Death Lives In A Haunted House

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I know this house with the missing windows, the door that only locks from the outside, the yard chocked with sand and weeds.

It’s a warm house, this house with no windows. The wooden stairs plunge  down to a basement that is painted a dull blue and there is a clutch of skeleton keys hanging from a hook shaped like a lady’s hand in the kitchen above the sink. I think one of the fingers is missing.

The water still runs, rusty and fetid from aged pipes, the electricity still flows up and down rotted copper wires and the radio in the basement works sometimes.

The House with the missing windows, the one with the well used stairs that lead to the basement with the dirt floor where there is one chair sitting in a  dark corner festering with spider webs,  was never a nice house.

It has always smelled of death and decay and the attic roof always leaks  when it rains and rats seem to come from miles around just to decompose in it’s walls.

A lady named Miss Giuliana  Coffin died there.

A few times.

The Party You Are Trying To Reach

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A week after his wife, Leah Frost ran over a dog- wich was actually a euphemism between husband and wife for ‘the woman you hit with your car and dragged for almost a mile down a gravel road’  Sal Frost was nearly driven to running over and dragging his wife down a gravel road when Leah  started to hear the ringing phone.

Sometimes the phone- which she said had one of those oldfashioned ringtones- and not one of the new ones that you could download on your cellphone that sounded like chickens or maniacal clown laughter or something by Mozart- rang while she was in the bathroom washing her hair, or when she was reaching for a carton of cranberry juice out of the cooler at the grocery store and sometimes it seemed to come from right beneath her feet when she was in the kitchen pouring herself another glass of wine ( which she did a lot of since she ran over ‘the dog’)

On these occasions, if he was around she would grab his arm and whisper frantically ” can you hear it Sal? Can you hear that phone ringing?

After the millionth, it could have been the billionth time for all he knew at this point, Sal looked at her with a look that shouted, “if I hear about that phone one more time…just one more time Leah I’m going to put you in the same ditch with that “dog”…do we understand each other? Are we clear on that?

They did understand each other. Perfectly. So instead of saying anything about a ringing phone Leah’s eye would twitch like crazy and on some occasions the entire left side of her face would twitch and Sal would glare at her and she would not say a word.

He didn’t care if that drugged out dingbat he was married to went into a grand mal seizure as long as she shut the hell up about that ringing phone.

“Really Sal? “He would ask himself as he would watch his wife  standing by the mail box or smoking one of her several packs of cigarettes a day.

Did you really sign up for this?

And when he considered his wife’s talent for scoring a smosgasbord  of pharmaceuticals on a monthly basis from one of her several Doctors  that had in all probability led her to running over ‘the dog’ and he wondered…

What the hell was life going to be like when she hit 70 in a few years? Would hitting the big seven-oh slow her down? He thought not. In Leah’s universe there was still plenty of time left to run over ‘dogs’ or overdose on whatever the hell she was taking that week and would she do it in the privacy of their home?

Oh no.

She’d probably do it at the Opera like last time, or at the art museum like the time before or the three or four times it happened at poetry readings. For God Sakes.  Who the Hell OD’s at poetry readings?

His wife. That’s who.

Sal looked up and wished he had the nerve to walk into her bathroom and start opening bottles in her medicine cabinet and start throwing the contents back into his throat until what was left of his life was burned out of his bones once and for all.

After one such thought- and there were several like that around the Frost household now days Sal was outside when he heard…faintly from the back yard a phone ringing.

Not one of those new ringtone that sounded like robots or singing birds or cats meowing.

It was an old-fashioned ringtone it was deep and rich and trilled as it ended, briefly before starting back up again.

He walked slowly to the back of his house and he could hear it- it was louder but not by much. He walked all the way to the fence line and there…it was louder here.

It was coming from the house next door.

The old abandoned house next door with among the other messages and spray can artwork on the walls was something written on the ceiling. It said,

” We’re so cold here.”

But he could hear it ringing now, it was non-stop and it was so loud.

So he walked into the house through a side door that led into a kitchen with a sink and a wooden chair in the center of the room and one the window ledge there was of course…

a phone.

And it was ringing.

The wires were neatly coiled next tot the phone and  the receiver was off the cradle and yet…it was ringing Sal noted with wonder.

Sal walked over to the phone lifted the receiver to his ear and a calm, cool women’s voice asked hin if he would accept the charges.

” Wh-what?”

” Person to person call from Riversleigh Manor to Mrs Leah Frost, will you accept the charges?”

” Who is this? “

” Sir. I have a person to person call from Riversleigh Manor to Leah Frost. Will you accept the charges?”

Sal looked around the kitchen, could see the writing on the ceiling in the next room and the phone, the dead phone sitting on the window ledge in front of him. ” My, my wife isn’t here. This isn’t our house. I…I…”

” Sir. I have…”

” Fine I heard you. But how can a house be calling my wife person to person?” It occurred to Sal nobody should be able to call into a dead line and nobody should be able to answer it. But at this point Sal wasn’t tracking those little details.

” Sir I have a person to person call from Riversleigh Manor to Leah Frost. Will you accept the charges.”

Sal nodded. ” I mean yes sure. I’ll accept the charges.”

” Thank you sir. Riversleigh you may proceed with you call.”

Sal never saw the face of the person who rammed their fist through his back and into his ribcage. Never felt the hand yank his heart out and let it fall to the dusty floor.

And Sal was way beyond seeing anything anymore when  a small foot, a woman’s booted foot stepped on it.

” I’m sorry Riversleigh.” The Operator said over the dead receiver. The party you are trying to reach is no longer on the line. Shall I try again?”

And then a voice, neither male or female, cool and dry whispered over the line.” No. No that’s fine. I’ll try again later. Only next time I do believe I’ll call direct. “

Senza Fine

Photo By: Ostephy

Photo By: Ostephy

ONCE upon a time

a little old lady who smoked too much and drank too much and swore too much  met  the Devil on the path that led into the deep dark woods behind her house.

It was just before sunset when she saw the Devil, who did indeed have horns and eyes like a wolf’s and a head of long black hair that smelled faintly of tomatoes leaning against a Maple tree covered with flaming red and orange fall leaves.

Her name was Enid Oddworte and the Devil didn’t tell her its name but the Devil fancied Enid. She felt it in her dry aged bones. So it didn’t matter to Enid what its name was.

All she cared about was that in all of the world  the Devil wanted her kiss.

But everyday the Little Old Lady said no.

“Why would you want a kiss from me?” she asked in her wine  soaked voice as she took a long hard drag off of her cigarette. Then she  blew a thin line of smoke over her shoulder and tossed her thin dark hair out of her watery dark eyes and smiled.

It was not an honest smile.

The Devil shrugged and it’s tail twitched from side to side, just like a cat’s. ” I don’t know Enid. I just know what I want. And what I want is a kiss from you. I would give up Hell, I would give up trying to get back into Heaven I’d do anything for a kiss from you.

Enid, who was usually a little drunk on her nightly strolls would walk away leaving the Devil with nothing more the  the scent of unfiltered cigarette smoke and expensive perfume.

And it’s heart-because the Devil did have one. Sort of. Would ache just a little at the sight of her carefully picking her way back to her house in her platform shoes.

Then one day Enid said yes.

Yes she wanted a kiss from the Devil.

So she kissed the Devil’s slightly warm lips and the heavy scent of her cigarette smoke filled the woods behind her house and the smell of tomatoes and dark wet earth chased it.

Then the Devil put it’s hands on Enid’s shoulders and it pushed her back.

It’s Wolfish orange eyes blazed and she could see herself in them, burning.

Enid looked up at the Devil and whispered, ” I’d give it all up for you, if you asked.”

The Devil asked. ” What would you give up for me Enid?”

” My soul, my heart my life. I want this moment with you to last forever…”

” Mio ” the Devil said. ” My name is Mio Andira. And you Enid are my true love. I can deny you nothing. Nothing. If you want this moment to last forever. It shall. For you my love.”

And because The Devil- whose name is Mio Andira, was good to its word -Enid’s moment with her one true love on the trail that led into the deep dark wood has lasted forever.

You can see it for yourself- every day just after sunset- you can see Enid unable to leave the trail- unable to go back to her house or forward into the deep dark woods.

She is rooted to that spot, the very same spot where Mio Andira declared its love to Enid.

But she is not alone.

 She has two things with her…because indeed Mio loved her-  she has his kiss that still burns just a little on her lips and the endless scream- the one that started when her true love promised her forever

and gave it to her.

It Ended Here

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When I was little my  family told story about a girl who used to live in my Great Grandmother’s House.

She disappeared one day, the story goes, and the neighbors were sure her Mother had something to do with that and that her Father was the one who buried her in their basement.

That’s why my Great Grandmother got the house so cheap, that story apparently drove the price down.

In addition to the neighbors who insisted that there the story was true  didn’t mind sharing it with anyone who was thinking about buying the house did as much as put a toe on the property.

Here’s the thing about my Great Grandmother- should put her toes wherever the heck she wanted and so my Great Grandmother bought the house- for next to nothing despite the story –  and as the years went on my family would talk about how they should really dig around down there to find out once and for all if that story was true.

My six year old self used questions about the girl.

 What was her name? What grade was she in and did she like cats? Did she like McDonald’s french fries and of course…

” Is she a ghost?” I used to ask hopefully.

” No. ” I was told

” But she could be buried down there, right?”

” Could be.” I was informed.

Just before she unexpectedly died I was over at my Great Grandmother’s house. I was in her sitting room playing these little glass animals you used to get for free in boxes of Red Rose Tea when I had a great idea.

Why don’t I just put the little animals back on their shelf and go dig that girl up? I’d never seen a real human skeleton before and I figured this was my last chance to see one- it was an odd feeling but I remember just knowing I wouldnt’ be back again.

So I put one of the little animals ( it was a dog ) in my pocket for company and headed to the pantry where the door to the basement was.

I went into the kitchen and opened the basement door and was halfway down the dark  stairway to the basement when I remembered to turn the light on.

So I ran back up the stairs and straight into my Great Grandmother.

” What are you doing down there? ” she asked.

” Nothing. ” I said with disappointment.

” You were going down there after that body, weren’t you.”

” Well…”

” Your going to break your neck running up and down those stairs in the dark. I don’t want you going down there again. Am I making myself clear? Those stairs are dangerous.  You could get yourself killed running on them like that.”

I stared back at her and didn’t answer.

My Great Grandmother’s eyes, which were green and I swear to God they glowed like a cats, took in the look on my face.

She walked to her kitchen table, pulled out a chair and carried it to the kitchen window that overlooked her backyard.

” Come here. “

I walked over to the chair and she lifted me up and stood me on it. Then she pointed to a small group of her favorite rose bushes that she had planted years ago just after she moved into her house.

I looked up into her face.

” Now stay out of the basement. Mind me. Those  stairs are dangerous.”

I hopped off of the chair and before I could ask she said, ” Yes. It took a long time.”

My Great Grandmother died a little while later. I still have that little glass dog. And her house was actually moved years later. I guess it was some kind of architectural wonder. I can’t remember if it was because of who built it but it had something to do with it being built to look like a ship inside- which was true.

The basement I assume was filled in when they redeveloped the property and put two new single story homes where her beautiful Victorian styled home used to be.

But the Rose garden is still there.

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In Memory of John Doe

 

When I would travel alone,  upon occasion I came across towns in the process of dying.

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The houses were empty, the stores were empty nothing was really locked or boarded up…except for the Churches, sometimes the schools. I always wondered about that.

One Summer my motorcycle died in the middle of a town with no name. I’m not kidding about that. There was a sign that said ” Welcome ” and that was it. There were no street signs or stop signs or billboards. The houses and buildings didn’t have numbers on them.

The roads weren’t lined and the parking lots weren’t lined either.

This town out in the middle of nowhere was, I thought wryly a ” John Doe.”

” You know who gets called John Doe ” a little voice whispered in my ear ” unidentified dead people, corpses that get stacked in the back of a morgue somewhere until the county foots the bill to bury them. That’s who get’s called, ” John Doe ” .

I tried to start my bike and it clicked and did nothing, right out in the middle of a town I had just named ” John Doe.”

” Start! ” I screamed because I had tried everything else, ” start or I’m leaving you here. I mean it! Turn over you son of a bitch or I’m leaving you here!”

I took a breath. I tried to not panic. And then my bike roared to life.

And then I roared out of town and I didn’t stop until I came to a logging town where the Diner served breakfast all day long and the waitress- a large round lady with a head of red, red hair piled high up on her head called me ” Punkin “.

Sometimes I think about John Doe- dead and anonymous on the side of a highway that is, as I write this probably being taken back by the hills and I wonder about it.

I wonder when and if I should go back.

Because I’m sure it’s still there.

Waiting.

A Family Reunion

 Grahame Taskill was sitting at his Grandmother’s kitchen table; he was rubbing his left eye to stop it from twitching. Grahame’s eye always  began to twitch a full week before  he went home to see his family for his annual weeklong visit and for the entire visit his eye never stopped twitching for longer than a few minutes.. He spent so much time rubbing his left eye that he would have nightmares about it popping out of its socket and running down his face where horror upon horror it would run into his mouth and when he woke up he would practically  break his neck ( he had already broken his big toe ) because for some strange reason when he would dream about his runny eye he would run straight for his bathroom to get a towel to put on his face to keep his other eye from popping and without fail in a desperate effort to save his eyes  he always ran into the wall right next to the bathroom door.

“So Nan, you want this ghost guy-“

“ His name is Mr Bibas and he’s a very talented psychic Grahame, he can actually reach ghosts. They understand him. They listen to him.”

“Okay. You want this psychic to come out here on Saturday to talk to Aunt Leatha “

“That’s right.”

” Because she refuses to talk to you now. “

Grahame took his finger away from his eye and it actually stopped twitching, for about an entire minute. “Uh-huh. Nan, you and Aunt Leatha never really talked when she was alive. So. I’m just wondering why you want to talk to her now. If I remember right you put a bird batch up next to her grave.”

“ So?”

“ Wasn’t she deathly afraid of birds?”

Nan was the picture of innocence itself. “ You’re acting like I danced on her grave Grahame.”

“ I’m thinking the only reason you haven’t done that is because of the poison ivy that’s growing all over it. It’s funny Nan, nobody can figure out where it came from. Nobody remembered there ever being poison ivy up here until it showed up on  Aunt Leatha’s grave.”

“ You don’t say.”

“ I just did.”

“ Well. I just want her to know that we need to let all this silliness between us go. The entire family will be up this weekend and I think it would be good for everyone to see me and Leath bury the hatchet-“

Grahame ignored the way his Grandmother forced herself to keep from grinning  when she mentioned her sister and the word ” hatchet” . “ It really is as simple as that Crackers.” She said calling Grahame by his childhood nickname.

“ Let it go Nan, let her go. If not for yourself then for the rest of us. It’s bad enough you and Aunt Leatha hated each other, but you two enjoyed hating each other way too much. Does it bother you even just a little that most of us know how to poison, dismember and hide a body because of the way the two of you used to talk about each other? “

Nan nodded and with that slow and gentle nod sympathy and empathy showed on her face and too bad they didn’t bring a map because , as Grahame would tell you, Nan’s face was unfamiliar territory to those two particular emotions. “ It was a disgrace the way me and Leatha carried on in life. Besides, look at what that did to you kids. You’re all a bunch of twitching eyes and stutterers and  when the family gets together the pharmacy in town runs out of antacids and I have a sneaky feeling I know where it’s all going.

“  So Mr. Bibas is going to come out on Friday night and have dinner with us and after desert he’s going to hold a little séance in the library and me and Leatha are going to patch things up.”

“ She’s dead Nan. There is nothing to patch up. She has moved beyond this stuff and you should too. “

” Mr Bibas knows what he’s doing. He talks to ghosts all the time and they listen to him. ” Nan argued.

“ Forget it. “ Aunt Leatha said from the hallway as she strolled by the kitchen door and both of Grahame’s eyes began to twitch uncontrollably

 “ I’m not interested .”

Don’t Look Up, Whatever You Do

 

” Whatever you do Hendry Coin, don’t look up. I mean it. ” his Father told him when he was a boy. ” If for any reason, any reason at all you have to cut through the woods behind the house don’t look up into those trees.”

“Cause the Witch will get me right?” Hendry said.

” If you’re lucky she will only get you to cut her down and  then she will only chop you up and cook you in the big iron pot she keeps just for that reason in her kitchen. The problem Hendry is if you see her first. You will start screaming and you will keep screaming until every star in the heavens burns out.”

” That’s sounds like a long time Dad”

” It certainly is  Hendry.”

 

The problem with the trees behind the Coin House is that they used to hang people from them. And the thing of it is, the people they used to hang were accused of witchcraft and out there in the town of Stonecrop, unlike in other towns were innocent people were hung or burned at the stake for witchcraft the people out in Stonecrop were witches.

That’s right.

They weren’t wise old crones, they were the type of people who would cut deals with the Devil and in most cases they won.

And in the cases were they did not they would end up hanging from a tree behind the Coin’s house where they would swing from their ropes until one of the other witches got a hankering  for some  Witches bread and decided to save the trip to the town cemetery and head over to the woods to get the spice that gave their bread that something extra the witches enjoyed so much.

So Hendry, who was a good kid and did as he was told not because he was afraid of ending up in a cast iron pot slowly simmering over a fire  but because Hendry adored his Dad never would have never done anything to disappoint him. That was the reason he never had a bit of trouble back there in the Woods.

Over the years he saw weird things and heard strange sounds but nothing bad ever happened to Hendry or his kids ( he grew up to have seven of them ) or his Grandchildren ( 10 of those ).

One year Hendry decided to cut through the Woods to get to the new road that led into town when for the first time ever he found himself in a bad spot.

Hendry was walking along when he heard a creaking sound and then a little popping sound and somebody said ” hello there ” in a dusty sounding voice.

 Hendry turned around but he did not look up- however there was no looking away from what in front of his face.

There were feet hanging in front of his face, and the feet were encased in worn black leather boots and were tied together at the ankles with heavy white twine.

He reached out and grabbed the feet to stop them from swaying and turning which was creeping him out because there was no wind, no breeze in the woods.

There never was.

So Hendry was standing there holding the black leather covered feet in his hands when he heard a voice, a woman’s voice from above his head say:

” Cut me down Hendry Coin and I’ll make you a meal you will never forget. Well. One that I will never forgot anyway. I am so hungry Hendry. Cut me down. Cut me down and anything, your darkest wish your brightest hope I can give that to you. A pound of flesh Hendry, that’s all we’re talking about here. That is all it would cost you. I’m quite handy with a needle Hendry. I could even put together a little something for you to slip into once you’ve paid that nominal feel. The rewards Hendry- think about it.”

Hendry told the witch, ” You know, in all these years of walking- and to be perfectly honest in my younger days I would run through these woods- I never had any problems. I figured I never had any problems with the tree witches because I always did what my Dad told me. “

“Is that right Mr. Coin? And what did he tell you?”

” Don’t look up, whatever you do.”

” And why did he tell you that Hendry?”

” Dad said that if I saw the witch first something really bad, something worse than death would happen to me.”

” That is the dumbest thing anyone has ever said in these Woods Hendry. And let me tell you. Some very strange things have been said in these woods…but that is hands down the weirdest thing anyone has ever said to a hanging witch. Honestly old man, do you really believe there is anything worse than death? Because let me tell you. And I am speaking strictly from experience here, there is nothing worse than death.”

” I suppose you’re right. My Dad was a good guy, a very kind and practical man but he wasn’t what you would call overly educated.”

” Well. There you are.”

” Yes. Here I am and there you are and what the heck is that above you head?”

He felt the feet push down as the witch looked up and Hendry couldn’t help but smile a little when the screaming started.

Miss Bexley’s Books

 

Photo By: xololounge

 

You’ve found her in the basement of long closed Bexley Books after spending an hour or so of exploring the store that used to be a funeral home.

She is sitting at a time worn wooden table, arms crossed, dusty pile of  books stacked in a neat pile in front of her. There is almost no light in the dark room but there are a lot of shadows and they are creeping around the woman and the table like a dog begging it’s  human for a treat.

You could take a seat at this table and ask this woman what she is doing here.

But look at her and ask  yourself, would that be okay? Is she safe?

Her face is pleasant, the corners of her mouth are turned up just a little, just enough to make it look like she is smiling.  Her dark hair is pulled back in a pony tail. Her nails are not polished but they are neatly trimmed. She is wearing a lavender sweatshirt decorated  all over with little silver hearts.

So why not, she looks harmless enough, except for the fact that she is sitting in the dark with a pile of dusty books about  in front of her.

Oh. I guess I forgot to mention that.

Yes, the books are anatomy books and the one on the bottom of the stack is about cake decorating. That spine on that book is pink.

So let’s take a seat and ask …

” Oh. I’m waiting for a delivery. Yeah. Just sitting here passing the time and catching up on some reading.  I know from the looks of it,  this place would probably send Martha Stewart into one of those seizures that they would have thought were demonic possession back during the Middle Ages or in parts of rural America but really, I love to drop by when I can .”

” Oh go on, pull up a chair and sit down,  so you must be familiar with the neighborhood. No? Well, this place used to be a little bookstore and the books they sold here were all about death. That’s right. Death.They had books about embalming and head hunting and mummies and local unsolved murders.”

” Scoot that chair back up and don’t look at me like that.”

” The shop shut down a few years ago, but the books were left behind. They were just sitting on the shelves. Anybody could have walked in and taken them, I mean they were just defenseless books and how could they stop from being taken.”

” But some of the books were stolen and wouldn’t you know it with a day of that all of these strange murders started to pop up around town. And you look hip, so I guess I don’t need to go into how some of those murders followed the plot lines of those weird books. Yep. You know who really got miffed about that? The funeral directors. When bodies start to turn up embalmed and prepared for burial in perfect text book fashion they were not a happy bunch.”

” No. Miss Bexley isn’t around anymore, but if you go to the next room you’ll find shelves still stocked as if she were. These books know how to take care of themselves. “

“No I’m not worried about the books or being here. I placed an order- a special order and being that I was a friend,  Miss Bexley never did mind me taking those deliveries here. How did I become friends with Miss Bexley you ask?”

” Actually. One of these books was based on my life. Oh no. Not these books. It’s upstairs at the checkout counter. It was one of her personal favorites.”

“What is my book about?”

” Cannibalism. The one you have tucked away in your jacket pocket. And don’t bother. Sit down. The door is locked. All of them are. For now.”

Lurking in the Deep, Dark Forest

Prehistoric Gardens, Copyright © 2009 Jade Leone Blackwater

Attention writers, bloggers, and artists of all media: if you’re looking for a prompt or a bit of inspiration this month, consider looking for what’s hidden (or lurking) among the trees.

This September Arboreality will host The Festival of the Trees issue 39 on the theme of Secrets, and you’re all invited to join me, Jade Blackwater, and bring your friends too!

The Festival of the Trees is a monthly blog carnival featuring trees and forests.  For the September Festival, our theme is Secrets:

“Forests, farms, gardens, urban trees, and ancient-rock-clinging-wind-whipped Bristlecone pine stands can be an escape, a place to hide, a space to rest, a home for buried treasure. This month, I invite you to reveal a small glimpse of a secret among the trees. Consider the quiet spots you go to sit, the trees which have stood in silent observation of the events of your life, the aromatic memory of the garden from a place you have visited. With word, image, sound, or otherwise inspired creation, give us a peek at what you see, or what you can imagine.”

Grab your free-wheeling creative license (and maybe a big, heavy club) and reveal what’s hidden in the dark, mutable forest.

Then post your creations online at your blog, photo album, or other web-based resource, and send me the link:

trees[at]brainripples[dot]com

Deadline for submissions is August 28, 2009.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Drop me an email.

(Don’t forget to drop breadcrumbs along the trail as you go!

…..wouldn’t want to get lost out there.)

Prehistoric Gardens, Copyright © 2009 Jade Leone Blackwater

[Photos taken October 2008 at the Prehistoric Gardens]

PS – We’re still seeking volunteers to host The Festival of the Trees #40 and beyond! This is a fun way to broaden your audience, and of course – have fun in the trees.
To learn more, contact Dave (bontasaurus[at]yahoo[dot]com) and Pablo (editor[at]roundrockjournal[dot]com), and visit the Volunteer to Host page for details.

PS – We’re still seeking volunteers to host The Festival of the Trees #40 and beyond! This is a great way to broaden your audience, and of course – have fun in the trees.

To learn more, contact Dave (bontasaurus[at]yahoo[dot]com) and Pablo (editor[at]roundrockjournal[dot]com), and visit the Volunteer to Host page for details.

About The Fifth Door Down

morguefile.com

Every Saturday Gavin Valentine goes to the fifth door down from his house and buys something called a Cinnamon Splash and  he walks back home, slowly with the ice cold drink in his hand.

He does that even on the days it snows.

Just before he gets home he sets his ice cold drink on a bench and watches for hours at a time to see who will move his Cinnamon Splash with the whipcream topping and the dusting of white chocolate curls from it’s place on the bench.

Sometimes he worries about his little cup of cinnamon and whipcream- will it be tossed behind the bench into the bushes, which has become a graveyard of sorts for Gavin Valentine’s plastic cups with the gold stars stamped along their rims? Will it end up in the trash can? Under the wheels of a bus or a fast moving car?

He wonders for hours and hours at a time  five doors down from the shop that sells him his Cinnamon Splash.

But when the weather is nice, Gavin sits on the steps across the street from the bench, on the steps of a Church with his hands clenched together and watches his cup and wonders what cruel fate it will meet on that particular day.

It can’t be easy, Gavin always think to himself, to be a little cup of something sweet and fluffy and defenseless-  just sitting there as the world goes by you- and when it does stop  it’s pretty much a fact that something awful is going to happen to you.

It just wasn’t fair.

So on one nice warm Saturday Gavin went five doors down and bought his drink, he walked back up the street and this time he left his cup on the steps of the church across the street and he took the seat on the bench and waited.

People walked by, they jogged by, they rode by on scooters and in cars and some even glided by on shoes with little wheels embedded in their soles.

And hours and hours later a man and a woman stopped right in front of Gavin and started to talk. Their backsides inches away from Gavin’s face-which made him a little angry because it’s not like there was not a lot of sidewalk to stand on.

Then the woman looked up and around and then she looked down and asked Gavin- without really seeing him- if the buses stopped here on Saturdays and Gavin said yes, but he wasn’t sure exactly which ones did.

” Pretty useless, aren’t you? ” the man said impatiently.

There was a little breeze as the cars started to fly- like they always did at that time of day- and as they did Gavin could hear the plastic cups in the bushes behind him rattling together like a handful of  small and nameless bones.

 Gavin Valentine stood up as the man and woman turned away from him and just as they   looked up the street and started to talk about finding a cab-Gavin reached out

and pushed them off of the curb.

 

morguefile.com

It’s A Sign

skeletal_pegasus

Sometimes it’s not a word that calls out to us and sends us down roads and paths and into dark forests.

Sometimes

it’s a sign

I was driving through a town last summer- it was somewhere in the Midwest when I went through a town that barely, hardly, almost had no pulse.

Most of the stores were closed up and had boards over their windows- as did the houses and the churches ( there was one on each corner- I swear to God that’s true ).

But hello- what is this I see just before I leave the dieing town?

A Funeral Home.

Darnell and Sons.

It was boarded up too- and the front doors were chained (!) shut.

Chained Shut.

Not nailed shut, not boarded up with giant sheets of plywood but …

Chained Shut.

I know there’s a million reasons to make sure no one busts into an empty Funeral Home.

Still.

I was curious.

Why Chained Shut.

So I called ahead and told my husband I was going to get some ‘spooky’ camera shots for my blog and that I would be a little late and then I got out of my car in front of Darnell and sons and walked around to the back where the doors had not been chained shut or boarded up but

 the doors had been completely removed and entrance way had been bricked up.

Why.

This just keeps getting better and better.

So there I was halfway to my car and halfway to the chained door and across the street was a boarded up Ice Cream Shop called Bevy-Anne’s.

In her better days Bevy-Anne’s must have been a pretty place to get a Soda or an Ice Cream Float. Now it was just empty and dusty and there were cracks all around her foundation.

In fact.

I looked up and down the street, there were cracks in front of and all around every single boarded up building for as far as I could see.

Except for Darnell and Sons.

There was one deep gouge in the pavement that ran from Darnell’s front door- the one that had been chained shut- and that crack in the cement turned into many more that ran up and down that street.

Instead of going to my car ( of course ) I walk up to the door with it’s chain and reached for the lock

and there inside of the lock

is the key.

It’s right there in the padlock where anyone can walk up and turn it and then unwrap the chain from around the door handles and then anyone could open those doors and either step aside or step inside

and then what I wondered?

I looked at the lock and  at the cracks in the road and the boarded up buildings and houses and decided…

I liked not knowing for sure.

I let the lock fall out of my hand and as it banged against the door I heard a little thump coming from the other side.

So I got into my car and I left that little town in the Midwest, the one that barely  had a pulse, and as I drove away I saw a giant billboard at the side of the road. Despite the fact most of  what had been painted on it  had been worn away by years of rain and ice and snow and heat you could still see the image of a cow in a bonnet and there was a balloon coming from it’s mouth and inside of that balloon there was a message.

It said.

See you soon!

The Pink Store

gin

 

“ Just get the suntan lotion and be quick about it. “ Lilly Thorn told herself “ just go into the store, back to shelf where they have probably  kept the Personal Care and Beauty aides in the same place for the last 40 years and go. You don’t even have to be nice to the clerks because they don’t know you, they can’t know you, not only are you not 6 years old anymore you are just old, all those people who used to work there are either dead or moved on to work in other Mom and Pop Grocery stores by now and if they are still the same people working there they are not going to recognize you.

 

– so just get the Suntan Lotion and go.”

 

So, what kind of person forgets to buy Suntan Lotion  when they’re packing for two weeks in Hawaii ?

 

A person like Lilly Thorn-that’s who- and for that stupid oversight she guessed she deserved to have to make a pit stop on the way to the airport to pick up Suntan Lotion at a corner Grocery Store where she had the misfortune of peeing on the floor when she was six years old.

 

If you don’t think it could have gotten worse for Lilly after doing something like that in front of her friends and neighbors your’re wrong.

 

The worst part of the Pee Incident came after an angry phone call from the store’s owner. Mrs. Lee. Not only did  she bar Lilly from the store for life in that angry phone call to Lilly’s Mom, she also demanded that Lilly come to the store and get on her hands and knees and scrub the floor herself.

 

Lilly’s mom made her do it and Mrs. Lee watched.

 

The thing of it is, nobody ever asked Lilly why she peed on the floor and she wished they had because then maybe the ghost that Lilly met at the Pink Store that day wouldn’t have worked it’s way into her head where it has lived now for over 40 years.

 

When Lilly and her family lived up the street from Lake William all of the kids in the Neighborhood used to go to the Pink Store and buy the penny candies. If you had a little more money  you could also buy candy bars and comic books or in Lilly’s little candy tarts called “Sweet Sprees “that came in packages with pictures of people sailing in boats or walking on beaches or hiking on mountain trails.

 

The candies were hard and always tasted slightly dusty but the pictures were pretty and Lilly used to collect them and used them for posters in her Doll House.

 

One day, after school Lilly and her friends went into the Pink Store, which back in Lilly’s Grandma’s day used to be a Speakeasy called 32 Pinkerman (the building number and street address, back then places like the Pinkerman didn’t have real names-sort of like the shady characters that owned and ran them.) when she looked over at her friend Domino and asked, “Hey that’s my Grandma’s favorite song.”

 

“What?” Domino asked as she started to choose her candy from the baskets on the shelf.

 

“That song- “Lilly pointed up “my Grandma sings it all of the time.”

 

Domino shrugged and went back to her baskets, she didn’t hear anything and she didn’t bother to say anything because when your Mom was feeling generous and gave you 50 cents to spend on candy- choosing fifty pieces of penny candy took all of your concentration.

 

Especially if you weren’t exactly proficient at counting to fifty yet.

 

So as Domino counted Lilly could hear the music get a little louder and then the air started to smell like Lilly’s Mom and Dad’s house around the holidays (only there wasn’t the smell of Christmas Trees or roasting turkey woven into the mix) and then someone walked by (though she would always think of it as through ) her and Lilly looked up into the face of a man with a black eye.

 

He was talking to someone standing in back of her and too afraid to turn around Lilly kept looking up and the man with the black eye was holding a black bag up and saying,

 

“I’m telling you I never opened it, I went to Greene’s like always and made the pickup. I never open these things, you know that Ben. Come on Ben put that thing down. You gotta believe me Ben I’d never cross you. I’d never cross anybody. You know that”

 

When Lilly looked around the store was gone and the candy was gone and so was Domino and there was Lilly at 32 Pinkerton, six years old and watching a man beg for his life.

 

“Ben, please …” Lilly saw an arm over the top of her head and she saw something in it’s hand and she saw the gun pressed against the man’s forehead. “ This isn’t right, it’s not-“

 

There was a bang and Lilly watched the man with the black eye snap his head back and then his head slumped to the side and then she watched him fall to the floor.

When she looked up again everyone in the store was watching her pee all over herself.

 

 

After that Lilly went through her life always feeling that someone was standing just behind her, someone faceless and monstrous, somebody who could make a grown man cry and then shoot him in the head and then haunt the only witness to the murder- a six year old girl at least 50 years after it committed it’s crime- for the rest of her life.

 

Trips to Hawaii ? Her Wedding Day? Her Divorce Day?  When she buried her only child who died when he was only 12 after being knocked off his bike by a car and could have survived if only one of the dozens of cars that day that drove by him had stopped to ask if he need help.

 

On all of those days Lilly was never really there because part of Lilly was still at The

Pink Store and the part that was here was thinking about and feeling that dark soundless thing behind her.

 

 

She guessed then it was normal that on the day she went into the Pink Store to expect she wouldn’t be going into it alone.

 

It was funny then how alone she did feel as she pushed the door open and the Pink Store-, which had been outfitted with new shelves and stainless steel coolers and even bigger windows.

 

She walked –

 no she ran by the aisles where the candy and comic books and spin racks where the paperback books used to be-

 and when she got to the back of the store she got lost.

 

Everything was different- The Pink Store wasn’t a grocery store anymore, it was more like a walk in refrigerator lined with coolers full of beer and energy drinks and frost covered boxes of pizzas.

 

The shelves in the middle of the store were shorter now, which didn’t matter because there was nothing but cases of beer and more energy drinks waiting to go into the coolers and as far as personal care products- unless you counted can openers cans of soup with faded labels and packages of cookies and bread and peanut butter that in all likelihood would be consumed or used by one person there wasn’t a personal care section.

 

Stupid, Lilly thought to herself, why didn’t I just buy the lotion at the airport or in Hawaii? Why do I always do these dumb things and then she knew, as she had always known that Lilly was never really all there.

 

As she turned over the many, many ways she could screw things up she heard her Grandmother’s favorite song and instead of looking up into the face of the Man with the black eye she found herself looking into the face of a teenager with a black eye and behind her she could feel-

 

It was going to say something to her, after all these years of making her less without actually saying a word to her it was going to speak and it said…

 

“ Let’s go.”

 

“What.” Lilly felt something she hadn’t felt in years, if ever.

 

It was rage.

 

That was it? Lilly’s brain screamed in her skull, after all of these years of saying nothing by making me afraid by just standing there it says…”

 

“Let’s go…”

 

Lilly turned around and he was a man, just a ghost of a man with a gun still clenched in his hand.

 

“I’ve spent my entire life scared of a man who shoots unarmed boys and haunts little girls? And I let you ruin my life?  Are you serious? God. You don’t even look like a killer; you look like my fourth grade teacher. What was I thinking?”

 

Lilly wasn’t finished talking.

 

  “ Hey, here’s a thought.  No. We aren’t going anywhere. I’m going though…and so is he.” She pointed to the boy. “ You. You stay here. “ She put her face close to his and said “ Coward.”

 

And as he became less Lilly became more and on her way out the door she fought off the malicious urge to pee on the floor.

 

Instead she grabbed a gritty bottle of suntan lotion jammed between some cans of cat food that went off of the market  six years ago, put it into her purse without paying…

 

And then she went to Hawaii.

 

bikini

Mark Of The Penny Snatchers

“Mark Of The Penny Snatchers”

is

dedicated to my husband

Luis

December 25, 2008

and to his friends

from

the

Class of 68

Dubuque, Iowa

who inspired this tale.

dfmead
Photo By:dfmead

” So you finally get to go on vacation, ” Chesa Appleway’s friend said to her at lunch. ” I can’t believe it. You on vacation. So. Where are you guys going?”

” To Seattle. ” Chesa said into her plate of Chilli-Fries.

” Well. That sounds nice ” Vicky said wondering why Chesa looked like she was going to Seattle for a funeral as opposed to Seattle which was at least six  States  away from work. ” Is it for a special occasion or …” Vicky snuck another look at the expression on Chesa’s face and thought- God, it has to be bad. but maybe it wasn’t so she asked, “I know you’re going to see that volcano- Mount Helen, right?”

” Mount Helen…geeze Vic is that all  you ever think about? It’s called Mount Saint Helens and we won’t be doing anything fun like walking up and down the side of a live volcano on this trip.”

” Oh no. ” Vicky could have pinched herself for being so dumb, of course it was for a Funeral or something like that- Chesa and Norbert never took vacations – Chesa and Norbert owned the biggest, the most well known Coffin making company in the United States. Those two were always working and if they weren’t working they were thinking about working.

” So why the trip? ” Vicky asked quietly, gently.

” It’s Norbert’s 40 year High-school Reunion.”

Both women looked at each other for a minute and then burst into tears.

” Oh God. I’m sorry Chesa. ” Vicky gave her friend’s sagging shoulders a hug. ” I am so sorry.”

 

Later, Chesa had to admit that the four days in Seattle weren’t her worst days, maybe not the best but they were far from being the worst.

Most of Norbert’s classmates enjoyed telling her stories about the Norbert they used to know and in turn they seemed happy to hear Chesa’s stories which more or less confirmed that Norbert  was indeed still Norbert.

Norbert still liked to read History books for fun, he still sang in a rock band on the weekends and he still drove to slow on the freeways- which meant he still got pulled over a lot because nothing looks more suspicious to a Cop then a sports car going to slow on a practically empty road.

And the one thing you could count on was that the roads Norbert drove on were going to empty because Norbert hated to drive in heavy traffic.

” Good old Norbert ” they said separately and together ” he’s still the same good old Norbert. “

So it was the night of dinner / dance down at waterfront when Chesa, Norbert and some of his friends stopped into a tourist shop that featured a Mummy, a collection of shrunken heads and a machine that flattened pennies that Chesa really did learn something new about Norbert- something that she never thought he would do.

Norbert was a member of a secret club.

 Chesa learned about the Club just after she and Norbert and some of his friends were all looking at the Shrunken Heads collection together. Chesa moved down to take a look at a two headed calf  and when she turned around a few minutes later she saw Norbert, Mark, Sean, Tony and Darren standing there in front of the Penny Flattening  Machine looking slightly embarrassed and a little guilty.

Norbert said, ” well if we had used this thing it would have saved us a lot of trouble.”

” What do you mean? ” Chesa asked.

” I mean, ” Norbert held his right hand up ” I could have been a Piano player AND a singer.

” What do pennies have to do with you not having the tops of two of your fingers?”

Darren looked around and said almost in a whisper, ” we were part of a secret Society called  ‘The Penny Snatchers’ “

” You lost your fingers stealing pennies Norbert ? Good. That was stupid. If you were going to steal money you should have at least gone for nickles. Maybe even…dimes.”

” No- ” Sean took her by her elbow and leaned down and whispered into her ear, ” we used to go down to the tracks on King Street and put pennies under the trains wheels while the trains were parked and right after they flattened them we’d snatch them off the tracks before the next set of wheels came along.”

” That.Is.The. Dumbest. Thing. That. Anyone.Has. Ever. Done.”

” Yeah. Well, we were kids. We were eight years old when we started  The Club. We cared more about that then being in the Boy Scouts even” Darren said as he started to go through the change in his pocket.

” Why on Earth did you do that?”

”  For the dare” Norbert said defensively “and we collected flattened pennies. Those things were valuable.”

 Invaluable ” The Penny Snatchers said all at once.

And then they heartily agreed at the tops of their  lungs with each other and just in time remembered to lower their voices. Fifty years may have gone by since the first official meeting of the Penny Snatchers, but from the looks on their faces it could have been two hours ago.

Chesa rolled her eyes upwards at the comments that followed about bravery it took to be a Penny Snatcher and the cool comics and candy you could trade your flattened pennies for. And as Chesa looked down and considered what to say to that she noticed that Norbert wasn’t the only one of the Penny Snatchers with missing fingers.

She looked up almost in shock.

” Whose stupid idea was this penny snatching thing? “

Mark raised his hand and smiled. “Guilty.”

Norbert and the other guys – who had indeed bought some flattened pennies from the Machine started to walk towards the front of the store.

Chesa and Mark were left standing alone by the Penny Flattening Machine and a shelf full of soaps set with scorpions and leeches- plastic ones Chesa guessed.

” For real, this was all about collecting flattened pennies?” Chesa demanded.

 Mark held his hands up in mock self defense and Chesa saw he still had all of  his fingers still attached to his hand ” I wasn’t there to collect pennies.”

 

matildaben

Photo By:matildaben

Kelsev and George

Kevin Rosseel
Photo By: Kevin Rosseel

Years and years ago something very bad happened in a little house on a corner of a street called Litman Avenue South.

The house was just a house- built mostly of wood because back in the day Seattle was a logging town- and the glass windows weren’t the sort of windows that opened which meant the little white house with the wide doors and very big basement always smelled like flowers, even after everyone was gone and the house was full of dust because the little house on Litman Street was a Funeral Home.

It had never been used for anything else, two men  Conry Kelsev and Semple George built the house themselves and when they were finished they opened for business almost a week later and two weeks after that Semple George and his new wife the former Herma Dawn Bishop moved in.

Conry met Herma Dawn for the first time in the kitchen of the Home where she was making a pie. She had a streak of flour across her forehead and she was whistling which was something Conry couldn’t say he ever heard a lot of women doing- mostly they sang he thought.

” So it doesn’t bother her, ” Conry asked Semple as they left the kitchen for the basement ” having those bodies downstairs and such. “

” Not a bit ” Semple said with a smile ” she says she really feels at home here.”

And it was right then, at that very second Conry knew something bad was starting to happen in that house.

Conry and Semple had been friends all of their lives, and the only time they were apart was for the six years Semple had moved to the Midwest to take over the family business, which was a funeral home home in Iowa.

By the time Semple came back, Conry- who was a carpenter by trade had decided to spend the summers out in Iowa making caskets was already doing more work in the Funeral Parlors around town- decided it wasn’t such a bad line of work and readily agreed to open a Home right there in Seattle.

However, work was work and Conry knew for a fact that he would never be able to live in the place he worked, especially if dead bodies were involved.

So when Conry was done for the day, he went home two miles away and if for any reason he had to go down into the basement of the house on Litman Street after dark he was quick about it because he was sure that after dark the dead and the living had no business being around each other.

Conry turned out to be right.

The true story about the infamous Kelsev And George Funeral Home, and the story that led to a group of people who wanted to turn an old buidling into a dance club with a gothic theme ( what could be more perfect then a Goth Club in a real Morgue? ) strays from the Reality Street to Fiction Ave- starts right here.

One night Conry got called out to the O’Hara’s place on the bluffs, Mrs O’Hara had lost her second child as she did the her two others to burns from a fire that her children had been in over the weekend.

The last child to die was the youngest and Conry carried the little girl, who’s hair had been burned away ( she had always kept it braided he remembered and someone had tied a silk bow around her skinless forehead ) wrapped in a blanket carefully against his chest down to the basement and he nearly dropped her when he pushed the door open and heard voices coming from below.

He called himself a fool when he realized he recognized the voice as Herma Lee’s and he guessed as he made his way down the steps she was talking to Semple.

Only the voice that answered Herma Lee’s wasn’t Semple’s voice it- was a child’s voice and by the time Conry got into the basement he realized that there were two children down there with Herma Lee.

The children down there with Herma Dawn were Darlene and Violet- Darlene and Violet were Herma Dawn’s and Semple’s children.

” Will it take long?” Violet was asking her Mother as Conry stared into the blackness that was fighting for space in the well lit room.

” No. It’s almost done .”

And then Conry let himself look and there was Herma Dawn with a streak of flour across her forhead and a knife in her hand and on the embalming table, head to foot were two small bodies.

And on a small table next to her was a pie.

Herma Dawn was making a pie

And  her daughters were helping her.

 

Conry guessed he had to do something.

The first thing he did was to walk up the stairs and out to the hearse where carefully laid the little girl across the front seat. After, he closed and locked the door and then he went out to the shed and found an axe and then he went down into the basement.

When he was finished he waited for Semple, he never did find out where it was Semple had been all night because he didn’t show up until after sunrise.

But there was dirt under Semple’s finger nails- which Conry saw as he swung his axe down and Semple threw his hands up…and Conry also saw it was in Semple’s hair and teeth too.

 

When he was done Conry couldn’t bring himself to bury the George Family in a graveyard, he wasn’t sure he would burn in hell for what he did to them but he was sure there would be a price to pay for putting them anywhere near a dead body.

So Conry took all four of them- piece by piece to the new building that was going up across the street- some people said it was going to be a hotel one day-and he buried them in the basement.

And he wondered if that would hold them.

He doubted it.

In all of the years he knew Herma Dawn he was sure of one thing-he had never seen her outside of the house- her or the girls.

He figured no matter how long it took, they would find their way back to it.

And they would keep finding a way to make pies.

That’s probably why he went home, to his house and hung himself in his attic.

 

So Conry Kelsev left behind a mystery, nobody ever figured out what he did to the bodies, the legend that the Club Owners built their Halloween House and future business on says Conry burned the George Family alive in the Funeral Home’s Crematorium but anyone with common sense realized the home didn’t have a crematorium, still it was a morbid story and that was the one that gets repeated the most.

However, the locals who fancied themselves as Detectives of sorts guessed that he  buried the family in a cemeteries that Semple and Conry had access too, or more then likely somewhere on the grounds of the Funeral Home itself.

And then because Kelsev and George was not the sort of story you want floating around while you are trying to get funds for Urban Renewal Projects all the theories went away until the Morgan Group decided to open the club up in the Kelsev and George Funeral Home.

The problem the Morgan Group had was this: they had a good story to build on, but when Jeff and his brother Val went out to look at the Kelsev and George Funeral Home ( it was still there and still empty ) they were disappointed.

” Damn, it looks like a house a regular old house- are those flower boxes under the windows? Damn it to hell…”

Jeff was pointing to something across the street.

There were tears of joy in his eyes.

He  was pointing to a sign, it was partially covered by Ivy and the paint was blistered and peeling

but none the less the sign said this building, with the fancy lentil work above the windows, the crumbling gargoyles peering down from the roof and the rusted iron bars running up and down over all of the windows and doors was for sale.

And the name of the building was still visible above the doorway.

It was the Dennison Hotel.

The Dennison did well for awhile and then it closed down and during the 1960’s it’s lobby was turned into a series of offices, it’s upper floors went the same way and eventually it was turned into a meat packing plant.

I kid you not.

 

So the Morgans opened their club by hosting a haunted house there, which they called the Kelsev and George Morgue.

Soon after they bought the house across the street to use as offices and while he was out on the road Val called and said he had moved into the old house, that he was going to start refinishing it and that he aslo had a surprise.

The surprise answered the door and it had a streak of flour across her forhead and she said as reached out for him, ” Jeff, it’s so good to meet you at last.”

” And you are? ” He asked.

” Well, when I worked for your club they used to call me Chef but now days they just call me Val’s wife.”

” My name is Herma Dawn.”

kg

In Memory Of A Pracitical Man

maltbycem02.jpg

Mattie Greaves sat across from Mr. Sawyer Day, the owner of a small and all but forgotten funeral home in Seattle, Washington and together they were quietly discussing  a suitable coffin for Mattie’s husband Tabor.

” My husband is a practical man ” Mattie told Mr. Day ” and he wouldn’t like anything with those fancy gold handles and he certainly wouldn’t approve of things like this ” Mattie was pointing at a catalog opened to a  glossy page of coffins painted blue and gold and even black with ducks and eagles flying around their edges.

” I understand ” Mr. Day said ” and I have several models for you to consider that are more traditional. I’m sure we can find one here that your husband would approve of. “

Mr. Day is almost 65 and he had taken over Morning Ridge Funeral Home from his Mother’s family right after he had turned 30. He had started working there right after he turned 16 so that means that for over 50 years Mr. Sawyer Day had heard and seen it all.

So when Mattie Greaves asked if the traditional model she was looking at came with a comfortable pillow Mr. Day didn’t even look up. ” From what I understand it does, however in the past some of our families have brought in their own blankets and pillows. “

” My husband is very fond of candy as well. ” Mattie whispered. ” Now his doctor told  him he needs to give up sweets but you know, he’s along in years and he’s been through so much. I ask you Mr. Day how could I take away his salt water taffy?”

” My Mother was the same way, she was fond of her Cuban Cigars. Not only did she refuse to give them up we could never figure out how she got her hands on them to begin with. In the end, we just let it go.”

” So of course I can…”

” Of course you can Mrs. Greaves, whatever you think would have made your husband happy.”

After going through a few more books Mattie decided on a solid oak model with bronze handles and a lovely cream colored liner. She passed on the flowers.

” He’s allergic ” she told Mr. Day.

Mr. Day and Mattie went through numbers and she was about to pull out her check book when Mr. Day said, ” We’re almost finished Mrs. Greaves all we have to do is discuss your choice of a grave liners..

Mattie dropped her checkbook on the table and looked at Mr. Day for almost two minutes before her face turned a little red and tears welled up in her eyes., ” Oh my, that sounds so final.”

” Mrs. Greaves, I’m very sorry.  I don’t mean to rush you. If you need more time to go over…”

” No Mr Day…you’ve been very kind and patient with me. It’s my fault. I’m the one who has been doing the rushing. I should have explained…my husband just needs a coffin until the one he normally uses arrives from back home.”

memento2.jpg

Once Upon A Nightmare

” Once I had a nightmare ” my friend Bonnie told me ” about this witch who tried to break into my house “

” Okay, ” I tell Bonnie thinking this sounds like a good story to kill that long bus ride home from Seattle ” so how did it go? “

“Well, in my dream I heard my dog crying and in my dream I woke up and went and looked out my bedroom window. “

” And your dog was…”

” Hanging from a tree. “

” Like Hell you say. “

” It’s true, so I tried to run down my hallway to help get her out of the tree but the floor was gone and all I saw where the floor should have been was this dark pit filled with people with snake’s eyes and they were talking to me in a language I couldn’t understand.”

” I really hate it when that happens…” Bonnie looks at me a little strangely and I say ” you know… in my dreams.”

” Well sure.  So anyway I go back to my bedroom and crawl out my window and then I fall into my rose bushes. “

I turned that image over in my mind a few times..

Bonnie isn’t into breaking a sweat for any reason- she wouldn’t run wouldn’t run from Lizzie Borden  swinging an ax to save her own  life so I couldn’t begin to imagine her crawling out of a window.

I smiled and encouraged she went on.

” When I get outside there’s this woman standing by Tippy and she’s got her back turned towards me. As much as I want to help Tippy I don’t want her, whoever she is, to turn around.”

” No. ” I tell Bonnie. ” You certainly do not want that.  It’s a psychology thing…”

” Yeah well, she doesn’t turn around. She just reached up and grabs Tippy by her neck and yanks down. “

” Damn. ” I say ” So what did you do?”

” I run back to my front door and just as I run through it, the door slams shut and I throw myself against it…and I can feel the knob turning in my hand and just before it opens I lock it.”

” Good for you. “

” It didn’t matter, because the door swung open and pushed me back and then the Witch came in with Tippy. She was dragging Tippy by the rope and then Tippy opened her eyes and- she wasn’t Tippy anymore.”

” What was she? “

” Dead.” Bonnie says sadly. ” And I started to cry and scream for Tippy not to leave me and then I woke up.”

” Look, it was only a dream right? I mean Tippy isn’t really dead and the Witch didn’t get you.”

Bonnie looks at me and I look at her and Bonnie asks me if I think she’ll have that awful nightmare again.

 ” Bonnie”  I say as I  pull a rope from out of my pocket ” you’re not awake yet.”

The E-Mail Soul Eater

 

Yesterday me and my best friend Amihan were shopping at the Mall for hats ( I love those old lady styled hats with fruit and birds on the brim…the one I was wearing that day had little cats dancing around the edges ) when she asked me if I had heard the story about the E-Mail Soul eater and I was very sorry to have to say I had not heard that one.

” Well,” Amihan ” tells me- “the E-Mail Soul Eater is this demon who sits in this Library and sends out this picture and if you don’t pass her picture around she’ll come out of your computer and kill you.”

” Yeah but why…”

” She doesn’t have a Soul, so she eats them to stay alive.”

” Oh she does, does she?”

Amihan opens up her purse and takes out a couple of pieces of paper and I see that one is a copy of the e-mail and the other is the picture and I say to her:

” You have got to be kidding me.”

” No, it’s true. I mean I think it is.”

“Listen Amihan- Demons are old world. They do things the old fashioned way, that’s in their nature -they are hands on and in your face. Please Amihan, e-mails?”

” What the Hell kind of stupid story is that? ” I ask and then I took the picture from Amihan and folded it up in a neat little square and I put it in my back pocket.

 ” I know, I know, I took the e-mail and the picture and if I don’t pass it along the E-Mail Soul Eater will come and get me. Well I hope she does. “

Amihan is near tears and she says, ” Why did you do that? “

” Hey Amihan, don’t worry about it. “

Amihan does look worried so I shrug and say as I pull my hat down over the little horns on my forehead ” Don’t worry about her, Soul Eater, Soul Thief, whatever- all I know is I don’t need the competition.”

:::to read about the real “E-Mail Soul Eater” go HERE:::

3:43 at 5th And Cherry Street

Gemi Ranney catches her bus at 3:43 on the Corner of 5thand Cherry Street Mondaythrough Friday.

You could set your watch by Gemi.

She shows up at her stop at exactly 3:38 and five minutes her bus, the 408 shows arrives and then Gemi gets on and she’s home a half and hour later.

Nothing surprising ever happens to Gemi on that short walk she takes to her bus stop after work.

She sees the same people withthe same expressions on their faces- sometimes they smile and sometimes they don’t and sometimes they say hello- but one day Gemi noticed  it truly was always the same.

Gemi started to wonder how they could do that- how they could smile the same, sound the same when they said hello and even wave the same way to the same people they passed on the street every single day.

Gemi couldn’t stick to any sort of routine, she never wore her hair the same way, she never signed her name the same way, she never made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches the same way and she only ever used three ingredients when she did that. 

So one day, because she was early, Gemi took a another route that was a little longer and as she walked towards 5th she ended up walking behind one man she always saw at the Cherry Street bus stop.

He always said ” hey there you ” with a little wink and a click of his tongue against his teeth.

As she walked by she said hello and he turned his head and looked down at her and as he did Gemi saw a little bug run from his ear into his nose.

” I think something… ” Gemi pointed to the side of his head and as she did he said,

” Hey there you ” with a little wink and a click of his tongue the way he always did but this time he said something different.

This time he said, ” Mrs Grayford did this to me. ” and then he took his same place at the bus stop and he pulled a newspaper out of his backpack and Gemi had the feeling it was the same paper he looked at every single day as he waited on the corner of 5th and Cherry.

After the bug in the nose incident Gemi started to walk different roads to her bus stop and every once and awhile she would see some of the people from her stop going through their usual routines.

But now Gemi started to see not only the sameness in what they did every single day she noticed that they were wearing the same clothes and carrying the same books and sometimes from the smell she was sure they were carrying the same lunches and coffee cups too.

And sometimes they would stop and say to her, with dust in their hair and dust in their slightly frosty looking non-blinking eyes and the occasional  bug running across their foreheads or out of their mouths, a little desperately before their eyes frosted over again

” Mrs Grayford did this to me.”

Eventually, of course, Gemi did begin to wonder who Mrs. Grayford was. And when she thought about it too much she realized that doing that probably wasn’t a very good idea until that day at her office.

Gemi worked in an office supply store that sold pens and pencils and old fashioned things like erasers and they even sold business cards that were printed on a printing press and not a laser jet printer.

Gemi’s job was back in the warehouse and sometimes she had to work up in the office processing paperwork- which she didn’t mind because it was a break in the routine that was her work day.

So true to her nature after about 15 minutes of filing and initialing of order forms Gemi switched screens on her computer and typed in Mrs. Grayford and she put in Dearden, Washington.

She learned one thing, there was only one person named Grayford who lived in Dearden and exactly three months ago she opened a Funeral Home just 4 blocks up from Cherry Street.

” Well that’s just creepy. ” Gemi said to Rochelle who worked in Accounts Receivable- and Gemi only started talking because Rochelle was into her numbers and paperwork and wasn’t going to pay attention to anything you said unless it involved an invoice.

So as a rule, Rochelle didn’t talk to anyone at the office, and that especially included the human tumbleweed that was Gemi Ranney.

Now the beauty of this situation for Gemi was that she could say out loud this idea that was giving her nightmares. And the thought was crazy sounding but the person who was about to hear it wasn’t going to be listening to a word she said, let alone care what she had to say.

This brief and short conversation with Rochelle was Gemi’s way of dragging a vampire out into the sunlight and killng it. 

” You know what Rochelle? I think that someone is making Zombies at that new Funeral Home up the street…mindless Zombies that do the same thing over and over again until they fall apart. I’m hoping that I never run into the person that asked for this to be done. I’d rather stab myself in my own ear with a pencil then to be anywhere near a person like that.

 That’s what I think.”

Rochelle didn’t look up at Gemi just like Gemi new she wouldn’t and Rochelle continued to fill in numbers and mark pages that needed to have the date hand written into one box and  her initials written into another and then she started all over again on another form and then Rochelle slid something across her desk towards Gemi and Gemi saw what it was.

It was a pencil.

And then from her ink and paper filled hell Rochelle said said to Gemi

” Mrs Grayford did this for me. ” 

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

This is the very story that made me decide to become a Writer.

I was about 10 when I heard it for the first time.

It was years later that I actually saw the film.

It was fitting then, that the first time I saw it on TV was on the Twilight Zone.

What follows next, before the video posted here, is the Closing Narration from the Twilight Zone, but really, it was the Opening Narration for me.

a.m.m.

An occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge—in two forms, as it was dreamed, and as it was lived and died. This is the stuff of fantasy, the thread of imagination…the ingredients of the Twilight Zone

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge – part 1

 

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge – part 2

An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge – part 3

 

 

 

The Elevator Ghost

A few days ago someone sent this to me-

it’s one of those Urban Legend stories about a ghost

that shows up on a security camera.

It made me think because

I have an elevator ghost story.

We have an old freight elevator at work

and the repair men who run the inspections- and its always a different inspection team from year to year- tell the same story about a building just two streets over from where I work.

This is a story ( it’s just a story I’m sure ) about a woman who was murdered on a service elevator that wasn’t used very often (she was moving boxes from her apartment to the basement ) over a holiday weekend and her corpse rode that elevator for three days.

Her remains were discovered after the long weekend was over when someone in the building complained about the service elevator running up and down all night long without stopping.

Nobody could get the elevator to stop and apparently the people in the building had a hard time finding a service crew to come in because of the holiday weekend.

So everyone had to listen to those gears and that motor humming and hissing and running up and down on that last night.

 Finally the repair crew made it in and when they finally got the elevator  stopped they were able to open the doors there she was.

Her neck was broken and her eyes and mouth had been sewn shut.

That was done, I learned before her neck had been snapped.

The elevator always had problems after that and no matter what they did they couldn’t fix it, so eventually the elevator was taken out and the shaft was turned into a staircase.

And sometimes, the people in the building say you can hear clicks and hums all night long coming from the stairwell.

So this story may just be an Urban Legend, like this video.

But the fact is as a writer I know that stories, all stories, were inspired by something or somebody

that was alive and real

That is,

until one day….

Nan’s Picture

I should have been writing last night.

Instead I spent a lot of time staring at a picture that  I have hanging on  on my wall.

It’s a print of some fruit (grapes, bananas, plums) in a fancy fruit bowl, but when you look carefully at  you can see that the bowl is actually a hand and the stem under it is an arm.

It’s a subtle drawing with soft lines and it’s full of colors and shadows and all of it works together to hide that macabre message  ( as I think of it )

in plain sight.

Less then subtle in the foreground, where it’s not hiding at all, is something that looks like rose peals scattered on the beige colored linen table cloth below the bowl.

My Great Grandmother- we never called her Granny Or Grandma or Gran- she wasn’t into having her age addressed – we called her Nan- bought that print back in the 1920’s and nobody knows where it came from- it just showed up above her sideboard one day- so the story goes.

Over the years it seemed some of us realized what that was a picture of but no one ever pointed it out- it was sort of like a test- if you saw what was in the picture and told someone who already knew, you were in the club.

That’s what it felt like anyway.

Nan passed away when I was about 6 years old and when I moved out of my Mom’ and Dad’s just before I turned 19 my Mom gave me my Great Grandmother’s sideboard and the picture above it.

I thought it made my new place perfect- and when I invited my friends over I set my house warming buffet on top of it and watched to see who would notice or see what was in the picture.

It was about an hour into the party when I was standing next to the buffet talking to my cousin when I heard someone laugh and then yell, ” Hey Anita…think fast “…

and then this soccer ball buzzed right by my ear and smashed right into my Great Grandmother’s print.

The frame splintered and the glass cut the 60 plus year old print to ribbons and in less then a minute there wasn’t  enough left of the picture to hang on the wall.

I looked across the room to my friend

and

the first words out of my mouth were “What have you done? “

He cleaned up the remains of the picture and I watched him take the ruined frame and print out to the trash.

But instead of walking all the way down the path to the parking lot where the dumpster was I saw him walk to the flower beds and bury it- and when he came back upstairs he told me, ” that was one weird picture you know. “

He said some more- only I wasn’t  listening because I was thinking to myself the entire time he was talking  to me, ” It’s a good thing Nan is dead- because she’d kill you for that.”

My friend died a week later, he ran his car into the back of a parked truck- he was going over 80 miles an hour when he hit it. 

It happned just down the hill from my Parent’s house.

” He was racing another car ” one of the Police Officers told my Mom. ” One of the witnesses thinks the other driver was a woman. “

What my Mom said will stay with me forever.

She said, ” I wouldn’t count on that.”

So how is it I was looking at that picture last night ?

Was it the same one from my childhood?

Of course it was.

Ten years ago we bought this house from my Mom and Dad and after they moved out she asked my husband to go up into the attic and pull down some furniture that she had room in her new place for after all.

He was up there for just a few minutes when I heard him call down to me, ” Hey, this would look great above your sideboard “

I remember walking to the trapdoor and reaching up and he handed me down the print and I took it, without looking at it and hung it above the sideboard…

where it is right now.

And to this day some people notice it for what it is and other people never do.

Just like this story.

Intermission

 

Back in the early 70’s I used to watch Cliff Hangers before I left for school in the morning.

I used to watch Flash Gordon

and a few others, but Flash was my favorite.

So.

In the spirit of those Cliff Hangers I invite you to visit Anita’s Owl Creek Bridge and

follow the adventures of

Milo and Jingle Hungerford.

There are no Spaceships or people in capes… or exotic looking women who rule the universe

but that can change.

Stay Tuned for More

a.m.

A long time ago a young man named Milo Hungerford asked a woman named Jingle to marry him at the Rainbow Beach Drive-In during intermission.

Jingle  said yes just as an army of little popcorn boxes went dancing across the screen  and a soft drink cup wearing a top hat stood on a box of Honey Bits  and invited you to visit all of his friends at the snack bar soon.

” I want to be with you forever. ” Milo told Jingle with tears in his eyes.

Then Milo took Jingle’s hand and put a ring on her finger that he had made for her himself.

Jingle held the ring up to the light from the movie screen and then she held it to her cheek and then  Jingle took Milo’s chin in her hand lifted it up and she said- as she sank her teeth into his neck-

” I am so glad to hear you say  that Milo. “

The Beginning

by a.m. moscoso

 

In Regards To Tansy Arvensis

In a glass case, on a shelf in a jar, is all that remains

of a woman named

Tansy Arvensis.

How is it that Tansy

– you might ask-

who once performed as

a Fire Breather, a Sword Swallower and Trapeze Artist for a Traveling Circus ended up in a jar on a shelf in a museum?

– In addition –

you might wonder

how is it that all that is left of Tansy is a head in jar with a single horn sprouting from the side of her head?

And you may question

why is it that Tansy’s eyes are sometimes closed and sometimes opened and sometimes her mouth is twisted in rage and her neat white teeth and her dark red lips are pushed up against the glass and at other times she is facing the wall?

How would someone like me

-you might wonder-

an unremarkable woman, living an unremarkable life in an unremarkable town called Mountlake Terrace ever have known a person like Tansy?

and

how is it that this unremarkable woman came to know what happened to Tansy

on that night Tansy lost her head?

What a silly question.

You should really be asking why is it that an unremarkable woman living an unremarkable life in an unremarkable town

isn’t the one

whose head is in a jar. 

Eye Of The Beholder

by Anita Marie Moscoso

PROUD WINNER OF THE

CELLULOID BLONDE

AWARD FOR

best fiction post

 

 

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Abney Hawkweed taught music for 25 years in the Caswell School District and those were the best years of her life.

Not that she liked teaching; in fact Abney didn’t even like kids.

But the hours were good, she got the Summers off and at the end of the day not many people go out of their way to pay attention to plain looking women with wire rimmed glasses who know how to play the violin and trumpet and the saxophone.

Which suited Miss Abney Hawkweed just fine.

In the old days, after school was over and Abney was on her way home she used to roll the windows of her fuel-efficient little car down and she use to turn the radio off just so she could hear the honking horns and screeching tires. Sometimes she even got an earful and eyeful of some road raging driver screaming their lungs out and waving their fingers around in nasty gestures.

Sometimes, just for the fun of it Abney would go out of her way just so that she could drive by the Great Mall of Felton Hills.

She just loved to watch people dodge buses and trucks and cars and then no matter how many cars were behind her honking their horns she’d drive slow just so she could see the same people sprint, jog or run across the parking lots with baby strollers and shopping carts- all so that they could get into the shops and the food court and consume anything they could lay their hands on.

It all seemed so trivial and innocent and final.

There was no mystery to life in the suburbs.

You worked, you shopped, you watched TV and then you got to die.

Some people, Abney thought, don’t know how good they have it and that’s a fact.

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Abney’s day job paid the rent; what she did at night was who Abney Hawkweed was. She could always find another day job, but there was only one Abney and when the Sunset came she couldn’t be anything else.

So just after dinner she would gather her tools into a little black leather medical bag- the one she inherited from her Grandfather and she turned the little gold clasps counter clockwise to lock it.

Then for luck, just like Grandpa taught her, she would touch the little brass plate that said, ” Post Mortem Case ” three times.

The luck thing was important because she usually needed it.

eyes1-3.gif

Like with most family businesses you could either take up the reigns and do the family proud or you could skate by and make them wish they could at least say you were adopted or ‘from the other side of the family’.

The worst you could be neither, the worst thing you could be is mediocre.

And know it.

Abney figured she could get the job done- and that phrase pretty much summed up Abney’s job performance. She wasn’t as glamorous and thin and blond as her cousin Inez and she wasn’t as smart or athletic as her Father Dr Setwell Hawkweed had been.

They were impressive figures at work and well respected.

No doubt, Abney could dig up a coffin pop it open and hammer a stake into the heart of a bloated red faced vampire before it could open it’s mouth and spit blood into her eyes-which is what they did when they were about to attack.

If they got you it was bad news because that mess could make you blind.

That’s how they brought you down.

Anyway…

The problem was it was just plain old Abney Hawkweed in some old decrepit church or over grown cemetery carrying on the family trade.

There was no sense of style about how Abney did her work so she did it quietly and efficiently as possible and then she’d go home feed her cat, listen to a little Mozart and then she’d turn in for what was left of the evening.

She did that for 25 years and she never complained.

She didn’t even complain when she had to go into a house on Halloween (of all nights) and take out a family of Vampires who had been sleeping in their basement and then had taken to hanging from the rafters like water logged Piñatas-dripping blood and purge from their hardly working bowels onto the floor.

All Abney figured when she slipped in the gunk and broke her wrist was that they had done that on purpose.

It wasn’t like the books and comics and video games you know.

Abney learned the hard way that oxygen deprivation at death and then waking up to find you had been turned into a mosquito was enough to make anyone crazy.

Very Crazy.

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On the day Abney retired- both from the Day Job and the Family Trade, her work friends had taken her out for lunch and given her some neat gifts and they had promised to keep in touch.

She doubted they would.

And of course they didn’t.

Her family same to celebrate her retirement and of course they promised to stay in touch too- and Abney figured they’d make good on that and of course they did.

Especially when they needed a night off.

eyes1-3.gif

As time went by Abney started to play the Violin again for the simple pleasure of it. She never got calls to lend a hand at this Graveyard or that Morgue because the Vampire Problem was a Problem Solved and Abney decided to take up the guitar.

It was at Inez’s birthday part last winter that Inez had told Abney, ” You know in the old days we could never have all gotten together like this. It’d have been too dangerous. I mean, a couple of nutty blood suckers and a can of gasoline and before you know it we’re crispy critters and people are dropping like flies from ‘ the plague’ again.”

” You had a lot to do with that Abney. Thank you.”

And Abney decided right then and there that she may not have been the sleekest of models to hit the showroom floor but she had made a difference all the same.

That was when Abney really felt it for the first time- her life; her simple quiet life was all she ever was.

And she missed it.

eyes1-3.gif

When Spring came Abney had decided to take up sketching. She was pretty awful at it, but she had nothing but time on her hands and if this didn’t work she could always try something else.

So one day she’s at her favorite park sketching her favorite tree when four teenagers went walking by.

Shoulder to shoulder they looked like a little black thundercloud rolling along on the cobble stone pathway.

Their faces were pale, their lips were black and they smelled like the perfume counter at the Bay Side Department store.

Abney watched them for a moment and then she called out, ” You there…are you suppose to be Vampires? ”

There was a chorus of snorts and chuckles and someone tried to growl ” suppose to be ” but his his voice cracked.

One of the little black clouds broke away from the rest and she tried to glide up towards the middle-aged woman with salt and pepper hair ” We’re Goth ” she said slowly with her jaw clenched tight and her black hair falling into her face.

” Is that a new type of Vampire?” Abney asked cheerfully.

” I guess you could say that.” the girl with the pointed white teeth said. Then she tried to stare the old woman down. ” Why do you want to know? ”

Abney shrugged, ” just checking. ”

And as the little black cloud drifted down the path Abney got up, reached for the black bag under her chair and touched the little brass plate three times.

Then she went to work.

antique_cross_wallpaper_100.jpg

 

Reflection Of My Love

” What are you looking at Jingle? ”  Milo Hungerford asked his wife.

Jingle was standing in front of their bathroom mirror with her hairbrush in her hand and she turned slowly towards him and said, ” I don’t know. “

He came up behind her and stared into glass and shook his head.

” That’s not right Jingle. “

She put her hand to her face and looked into the mirror again and when she turned back towards Milo she started to cry. ” Milo what’s happening to me? “

Milo  pulled Jingle to his chest and turned her away from the looking glass.

” Is it still there Milo? “

Milo held Jingle tighter and said, ” yes. “

” The one in the foyer- let’s try that one too. “

” Jingle- it won’t…” he started to say and then when he saw the look on her face he nodded. “okay, we’ll try that one too.”

Milo held his wife’s hand and they walked down the dark halls to the entrance to their home and together they looked into the mirror there and Jingle burst into tears and grabbed her face.

” Oh Milo- oh Milo what’s happening to me? ” she cried.

Milo looked into the mirror and there in the glass he saw his wife holding her hairbrush, her dark hair framing her face- all alone except for the darkness that was their home and he turned her gently towards him and said,

” I don’t know how it happened Jingle…but I think you’re alive. “

Amlet Kerr Goes For A Ride

Amlet Kerr is a prisoner on a ship that is sailing along side the stars and not under them.

She is all alone- the last of her race in the entire Universe and shortly after the ship Amlet Kerr is sailing on docks she will be taken into a room and her chest will be cracked open and her heart and lungs and stomach will be removed and the top of her skull will be taken off and the thing that kept her alive will be known and the efficiant killing machine that arrived on Earth Halloween Night until it came across Amlet Kerr will be flawless once more.

However, her impending death brings no satisfaction to anyone on the Ship- not even to the Captain of the  War Ship  because Amlet, a short dark woman with half of her face burned to the bone and her hair melted away by the chemical fire his ship let loose on Amlet’s world, the man whose own Mother created the living acid that acts- as the people on Amlet’s word would have learned had they not all been burned alive- just like an army of fire ants.

So the Captain glares at her and his crew avoids her because as far as they’re concerned Amlet Kerr  is already a corpse.

But not everyone on the ship is as practical as the Captain and his Crew.

The Science Officer on the Ship has been trying since they found Amlet to overturn her death sentence so that he could at least study this woman, with only half of her face left on her skull and her ruined eye sunk back into her skull who sits with her hands folded primly in her lap when she should ash sitting on the surface on a dead airless world.

So everyday the Science Officer takes Amlet Kerr from her cell (tomb) as he thinks of it for short walks on the ship.

He takes her to the Observation Deck, to the Collectors Gardens, to the Labs and to the cargo hold where she spends many many hours going over the artificats they have collected.

And one day Amlet turns her head and says with a smile ” You’ve come all this way to rob graves? “

The  Science Officer steps back and then he realizes Amlet isn’t really smiling. Her head is turned and her teeth are exposed on the fleshless right hand side of her face. ” These are artifacts we found when we started our underground missions.” He tells Amlet.

” Those. ” Amlet says ” are not artifacts…those are coffins.”

” Artifacts. “

Amlet shrugs and she reaches out to touch one of the artifacts. She lays her hand on the dirty rotten pine box and with a little push her hand goes through the wood.

She holds her hand up to the light and stares at it for a very long time.

The Science Officer clears his throat and when he asks her name she tells him.

And when he starts to tell her what his name is she says, ” I don’t care what your name is. “

She turns around and with her one good eye she looks into both of his and says ” It doesn’t matter what your name is. Not to me.”

After that day the Science Officer leaves Amlet alone.

He doesn’t like the way she has taken to watching him and the crew members who stop by to make sure Amlet’s uneaten food is taken away and they wonder – all of them why she is alive.

And along with that they wonder if it matters if she’s going to die why don’t they just kill her now?

Because Amlet Kerr’s face is no longer exposed to the bone and her hair is beginning to grow back and she has taken to watching them even when they sleep.

None of them  are sure how she’s doing it…they just know because sometimes when they go by her Cell she will look up at them and say as they pass, ” I heard you dream last night. “

And after those little encounters the Crew and her Captain sleep fully armed and they slept with their lights on.

On the last day, as the Ship was docking,  Amlet Kerr was sitting in her Cell waiting to meet her Death in a lab billions of miles away from her ruined world the Science Officer opens the Cell door and he walks up to where Amlet is sitting and he asks, ” Why is this happening. “

Amlet looks up and touches her healed face and pushes loose strangs of her long dark hair behind her ears and says, ” It shouldn’t be. I’m a long way from home you know.” Amlet looks up and says, ” A window. Can I see outside? “

He takes her out and as they make their way to the Observation Deck the Science Officer asks, ”  First. Where were you from? “

He stops in front of what Amlet thinks is a window and he touches the screen and there is Amlet’s world-  burned and left in ruins with nothing on it now except for the Chemical Fire that will crawl all over until it consumes it’s way to the core of the planet.

She steps back and when she looks at him . ” Life there was always so fragile and it doesn’t last for long. This was over kill, trust me. They were near the end of it when you came. “

” They? ” he echoes.

” We. ” she says in a whisper and then she touches the place where she thinks she was from and when she turns back her face is a mask. ” It’s gone, the mountains where I came from are all gone.”

” You were from here… is that right” he points but Amlet’s hand is in the way and she won’t look at him and the Science Officer turns away and she stands there looking into the darkness that used to be her world- all alone.

The walk to the Observation Decks is short and silent and when they reach it he turns to Amlet and says this is my home…”

He points up towards the glass ceiling and Amlet can see a dark grey world covered with moutains and Oceans of ice…and circling the planet…

” You’re kidding me. ” she says with a laugh. ” Oh, you have to be kidding me! “

” Our world is roughly the same size as yours. Our Sun is further away of course and our Moons one or both are always present in our sky. Not like Earth of course. You only had one moon of course and it went through phases, did it not? “

Amlet doesn’t answer- she has questions of her own.

” Your Moons don’t go through Phases, they are full then? All of the time? “

” Yes. “

And Amlet Kerr, the last Human Being Alive, the only Werewolf that ever truly existed anywhere in the Universe  turned her face to the silver light shining down on the both of them

and Changed.

Another Not Quite Alice Moment

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Once I saw a man wearing an expensive business suit and a man in clothes that were torn and dirty – digging a hole together next to the railroad tracks.

I couldn’t imagine under what circumstances these two could ever have met, talked and decided one morning to go out with shovels and start to dig as trains roared and hissed by them, as crows lined the barbed wire topped fence that they climbed-

just so that they could up digging side by side

next to the railroad tracks early one Monday Morning.

When I drove by eight hours later the men were gone and the shovel was resting right there next to the fence.

It was there two days later when I drove by and it was still there a week later and I started to wonder by the third week

about the man in the suit and the homeless man digging side by side next to the railroad tracks.

I went out one Sunday just after sunrise and stood next to the shovel, and then I actually touched the shovel and I wondered about those two men.

And I took the shovel in my hands and laughed and then I put it back and scaled the fence and dropped to the other side and when I did there was a man standing there.

He asked me what I was doing and I told him about the Well Dressed Man and the Not So Well Dressed Man digging through all that rock and hard packed earth.

” Crazy ” said the man.

” No kidding.” I agreed.

” So what do you suppose they were digging for? “

I laughed some more just to show that it didn’t really matter to me.

And then I turned back to the fence and grabbed at it and said, ” We’ll need another shovel “

Mr Goosberry’s Shed

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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.

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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.

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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.

THE END

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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.

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It’s For The Best Emalee Cupid

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Towns and Cities can disappear and die just like people. 

Some small towns disappear because the main highway is moved and that brings on death just as surely as if you sever an artery in you arm or leg or neck.

And some small towns disappear from the world because they want to.

Just like people.

First Down Turn disappeared from road signs and then it disappeared from road maps.

At some point most of the phone lines that fed into Down Turn fell against trees and into ditches with the storms that always hit the Olympics during the Winter and Spring. When the last set of lines came down in 1979 no one from the outside world noticed because by then Down Turn had all but disappeared from the rest of the world.

You’d think that the people living in Down Turn must have planned their escape from the world, that it must have taken them years to figure out how to erase the tracks they left as they moved in and out of Down Turn when they went to work or for drives or on vacations.

Nothing that grand happened in Down Turn.

The town just faded away bit by bit- just like a photograph encased in a frame with a dusty sheet of glass hanging on a wall that takes the sun for hours at a time.

If you lived in Down Turn you wouldn’t have noticed that you were cut off from the rest of the Universe or the main highway which was less then three miles away, after awhile you couldn’t hear the trucks or cars going by when the traffic was heavy anymore.

Nobody noticed.

Emalee Cupid was just like her neighbors and friends and co-workers. She was just like the people who came into the town’s library looking for ‘stories’.

She didn’t question why in over 20 years no children had been born or why no one ever changed their hairstyle or clothing style or had even bought a new car.

Emalee Cupid lived along and worked alone and now that the rest of life seemed to mirror the life she had resigned herself too all she felt was…

calm.

One day, it was probably sometime during the start of the week Emalee was fixing the spine on a Stephen King book and she wondered why no one seemed to be writing new books anymore.

The thought was a whisper but it was loud enough to make her wince and that’s when she turned the book in her hands over and saw that the title which should have read

” Salem’s Lot ” now read ” Alems Ot”

” That’s not right. ” she whispered to herself and she slid her thumb over the title thinking there MUST have been something covering the letters.

But there was nothing there- unless you counted the blank spot where the ” S ” and the ” L ” should have been.

Emalee looked around the library hoping that no one else was there to see her mistake.

How on Earth could she have not noticed that the cover of a book that she- the town librarian- had received to stock herself when it first came out had a huge problem like a type error on it’s cover?

She dreaded what she knew she had to do next.

She opened the book and as she flipped from page to page she saw that here and there the page numbers were missing, that words were misspelled and that in some places even the pen and ink pictures that were under the Chapter numbers were only partially visible.

Emalee went to the door and locked it and in a panic she went from book to book, magazine to magazine and found the same exact problem.

So just after lunch Emalee closed the Library and decided she had better talk to somebody- anybody about this awful thing she had let happen in her own library.

For years she must have been buying defective books with the towns money.

There was no hiding this- she had better talk to the person who hired her and that was the Mayor.

Down Turn’s Mayor was Mr Ferndale- the Mayor also owned the little General Store with the post office in the back and he also owned the garage and gas station just across the street.

His Offices were above the Gas Station and that’s where he was the day Emalee Cupid came in with her four defective books and two atlases with entire countries missing from the colored plates inside.

Mayor Ferndale was on the phone and he smiled as he motioned to Emalee to wait.

It didn’t seem right to Emalee to watch him so she went to the window and that’s when she saw the stop sign on the corner.

It was red- like it should be- only the words STOP were…

” What can I do for you Miss Cupid? ” the Mayor asked.

Emalee pointed out the window and found the words she need were …gone.

” Yes. They’ve been missing for a few days now, but really, I think we all know what to do at a four way corner, don’t you? Besides, it’s not like there’s a lot of traffic out there nowadays.”

Emalee walked to his desk and put the books down. ” The words. ” she whispered ” The words are missing. “

” Yes, it’s been happening all over the place. Mrs Carlyle at the Pharmacy is having quite a time adjusting but she’ll make do.”

” This isn’t right. ” she told Mayor Ferndale, you can’t just make do when words start to disappear.”

” Some of us don’t have a problem with it Miss Cupid. Some of us don’t like the clutter that’s made it’s way into our town and into our lives. And words- they’re nasty beasts. Those little monsters suck the very air out of your lungs before you have a chance to scream ” no ” and the racket they make as they tunnel their way into your brain.

It’s deafening. Deafening and messy.

 Really Miss Cupid- think about it, don’t things seem much more quiet  and orderly now?”

” No it isn’t.” Emalee went to his desk and snatched the books up and held them to her chest.Don’t you get it Mr. Ferndale? Those words aren’t clutter, they’re ideas, they’re dreams, they’re voices and if you take them away.”

” What. ” Mayor Fernadale asked

Emalee turned her full attention to the Mayor, she looked him straight in the eyes and when she did she saw the faintest outline of the bookshelf he was sitting in front of looking back at her.

” You take us away too.” she said to the faint outline of Mayor Ferndale.

” It’s for the best Emalee Cupid. You’ll see, it’s all for the best.”

Tiny Tina Dahl

A little Valentine from my Vaults.

Stay Tuned

New Stories are on their way!

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” My Ex-Wife took everything from me ” Corrin Ails said to no one in particular as he waited in line for the doors to the Village Place Mall to open.

“She took my home and my record collection and she even took my old photo album. 

All that I had in there were pictures of me with my pets and dressed up at Halloween and I think there was one of me a holding a Brady Bunch lunchbox when I was 9 . Oh, and there were about four pictures of me on my first bike.

She told me I was an ugly kid. So what did she want with my childhood pictures?” 

The woman standing in front of Corrin turned around and told him ” I cut my wedding dress up and used it to scrub the kitchen floor the day I found out my ex-husband was getting remarried. I made that dress. Then I mailed it to his new wife. She slapped me with a restraining order and now I have to take anger managment classes. People do weird things when the realize a relationship is truly over.”

” She burned that album on my front lawn ” Corrin Ails went on “then the fire spread and burned my house down and she even killed me dog with rat poison. She used him to start the fire.”

” No way. ” the man standing in back of Corrin said.

” ‘fraid so- three fire fighters died trying to put that thing out. ”

” I heard about that, ” the woman said  have they caught her yet? ”

” No. ”

” I’d like to catch her ” the Man in front of Corrin said, ” I’d like to catch her in the headlights of my car if you get what I mean.”

The Woman in front of Corrin said ” she sounds like a bad woman.”

” Her family used to call her Tiny Tina Dahl…just like that. It was her nickname…and no one seemed to care that it sounded like some freaky Special Edition collector’s toy you get for buying something really big and expensive. Tiny Tina Dahl…she’s so sweet and great with poisons and fire. Get your free Tiny Tina Dahl with your next purchase.”

There was a chorus of snickers and Corrin went on. ” Tiny Tina Dahl would take anything she could get her hands on…your house, your clothes, your money the Twinkies you keep hidden in your desk drawer at work for munchie attacks.”

” Wow, she wasn’t bad she was just evil. ” someone further down the line said.

” Yeah ” Corrin said ” she was pretty good at taking things…she even stole my heart and  she left me with nothing.”

” You seem like a nice enough guy ” the Woman said ” you’ll find someone new. You certainly won’t find anybody WORSE.”

Corrin reached for the top button on his shirt and said as faint as a dieing man’s last breath, ” You don’t get it  she stole my heart and left with me nothing ”

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The Tacky Ticker

I think this is the funniest story I have ever written.

Well.

I think it is.

enjoy!

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Alstona Kamacho’s clock is an Doomsday clock- that’s what she told everyone at her office. She also told them on the first day she brought it in that if the clock stops the world will end.

So for the past 20 years everyone she works with goes out of their way to make sure  Alstona’s  Tacky Ticker doesn’t wind down. 

At first it was fun to find a way to make it first to avocado green clock with the pink feet and the silver mushroom bells sitting sideways against face so that you could be the one turn the little silver key  and save the entire world

Then it got to be serious.

When Alstona’ s six co-workers heard the little gears slowing down and just before second hand made this pop sound when it skipped past the glow in the dark five they’d already be pushing and shoving, tripping towards Alstona’s desk.

One year Barnell Bloss fractured right arm when he tried- and failed to clear Fales Digby’s desk to get to Alstona’ s Armageddon clock.

Of course he didn’t clear Fales’ desk because Fales was sitting at it and when Barnell raced by it was more the Fales could stand.

He’d reached up and slammed Barnell down and Fales had been the one to save the world that day.

In any other office on the face of the Earth that stunt would probably have ended in some sort of legal action.

But Lonsdale and Mead’s wasn’t  like anyplace on the face of the Earth- there wasn’t anyplace else on the face of the Earth that had an Armageddon clock sitting on an employee’s desk.

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Delia Wing was a Courier from All City Express, she had won the Lonsdale and Mead stop in a lunch time card game at All City.

 But that was nothing new- drivers at All City had been known to pay each other cold hard cash just for one trip because everyone in the city of Mayweed knew the L & M staff were a bunch of whack jobs.

What can you say? Nothing broke up the day like getting the chance to see a bunch of desk jockeys beat the snot out of each other to get to this cheap and nasty windup clock first. 

As you’ve probably guessed by now Mayweed was short on entertainment venues.

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Delia’ first trip into L & M was on a Friday and there they were- all seven of them sitting at their desks, working on the phones and doing data entry and the entire time they all had at least one eye on the Receptionist’s Desk.

At least that one eye looked alive and alert because the faces they were housed in were pale and all of the worker’s hands were twitching and shaking.

Delia decided right then and there she didn’t want to go back to L & M- all of those people looked like they already had one foot in the grave and she was afraid whatever they had might be something you could catch.

But first Delia had a job to do.

She went over to the receptionist’s desk where the clock was sitting and cleared her throat, ” Package for you. “

Alstona looked up and reached for small box a in Delia’s hand.

” So that’s the clock. ” Delia said.

” That’s the clock. “

” So, if you’re sitting there how come they….” Delia pointed to the rows of desks behind Alstona ” race to wind it up?  Why don’t you do it yourself?”

Someone said from the back of the office, ” because she doesn’t care anymore…she wants the world to end.”

From a little closer to where Delia and Alstona were another voice said, ” she’s nuts “

And everyone agreed.

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Delia never actually saw the L & M people racing to the clock but on some days she thought they looked more nervous and pale then on other days and she figured that must have been at about the time the clock was probably starting to wind down.

Then one day, even though she had nothing to drop off and no one had called in a pickup Delia went into the Office.

” Nothing to pick up? ” she asked Alstona.

” No. ” the Receptionist said.

Delia didn’t want to leave and she didn’t want to be there but for several nights Delia would wake up to the sound of ticking and she’d have to bite down hard on her lip to keep from screaming out loud.

So she decided to get this over with.

” It’s a joke…right? ” Delia asked.

” It certainly is ” a woman who sat directly behind Alstona said. She had heavy dark circles under her eyes and her blouse was inside out. ” It’s the funniest joke anyone could have ever come up with and I’m sick to death of it.”

Then a man said, ” I say we let it go…we just let go.”

Alstona turned around and she said, ” didn’t I say it would come to this?”

The six staffers nodded and Alstona looked up at Delia and nodded, ” it’s a joke and I’m going to end it. “

Then Alstona reached over picked up the clock and smashed it against her desk over and over until her hands were cut and bleeding and the clock was mashed flat.

” It’s over, right? ” Delia asked. ” The joke is over. “

Alstona said quiet as a Cemetery at Midnight, ” it certainly is.”

Outside a dark cloud crossed in front of the Sun then the ground shook just a little…

And that was

The End

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The Ghost

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This morning I walked two miles to a meeting – two miles on a route where I had to watch out for myself because on this route no one in a car or a truck or a train ever really sees pedestrians making their way from one side of the street to the other.

Then why take that walk?

Because this morning I went looking for ghosts.

The buildings here are old. The sidewalks and roads are breaking apart in some places and just below the surface in other spots you can see the bricks- red and rust colored – that once paved all of the roads down here. They’re still down there under all of that gray…buried alive years and years ago.

On some of the streets I crossed over I saw old railroad tracks that run for a few feet and in some places and  half a block in others.

Now instead of going somewhere else the tracks disappear into the sides of new buildings with names instead of numbers and electronic locks securing their doors instead of padlocks and chains.

I’m drawn to those deadlines and when I was young I used to have nightmares about lost trains and the dead people who still rode them.

I drifted by rows of small tool and cabinet supply stores- the type of stores that contractors and builders go to where the inventory is stocked in boxes instead of shelves and there are clocks with faces on the walls instead of digital clocks on desks.

These buildings have picture windows that face a hillside that was once covered with trees and now face a freeway.

Some of the small stores still have black and white tiled floors or fancy  carvings above their doorways that tell me once long ago maybe ladies bought hats here and maybe a druggist mixed and dispensed his medicines over there and sold penny candies to the kids who once long ago went to school in a building whose foundation is buried under a parking garage.

This place must be full of ghosts I thought- how could I not find one?

It was a lonely and quiet walk and at the end of it I guessed I hadn’t seen any ghosts or caught the echoes from the long gone sawmill that shaped the roads and buildings that are here now.

Even though it was sad was a sad and uneventful walk I’d decided  I’ll take again.

And then as I went by the last empty building, just before I went into the warehouse under the bridge I realized as I caught sight of my pale almost transparent reflection in a dusty window of a closed down store…I may not have seen any ghosts…

but I did learn something

Now I think I know what it feels like to be one.

A Christmas Tale For Eventide

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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 out on to the observation deck and 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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