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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mae Naak - A Thai Ghost Story

There is no Thai who does not know Mae Naak. While mentioning her can make young children run and scream hysterically in the "Nang Naak game", mothers invoke Mae Naak's name to quiet their crying infants; otherwise, the ghost might break their necks and eat their heads with chilly sauce. The gothic tale of Mae Naak Phra Khanong has been filmed more than twenty times; moreover, every one of them is a box-office hit. Thai youths grow up watching her ghostly tale on television.

Whether Nang Naak was a real person or just a fabrication is still as mysterious as the myth itself. There is no historical evidence of her existence. However, most Thais tend to believe her story is genuine, or at least some parts are. Popular legend tells that she was born in the Phra Khanong area of Bangkok about a hundred and thirty years ago during the later period of King Rama IV (1851 - 1868) and died of childbirth complications some eighteen years later in the early part of King Rama V's regime (1868 - 1910). Others assume that she lived during the reign of King Rama III (1841 - 1851). Some believers even date her presence back to more than two hundred years ago in mid-eighteen century Ayutthaya.

Likewise, the detailed background of Nang Naak also varies from one tale to another, from being an ordinary farm girl to the daughter of the village chief. Nonetheless, her doomed fate and horrible deed stay the same. It begins as a love story. A teenage girl named Naak falls deeply in love with a handsome young man, Nai Maak. Some sources state that the couple are childhood lovers who grow up together, while another version take on the more tragic flavor of "Romeo and Juliet" in which their romance is opposed by Nang Naak's wealthy and powerful father, for Maak is of poorer and lower origin. No matter how harsh or smooth the situation is, they eventually manage to be together. Shortly after they get married, Nai Maak is conscripted for military service, involuntarily leaving his pregnant bride behind with tear and fear. The dutiful wife waits for her lover's return, but that day never comes in her lifetime. Haplessly, Nang Naak dies during labor along with her unborn child. Although they are buried instantly according to local tradition, her strong spirit refuses to perish. When Nai Maak comes back from the war, the ghost of Nang Naak disguises herself and her "infant son" as humans. Their uncanny reunion is sweet but brief. Despite her arduous effort to blind Nai Maak to reality, Nang Naak cannot prevent him from learning the truth of her death. The revelation itself provides one of the most memorable scenes in the story when Maak sees his wife grotesquely stretching her arm through the floorboard of their elevated house to pick up a fallen lime, or a knife in another version, on the ground.

The supernatural romance then transforms into a macabre horror. The terrified husband runs away, and the scary ghost follows. There are many gory accounts of how Nang Naak chases, harasses, and even kills whoever comes between Maak and her. In order to get rid of the gruesome spirit, the villagers resort to all the possible religious means including exorcist and voodoo shaman, which soon prove to be futile.

Another rendition states that Maak remarries after the death of Nang Naak. The jealous ghost is enraged, and she terrorizes the new couple along with the miserable community. In all versions, Maak finally takes refugee in the Mahabute temple. Defying the monks, Nang Naak persists and pursues. At last, a gifted young novice from far away comes to the village and rests her tormented soul.

Certain versions claim it is the venerated Somdej Phra Puttajan from Thonburi who seizes the fierce spirit, whereas some editions combine the two together as the heroes. In all cases, the Buddhist representative imprisons Nang Naak in a ceramic pot and drops it in the river. In some of the renditions, the skull of Nang Naak is made into a belt buckle by the monk, which passes into the possession of the Prince of Chumporn and then disappears.

Maak nevertheless, becomes a monk in some versions, and in others, he begins a new family and lives happily ever after. Yet this otherworldly saga of love and revenge does not end there. Numerous stories about Mae Naak's reappearances are widely and frequently spread, from Bangkok to Pattani, casting her in many roles from being a guiding angel to an enraged ghost.

The story of Mae Nak Phra Khanong (or simply Mae Nak) is a well known and popular Thai ghost story. The story, as told, happened during the reign of King Mongkut, concerning the beautiful Mae Nak (literally "Miss Nak"), a native of Phra Khanong in Bangkok, and her husband, Mak.

With Nak pregnant, Mak is called off to war (in some versions of the story the war is against the Shan tribe, while others are not specific), and is severely injured. While he is being nursed in central Bangkok, both Nak and the child she is carrying die during childbirth. When Mak eventually returns home, however, he is cast under a spell and finds his loving wife and his new child waiting for him and nothing wrong. Neighbours, who try to tell Mak of the death of his wife and to warn him that he is living with her ghost, meet with grisly ends.

One day, while Nak is preparing nam phrik, she drops a lime down to the cellar. In her haste, the ghost extends her arm to pick the lemon from the upper floor through the floor's hole, not knowing that Mak saw the whole event. Terrified, Mak realises she is a a ghost, and connives to flee. At night, Mak lies to Nak by saying that he wants to get out of the hut to urinate at down floor. He then breaks a little hole in an earthen jar which is filled with water, so that Nak will think that he is urinating, and Mak flees.

After discovering her husband's leaving, Nak pursues him. Mak sees his wife's ghost and conceals himself in a Blumea bush. It is traditionally believed that ghosts are afraid of Blumea. Mak then runs to the temple of Wat Mahabut, where Nak cannot enter the holy area. Nak subsequently terrorises the people of Phra Khanong as she expresses her anger with them for helping Mak to leave her.

Eventually, Nak's ghost is exorcised by a powerful exorcist, who confines her within an earthen pot which is thrown into the river.

There are several versions of the story at this point. In one, an old couple, new residents to Phra Khanong, acquire the ghost pot while fishing, while in another it is two fisherman (age and residency unknown) who dredge up the bottle. Nak is then freed by the unwitting couple, or the fisherman (depending on which version you read).

Eventually, Nak is suppressed by the venerable monk, Somdet Phra Phutthachan (To Phrommarangsi), and again there are several versions of the story. In one, the monk confines her within the bone of her corpse's forehead, and binds that bone within his waistband (and, according to a legend, the waistband passes through the hands of various persons and is currently in the possession of royalty). In another, the monk foretells that in a future life Nak will be reunited with her husband, and so the ghost voluntarily leaves for her next life.

Mae Nak's story is popular because of her true love and devotion for Mak.

A Chinese Ghost story

The lady at the window

Actually this story happened to my mom. It was during the 60’s, when she was still sleeping with her brothers and sisters in one house. They have inherited a big house from my grandfather (he was a doctor), so having a couple of her cousins sleeping over is not a problem. Their house was built near a river with a wooden bridge over it (you’ll know what the wooden bridge is about later on my story).

Here’s where her story begins. All of them came home late from a party (back in the 60’s parties were great and being invited to one means you are popular), they were all tired and decided to call it a night and went to their own rooms. My mom was staying with 2 of her sisters in one room. Her bed was located right beside a big window that’s made out of wood and would just open from the middle then the shatters will just slide from side to side.

That night, due to excessive drinking, my mom woke up because she needs to go to the bathroom. So she went and went back to bed. When she was about to doze off, she could feel something or someone was watching her. She opened her eyes and she saw a lady with long black hair outside their window, she was also wearing a black dress and her eyes were red. The lady was staring at her with a creepy grin on her face. My mom couldn’t move. The scary part of it was my mom’s room was located at the second floor; in short the lady was floating.

She tried to call her sisters but they could not hear her. She felt so scared and just covered her self with her quilt. After a few minutes, she tried to check if the lady was gone but when she peeped out of her quilt, the lady was still there, staring and grinning at her. She just decided to just hide herself under quilt and eventually she had fallen asleep.

The next day, everybody went down for breakfast. My mom did too, even though she was tired due to what happened that night. She did not try to tell everybody because they would just think that she was dreaming. Then a guy cousin of her came out looking as if he hadn’t slept all night and just freaked out on them saying that he saw a lady outside their window (the boy’s bedroom was located on the first floor). Then he described what he saw, my mom realized that he was describing the same lady she saw outside her window. So she decided to tell them on what happened to her that night. Most of them were skeptical.

Later that week, my mom was just about to get in their house when she saw a big commotion beside the wooden bridge. There were a lot of people looking over with the police too. She saw that her cousin was one of the spectators. When he saw her, he just ran to her and said that somebody found a sack with a dead girl inside. Later in the news, they post a picture of the girl and it was the lady my mom and uncle saw.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Some Japanese horror legends

'And then, when he saw the other side of the car, where his date had been sitting not 15 minutes earlier, on the door handle, hung . . . a bloody . . . HOOK!"

It's always happened to someone's friend or their brother or sister. And it's always just one or two steps removed from you, and close enough to a credible source that will temporarily disable your internal BS detector.

Anyone who has ever spent a few idle hours trading stories with their friends will know some of the most common urban legends -- the crazy man with a hook for a hand, the prank-calling murderer, the human finger found in a can of soup.

Occupying a place on the pop culture shelf somewhere between the Guinness Book of Records and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, urban legends are the modern mutation of traditional oral culture, sharing chills as well as warnings and values to all who care to listen.

According to the "How Stuff Works" Web site, urban legends can be subtle or not-so-subtle lessons (finger in soup equals beware of processed food), moral warnings (don't engage in pre-marital sexual activity in parked cars or something really bad will happen to you) or are just simple bastardizations of actual stories that have had bits and pieces added on for entertainment value as they are passed from person to person.

In Japan, fantastical storytelling is rampant in anime and manga, and Japanese ghost stories have been a topic of much interest in academic circles as well as those who just looking for a good scare.

Here's a selection of some of Japan's most famous:

"Toire no Hanako-san"

A young girl raises her hand in class. She has to use the facilities.

As she walks down the hallway and enters the bathroom, she becomes uncomfortably aware that she is completely alone.

But an eerie feeling steals over her as she walks by the empty stalls -- one, two, three. As she walks, she gets the feeling that she is no longer alone, and there is a presence with her in the bathroom.

As she passes the fourth stall, she sees a gleaming pair of eyes staring back at her.

This is Hanako-san.

Found in every elementary school in Japan, Hanako-san, or more formally, "Toire no Hanako-san," inhabits the fourth stall of the girl's bathroom.

The ubiquitous ghost is sometimes rumored to be the spirit of a suicide prompted by "ijime," or bullying, but is also known to just be there, for no reason.

In fact, Hanako-san doesn't seem to really do that much except scare the hell out of the kids that need to use the restroom.

The story is well-known enough to have been made into a horror movie ("Toire no Hanako-san") that, in true horror film form, spawned a sequel ("Shinsei Toire no Hanako-san").

"Kuchisake onna"

It is a dark and dreary night.

Cruising down a deserted country road, a lone driver rubs his eyes and fights to stay awake.

As the car takes a turn, a beautiful woman hails from the side of the road.

She is wearing flowing white. The driver, entranced, pulls by the side of the road to give the woman a lift. As she approaches the car he sees that her eyes are stunning, her body, lithe and graceful, a true beauty.

The lower half of her face is draped with a white cloth.

After slipping into the back seat and waiting for the car to resume its journey, the woman asks the man, "Am I beautiful?"

He answers, "Yes, you are beautiful," his eyes flicking toward the rear-view mirror to catch a glimpse of his passenger's face.

As he does so, however, she pulls the cloth from her face, revealing a horrible gash of a mouth, sliced from ear to ear, with a red tongue twisting in it's cavern.

Through the driver's subsequent screams, all that can be heard is "Am I beautiful? Am I beautiful? Am I . . ." repeated over and over again.

An alternative version of this story has "Kuchisake onna," or the "Split-faced women" -- who can reportedly run 100 meters in 3 seconds -- chasing and disfiguring young children. This tale gained large currency around Japan in 1979, for some reason. It's also been reported that Kuchisake onna can be distracted by throwing fruit at her, leaving the intended victim with just enough time to make his or her escape.

Treacherous customer

A taxi driver is traveling down a lonely mountain road.

A person steps out of the darkness to hail a ride. After getting into the back seat, the passenger asks the cabbie to take him to a place the cabbie has never heard of.

No matter, the passenger assures him, if the cabbie doesn't know the way, he can give him directions. The cabbie shrugs his assent and they drive off down the road.

The passenger proceeds to give the cabbie increasingly complex directions, through small towns, down back streets, out into the country again.

As he drives through the misty night, the cabbie becomes increasingly uneasy, after all, they have been driving for quite a while.

As he turns to ask the passenger in the back exactly where they are, he is shocked to find that the passenger has disappeared . . . just as his taxi drives over the edge of a cliff.


"Kokkuri-san, Kokkuri-san."

Two girls, sitting across from each other over a paper scrawled with the hiragana alphabet grasp a pen between them, chanting the name softly. "Kokkuri-san, Kokkuri-san, tell me, when is the date of my death?"

The question hangs in the air as the pen slowly begins to move, spelling the answer out on the sheet of paper. The rest of the group watches in breathless anticipation.

Kokkuri-san, Japan's answer to the Ouija board, has graced schoolrooms across the country for years with answers from the beyond.

In this game, the hiragana alphabet is drawn on a piece of paper, and two people hold a pen, ballpoint touching the paper, in the center.

Closing their eyes, they ask "Kokkuri-san" a question, and the spirit is supposed to move the pen in an answer.

According to a Japanese friend, much like Ouija, most people realize that the other person is moving the pen purposefully, but everyone makes their dutiful squeals of "sugoi!" and "kowaii!" anyway.

Also, in line with its Ouija board counterpart, the game has been subject fodder for horror movies such as the aforementioned "Shinsei no Toilet no Hanako-san," and one called simply "Kokkuri-san."


The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel

Anneliese Michel (September 21, 1952 – July 1, 1976) was a German Catholic woman who was said to be possessed by demons and subsequently underwent an exorcism. Two motion pictures, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Requiem, are loosely based on Michel's story.

Michel experienced what is recognized by medical professionals as severe psychiatric disturbances from the age of 16 to her death, at age 23 from malnutrition secondary to mental illness. She apparently intended her death by starvation to "atone for the wayward youth of the day and the apostate priests of the modern church".

After several years of ineffective psychiatric treatment, she refused medical treatment and requested an exorcism. Both priests who performed the exorcism and Michel's parents were convicted of negligent manslaughter because they did not seek medical treatment (for her refusal to eat) on her behalf and over her objections.

Early life

Anneliese Michel was born September 1952 in Klingenberg, Bavaria, Germany. Michel was raised in a strict Catholic family. A devout girl, she tried to make reparations for the sins of wayward priests and drug addicts by sleeping on a bare floor in the middle of winter.

In 1968, Anneliese was 16 and still in high school, she began to suffer from convulsions. Court findings have her experiencing her first epileptic attack in 1969. It was then that a neurologist at the Psychiatric Clinic W├╝rzburg diagnosed her with grand mal epilepsy.

Psychiatric treatment and exorcism

Soon, Anneliese started experiencing devilish hallucinations while praying. She also began to hear voices, which told her that she was damned. By 1973 Anneliese was suffering from depression and considering suicide. Her behavior became increasingly bizarre: she tore off her clothes, ate coal, and licked up her own urine.

Being admitted to an unnamed psychiatric hospital did not improve Michel's health. Moreover, her depression began to deepen. She grew increasingly frustrated with medical intervention as it did not improve her condition. Long-term medical treatment proved unsuccessful; her condition, including her depression, worsened with time.

Having centered her life around devout Catholic faith, Michel began to attribute her condition to demonic possession. Michel became intolerant of sacred places and objects, such as the crucifix, which she attributed to her own demonic possession. Throughout the course of the religious rites Michel underwent, she was prescribed antipsychotic drugs, which she may or may not have stopped taking.

In June 1970, Michel suffered a third seizure at the psychiatric hospital she had been staying in and was prescribed anticonvulsants for the first time. The name of this drug is not known, and it did not bring about immediate alleviation of Michel's symptoms.

She also continued talking about what she called "devil faces", seen by her during various times of the day. Michel became convinced that conventional medicine was of no help. Growing increasingly adamant that her illness was of a spiritual kind, she appealed to the Church to perform an exorcism on her.

That same month, she was prescribed another drug, Aolept (pericyazine), which is a phenothiazine with general properties similar to those of chlorpromazine: pericyazine is used in the treatment of various psychoses, including schizophrenia and disturbed behavior.

In November 1973, Michel started her treatment with Tegretol (carbamazepine), which is an antiepileptic drug. Michel took this medicine frequently, until shortly before her death.

Exorcism and death

In 1975, when Anneliese was 23 years old, an older woman who accompanied Anneliese Michel on a pilgrimage concluded that Anneliese was suffering from demonic possession because Michel was unable to walk past a certain icon of Jesus Christ and refused to drink the water of a holy spring.

An exorcist in a nearby town examined Michel and returned a diagnosis of demonic possession.[1] The bishop issued permission to perform the rite of exorcism according to the Rituale Romanum of 1614.

She and her parents were convinced that she was possessed. After years of unsuccessful psychiatric treatments, they gave up on medical treatment and chose to rely solely on the exorcisms for healing. The rites of exorcism were performed over the course of about ten months in 1976. A total of sixty-seven exorcism sessions were held, one or two each week, some lasting up to four hours. Michel at this time was refusing medical care, refusing to eat, and talking about her death being a form of atonement for other people's sins.

On July 1, 1976, Anneliese Michel died in her sleep. The autopsy report stated that her death resulted from the malnutrition and dehydration due to almost a year of semi-starvation during which time the rites of exorcism were also performed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Graveyard

In late afternoon under a blustery November sky, Joseph arrived at the graveyard in his blue Chevy sedan. Partnered by a light wind, autumn leaves danced a ballet under billowing dark clouds, pregnant with rain. Joseph parked his car and opened his door, stepping out onto the pavement and around to the trunk.

The graveyard was draped in an eerie stillness like a thick carpet of sleep. Ripping through the silence screeched the ornery "Caw!" of a raven perched high atop a nearby tree. It's raw greeting startled Joseph who looked upward to locate its source. Detected, the crow flapped sluggishly, launching itself lazily from its current location, then floated across the yard to another perch.

Inserting his key into the trunk lock, Joseph sprung the latch and lifted the lid. Inside, his gear lay neatly packed. He carefully lifted the tripod, placed it on the pavement and rested it against the bumper. He lifted two cases containing cameras, one for still shots and the other for video, and draped their cords around his neck. He grabbed a leather gear bag, shifted it to his left hand and pushed the trunk lid down. As he turned around, he picked up the tripod, balanced it over his shoulder and headed out across the lawn. The grass crunched beneath his shoes as he surveyed the yard, looking for a place to set up.

The headstones gleamed chalk-like across the lawn like bony specters. He stopped occasionally to study the more intriguing ones before moving on. He located a bench under a thicket of trees, and after a few moments of contemplation, decided this was as good a place as any. Placing his bag on the bench, he set up his tripod and mounted his video camera. After a few adjustments he was ready to begin shooting.

Haunted CemeteryA damp wind stirred and Joseph turned up his collar to block it out. Then he strode to the bench. As he opened his digital camera case, he pondered his newfound passion for the supernatural.

It began only a year earlier when a towel-wrapped Joseph had come face-to-face with an apparition at his bathroom door. Joseph was exiting his shower, scrubbing his wet hair with a towel when he encountered a boy, drenched and trembling, standing there looking very traumatized and disoriented. Instinctively, Joseph had gone to the boy's aid by extending his hand in a gesture of help. The boy vanished instantly leaving behind a bewildered Joseph, empty-handed and completely creeped-out.

After that, Joseph became fascinated with ghosts and developed those fascinations into a hobby of searching for and gathering paranormal evidence. He didn't particularly believe that cemeteries were the best place to encounter spirits. He figured spirits had more interesting places to hang out than a gloomy, boring cemetery. But Joseph had come across a recent internet broadcast that this particular cemetery was the resting place of several prominent figures and had also been the site of recent vandalism by tourists. These insolent occurrences had reportedly agitated the inhabitants, causing an upsurge in anomalous activity. The broadcast whet his curiosity and the fact that it was only 40 minutes from home compelled Joseph's visit. He wanted to gather some video footage and photos, see what he came up with, and take it from there.

Starting in the east corner, he worked the video camera, scanning the graveyard slowly around to the west. He was mindful to pick up as much detail in different areas as possible and panned the camera back and forth several times in order to ensure that he picked up any structure of interest in the yard. Then, finding a position that displayed the most unobstructed view of the cemetery, he left the camera rolling on its own. Then he grabbed his digital camera and set out across the grass for stills of select headstones.

He strode to the oldest part of the cemetery. Bordered by ancient trees, it was situated along the east wall and underneath he found one of the cemetery's oldest graves. Its modest headstone was weathered and worn, and after 250 years, its inscription barely legible.

After several adjustments to his camera settings, he started clicking shots getting as many different angles as he could. From here, he moved down the row to get the other graves in a similar fashion.

Overhead, the blustery sky grew dark and Joseph figured he had only about twenty minutes before the clouds began to dump its contents. He moved quickly out towards the center and across to the other side, making any needed adjustments to the camera settings and snapping more photos. The ornery crow returned and cawed another announcement.

"I better get going," thought Joseph and he started back into the direction of the bench. Pushing his luck, Joseph turned and held his camera in front of him. He aimed it randomly across the lawn and snapped a shot with his index finger. The crow sounded once more, this time with grave urgency. Joseph turned to view it, still holding his camera in his outstretched hand. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw something stir in the camera's LCD. He turned back to the screen to view the image head on, but all he saw was an eastern view of the cemetery.

The air grew heavy and Joseph knew rain was imminent. He returned to his video camera, its red indicator light signaling that it was still running. Joseph turned again, extended his right arm and attempted just a couple more shots before the clouds let loose. He aimed the camera randomly across the grass and snapped another shot.

Then he turned his head slightly to the left, but kept one eye on the screen. As he suspected, he saw a white figure crawling ominously across the lawn. But this time he noticed . . . it was headed in his direction!

Joseph dropped his arm and visually inspected the area he was shooting without looking through the LCD. There was no white figure visible, only the graveyard: very still and very, very quiet.

Lifting his arm and returning the camera to its previous position and using a sideways glance, he watched through the LCD as the white figure crept slowly and insidiously across the grass. It seemed that despite the labored crawl, it was much closer than before and Joseph calculated that every time he lowered the camera, the figure traveled 100 yards instantaneously!

The rain began as a light sprinkle, and Joseph raced to his video camera panning it over into position attempting to pick up the image of the white figure. When the figure didn't appear, Joseph's jaw dropped in amazement.

Lifting his digital camera and viewing once again out of the corner of his eye, he relocated the specter. It had moved much closer and this time Joseph was able to pick up details in its form.

It was creeping along on its belly, arms bent at elbows dragging itself forward, the lower half of its body limp and useless. In jerky, unnatural motions, its head lurched from side to side. Its ghastly face was a horror to behold. Two hollow sockets glared at Joseph across the distance while its tongue lolled in its mouth, slack jawed and hungry. As Joseph studied its face, the glaring countenance told him he was being apprehended with careful determination—and malice.

Terrified, Joseph dropped the camera and began tearing down his equipment. The air filled with the dank odor of mold and rot giving Joseph knowledge that the specter was upon him, probably no more than just a few feet away. He tried to dismount the video camera but was so frightened that his trembling hands betrayed him. Clumsily, he knocked his video gear over, its red indicator light fading to black as it hit the ground.

He grabbed the digital camera and held it up once more. He found the entity and discovered that it was nearly upon him, creeping relentlessly in pursuit. He had no choice but to leave his gear behind. He dropped his camera in the grass and fled, running mindlessly towards his car, a projectile of utter fear.

The sprinkle of rain intensified and the grass grew wet under Joseph's feet. The crow cawed laughingly in the trees, and the Laughing Crowsmell of mold became heavier and more intense.

He was only 50 feet from his car when he slipped on the slick grass, flying headlong into a monument, striking his head on the stone. The crow cawed one last time and the drizzle of rain became a torrent. Joseph lay on the grass, unconscious and bleeding. He wasn't found until the next day.

Three days later, Joseph sat upright in his hospital bed, head wrapped in a turban of bandages. His equipment had been retrieved, but the video camera was ruined.

By some miracle, his digital camera survived the torrential rains and he held it now in his hands, attempting to review the photos on its memory card. He searched for evidence of the malevolence that had pursued him. He scrolled through the images 100 times, scrutinizing the headstones, the trees and the random shots of the lawn. He found no evidence of the entity in any of the photos. Eventually he came to realize and accept that the ghost was only visible through his LCD.

Sadly, he had no evidence of his encounter, save a nasty concussion and ruined gear. The only witness an ornery old crow.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Video: Demon creature found in the woods?

A Diagnosis of Death - Ambrose Bierce

'I am not so superstitious as some of your physicians - men of science, as you are pleased to be called,' said Hawver, replying to an accusation that had not been made.

'Some of you - only a few, I confess - believe in the immortality of the soul, and in apparitions which you have not the honesty to call ghosts. I go no further than a conviction that the living are sometimes seen where they are not, but have been - where they have lived so long, perhaps so intensely, as to have left their impress on everything about them. I know, indeed, that one's environment may be so affected by one's personality as to yield, long afterward, an image of one's self to the eyes of another.

Doubtless the impressing personality has to be the right kind of personality as the perceiving eyes have to be the right kind of eyes - mine, for example.'
'Yes, the right kind of eyes, conveying sensations to the wrong kind of brains,' said Dr. Frayley, smiling.

'Thank you; one likes to have an expectation gratified; that is about the reply that I supposed you would have the civility to make.'

'Pardon me. But you say that you know. That is a good deal to say, don't you think? Perhaps you will not mind the trouble of saying how you learned.'

'You will call it an hallucination,' Hawver said, 'but that does not matter.' And he told the story.

'Last summer I went, as you know, to pass the hot weather term in the town of Meridian. The relative at whose house I had intended to stay was ill, so I sought other quarters. After some difficulty I succeeded in renting a vacant dwelling that had been occupied by an eccentric doctor of the name of Mannering, who had gone away years before, no one knew where, not even his agent.

He had built the house himself and had lived in it with an old servant for about ten years. His practice, never very extensive, had after a few years been given up entirely. Not only so, but he had withdrawn himself almost altogether from social life and become a recluse.

I was told by the village doctor, about the only person with whom he held any relations, that during his retirement he had devoted himself to a single line of study, the result of which he had expounded in a book that did not commend itself to the approval of his professional brethren, who, indeed, considered him not entirely sane.

I have not seen the book and cannot now recall the title of it, but I am told that it expounded a rather startling theory. He held that it was possible in the case of many a person in good health to forecast his death with precision, several months in advance of the event. The limit, I think, was eighteen months.

There were local tales of his having exerted his powers of prognosis, or perhaps you would say diagnosis; and it was said that in every instance the person whose friends he had warned had died suddenly at the appointed time, and from no assignable cause. All this, however, has nothing to do with what I have to tell; I thought it might amuse a physician.

'The house was furnished, just as he had lived in it. It was a rather gloomy dwelling for one who was neither a recluse nor a student, and I think it gave something of its character to me - perhaps some of its former occupant's character; for always I felt in it a certain melancholy that was not in my natural disposition, nor, I think, due to loneliness.

I had no servants that slept in the house, but I have always been, as you know, rather fond of my own society, being much addicted to reading, though little to study. Whatever was the cause, the effect was dejection and a sense of impending evil; this was especially so in Dr. Mannering's study, although that room was the lightest and most airy in the house. The doctor's life-size portrait in oil hung in that room, and seemed completely to dominate it.

There was nothing unusual in the picture; the man was evidently rather good looking, about fifty years old, with iron-grey hair, a smooth-shaven face and dark, serious eyes. Something in the picture always drew and held my attention. The man's appearance became familiar to me, and rather "haunted" me.

'One evening I was passing through this room to my bedroom, with a lamp - there is no gas in Meridian. I stopped as usual before the portrait, which seemed in the lamplight to have a new expression, not easily named, but distinctly uncanny. It interested but did not disturb me.

I moved the lamp from one side to the other and observed the effects of the altered light. While so engaged I felt an impulse to turn round. As I did so I saw a man moving across the room directly toward me! As soon as he came near enough for the lamplight to illuminate the face I saw that it was Dr. Mannering himself; it was as if the portrait were walking!

'"I beg your pardon," I said, somewhat coldly, "but if you knocked I did not hear."
'He passed me, within an arm's length, lifted his right forefinger, as in warning, and without a word went on out of the room, though I observed his exit no more than I had observed his entrance.

'Of course, I need not tell you that this was what you will call a hallucination and I call an apparition. That room had only two doors, of which one was locked; the other led into a bedroom, from which there was no exit. My feeling on realizing this is not an important part of the incident.

'Doubtless this seems to you a very commonplace "ghost story" - one constructed on the regular lines laid down by the old masters of the art. If that were so I should not have related it, even if it were true. The man was not dead; I met him to-day in Union Street. He passed me in a crowd.'

Hawver had finished his story and both men were silent. Dr. Frayley absently drummed on the table with his fingers.

'Did he say anything to-day?' he asked - 'anything from which you inferred that he was not dead?'
Hawver stared and did not reply.

'Perhaps,' continued Frayley,' he made a sign, a gesture - lifted a finger, as in warning. It's a trick he had - a habit when saying something serious - announcing the result of a diagnosis, for example.'

'Yes, he did - just as his apparition had done. But, good God! did you ever know him?'
Hawver was apparently growing nervous.

'I knew him. I have read his book, as will every physician some day. It is one of the most striking and important of the century's contributions to medical science. Yes, I knew him; I attended him in an illness three years ago. He died.'

Hawver sprang from his chair, manifestly disturbed. He strode forward and back across the room; then approached his friend, and in a voice not altogether steady, said: 'Doctor, have you anything to say to me - as a physician? '

'No, Hawver; you are the healthiest man I ever knew. As a friend I advise you to go to your room. You play the violin like an angel. Play it; play something light and lively. Get this cursed bad business off your mind.'

The next day Hawver was found dead in his room, the violin at his neck, the bow upon the string, his music open before him at Chopin's Funeral March.

Not Your Kind of Heathen

“If you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you’ll receive everlasting life.” A girl with a “Hello, my name is Sarah” nametag waved a tract in Rachel’s face. Sarah’s rosy-cheeked smile testified of apple pies, family dinners, and summer vacations at the beach. Rachel had never been to the beach.

“No thanks,” Rachel mumbled without stopping, hoping to lose the evangelist in the downtown foot traffic.

But the girl was fast, taking two steps for one of Rachel’s. “Faith in Jesus got me through a really dark time. The steps to Salvation are listed right here.”

Rachel took the tract, but Sarah’s expression crumpled as Rachel wadded it into an unrecognizable lump. “Go talk to drunks and fornicators. I’m not your kind of heathen.”

Sarah’s gaze landed on the cross around Rachel’s neck, and her blue eyes went from troubled to annoyed. “You know, crosses aren’t a fashion statement. You shouldn’t wear one if you don’t believe in what it stands for.” Her fingers touched her own cross necklace.

“I believe.” Venom soaked Rachel’s tone. “That’s what pisses me off.” Then she stalked off, leaving a speechless Sarah in the middle of the sidewalk.

In the past, maybe Rachel would have actually talked to Sarah, tried to explain how things really worked. There was big evil out there; evil way more tangible than the faceless sin brandished in pulpits every Sunday. But the people spouting religious ideals the most vehemently never believed the truth, and Rachel was tired of trying.

Two blocks down, One Eyed Pete’s sat between a European-style bistro and a trendy martini bar. With a flickering neon sign in the shape of a pirate and a cowbell over the door, Pete’s was the block’s eyesore. Rachel was the only woman in the joint, but none of the patrons seemed to care. The few that glanced up at her entrance went right back to staring into their drinks, as if alcohol gave meaning to their fucked-up lives. And maybe it did—who was Rachel to say?

She straddled a stool and caught the eye of the pot-bellied geezer behind the bar. “The usual, Frank.” He poured the whiskey and slid it down the bar into her waiting hand. Her first sip burned all the way down.

“Rough day?” Frank limped closer.

Rachel shrugged and pushed her windblown dark hair out of her face. “They all suck.”

“I read about that kid in the warehouse district. Your dad would be proud. Werewolves are tough bastards.” Frank had been her dad’s best friend, one of the few who knew the truth and didn’t run screaming.

“Dad would have called me sloppy for letting the kid go to the papers.”

“John would be proud.” Frank patted her shoulder, and Rachel stiffened. She didn’t like to be touched.

“It’s not like I have a choice. My family’s on the line.” Rachel downed the rest of the whiskey in one gulp, and Frank poured her another without waiting to be asked.

Behind them, the cowbell clanked. The newcomer strolled up to the bar and ordered a beer. He was gaunt with eyes so light gray they appeared colorless. Dark stubble stained his chin and filled the hollows of his cheeks. His shoulders hunched under the weight of a flannel shirt, and a backwards baseball cap held back the oil slick masquerading as his hair. Even sopping wet, he would weigh less than Rachel, but she knew he was more than he seemed. She always knew. It was the “gift” her father had passed down to her. Rachel sighed and glanced meaningfully at Frank who limped to the other end of the bar.

“I love girls in leather,” the newcomer said.

Rachel glanced down at what, to the casual observer, appeared to be a typical black leather jacket. She’d had it custom made with pockets for all her necessities and easily removable buckles made of solid silver. “Lucky me.”

“I’m Earl,” he announced, oblivious to her sarcasm. He gestured to her still-full glass. “The next one’s on me. Barkeep, another for the lady.”

“Hold that, Frank.” Rachel downed her drink and threw a crumpled bill on the bar. “I’m outta here.”

Earl scowled. “I was just tryin’ to show you some hospitality.”

“I’m not into scrawny weasels.” Rachel sneered. “Try the waterfront. With enough cash, even you can find a girl there.” She nodded to Frank and headed for the back door, located down a tiny hallway past the restrooms.

She paused, her hand on the door, to see if Earl would take the bait. He seemed like the kind with something to prove. If she was wrong, she’d have to go stalker girl on his ass. An instant later, she heard his footsteps pounding after her and slipped outside.

The alley behind Pete’s was narrow and stretched back a few yards from the street. Trashcans lined the buildings, spilling over with bottles and food waste. A chain-link fence cut off the alley on the far end. The moon bathed the alley an eerie silver glow.

When Earl burst through the door, a pair of elongated canines peeked from beneath his upper lip and his eyes glinted silver. “Think you’re too good for me, bitch?”

“I don’t think so,” Rachel shot back. “I know so.” Rachel pulled a stake from her pocket and slammed it toward him, her other hand going for the cross around her neck. This was the hard part. They were stronger—the vampires, werewolves, and other monsters. They were always stronger. Even the runts.

Earl snarled and dodged the stake easily, just as Rachel planned. While he focused on the stake, she pulled her necklace over her head and brandished it between them. A vampire couldn’t stand the power behind the cross. God existed, and in the fight against evil, that was her number one weapon.

Blue light formed around the silver charm, creating a wall between Rachel and Earl. He cowered back against the wall, his eyes rolling as he dodged flickers of the holy light. Then, before she could get close enough to use the stake, he scooped up a glass bottle and threw it with all his considerable strength. The bottle passed harmlessly through the wall of light; she ducked, and the bottle shattered against the wall behind her. Before she could correct her balance, Earl slammed into her. His fingers blistered wherever the light touched, but he managed to knock the cross out of her hand and kick it into the shadows. Without the cross to focus it, the light flickered and died, leaving Rachel unprotected.

Rachel smashed her fist into his jaw, the skill and strength of two decades of martial arts training behind her punch. One of his fangs ripped the skin of her knuckles. She hissed and danced backwards.

Earl savored the drop of blood on his tongue. “Sweet.”

Her kick struck his torso, knocking him back. Rachel thrust the stake toward his heart, but, with a burst of preternatural speed, the vampire lunged sideways and knocked her backwards. Her head hit the bricks with a crack, and the stake fell from nerveless fingers.

“Get away from her!”

Sarah stood in the mouth of the alley, her blonde hair glowing under the streetlight. Before Rachel could yell a warning, Earl punched her in the face and pain exploded behind her eye. He dropped her, and Rachel stumbled against the wall, trying to stop the alley from spinning by sheer force of will.

“I have pepper spray.”

Rachel opened her good eye to see Sarah take a few tentative steps into the alley, a finger on the trigger of a can of pepper spray so tiny it wouldn’t scare a jaywalker. Across the street, a live band began to play on an outdoor patio. Bass thumped in time with the throbbing of Rachel’s face.

Sarah’s glance flicked to Rachel, and her eyes widened slightly in recognition. “Leave now and I won’t call the cops,” she said.

“But then I’d miss dinner and dessert.” Earl advanced on Sarah, allowing her to see his face, fangs and all.

To her credit, the girl didn’t scream at her first sight of the undead. A minute stream of liquid arced from the can of pepper spray, missing Earl by a foot. He snickered, and Sarah shot Rachel a panicked glance. Rachel pointed at her throat, and hoped Sarah had watched enough horror movies to understand. Then Rachel pretended to lose her balance and fall into a trashcan, doing her best to look concussive and completely out of it.

The noise caught Earl’s attention and he smirked at Rachel before returning his attention to Sarah. “Good, I can take my time.”

Sarah shrieked as the vampire attacked, but managed to pull her necklace over her head. Light streamed from the cross clutched in her fingers, but Sarah, mesmerized by the vampire, didn’t look down. Rachel realized what Sarah was going to do a moment too late. Sarah flung the cross at Earl; the silver charm glanced off of his forehead and fell uselessly to the ground.

Earl grabbed Sarah around the waist and pressed her against his chest, pulling her deeper into the alley. The vampire sank his fangs into her slender throat. Sarah whimpered as the points pricked her skin. Blood speckled her white collar.

Before Earl got more than a taste, Rachel smashed a garbage can into the back of his head. He staggered, losing his grip on Sarah, who sprayed him with pepper spray at point-blank range. Temporarily blinded, Earl spewed forth obscenities and scrubbed at his eyes, which only made things worse. Rachel swore as Sarah followed her into alley instead of racing for the street.

Tears slid down Sarah’s cheeks, but she stood under her own power and showed no signs of fainting. “Why did God abandon us?” Her eyes widened in horror. “Am I a vampire now?”

Rachel rolled her eyes. “It takes more than a nibble to change you. Tell me when he starts to come out of it.” She reached into an inside pocket for her backup cross and swore again when it came out as several useless hunks of wood, too small to even use as stakes. She knelt to paw through a pile of trash. “Where is that damn cross?”

“The cross didn’t work.”

Something moist and sticky touched Rachel’s hand, and she knew better than to look too closely. “A cross isn’t a bomb. Its power comes from your faith, so you have to hold it.”

“I think he’s coming out of it,” Sarah warmed.

Something silver gleamed, and Rachel snatched up her cross without pausing to wipe off the alley sludge. Across the street, the band finished their song and the crowd cheered as they started another. Earl advanced slowly, squinting at them through red-rimmed eyes.

“You should’ve run,” Rachel murmured to Sarah.

“I didn’t want you to get hurt.”

Rachel gripped her last stake. When the vampire attacked, Sarah squealed and jerked backwards into the fence, but Rachel held her ground, the cross hidden in her palm. She sidestepped his lunge and grabbed his arm, pressing the cross into his icy skin. Blue light exploded between her fingers and glowing tendrils wrapped around his arm. His skin blistered and oozed.

“Get it off,” Earl howled. At the club, electric guitar wailed. He spun and shook, but the more the vampire became spasmodic, the tighter she held on. Using him as an anchor, Rachel plunged the stake through his sternum and into his heart. Earl crumpled to the ground and the faith light died. Rachel kicked him once for good measure anyway.

“Is he dead?” Sarah crept up beside Rachel.

“Yeah.” The clasp on Rachel’s necklace hadn’t broken in the struggle, so she slipped it back on, sludge and all.

“I thought vampires turned to dust when you staked them.”

“You watch too much TV.” Rachel produced a silver flask and a match book. “There’s only one way to get rid of the body.” She unscrewed the cap on the flask and took a swig of the whiskey inside. She offered it to Sarah, who shook her head; then Rachel sprinkled it over the vampire’s corpse and struck a match.

Flames gorged on the vampire’s unnatural form, devouring it in seconds. Sarah choked on the acrid smoke. When the fire had nothing left to feed on, it died as quickly as it began.

Rachel brushed as much debris off her clothes as possible and wiped her face with a clean handkerchief. All she wanted to do now was go home, but Sarah’s shell-shocked expression made her pause. Rachel sighed and handed Sarah the handkerchief to wipe the blood off her neck. Without the crimson streaks, the puncture wounds were much less noticeable.

Suddenly, Rachel found herself wondering if Sarah would understand now. She’d seen the evil and, judging from the light when she’d held the cross, her faith was strong. Briefly, Rachel allowed herself the fantasy of not being alone.

Sarah took off her shirt and found the white T-shirt underneath mostly clean. While Sarah repaired her appearance, Rachel scanned the front of the alley for the tell-tale glint of silver. Sarah’s cross had landed amidst a pile of glass shards. The chain had broken, but the cross itself was intact.

When Rachel turned around, Sarah looked better. Not normal, but not like vampire fodder, either. Rachel handed Sarah the cross; Sarah took it with trembling fingers, staring at it as if she’d never seen it before.

“Keep that with you at all times,” Rachel advised gruffly. “And don’t go anywhere alone with someone you haven’t seen in full daylight. Shade doesn’t count. If you go inside, Frank will call you a cab. He knows the safe ones.”

Sarah glanced up at Rachel, tears in her eyes. Before Rachel could think better of it, she reached out to the other girl. Sarah flinched away with a horrified expression, and Rachel jerked her hand back, the door slamming on her hope. Who the hell had she been fooling? Besides, she had her family’s curse to deal with; she didn’t have time for strays. Rachel turned on her heel, but Sarah’s quavering voice stopped her.

“Thank you,” Sarah stammered. “For saving me.”

“I didn’t do it to save you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You don’t have to.” Rachel hardened her heart. The girl thanked her just because it was the right thing to do. The cowbell clanked and Rachel glanced back. Sarah was gone; Rachel was alone—everything was back to normal. As Rachel started the long walk back to her motorcycle, she told herself that her dad would approve.

Graven Image

“Our clients all have a peculiar fear. They’re not convinced their loved ones will stay dead,” the director of Sanguine Mortuary said.

Hatch fought for control, he thought he might go from smirk, to grin, to all out laughter.

The Director, his face as dead as any of the clients entombed in Sanguine’s walls, stared at Hatch from behind an expensive looking oak desk. The dire need for the job forced Hatch’s expression to the same state as the director’s name.

“Mr. Stone, I...”

“Jonathan, I know what I’m telling you might be hard to accept but we provide a valuable service to our clientele.” Stone wrinkled his face into his best mortician’s smile.

“Mr. Stone,” Hatch said. “I really need this job. Whether I believe or not, I can watch your building and everything in it. ”

“You seem like a good fellow. Pity, companies will throw away employees after a decade of service.” Mr. Stone gently placed Hatch’s resume on the desk. “I’ll give you a chance, just keep your wanderlust to a minimum. The last guard couldn’t contain his curiosity. If he hadn’t up and disappeared, I would have had to fire him.”

Elation. At this point any job was a good job. He made a mental note to pick up a bottle of wine on the way home. He and his wife would at last have something to celebrate. But behind the euphoria and relief something nagged at him. Later, when he gave it some thought, after half a bottle of wine and with his wife in a satisfied sleep beside him, questions arose, questions he couldn’t answer and they chattered through his mind, lulling him into a troubled sleep.


“Uh--what’s on the monitors?” Hatch asked. The surreal images were better than caffeine, no way he would drift off with those things staring at him.

“Those? Oh go on, take a good look.” Michael Evans, the Second-Shift Sergeant, said. “What do they look like to you?”

“Looks like dead people.”

“Those are our charges, three-hundred and thirty-eight of ‘em.” Evans seemed proud with the knowledge. “Oh, don’t worry, they ain’t gonna bother you much or entertain you for that matter.”

“Then why are we monitoring them?”

“Just in case they wake up,” Evans said. Hatch felt a chill shoot into his groin. Soon he would be here alone, alone with them.

Then Evans broke into a fit of heaving laughter. “Naw, they ain’t gonna wake up. I’ve been working here for five years, since I retired from the military, and I ain’t never seen a one so much as wrinkle a nose.”

Hatch stared at the monitors again.

“See, we have some very superstitious rich people around the world and Sanguine helps alleviate their fear and a good amount of their cash.” Evans shook his head back and forth in mock disbelief. “Got to show the client something right? Show the client that us security types are watching their loved ones twenty-four-by-seven, kinda makes me chuckle. But it’s a good gig, especially on off shifts.

“We don’t get no visitors, grieving family members or anything like that. We let the dead lay, play a little poker--you’ll have to play solitaire--and walk around a couple times, make sure things are safe and secure--for the world outside I guess.”

He laughed again as if the whole thing were ludicrous.

Evans showed Hatch around for the rest of the hour. He saved one piece of trivia for last.

“This is what I call the Bat Phone,” Evans said and Hatch understood why. The phone looked like an old model from the 1960’s, rotary dial and all, and it was colored red like on the TV show. “In the unlikely chance that--something unusual happens--you pick up this phone and--well, after that I don’t know but I’m sure you won’t find out. Damn thing probably don’t even have service.”

Evans had a pitying look on his face, like he was about to leave his favorite cat at the vet to be euthanized. Hatch wondered if he could handle staying at Sanguine Mortuary alone for fifteen minutes, never mind eight hours.

“What happened to the last officer who worked the third shift?”

“Harold Drendle? Shoot—he’d worked here long as I did. We used to talk a little at shift change and he confessed to me he was having marital problems, problems caused by money, which by the way is how they always start, and then one day, I guess he was sick of it. He up and abandoned post sometime before shift change and he hasn’t been seen since.

“He told me in confidence he was planning to go to Hawaii, had been socking away a little here and there. So, don’t you be letting your mind wander and go thinking nonsense. You’ll get used to this place soon enough.”


Soon enough just wasn’t soon enough. Evans hadn’t been gone ten minutes and Hatch was ready to abandon post. The ghoulish images only provided unwelcome company.

He turned his attention to the phone. He reached over, touched the receiver’s smooth plastic. Who was on the other end? What was on the other end? The thought made him shudder. He withdrew his hand.

He couldn’t just sit there with the monitors tuned to Dead-TV. He grabbed the Mag light, the weight comforting in his hand, and headed out for the first round of the evening.

Hatch’s footfalls echoed through the empty mausoleum. Every fifteen feet the wall receded to reveal a cluster of grave nooks. Accent lights reflected dimly off metal plates revealing the names of the departed. They surrounded him. Outnumbered him.

He rounded a bend and found the first key-point next to the chapel door. How long had it been since he had last attended church? He couldn’t remember. He touched the tour recorder to the plastic key, listened for the chirp, and then looked at the LCD screen.

ChapHell, next key point inside.

Hatch shook his head, maybe when he got back to the command center he would fix the typo.

Hatch flicked on the lights. The antiseptic nondenominational room radiated comfort, as if something from beyond could reach out and protect all those who entered.

A feral cat’s mew, a crying child, a vocalized rush of wind raging through the hall toward him. Hatch crossed the threshold, pulled at the cherry wood door and held it shut. The chapel shook and the doors threatened to pull from his grasp. Then the pounding shrill scream stopped and Hatch stood in silence.

“Damn trains.” Hatch said, then remembered he was standing in a chapel. He looked up. “Sorry.”

Hatch continued with the tour. He came to a short stairwell that led down to the basement level. Cautiously, he descended.

Hatch switched on the flashlight and adjusted the beam to full width. The key point waited at the end of the hall surrounded by darkness. Hatch felt around for a light switch but found nothing. His pulse pounded in his temples.

He passed closed doors on either side of the hall, making quick time. He hit the key with the reader and waited impatiently for the chirp.

A red door to his right caught his attention. He tried the handle. Locked. He glanced back toward the stairs then back to the door.

A key fit the lock. He stepped inside a room filled with black metal file cabinets. The beam hit a unique cabinet, a red cabinet.

A jagged hole remained where the locking mechanism should have been. Hatch rifled through musty folders and yellowed papers. Records of every soul ever buried at Sanguine must have been stored in that room.

A letter, age stained and water marked, written on parchment with what appeared to be a quill pen, ignited Hatch’s curiosity. His eyes widened as he scanned strange sections:

. . .Thank you again for taking this burden from me. I am getting much too old to act as custodian any longer.

. . . The families absolutely insist on having guards. I know it sounds ridiculous, as if flesh and blood could really protect anyone from what is now in your possession.

. . .Feeding time is distasteful but it lasts a relatively short time. I was lucky to witness it for only one full cycle in the twenty years since I acquired the collection. The dead must feed before they sleep.

The dead must feed?

Hatch made for the hall.

The reflection of his flashlight beam caught movement through a window in one of the doors.

Anybody Home?

Hatch shone the light inside, recoiled.

A man stood, dressed in a moth eaten suit, eating from what looked like a metal cadaver table. The head and chest region were all that remained of the corpse on the table, everything else had been consumed.

Hatch hacked and heaved, nothing came up, as if his insides had turned dry. He looked back at the window. The man turned his head and looked at him, still stuffing flesh in-between the stitches which held his lips together. The man grinned at him. Then came the screams.

Hatch raced through the halls double-time, the shrieks of the dead nipping at his ears. Which way out? He couldn’t remember. He passed the chapel. Sanctuary wouldn’t do, he needed the command center. He needed the phone.

He slammed shut the Command Center door. No lock. The irony sent him into hysterics.

Hatch turned around. The monitors were still trained on the coffins--some were empty. The cadavers that remained opened their eyes.


Hatch reached for the phone--hesitated--picked it up. The phone automatically dialed. The ring scratched in his left ear, the dead wailed in his right.

“Pick up damn it, pick up.”

The ringing stopped. A moment of hesitation.

“I told you to curb your curiosity Jonathan.”

The door buckled. Glass shattered. All went black.

* * *

Even with his eyes closed Hatch could sense that Sergeant Evans stared at him, stared at the monitors. Curiosity could be a terrible thing, recognition worse.

The high-pitched chatter from the others Hatch only heard as a sanguine whisper, but he could understand what they wanted, what he also wanted. One last time before the sleep.

The hunger rose in him--in them--and in unison--and to the terror of Michael Evans--they all opened their eyes.

'Hobnail' by Crystal Arbogast

Fannie Poteet sat cross-legged on her Uncle John's front porch; her favorite rag doll clutched under one arm. The late afternoon sun shone through the leaves of the giant oak tree, casting its flickering light on the cabin. This golden motion of light entranced the child and she sat with her face turned upward, as if hypnotized. The steady hum of conversation flowed from inside of the cabin.

"Ellen, I'm sure happy that you came to church with us today. Why don't you spend the night? It's getting awfully late and it will be dark before you make it home."
"I'll be fine Sally," replied Fannie's mother. "Anyhow, you know how Lige is about his supper. I left plenty for him and the boys on the back of the stove, but he'll want Fannie and me home. Besides, he'll want to hear if Sam Bosworth's wife managed to drag him into church."

The laughter that followed her mother's statement broke the child's musings and she stood up, pulled her dress over the protruding petticoat, and stepped inside.
"Get your shawl Fannie. When the sun goes down, it'll get chilly."
As the little girl went to the chair by the fireplace to retrieve her wrap, her uncle came in from the back with a lantern.

"You'll need this Ellen. The wick is new and I've filled it up for you."
"I appreciate it Johnny," Ellen said. "I'll have Lige bring it back when he goes to town next week."
Ellen kissed her younger brother good-bye and hugged Sally gently. Patting her sister-in-law on her swollen belly, she said," I'll be back at the end of the month. Don't be lifting anything heavy. If that queasy feeling keeps bothering you, brew some of that mint tea I left in the kitchen. Lord knows I've never seen a baby keep its mammy so sick as much as this one has. It's a boy for sure."

Upon hearing this, Fannie frowned. She was the youngest in her family, and the only girl. After living with four brothers, she had prayed fervently to God every night for Him to let her aunt have a girl. The only other comfort she had was the pretty rag doll that her mother had made for her. Tucking the doll under her left arm and gathering the shawl with the same hand, she stood waiting patiently.

Aunt Sally kissed her lightly on the cheek and squeezed Fannie gently. "If I have a girl, I hope that she will be as sweet as you," her aunt whispered. Uncle John patted her on the head and said, "Bye Punkin. When that old momma cat has her kittens, I'll give you the pick of the litter."

This brought a smile to Fannie's face and swept away the darkening thoughts of boys.
Ellen secured her own shawl about her shoulders and tossing one side around and over again, picked up the lantern, which had already been lit. Taking Fannie's right hand, the pair proceeded on the three-mile trek back home. Heavy rains during the last week had left the dirt road virtually impassable for anyone on foot.

Ellen and her daughter would return home the way they had come, by following the railroad track. The track was about one half mile above the road. It wound and wound around the mountains and through the valleys carrying the coal and lumber, which had been harvested from the land. Once on the track, they proceeded in the direction of their own home.

Ellen began to tell Fannie about the trains and all of the distant places they went to. The little girl loved hearing her mother's stories of all the big cities far away. She had been to town only a few times and had never traveled outside of Wise County. Fannie remembered her papa talking about his brother Jack.

Uncle Jack had left the county, as well as the state of Virginia. He was in a faraway place called Cuba, fighting for a man called Roosevelt. She wondered what kind of place Cuba was, and if it was anything like home.

The sun's last rays were sinking behind the tree-studded mountains. Shadows rose ominously from the dense woods on both sides of the track. Rustling sounds from the brush caused Fannie to jump, but her mother's soothing voice calmed her fears.

"It's all right Child; just foxes and possums."

A hoot owl's mournful cry floated out of the encroaching darkness and Fannie tightened her grip on her mother's hand.
Finally, night enveloped the landscape, and all that could be seen was the warm glow of the lantern and the shadow of the figures behind it. It was a moonless night, and the faint glow of a few stars faded in between the moving clouds. Fannie tripped over the chunks of gravel scattered between the ties and Ellen realized that her daughter was tired.

"We'll rest awhile child. My guess is that we have less than a mile to go."
Ellen set the lantern down and the weary travelers attempted to get comfortable sitting on the rail.

"Mammy, it's so scary in the dark. Will God watch over us and protect us?"
"Yes, Fannie. Remember what that new young preacher said in church today. The Good Lord is always with you, and when you need His strength, call out His name. Better still, do what I do."
"What's that mammy?"

"Well," Ellen said, stroking her daughter's hair," I sing one of my favorite hymns."
While contemplating her mother's advice, Fannie was distracted by a sound. The sound came from the direction they had traveled from, and the girl's eyes peered into the ink like darkness. It was very faint, but unlike the other noises she had grown used to along the way. The slow methodic sound was someone walking, and coming in their direction.

"Mammy, do you hear that?"
"Hear what child?"
Fannie moved closer to her mother and said, "It's somebody else coming!"

Ellen gave her daughter a comforting hug and replied," You're just imagining things Fannie. We've rested enough. Let's get on home. Your papa will be worried."
Ellen picked up the lantern, took Fannie's hand, and the two resumed their journey. After a while, the sound that had unnerved the little girl began again. This time the steps were more distinct, and definitely closer. The distant ringing of heavy boots echoed in the dark.

"Mammy, I hear it again!"
"Hush child."
Ellen swung the lantern around.
"See, there's nothing there."

Fannie secured the grip on her mother's hand and clutched her rag doll tightly. The hoot owl continued its call in the distance, and the night breeze rustled the leaves in the trees.
"The air sure smells like rain," said Ellen. "The wind is picking up a mite too. We'll be home soon, little girl. Yonder is the last bend."

Fannie found comfort in her mother's voice, but in the darkness behind them, the steps rang louder. It was the sound of boots, heavy hobnail boots.
"Mammy, it's getting closer!"

Ellen swung the lantern around again and said, "Child, there's nothing out there. Tell you what; let's sing "Precious Lord".

Fannie joined in with her mother, but her voice quivered with fear as the heavy steps came closer and closer. She couldn't understand why her mother seemed oblivious to the sound.
Ellen's singing grew louder, and up ahead the warm glow of light from their own home glimmered down the side and through the trees. A dog barking in the distance brought the singing to an abrupt end.

"See child, we're almost home. Tinker will be running up to meet us. Big old Tinker. He's chased mountain lions before. He'll see us safely home."
"Let's hurry then Mammy. Can't you hear? It's closer and I'm scared. Let's run!"

"All right child, but see, I'm telling you there's nothing there."
Ellen made another sweep around with the lantern and as they proceeded she cried out, "Here Tinker! Come on boy!"

The dog raced up the path leading to the track and the two nearly collided with him as they stepped down on the familiar trail to home.
"Ellen, is that you?"

Fannie's heart filled with joy as her father's voice rang out of the darkness.
"Yes Lige. I'm sorry we're so late. I'm afraid I walked a bit fast for this child. She's worn out."
Elijah picked up his daughter and carried her the rest of the way home. Once inside of the cabin, Ellen helped Fannie undress and gently tucked her in bed.

The comforting sounds of her parents' voices drifted from the kitchen. Even the snores of her brothers in the back made her smile and be thankful that she and her mother were safe and sound. Before closing her eyes, her mother's voice rang in her ears.

"Lige, I heard the steps. I didn't want to frighten the child. I kept singing and swinging the lantern around and telling her there was nothing to be afraid of. But Lige, just before we got off the tracks, I turned the lantern around one last time. That's when I saw what was following us. I saw the figure of a man. A man without a head!"

Friday, September 18, 2009


Most of us will remember the movie entitled THE ENITY, but how much of it was true? Actually, most of it... Well maybe not the ending... Carlotta Moran now probably in her 60s apparently still reports such anomalies. The physical attacks don't take place anymore, however, this particular case has become known world wide and its generally down to one particular investigator. That man was Kerry Gaynor, a parapsychologist from Los Angeles who specialised in the study of hauntings and poltergeist infestations. He stumbled on this spectacular investigation whilst visiting a book store...

Kerry Gaynor explains...

It was 1974 when Gaynor began to investigate the Culver City, California, haunting. "At the time I had a colleague named Barry Taff," said Gaynor. 'We were working under the auspices of Dr. Thelma Moss, but Barry and I did most of the research on this case." Gaynor notes that Moss was a prominent UCLA parapsychologist who is now retired.

Gaynor and Taff made an appointment with the woman from the bookstore to discuss her case. Gaynor said the first time they visited the woman they conducted a two-hour interview. But Gaynor knew that she was holding something back. I kept pushing her," said Gaynor. "Finally she said that a ghost had raped and beat her.

'We laughed when we left her home, and I thought she was probably off her rocker. But she called me back a few days later and said that several people visiting her had seen an apparition, And this is what we're always looking for independent verification of the phenomena.

"I'm a scientist and that's how I approach it. I don't take their stories at face value. Their story is the beginning and I don't discount it, but I'm there to experience the phenomena and document it."

The Entity case was to become one of the most famous in paranormal research history. It was so well-documented, in fact, that a movie was made about it. The 1983 film The Entity starred Barbara Hershey and was loosely based on the Culver City haunting. Gaynor and Taff served as technical advisors on the film.

Visual Evidence :

The second time Gaynor and Taff visited the Entity house, things began to happen. Although they never saw the apparition, they witnessed visual phenomena. "We were seeing little pops of light," said Gaynor. "They would happen quickly. We would try to shoot the camera, but they were happening too quickly and we just couldn't catch them. We were shooting with a Polaroid and with a 35mm camera."

I was standing in the kitchen talking to the woman's 16year-old son when a lower cabinet door slammed open and a pan came flying out," said Gaynor. It flew out and landed about three or four feet from the cabinet. I immediately tore the cabinet apart to see if there were any tricks, or if anyone was hiding in the cabinets. But there was nothing. And that's when everything started.

"The lady screamed, 'It's in the bedroom. We ran in there and that's when all the lights started happening. Thats when we got the Polaroid shots.

"The lady shouted, 'The ghost is in the comer.'We snapped the picture, but it was bleached out and not very interesting.

"She shouted again, 'It's in the corner.' And again the photo was bleached. At this point, I thought the camera wasn't working. So I took two control pictures. I asked her if the ghost was gone. She said yes. The picture came out perfectly. A few seconds later I took another one. Perfect picture.

"But then we got the most interesting Polaroid. The woman said, 'It is right in front of my face.' Those were her exact words. So we took a shot. And in the photo you can see the curtains and the buttons on her dress, but her whole face is obliterated. We took a second picture when she once again said, 'It's right in front of my face.' Amazingly, her face was obliterated again, but you could see details in the rest of the picture.

"At this point I wanted another control picture. So I asked if the ghost was gone. When she said it was gone, the picture I took was perfect."

"On the third night we decided to start with a seance in the bedroom," said Gaynor. The walls of the bedroom, however, were covered with chipped and uneven paint. Some of Gaynor's colleagues had commented that the uneven paint created images in his photographs. So the researchers covered the walls entirely with black poster board, so that nobody could make that claim again. They also numbered the black paper boards with a magnetic orientation and a number.

"Then the lights appeared," said Gaynor. 9 would call out, 'All right, blink three times on board number two for yes. Blink twice on board number five for no.' It would blink on the exact board that I asked it to. At that point the level of excitement really increased, because it seemed like we were communicating with something intelligent.

"But I was very concerned that somebody was faking it by projecting light onto the wall. So I said to it, 'If you're really here, come off the wall. 'I didn't think anything would happen. But then the light pulled right out of the wall and floated into the middle of the room. It started spinning and twisting and expanding in different directions simultaneously. I had nine professional photographers shooting every angle of that room.

It was extraordinary because it was floating in the middle of the room and the light was dimensional. It is very difficult to fake something like that. If you project light, you have to project it onto a flat surface. You can't project light into empty space unless you have some kind of very sophisticated laser system."

Gaynor said this was not likely a sophisticated hoax because this house had twice been condemned by the city, and the investigators had sealed off the entire bedroom. Nobody could go in or out during the photo session.

"What we saw was not what ended up in the photograph," said Gaynor. "We were seeing balls of light, but the photo shows arcs of light over the woman's head."

Taff, Gaynor's colleague at the time and now a Los Angeles parapsychologist and writer, confirms witnessing this phenomena at the Entity house. Taff described the lights as three, dimensional greenish-yellow, to-white balls of light. "We never saw arcs of light. We saw balls of light," said Taff. "However, the camera captured arcs.'; The team captured a spectacular 35mm photo showing reverse arcs of light over the woman's head.

This photo was published in Popular Photography magazine. "Popular Photography has never published a ghost photograph before or since," said Gaynor. "But they published this one." This photograph was also broadcast on the television show Sightings in 1992.

Gaynor said he was not able to rid the woman of the assaulting ghost. "I'm not an exorcist," said Gaynor. I document the phenomena. I research the phenomena, and I do a lot of counseling with these people."

The woman described the attacking entity as a solid male figure that she did not recognise. So how did the woman know it was a ghost? "Because after the ghost assaulted her," said Gaynor, "it faded away."

"There were actually three apparitions according to her account," Gaynor stated. "Two would hold the woman down and the third would rape, her. It was horrible. She would call me in the middle of the night screaming, and I would go over there and she would be all beaten up. She had black and blue marks all over her body." But Gaynor never witnessed the attacks nor saw the apparitions in solid form.

Gaynor said, however, that he and several of his colleagues did witness the formation of a full-figured apparition. 'Ve saw the head take shape and then the shoulders. The light extended down to the ground until it became a full humanoid figure of greenish-white light. Then it just vanished, almost as if somebody pulled the plug. It didn't fade away. It just vanished. Everybody was completely in awe and silent as we watched this happen."

Taff adds, "After the apparition disappeared, two young men assisting our investigation passed out and had to be carried from the room."

"The question, of course is, Were the attacks done by a person, or were they done by a ghost?" said Gaynor. "And there is no way to distinguish between the two. The apparition didn't rape anyone else except the woman. These attacks were very personal.

"The attacks only happened very late at night. One night the woman's 16-year-old son heard his mother screaming. He ran into her bedroom and saw his mother being thrown around on the bed. When the son reached over to help her, something hit him on the head and threw him across the room. He broke his arm."

Gaynor noted an unusual coincidence. When the movie The Entity was being filmed, the actor playing the role of the son broke the same arm while filming this particular scene.

The woman was attacked about 15 times during the ten-week investiga,tion. "But she got stronger," said Gaynor. "And she was able to realise that she wasn't crazy and that there really was something going on. She got stronger, and in my opinion, she outlasted it."

The woman moved five times, but the attacking entity followed her. She eventually moved further away. "As she moved," Gaynor said, "the phenomena diminished, and after about two years the attacks stopped altogether,"

Gaynor said he cannot prove ghosts exist. But what is proof? "A ghost in a jar," said Gaynor, "or at least that's what the scientific community would want."

Gaynor said he doesn't feel any need to convince the world to believe in ghosts. I want the public to know about it, but I don't have an agenda. I'm not interested in standing on a pulpit and saying, 'You must believe in ghosts.' Something is going on that demands our attention. I'm much more interested in figuring it out."

Paranormal Activity - incredibly scary HD trailer!

This looks like a really scary movie, must see it!

Paranormal Activity @ imdb

After a young, middle class couple moves into what seems like a typical suburban 'starter' tract house, they become increasingly disturbed by a presence that may or may not be somehow demonic but is certainly most active in the middle of the night. Especially when they sleep. Or try to.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Dancing Woman

A man lived on the 6th floor of an apartment building and was lonely. One day he noticed the figure of a woman dancing in a swaying motion in an apartment across from his building. The curtain was drawn, so he could only see the shadow. Everyday he looked out his window, he would see her dancing. Finally, the lonely man fell in love with the dancing woman and decided to pay her a visit. He bought a bouquet of fresh flowers and went to her building, climbing the steps to her floor.

He knocked on the door but no one answered. He knocked again but no one answered. He could have sworn he had just seen her dancing in the window. Worried that something had happened to her, he kicked the door open. He was heart broken by what he saw.

The woman was hanging from the ceiling in front of the window, her body swaying from side to side as if she was dancing.

The Red Eye

This took place in the old days when the houses in Japan still used paper sheets for walls and doors. A young business man was traveling through town after a day of hard work. He though he could make it back home but it got dark before he knew it. He didn't want to waste time going back to the town for shelter and thought perhaps he could find a house down the road. Lucky for him, he saw a glimmer of light a little ways off the road and decided to try asking for shelter there. He came upon this little hut and knowcked on the door. An old man came out and asked if he could be of any help. "Would you be so kind to let me stay tonight? I will pay you for a room."

"Nonsense! I'll be happy to let you stay. I don't many visitors out here. Come on in!" Te old man said. He gave the young man food and told him he could have the spare room. While walking to his appointed room, the young man noticed another room right next to his. Saying thanks to the kind old man, the young man went into his room. After he blew out the candle to go to sleep, the young man heard a soft melodic sound from the next room. It sounded like someone singing. Being curious, he crawled to the wall, wet his finger, and poked a little hole in the wall (remember the wall was made of rice paper). He peeked into the hole and saw the most beautiful woman dancing and singing, her long black hair covered one side of her face. He looked away from the wall and thought to himself, why didn't the old man introduce them? He decided to look back into the hole but all he saw was a red glow and nothing else. Maybe he was dreaming, he thought, and decided to go back to bed.

The next morning, the young man was waken up to eat breakfast. While they were both seated, the young man asked his host who was the beautiful woman in the room next to his last night. The old man was shocked. "There's no one there. That was my daughter's room until she died. She was born with a disfigurement and could never find a suitor to marry her, so she ended her life in that room."

"What was the disfigurement?"

"She was born with one red eye."

She was staring at him with her red eye through the peep hole when he was trying to look at her a second time! The young man decided not to reveal his story. He left as soon as he was done eating and thanked the old man once again for giving him shelter.