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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