Category Archives: Unexplained Phenomenon

Oh! No! A Murder of Crows!!

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“Oh! No! A Murder of Crows”

A flock, a flight, a ‘murder of crows’,

Which word to use?

I’m in the throes!

~ ~ ~ ~

I am both terrified and fascinated by crows, and even used a particular ‘murder of crows’ in my latest novel, “Ghosts of White Raven Estate”.

Ghosts of White Raven Estate ~ Available where eBooks and paperbacks are Sold!

Ghosts of White Raven Estate ~ Available where eBooks and paperbacks are Sold!

Yes! That’s what a flock of crows are called, you know . . . a “murder”. But why?

I recently looked up the etymology of “murder of crows” and learned the term is used primarily by writers and poets (not scientists and/or botanists).

According to zBeckabee who posts on FunTrivia, The term “murder” was used to describe a flock of crows as far back as the 15th century, as published by the Oxford English Dictionary. (Here’s a spine-chilling version from 1475: “A morther of crowys.”)

The OED suggests this is an allusion to “the crow’s traditional association with violent death” or “its harsh and raucous cry.” If you’ve ever heard dozens of agitated crows in full cry, it really does sound as if they’re yelling bloody murder.

This usage, which apparently died out after the 1400s, was revived in the 20th century. The first modern citation in the OED comes from 1939, but the usage was undoubtedly popularized by its appearance in An Exaltation of Larks (1968), a compendium of “nouns of multitude” by James Lipton.” ###

Of course Edgar Allen Poe (the poet in residence of my ancestral hometown (Baltimore) uses crows in metaphors, as tormentors, and certainly as messengers; Alfred Hitchcock (my Fave author) uses crows.  And who doesn’t delight in the writing of Joyce Carol Oates and particularly her “Mudgirl Saved by the King of Crows“.

And, let’s not overlook crows at the box office. Oh! Yikes!! Crows don’t seem to fare well on the big screen if 2013 “Wrath of the Crows” directed by Ivan Zuccon is any indication http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2070897/.

But enough about Ivan, more about . . . me!

Let’s take a read of how I used crows to torment-the-tormenter in my latest novel: From “Ghosts of White Raven Estate” this is our beloved anti-hero Father Vivenzio scrapping with the messengers of doom in my novel:

“His breathing quickened; he cautioned himself to not appear fearful. Don’t look over. Don’t look over. A lone howl, long and mournful, emanated from the shadows of the pine grove near the back of the graveyard. The exact source of the howling could not be determined.

The priest clutched at his robes and reached into his pocket for his handkerchief. He mopped his brow, patting the beads of sweat from his forehead. The New Orleans heat had been unbearable when he left the rectory that morning. But now, without the protection of his three-cornered hat, the crows might be attracted to the top of his shiny, baldhead, he imagined.

He scurried along Washington Avenue from St. Charles Avenue to Prytania Street. “How could any family live across the street from a cemetery? Even if it is their own cemetery?” Two hundred years of history. What secrets are enfolded in the history of the Calais family? He admonished himself for his uncharitable thoughts and shrunk down into his collar as a raven cackled in the distance. He did not feel inclined to run from the pack of dogs or cower from the crows and ravens cawing their contempt. This damned heat!

“What the . . .?” Father Vivenzio uttered stopping in his tracks. His eyes caught something strange attached to the cemetery’s wrought-iron fence. Something hanging on the gate up ahead? He stared at the object as he approached, trying to figure out what was hanging on the black iron bars. The object grew more distinct as he advanced. The realization of what it was struck him like a bolt of lightning.

” [Dear Reader: It’s a voodoo doll that has been left for the Good Father to find.]

What does happen to Father Vivenzio is revealed at the end – last chapter – no spoilers here.

But, aren’t you marvelously merry that you did the click! click! on “A Murder of Crows”?

Leave your “Hello” in the comments ~ I love having visitors!

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Amy Tan Thinks About #Death . . . Daily ~ Do You??

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In a recently broadcast public television production titled, “Boomers” celebrity novelist Amy Tan revealed that she thinks about Death “daily”.

Having lost her heroic father during WWII, Tan was raised by an overly stern mother with whom, as she tells it, “she had a close but volatile relationship  . . .  When Tan was 16, [her mother] held a meat cleaver to Amy’s throat and threatened to kill her in an argument over Tan’s new boyfriend.  Following this dose of ‘Mommy Dearest’, the pair did not speak for a year.

And you?  Answer the poll and then, please Dear Reader, tell us what brings the thought of Death a’clawing to your sweet conscience?

“Ghost Chaser’s Daughter” where Coyotes Bay At a Blood Red Moon

~ Halloween 2014 ~

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UK: http://dld.bz/dxAxY

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My #Blog ~ Conjuring Demons and Beasts for #Halloween

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For decades I have followed, and been followed by, the Garden Variety ghost: The Residual, The Poltergeist, The Hat Man, The Shadow, Doppelgangers – you know — normal ghosts! If I ever think I might be leaving ‘someone’ out of the mix I refer to True Ghost Tales http://www.trueghosttales.com/types-hauntings.php

Although I was introduced to Demons and Beasts while living on Tucson’s Sonora Desert when I was six years old, I have absolutely, and resolutely, avoided thinking about these malevolent forces from The Dark Side knowing that a) Seeing is Believing; b) Quantum’s theory of “imagine your reality; and clichés of that ilk.

My rare run-ins and near misses have invariably been with the Red-Eyed Beast. My playmate in Tucson was Linda deSoto. We ran up and down the neighborhood streets of Tucson, Arizona with all of the other six-year olds, traded the happenings at our houses, and probably attended Brownie meetings together. All of how we occupied our time slips into the blur of the past except for one story that Linda told me, which began with the announcement, “You can’t come into our house. My mother says so.”

This made me sad, and then after she explained, and her edict then made me more scared than saddened. There was a Red Eyed Beast in the house. The Beast caused the eyes of the photograph of the Virgin Mary that hung in the deSoto’s living room to glow red at night. Linda’s sixteen-year old cousin had witnessed the embodiment of The Beast and the priest had been called to exorcise the house.

For the next few weeks the Red-Eyed Beast was all I imagined. Its hooves. Its horns. Its hot acrid breath on one’s face, staring at them as they slept. A year later, after I was visited by the ghost of my grandfather, ancestral visits began to fill my world. We moved to a new neighborhood and I concerned myself with my own family’s ‘skeletons in the closet’.

The Ghost Chaser's Daughter -- available everywhere books are sold!!

The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter — available everywhere books are sold!!

It wasn’t until fifty years later, and after I enjoyed my first Amazon Best Seller that one of my readers approached me with her own Red-Eyed Beast story (The Red Eyed Beast of Bodie).

This is a small excerpt of how the Beast of Bodie came about in real life:

As the Sheriff moved to right his mother’s dining room chair, Ruth let out a piercing scream and bit down on her fist.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

She tasted blood. Did they see it? She pointed and Samuel gaped. She raised her arm, jabbing with her finger toward the threshold of the parlor – turned infirmary. There, pacing back and forth, between her and her husband, was a foul-smelling animal.

“Jesus Christ! What is that?” screamed Michael as he scrambled to scoot his chair backwards.

It hissed at Michael, and then turned its red eyes on Ruth.

“What the f**k!”

“Andrew!” Samuel admonished, as he rose very slowly, gauging the . . . the. . .

“Is it a black raccoon? The stench is killing me.”

It hissed again, and opened its mouth exposing razor sharp teeth. Glistening spittle hung from its jaw.

“It’s a wolf. . .or rather . . . a coyote!” Whatever it was it paced a line between them and the nearly departed. It lowered its head sniffing the ground, seemingly daring someone to challenge it.

Ruth wailed, “Oh My God! It’s drawing a line between me and my own husband.” Her breath now came in short, sudden gasps. What if that wild animal turned on Douglas! Is it a black raccoon?

“Samuel, Dear God! How did it get in here?” It was a raccoon, wasn’t it? The creature turned a belligerent stare at Samuel. Then, it moved its head in a circular motion, gnashing sharp fangs. It hissed at the Sheriff before staining the polished floor with snot. Its red eyes flashed in the candle light.

“No, it’s not a raccoon! It’s a God-damned reptile! Look at its tail!” Andrew screamed shrilly as he picked up his dinner knife – and held it as though ready to make a stab at the wolf-like beast.

“For Christ’s sake, Andrew. Pardon me, again, Ma. It’s got a wiry black coat!”

Eyeing the diners, the beast turned in a circle. If it were a Collie, or a Labrador, one might imagine it was about to bed down. But it wasn’t – and – it didn’t.

Ruth pleaded, “Samuel, please! Do something! It’s right next to your father!” as her son responded by unclipping the strap of his holster.

“I’ll take care of it, Mother. You and Malika get into the kitchen! Just back away slowly!”

At that instant, the beast bayed loudly. Douglas stirred.

Michael and Andrew traded looks.

“Samuel, I’m saying it’s not a reptile, in spite of its tail. Look down! It’s got hooves, for Christ’s sake,” screamed Michael.

“Michael, try to be calm.” Samuel directed. “Everybody be calm while I get it out of here or blow it away!”

As the beast paced, its hooves clattered on the bare wood floor. It hissed at the family.   Venom sprayed toward Michael, who held his hands up to protect his face. One of the three candles sparked, flared, and died.

Darkness loomed closer. 

~ ~ ~ ~

But what of Demons? The succubus and incubus (and Oh! So! much more) of The Underworld? Liza Phoenix does a wonderful job of categorizing the various Demons for us on her website http://www.lizaphoenix.com/encyclopedia/demons.shtml

But my curiosity about Demons tends toward ZoZo – the Demon of the Ouija world. You’ve experienced the demonic power of ZoZo, have you not? If not – be forewarned by reading about this malevolent force on Ghost Theory: http://www.ghosttheory.com/2011/08/25/what-is-zozo

Two encounters with ZoZo when I was a teen-ager asking Ouija to part the curtain to show me my Fate that convinced me what a ninety-six pound weakling I was when it came to the forces of Malovolence pacing on the Other Side of The Grave.

What about you? “Game” for a little playing with fire? Do YOU conjure Beasts and Demons? Do let us know!!

 

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#Free Read for #Halloween Season ~ The Red-Eyed Beast of Bodie

On Amazon in the "Ghost Chaser's Daughter" collection.

On Amazon in the “Ghost Chaser’s Daughter” collection.

 

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And my ghost stories at  . . .  The Ghost Chaser’s Daughter 

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Ghost Stories And Tales of Terror

By Emily Hill ~ The Red-Eyed Beast of Bodie.

Bodie, California is a ramshackle ghost town of wooden buildings that lean toward each other; and dusty roads that warble into the unknown – the unknown world of tales of terror. The sparsely populated moonscape that is Bodie is replete with wide expanses of sagebrush-dotted land, coyotes that howl at a garish moon and disgruntled spirits that roam the night desert in search of a portal to the world of The Living.

I was wandering through an antique shop near Bodie a year ago, edging my way around and over, stacks of vintage magazines and equipment used for panning gold, Victorian style bassinettes, and over-sized pictures framed in ornate gold frames, heavy and overdone. A musky smell of objects long stored in the attics of the elderly hung in the air. Dust particles sparkled as they floated down shafts of bright sunlight coming through the stained glass windows of the shop. I found myself staring at a faded painting in a roughhewn frame – the type of painting that might fill the wall of a dining room of a turn-of-the century home. The subject of the painting was as interesting as it was disturbing. Cherubs dancing, as they curled lengths of ribbon around the ankles of devils – classic red devils with horns and hooved feet, waxed mustaches and tails. The scene took on an air of Spanish surrealism. And the story I was to hear was as bizarre as the painting that caught my attention.

The shopkeeper stood at my elbow, eager – it turned out – to share the tarnished history of the painting.

“Odd subject matter, isn’t it?” I solicited her opinion, curious about what she would offer.

“Yes, as odd as the story of how it came to be here.”

Are all writers naturally curious? I bit. “Really? Do tell!”

And she began. “Well, this is what I was told by Malika Browning’s granddaughter last year when she brought it in. Evidently it had been stored in the crawl space of her grandmother’s home for many years.”

Bodie had been a gold mining town during the California Gold Rush. The saloons were full, the dancing girls were generous with their charms, and the whiskey bit the lips of anyone who sampled. The cacophony of rinky dink player-pianos drifted out over the wooden buildings on Saturday nights and toward the home of Douglas and ­Ruth Browning. Mr. Browning was in the newspaper business. He and his wife settled in Bodie in 1859. It was back in 1919 when he lay dying that this incident occurred.

Douglas and Ruth’s son, Michael, was married to a Hungarian girl, Malika. Malika was superstitious and frequently sought out the advice of a Hungarian Shaman who lived on the other side of the rail tracks. She visited him against her husband’s wishes. That her father-in-law lay dying, rasping out his last breath, propped up on pillows on the day bed in the parlor was extremely upsetting to her. As her husband stroked his father’s silver hair and her mother-in-law cooed at the dying man, Malika decided that something must be done. So, she tiptoed around the house gathering candles and divining a plan.

That late afternoon as the sun fell toward the horizon, and the desert cooled, Malika’s brothers-in-law arrived – Andrew from Prescott, and Mathew from Phoenix. Andrew was an accountant – Mathew a Sheriff. Ruth and her sons took turns comforting each other and soothing Mr. Browning. He didn’t look good; his white hair matted, his skin molted. Mr. Browning’s eyes darted from one family member to the next, his eyes wide with the terror of knowing he was about to enter another realm. At each breath, the four family members braced themselves, waiting. But, Mr. Browning continued to breath

By early evening Malika began setting the dining room table. Surely they would all sit down and eat a proper meal, even if Douglas could not join them. But, what would compel her mother-in-law, husband, and the two brothers to leave the patriarch and have a meal together? Malika possibly recalled her own grandfather’s death and the rituals the shaman performed during the old man’s last days. And then, she knew what she must do.

She went into the big 1890s era kitchen and got out pots and pans. She stacked the china, and set the table with Mrs. Browning’s fine china. Malika also set out three white tapers, arranging the candles in a triangular pattern in the middle of the table. As she worked she cast worried looks over her shoulder, knew that death was creeping closer. Over the next hour, Malika hurried from kitchen to dining room, back and forth, busying herself setting out a very special meal.

It was a meal intended to fortify her in-laws for the days ahead. And, to whet Mr. Browning’s appetite, she encouraged the aroma of simmering bay leaves, onions, and veal. Malika chopped the veal and built a thick lamb stew one layer of fragrant ingredient at a time. Chop! Chop! Chop! Everyone in the house was taking notice, everyone.

Nightfall approached slowly and with it the unsettling rasp of Mr. Browning’s breathing. He remained alive – on this side of the living.

“Please, won’t you come to dinner?” Malika asked standing in the archway leading to the parlor. “We can gather as is the custom in my family,” she pleaded.

Ruth Browning patted her husband’s hand and placed it gently on his chest. The matriarch then led the way to the dining room. Her sons undoubtedly took turns to looking back, and cast furtive glances around the table. She sunk into her chair, facing Mr. Browning’s cot. She looked into the faces of each of her sons, before smiling at Malika. They began to pass around a basket of warm, yeast-fragrant bread.

Malika ladled the lamb stew, stirring up the onions and bay leaves, causing the paprika to swirl through the thick mixture. She handed the first serving to her mother-in-law.

“Thank you, dear. You’ve done a nice job. Even the candles are a nice touch.”

“Andrew, would you please light the candles?” And the youngest member of the family leaned over and held a match to each wick. The candles flared, and each flame burned strong and bright. Ruth watched in fascination as Malika bowed her head and began an incantation.

“What was that, Malika?” she asked.

“A prayer, taught to me by the Taltos. I prayed that the portal of the Upper World would open and Douglas’s journey would be made easier.”

“Oh, Malika…how sweet.”

Just then a bolt of lightning lit the desert floor creating an instant of daylight. Ruth yelped, and Mathew half-rose, reaching for his holster.

“It’s alright, Ma,” he said.

But it wasn’t. The fuses blew as a roll of thunder crept along the desert floor and approached the house. Then, the mourners were cast into sudden darkness – except for the illumination from three candles.

Ruth looked around the table at her family. How macabre. Her children’s profiles appeared grotesque to her. Each face was half lit by candle light and half cast in darkness – a contrast of good and evil – of heaven and hell – and so on.

Ruth Browning stood up, scraping her chair across the plank flooring, the leg of the chair caught in a groove. Then the chair clattered to the floor and the bereaved woman, soon to be widow, stumbled backward.

“Ma!”

But for the quick action of Mathew, she knew she would have taken a bad fall. Her oldest son had saved her.

“Thank you, Mathew. Michael, the fuse box. . .”

“Andrew, check on your father. It’s too dark. . .” Ruth peered at her husband who lay in the darkness of the parlor. Just beyond the glow of the three candles.

As the Sheriff moved to upright his mother’s dining room chair, Ruth let out a piercing scream.

She tasted blood as she bit down on her fist. Did they see it? She pointed and Mathew gaped. She realized that Andrew was staring at her instead of in the direction of her husband. She raised her arm, pointing to the threshold of the parlor – turned infirmary. There, pacing back and forth, between her and her husband, was a foul-smelling animal.

“Jesus Christ! What is that?” screamed Michael as he scrambled to scoot his chair backwards.

It hissed at Michael, and then turned its red eyes on Ruth.

“What the F**k!”

“Andrew!” Mathew admonished, as he rose very slowly, gauging the . . . the. . .

“Is it a black raccoon? The stench is killing me.”

It hissed again, and opened its mouth exposing razor sharp teeth. Glistening spittle hung from its jaw.

“It’s a wolf. . .or rather a coyote!” Whatever it was it paced a line between them and the nearly departed. It lowered its head sniffing the ground and seemed to be daring someone to challenge it.

Ruth wailed, “It’s drawing a line between me and my own husband.” Her breath came now in short, sudden gasps. But if that wild animal turned on Douglas. . .Is it a black raccoon?

“Mathew, dear God! How did it get in here?” It was a raccoon, wasn’t it? The creature turned a belligerent stare at Mathew. Then, it moved its head in a circular motion, gnashing sharp fangs before it hissed at the Sheriff staining the polished floor with snot. Its red eyes flashed in the candle light.

“No, it’s not a raccoon! It’s a God-damned reptile! Look at its tail!” Andrew screamed shrilly as he picked up his dinner knife – and held it as though ready to make a stab at the wolf-like beast.

“For F**k’s sake, Andrew. Pardon me, again, Ma. It’s got a wiry black coat!”

Eyeing the diners, whose meal it was interrupting, the beast turned in a circle. If it were a Collie, or a Labrador, one might imagine it was about to bed down. But it wasn’t – and – it didn’t.

“Mathew, please! Do something! It’s right next to your father!” Ruth pleaded with her son who responded by unclipping the strap of his holster.

“I’ll take care of it, Mother. You and Malika get into the kitchen! Just back away slowly!”

At that instant, the beast began to bay loudly. Of course it would disturb Douglas. It was obvious its intention was to upset everyone – including Mathew.

Ruth noticed Michael and Andrew trade looks.

“Mathew, I’m saying it’s not a reptile, in spite of its tail. Look down! It’s got hooves, for Christ’s sake,” observed Michael.

“Michael, be calm. Everybody be calm while I get it out of here or blow it away!”

As the beast continued patrolling, its hooves clattered on the bare wood floor. Once again it hissed at the family, this time causing venom to spray toward Michael, who held his hands up to protect his face. It seemed to be claiming the territory between Ruth and her husband. The fiend was winning. One of the candles sparked, flared, and went out, catching everyone’s attention. Darkness loomed closer.

Mr. Browning continued to take tiny breaths, the shallowest breathing possible for a living soul. Ruth wiped her nose on an apron in the kitchen and clutched at Malika, “What is it? Get it out of my house before it hurts Douglas,” she begged Mathew.

Malika cried out, “Ördög!” “Édes Istenem” Dear God, indeed! The evil Ördög is causing a visitation on my husband’s father who was suffering so much – but why?

Everyone turned. They stared at Malika.

The creature bayed, answering Malika’s prayer.

“Malika! What in hell are you God-damned chanting?” Michael demanded.

“Please, let’s not be cross with each other, children,” Ruth pleaded afraid of anything that would distract them from the stench-laden creature that was taunting them.

“It’s evil, from the Under World,” Malika was sobbing, her face contorted.

“It’s a god-damned racoon and I’m going to shoot it!” answered the Sheriff.

“Mathew! Are you nuts? You’re going to shoot that thing in mom’s house with dad laying there on his death bed?” Mr. Browning stirred.

The beast snarled, and the Sheriff backed away. As it became more excited, the devil-being emitted the smell of rotting meat. Andrew gagged and backed into the kitchen away from the sickening odor.. Then, a second candle flickered, no flare this time, it simply fizzled out. One candle remained as the family’s sole beacon. Mr. Browning now lay in complete darkness. The only indication of his waning life was the rasp of shallow breathing, somewhere beyond the meager light.

“Mother, where are the fuses? Michael asked. “This candle won’t last long and then we’ll be in the dark with this thing!”

Ruth began sobbing as the reality sunk in. Malika stood to the side biting her nails.

“I don’t know, for God’s sake. Your father would. . .know. . .” her voice trailing.

“Michael! Move to the kitchen with the rest! I’ll hold off this thing while you fix the fuse box,” instructed the Sheriff. Michael moved away from the dining room table and skittered into the kitchen.

Ruth shifted from watching Michael rummage frantically through drawers and cabinets to hoping that Mathew would not be forced fire the gun so close to her husband.

“I trust your judgment, Mathew,” she whispered as she coaxed Andrew away from the sink where he had just finished vomiting. She wrapped her arm around his shoulders.

“The fuses have to be somewhere close. . .logical,” Michael offered weakly looking over his shoulder toward the thing. It wasn’t coming closer, was it?

The Sheriff put his hand on his gun, but kept the weapon holstered.

“Michael, I’m sorry. I was praying, but I don’t know. . .” Malika offered.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“The shaman, the prayers we would recite…in. . .my father’s country.”

The last candle sputtered, as if joining in the conversation. And, then, it slowly dimmed, and went out. The family was left in total darkness with the Sheriff stumbling around the dining room table in the direction of the pacing beast.

“Son of a bitch!” he tripped on an over turned chair. The rest of the family cowered in the kitchen. No one rushed to his rescue. He, after all, was the one in possession of the gun.

In the absolute pitch black, the only illumination came from the angry, possessive red eyes of the monster. No one dared let it out of their sight. Then, in the pitch black, the eyes began to rise. The beast was levitating.

“Douglas!” Mrs. Browning screamed for her husband’s safety. Malika wailed.

“Jesus Christ!” It was too dark to determine who had uttered the epitaph.

“Please, pray everyone. Please,” Malika begged her relatives.

The creature’s eyes glowed like embers, hot, angry, coal-burning eyes, wanting to claim its prize. The Sheriff fumbled for the serrated bread knife and swiped the air toward the foul monstrous being. Nothing. He hadn’t stuck a blow at all. It was too dark – his depth perception was non-existent in the blackness. Something slapped against his face – in the dark. Bristles. His face stung, blood was drawn. The Sheriff turned to his right. Two angry red eyes floated directly in front of his face, he stumbled backward away from the rotting stink of death. He swiped the air again. The creature moved back, drawing the Sheriff further into the living room.

Moving around his father’s sick bed, the loyal son stabbed the air, again hitting nothing. The ferocious red-eyed beast swirled in front of him, emitting a piercing, mocking squeal.

Ruth screamed, and Malika cried even harder, covering her ears. The Sheriff imagined Andrew untangling from his mother’s grasp and sinking into a chair at the kitchen dinette.

“Andrew, where are you?” he hissed, impatiently.

“Over here! Just kill it, or something!”

There was frantic shuffling in the kitchen, drawers opening and shutting. The Sheriff couldn’t really concentrate on that now. He couldn’t take his eyes off of this, this – no longer did anyone believe that it was a raccoon. Something stepped on his foot, something possessing the weight of a horse, crushing it painfully. But it seemed that the beast was across the room. What pit full of imps had invaded the sanctity of his parents’ home?

Not sure whether he was backing this evil into the corner or being led to its lair, the Sheriff hoped for the former. And hope caught up with him just as the fuse box door slammed shut, and that tinny metallic sound reverberated through the house. Suddenly the lights came back on.

The Sheriff was blinded by the sudden glare and stumbled backward. There were no glowering red eyes floating before him. He spun around full circle just to make sure. His eyes passed over his father who lay perfectly still; his mouth gaping open, his wide eyes blind to the deep crevasse of death he had fallen into.

“Is it gone, Mathew?” Ruth whimpered.

“I don’t know.”

Her nerves shredded, she leaned on Michael and made her way back toward the brightly lit parlor to stand beside Mathew. There was a rustling sound from under the coffee table. She grabbed Mathew’s arm, and flinched.

The mother and her two older sons stared in disbelief as the bristled beast skittered across the parlor, suddenly on the move. It began dodging furniture and scattering the throw rugs. They trembled in horror as the shadowy creature scampered over the back of the sofa, clawing its way forward. It vanished into the landscape of the painting that I was now standing in front of.

Unless the shopkeeper has sold the painting that was removed from the home of Ruth and Douglas Browning I’m sure that it remains right where I saw it; in the antique store to the east of Bodie, California – a virtual ghost town. # # #

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Why Do Creepy Dolls Scare Us So Much? A Reunion (with Death) Maybe??

 

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As All Hallow’s Eve creeps closer, and the winds begin to howl, whistle, and moan we look at the traditions of Halloween with a shudder – but still fascinated, all the same.

 

My short, sinister story, “Dolls Watching” tells a tale of reunion – between college girlfriends, the present  and the past — and destiny.

Antique dolls arranged on the guest bed of protagonist, Cassandra, bear witness to the horrors of daily life in a desert ranch house that had been deserted after the tragedy of death.

Clocks tick, tock – tick tock – away the time waiting for the one person who has lived close enough to the other side of the grave to still have the ability to see . . . into the past.

And isn’t that what we expect of those creepy dolls that claw at our attention this time of year? Don’t they speak to us from their cracked porcelain faces and stained couture that spell out the ravages of time?

Wiki explains that, “Dolls have traditionally been used in magic and religious rituals throughout the world, and traditional dolls made of materials like clay and wood are found in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe.” Indeed! Some sources even go on to explain that dolls were originally used as Spirit Containers for the deceased. You’re an Egyptian maiden who wants her mother around for all eternity? Have your artisans fashion a clay likeness, conjure her spirit – and Voila! (well, maybe “Voila!” is not the appropriate Egyptian exclamation – but you get my drift.)

Have YOU been stricken, smitten, or out-smarted by a creepy doll? Oh, do tell!! We’ve circled our chairs and are waiting for you to tell us ALL about it.

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My #Blog “Spirit Writing” and Psychography

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Instructions:

Place yourself in a near-meditative state so that you can commune with the Spirits in the evening before bedtime;

Speak with them about how you are laying out a pen and paper for their use;

Summon them into your space in a warm and reassuring manner;

Leave a light on when you retire for the evening – one that will provide a soft welcoming glow

In the morning, if you are most fortunate, you will have waiting for you a written message from The Other Side.

– – – –

Instructions:

Create a soothing atmosphere in your home, or in your room for this exercise.  I suggest soft lights, ethereal music, and symbolic objects.

(In my bedroom, beside my bed, I have Day of The Dead wall hangings.  My bedroom is always prepared in case “Someone” wants to step over.)

In my bedroom I have Day of The Dead icons to welcome The Spirits.

In my bedroom I have Day of The Dead icons to welcome The Spirits.

While sitting comfortably at a writing table with a pen and sheet of paper in front of you summon to your conscious mind The Spirit World while in a near-meditative state.

Do not pick up the pen until you are summoned by sheer will to do so. The ‘overwhelm’ of this supernatural occurrence may take several sessions – relax and wait for your Visitor to arrive.

Although it may take several attempts on your part until your Spirit finally finds the courage to step into your realm The Spirits will begin the long journey back in order to tell their stories – by your hand.

They will compel your hand forward, writing their life story, their fears, and maybe even their frustrations of not being able to move through their “chained to Earth” state to the Greater Beyond.

– – – –

The first published account of Spirit Writing, or psychography is a reference to this supernatural phenom by Hyppolyte Taine in 1878.  During the height of the Age of Spiritualism the French skeptic makes reference in the 3rd edition of his “De I’intelligence”.  Not much to go on until the dramatic accounts of Fernando Pessoa who murmurs to his companions that “he felt owned by something else” when his fountain pen would scrawl words across a parchment.  These occurrences of the Portuguese poet took place between 1912 – 1914.

The Spirit Writing of Pessoa. Courtesy of Wiki.

The Spirit Writing of Pessoa. Courtesy of Wiki.

 

In thinking back over my own writing I often feel a sense of having the words placed at my fingertips as I type. Most particularly this phenomenon overtook me when I was writing of the relationship between two sisters – ancestral aunts of mine – in my novel, “The Jenkins of Baltimore”.  What is noteworthy about these two sisters is that, as I typed their story between the hours of midnight and 3 AM, I could quite distinctly hear the dialogue between them in the “authentic period” style of the 1820s.  Most curious is that the two sisters – who each married brothers in the Baltimore Jenkins clan – died in childbirth less than 24 hours of each other. The obituaries in the novel that marks their lives are the authentic obituaries published in 1826:

[Page 65] “ . . . The tears came later.

OBITUARY

Baltimore Gentlewoman Mourned by Family

Anne Marie Wells, consort and muse of William Valentine Jenkins,

Died the 25th instant February;

Leaving one daughter and ten sons motherless.

Known for her beauty, kindness and gaiety this pious woman has departed, at a most vulnerable moment, immediately following the birth of her eleventh child—a son. Gone from those who will love her eternally; Her disconsolate husband mourns bitterly his fate and seeks solace in his family, the kindness of his community, and the wisdom of the Almighty while attempting to understand the cruelty of this most unjust misfortune.

– Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser, February 28, 1826

~*~

OBITUARY

Complications from Childbirth

On the 27th Instant of February in her 28th year, Harriet Wells,

Wife of Mr. Frederick Jenkins

Unexpectedly departed the loving arms of her family, to join her

Sister, Anne Marie, in Heaven.

We forever struggle to understand the mysteries of the Lord,

As Two families face a dark future as a second Wells’ Daughter,

Wife and Mother enter the Kingdom of Heaven in the same week.

These two lovely women leave behind thirteen children, and now

Two devout families must now make the journey through

Life without the calming serenity of a Mothers’ gaze.

~ Baltimore Patriot, March 02, 1826

~*~

The Jenkins of Baltimore. Not an account of supernatural occurrences; but written from the benefit of Spirit Writing.

The Jenkins of Baltimore. Not an account of supernatural occurrences; but written from the benefit of Spirit Writing.

My words in “The Jenkins of Baltimore” are no more than my ancestors coming back to tell me of their vivid experiences.

And, in some ways, that is the reason that I write of the supernatural – to reach into The Beyond to commune with . . . . The Dead.

 

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This Is Not a #Ghost Story ~ Or Is it?

I have invited Nicki Chen, a good friend, and talented writer, to guest blog today.  Nicki blogs at “Nicki Chen Behind The Story” here on WordPress.

Nicki’s debut novel, Tiger Tail Soup, pays tribute to her husband’s Chinese heritage.  The novel’s beautiful design is inspired by Nicki who is an artist, as well as an author. Tiger Tail Soup is available now on Amazon in paperback.

Unsettled Spirits? The ghosts of war? Here’s Nicki’s story, “This is Not a Ghost Story”

~ ~ ~ ~

“When war invades a country and many people die before their time, ghost stories multiply. They become part of the landscape. So it was inevitable that in my novel, Tiger Tail Soup, I would mention ghosts. They’re not a big part of the story, but I couldn’t avoid them. The unsettled spirits of those who died too soon were just one more thing my characters had to contend with.

I personally have never seen a ghost or received messages from beyond the grave. But, yes, I have experienced something not easily explained by the ordinary laws of science.

We were living in the Philippines when it started. It was 1976, before email and Facebook and cheap long distance calls. So I kept in touch with my parents who were in the United States by mail, one letter every week.

One evening in April (It would have been daytime on the West Coast of the United States.) I was walking though the family room, feeling fine. The kids were in bed. My husband was in Mindanao on a business trip. Suddenly I wasn’t feeling fine. I was sure I was about to die and I didn’t know why. I couldn’t breathe properly. My chest hurt. I couldn’t think straight.

A few minutes later, the phone rang. It was my husband, calling from Mindanao. I couldn’t concentrate as he talked about his work and his travel plans.

“Can’t you come home?” I asked, interrupting. I knew he couldn’t. I’d never asked anything like that before.

For the next three months the anxiety attacks continued. They were always with me, rising and falling, striking hard without reason. I got a prescription, which helped … a little.

Then it was time for our home leave. My husband, our three daughters and I flew to Seattle. When our plane arrived, we were expecting my parents to meet us at the airport. Instead, my aunt and uncle were there, waiting for us beyond immigration and customs. “Your mom and dad couldn’t come,” Uncle Joe said, grabbing a suitcase. He didn’t tell us the rest of the story until we were all in the car.

My aunt finally broke the news. My dad had lung cancer. He’d been diagnosed three months earlier, at about the same time I’d started having anxiety attacks. Mom hadn’t said a word in her letters. She didn’t want to worry us.

I stayed on in Seattle for a while after my husband and children left. I cooked and took walks and accompanied my parents to doctors’ appointments. All the while I continued to be plagued by anxiety attacks, now with good reason.

After a few months back in the Philippines, I received a call from Uncle Joe. “The doctor says you should come back,” he said. I knew what that meant.

On the plane, I felt the same ever-present anxiety I’d been experiencing since that evening in April and the constant pressure to keep it under control and avoid a full-blown anxiety attack.

But then, a couple hours before we landed in Seattle, it left me. Completely disappeared.

When I saw Uncle Joe at the airport, I knew what he was going to say before he opened his mouth. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, giving me a hug. “Your dad died just a couple of hours ago.”

Do you have any ghost stories or tales of the unexplained? If so, leave your message for Nicki and me here and follow this blog.

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The #Voodoo Queen’s Shanty ~ ~ ~ Come for A Visit, Stay for A Lifetime

Book Trailer Release!

 

On the edge of the swamps lives the Widow Paris, Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. A blue-eyed slave of White Raven Estate, Jasmine le Calais, must brave the swamp after the Hourfor to retrieve her daughter from the clutches of Widow Paris. The Caribbean drums have quieted for the night and mist hangs in the humid air.

As Jasmine, terrified, creeps closer to the Voodoo Queen’s shanty something rustles in the saw grass!

Is it an alligator — or the legendary yellow-eyed swamp monster, Loup Garou?

~ ~ ~ ~

(an excerpt from Chapter 7 – Jasmine Visits the Voodoo Queen)

From the depths of the swamp  the hoot of an owl announced her journey. She held her breath. It hooted again, calling out from the spooky depths of the pine woods. The warning traveled deep into the swamps and was mimicked by other owls. It was a different noise that caught Jasmine’s attention—the slap of a paddle out on the water. She stood perfectly still and turned her eyes to the gloomy waterline. She stopped breathing and listened. Silence all of a sudden, complete silence; no katydids chirping, no drone from the cicadas. The only sound Jasmine heard was the deafening roar in her ears. Her heart pounded, her throat constricted to the point where a scream would not have been possible. She wanted the sound to be a paddle hitting the water, but she involuntarily whispered, “Loup Garou.” Even better it be a swamp witch than the beast, Loup Garou. Jasmine’s eyes darted from right to left. Please! Please don’t hurt me! Stone cold silence prevailed. Torturous nothing. She stood waiting to be torn apart by Loup Garou, trying desperately to push out of her mind the vision of the beast with its sharp fangs and its glowering yellow eyes. If attacked she hoped she would die in the first swipe of the creature’s talons. I’m going to die, she whimpered. Damn Zömbi for not bringing Josie back to me so we could get on our way back to Corbeau Blanc.

If the angry swamp monster was going to pounce, with drool hanging from sharp fangs she wanted her death to be instant. She imagined its yellow eyes burning into her skin as it fixed on her—and her fear. She waited, crouching, and listening.

~ ~ ~ ~

#Ghosts of White Raven Estate.
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Numerical #Intuition: Our Brain “Knows” More Than We Think

11:11 – Hey! There it is again! Whether it’s coming up on noon; or I wake up “in the middle of the night” the digital clock is taunting eerily, 11:11. For a friend of mine, in the waning months of 2001, it was 9:11 – a significant number of times she would glance at the clock, whiling away the hours that seemed to stand still after September 11th and her digital clock would read 9:11. She was stuck in the realm of reliving the terrorist attack on the United States by receiving signals-from-the-Universe that reinforced her thought/worry pattern.

I am a devotee of Kelly Howell who promotes the concept, “The Universal Mind”. That is, that the mind has the natural intuitive power to draw on universal forces [e.g. influences, trends, intuition] to assist us in the pursuit of our goals if we will only recognize and act on the intuitive messages that we receive.

The Universal Mind concept came to me originally while I was studying Kubler-Ross research in the 1970s. Dr. Kubler-Ross’ research centers on the spiritual and biological transitions of death. Her research was dependent (obviously) on individuals who died – clinically – and then came back to tell about their “returning to life” experience. She noted in her book, On Death and Dying, that upon death, “return-to-life” individuals experienced a floating above themselves’ phenomenon that allowed them to visually view and process ‘the setting and circumstance’ of their own death – floating above the scene as a clinical observer. (See the article referenced, “Out of Body” at the end of this blog entry.)

As these individuals progressed toward the finality of death they observed things about them from a telescoping-type process. First they noticed the immediate scene; then the roof of the house/hospital/street at which their death had taken place; some progressed all the way to a celestial night sky from which they observed Earth before being called back to resume their Earthly lives.

Kubler-Ross, and scientists who ask questions related to, “What is death?” began to interview these “return-to-life” individuals and learned that – when quizzed about their surroundings – a death-victim’s (mind’s eye) was able to pinpoint certain incident landmarks such as the exact physical characteristics of late-to-the-scene highway clean up crews, if the person had died in a traffic accident.

Kelly Howell, my new meditation guru, would call this ability/phenom, drawing on “universal knowledge”. So back to the thesis of this week’s blog: Can our brain draw on “universal knowledge”, and how would that work?

To test this question (after it dawned on me that I was repeatedly looking at the clock at the moment of 11:11) I decided to silently, but wildly, congratulate myself if I looked at the clock and the numbers were arranged in sequential order. So – 4:56 worked; as did 1:23; and 12:34 – I even gave myself a spirited high-five if the numbers could be re-arranged into a sequential pattern: like, 3:42; but I was really looking for the “universe” to tell me to look at the clock in an ordered sequence.

What are the results after two months? A full eighty percent of the time when I impulsively look at the clock to check the time now — the numbers read sequentially. Does my brain “know” it’s time to look at the clock, and therefore gives me a signal? I believe so.

To push the envelope into full intuition I began paying close attention to all numbers that came at me during each day’s activities. Whether they came at me as grocery store prices, or telepathic signals. I began to only notice license plates numbered 987, and such. One day I looked at license plates with only THAT number sequence (frankly, that disturbed me.)

Then, an incident happened that prompted me to write this blog: Last week as I was climbing the stairs to bed the number “235” popped into my head – VERY, VERY prominently. At first I thought “2+3=5”. Then, I called out to my husband who was brushing his teeth, “Remember when there were 235 houses for sale all over California in the Sixties?” (because THAT was the only other connection to “235” that I could reference; and the signal “235” had grown so strong.

My husband’s mother, who had been ailing, died at 2:35 a.m. that next morning at the age of 88. She had a city-farm, with chickens, in “Pinko-Commie” Berkeley, California. In fact, her nickname was, “Pinkie”. She died on Earth Day. The importance of the ‘signal’ 2-3-5 came to me the next morning; but I had been unable to attach the appropriate significance when The Universe sent me the warning-message of her impending death.

~ ~ ~

Sources:

“Out of Body” University of Oxford Students: http://www.spiritscienceandmetaphysics.com/out-of-body-experiences-validated-by-scientific-study/

Scroll to: “Dictionary of Repeating Number Sequences” http://www.sacredscribes.net/angelnumbersequences.htm

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Emily Hill’s ghost stories and novels are available at the following websites:

Ghosts of White Raven Estate.

iBooks: http://dld.bz/cSu8G
USA/Kindle: http://dld.bz/djc7P
UK/Kindle: http://dld.bz/djc7Q
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Just In Time

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Brad Evanston craned his neck forward to peer over the hood of his black Packard as he drove the back road leading to campus. He was still chafing from his wife’s taunt that morning, “you’ve become an absent-minded professor,” over his misplaced umbrella and scuffle around the house for his briefcase. Maybe he did lose things, like his wallet last week, but her taunting was unfair and mean. He had skittered out of the house early so that he could arrive in plenty of time to prepare notes for his  8 a.m. music composition class – and escape her relentless harping.

The drive from home to campus usually took sixteen minutes. The remote stretch of road between his house and the campus gave Professor Evanston the time he needed to mentally plan his lecture, so he was assured that no car was approaching. It was 6:30 a.m. and an autumn chill hung in the air as leaves from the deep woods swirled through the air landing on his windshield. The last vestige of an autumn’s full moon stared down at Professor Evanston as the morning sun backed the full-plated orb into submission. Up ahead a tall dark-suited hulk lumbered along the road in the direction of the college.

“What, the hell?” Professor Evanston muttered aloud studying the figure ahead. He slowed his car, with a trace of worry about timeliness and classroom preparation lurking at the back of his mind.

As if on cue, the figure turned around to glance at the approaching car before continuing on, one foot planted tentatively in front of the other.

Evanston glimpsed into his rearview mirror and noted that there were no cars behind him. He saw only his own tire tracks stretching backward in distance and time and marring the frost-covered two-lane road. He slowed his car down to a crawl and guided his car toward the center of the road, giving the man wide berth.

The professor’s car was a length behind when suddenly the man stumbled in the uneven dirt and collapsed to one knee. Evanston stopped his car along side the pedestrian and set his hand brake, leaving the engine running. Exhaust from the tail pipe swirled and gathered, wafting toward the deep woods on either side of the road and creating a heavy white curtain behind the black sedan. His parking lights, glowing red through the exhaust would warn oncoming cars that he has stopped.

Glancing at his Bulova he noted the time as he pulled on the handle and threw his girth into opening the car door – 6:30 a.m. Drawing himself into a standing position, with foot planted firmly on the pavement he realized that the man, dressed in a black business suit, was doing the same. That is, the man was drawing himself into a standing position – from his stumble just moment before.

“Say! ‘Up kind of early for a stroll on this frosty morning aren’t you, buddy? I almost didn’t see you,” he hollered out, after leaning across to turn the crank on the passenger side window.

That was, of course, a lie – that he had almost not seen him.

The man looked sidelong at the professor as he struggled out of his genuflect. Evanston realized at that moment that he had encountered an older man, broad-shouldered and of generous bulk, though dressed in a nicely pressed black suit. Fascinated, he realized how similar the elderly gentleman’s attired was to his own.

Quickening his pace, he hurried to the old gentleman’s side and helped him into a standing position.

“Thanks, young fella,” were the first words spoken. And, finally the two men stood eye-to-eye staring into the other’s face.

Professor Evanston repeated his query, “Out for a stroll? Where’s your overcoat, my man?” He added ‘my man’ thinking it might sound jolly, less impatient. He felt that a certain decorum was necessary of one holding the status of professor.

His elderly encounter brushed himself off and peered curiously at Evanston, as though looking through a microscope at a caterpillar – or such. “Work. I’m going to work,” he replied.

Evanston guffawed. The elderly gent obviously hadn’t worked in years. Surely he was in his eighties. “Work, you say? I’m sure that’s not quite correct.”

“Home. I’m heading home,” the gentleman changed his mind.

“Ah, I see,” he responded noting the man’s thick black hair, streaked with threads of silver.

In pantomime the gentleman looked at Evanston’s hair and touched his own, possibly comparing it to the professor’s thick black mop, streaked with threads of silver.

“Well, it’s too chilly a morning to be out for a stroll without an overcoat. Let’s see if we can’t deposit you at your doorstep. Okay with you?”

The old man allowed himself to be led to the Packard where he settled himself in the professor’s passenger side front seat. Looking around the automobile’s interior he stated flatly, “Hmm . . . I used to have a car just like this. Back when I still drove.”

Evanston nodded an acknowledgement and hurried back to the driver’s side looking forward to the warmth of the car’s interior. He glanced at his watch, and tapped the crystal face. Hadn’t he wound it this morning? It had stopped at 6:30 a.m.

“Well, let’s see. Which house is yours?” Evanston asked, releasing the hand brake and glancing into the rear view mirror before his car began its slow roll forward. Still, no cars were approaching, and no cars appeared in the oncoming lane.

“It’s along this road,” His elderly companion motioned forward, waving his hand dismissively.

The car moved on, its high beams a beacon as time crept forward, away from the past. The seconds soon turned into long minutes as the professor’s thoughts returned to his students, and the academic progress of each. Not the curious sort, he was not wont toward idle chatter and the two men fell silent. He figured the old man would speak up to tell him which of the widely spaced homes were his.

“Just up a ways, you say?” he asked.

“No, back a ways.”

“We’re going in the wrong direction? Did I pass it?”

The elderly man pursed his lips and seemed to be thinking – as though trying to remember. Evanston pursed his lips and waited.

“I’m pretty sure it is in the other direction,” the man admitted.

His aggravation growing, Evanston blurted, “I don’t have much time, sir. Let’s take a look at your wallet, shall we? Your address will be in your wallet, won’t it?”

The old man fumbled for the worn leather folded into the inside pocket of his suit jacket and handed it over as the professor once again pulled the car to the side of the road. Evanston again glanced at his watch, winding it this time. “Damn!” he thought, realizing he had lost track of time completely. He students could be gathered in the music hall at that moment, waiting for him.

Accepting the wallet Evanston nodded at the man, whose languid eyes peered at him balefully from behind thick spectacles. Evanston identified with the old man’s failing eyesight, ruing that he also wore what his student’s jokingly referred to as “coke bottle” lenses.

He flipped the sojourner’s wallet open. The social security card was tattered and faded behind the yellowed sheath that contained it. Evanston held the wallet closer to the dome light of the car, not quite making out the name – or so he thought, shaking his head as if to clear it.

He flipped to the next item in the man’s wallet and felt the heat grow under his starched collar as, at the same moment, a wave of nausea hit him. His eyesight sharpened and his heart quickened as he stared at an old faculty card; much less worn than the social security card. In fact, it was clearly legible. The words lined up in bullet format neatly under the collegiate seal,

Broadview College

Music Department

Professor Bradley K. Evanston

Full-time Faculty

Bradley K. Evanston turned to face his future as an absent-minded professor — personified; at the same instant he heard the crisp tick of his watch take up its time-keep once more.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Emily Hill’s ghost stories and novels are available at the following websites:

Ghosts of White Raven Estate.
USA/Paperback: http://dld.bz/djc7K
USA/Kindle: http://dld.bz/djc7P
UK/Kindle: http://dld.bz/djc7Q
iBooks: http://dld.bz/cSu8G

 

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