darn Morana’s and their “ production line o’ death” and she waved around her sharp little carpenter’s tools to emphasize her points.

Then sometime after lunch she had an idea, a brilliant one, an inspired one and when she punched the clock at the end of her shift she was whistling again and no one asked her what was with sudden change of heart.

It seemed like a good idea not to.

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The thing about Morana was that they were one of those 24 hour plants, someone was always going on or off shift and they were always in a hurry to go and very, very slow to arrive.

It only took a few days for Binnie to figure out what needed to be done, who was who and how to complete the task at hand.

After all , she hadn’t been made Employee Of The Year, Winner of the ” Coffin Design of the Year ”  Award as well as Employee Of The Month AND  Carpenter Of The Year because no one else competed.

Binnie Cardea was a company woman and a team player extraordinaire.

But she was also very, very self-motivated.

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One month after Morana opened it’s doors something happened that had never happened in the 50 years they’d been in business. They got backlogged.

Boy, did that cost them.

Do you know what happens when a funeral can’t happen on time because the Coffin didn’t show up? You don’t want to know because it involves the court systems and lawyers and judges and that my dear reader is to horrifying for me to go into.

It started out as a mystery and it stayed a mystery, Morana’s workforce clocked in and their co-workers would swear up and down they’d see them at their workstations. They just never clocked out.

It made for some morbid new stories: factory workers disappear into think air at Coffin making company.

It didn’t take long before “ The Production Line O’ Death Company” folded in Edgewater and that black eye forced them down all over the Country.

After all who would want to work for a company that ate its employees alive?

No one ever figured out what happened.

But of course someone knew exactly what happened and how.

SOMEONE always does.

In this case long after this someone had retired  she owned exactly half of B&H…but Binnie’s story doesn’t end there.

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Almost a week after she passed away at the ripe old age of 92 a construction company worker found all those people from the Edgewater plant in the basement of a little brick building not even two streets away from the big empty ultra modern building once owned by the Morana Corporation.

The Angerona Building has this stone elephant on its roof and it was built in 1899. It was used as a print shop, a restaurant, a gym and even a as a Church.

Then a family called Cardea bought it back in the 1970’s and rented it out for warehouse space.

But really what was interesting about the Angerona Building…what was interesting about all of the buildings on that block as a matter of fact were the series of tunnels that ran under the streets that once upon a time bootleggers used to move their inventory. They could move from the train tracks and docks without ever once stepping foot above ground. The air wasn’t great, but it was dry and quiet and naturally sound proof.

Now, the ‘bootleggers doors’ weren’t really doors. Just holes in the walls that the bootleggers punched out themselves with sledge hammers to make their travels and deliveries more efficient.

There were bootleggers doors everywhere down along the waterfront in Edgewater, including five that were covered not by concrete but by plywood and plaster when the building that they led into was torn down. The name of the building is gone forever but the building that was built over its foundation is interesting…it’s called the Morana Building.

But this story ends at 333 3rd Ave West in the Angerona Building.

In its basements are 50…count them 5-0 wooden boxes lining an unlit tunnel that goes nowhere. Each one is nailed shut and each one holds an awful secret and each one bares the mark

PROUDLY HANDCRAFTED BY BANNATYNE AND HAYMAN                             

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STONE HEARTS

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 by anita marie moscoso 

inspired by The Soul Food Cafe Prompt:

” Fishing For Words”

We sat side by side at the abandoned railway station looking out onto the dead tracks.

” I don’t sing, I don’t dance and I don’t do poetry ” I told my companion ” but I do know stories. Lots of them. ”

The woman next to me settled back against the rotting wooden bench and stretched her arms in front of herself and I could see her fingernails were long and polished and curled slightly at the tips. 

I admired her nails for awhile and then I began:

” There once was a woman, who lived on the Bluffs above Deadwood and her name was Cecelia Marrow. ”

I heard my companion draw a long deep breath and I could feel her staring at the side of my head and I knew she wasn’t smiling. ” Marrow, as in…” she began.

” Marrow of your bones ” I said ” which is how she affected people. To the Marrow of their bones. She wasn’t a pleasant woman. She was the Pharmacists wife and everyone thought she married him just so she could be near all those…potions. ”

” They flirted with her, those pretty things in the jars ” I heard my companion say.

” Yes they did, ” I said ” It was an infatuation at first. She’d hold those little bottles up to the sunlight and admire them the same way other women would admire jewelry or fine fabrics or even flowers. She’d hold them up and nothing else was more real to her then what was inside of those bottles.”

” She looked very pretty, soft, and sweet when she was behind the counter standing among those jars and bottles with their hand written labels. Then someone would walk into the shop and her face would harden into a mask, a grimace and she would stand between you and those medicines and dare you to reach out and touch them. She was jealous, even then. ”

” She was obsessed ” was whispered right into my ear and I had to clench my hands together so that I wouldn’t reach out and slap my companion away.

” Oh she was, she would walk into the shop in the morning after dreaming of her lovers all night and she would stand there with flushed cheeks and a racing heart. Then those powders and liquids and roots and herbs would whisper to her, whisper things that they could do for her, gladly, blindly and with pleasure…for her just for her. ”

” What did they give her? ”

” Lives, they gave her lives the same way a young man gives flowers or chocolates to his sweetheart. They would escape the shop at night and find their way into the food stored in kitchens and the water in the wells. They found their way onto fruits and vegetables still growing on vines and in the trees and fields, they would hide themselves in clothing, blankets toothpaste and perfumes. There was wasn’t a place her love wouldn’t go to find tokens of it’s affection ”

” When it was done, most of Marrow Falls was dead. All that was left was Cecelia, her husband Ben and a handful of families. But they were not well people, Cecelia’s Lovers hadn’t been able to kill them but they ruined them all the same. Sickened them for the rest of their short tortured lives. ”

” She was caught, ” my companion said.

” Do you know the people of Marrow Falls were once simply called the River People and they knew this; the River was alive. Its full of ghosts. They buried their dead there you see. That River” I said pointing beyond the fence where we could hear rushing water “ is a cemetery.”

I continued, “ she tried to escape on a Barge down the River to Duwamish and it was more then the Sprits could bear, her walking on those graves like that, so they reached up out of the water and pulled her over the side and held her down and then they took her face. ”

” Didn’t they? ” I asked my companion.

” She wears a mask now ” my companion told me but no matter what she puts on her ruined face it turns to stone and each stone face is a cursed face”

” You’re from the River, you’re from the Falls, aren’t you? ” my Companion asked.

” Yes. ”

” Will you let me go? Will you ask the River People to let me leave? ”

I looked straight into that stone face, the face that froze hearts in terror…not for it’s ugliness but because the true curse of the River People was this; my Companions face would always mirror the Sins of the person looking into it. That was the terror, to look into this creatures face and see your own monster carved in marble staring back at you.

I put my face close to hers and said, ” Never. ”

Then I got up and walked up over the little hill and into the waters and all the time I could hear my Companion…weeping.

Or maybe she was laughing.

It all sounds the same from down here.

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The Strange Tale of Waldgrave Jaborandi

 

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inspired by a true story

They found the last body on Mourning Ridge just before sundown

The Sheriff was there and so was her deputy and Borgia Sainbury the Chief Undertaker of Mourning Ridge Cemetery and Funeral Home was there too. Borgia looked up at the Sheriff and said “ that makes 46”.

The headless corpse had been tied to the ornate iron gate that separated Mourning Ridge Cemetery and Funeral Home from the rest of the world. It was a messy set of human remains and it was starting to attract flies that the women flicked away from their faces when one of the pests settled to close to their eyes.

In the back seat of the Sheriff’s Jeep a set of dark red eyes glared at them and a voice called to them in a long dead language that they all understood, “ It wasn’t me! Do you hear me? It was him it was Abendroth Danvers! He’s back! Listen to me I’m innocent!”

They all laughed as the sunset because no matter how you looked at it that was a pretty funny comment to be coming from a Demon.

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After he was booked and then convicted by the Sheriff and the Merchants Association of Duwamish Bay the Sheriff began as she had for years and years to prepare for the execution of her inmate.

“ Do you have to do that in front of me? “

The Sheriff looked up and said, “ as a matter of fact I do Danvers. You know the rules. You’ve lived here long enough”

“ I’m not Danvers, I’m Waldgrave, Waldgrave Jaborandi. I’ve told you. I’m not Danvers. Not now anyway”. Waldgrave sounded so scared that Sarah almost dropped the metal sling and the rope in her hands.

When she saw it was just Waldgrave she went back to work.

“ Look Waldgrave. Answer me this… are those Danver’s hands? Danver’s teeth?  Well are they?”

“ Yes they are.”

“ Good then we understand each other. Those hands killed 46 people in the past four months and those teeth well, those teeth acted in the crimes too. That’s all I care about. You were in possession of those so you are responsible. Sorry.” Of course she didn’t sound sorry. It wasn’t a Warden or a Sheriff’s job to feel sorry.

“ Listen to me, Danvers is coming back.  I couldn’t stop him.”

“ Oh, and I’m sure you tried very hard to do that.”

“ Yes I did Sheriff. I don’t care what you think of me but that’s the truth. I like it here. I don’t want to leave. I wouldn’t have done anything to endanger myself or my home here.”

Then Waldgrave saw what the Sheriff had in her hands and he looked up and whispered, “ my neck…you’re going to break my neck.”

Then he turned away from her and slid to the floor cradling his head in his hands “ I can’t believe this. Its not right”

“ Listen Waldgrave…46. Four – Six, 17 were from Duwamish Bay. That wasn’t right either.”

“ 98.” He said .

“ What?”

“98” Waldgrave told her, “ You forgot to check Lake Undercroft. It’s 98”

And so it was.

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The next night Sheriff Guzman and her Deputy prepared Waldgrave for his execution.

When they were done tattooing his face and after they had cut off his left hand  Sarah and her Deputy  drove him out to Lost Harbor Road and to the oak tree they kept out there for nights just like this one.

Next to Waldgrave on the seat was coiled piece of rope, a burlap bag dotted with small red stains and of course the ax.

Waldgrave looked out of his window so that he didn’t have to look at what was on the seat next to him. He watched the Harbor Gorge fill with unnaturally blue moonlight and he knew the air outside the car was turning fetid and humid. It always did on execution nights.

He asked “ You know what will happen if you break my neck before you execute me. “

“ That’s the idea.”

“ But I didn’t commit those murders, Danvers did. The very most I’m guilty of is demonic possession and that wouldn’t even get me life in Sawajinn. You could even have my sentence commuted to Fallen. Why are you doing this? “

The Sheriff slammed the brakes on and before the vehicle was at a full stop she was outside of the Jeep and throwing open the back door. She reached in for Waldgrave and pulled him out and threw him up against the car hard enough to shatter the bulletproof window.

 “ Do you honestly want me to believe that a demon clever enough, strong enough to hide in the same body for over 100 years was powerless to stop a mortal, a flesh and blood mortal from killing 98 people? Its bull and you know it Waldgrave.”

“ It’s the truth Sarah!” He tried to pull his face away from Sarah’s teeth.

“ They’re mortal Sarah, they’re not stupid and they’re much stronger then any of us give them credit for. You’re executing me because you’re afraid. You all are. Because if one psychotic human could best me that means all of you…all of us aren’t as safe as we’d like to think we are here in Duwamish Bay. Killing me won’t change that. “

Then the Sheriff reached through the open door, grabbed the ax and swung it down over Waldgrave’s chest.

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It was Waldgrave and Waldgrave alone who finished the ride to Fallen Penitentiary that foggy night.

Danver’s Heart was wrapped in Sarah’s jacket and rode next to Waldgrave.

When Sarah looked into her rearview mirror the face that looked back at her from the back seat wasn’t a twisted demonic face, it didn’t have horns or red skin or a forked tongue.

Waldgrave Jaborandi looked middle aged and ordinary and he had very straight white teeth. Of course his eyes were blood red and when he talked the air seemed to chill slightly but in Duwamish Bay it wasn’t polite to point things like that out.

So Sarah didn’t.

“I’ve decided Sawajinn isn’t appropriate for you in this case” Sarah heard Waldgrave catch his breath and she could hear him saying something, or was he crying? It was hard to tell. She’d never heard a Demon make a sound like that before.

“ It’s 500 years in Fallen Waldgrave and that’s firm. You’ve been convicted of the Crime of Demonic Possession.  I took off 100 as time served.”

“ Thank you Sheriff, thank you.” Waldgrave told her.

As they drove up to the darkened barred windows of Fallen Sarah told Waldgrave, “ I’m sending Danver’s heart to Sawajinn, it’s the most I can do for you and it’s the best I can do for his victims. I mean he’s going to rot in a prison designed for, well, the kind of people that live in Duwamish Bay. You couldn’t pay me enough to watch what’s going to happen to him there. Still it’s 98 dead, but if you wouldn’t have been there…who knows how much worse it could have been.”

Then Sarah asked and you could hear that she probably already knew what Waldgrave was going to say “answer me this Waldgrave, was Danvers human?”

“ I’m sure of it.”

Shadows gathered around the Jeep and then the Wardens rose up out of the darkness.Sarah kept her hands on the steering wheel and tried very hard to keep looking straight ahead.

One of the Wardens opened the Jeep door and the other reached in and motioned for Waldgrave to step out. ” You know Sheriff, I am afraid. ”

Sarah  was looking far away into the darkness and she thought of that dark human heart that shouldn’t exist being taken to the dark Prison at the end of the world and she said, “ we all are Waldgrave, we all are.”

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HEART OF THE GRAVAMINA

 

by anita marie moscoso

Inspired by

the Soul Food Cafe Writing Prompt:

Anchors and Harbors

Gravamina: The part of a charge or an accusation that weighs most substantially against the accused.
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Starving and near madness I am at the end of my life and I’m sailing to the End of The World on a ship called Gravamina, and she’s perfect for this Journey because she knows Death.

She is herself as dead as the Black Waters I sail across, as dead as the Crew that still haunt her decks and tend to her needs. She is as Dead as the Corpses that lie in the Catacombs I stole her compass from a week ago.

“ Finding the Gravamina won’t be as hard for you as it is for others. You’ll need the Heart of The Gravamina to find the Caravanserai,” the Hanged Man’s Skull whispered to me from his shelf in my library. “ But tell me, why do you want to join the Caravanserai?”

I walked to the shelf and turned the sectioned skull towards me and looked into his empty eyes and said, “ Because I’m tired of you, I’m tired of this house and I’m very tired of pretending to be something I’m not.”

“ You trail Death behind as if it were a train on a woman’s gown Azi Dahaka. When the Caravanserai become wise to you…they’ll destroy you and then you’ll join me here on this shelf and we’ll have nothing for company except each other’s Sins.

I took the Hanged Man’s Skull from the shelf and wrapped it carefully in linen decorated with a language no living person has ever spoken. “ You wish,” I told it. Then with the Skull, and nothing else in my possession I went into the world to find the Heart of The Gravamina.

The Hanged Man’s Skull told me on our long journey to the Catacombs about the Heart of The Gravamina and why it is entombed and the rest of the Gravamina rots in a Grotto below the City.

Then Hanged Man started his story not with ” once upon a time” He Started his story with “the Heart of The Gravamina doesn’t beat like a drum.

The Heart of the Gravamina screams.”

“All Ships are alive, you know that Azi Dahaka and the Gravamina was alive too…maybe more so then any of her Sisters

Once long ago something dark and wicked boarded The Gravamina and killed her crew.

Now, it was assumed it was the Plague, but of course it wasn’t…it was a Demon and it drained the blood and life from every living thing on board the Gravamina and with no crew the Gravamina drifted and dreamed.

And then she went mad.

Like most Insane things the Gravamina was very good at pretending to be normal and after she was repaired and sold and even re-named she sailed and reacted to her world, as any Ship should

But then she started killing things.

She took the lives of her crew, the fish that swam around her as she sailed the Seas and when she was bored she made the food and water and wine go bad that had been stored below her decks.

Then one day a young sailor whose mother was a Witch and whose father was a Demon from the Mountains boarded the Gravamina and she tried to kill him to…for sport.

But he knew what to do and he tore her Compass from her chest and he took it to the Catacombs and he buried it.

He buried it alive.

So the Heart of the Gravamina Screams in anger and rage and the rest of her dreams and rots and then one day a woman named Azi Dahaka went down into those tombs and brought it back out.

Azi Dahaka put the Compass back into her chest and the Gravamina’ s Sails captured a long dead gust of wind and her Crew came from the darkness and now they are all sailing to a port where this is dancing and music and art and poetry.

And Souls.

Lots of them. And Azi Dahaka is very, very hungry.”