If Your Name Was Mara Petgrave

by anita marie moscoso


With a name like Mara Petgrave nothing you can ever do or say will ever shock or scare people. No one will ever expect you to wear anything else besides black and if every one of your six husbands died shortly after you were married and you walked into a big inheritance every single time-

No one would notice.

If your name was Mara Petgrave and you lived down the street from a family in Fall River  Massachusetts and of the the two sisters  just happened to mention one day that with your dark looks and dark eyes you could be mistaken for one of those Sideshow women that danced with snakes,  you might just be moved to take up an ax because of their quip and dish out about 81 whacks and you may have gone for 40 more on top that.

But with a name like Mara Petgrave you might think that watching having the chance to watch someone else dance at the end of a rope for what you had done was funny.

With a name like Mara Petgrave no one would ask why it was that you never seemed to age and why they never saw you laugh or cough or sneeze.

Or blink.

If your name was Mara Petgrave you could work with the dead in a Funeral Home and no one would ask why it was that on your first day of work you stood over a very messy corpse and then looked up and said, ” so, where’s a good place to grab some lunch? “

If your name was Mara Petgrave you might get bored with doing all these dark deeds and not once…. even for a minute get any sort of recognition for being the most Macabre Danseur in the field.

All because of that name of yours.

So if your name was Mara Petgrave you might change your name to say

….Anita Marie Moscoso


In The Woods Behind Riversleigh

from the Vaults


Never get lost in the woods behind Riversleigh Manor- it wasn’t exactly a warning; it was more like a statement.

Never get lost behind the woods of Riversleigh Manor.

Juniper Pringle had heard those words her entire life- her Mother would say them to Juniper and her sisters before they left for school in the morning, her Father would say the same words when they went out to play in the evenings and Juniper Pringle would say them one day to her own kids.

One day as Juniper said them to her son Tennyson she really heard them and Tenny really listened and he asked, ” Why? “

And those words that rolled so easily from the tongue to the ear finally came together and Juniper said, ” The trees are alive. “

Tenny Pringle nodded as if what his Mother had just told him made all the sense in the world and as Tenny Pringle walked out of his Mother’s house and into the wood behind Riversleigh she knew that was the last she’d ever see of her son.

And she was right.


Juniper Pringle drove out to View Ridge a month after her son disappeared.

The Ridge is where Juniper went to a Mom and Pop Country store that still sold Soda Pop in glass bottles and that’s where she bought matches and gasoline- two can of gasoline to be exact.

Mrs. Country Store wished her a nice day and Juniper turned around and smiled and when Mr Country store saw that woman’s face he almost reached down for the gun he kept under his cash register and that awful feeling that woman gave him that afternoon never really left his bones.


All right, Juniper told herself as she walked away from an almost certain death  that morning- it wasn’t like people hadn’t been warning each other for years about the Woods.

It wasn’t like nothing bad had ever happened back they’re before; it wasn’t like someone from Bindweed walking into the woods and not walking out was something that happened ” Once Upon a time “

It happened all of the time…over and over again.

It’s just that sometimes- and it was simple…some  people just never learned.

Like the people right here in Bindweed-

They all knew how bad those Woods could be and what did they do?

Did they try to figure out why the trees were bad or what the woods wanted or exactly why they put up with those trees taking them one by one whenever they felt like it?


Not once-

Juniper went into the woods and came out the other side…on the Bindweed side and when she came to the outskirts of her own home town she took her matches and her ax and her cans full of gasoline out of the back of her Jeep.

Later she wondered- as the trees in Bindweed lit up like torches- if the flames would spread into the Woods Behind Riversleigh-

She wondered at last.


She Will Never Give You Up


Once I was sitting on a beach late at night when a man walked by me and said, “It’s  dark down there ” and as he walked away from me I realized he had been looking to his left as he spoke…and from his left I thought I heard an answer


nobody was to his left …

except for the Ocean.

All these years later I’m glad for one thing…that I never got a good look at his face.

Strange things happen at Sea…This true story is one of them.

Crewman’s disappearance during rescue in Alaska unexplained

Crewman's disappearance during rescue in Alaska unexplained
Story Updated: Mar 29, 2008 at 10:02 AM PDT

By JEANNETTE J. LEE, Associated Press Writer

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – As the fishing vessel Alaska Ranger sank to the bottom of the Bering Sea, crewman Byron Carrillo and 1st Assistant Engineer James Madruga struggled to stay afloat in the rough and frigid waves.
With Carrillo drifting into hypothermic shock after nearly five hours, the arrival of a Coast Guard rescue helicopter was a blessing, Madruga said Friday. He told the rescue swimmer to “take Byron first” and watched the panicked crewman being loaded into a dangling basket.
But when he reached the helicopter himself, Carrillo was nowhere to be seen…
 ( full story HERE )

The Dansing Tree


Sometimes on  my way to Whopperville ( that’s what I say when I’m working on a story…I’m heading out to Whopperville ) I’ve run across some true stories that haunt me-  they give me nightmares or creep me out for days.

At the moment I’m working on a story about a Hanging Tree and in my research I found out that the slang name for these trees were ” Dancing Trees “

I’ll let that visual sort of sink in there.

At first blush some of my friends with more refined literary tastes thought I was making a poetic gesture when I floated the first draft for this story out to them.

You can stop laughing now.

The image that came to my mind about Dancing Trees came to me one night and woke me from a dead sleep.

And there was nothing poetic about it.

I saw a group of people sitting under a large shady tree on a hot day  having a picnic. They were dressed in their best summer clothes and as they laughed softly and admired the beauty around them I knew they are blissfully ignorant to the fact that

…many years ago someone danced…

for their lives

right above t their heads

And when I looked up I could see…

they still were.


I found this article at BBC

It’s about a Hang Man’s Tree

That’s located in…

  Kings Mills, Wrexham Wales

Let The Danse Begin…


Hang Man’s tree

Last updated: 31 December 2007

Bernie Griffiths shares her experiences and spooky encounters at a local beauty spot known as ‘Biniki’ at Kings Mills, Wrexham, and the Hang Man’s tree.

 There is a mill by the river but to get to the really spooky part you have to walk under a bridge. It belongs to the National Trust. Anyway, by the bridge in Biniki there is a tree where events have occurred for centuries.

We normally go there during the summer months and sit on the side by what is called Hang Man’s tree for obvious reasons. There has always been a presence there and I can sense paranormal activity quite easily. That’s why everyone comes with me.

This one night though it got very scary indeed, so much so I told everybody to get up and make for the road. My niece, myself and my husband got across the bridge in time but as we turned to scream for the others they had been blocked off with what can only be described as a distorted shape of mist. It was just floating there and when they moved, it moved.

We screamed for them to run but it followed. They ran through the river but it didn’t cross. As we ran nearly a mile to get out of there it was on the other side of the river along side of us every inch of the way back to the mill where it stayed in the woods. Quite an experience.

I spoke to someone many weeks after that and I asked them when they were younger did they ever experience anything there. They described the same shape even though I had not mentioned it. We have been back there and it has happened a few more times at the same time around about 2.25am.

We have only ever managed to stay there once through the night. This is only one area that has activity. Coming back from there another night we couldn’t stay because it was getting a bit uneasy there. We started to walk back though and got out safe and sound.

However as we passed through the gates on the opposite side of the old mill me and my brother saw a man walking straight at us, we moved apart so he could pass between us. We said ‘hello’ to him but he ignored us.

Anyway we turned to make sure my husband was OK because he was straggling behind. As we turned the man just walked straight through him. I looked at my brother and he looked at me. My husband was oblivious to it all and said he saw no-one there. All I can say is there are many discssions about Biniki but you have to be there at the right time and the spirits seem to love being there when I am. 

King’s Mill Wrexham, Wales



News From A Distant Bridge

Iowa county board gives initial OK for ghost hunters to investigate asylum built in 1855

Iowa county board gives initial OK for ghost hunters to investigate asylum built in 1855

By Associated Press


IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – County officials have given their informal OK for ghost hunters to check out a one-time insane asylum to see if any spirits are lurking about.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors took the initial action on the request from the Johnson County Historical Society, which gives tours of the 153-year-old building.

Brandon Cochran, museum operations assistant for the historical society, said there have never been reports of ghosts or bizarre happenings at the building and that bringing in a paranormal team is “kind of taking the pre-emptive approach.

He wants an Iowa-based paranormal investigative team to come in for one night. Cochran said he hopes they don’t find any paranormal activity and the investigation can put to rest any speculation.

A four-person Carroll Area Paranormal Team will use thermal imaging equipment and voice recording systems, Cochran said.

A date for an investigation wasn’t set and an agreement will have to be drafted releasing the county of any liability before the supervisors formally approve the request, Cochran said.

The remaining wing was built in 1855 and housed mentally ill patients who were deemed insane. It was a self-sufficient 160-acre site with residents growing corn, potatoes, wheat, hay and tobacco.

The building is now called Chatham Oaks, and houses people with physical and mental disabilities. Chatham Oaks officials said there wouldn’t be a problem with the paranormal team coming in as long as it didn’t disturb residents, said county facilities director Dave Kempf.

Mr Goosberry’s Shed


Just above the railroad tracks that lead into the town of Mount Prefontaine is a Gardener’s Shed.

The windows are caked with dried mud and pine needles and above the door of the Gardener’s Shed, which is not locked, is a sign that reads:

“Mr. Gooseberry’s Gardening Shed.”

That’s all the warning you’ll get to stay away.


Arnella Day, Julia Barnwell and Cynthia Stevens all rode the commuter train that ran through Mount Prefontaine.

They’d sit in the passenger car and drink their flavored Lattes and “Ooh” and “Ahhh” over each other’s shoes, and laugh way too loud at each other’s jokes, and of course they’d try to comment on the passing scenery, so that it would at least appear they cared about what went on outside of their world.

Then one day Cynthia pointed out the little green and white Shed that was built on the stone outcrop above the tracks.

She pointed the shed out because it occurred to her that you could only say so much about trees, and shoes, and makeup, and tell stories about the bottomless lake that the train crossed over, before people just tuned you out altogether, just so that they didn’t have to hear another one of your dull stories.

If there was anything Cynthia really hated it was being ignored.

So instead of talking about the Devilbit Lake, she decided to say something about the little shed and when she opened her mouth and spoke, she was as surprised as anyone else at what came out.

What she said was this: “I wonder if there are any dead bodies buried in there?” Cynthia looked up and around, and then she realized those words really did come out of her mouth, and she took a long drink of coffee to keep herself from saying anything more.

“I guess,” Arnella said, “you can’t really find any live ones buried there, right?”

Julia felt like she was standing next to herself, and watching as that someone who looked like her, and sounded like her said, “I guess there’s only one way to find out – I guess we should come back and see for ourselves.”

So they did.

The three of them met at the “Prefontaine Park and Ride” early the next Saturday morning, and they were all dressed in the newest word in day hike gear from “Lady Olympus Sportswear” at the Bellmark Mall, and each one of them had little backpacks that had those special pockets for your cell phones.

Arnella brought the camera and some Granola snacks and little bottles of water, which was good, because all the other two remembered to bring was their make-up and sunscreen.

That’s how their day started – it was bright and sunny and all was right with the world. They chatted about shoes, about what shows were on TV the night before, and how ugly the new guy in the accounting department was.

So, as the three women made their way up the trail, none of them really noticed how quiet it was all around them. There wasn’t a sound, not a bug, not a bird, you couldn’t even hear the cars drive by from the road that ran right in front of the trailhead.


It only took them twenty minutes to reach the hill and when they got up there, they looked down at the tracks their train passed over every single day, and they stood there and wondered if Devilbit Lake was really bottomless, and then they turned around and read the sign above the door that said:

“Mr. Gooseberry’s Gardening Shed.”

Arnella slowed down and then she nearly stopped walking and she asked her friends, “Why do you suppose there’s a Gardener’s Shed up here? I mean, look around, there isn’t a house to have a garden for – so what’s the deal with a Gardener’s Shed?”

Julia and Cynthia stopped at the door and turned back as Arnella kicked at the ground. “See, it’s all rock. You can’t plant anything up here.”

The three of them still didn’t notice the silence, or the cold that was creeping out from under the Shed’s door, and they only paused for a moment before Julia reached out and pushed the door open.

The smell that rushed out the door wasn’t bitter and dusty and old, it didn’t smell like earth or fertilizer.

All three of the women thought they could smell wet leaves and somewhere in there they picked up the faint scent of rubbing alcohol and antiseptics.

They could have turned back and headed down the trail, and after a short drive, they could have been at “The Floral Hills Mall”, drinking iced coffees.

But they didn’t.

They went in.

The Shed was humid and cold, and everything on the shelves, and leaning against the wall, was covered with a dark mold that looked spongy and soft.

Arnella went in first, and she started looking at the little jars on the shelves that lined the east wall and at the ones that were arranged neatly on the workbench – she couldn’t tell what kinds of plants and powders were inside dusty containers, but she understood what the little symbols drawn in ink on the labels meant.

“These are all poisons…what the Hell kind of Garden Shed is this?” She thought she was saying out loud: “There’s enough poison here to kill an entire city.”

Cynthia was looking at the shovels that were leaning in the corner of the Shed and she was thinking: “I wonder how it would feel to actually dig a grave.”

And Julia, who was standing next to Cynthia, wanted more then anything to reach for the pickaxe that was leaning against the shovel. She could actually feel how right it would be if she picked that axe up and swung.

Arnella felt the Shed get smaller and the air became more acrid and her skin started to crawl all over her muscles and bones and she left her camera, her backpack and her friends in that Shed.

They found her around the back of the Shed leaning over a ruined fence, vomiting onto the hard rocky ground.

“Why did we come up here?” Arnella asked her friends, “We don’t do hikes, we don’t camp, the closest we get to nature is the flower kiosks at the Mall. So why are we here?”

“It just seemed like the right thing to do today,” Julia said.

“Whatever, I’m going back in to get my stuff and then I’m leaving.”

Arnella went back into the Shed and as she crossed the threshold, she saw, just as clearly as she could see that shelf full of poisons, Julia and Cynthia wanting and planning the trip to this Shed. She could see the way they enjoyed their little stroll up here and she thought she could hear them out there laughing, right next to the place she had just vomited.

“They really hate me,” she said into the cold acrid darkness, and the darkness seemed to agree and the air seemed to warm just a little.

She went to the workbench and picked up her camera and put it inside of her backpack and when she turned around…

The shovel and the pickaxe were gone, they weren’t there, and she was sure that when she ran out, they were right there in the corner.

Arnella could see, clear as a day, the way Julia and Cynthia were drooling over them when they let her run out of the Shed sicker than a dog, all by herself.

And then, the image of her friends laughing at her turned to another image of them digging a hole just before the trail head, and Arnella was sure one thing.

She wasn’t going to be standing there with them, she wasn’t going to be digging or snickering – in fact, she was sure she wasn’t even going to be doing any breathing.

“Damn them…” she hissed into the warming darkness, “damn them both to Hell…”

Arnella went back to the work bench, unzipped her backpack and when she was done, she opened the Shed door with a bang, and called out: “Let’s go…”

Then, as she slammed the door after herself, the moldy dust fell away from the window by the shelf full of glass jars and there in the new light, leaning against the shelf, was a shovel, and a pickaxe, and a smooth clear round spot on the workbench where a jar used to be.



It Was Only A Dream

 Last night I went to a place

where people were learning to dance.

Some people were doing better then others- they moved in perfect time to music I couldn’t hear.

Their faces were set in hard grim lines appeared that appeared  with each perfect step they took.

And a few others were not dancing as well.

 They stumbled over the steps, they lost their places, but they tried to work their way back into the steps and I think it’s because at times they couldn’t hear the song they were supposed to be dancing too.

There was  person standing next to me said- a person whose face and voice I didn’t need to see or hear to recognize- and this person said ” that woman you know is having a hard time with this. “

” Why is she having a hard time? ” I asked.

” Some people just learn this faster then others.”

We watched the dancers who were moving to music we couldn’t hear and I said, ” What happens when they don’t learn as fast as others? “

The person standing next to me pointed to the woman and few others  and said, ” we mark them- it helps. “

There were three white lines over their chests now.

And it did help.

Now they moved back and forth in perfect time with those line etched onto their black clothes over their hearts and with each step they took I think the music got just a little louder.

” I know this Dance. ” I said ” I know this danse! “

And then I yelled, ” I know this dance and you have to stop! Can you hear me? You have to stop.”

I saw the woman I know and a few others fall into perfect step with the others and they couldn’t hear me- even though I was screaming.

In that place where I saw people learning to dance I don’t think they can really hear anything.

Not anymore.