Clouds

dark-cloud-1539729-1279x852

 

Billowy Billows
White Fluffy Pillows
Puffy or Flat
Misty Zeppelins
Blanketing Overhead

Cumulus's Fluff 
Can Make For Wet Weather
Nebulous's Haze 
Makes Visibility Vexing
Stratus's Layers 
Lay Near to the Earth 
Veteran Sailors
Give Nimbostratus Wide Berth

Cumulonimbus's High Thunderheads
Pay Homage to a Norse God
Whose Lightning Bolts 
Evoke Approbation
And Remaining Outdoors
Requires Grave Consideration

 

Terror-ific Tales


Happy Halloween! The most wonderful day of the year. It’s almost sad the Halloween season has come to an end. (Well, it doesn’t really have to end, does it? Some of us prefer to be delightfully frightful all the time.)

Started the afternoon with the original shock rocker, the wonderfully horrifying and deliciously frightening Mr. Alice Cooper on the iPod. So glad he’s still touring because maybe one day I’ll get to see him live. I’m keeping the nightmare alive.

Unfortunately, we’re confined to the hospital room today, but we’re satisfying the spirits with some Tim Burton classics and enjoying the decorations.

I’m working on another scary story to share tonight. You can read more about it here. (P.S. The frightful fun isn’t going to end just because Halloween has passed. I’m going to continue to share my own and accept your stories. >;8} )

But aside from sharing my scary stories with everyone, I’d like to share some unnerving Halloween entertainment with you. Some of my favorite books and haunting tales.

1) Anything by Poe. Really. Just anything. But if you’d like something more specific, some of my favorites:

– Premature Burial. I had this story on tape (yes, tape), and hearing it read was way more terrifying than reading it. This story is scary stuff.

– Masque of the Red Death. “There was much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust.” Enough said.

-The Tell Tale Heart. In case you’re not familiar with this story, it involves murder, severe anxiety, and pulling up a few floor boards.

-The Black Cat. One of my favorites as a kid. I’ve always loved cats. Apparently, Poe’s characters didn’t, but they loved walling or holing people inside of things.

-The Pit and the Pendulum. What’s scarier than the Spanish Inquisition?

-The Raven. A classic. Needs no explanation.

2) Stephen King. Same as Poe. Just about anything the King of Horror has produced will induce fear. But again, I’ll share some of my favorites.

-Salem’s Lot. What? Vampires are really nightmarish creatures that want you to die in a horrible manner or else turn you into a demon-like monster like themselves? No sparkles here. Scary as hell.

-Pet Sematary. If Fluffy or Boo Boo kicks the bucket, just let them go. Seriously. You don’t want to know the alternative.

-Misery. Because being a writer isn’t terrifying enough.

-Gerald’s Game. A good example of why bondage is not a good idea in a secluded setting.

-Night Shift. Collection of short stories including The Lawnmower Man, Jerusalem’s Lot, Trucks, and Children of the Corn.

I could go on forever . . . Or at least for several hours or maybe a day.

3) Samuel Taylor Coleridge

-The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. If you think this tale is just a bunch of hooey you learned in 12th grade lit class, think again. This poem involves sailors lost at sea, death, a curse, a ghostly vessel manned by a nightmarish woman (“Life-in-Death, was she”) and Death, and living corpses.

“They groaned, they stirred, they all uprose,
Nor spake, nor moved their eyes;
It had been strange, even in a dream,
To have seen those dead men rise.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

“The helmsman steered, the ship moved on;
Yet never a breeze up blew;
The mariners all ‘gan work the ropes,
Where they were wont to do;
They raised their limbs like lifeless tools –
We were a ghastly crew.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

4) Mary Shelley

-Frankenstein. I love this story. Forget everything you saw in a Universal Movie when you read it. It’s chilling, sinister, and moving.

There are so many more wonderfully chilling stories and novels available. This is a terribly short list. But it’s a start. Happy haunting boys and ghouls!

Grave Digger

The folks here call me Grave Digger.  I’ve been shoveling dirt here at St. Phillip’s for almost fifty years. Some of the folks here I know from town. Most of them I met after I started working here. It’s a good job. Pay’s decent. I don’t have a 401K or anything, but my work keeps me young. I get to work outside, and I get the holidays off.

I’ve learned a lot of history working here. Like, I know Count Franklin Schmidt IV founded this town in 1762. I know his son, Franklin Schmidt V, fought in the war of 1812. The countess was a real kind lady named Emeraldine-a very friendly sort. With his young wife, Louisa, Franklin Schmidt V had a son the couple named Bartholomew Alastair Conroy Schmidt.

After the war, Franklin Schmidt V took a government office, and when young Bart was old enough, Franklin offered him a position. But Bartholomew had a taste for the sea, and he took off with a merchant ship in the summer of 1845. Bart worked legitimately for a time, but just like too many men during his era, he discovered the real profit was in freebooting. He turned pirate somewhere around his thirty-eighth birthday. In the fall of 1862, Franklin Schmidt V, who was then nearing his eightieth year, watched his only son dangle from the hitch. Louisa, having succumbed to cholera in the spring of 1847, was spared the tragedy of losing her only child to the gallows. 

I learned a lot about other folks. Regular folks. Like Annie Fontenot, who moved here from Paris in 1880. Though popular among the men in this town, she never married. 

My old man’s pocket watch is ticking in my coat pocket, and I know it’s approaching the proverbial witching hour. 

“Got a cigarette, Grave Digger?” Comes a corroded voice through rotted vocal chords. I turn, and with a flick, I ignite my Zippo’s orange flame, illuminating my companion’s deteriorating visage. His empty eye-sockets, home to various pests, are fixed on my own eyes. He leans forward and lights his cigarette then returns to an upright position. Smoke wisps out of the head, the eyes and the center of the skull where a nose once was, resembling a skeleton incense burner. Insects scurry about, irritated by the intrusion of the smoke.

“You’re working late,” he observes. He straightens the sleeves of his threadbare dress coat and tosses the rope that hangs from his neck over his bony shoulder.

“I decided weren’t no reason to go home all by myself when I can stay and finish up this job,” I answer.

“Seems a man like you would want to rest his back,” says my companion, “seeing as it’s so crooked.” The fingers of his skeletal hand rattle as it slaps my wasted spine.

“I’m old, Bart, but I ain’t dead,” I say lighting my own cigarette.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asks, peevish. “Well,” he continues after a silence, “you’ll be dead in enough time, mate. Believe me.”

I smile. Headlights appear on the road in the distance.

“You think it’s a new resident?” Bart asks. 

“Nah,” I say. “They don’t bring them in this late.”

The headlights are stationary for a moment, and then make the inevitable turn all lost vehicles make when their drivers discover they’ve travelled too far down a dark unknown path. 

“Gone the wrong way, I figure. Don’t want to get lost on this route, eh?” Bart chuckles and tosses his cigarette into the open hole I’m digging. He looks at me. “That wasn’t disrespectful or nothing, was it? I don’t mean to disrespect the dead.” He howls with laughter, throwing his smooth, hairless skull back so far it seems it will break from the spine. The cranium appears luminescent from dew in the moonlight. I think of some folklore about crystal skulls. 

“I like you, George, old man,” he states, his voice reminds me of the groan of warped wooden ship bows that have been too long at sea. “I hope you don’t mind me leaving that cigarette.” I shake my head without responding. I know Bart’s incorrigible still and always will be. I watch as he ambles away. Another figure joins him, a petite frame swathed in a tattered crimson frock that sways with the motion of its wearer’s hips. 

Bart bows and addresses his escort, “Madame Betancourt.” She curtsies. Bart throws his bony arm across the lady’s shoulders. They stroll together along a well-traveled avenue among their now lively neighbors while I finish my cigarette. 

A Crow on the Thatch

As a writer, I let few things go unnoticed. Things that have little or no significance in real life may spark a certain interest in my mind. So when we were paid a visit by a certain individual of avian nature, I was quite taken with him.

It’s not the first time we’ve had this particular visitor. He came once before, cawing and pecking at the ledge, presumably trying to snatch up tiny insects scurrying there. He wasn’t coy about trying to get our attention. He was rather photogenic, too.

Now, as some of you may know, traditionally having a crow caw at the window of one’s sick room is not something you’d want. But I grew up on Poe and Hitchcock and King and all things delightfully frightful. I’m not superstitious, as a rule, and I had to capture this beautiful ebony bird. My  only regret is that I didn’t have a better camera.

I suppose he saw his reflection in the window as he scuttled back and forth on the ledge, peering into our window and the window of the room next door. I wasn’t perturbed by his presence, but he seemed to look at me-right at me-and so I said to him, “Your services are not needed here.” To which he cocked his little head and with a look of apparent understanding in his coal-black eye said, “Caw!” then flew away.