Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Chamber of Horrors and the Legend of the 6th Floor

What, now you all want a tour of the Sixth Floor? After that baloney down in the Morgue when you all tried to trample each other to death? I had visions of it on the evening news: Students perish in freak accident in a Morgue.

Well, forget it.

Oh, stop begging. But I mean it, the first one of you to turn tail and run winds up in a jar. Got it? Okay, then lets go.

As you can see the Sixth Floor was where the chapel was...well, actually where it is because as you see, everything is still here.

The altar and all of this artwork and effigies are from a church in the Carpathian Mountains once known as the Plague Church. Yes, that’s what it was called and if you think that’s strange takes a closer look at the effigies and the carvings on the altar.

Very good, I'm glad you noticed...none of the human figures have eyes.

Do you wonder what Delphine said, when she took her place at the altar and preached the Sunday sermon? I mean, what on earth there was to say to over 100 deeply psychotic and criminally insane individuals?

Perhaps Delphine answered that question all those years ago in her own special way.

In her logbooks she blocked this time off not as " Sunday Services " or " Church ". Nope, she wrote in " Alternative Therapy Session "

To answer your question, I'm not sure it one is because this wasn't the sort of place you were released from...ever. Delphine’ s Asylum wasn't a place you came to in order to be cured. No, you came here because you couldn't be cured.

Anyway, this is the legend of the 6th Floor.

Years after the Asylum was closed people insisted that the "Alternative Therapy Sessions" were still happening every Sunday evening, and if you were unlucky enough to be here when they started you would go mad.

You would become just as crazy as the ghosts that still haunt the Chapel.

They're supposed to be here still, sitting in the pews, waiting for their treatment.

Some are in straight jackets, or other types of restraints that were popular in those days. A few of the patients wear cages that fit over their heads and rest on their shoulders, some are brought in coffin like contraptions called ' Lunatic Boxes ' and others, the truly insane walked in and eagerly waited for " Church " to begin.

It's widely believed that Delphine’ s Congregation has actually grown over the years because sure as the Sun comes up each day one fool after another feels the need to bust into the school and come to the Plague Church and attend services with Delphine’ s Congregation of the Mad.

Once a group of girls dared their friend to come up here at sunset and sit in that front pew and wait for the Session to begin.

She was sitting right there when she heard the opening and closing of doors and feet shuffling along the corridor. At first she was positive it was her friends playing a joke on her. So she sat facing the altar and refused to turn around, she didn't want her friends to see how much they had frightened her.

Suddenly those heavy doors swung open with a hiss and a horrible stifling hot breeze rushed up the aisle. With it, as if it were woven into the heat, she could hear whispering and every once and awhile she caught a phrase or two and heard laughter and giggling.

Within minutes the entire Chapel was full.

So she wasn't surprised when someone sat next to her...because she was sure that the empty space to her right was the last empty space left in the entire chapel. To her credit she wasn't terribly startled when felt something encased in canvas and metal scrape then rest against her upper arm and shoulder.

She did however bite her lips so hard to keep from screaming they bled.

Suddenly the Chapel was quiet and the girl caught the heavy scent of lavender and heard the rustle of a skirt and heard the sound of light footsteps come up the aisle from behind her. From the corner of her eye she saw light gray fabric and a woman's hand adorned with small thin gold bands on all the fingers of her right hand.

The girl snapped her eyes shut... or really maybe that's when her mind snapped.

Alternative Therapy began.

So what happens when the doors suddenly swing open and the new convert emerges?

Go on, have a seat...I'd be glad to share what I learned that evening all those years ago with each and every one of you.

Okay, I meant what I in the sweater, come back here. I told you what I'd do to the first person that made a run for it.

I warned you all, didn’t?
© anita marie moscoso 2005-text

Wolf Wife

In the mountains of Auvergne, a story dating back to 1588 was told of a royal female werewolf. In the story the nobleman was gazing out of his window and upon seeing a hunter he knew asked the hunter to check with details of the hunt.

While in the forest, the hunter stumbled upon a wolf. In the ensuing struggle, he severed one of the wolf's paws and placed it in his pouch. Upon returning to the chateau with his gruesome prize, he opened the pouch to show the nobleman evidence of his encounter. What they discovered was not a paw at all, in fact, the pouch contained what looked to be a feminine hand bearing an elegant gold ring.

The nobleman recognised the ring and sent the hunter away. The nobleman then went looking for his wife. When he came upon her in the kitchen, he found her nursing a wounded arm. He removed the bandage only to find that her hand had been cut off. Upon questioning his wife she finally admitted to being the wolf the hunter had encountered in the forest and by her confession.

The nobleman could not believe what he was hearing, how could he have missed the signs that his wife was a wolf.
“How did you manage to hide his from me for so many years?” the shocked Nobleman said.
“It was not hard. I only turn in to a wolf when there is a full blue moon.”
“I was born half human and half wolf, when my mother was caring me inside of her, a wolf came up and bit her on the leg while she was collecting sticks for the fire and the venom only affected her un-born daughter (me)” the wife responed.
“How can we cure this?” the nobleman said with hope in his voice.
“DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND!” the wife screamed.
“Why can't you take me for who I am? There is no cure for this!”
“Why don’t you understand??!!” the upset wife replied.
The nobleman stormed out and left the wife standing there in the middle of the room not knowing what was going on.

The nobleman returned many hours later with an extra spring in his step.
“I've got it!” he said with excitement
“'The next full blue moon when you turn into a wolf again I want you to bite me on the leg!” he continued
“Why?” the wife responded
“So that I can be like you and we can go through the forest together, I love you wife and I want to be by your side for ever" he replied.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The She-Wolf

The night was the stormiest night I have ever recalled in all my life. The rain was coming down so heavy no one even dared to leave their homes. The thunder struck like a cat of nine tails hitting a condemned man for the worst of penalties. I was sitting in my study, surveying the storm from the window behind my desk. It surely was horrific. My darling wife, Catharine, was sitting in the lounge, knitting. She always does that when she’s fretting about something. My two children, my son Edward and daughter Elizabeth were sitting there with her, playing cards. I don’t know where my dog Harlow was, probably laying on his bed, as he always does. The rain poured down for hours and hours, and I just sat there waiting for it to pass, so I could go hunting to get my family a decent feed for the next day. Finally I gave up and went to my bedroom. My kids had gone to bed hours ago. I thought my wife had to but, noticing she wasn’t there I gathered she was just continuing her knitting.

I awoke early the next morning to sunshine and blue skies. Surprisingly there was no evidence of the storm the night before, I thought as I looked out the window. My children were out there with Harlow. I looked for my wife; she was in the kitchen, making breakfast. I noted her nursing her hand. I enquired her about it but she just said something about knitting. I told her that that cut would be impossible to do whilst knitting, but she insisted on it and changed the subject. Not wanting to fight I just ate my breakfast passively, and went out to hunt food for the evening.

If only I realised then.

It was exactly four weeks after that night. My wife had been acting ever so strangely during the whole time but she insisted it was just a small head cold. Anyway, on this night my wife was out, playing cards with her friends or something, it’s this monthly ritual they decided to start. My children were in the rumpus room with my sister Penelope. I walked outside. The night was perfect for hunting. I called to my sister to take care of Edward and Elizabeth, before I grabbed my shotgun and walked out into the night. The moon came out from under the clouds and shone brightly. It made me realise how lively the forest is at night. I heard a wolf howl in the distance and my skin crawl. I hated wolves. But that was not nearly as much as I hated werewolves.

We once had one in my old town, then two, then four, before the whole town was flooded with them. Only a lucky few survived and fled. I have never known what exactly the wolves are, as the stories are varied so much it is hard to tell which ones are even close to the truth. I know that they are like normal wolves, except are larger and are able to stand on their hind legs at ease. They have huge rigid backs and no mercy. And how they are created, well I’ve only heard of two stories that could be even close to the truth. The first one tells the tail of the devil. In this tail, werewolves were people suffering from mental illnesses usually. The person will go outside to an isolated place and start to draw a circle in the dirt. In the middle of this circle the werewolves would light a fire. He would put on the skin of a wolf which he and only he had killed and rub a magical ointment on his body. Then he would pray to the Devil. At the end of this, the skin of the wolf would turn into their own skin and they would become a werewolf, and go off for their search of prey.

But I think this would be for only the first werewolf, if any. For I believe that a werewolf can only become what they are, by being bitten by another. Once they are bitten, that is it. There is no cure. Once it is found out the person is sent out to be hung, in broad daylight, to make sure that they never feast on another humans flesh. This is what most people believe how werewolves come about.

I listened to another howl. This one seemed closer, and I started to feel anxious of my surroundings. I heard a sound from behind me. I swung around and saw a bush shaking ferociously. I quickly swung my shotgun up over my shoulder and put it in position. The bush seemed to keep on shaking and my feet felt frozen to the spot. Then out jumped…a family of rabbits. I sighed and lowered my shotgun in relief. Wait…I picked my shotgun up again…do I think my family feels like rabbit stew?

I began walking back home, feeling very pleased with myself. My family now had a decent few days of feed ahead of them. I looked around at my surroundings. I liked the way this village looked at night. The way the old cottages looked like something at of a fairytale, and the way the lake shone as bright as the sun on a summer’s day. Everyone seemed to but at ease with everyone. It was then I heard a man’s desperate yell.

I ran in the direction I had heard the yell. It was only two blocks away, near the edge of the forest, where the trees were so close together they seemed like a cramped passageway. I walked down it and at the end I found my good friend being attacked by a werewolf. At least it seemed like a werewolf. It was the same build, yes, but it was slightly smaller, the paws where not as wide, and the facial features weren’t as long as usual. But it was a werewolf all the same. I picked up a large stick and swung it above my head, before throwing it onto the fiend. It turned my way. By now some other people arrived from the village, some holding sticks of fire. They also threw them at the wolf. It stood up on its hind legs, with quite ease, and caught them before throwing them back. The people screamed and ran for shelter. I got out my shotgun and shot at its head and chest, just as the clouds shifted and covered the moon.

At first I thought the bullets had worked. The werewolf let off a deafening howl. It seemed as though it was in agony. It stood, grasping its head with its two paws, moaning and groaning so much that I could not understand what was happening. Then it started to shrink in size. Its paws turned to hands and feet, then the legs and arms, then the body and the head. No…it seemed impossible, how could this be? The werewolf was not a werewolf. It was a she-wolf. It was Catharine. I couldn’t breathe. I knew the penalty for being a werewolf or she-wolf. She was going to be hanged.

I know now that the cut Catharine ha d received was not from her knitting, but from a werewolf. She had been out to fetch some fresh water from the well before morning when it struck. I only wish I heard her scream. I also know that werewolves do not mean the things they do, it is just bad luck. The worst luck. But now she’s dead, and I’m left to take care of Edward and Elizabeth and Harlow on my own, and I just can’t help thinking, if only.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Little Red Riding Hood - Crime Revealed

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Warning: Some readers may be disturbed by some of the images in this news report. Don't ever tell this tale to your kids.

Breaking News: Little Red Riding Hood Crime Revealed
Reporter: Heather Blakey

The thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger looked like a large, long dog, with stripes, a heavy stiff tail and a big head. Its scientific name, Thylacinus cynocephalus, means pouched dog with a wolf's head. Fully grown it measured about 180 cm (6 ft) from nose to tail tip, stood about 58 cm (2 ft) high at the shoulder and weighed up to 30 kg. The short, soft fur was brown except for 13 - 20 dark brown-black stripes that extended from the base of the tail to almost the shoulders. The stiff tail became thicker towards the base and appeared to merge with the body.

Tasmanian Tigers were said to be usually mute, but when anxious or excited made a series of husky, coughing barks. When hunting, they gave a distinctive terrier-like, double yap, repeated every few seconds.

The tiger was shy and secretive and always avoided contact with humans. Despite its common name, 'tiger' it had a quiet, nervous temperament compared to its little cousin, the Tasmanian devil. Captured animals generally gave up without a struggle, and many died suddenly, apparently from shock. When hunting, the tiger relied on a good sense of smell, and stamina. It was said to pursue its prey relentlessly, until the prey was exhausted. The tiger was rarely seen to move fast, but when it did it appeared awkward. It trotted stiffly, and when pursued, broke into a kind of shambling canter.

Since 1936, no conclusive evidence of a tiger has been found. However, the incidence of reported tiger sightings has continued. There have been hundreds of sightings since 1936, many of which may have been clear cases of misidentification.

During the nineteen eighties Parks and Wildlife Officer, Richard Malrooney, was said to have undertaken an extensive but unsuccessful search to confirm a 1982 sighting reported near the Arthur River in the State's northwest.

Now twenty three years later startling information has emerged which has shocked Tasmanian residents and left a cloud, darker than the crimes committed against the native aboriginal population and the wretched inhabitants of the Port Arthur Penal Colony. It appears that Parks and Wildlife were compelled to suppress Richard Malrooney’s startling report that rare DNA, extracted from skeletal remains was found in bottled jars of ethanol on the dusty shelf of a house in a remote part of Northern Tasmania. Only last year more Frankenstein style remains were found there. Amongst these was a well-preserved, one hundred and thirty six year old Tasmanian tiger pup.

It has now emerged that a young girl and her grandmother conspired to undertake horrific experiments on these innocent creatures in a cottage in the wilds of Tasmania during the late eighteen nineties and the first part of the nineteenth century. It appears that they relentlessly pursued the Tasmanian tiger, trapped them and committed heinous crimes against them. They covered their actions by spreading the story that these carnivorous animals were a threat to both humans and livestock. Bounties were put on the head of tigers and hundreds of the animals were trapped, snared, shot and poisoned near their property. No one had guessed that these well respected women kept a terrible secret.

They were sadists.

Little Red Riding Hood, as the young woman was known throughout the small town of Keltro, was in the habit of going to work with her grandmother each weekend. She always wore a red cape and spent time in what was then known as the Asbestos Range National Park.

Narawntapu National Park, as it is now called, stretches from the low coastal ranges to the long Bass Strait beaches, and includes an historic farm, a complex of inlets, small islands, headlands, wetlands, dunes and lagoons, all with an amazing variety of plants and animals.

Red Riding Hood and her grandmother were well respected in the small community of Keltro. The Westwards had farmed the region for years. Red Riding Hood’s grandmother had come to Tasmania in 1835 on the Resource with other free settlers from England. Lucinda Westward had a Licence in Midwifery and was a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. From about 1815 the colony began to grow rapidly as free settlers arrived and lands were opened up for farming. Lucinda Westward was the eldest daughter of Isaiah Spencer Westward an English farmer who claimed land in the Keltro region.

The beautiful, incredibly talented Westward became a prominent colonial medical "specialist", a surgeon. In the early days, she was mainly called upon to restore or amputate damaged limbs. Great advances in anatomical knowledge during the early colonial period, derived from the dissection of human bodies, greatly increased the range of feasible operations. After the advent of anaesthetics and later of disinfectants in the middle of the nineteenth century she is said to have ventured into the abdominal cavity, the neck, and the chest. These operations were mainly performed under chloroform.

Westward had some experience in obstetrics and gynaecology and in latter years strayed into the doubtful provenances of mesmerism and electrotherapy. She was highly successful and became very wealthy. Upon her retirement she chose to become reclusive and live in the cottage, adjacent to the Asbestos Ranges and despite the humble appearance of her home lived in luxury. What no one knew was that although she maintained the appearance of a congenial, aging doctor, Lucinda Westward was dabbling in evil arts and she had found creatures to experiment upon. Isaiah Westward had always complained that a wolf like creature was eating his stock and Lucinda decided to take her revenge and experiment on this ancient species.

To capture these shy and secretive creatures, which generally avoided any human contact, Lucinda sent her granddaughter into the park with her basket to play among the butterflies and flowers that littered them. The girl had a special skill. She was able to communicate with all creatures and she enchanted even the hesitant Tasmanian tiger. When Red Riding took off her hooded red cape to reveal terrible bruises and scars the tiger went willingly to Grandmother’s house to protect her from the torture so cruelly inflicted upon her. Once there the beast was locked in a barren steel cage and subjected to unspeakable torture.

Malrooney, now retired, told reporters that the ghastly scene of mangled bodies parts in bottles found at the long abandoned Westward property left him permanently traumatised. He reported that these animals were routinely cut open, subjected to surgical operations, poisoned and forced to live in dark, barren steel cages for years. Many were left to suffer and die in these cages without any pain relief.

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Today the Narawntapu National Park is a place of peace. However, many visitors to the park have reported sighting creatures that look like Tasmanian Tigers and have said that they have smelled their distinctive odour and heard husky coughing barks late at night. If you are out walking this park late at night you might hear the spine chilling, high pitched screeches of a Tasmanian Devil or smell the distinctive odour of the Tasmanian Tiger. If you do, get away from there as fast as you can - you are in grave danger. The legacy of Lucinda Westward and her granddaughter lives on in the forest where followers, generations removed, continue the practice of evil she began so long ago. Watch your step carefully! The ghostly spirits of tortured creatures regularly avenge the dead.

"What I think about vivisection is that if people admit that they have the right to take or endanger the life of living beings for the benefit of many, there will be no limit to their cruelty." Leo Tolstoy

Monday, April 18, 2005


Gregarious maggot masses
Armed with mouth hooks
Prepare to rake over the
Black bitter heart
The decaying flesh
Of a lifeless writer
Slumped over a desk littered
With recent rejection slips

The haunting eyes of Anubis,
Watch silently as the skilled embalmer
Works through the night, her fingers
Caressing the artery reverently, impregnating
The lifeless writer with aromatic substances
Masking the decomposition
repelling the maggot masses

The embalmers composition lies complete
With just a hint of sandalwood in the still air
Accompanied by his embalmer, his wife
The dead writer dressed in formal day suit
Awaits Christian love and forgiveness
For the eulogy to be
Tenderly spoken
For the ceremonials to begin

A cell phone’s ring tone breaks the silence
As the writer’s wife
Plans a merry weekend with
A gregarious editor who
Having agreed to publish
The writer’s retrospective
Prepares to rake in royalties

Friday, April 15, 2005

Cabinets de Curiosities (Wunderkammer)

Cabinets de Curiosities (Wunderkammer)
Effect of the Interesting


A cabinet of wondrous curios
A delightful collection
Carefully placed
Lying, seeming unconnected
Next to each other
Triggering memories
Permitting the mind to
Wander to faraway places

Scales, microtomes,
Drafting tools,
Magic lanterns
Antique candle powered projectors
Fine laboratory glassware
Vintage beakers, funnels, test tubes, crucibles,
Dessicating jars
And a one-off hand blown, baroque piece carefully stored

A pair of rare wax anatomical models
Crutches and callipers,
Arm braces,
Blood pressure meters
And first aid dummies
Antique botanical prints
Woolly mammoth hair
Spiny trilobites,
Skulls, fish and ammonites stored in labelled draws.

Butterflies mounted in Petri dishes
An Atlantis Moth
Whimsical and wonderful
Packets of seed,
Very old taxidermy birds, in excellent condition
Hand-made pills,
Patent medicines and toiletries.
The scent of human breast milk, swamp water and sex
Stored in tiny laboratory vials

All combine to fill
A purveyors
wonder chamber of
creative stimuli

Heather Blakey April 2005

What will your Cabinet de Curiosity look like?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Family Secrets

"I make it a point never to look in jars in the Curiosity Shop, I mean, what would you do if you recognized someone?"

You can't imagine how that line of Winnie's jolted me, the memories it triggered, too painful and gruesome to write about. I've had to change the names--I have a large family (mostly cousins--we've become the "older" generation, somehow)and if someone should stumble on this story--well, years ago we made a vow to let it die with us. Why taint the younger generation with a horror that can't be changed?

We always used to have enormous family gatherings with moms and dads, aunts, uncles, cousins, and everyone's best friends. You know, the happy times: birthdays, graduations, summer picnics at lakes with barbecue grills stacked up with sizzling burgers and hotdogs, iced tea and soda transported by the gallon in coolers, my mom's bean salad, Aunt Pat's famous cherry pie, Aunt Lorna's chocolate cake with the double chocolate icing.

I was the oldest of the cousins, fourteen, the year it happened. Just the right age to catch the drift of an adult comment or comprehend the glimpse of Aunt Pat rolling her eyes when Uncle Frankie would pull one of his stunts or say something not meant for young ears.

I often wondered what in the world my beautiful Aunt Lorna saw in him. A boorish, balding, middle-aged man, his humor ran to whoopie cushions and dribble glasses, while his hands reached for the scotch or hovered near any passing female. That summer I'd already sensed the too closeness of those wandering hands when pictures were taken, of a touch that was almost in the wrong place, that lingered just an instant too long, or squeezed my shoulder a bit too tightly.

The day after the event, while my brother Billy giggled at cartoons and Elizabeth took her nap, my mother took me aside and told me the family had made a pact to tell us older children the truth about what had happened if we promised never to speak of it again. I still cringe when I remember the thrill I felt at being allowed into the adult world and the eager way I agreed to keep the secret.

My mother took out her sister's wedding album. To my amazement, the man Aunt Lorna was gazing at so lovingly was actually handsome, with wavy brown hair and startling blue eyes. I watched in disbelief as mom took her sewing shears and began to cut each photograph to shreds. Why would she do this just because the man had died in an automobile accident? Even the children were aware that Uncle Frankie drank too much.

I'll never forget the calm steely strength of my mother's voice as she told me that most of what I'd already heard was true. Uncle Frankie had gone to the hardware store to pick up nails to repair the back deck, she began. He'd already had a few drinks and on the way he bought a six-pack of beer. Coming home, it began to rain and he must have hit a slick spot, lost control and gone off the road. He was dead on impact.

Aunt Lorna collapsed on hearing the news and Aunt Pat had offered to stay the night with her. Around midnight Pat woke up and found that she was alone in the house. Frantic with worry, she searched outside, then called the family and police, but it was too late, by that time Aunt Lorna was dead, too.

While Pat had slept, she'd sneaked out of the darkened house and hurried to the city morgue where Frankie's body lay awaiting release after the autopsy required for accidental deaths. No one was able to fathom how she'd broken in, but when the officer on duty found her she was standing over her husband, a coroner's scalpel in one hand, blood streaming down the front of her white eyelet nightgown. The officer called for back-up, then watched and listened in horror as she held out her other hand and, with a look of serene adoration on her face, explained that all she'd taken were Frankie's eyes.

Perhaps Aunt Lorna would have lived if they hadn't asked her to put them down, but she still had the scalpel and it was an easy matter for her to slit both wrists quickly and deeply and with loving precision. She was buried that way--clutching Uncle Frankie's eyes against her heart.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Veiled Parasite


The mosquito-borne parasite
Plasmodium falciparum
A veiled lady
Dances slow measured tango steps
On a ballroom of red blood cells

Disguising herself
She skilfully
A genetic game
Of hide-and-seek

The mosquito-borne parasite
Plasmodium falciparum
A veiled lady
Wrapped in tightly bound bundles
Of red organza

Swirls in rhythm,
Among helpless,
Ruptured red
Blood cells

Alert immune system spies
Sensing danger
Astutely identify
This red veiled lady
Dancing disguised

Sounding the alert
They spring to defence
Only to have her
Deftly switch form,
Change makeup, costume

Sixty different genes
Sixty different protein shields
A united force lined up
Barely discernible
My body play catch-up
As plasmodium falciparum
Switches first one masked gene
Then another, relentlessly
The disguise

Weary I lie
Red cells ruptured
My body
Listlessly battles
The wily parasite

Before I succumb I must
Like Captain Kirk
Unravel the secrets
Of the veiled parasites
Invisible power over me

Thursday, April 07, 2005

A Tale of Horror

The night was dark and dreary
The dunny (toilet) light was dim
I heard a yell
I heard a scream
By God she's fallen in.


The earliest written reference to the disposal of human waste is more than 3600 years old and is found in The Holy Bible. "And you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and cover your refuse..."(Deuteronomy 23:12-13). For hundreds of thousands of years before the bible was written, human beings simply squatted when they had the urge to relieve themselves.

When I was growing up in the country in Australia we did not have a flush toilet. Our toilet was in a small wooden building behind the garage, overgrown with passionfruit. Mum planted the passionfruit by the dunny because the passionfruit need plenty of fertiliser and moisture to keep growing strongly, and dunnies usually were pretty rich in both of those. Our dunny was painted a cacky yellow colour and had a corrugated iron tank nearby.

Visiting the dunny at night was a daunting affair. A chamber of horrors awaited as I stepped along the shadow filled path. The long fingered shadows reached out, threatening to grip me by the throat. The owl in the tree hooted. I was always hunched over, in a state of terror as I sped into the toilet and shut the door behind me.

Spiders gathered in the corners and I lived in fear that one would drop in to my lap or I would lift the lid to find a red-back lying in wait. In these days of backyard dunnies 80% of red-back victims were men using the toilet, which explains the popularity of Slim Newton's song 'Red-back on the Toilet Seat'.

But I digress! In the early hours of one dark and gloomy morning I had carefully negotiated the path, had managed to elude the fingered shadows, established that there were no red-backs and I was sitting quietly, not thinking about anything much. All was still. Even the cows that usually managed to cough nearby were silent and the chooks were all asleep in the nearby chook shed.

Imagine my shock when a deep voice said 'scuse me Missus'. I leapt off the seat and pulled up my pants. As I looked around to see who was talking I could see a light shining below the seat. The night man had come early and was changing over the night can.

I screamed and ran into the house, waking everyone with my indignace.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Excercise In Horror

My friend over at the Soul Food Cafe posted this true life experience and I sat down and came up with some story starter ideas. What stories can you find ? Look to the bottom to see what I came up with, then give it a try yourself.

What will you find? A poem? A story? Artwork? Don't forget to come back to the Chamber and share what you've found....

Barbara H Banta wrote:

Here's a true experience for you. Years ago on a trip to South America with my folks, we visited a
museum in Lima, Peru.There were lots of glass cases filled with skulls which had been operated on. You could see scars where the bone had filled in, the shape and size of a postage stamp. I remember the guide showing them to us along with some cutting instruments. He spoke with pride about how far ahead and skilled the Inca had been since, obviously, the people had survived. Finally, he added that they weren't sure if it was for medical reasons or torture.

I also saw a mummy of a little Incan boy there. The coastal area of Peru is almost desert and the Inca used to bury their people seated in baskets. The dry sand helped preserve the bodies like in Egypt. The little boy was seated with his arms wrapped around his knees and his head down. Very sweet, somehow, almost like a picture of a Mexican with a sombrero taking a siesta.

There are some strange similarities between South America and Egypt. Thor Heyerdahl had the theory that Egyptians had sailed there in ancient times and brought some of their customs with them. Although I didn't visit Bolivia, they make and use boats just like the ones used on the Nile. It was interesting .

Night, pleasant dreams.....

I saw a story from the Point of View of an Incan Doctor practicing medicine on a creature that is less then human...

I could see the Mummy of that little boy resting undisturbed until a foolish treasure hunter steals him away...and something comes down from the mountains one night to take back what belongs to it. And maybe leaves something very unpleasant behind...

And maybe it wasn't seafaring people who brought those burial customs from Egypt to South America... maybe it was the spirits that travel on the winds that did and those Spirits are visiting again.

Go ahead, give it a try!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

A Page From The Chamber of Horrors History

We come here and tell stories and all around us are the remains of one of the most notorious Medical Schools of it's time. We've been whistling as we pass the proverbial graveyard and now I think it's time to tell you about this school.

I think it's time for a tour.

So follow me.

Here we are in the vestibule; do you like the marble effigies? Stolen of course from religious places and cemeteries. When you're as rich as the owners of this school were, they didn't call it stealing, they didn't call it grave-robbing.

They called it the procurement of antiquities

The School itself was once run and owned by a husband and wife team; Dr Johnathan and Delphine Heller. I'm not kidding about the last name. Can you imagine trusting your body and life to a Dr Jack Heller?

And his wife!

Delphine Heller, she was a pioneer in the study of Psychiatry and she believed there wasn't a malady of the human brain that COULDN'T be cured by surgery. Delphine's belief in scalpels and other sharp medical instruments bordered on religious mania.

Her patients in the insane asylum behind the school use to say she was crazier then all 200 of them put together. They also use to call her " De fiend ".

They were right on both counts.

They may have been insane, but they weren't stupid.

If you follow me, I'll take you to the surgery theatre. Awful place, the floors in here are wood and if you drop anything on the floor...write it off. Even after all this time you couldn't credit what sort of nastiness has made it's way into the woodwork.

That's in general I suppose.

This school is not a good place.

Upstairs are the labs. To your right are Dr Johnathan's offices. His books, instruments, specimen jars, charts and journals are exactly as he left them.

Here, let me get the lights. Yes, those are real body parts. Pretty standard fare. Only...well, there seems to be an awful lot of them. More then you'd need for study. Don't you think?

I call this Dr Heller's trophy room.

It seems like that man couldn't perform the most simple of surgery without taking something more then was required. Eyes, hands, feet...and other things as you can see.

Follow me here to his wife's offices...which should be full of books, notes, maybe even pictures of the unfortunates she treated. But her rooms. Well, look for yourself.

These offices are twice the size of Johnathan's and they are full of these...curiosities. These things would be more at home in a circus sideshow or a medical museum then in offices for a psychiatrist.

On this wall, let me get those doors..they slide, there. Physical deformities of embryos..human, animal...some, well, we're not to this day what they are. You will also find if you care to look...are more, medical oddities.

Some of those heads and hands have been altered. Parts sewn on, sewn together, body parts created, in other words, by a surgeon.

She has shelves and shelves of medical instruments that appear to be one of a kind. Tools designed to reshape bones of all sizes, scalpels with specially designed blades and oddly shaped needles.

What the Morgue?

Oh my friend, I was hoping someone would ask me about that.

This elevator is old, but don't worry it works just fine.

The Morgue, was someone's pride and joy and I'm pretty sure it was Delphine's pride and joy. It screams her you'll see.

The morgue is twice the size then the entire school above it. As you can see this is the place where those things in the jars were created. This is the heart of this place.

Now, my astute authors look at the autopsy tables...notice anything strange? Look closer...go ahead you won't see it from way back there.

What, you don't see anything?

You wouldn't see what I'm looking at right now anywhere in any morgue in the world.

They're not necessary for the work down here.

You didn't notice the straps on the autopsy tables?

Hey, don't you all run up the stairs like that, someone is going to get hurt!
© anita marie moscoso 2005-text

For Your Consideration....

Anita's Favorite Books for researching horror stories:

Writing: The Howdunit Series
Body Trauma- David W. Page
Cause of Death- Keith D. Wilson
There is a series of these books but these are the two best, in my opinion.

Forensics: This is not a tech book, it deals with real life cases with much respect and empathy to the dead:
Dead Men Do Tell Tales- William R Maples

Fiction: I'm re-reading my Clive Barker Books. He doesn't short change his female characters. We get a fair shake there ladies. You go Clive, you're the man.

If anyone has any books or articles that might be of help or inspiration to those of us writing in the Chamber, I hope you'll either post them here or on the message board.

Thanks All,
Anita Marie

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Please Meet My Friend Marie Laveau

I've asked my friend, Marie Laveau if she wouldn't mind stepping out of the Curiosity Shop over at the Cafe in order to meet my new friends at the Chamber of Horrors.

I've always been fond of the legend of Marie Laveau and I'm sure you'll find some traces of her in the Werewolf, Radu, in " To Grandmother's House. "

So here she is, please make Marie Welcome and maybe she'll be glad to share a story with you...but a word to the wise, it will probably come at a price.

Anita Marie

Marie Laveau - A Powerful Voodoo Queen

New Orleans Voodoo Queen of 1815 Marie Laveau was an intelligent African American woman who combined Voodoo with Christianity. She informed the press of her rituals on the bayou, where she would dance seductively with her snake, named Zombi. These performances helped her gain notoriety.

Years and years ago I learned a song about the Voodoo Queen named Marie Laveau.

In the song Marie's funeral is held at night, by the light of the moon. As with much of Marie's life, I'm sure poetic license was taken in the writing of this song. But in this case, I'm sure Marie would have approved.

Marie Laveau, it was said was the most Powerful Voodoo Queen of her time, and of our time too. She could look into the human soul and know your secrets, she could right wrongs done to you by an unfaithful lover, or a crooked business partner, or a troublesome neighbor.

She could cure you of terrible illnesses and ask you be protected from harm and curses.

Besides doctoring the sick, it was said she visited prisons too and in one case brought poison to a man about to be hung for murder. She did this so the man would not have to face the executioner noose.

Was she a healer? A magician? A wise woman or a fraud? Whether they were grateful or fearful people from all walks of life in New Orleans knew the answer. Bitter or sweet, Marie Laveau understood things, secret things.

Some say she came by her knowledge because she had a network of spies throughout New Orleans. That she was able to control and manipulate through fear, blackmail and intimidation. An amazing feat, considering she was a black woman and her clients were white people like judges, lawyers, people of means and education.Marie did this work in the mid 1800's. Civil Rights were still several, serveral years away. In fact, they weren't even a possibility in Marie's time.

Be that as it may, these people also stood at Marie's door, shoulder to shoulder as the song says with the poor and uneducated, They were all equals at Marie's doorstep.

And they were all there for the same things.

Justice, revenge, healing.


My favorite stories concerning Marie's powers always involved the wronged lover and revenge. Marie would create an offering, a gift for the Spirits and then ask for their help.

The next day the scoundrel would come home... at dawn.

I could see that person, walking up the steps to their house. I can see them walking slowly, as if they were carrying a heavy weight. I can see them slowly opening the door and I can see the look on their face. I'm sure it was the same look people have when they go to a funeral and force themselves to look down into that open casket.

And I wonder, when the wronged lover saw that person walk through the door did they wonder what Marie did to get their loved one to look that way? Did they feel pity? Were they scared? Did they think, as they saw that horrible look, that combination of fear and perhaps madnessss, did they wonder, is the memory of that look the true price they paid for Marie's help?

Revenge is always the most expensive of tasks you can ask the Spirits to do for you. I don't mean expensive as in gifts or money.

In voodoo, there's this little catch 22 when you take revenge out on another person. In this religion everyone is protected by a Saint or a Spirit whether you practice or not.

If I ask for revenge against you and your Saint is a natural enemy of my Saint or isn't as powerful as your Saint I can suffer horribly for my actions.

Therefore, going to a person like Marie could be a dangerous proposition for everyone involved.

Marie cast a long shadow in her time, yet no one knows exactly the circumstances of her birth or how she died.

I've read that she died a mindless vegetable in a darkened room in her house. Considering she had over a dozen children, I find it odd that know one knows for sure what her last days were like.

However, there are stories about her after her death. Stories began circulating around New Orleans that Marie had returned from the dead. Just as beautiful but not as powerful as before. This was explained away by saying that she had a daughter who looked exactly like her and carried the same name as Marie. She also practiced Voodoo, though it's said not as effectively.

There are also stories that Marie was nothing more then a charlatan, a hustler and that she and another Voodoo practitioner would laugh and drink and joke about the great joke they were playing on the entire population of New Orleans.

Had this story been even remotely true, I doubt if Marie would have lived to old age in a darkened room anywhere in the South.I think she would have come to a quick and nasty end a lot sooner then later.

I guess the only people who really knew what Marie could do were the ones who came to her house, their heads bowed in shame and hurt. What was it like, I wonder, to sit across from her with gifts for the Spirits and give another human being permission to know the most intimate details of your very soul.

And in the end, give them power over your destiny.

Marie did have power, maybe it was simply the power of suggestion and psychology. Maybe it was the power of healing and magic.

I guess there's no way to know for sure, is there?

Unless of course...

What gift would you give the Spirits to know what it would have been like to have been Marie or that troubled person who came to her house late at night for help? There are ways, secret ways to ask the spirits for help, you could ask about Marie.

Just remember, no one really knows where she began or how she ended.

Remember that when something leans over your shoulder and whispers those answers into your ear.

by Anita Marie Moscoso
© anita marie moscoso 2005-text
Here's another challange from the Chamber of Horrors...this isn't an easy subject to grasp, but it's well worth the effort. So Have Fun and see if this helps stir up some ideas...

Anita Marie

Jules Cotard (1840-1889): his life and the unique syndrome which bears his name.Pearn J, Gardner-Thorpe C.Royal Children's Hospital, Brisbane, Australia.Dr. Jules Cotard (1840-1889) was a Parisian neurologist who first described the delire des negations. Cotard's syndrome or Cotard's delusion comprises any one of a series of delusions ranging from the fixed and unshakable belief that one has lost organs, blood, or body parts to believing that one has lost one's soul or is dead. In its most profound form, the delusion takes the form of a professed belief that one does not exist.