411 From The Twilight Zone

Death is not sexy.

There is no such thing as a beautiful corpse.

It should not be used as a fashion statement.

And to paraphrase a line from this story, if it makes you laugh you belong in a cage.


Four years after the Civil War, a university professor, Dr. Benjamin Ramsey (Patrick Bergin), performs an appendectomy on a patient named O’Neill, who dies seconds later. At that moment, Ramsey notices a severe skull fracture O’Neill had endured twelve years earlier. Since no one could survive such an injury, Ramsey travels to a mysterious island to seek answers from Dr. Jeremy Wheaton (Jack Palance), who used to experiment with tissue regeneration, which might explain how O’Neill survived his skull fracture. As soon as the two doctors meet, they discuss O’Neill and how Wheaton decided to play God when he revived the dead people who now roam the island. Ironically, later that night, Jeremy Wheaton, the man who brought the dead back to life, dies himself. Instinctly aware of this, the living dead arrive and attack Ramsey, for whom they blame the death of Wheaton since on the island, nobody dies. The next morning, it’s revealed that Ramsey managed to survive the ambush, just as the boat that brought him to the island arrives to take him home. Before leaving, however, he finds a note from Wheaton’s niece, who reveals that she was dead, too, until her uncle revived her. With this shocking truth, Ramsey decides not tell his colleagues in the university what happened, knowing that no matter how hard people try to live forever, they must die.

A Day In The Life of A Former Baby Monster

Today on my bus ride home from work, I started to cough- the flu is going around , so that probably explains why the people who did turn around to see who was hacking their lungs up looked a little angry, even a little scared and very put out.


My parents met by chance in Hawaii in 1963 just so I could sit behind YOU and make you sick.


Still, I busted into my purse and downed some Cold and Flu gel caps and lucky for me I stopped coughing. The guy sitting across from me, that’s about the time he started to cough and it was more than a few people who turned around and probably more who forced themselves not too.

I must confess here, I faked a cough just to see what would happen and if looks could kill I’d have been dead and buried out on I-5 in not one but several shallow graves.

So as I sat down to write tonight I went over that little moment because I knew I was going to put it into my writer’s notebook and as I started to write it occurred to me that little snapshot in my life reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode called, “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street”

This episode was written by Rod Serling and briefly the storyline goes like this:  On a peaceful suburban street, strange occurrences and mysterious people stoke the residents’ paranoia to a disastrous intensity.

I’m going to let you in on a secret.

The first time I saw that episode that story scared me. it gave me nightmares. When it turned up on tv again a short while later I left the room. It creeped me out. It wasn’t the Aliens or the spaceship that scared me. I understood that kind of monster.

What scared me were the human monsters.

It was that look on the characters faces that terrified me- the viciousness, the desperation, the anger .

Today on my bus ride home, I saw flashes of those looks, but I’m not a little kid anymore. I’m an adult. I write ghost stories, I worked in a funeral home. I wasn’t scared. I was amused.

This is how Monsters ends: On a hilltop some distance away, two aliens observe the panic, explaining to the other that mankind is very easy panic, and that they can just as easily turn on the other, which will make domination over their species by the aliens rather easy.

It’s true.

Today I learned a cough can make people turn on each other.

And one little cough can make a monster.

And Whatever Walks There…

In about nine days I’ll be leaving for New Orleans- so if you do the math, you’ll see I’ll be there a day before Halloween and I’ll have a few days down there after.

I’m going in part because I have been told there are a few cemeteries and a haunted house or two around New Orleans that you can check out. Oh. And do you know they have some knowledge of Voodoo and Jazz about town too?

I know…how cool is that?

The other reason I am going is because of something called the Toxic Baby.

I can’t explain exactly why the Toxic Baby inspired me to pack my notebook and pens and my favorite pairs of  t-shirts and jeans and hiking boots and head to New Orleans over Halloween. But it has and you can read about it at the blog I’ve dedicated to my trip HERE. I’ve got a few posts up to sort of move the blog along,  so if you’d like to check it out, please stop by! I’m posting there daily now will through the rest of my trip.


( click the picture to get to my blog, Searching For The Toxic Baby )

“…and whatever walked there, walked alone.”

Tis The Season

 Do you think God knew what He was doing when He created woman?  I really wanna know. Or do you think it was another one of His minor mistakes like tidal waves, earthquakes, FLOODS? You think women are like that? S’matter? You don’t think God makes mistakes? Of course He does. We ALL make mistakes. Of course, when WE make mistakes they call it evil. When GOD makes mistakes, they call it… nature. So whaddya think? Women… a mistake… or DID HE DO IT TO US ON PURPOSE?

Daryl Van Horne

Witches of Eastwick

 “When I was a child there were many witches, and they bewitched both cattle and men, especially children”

“When witches go riding, and black cats are seen, the moon laughs and whispers,

‘tis near Halloween.”

Who Is The Fairest

Magic mirror on the wall 

Who is the fairest of them all?

I was out shopping for my Halloween pumpkins because as you know nothing says Halloween like

sticking a butcher nice into a perfectly formed  amd otherwise lovely looking vegetable and carving it into a unatural shape, right?

Well, this year I saw something different sitting in the pumpkin bin at my local grocery store.

Something odd, something strange something that nobody wanted to touch.

Except for me, because you know I don’t mind the odd and macabre.

Anyway, sitting there on top of a bunch of smooth round golden orange jack-o-lanterns in waiting was a Warty Pumpkin.

It’s affect on people was a wonder.

Nobody would touch it.

I heard one person wonder to a sales clerk and a couple of other customers if the warts would spread to other the pumpkins and would her other plants catch whatever caused the warts?

Were the warts caused by bugst they wondered. Could it be a  fungus they asked each other.

All I know is after hearing all that chit-chat

I bought one.

Heck I’d have bought two  but I wanted this little charmer to stand out on Halloween night and you know….

I’m pretty sure it will.

Vampire Soul

A few months ago I was sent a link from my Vampire aficionado friend to a facebook page about a Vampire movie.  He had all sorts of questions about the film like it’s story line and production. Why ask me about a Vampire story I asked – the only vampire stories I really get into are folklore and those vampires don’t have an awful lot to do with their modern counterparts.

“Well, because they’re shooting it near your hometown,”  was the short answer.

So I went over to the page and not only discovered a vampire movie was going to shot right in the county I live in-fans were already interacting with the characters via Facebook– they were sending in artwork  inspired by the movie or just adding pictures to the wall that went along with the storyline.

What do you know, I thought about this story in process…it’s alive.

Property of V. S. Films LLC

I learned from the VS website Vampire Soul is a comedy/horror film about Vampires “who have walked among the living undiscovered until one woman’s desire to be a mother leads to another family’s revenge.”

I loved it- these women aren’t computer game inspired female characters- I get it, the entire drive to have a family, to protect your family, the lengths we go to when it’s threatened? That’s a human story. Of course if you throw in vampires and one of the vampires can do this to another character when she gets mad?

That’s a story with bite- lots and lots of bite.

Property of V. S. Films LLC

All kidding aside-

Vampire Soul is a local production, it’s using local talent, and not only will it bring jobs to our state- on a local level it can open the door for other productions and allow other talents to be seen and heard. As a writer who has lived in Snohomish County for almost my entire life I know we have a large pool of creative people and how great would it be if they could live and create in the community that in one form or another inspired their work?

I think that’s great and it’s an effort I am very happy to support.

Vampire Soul is asking for contributions- and if you make one you can get some sweet perks- and why would you do that? Even for a sweet perk? Because it’s a project with heart.  Here’s a note from Jessica Soss; CEO and Producer of V. S. Films LLC on the Team website:

“Vampire Soul: Hidden in Plain Sight” is a comedy horror that will be dedicated to Katie Gillette. She was a young girl who has touched the lives of many people, including my own, with her selflessness and willingness to help young actors achieve their goals. As she lay dying of Cystic Fibrosis, she asked her Mother, Christy Gillette, to open “Performers House” to help continue her work. Performers House is a Non-Profit Organization dedicated to helping actors, of all walks of life, gain the skills and contacts needed to work in the film industry. VISIT TEAM PAGE HERE

So go on, invite the Vampire in…it’s not like it will hurt or anything.

Property of V. S. Films LLC

:::Vampire Soul Links:::

Vampire Soul Website


Vampire Soul On Facebook




::: Very Cool Update:::

Producer Larry Estes is “running the show” for Jessica’s film. Larry Estes was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the Entertainment Business by both Entertainment Weekly and Premiere Magazines. In November of that year, he was the subject of a profile in the New York Times Sunday Business section entitled “Hollywood’s Quiet Godfather of the Offbeat Film.”

Trick or Treat?

Printable Halloween coloring pages: Disney Halloween, jack-o-lanterns and more HERE

Do you know who Carl Grimes is?

:::from Wikipedia::::

Carl Grimes is a fictional character from the comic book series The Walking Dead and is portrayed by Chandler Riggs in the American television series of the same name.

In the comic series, Carl begins as a normal and innocent child, only to gradually devolve into a murderer with a cold primal mentality. As of July 2012, he is one of the longest living survivors, alongside Rick, Andrea, and Sophia.

Time To Danse

::::From Wikipedi::::

Dance of Death, also variously called Danse Macabre (French), Danza de la Muerte (Spanish), Danza Macabra (Italian), Dança da Morte (Portuguese), Totentanz (German), Dodendans (Dutch), Surmatants (Estonian), Dansa de la Mort (Catalan) is an artistic genre of late-medieval allegory on the universality of death: no matter one’s station in life, the Dance of Death unites all. The Danse Macabre consists of the dead or personified Death summoning representatives from all walks of life to dance along to the grave, typically with a pope, emperor, king, child, and labourer. They were produced to remind people of the fragility of their lives and how vain were the glories of earthly life.[1] Its origins are postulated from illustrated sermon texts; the earliest recorded visual scheme was aa now lost mural in the Saints Innocents Cemetery in Paris dating from 1424-25. :::

things that are wrong

These are things that are not right.

And that’s why they are oh so very perfect.



They are never a good thing.

Too many teeth you know.

Things in jars.

I marvel at the mind that thought to shove something in a jar and put it on a shelf.

It’s so….hands on…

Open Graves

because they leave one with the urge to put something into them-

don’t they?

The Family That Plays Together…

So when I was a little kid, I named all of my dolls and stuffed animals after the characters on the TV show  “ Dark Shadows”

I used to make up little stories about my dolls and animals and they really did take on a  life of their own.

And by far- the most dark and wicked of them all was my stuffed Snoopy Dog with a broken neck- he was named  Barnabas and of course because he was one of the undead and bad- really bad. Snoopy aka Barnabas   managed to escape from my room every night and he ended up on my sister’s bed or in my brother’s sock drawer or on my Dad’s chest when he woke up in the morning and once he even made a surprise appearance at a funeral and he ended up on  coffin in the chapel just as the family arrived for the service

That one cost me, I lost him for a weeks after that one.

And yes, as a matter of  fact…it was worth it.

I had years and years of fun with my toys and looking back on it now, I can see how those games fed  the imagination that would shape me as a writer.

The downside. Well. It took me a while to see that there was one because there wasn’t a down side for me.

It turned out my rich imagination was a down side for my sister.

My sister- for years we teased that poor woman about this unnatural fear she had about her Baby Alive doll. She was convinced that it wanted to kill her.

In my defense I told anyone who would listen that I had nothing to do with that notion.


Ask my headless dolls and my Snoopy with the broken neck  what they thought about ” Baby Alive “

That doll was wrong…very, very, very


Olden Days

There are writing prompts for teachers designed to help students focus on their schoolwork during the month of Halloween. I read that students are so  distracted by candy and costumes that they check out and it’s hard to hold their attention in class.

I can believe that.

When I was a kid me and my friends started planning for Halloween sometime towards the end of September and by Halloween we were out of our minds withe excitement and that was BEFORE we downed all that sugar.

But I wonder- do kids really get that excited over Halloween anymore?

I know that for a while  going to the Malls and trick or treating was a big deal – but it was THE MALL. People sent their kids into stores to trick or treat cashiers. I know that some of my friends who worked at the Malls when this started thought it was fun.  I thought it was sad. I thought it was the end of Halloween.

When me and my friends went out on Halloween night it was cold and it was really very dark because the neighborhoods I lived in were packed with evergreen trees and not  packed with a lot of street lights.

I remembered that the  leaves seemed to die and fall Halloween morning and I remember how satisfying it was when they would crunch under your feet as you raced along the sidewalk and across streets to houses with pumpkins that had been carved without the help of stencils and pumpkin carving tools that look like surgical instruments except for they are orange and made out of plastic and those things are small and …and they’re made out of PLASTIC for goodness sakes.

Anything made to carve and cut a Halloween decoration  needs  to be made of well sharpened stainless steel because nothing beats getting to use  THE BIG KNIFE  to carve a Halloween pumpkin – especially if you’re a kid and your Dad let’s you hold the knife as he guides it through the pumpkin’s flesh and all on your own he let’s you scoop out the insides with your Mom’s favorite soup ladle.

Me and my friends  agonized over days trying to decide what we wanted be for Halloween

 When I was really little the costumes were old school- we had those plastic masks that came in boxes with a matching plastic costume- I always wanted to be a dog or a princess…bet you didn’t see that coming did you?

One year I was Casper The Friendly Ghost my Aunt Sharon helped me pick it out. I’m pretty sure I only got it because she loved Casper and I wanted to make her happy. However-I was mortified the entire night.

Even the nifty Trick or Treat Bag she made for me didn’t  help me feel better about the sad situation I found myself in.

 Ghosts as far as I was concerned were not friendly. I figured if a real ghost saw me it would die- again-laughing  when it saw me.  The next year I refused the Witch costume when my Mom pointed it out at the store  because I thought witches were real too and what would happen if I got mistaken for one?

I could get burned at the stake or hung and not only would I be dead I wouldn’t get to eat my candy.

However one year I did give in and let myself get put into a  Vampire costume because I was sure they weren’t real. Plus it was a boy’s costume and I liked that because I got to wear my boots with my costume.

Do kids go through that Drama anymore?

I mean, how thrilling is t to go to the Mall and trick or treat the lady who sells cheese and sausage gift baskets? The cashier at the shoe store or the guy at the camping gear store? And don’t get me started on Green Halloween and Healthy Halloween snacks and Harvest Festivals where you can’t dress up like the Devil but you can dress up like a clown or a scarecrow.

I wouldn’t trust the person who made that one up, I’ll say that outright. That is a weird call.

But I wonder.

Just before Halloween, on their way home from school,  do kids still point houses that could be haunted? Gardens where someone could be hiding dead bodies that are being turned into Zombies and was that sound you heard the night before spaceships from Uranus ( yeah, well- we weren’t always serious when we discussed monsters ).

Or do they talk ( on cell phones ) about computer games where you know for sure you can find haunted houses or Zombies or Space Aliens.

So I wonder- do kids really get  distracted from their schoolwork  by Halloween?

I hope so.

I really do.

How My Light Is Spent


Delarious Mandusa and Quash Mowers  work in a Funeral Home and they had great stories ( that they made up ) for how it was they came to be Grave Diggers that had nothing to do with reality but they were great stories.

The problem was nobody ever asked.

Delarious guessed that people assumed he dug graves for a living because of his name and Quash guesses that the fact he had born with a parasitic twin attatched to the top of his head ( his parents had named it Lawton ) that was removed a few months after they were born- was his reason for working at the Cemetery.

But those weren’t the reasons- and the story about finding graves with their names and dates of  birth as the dates of death on the hundred year old headstones wasn’t even remotely close to the truth.

The Grave Diggers with the colorful lives and equally colorful names became grave diggers because of a girl named Harley  Sandeen.

Years ago, when Delarious and Quash were kids they lived next door to each other and one day a little girl with big brown eyes and tangled brown hair moved into the   Bronson  House across the street.

Her name was  Harley Sandeen and she collected bugs, comic books and bubble gum.

She chewed it out of eyeshot of her Mother who wouldn’t allow Harley to chew gum because Harley’s mother said that the gum would wear Harley’s teeth down to stumps and then where would she be in life?

” I guess I’d be living somewhere with stumpy teeth and a tree full of chewed up bubblegum.”

Akela looked down at her daughter and said, ” Harley, why on earth would you stick your chewed up gum on a tree?”

” That’s how I get bugs for my collection.”

” Oh  Harley. That’s just awful.”

” I know, but look at it this way Mom, if anyone ever decides to collect bug’s legs they’re not going to care if I have a mouth full of stumpy teeth. They’re just going to be glad I was a bubblegum chewer.”

So Harley continued to chew bubble gum, which when she snapped it between her teeth was as loud as gunshot and she also bought comic  books once a week at the 52nd Street Best Mart which is where Delarious and Quash met Harley.

” The world is full of comic books and they’ve only got six titles here- can you belive that? And look only one scary one ” she said to them as they stood behind her waiting for their turn at the spinner rack.

” We don’t collect those- we collect the Archie Comics. My friend had a parasite twin attached to the top of his head, show her Quash. ” Quash took off his hat so that Harley could see the top of his head which was flat and angled to the left.

” That is amazing.” Harley sighed.

” Yeah. We got plenty real weird in our life. “

” Oh. Did you have a parasite too?”

” No, I’m Delarious Mandusa.”

Harley’s mouth fell open and her gum fell out and stuck to the front of her t-shirt. ” You got named after the guy who found the Flying Dutchman?”

” He was my Granfather.”

Harley pulled the gum off her shirt and popped it back into her mouth.

” You guys are the coolest human beings ever.”

” You’re a pretty cool human too, ” Quash who was falling in love with Harley right then and there in front of the comic book rack said.

And Harley laughed.

So Harley and Quash and Delarious grew up together and goofed off together and on the day Harley’s family sent her away to go to school in ” the old Country ” they made one last trip to the empty building where they first became friends.

The comic book rack was still there and Harley told them, ” you just wait. One of these days you’re gonna see one of these things full of books and comics by Harley Sandeen.”

” What? I thought you were going away to learn the family  business.” Quash said.

” Yeah. Then I’m going to write about it. I figure I better get something out of being sent out to the middle of nowhere to learn how to find dead people. Geeze. Like that’s hard. “

” I thought your Mom said that wasn’t the hard part- she said the hard part was killing them.”

” Blah blah blah.” Harley said.

” But you don’t have a choice- right? I mean, you’re family hasn’t ever done anything except for-” Delarious mimicked  putting a stake to his heart with one hand and with the other pretended to pound it in with a mallet.

Harley pulled a green square of bubblegum out of her pocket and tossed it into her mouth. ” Yeah. But I think there’s more to life then chasing around pale people with pointy teeth and bad breath. It ain’t like the movies guys. Those things are so dumb that they still haven’t figured out that if they don’t want to be found they need to quit putting their real names on their tombstones. You know what’s worse? I’ve got to go to the other side of the world and get a college degree to learn about them.

Geeze, all my family has to so is rent me some movies and buy me a stack of comic books- they’d save themselves a ton of money and they’d save themselves the embarrassment of the sucky novel I’m going to write about them based on the Santa’s Village Incident.”

” The Mountlake Mall will probably never get another guy to do the Santa thing at Christmas and forget getting anyone to dress up like elves in this town again.”

” Yeah. Well. That  entire deal was a train wreck just waiting to happen.”  Harley  said  and like the good friends the boys were they agreed.

It was about four years after Harley’s second book was turned into a movie that Quash and Del decided to chase after their own dream- and that dream involved the smell of fresh cut grass and heavy machinery.

So instead of chasing after ghosts, or going out of your way to make sure that the world never found out that the parasitic twin that was removed from your head was alive and screaming in silence in a jar in a museum basement and that it was still growing – Harley’s friends took her advice.

And in case you’re curious.

Yes she did write about their story and their friendship and she dedicated the story to

Del And Quash.

One Night

One night

I set out on a trip all by myself.

I didn’t have a map or a ticket I didn’t know where I was going.

But I went alone.

And I was alone.

For a very long time.

Towards the end of the trip I heard someone walking towards me-

and then I heard someone breathing

just around the corner from where I was walking

all alone.

And then I stopped.

” Someone there? “

I asked.

No one answered.

” Hey!  Is someone there? ” I called a little louder.

The breathing stopped and the footsteps came towards me-

from around the corner and I closed my eyes tight and put one foot in front of the other and then I flew towards the breathing and the footsteps and the voices that cried out:

” What the hell was that? ” came the voice from behind me and then below me as I took to the darkness above ” What the Hell was that! “

and not a knife in sight….

:::It’s about Pumpkins Today:::

I wrote this story a few years ago- the characters were based on me and my Grandma Ginger and goes a long way to show where I developed my idea of ‘funny’ –  it’s  also one of my personal favorites:

::::A Pumpkin Carvers Story:::


” How did you get so good at carving pumpkins? “

” Practice.” Enid told her Granddaughter as she delicately put the tip of her butcher’s knife against the side pumpkin’s blank face. ” Lots and lots of practice.”

She pushed the knife into he pumpkin’s flesh and as she broke the skin she told Aubrey, ” I love that smell.”

” That pumpkin smell?”

Enid looked over the pumpkin and said, ” That what?”

” That pumpkin smell.”

Enid shrugged and then pulled the knife up and dropped it down into the pumpkin in one clean motion after another.

Instead of answering her Aubrey, Enid hummed.

When she was finished she put her knife down and wrapped her fingers around the pumpkins stem. She took a breath, closed her eyes and smiled as lifted and  heard the pop and rip as the top of the pumpkin’s skull came away in her hand.

Enid opened her eyes and sighed and then  she answered her Granddaughter. ” No. I don’t mean that smell. I mean that other smell.”

” I can’t smell anything except for Pumpkin.”

” Really?” Enid said, ” You can’t smell that?”

Enid set the top of the pumpkin’s head down and she reached for a large wooden spoon and plunged into the pumpkin and began to scrape it out.

” Go ahead. Take a sniff. You really can’t smell that?”

Aubrey leaned over the pumpkin and sniffed.

” What is it? What should I be able to smell?”

As Enid  stood up she picked the knife up off the table and said  to the back of her Granddaughter’s neck:

” Why. The Fear of course.”

I made this e-card at Spookathon.Com

This was a fun site and I’d say give it a whirl because it was easy to navigate and in the end the picture I created was the Bee’s Knees.

PS. To  save the picture I had to go all the way through and create the card- and if you want there are other options for your artwork, like creating games and puzzles.

Photo: extremepumpkins.com

I hope you enjoyed the treat today…now on to the next part.



The Grave Tale Of Vedda Felonwood

When I was a teenager, and that was a very long time ago,  I started my life long  work in a Funeral Home.

I washed and polished the hearses, sometimes I helped the Funeral Directors with smalls tasks like answering the phones or running errands and sometimes I helped in the embalming room too. And once a week I cleaned the toys out of   ( or as we called it around The Home- and never in front of the families – Babyland ) and I stored them in neatly labeled boxes in the basement in of the three rooms that combined were bigger then the Home that sat on top of it.

We call that room The Toy Room, for obvious reason.

The Toy Room is lined with the cherry wood shelves  where the boxes of toys collected from Babyland rest  on shelves that are regularly polished to a glassy shine by  yours truly. The stucco walls and ceiling are painted light blue and the worn tile floor used to be pink.

In a room next to The Toy Room, is a room we call 1105- I don’t know why we call it that, but that’s the room where we keep unclaimed cremains- those too are kept in neatly labeled boxes.

Now and then it’s necessary to replace the boxes holding the Urns as they age and fall apart so that when you walk into 1105- whose stucco walls are a dignified cream color and whose shelves are made of the same wood we store the toys from Babyland- everything in there looks almost new.

There’s a memorial book  for the Unclaimed on a lectern outside the door of 1105 that I keep dust free . The pages are blank and never have been written in and the pen is always replaced when the ink in the old pen dries up.

During the holidays I put fresh flowers in a small vase on the lectern with the Memorial Book and the pen. Forget Me Nots. That’ what sits there next to the blank book in the darkned basement.

Those two rooms are the only rooms I don’t go into unless I absolutely have too but that self-imposed rule does not apply to the third room which is crematorium that Mr. Challoner runs with a smooth quiet efficiency.

Once and awhile I drop in when Mr. Challoner is working to see if he needed help.

Sometimes I helped him move – and like the rest of the staff at The Home he always refers to those who have passed by their names- those who have passed from one place to another and he never let me run the board or handle the cremains as they were moved into their urns or boxes.

I do remember the first time he let me do one of those two tasks

” Miss Felonwood” he said and he always called the staff  by their surnames- ” I could use your help, if you don’t mind”

I was at his side in a flash, of course,  and he gave  me a  series of small tasks- handing him a small screwdriver to close the urns, making sure his work area was spotless before he worked on the next set of cremains.

One day he looked down ( Mr Challoner was a very tall man- six-foot five or so I’d say) and said in his formal way ” It appears you’ve taken too much sun.”

I touched my nose, which was slightly red. ” I probably got a sunburn. I spent too much time out there today.”

” You should be careful Miss Felonwood. As you know, those burns can leave scars.”

” I know. But. Well. It was so nice outside …. I’ll, I’ll be more careful next time.”

Mr. Challoner looked like he was going to say something but he stopped himself and motioned me towards the Control Panel. ” If you don’t mind Miss Felonwood.”

Of course I didn’t mind.

Mr. Challoner was my friend, after all.

I was walking up the stairs from the basement one night, when I heard one of the three doors from downstairs open and then close.

Mr. Challoner’s door was new- it whispered open and closed. The other two doors had aged locks and old hinges and they complained when you woke them up to work. One of those two doors was complaining louder than usual and when I heard it close I felt a cool breeze wrap itself around my shoulders and settle there.

The weight of that cold stopped me on the dark stairway and as much as I wanted to turn around and see what was standing there behind me I didn’t.  I also didn’t scream, which is something I really wanted to do.

” Excuse me.” an old man’s voice asked me. ” Do you know the way out of here?”

I couldn’t move- I’d only been that scared one other time in my life and it wasn’t as bad as how I felt on those stairs because it had been over so quickly.

” I’ve been here for so- sometimes it feels like minutes and other times it feels like years- I don’t understand that. Do you.”

I opened my mouth to answer and it took a few tries before I heard myself say, ” No.”

” I was in the hospital and then I was here. I’ve forgotten my name. I try and try to remember it but I can’t. Why can’t I remember my own name?”

I thought about all those boxes with the names printed neatly on cards sitting in that cream colored room on their polished shelves- forgotten and shut away in a basement and I said to the cool weight ” I don’t think you’re supposed to do that anymore.”

“Please Miss.. please… Do you know the way out of here …”

” Vedda, my name is Vedda  Felonwood ” I said knowing how lucky I was to know my own name, to have a home and friends and a job and a place to belong instead of a cherry wood shelf that smelled faintly of lemons. ” I do know the way out of here. But I’ve never gone there… “

I turned around and looked into the sad face of not an old man, but a sort of young man who had aged downstairs in an eternal night ” I got hurt a long time ago- I lifted the hair away from my neck and showed my companion my ruined neck- I looked into his face and parted my lips so he could see my teeth- my horrible pointed and unnaturally white teeth ” I woke up here a long,long time ago and if I stay here. I don’t change, I don’t get- ” I looked for the right words.

” Hungry.”

And then I thought I knew what I should do.

I ran- no I flew past the man and down the stairs to 1105 and I took the pen out of the penholder and I opened the guest book and I wrote my name down inside of it on the very first line.

I heard the footsteps moving up the stairs. I heard the door at the top of the stairs open and before it closed I heard the man call down to me, ” Have a good evening Miss Felonwood, “

” You too- ” I replied from the darkness

” Cadwell. My name is  Calvin  Cadwell.”

What A Treat

When I was little we lived next door to a very nice lady who was fond of baking and handing out cookies. Gingerbread, star shaped,heart shaped , house shaped frosted and dusted- they were all delicious and all of them were on little plates scattered here and there on table tops throughout her old fashioned and softly lit  living room.

One day I was over there for my almost daily cookie fix when she noticed me admiring one of her clocks ( this one had a blank face with hands that looked like tree branches ) that sat was sitting next to a plate of almond cookies when she told me out of the clear blue sky , that her husband had been an executioner.

I almost didn’t hear that- because when I wasn’t trying to decide which cookie to try next, I was distracted by those clocks.

Because Mrs. Fenton didn’t have just one or two clocks in her house.

Mrs. Fenton’s house was filled with clocks- big clocks. Little clocks. Hundreds of clocks. Some of the clocks looked like angels or ladies in fancy dress and they had clocks in their stomachs. I’ll be honest- I didn’t get that sort of design back then and I don’t get it now.

What  I did get was that all of the clocks were stopped, roughly at  few minutes after midnight and my neighbor explained that her husband used to buy a clock for each of the criminals he executed and he stopped them at the declared time of death.

I thought that was a neat idea- but I was a kid and at the time I thought shrunken heads were a neat idea too.

My favorite clock was a Grandfather clock – but this clock was stopped at 3:oo .

I assumed that clock wasn’t one of the execution clocks- but I was curious and asked.

” Oh that one. ” She said with a little laugh.

I took a cookie off the cookie table packed with small porcelain cats and waited to find out what the challenge was.

” Miss Clay was called the Greenlake Devil Woman. She killed the people she rented rooms to and after she killed them she chopped them up and fed them to her next batch of boarders.”

I was mid-bite into a cookie and I tried to picture that. I could see an old-fashioned kitchen and a lady in an old-fashioned frilly apron whistling just like a bird as she chopped and stirred and seasoned things in ceramic bowls and boiling pots.

With that happy image in mind I kept chewing.

” Well. Mr. Fenton did his job- and this one involved electricity- and they called Miss Clay’s  time of death and Mr. Fenton was thinking about clocks and the County workers took her to the morgue and a few hours later she was back at her house in her kitchen working like a thing possessed. Mr Fenton and the police and a Priest or two showed up and there she was- a terrible beauty with flour dust in her hair and a smile on her blue yet very kissable lips- Mr Fenton said later. “

” Wow. So she came back from the dead and went home and cooked dinner?”

” No dear.” Mrs Fenton said looking at me curiously. ” Whatever gave you that idea?  She came back from the dead and baked cookies.”