Saturday, August 27, 2005


cham'ber of hor'rors
1. a place for the exhibition of gruesome or horrible objects.
2. a group of such objects, as instruments of torture or murder.
3. any collection of things or ideas that inspire horror.

WELL OF COURSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And Ill leave it to your imagination but these items are from the Shelves of the Mutter Museum....go ahead, just THINK about it.

Broken bones
Pott's Disease Skeletons
Skull Collections, including the Muniz collection of trephinated (holes cut in them)
"Brain Of A Murderer" - John Wilson hanged in Norristown, PA
Longitudinal slices of the head, showing brain
Brain of animals arranged from tiny frog to man, often with eyes attached
Large collection of baby deformities.
Hearing apparatti of mammals in butterfly collection-like cases.
Wax Renderings of Eye Disease Problems

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Witching Hour

Last year, following in ABCFamily's shadow, I did a 13 Days of Halloween in my journal. It was a fun two-week long exercise. This offering is one of the entries I did for it. Enjoy! But, if you are out walking on the night of October's Hunter Moon and lil chills zing up your spine all of the sudden while the lil hairs on your neck stand at attention, don't be too alarmed by the voices you're hearing. After all, it is the Witching Hour, and you should be safe at home anyway. Just pray these women aren't hexing you.

The Witching Hour by Jessica Galbreth

The Witching Hour is the hour of midnight on a full moon. It is at this time that the witches' spell casting powers are at their fullest. It is a time of change and transformation. The history of this may be traced to the ancient times of the worship of goddesses associated with the moon and fertility. As the moon waxes in its phases so do the powers of those, until they culminate at the full moon.

Sometimes, this moon in October is called the Hunter's Moon or Wolf Moon. (Any pagans reading this, please correct me.) The moon is very powerful in pagan beliefs, and I think it's said it affects emotions...? Usually herbs are collected and harvested at night while the moon is high. It is believed when done thusly, the herbs are at their best, infused with the moon's power.

Sometimes, other spells are performed during the day. Here is a spell to heal a broken friendship: If you have had a falling out with a good friend this simple spell will clear away the bad feelings and create a situation where peace can be made and the past put behind. It will in no way mean that the spell will force your friend to come running to you. It will simply pave the way for differences to be forgotten and your friendship to resume its happy path. You will need:

  • Two twelve-inch white candles
  • One twelve-inch yellow candle
  • Some yellow ribbon and white ribbon
  • Two Tarot cards to represent you and you and your friend
If you are female choose queens and if you are male choose knights. However do not choose the swords cards. Hearts are recommended. This spell is to be done only on a Sunday or Monday at exactly midday. It should be done on a bright, sunny day, never in the rain.

Using a heavy duty pin engrave the name and birthdate of your friend on one white candle and your name on the other. On the yellow candle engrave both your names and birthdate together. On the yellow candle also engrave the following words: "Preese ito na lionide."

Find a peaceful spot in a grassy place under a tree. Place the yellow candle in the center with the white candles on opposite sides twelve inches apart. With your left hand light the yellow candle. Then light the candle on your left, which will have your name on it. Then light the candle on the right, which will have your friend's name on it.

Wait until a piece of dripping wax from each of the candles has touched the ground. Then say these words: "(Your full name backwards) ete tiato el liso reto mio li qi (your friends full name backwards)." Repeat three times. Extinguish all three candles with the little finger of your left hand your candle first, your friend's candle second and the yellow third.

Tie all three candles in both yellow and white ribbons entwined. Bury in the ground.

Though this spell calls for the day, from my limited understanding a lot of spells are performed under the full moon when a witch's power is at its highest. During the Witching Hour...

"Tis the witching hour of night,
Orbed is the moon and bright,
And the stars they glisten, glisten,
Seeming with bright eyes to listen
For what listen they?"

~John Keats~

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Fear by Anita Moscoso

( Fear by Goya )

People read the stuff I write and will beat around the bush for a few seconds ( the polite ones anyway ) before they ask...where do you get these ideas from? What scares a person like YOU?

Well, I made a list ( which is a actually from a writing excercise ) and here it is:

Anita's List of Fears

Having my Mummified remains turn up in a thousand years in a musuem where a bunch of people will stand around it and say things like, " If that's preservation I hope to God I never see decay "

Full Moons Creep Me's like having a dead Sun up there

Head Hunters: I'm terrified of kidding. My number ONE fear of all times is to end up like this

One of my favorite Sideshow Attractions of all times: To bad I'm afraid of it... The Fiji Mermaid. Go ahead and just try to prove it wasn't true.

Having my Family do this to my Grave...they would too!

So there it is, the things I'm afraid of.
I'll bet Satan rides a snow plow to work before a lot of people ask me a silly question like that again!

Anita Marie

Friday, August 19, 2005

The Birth

“Why did you choose tonight, of all nights, to come into the world,” She said as she smoothed her hands over her heavily pregnant belly. She moved slowly from the kitchen with a stub of a candle lighting her way.

Outside it was still raining heavily and the wind was howling. It had already brought down trees and power lines in the area. Her husband was out in the weather, trying to get the local midwife. The power had gone out just as they sat down to dinner. They sat down to a candle lit dinner, probably the last for sometime, with the baby on its way. She had had niggling pains all day; this hadn’t been a concern to her as the baby was not due for another three weeks.

The pains had become contractions during dinner; she knew that this wasn’t a false alarm. She got her husband to run her a bath thinking it might help. The contractions became stronger and more frequent. She asked him to call the midwife; the baby would be born tonight. He picked up the phone, there was no dial tone. There was no way of contacting the midwife. He started to panic, what did he know about delivering a baby? What if something happened? She was calm, she told him he had to get help, the doctor or the midwife, but he would have to go.

She watched him leave, a bolt of lightning turning the night into day as he drove the car down the drive. She locked the door behind her and walked back to the kitchen, to get a candle, feeling her way along the wall. She had to stop a few times, clutching her belly as the contractions shuddered through her. She was standing at the sink when another contraction gripped her. She held tight to the counter until it passed. It was then that her waters broke.

She knew that it would not be long now. But would her husband and the midwife get back on time. She knew that it was unlikely. She carefully made her way to the bedroom, her path lit only by the stump of candle that she carried and the occasional lightning bolt.

She lay on the bed and talked to the baby between contractions. “Please wait … just a little … longer … your daddy … will … be back … soon … with help.” She was feeling ill; she didn’t know what to do. She began to cry.

“Shush, my child, do not fear, all will be well.” She looked up to see an old woman with haggard features coming toward her with a lantern. “Where is my husband?” she asked of the woman. Her question went unanswered, as the old woman examined her. “Now my dear this child is ready to greet the world, push.” She was feeling weak but she gritted her teeth and pushed. The baby slithered free and let out a healthy cry. The old woman wrapped the child in a shirt and placed him in his mothers’ arms.

Her husband drove into the driveway just as the power was restored. He unlocked the front door and ushered the midwife in. He looked around; the dinner plates were still on the table. He called out to his wife but there was no response. It was then that he noticed a pool of blood on the kitchen floor and bloody footprints that led towards the back of the house. The midwife had noticed them too and was following their grisly path.

They found her on the bed, cradling the baby in her arms. The midwife set about examining the mother and child. The husband clearly upset by the scene that he had witnessed held tight to her hand and brushed the hair from her brow.

She tells him it is okay, the midwife came and delivered the child. He tries to explain to her that he has just returned with the midwife. “No” she tells him “an old woman is here.” There was no sign of anyone in the room or the house, and no sign of anyone else having attended the birth.

The midwife catches the husbands’ attention and speaks to him out of earshot of his wife. She explains that she is concerned about infection; his wife is clearly feverish and delirious. “We need to get her to the hospital.” She then returned to her examination of the child. She gasped, tied around the stump of the umbilical cord was a single strand of silver hair.

© Megan Warren, August 2005

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I saw her at the tip mine a few times before I approached her. She was an obvious tyro – there was no plan to her digging, and she had no idea of the customs. She kept wandering over to neighboring stakes and rummaging through them.
I’ve been a tip miner for forty years, so the others came to me and asked me to speak to her. They had tried, but she just stared at them blankly and went on rummaging where she shouldn’t.
``Hi,” I said. ``I’m Grace Fletcher.”
She had a pile of stuff around her, none of it valuable – plastic bags spilling household garbage.
``Do you need some help?” I asked. ``I been at it a long time, I got plenty of experience.”
She rummaged in her pocket and thrust a laminated card at me. I saw the name Rose Hammond.
``I got my license,” she said defensively.
``I know, but you’re doing it all wrong, and well, you just need to be aware of the rules.”
``Rules?” she gave a harsh laugh. ``Rules? There are rules at a rubbish dump?”
``They’re called tip mines now, and there are always rules.” I was surprised she didn’t know. Some of the stuff from the last century is so valuable – aluminum foil, plastic bottles – there have to be rules or tip miners would murder each other over a well preserved beer can.
``What are you looking for?” I asked. ``Got any focus objects? We want to help you, but you’re getting some of the others’ backs up. You gotta realize you can’t trespass on their claims.”
``Trespassing? Am I?” Her eyes suddenly filled with tears. ``I didn’t know. I’m not looking for the same as them anyway.”
I glanced at my watch. It was time I took a break, and the cool cafeteria up on the landfill would be a better place to argue it out with her than down on the baking hot surface of the tip itself.
``Come on up to the café,” I said. ``We can talk there, over a cup of Joe.”
I led the way. She was sniffling behind me like a kid caught stealing apples. The others watched us sympathetically then went back to their tasks. At least they knew while I was with her she wouldn’t be rummaging through their claims.
At the café, I ordered lunch and sat with her near the window. I waited until she had calmed down a bit, which she did after she sipped at her coffee.
``So,” I said, ``this is the deal - we tip miners watch out for each other. You understand the nature of a claim, don’t you? It’s your area, where you can mine as deep as you like and everything you uncover belongs to you. With so much great stuff buried in these landfill sites, it’s a valuable thing, a claim.”
She nodded. ``I know, I’m sorry. But I get so desperate.”
``What are you looking for?”
``I’m looking for one thing – one particular thing.”
Slowly, over coffee, she told me the whole story.
She had been married once, but divorced for longer. She had one daughter, a lovely girl called Felicity. As a child, Felicity had been spoiled, she admitted – far more than was good for her.
``But she was beautiful, and so happy – my parents were just crazy about her. Mom was always buying her special handmade gifts. Everywhere she went she would pick up something new. It had to be perfect, there couldn’t be a mark on it. She bought Felicity the doll.”
Her voice shaking, Rose described the doll to me. It was made to resemble the child it was bought for – a photo of the child was manipulated into 3D on a computer and a head cast from that. The doll looked exactly like Felicity. And she loved it, took it everywhere.
``She’d had the doll for a year, when I began to notice things,” she said. ``Just little things at first. One of the doll’s painted nails was chipped. Felicity cut her finger in the same place. Then the doll fell off the bed and there was a mark on its forehead where it hit the floor. The school called me and said Felicity had a fall in the playground.”
I reached for my coffee. The air seemed suddenly cold.
``One of the dolls legs became loose – Felicity fell off her bike and she was limping for a while. Things like that. I didn’t tell anyone, not even my mother,” she added in a whisper, ``they would have thought I was crazy, or tried to destroy it the doll. And – well, I couldn’t do anything to the doll, could I? I mean, I couldn’t – she drew in a long shuddering breath - ``burn it.”
``So what did happen?”
``I put the doll away so it wouldn’t get damaged. I was going to put it in a glass cabinet but as soon as I did, Felicity had an asthma attack – her first ever. She couldn’t breathe until I opened the cabinet. So I put the doll on a high shelf, I surrounded it with cotton wool – I tried to make it as safe as possible.”
``One day a bird got in through the window and knocked the doll off the shelf. The head was cracked.”
I waited, my mouth, I realized, hanging open.
``The hospital called me. Felicity was in a coma – she’d had a car accident. I rushed to the hospital of course – I sat by her side day after day – then it occurred to me. I went home and took the doll to a doll hospital. They fixed the crack – and she woke up.”
``And she was all right?”
``For a while. I took care of her, and Mom helped me sometimes. My parents, they didn’t come round much – Felicity wasn’t perfect any more. Then she started wandering off – sometimes she stayed out at night and I had the police looking for her. They’d find her sleeping on the street.” She looked up at me with haunted eyes. ``I tried locking her in, but she just kept finding a way out. She’s been gone for three weeks this time. The doctors told me she kept wandering because she was brain damaged, and I believed them. But a few days ago, I saw it – I hadn’t noticed before because I had so much else to think about. I’d put the doll back on the shelf, so it wouldn’t fall, and when I looked, it was gone.”
``You mean –“
``Mom threw it out, yes, threw it in the garbage because it was damaged. She didn’t know – I guess she couldn’t bear to look at it anymore, like she couldn’t bear to look at her grand child anymore. I should have told her about the doll.” She began to sob, and I sat helpless, not knowing what to say. As she spoke again, the tears continued to flow down her cheeks.
“My daughter’s soul is in the garbage – her mirror image is on that tip. And if I find the doll, and bring her home, and clean her up and put it safely back on the shelf – “ she left the rest unfinished.
With all of us digging, we found her by the end of the day. We lifted her tenderly out of the trash and carried her down to Rose, who fell on her knees, weeping, and tried to brush the dirt from her face.
We gathered around them, awed into silence by such grief.
But we never found the doll.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Thursday, August 11, 2005

Melody At Sunset by Anita Moscoso

When I was a teenager we use to go out to a place called Lost Lake and walk around the cemetery out on it's North End at Sunset.

That's all that left of Preston Prison which in it's day was such an awful place that no one in town would even admit to having known anyone who worked there, let alone say you had family or friends locked up behind it's bars.

Something about those walls changed people.
© anita marie moscoso 2005-text

It changed their faces and voices and natures so much that most of the staff ended up living on the grounds because their own kin wouldn't let them back through their own front doors after they'd been working at Preston.

Check the staff records against the records of the dead at the Cemetery in Lost Lake. You'd be surprised how many of those names match.

Later after they pulled the prison down they actually buried the stones, the bricks and bars and furniture, papers, books, clothes kitchenware too. There's a grave marker of sorts over the sight. It simply says,

" Preston Penitentiary B. 1899 D. 1942 Dead By Our Hands "

People use to go up there to hear see the ghosts of the condemned wandering the ruined tombstones. They were unable to leave the cemetery and you could hear them begging for God or the Devil or anybody to help them, and they were all suppose to be doing the same thing.

They were trying to dig up the graves with their bare hands. People guessed they were still trying to escape that Prison.

I was about 18 the year my friends and I made our first trip up to Lost Lake.

We knew this ritual ( and we knew that’s what it was called ) wouldn't work at noon or dawn or at midnight; you had to be there at Sunset in black and ready to walk the borders of the small neglected cemetery as the sun came down. If you did the ritual wrong something bad happened...instead of being able to look in you let something out.

I grew up around stories where people were suppose to have tried this and we knew what happened if your timing was off or you left something out or wore the wrong color.

" Do you remember Kelly O'Hara's sister Laura? The one who walked the cemetery gates? She died from a drug overdose last week," or " Remember that bunch of seniors who walked the Cemetery Gates back in 1981? Those four guys who always use to hang out together? They all died in car accidents last week...yeah ACCIDENTS.... plural they all live in different places but they all died last Saturday..."

When we went up we did what you were told to do to the letter.

We wore black we walked backwards and we also stopped at the front and back entrances and faced the gates and mimicked locking the gates.

Then we finished and faced in and there they were, the condemned, on their hands and knees and it looked liked they were trying to dig down to their caskets with their bare hands.

Men, some women in the clothes they were buried or executed were on their knees helplessly trying to touch the earth they were no longer part of. They cried, some were screaming others just crouched there shaking their heads from side to side and they were laughing.

They were the worst.

It was the woman buried closest to the gates that I learned the secret of Lost Lake from, the Phantom that haunts me to this day and who's image I will take with me to my own grave.

She was down by her own grave making the same motions over and over in the dirt and pine needles; so I simply leaned over on my side of the gate and copied her a few times. Then I put my hands down into the dirt on my side of the fence and copied her movements: I wrote, " I killed Bobbie Green, December 25, 1925 gunshot. "

When I asked later I learned that Melody Green was the Warden's wife and she shot him Christmas Morning because he bought her a dress she didn't like, probably because the card attached had his girlfriend's name on it instead of her own. I wouldn't have liked the dress either, if you want to know the truth.

But I wouldn't have shot him for it in front of my entire family.

They hung her in his office at the prison and I guess it took her a long time to die.

Melody's dieing words were supposed to have been the Prison made her do it. But in the end she pulled the trigger...didn't she? I guess she realizes that now, I think they all realize it now up at the Lake.

You can't see the Prison Walls anymore but they are still there, and there's no leaving them.

© anita marie moscoso 2005-text

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Ghost Town by Anita Moscoso

Domino Wilton can't drive passed those empty looking towns, or roads that branch off from the highway without thinking about her family's home in a little town called Bronson Bluffs.

They rented a house there so Domino's Dad could go back to school for a year and then he could become a teacher.

That choice meant a loss of income and her Parents decided the best way to economize was to live cheap and you could do that on the Bluffs because it was practically a ghost town and the houses were dirt cheap.

It meant an over an hours commute for her Dad to get to school and her Mom to get to work but it wasn't a hard choice to make in the end because Domino's Dad couldn't spend another hour working in the slaughter house at MacKay’s.

So one day they packed up and left for their new home on Bronson Bluffs.

For the rest of her life Domino was convinced they were the only people living on the Bluffs. No one could change her mind. Not her Parents not her Counselors or Doctors or later her husband could change her mind.

Bronson Bluffs wasn't practically a ghost town; it WAS a ghost town.

Domino remembered how the streets would be empty, the stores would be open, maybe a bag of groceries and a checkbook would be on the counter but there was no one in the store; Domino was sure of that.

Then she would turn around and look again and there was Mrs. Greene and her daughter Kirsten and a half dozen other people looking at the shelves, talking in front of the vegetable bins or buying a soda at the fountain. Domino could hear them talking as she'd walk away and their voices would fade to whispers and she knew if she turned around they'd be gone again.

Nothing on the Bluffs felt solid to Domino.

Domino and her brothers hadn't started school yet, which was not something Domino was anxious to do on the Bluffs even though she hated spending day and night with her brothers.

She hated the way her brothers were always crying or fighting and coughing and sneezing.

Her little brothers, Derek and Miles were 3 and 2 at the time. She was almost six at the time and after all these years she remembers the dark heavy circles around their eyes. How skinny they were.

" It's not their fault they're always sick, they have trouble sleeping " she heard her Mom telling her Father as they forced cough medicine down Mile's throat " they're run down. I don't know what to do. "

Domino would have gladly taken that purple spicy medicine and been sick herself all of the time then to go that school and have to sit next to those rotten smelling kids. She as much said so herself one day as they drove by the school.

" Domino! " her Mother had snapped " That's an awful thing to say! "

" Well, they do stink, they smell like rotten eggs and they talk to themselves and make those weird faces..."

Her Mother had given her a good scolding and a lecture about saying mean things and Domino refused to back down because of what she'd see from the Park.

Half a block up and just around the corner, Domino use to love to play at the Park until she started to notice the kids at the school across the street.

During recess the little kids would come out single file and head for the monkey bars or rings and tether ball pole and instead of playing together they'd wander off and talk to themselves, and Domino could see their faces twist into grimaces and she could hear their teeth chatter and click in their mouths and sometimes they knew Domino was looking and they'd fly to the fence and hiss at her in words she couldn't understand.

The last time she had gone to the Park a little girl had climbed up the fence at the school and she was saying something to Domino only Domino wasn’t listening because on her way up the fence the little girl's wrist had caught in between the links and snapped. She pulled it free with a grunt and continued up the fence and she reminded Domino of a spider inching it's way up a wall.

" Domino, Domino, Domino come here and listen to me Domino. "

Domino was fascinated by the girl’s wrist, which was now almost shaped like a "C". The little girl pulled angrily at the fence and Domino looked up, " let us out, let us out, open the gates and let us ALL out. "

" Why don't you just walk out? " Domino had asked the little girl with the dark brown eyes; so dark it looked like she didn't any eyes in her head at all. " Just walk out why don't you. "

" Let us out Domino, let us all out! "

" No! " Domino had yelled, " you stay in stay! " And as fast as she could Domino raced away from the school and the park. Why had she never noticed how dark that Park was? What were those things moving around in the trees? She kept looking over her shoulder at the school and she could hear the laughing and screeching that did sound like children playing, unless you really listened.

The sound was off key and wrong and it hurt Domino's ears just to listen to it for to long. Something wet was running down her neck and when she put her hand up to wipe it away she saw blood on her fingertips.

After that day Domino would cover her ears with her hands when she went by the school, even if she was in the car with her Parents.

There was a little Church; it looked like one that Domino had seen on a Christmas card once. It was white and had flowers out front and no windows. There was a heavy wooden beam nailed across the double doors and a little cemetery at it's back.

Domino’s family weren’t “ Church People “ and for the most part paid no attention to the sign out front inviting people to come and visit at 11:00 for Sunday Worship. In fact, it seemed that the entire town weren’t exactly “ Church People “ but Domino’s Mom did wonder why the door was nailed shut.

And why there were no windows.

They’d been living in the Bluffs for almost a month when Domino and her Dad had come home one day from a visit with Dad’s Mom, Grandma Carmen. There was a big Move-It truck in the front yard and her Mother was blindly throwing their things into the back of it.

Domino had never seen anything so wonderful in her life.

She ran around to the back of the truck and saw the bed was littered with furniture and pictures and pots and pans and if it was fragile it was broken because Domino’s Mom was tossing stuff in the back and she wasn’t obviously concerned with things like packing paper and boxes.

“ Jesus Katie, what are you doing? “ Domino’s Dad asked.

“ I’m moving us out Max, that’s what I’m doing. You can help or you can sit, but I suggest you help because if it’s not in this truck in the next 15 minutes it stays. That goes for you to by the way. “

“ Katie! Come on, why are you doing this? “

“ I went to sign Domino up for school today. “

“ Uh-oh “ Domino had said “ the Smelly kids? Did you see the smelly kids? “

Her Mom wasn’t listening, “ those things, those awful things were crawling up the walls…

“ Like Spiders? “ Domino asked.

Mom’s ears had been bleeding two little red lines ran down her neck and shoulders and she looked at Domino and said, “ just like Spiders. "

Domino's Dad was yelling now, yelling for Domino's Mom to stop it, stop this craziness of course they couldn't just take off and leave their house, leave everything behind.

" Oh yes we can, " Mom hissed, " Look behind you Max and tell me what you see. "

Domino could see it; Dad didn't want to turn around. " Why? " he asked

" You can feel it, can't you Max? So turn around, it's Mrs. Gunderson from across the street. Turn around Max and look at her. "

Domino looked around her Father's legs and then looked up at her Father and shook her head. There' were no words for her to describe Mrs. Gunderson because what Domino saw made no sense.

No sense at all.

" Don't turn around Daddy, " she said, " please don't turn around. "

But he did, Domino knew he would.

Mrs. Gunderson was walking by and she was smiling like the nice old lady she appeared to be. Only her feet weren't touching the ground and her head was lying over to one side. " Good afternoon " she said with a pleasant tight smile. Her eyes rolled back up into her head and she smiled brightly, " leaving us so soon? "

" Truck, " Domino's father said, " get in the truck Domino. "

Domino saw that Mrs. Gunderson's voice was coming out of her mouth, but her mouth wasn't moving her lips were parted slightly and Domino thought of a rag doll.

That's what Mrs. Gunderson looked like, a rag doll being shook and forced to move and makes sounds like a real girl.

Only of course a rag doll is just a doll and not a real girl.

And of course Mrs. Gunderson wasn't a real lady, she couldn't be.

Mrs. Gunderson crossed the street to her house and as she floated up the stairs to her front door Domino could hear the thump thump of her toes hitting against the steps.

The door opened for Mrs. Gunderson on it's own and slammed shut right after her.

" It's gets better Max, I drove by the Park on my way from the school and have you ever looked in the trees? "

" They're full of shoes. " Domino said with authority.

Her Mother looked down at her and her Mother asked her like she was a grown-up " Is that all you saw Domino? "

Domino nodded, " I played there a lot and I saw, the trees are full of shoes "

" The trees Max" Domino's Mom said to her father without taking her eyes away from Domino " are full of people and they're hanging from the trees by their necks. Your daughter only saw their shoes. She played there Max, almost every single day we've lived here. "

" They don't bother me, not like the kids at the school or the people in the library or that man in the attic..."

" I can't listen to this anymore, " Mom said " get in the truck."

They left town that night and on the way out they saw the School Kids playing in the schoolyard. Domino and her family watched as the Children ran and twitched and whirled, caught up in a windstorm only they could be part of.

Domino saw the shoes in the trees dancing and kicking and all the while she could hear gurgling sounds and cries and everytime the shoes dropped they were yanked back up into the dark tree tops again.

They ended up at Grandma's house and Domino heard her Parents and Grandparents talking until sunrise.

They never talked to each other about the Bluffs again, but for years later they knew the others were thinking about Bronson because Domino or her Brothers or Parents would sometimes scream themselves awake from terrible nightmares and everyone would pretend they hadn't heard a thing.

Now days Domino Wilton can't drive passed those empty looking towns, or roads that branch off from the highway without thinking about her family's home in a little town called Bronson Bluffs and when she does pass them she pushes down as hard on the gas pedal without realizing it and stares into her rearview mirror until she's sure those little towns or roads can't see her anymore.

At least she hopes they can't.
© anita marie moscoso 2005-text

Monday, August 08, 2005

A weird night at the Duwamish Motel

I scared a ghost.
It hovered over me, the pearlescent, misty form of a woman, then it screamed – it looked at me and screamed in horror, flicking back like smoke in a puff of wind.
Then it vanished.
Shaking, I slithered out bed and fell to the floor. My first thought was to run, but the ghost had completely vanished, and my legs wouldn’t work anyway. My second thought was that I should have listened to the locals that told me not to come near the Duwamish Motel. Strange happenings there, they said, and the owner, Mr Brede, was supposed to have murdered his wife. He was seen burying something in a nearby field. But it was both Mr Brede and his wife who greeted me at the reception desk, so I dismissed that as scurrilous gossip.
My third thought was to get back into bed and pull the covers over my head. I went with that one.
And she came back.
This time she pressed down on me, not like a weight, but with some force I couldn’t see.
``What are you DOING here?” she demanded. ``Who the hell are you? This is MY bed.”
``Not anymore,” I shouted back at her. ``I hired the room two hours ago – and nobody told me someone died here.”
``I am not dead!” the ghost snapped. ``I’m astral traveling.”
I sat up straight in bed. ``Where’s your silver cord?” I said. Everyone knows that a silver cord connects you to your corporeal body while you’re astral traveling, so you don’t get lost.
She looked blank. ``What silver cord?”
``You didn’t know about the silver cord? No wonder - ” I said. ``Was this your first time?”
``Yes – I got the instructions out of a book, How to Have an Out Of Body Experience In 30 Days or Your Money Back. It looked cool – I had to try it.”
``Did you read all of it?”
``No, I just skipped to the meditation bit.” She hung her ghostly head. ``Thirty days seemed such a long time to wait.”
Suddenly she flickered, growing dim, as if some of the ectoplasm, or whatever you call it, had drained away.
``Oh no,” she said. ``I couldn’t have.”
``Died?” I suggested. ``That’s possible. Maybe you really are a ghost.”
``But I only checked into the motel yesterday. The book said I needed a place where I could be completely alone. And I just went for a short trip.”
``Without your silver cord,” I reminded her.
There was a sharp rap on the door. ``You having trouble in there?”
``Must be Mrs Brede,” I said to my astral visitor. ``I’d better let her in.”
I opened the door. ``I heard you yelling,” Mrs Brede said. ``Is everything OK?”
Suddenly there was something very familiar about her. I looked at her, and I looked at my `ghost’.
``Oops,” I said.
``What are you doing in my body!” The astral traveler screamed. The woman backed away and raced off into the night, with the astral traveler in hot pursuit.
I guess Mrs Brede just couldn’t resist the opportunity to hop into an uninhabited body after her untimely death. As I raced out to my car I passed Mr Brede, swinging limply from a tree branch with a rope around his neck.
I jumped in my car and didn’t look back.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Strangers Head

Part I

The night was dark and dreary
I was feeling kind of weary
The light of the moon
Lit up the room
Like a spot light
In the dark of night
I abandoned my loom
Sensing impending doom
I moved to the window
Brushing the hair from my brow
I looked out into the night
What I saw gave me quite a fright
Standing on the ground below
Staring up at my window
Was a headless man
His head in his hand
I tried to hide my face
Behind the curtain lace
It was then he spoke to me
“Don’t be afraid lady
I come for your help
To reattach my scalp
You see it was said
That you go late to bed
And you were my best bet
To reattach my head.”

Part II

I pondered the strangers request
All the town can attest
I am the woman most prepared
To reattach the strangers head
I went and met him at the door
He looked like he belonged in folklore
I invited him in
I led him to my sewing room
And lit some candles against the gloom
I got some water
And suggested a doctor
Might yield a greater effect
He said “I must protect
the secrets of my people.”
This caused my mind to boggle
What had I let myself into
Looking at the sinew
That protruded from his neck
First I had to check
That I had the correct tools
I gathered some spools
Of thread and my needles
And prayed to my angels
That my stitching tonight
Would be more than alright.

Part III

I bathed the wound
Which made him swoon
I threaded the needle
And with a bit of fiddle
His head upon his neck was placed
There we stood face to face
Starting to stitch
Using a topstitch
Trying to keep my stitches quite small
I tried to recall
A time
That stitching of mine
Held so much importance
I wondered what instance
Had befallen this man
From which unknown clan
Did he belong
Whose song
Did he sing
What secret did he bring
The stranger dressed in capes of black
I pulled the slack
From the thread
As I attempted to reattach his head.

Part IV

The night was growing long
The stitching only half done
It was then the stranger spoke
He was a most mysterious bloke
He spoke in riddle
Of which I understood little
I kept on with my stitching
I looked forward to finishing
It was then he told a tale of woe
That sounded rather like Poe
The wind outside was howling
I could hear a cat meowing
Suddenly the window blew open
And in from the dark blew a raven
Landing on the loom
In the corner of the room
I felt quite frightened
Wondering when this nightmare might end

Part V

I continued stitch by stitch
Trying not to twitch
With the raven watching over
My shoulder
It was nearing dawn
When the stitching was done
Little had been said
While I reattached the strangers head
The stranger reached into his pocket
And pulled out a velvet
While I settled on the couch
He handed me the bag of gold
Saying it was very old
Thanking me for my kindness
And my stitching quite painless
Then he was gone
Into the rising dawn
The raven on his shoulder

Part VI

I woke at noon
In my sewing room
I thought it but a dream
So it might seem
Upon the loom a ravens feather
And a bag of gold from the stranger.

© Megan Warren August 2005

My finish to Heather's project

See this small white hand wrapped in blood soaked leather,
See this small white hand wedded to a ring of beaten gold,
This small white hand once held mine,
It is my wife’s hand.

I’ve watched this hand sew stitches too small to be seen,
I’ve felt the touch of this hand on hot and fevered nights,
When its touch was all I craved.
It is your hand, my wife.

How comes my hunter to possess this small white hand,
When it was a wolf’s paw that he severed from its joint,
A killing wolf, a wolf that tore flesh
With my wife’s hand?

How come you to be sitting here without a light,
Your bloodied arm wrapped in a rag, your eyes wild,
While I hold your small white hand,
My wife’s small tender hand?

See, the full moon rises, soon both our secrets will be exposed,
Ours will be a savage mating, and then we’ll hunt the night as one.
I should have known about you, wife.
Wolves mate for life.

Warning Label: This Blog Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

This is a warning to all who are considering Anita's invitation and Shiloh's challenge.

Willow charcoal is used by artists to lay out the first lines of a portrait. Thin and delicate, it breaks easily, but these very qualities ensure that the artist will employ a light touch. Lines must not be deeply etched into paper in solid black while an idea is being born or they will transfer from paper to eye, to brain and changes will be nearly impossible.

Charcoal can be smudged, erased with the touch of a finger tip. The shadows left behind remind the artist where he hopes to go but do not force him to go there.

Why am I telling you this? Because all the arts share things in common and there are places where the arts turn dark.

If you must write here in the Chamber, hurry on with your plot, keep it moving swiftly, don't linger over characters or concentrate on details! Do you ever wonder what Delphine looks like, what the exact shade of her hair is when she sits reading and the light hits it just so, or if she tilts her head when she hears a strange noise? Don't ponder these things! Do not use specific words to describe her or employ your other senses! You've asked yourself what scent she used, haven't you? I knew it! Do not explore this question or ask yourself about the quality of her voice, if it's low and mellifluous or high pitched and raspy.

You still don't understand. Let me tell you a story. I used to like to draw portraits. Used to. I would start with the eyes, the mirror of the soul, they say. I knew if I could get a likeness there, I'd have success with the whole face. I drew mostly children and older people, people I knew well. One day a friend asked me to draw a portrait of her boss from a photograph. As usual, I began with the eyes.

I felt them looking back at me, but I'd experienced this feeling before on good drawing days, so I didn't worry. When I got to the mouth I had some difficulties, a smile just wouldn't come, the lips refused and I erased over and over again. I decided to switch to the hair. That was when I swore the eyes blinked. I discounted it, of course, until the lips formed a smirk and the eyes blinked again. I threw my drawing pad down and fled into the kitchen. When I came back, I crumpled the paper and threw it and the photo in the waste basket, but every time I opened my pad again the face was back, angrier and more snarly than before.

I took everything, drawingpad, photo, and charcoal outside and and did the only thing I could think of; I set fire to them.

To this day I can't get the sound of those screams out of my head.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Another Great Project from Heather!

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.

Finish this story



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.

( So far, that sounds about right. That's about all my husband the Nobleman did in those days...he believed one of our station should never do anything, that's what the help was for. Fetch this fetch that turn your head and cough for me, ask about a hunt instead of riding out and taking a look for himself. )

While in the forest, the hunter stumbled upon a wolf.

(That was me, only at the time I wasn't a wolf. I mean, think about it, daylight no full moon. I was out for a ride alone and the hunter? He had Roman Fingers and Russian Hands...if you get my drift.)

In the ensuing struggle, he severed one of the wolf's paws and placed it in his pouch.

(Sicko, when he couldn't get me to submit he cut off my hand and tried to take my head. But even in human form I'm not exactly without defenses. In fact, had I not lost my hand I could've snapped his neck.)

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.

(He never had my 'paw' but he had to explain what he thought were my poor hacked up remains...and remember there was always the chance someone say us talking in the Woods that day. I always rode on well traveled paths. Safety first you know.)

The nobleman recognized 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 the time he found me in the kitchen the sun was starting to set and I was going to was a full moon that night. So I told him, indeed I was a Werewolf but I wasn't a wolf that afternoon and that I hadn't attacked the Hunter. He attacked me first.Now my husband was a spoiled rich pampered Nobleman. But he wasn't a bad spoiled rich pampered Nobleman. As far as they go, he was an upright guy.

He asked me, after seeing my stump and cut neck, would I remember the Hunter? Could I find him if I wanted to?

Oh yes, I told him, after all, we Werewolves travel in packs. If I couldn't find him one of the others could. But all the same, the Hunter and I would meet again. My husband smiled...smirked really and kissed my cheek. Then he told me to have a pleasant evening and that he would see me in the morning. )

That's my story...the real story of the Shewolf of Auvergne

The Heller Asylum & Medical School

What remains today of the Asylum
( Back Right- The Infamous "Plague Church "

The Medical School

A sign on the entrance door appeared last week. It reads, " Accepting Applications for Students and Staff "
No one knows where it came from

Can You See The Story?

This is a Real Story and I thought it has the potential to inspire some writings from our group. I'm curious: what story do you see?
Anita Marie

Coffin From Civil War Uncovers Mystery By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer
Thu Aug 4, 4:43 PM ET

The rusty iron coffin stubbornly resisted hammer and chisel as researchers in a warm Smithsonian laboratory sought a glimpse of an American who lived more than a century and a half ago.

An electric drill, its orange cord snaking around the pre-Civil War artifact, finally freed the lid.

"This is a person and we want to tell this person's story. She is our primary obligation," anthropologist Doug Owsley said as the lid was lifted to reveal a young body wrapped in a brown shroud.

The scientists hope to identify the remains so they can have a properly marked grave. In the process, they have a chance to learn about mortuary practices of the period, what disease and trauma people may have suffered, their diet, past environments, clothing and perhaps even social customs.

Based on the small size, they had expected the coffin to contain a female body. On examination, it turned out to be a boy, about age 13.

The coffin was found in April by utility workers digging in Washington.

Owsley, head of physical anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History, said the body was well preserved. The young man wore a shirt and vest, pants and drawers, all hand-sewn, as well as a pair of socks. Only the socks appeared machine-made, Owsley said Thursday.

"I think ultimately we'll be able to determine who he was and what the cause of death was," he said. Owsley said the young man's right lung had adhesions indicating an infection, possibly pneumonia, and calcifications of the lymph nodes from infections.

The cast iron coffin was shaped a bit like an Egyptian mummy and is of a type called Fisk style patented in 1848. This particular model was popular in the early 1850s among the well-to-do, Owsley said.

Because they are sealed, cast iron coffins tend to yield well persevered bodies. Indeed, the young person looked not unlike an ancient mummy, even though he had not gone through the Egyptian embalming procedures.

The Washington iron coffin was one of three opened this week in Owsley's lab.

Two others are from a Caswell family cemetery near Kinston, N.C. Their grave markers have been lost and the museum is helping the family identify the remains — comparing them with family records — so they can be reburied in newly marked graves.

Water had gotten into those coffins, causing the remains to deteriorate.

Nonetheless, anthropologist Kari Bruwelheide said researchers had identified two gallstones in one body that might have contributed to death. The other showed no signs of sickness or trauma, said Bruwelheide, a specialist in skeletons.

Both sets of remains were of middle-aged women. Both had dental work, including gold fillings, and in one, a porcelain crown.

The Washington remains are in much better condition, with skin and soft tissues intact. Researchers were using long cotton swabs to get samples they could test for toxins and bacteria.

Human remains from burials are a rich source of information about the past. Owsley's team has studied many of them over the years, though only a few have been from cast-iron coffins, which were rare and expensive.

On hand for the opening, in addition to Owsley's research team, were scientists from other museum departments and students from East Carolina State University.

After the Washington coffin was opened the body was carefully removed for CT scanning. An autopsy will be performed.


On the Net:

National Museum of Natural History:

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Stone Hearts by Anita Moscoso

We sat side by side at the abandoned railway station looking out onto the dead tracks.

" I don't sing, I don't dance and I don't do poetry " I told my companion " but I do know stories. Lots of them. "

The woman next to me settled back against the rotting wooden bench and stretched her arms in front of herself and I could see her fingernails were long and polished and curled slightly at the tips.
" I like stories, so go ahead. Tell me one. "

It was a challenge.

Fine, I like challenges.

" There once was a woman, who lived on the Bluffs above Deadwood Hall, her name was Cecelia Marrow. "

I heard my companion draw a long deep breath and I could feel her staring at the side of my head and I knew she wasn't smiling. " Marrow, as in..." she began.

" Marrow of your bones " I said " which is how she affected people. To the Marrow of their bones. She wasn't a pleasant woman. She was the Pharmacists wife and everyone thought she married him just so she could be near all those...potions. "

" They flirted with her, those pretty things in the jars " I heard my companion say.

" Yes they did, " I said " It was an infatuation at first. She'd hold those little bottles up to the sunlight and admire them the same way other women would admire jewelry or fine fabrics or even flowers. She'd hold them up and nothing else was more real to her then what was inside of those bottles."

" She looked very pretty, soft, and sweet when she was behind the counter standing among those jars and bottles with their hand written labels. Then someone would walk into the shop and her face would harden into a mask, a grimace and she would stand between you and those medicines and dare you to reach out and touch them. She was jealous, even then. "

" She was obsessed " was whispered right into my ear and I had to clench my hands together so that I wouldn't reach out and slap my companion away.

" Oh she was, she would walk into the shop in the morning after dreaming of her lovers all night and she would stand there with flushed cheeks and a racing heart. Then those powders and liquids and roots and herbs would whisper to her, whisper things that they could do for her, gladly, blindly and with pleasure...for her just for her. "

" What did they give her? "

" Lives, they gave her lives the same way a young man gives flowers or chocolates to his sweetheart. They would escape the shop at night and find their way into the food stored in kitchens and the water in the wells. They found their way onto fruits and vegetables still growing on vines and in the trees and fields, they would hide themselves in clothing, blankets toothpaste and perfumes. There was wasn't a place her love wouldn't go to find tokens of it's affection "

" When it was done, most of Marrow Falls was dead. All that was left was Cecelia, her husband Ben and a handful of families. But they were not well people, Cecelia's Lovers hadn't been able to kill them but they ruined them all the same. Sickened them for the rest of their short tortured lives. "

" She was caught, " my companion said.

" Do you know the people of Marrow Falls were once simply called the River People and they knew this; the River was alive. Its full of ghosts. They buried their dead there you see. That River” I said pointing beyond the fence where we could hear rushing water “ is a cemetery.”

I continued, “ she tried to escape on a Barge down the River to Duwamish and it was more then the Sprits could bear, her walking on those graves like that, so they reached up out of the water and pulled her over the side and held her down and then they took her face. "

" Didn’t they? " I asked my companion.

" She wears a mask now " my companion told me but no matter what she puts on her ruined face it turns to stone and each stone face is a cursed face"

" You're from the River, you’re from the Falls, aren't you? " my Companion asked.

" Yes. "

" Will you let me go? Will you ask the River People to let me leave? "

I looked straight into that stone face, the face that froze hearts in terror...not for it's ugliness but because the true curse of the River People was this; my Companions face would always mirror the Sins of the person looking into it. That was the terror, to look into this creatures face and see your own monster carved in marble staring back at you.

She would never know love of any kind ever again.

I put my face close to hers and said, " Never. "

Then I got up and walked up over the little hill and into the waters and all the time I could hear my Companion...weeping.

Or maybe she was laughing.

It all sounds the same from down here.
© anita marie moscoso 2005-text


This was a Story Challange Heather put out and I wrote " Deadwood Farm " and " The Gravedigger's Daughter". What story will you come back with after visiting Goya's Devouring Monsters?

Image Hosted by

The Mystery of Goya's Saturn

The painting known as 'Saturn Devouring One of His Sons', by Francisco Goya, presents us with a terrifying cannibal god, Kronos, whom he depicts as a wild, revolting figure, consuming his offspring. The ancient deity looks crazed, his eyes are atrocious and the painting is one of those which imprints itself on the psyche of those who examine it closely.

'Saturn Devouring One of His Sons' springing from the Kronos myth, was a part of Goya's 'Black Painting' series when Goya 'carved his fates and inscribed his nighmares directly onto plaster.'

The earliest version of the Kronos myth--Saturn is the later Roman name--was written down by Hesiod in his Theogony, around the eighth century, B.C.E.

First comes Chaos; then Earth/Gaia; Tartarus in the bowels of Earth; and finally Eros. Earth gives birth to Heaven, also known as Ouranos, and then bears twelve of his children, the last, "most terrible of sons/The crooked-scheming Kronos." Earth and Ouranos have three more sons, so fearsome and mighty that Ouranos forces them back inside their mother, burying them alive. She forms a sickle, and asks her other sons to use it against their father, "For it was he/Who first began devising shameful acts." All are afraid, except Kronos. She gives him the sickle, hides him in her, and he castrates his father, preventing him from having more children, then assumes power among the Titans. But fear lives in his heart; a usurper himself, he learns that one of his own children will usurp him, and he devours them at birth:

As each child issued from the holy womb
And lay upon its mother's knees, each one
Was seized by mighty Kronos, and gulped down.

Through a ruse by his mother, the last born, Zeus, survives, leads a war against Kronos, and casts him down to Tartarus. Even gods cannot overcome Fate.

Reviewers have asked what it was that Goya recognized in himself that charged the work with such raw, wounding power? Jason Scott Morgan, for example, alludes to the traditional father and son narrative which has been presented in, amongst other documents, the Bible.

Maybe Goya was painting this narrative but I suspect not. Before he began the Black Paintings, Goya survived a near fatal illness, documented in his Self-portrait with Dr. Arrieta. Goya depicts himself as a "pained and weary artist, surrounded by dark, phantasmal faces." It is plausible that Saturn was painted as a way to express the lonely terror of mortality. Since my husband's body has been ravaged by a third round of bowel cancer, and we have faced the lonely terror of mortality, I have every reason to think that this is likely. If I could paint I would paint Atrophe, towering like a giant, scissors in hand, tormenting us with the reality that she has the power to cut the thread at any moment. Goya's Saturn touches me deeply because it expresses shared pain and his Atropos paints the dark dreams that haunt me.

Image Hosted by

So what charged Goya's painting of Saturn? As his health declined, as he stared creative impotence in the eyes - Saturn's eyes, Atrophos's scissors his work gathered momentum and a dark force. It doesn't really matter if Goya threw away his pastels and used someone like Saturn as a metaphor to represent the terror of creative impotence. Who cares if Goya used Saturn as a metaphor to depict the 'black dog' that consumes artists offspring -- that hungrily devours work deemed, for whatever reason, not to be of any merit, not to fit the stereotypical mould. The main thing is that Goya went right outside the square and painted with force that speaks with passion today.

I imagine Goya must have smiled wryly when he realised that he had captured the demonic figure who had lived with him all his life. But most of all I am grateful that he has so powerfully captured the demon who lurks in my nightmares, for I know now that I am not alone.

Gravesway and Associates by Anita Moscoso

Darwin Chubrough once spent an entire summer in the abandoned mining town of Gravesway with nothing except the cold and dust and the dead for company.

He had gone alone to Gravesway to photograph and draw the abandoned houses, stores, church, saloons and a little brick schoolhouse. He had spent an eventful week exploring the graveyard and one morning tried to follow the railroad tracks that wound their way up Cavanaugh Mountain.

He was forced back by deadfall and rock slides after a freak rainstorm.

He didn't know the devastation from the slides were much worse in the valley. It wasn't until later he realized that he was trapped in this place where nothing lived...and nothing died.


Darwin met Mr. Gravesway and his Associates the day after the storm. He was staying in the abandoned Saloon, because it had a good roof and the rooms though dusty were dry and very livable despite having been standing empty of almost 100 years.

One day Darwin heard the doors downstairs open then shut and footsteps coming up the stairs to his room.

He heard snatches of conversation and he even heard someone sniff then sneeze.

Then there was a knock on his door and it swung open slowly and a good natured looking man who looked as if he enjoyed more then one trip to the bottom of the occasional bottle of hard liquor said " hello there Sir. I was wondering if you'd care to join my friends and me downstairs for a drink or two. "

That was Mr. Gravesway, the first dead person Darwin ever met.

And he wouldn't be the last.

" Well give you a moment. " The Gentleman said and then he was gone and the door was pulled slowly shut.

Darwin was rooted to the spot, unable to move because his mind was to busy having a conversation with itself and had no time to respond to the little voice that was Darwin begging his legs to move or run or for his voice to work enough to scream just a little.

" I just saw a dead man, a pale shade of a man I could almost see through invite me downstairs for a drink. Isn't that the darndest thing Darwin? I mean did you see that? "

RUN! The little voice was yelling.

" I don't think he was alone, that's the bad part. I don't mean just bad I mean you are so screwed BAD. So what should I do? "

" I think I should get the Hell out of here!" his voice screamed back to his brain out loud.

From downstairs someone cleared their throat and called up cordial and nice as you please, " Everything okay up their Sir?"

Darwin stood in the middle of his room, his face as pale and drained of blood and life as the man who'd just been upstairs to talk to him and he called back, " just a second! "

And then he fainted.

Mr. Gravesway and his Associates were looking down at the man on the floor. He had a round pleasant face and he wore wire-rimmed glasses. His hair was dark and curly and he was in need of a shave.

" Poor fellow, " said a voice with no body to house it, " I thought this might be to much for him. Really Gravesway, couldn't you have been a little less obvious? "

" What would you like to do? That business where we write in the dust? Talk into his tape recorder when he's not here? Go into his head when he sleeps and let him dream us? Parlor tricks for ghosts and we're not Ghosts. Remember that ladies and gentleman, we're not ghosts. "

" That's our problem, isn't it? " said a little girl holding a china doll in a blue dress.

Mr. Gravesway nodded. " Yes it is Tanith, that's our problem alright. "

" Do you think he can help us? " the little girl asked.

Mr. Gravesway peered into the round friendly face of Darwin Chubrough and saw he wasn't completely passed out. He said firmly and happily " Yes I think he can ".

When Darwin came to, Mr. Gravesway was sitting on the sun-seat and he stood in alarm as Darwin's eyes began to roll back into his head. " Oh, don't do that again young man. That can't be good for you to keep fainting like that. Look, I'm all alone and I'm going to sit right here and not do anything...unpredictable. But I am going to tell you a story and when I'm done I'm hoping you can help my Associates and myself. If not, it doesn't matter we're still going to help you find your way out of Gravesway..."

" Road..." Darwin croaked.

" Oh, that's gone I'm afraid. Buried under a mountain of landslide. But there are other ways. Tunnels and the like. We'll help you Mr...

" My name is Darwin Chubrough "

" Mr Chubrough..."

" Darwin, call me Darwin " he said as he sat up.

Gravesway extended his hand and Darwin stood to shake it and their hands passed right through each other. Gravesway held his hand up to the sunlight and his good-natured face suddenly looked sad and he started to remember...

" The sickness came the day we started mining over in 64. She was a treacherous mine. She collapsed, sent up rotten air that made people sick for days. That was just the beginning.
Once we got her working the suicides started, the sicknesses started and people started to fade..."

" Die you mean? " Darwin asked quietly.

" Not all of them "

" Excuse me? Some people lived? "

" No, I mean only parts of us died. This sickness only took parts of us. "

Darwin was puzzled and he before he could ask Mr Gravesway seemed to wake up and he said, " It was as strange illness Darwin. You see, it killed our souls and left the rest of us behind to fade like old photographs. "

" I guess Mr Chubrough, you'd call us Zombies. "

From below the window Darwin thought he heard voices passing by, maybe a dog or two barking and even an echo of laughter. They were everyday sounds. He looked over Mr Gravesway's shoulder into the empty street below and asked, " Do they know, do they know they're different now? "

" Some of them, poor wretches. You know, they can't tell if they're dreaming or awake. Most of them thank God, think they're just dreaming...things you see look very unreal to them. " Gravesway stood and joined Darwin as he looked out the window. " I see my town, alive as it was the day I took ill and became this. In a moment I'll see something that happened a year ago, two days ago or a year from now. I might find myself in my office or riding my horse into the hills "

" After a while you just fade and fade till youÂ’re an echo. Then you go crazy and we think, we think we go into the mines. "

Gravesway echoed to him self sadly; " we go into the mines forever. "

Darwin looked into GraveswayÂ’ s fading face and understood. " It's happening to you now, isn't it? "

" Once it does you know, well the others...they're young folk for the most part, they'll be young and left alone to face this. It's a terrible thing Darwin for a young person to look into oblivion alone. "

" I guess I'm asking you Darwin, to help me figure a way out of this. I can't believe there's nothing we can do. "

And that's Darwin learned later is why Mr. Gravesway outlived most of his Associates.

He simply refused to let go.

Darwin was alone in his room that night and from his window he heard the town of Gravesway come to life. He heard music from the Saloons, he heard wives scolding husbands, he heard horses and mining equipment being worked. He could hear some fighting and in the distance a gunshot or two.

Then he picked up his notebook and aimlessly wrote, " Tanith, maybe aged eight. Doll with a blue dress. Wise beyond her years. I think she was like that...before. " And then he wrote, " Only heard a voice, no image. Older man Irish accent..."

The crying from the rooms downstairs was soul wrenching, " Mr. Gravesway, MR GRAVESWAY! My Tanith is GONE, oh God... the Mines she's gone into the mines. Mr. Gravesway please help me find my Tanith! "

Darwin raced down the stairs and saw a woman as solid as himself crying onto the shoulder of the fading Mr. Gravesway. He didn't startle at the sight of Mr. Gravesway empty eye sockets. It would have been ungentlemanly to do so and even though he doubted she could feel it, he rested a comforting hand on the shoulder of Tanith's heartbroken Mother.

Later in the evening Darwin was standing at the Bar, tended by a very lively man by the name of Leo. " Sorry I can't offer you a drink there Darwin...but..."

" It's okay. So tell me Leo. How are you, you know feeling. "

" Lost my Granddad this morning. At least, I think it was this morning. Maybe it was a month know how it goes around here."

Darwin let that pass because Leo's grief was at the moment very real to the both of them.

" He knew all these great songs and stories from the old country. Could keep us laughing and crying for hours. "

" Old country? "

" Ireland, he was from Ireland. " Leo said with pride but Darwin was all ready halfway up the stairs to his room and pulling his notebook from his backpack and screaming for Mr. Gravesway before Leo was even finished speaking his sentence.

Darwin spent the rest of that summer with the People of Gravesway. He wrote down their stories and drew pictures of things they told him they could see and with each memory they left with Darwin they were able to leave Gravesway.

Not by the mines, according to Mr. Gravesway, but by train.

Mr. Gravesway hung on until the end, or tried to.

One morning he told Darwin it was done. Everyone in Gravesway was gone...almost.

So through that morning Mr. Gravesway worked with Darwin on maps, detailed maps Darwin would become famous for. These maps detailed lost mines and hidden cities far beneath the earth and a way for Darwin to leave the valley.

It wasn't until Gravesway time had come that Darwin realized the extra details were a gift from Gravesway... a fate altering gift.

Within a few years Darwin's family would become wealthy and well known for the discoveries they would make because of what was on these maps.

And above all they would be all known for their good hearts and generosity.

As the last detail was drawn in Darwin realized Mr. Gravesway was gone... most likely he was on his way to the Mines he feared so much and was willing to face for his friends and Associates. Darwin cried onto his journal, hoping with each stroke of his pen that he wasn't to late: Mr. Gravesway was my good friend and a good man.

Darwin didn't know if that was enough, he hoped with all his heart it was.

Across the street in the Station Darwin was unable to see, Mr. Gravesway boarded his train. As it took him out of Gravesway he wished he could have told Darwin that thought was more then enough.

And one day he had no doubt he'd be able to tell Darwin himself.
© anita marie moscoso 2005-text