My Annual Christmas Eve Ghost Story

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This is possibly the closest I’ve ever cut the holiday ghost story here! Kept you in anticipation though, didn’t it? Not only for the story itself but to see if the author is still capable of hitting deadlines. Barely, but yes! Go me!

For many years it was customary to tell ghost stories on Christmas Eve. It’s a custom that I feel should come back into style! Here is this year’s installment. Enjoy.IMG_1085

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Snow Angel

It could feel like they were the only people on Earth if she thought about how isolated they were, but it was beautiful here. The little cabin was clean and warm and had a composting toilet, so no outhouse was a big bonus. The wood stove kept the small space toasty, sometimes a little too warm and they had to prop open the door. There was a generator that the owner had started before they got there and a single string of Christmas lights twinkled along the roofline to welcome them. Chris shut it down during the day and booted it up for a while at night so they could use the lamps inside and enjoy the Christmas lights outside.

It was everything Chris said it would be and she found herself able to relax for the first time in several weeks. The little cabin was a popular spot in the Alpine ski area, and they had booked the stay almost two years in advance.

It had been a dry winter so far, and even on Christmas Eve there was little snow on the ground, and Chris had decided they should take a walk. The woods were quiet, the only sound was their feet crunching the thin layer of frozen snow on the ground. On the way in, the ranger had warned them that there was some weather moving in and she could see the dark purple clouds rolling over the peaks when the valley below was visible from where the trail meandered close to the edge.

“You doing okay?” Chris asked over his shoulder.

“I’m good. It’s beautiful here,” she said.

“One of my favorite places. I’m so happy to share it with you,” he turned and hugged her with one arm and patted her lower abdomen with his other, “and this little guy.” Chris had grown up in the little ski town of Nevar, originally the Spanish term for ‘to snow’  but now pronounced without the ‘r’ roll, less than fifteen miles from where they were now.

Joanna giggled, “Who said it’s a boy?”

Chris shrugged, “I don’t care what it is. I’m just happy!”

A brief wave of panic washed over her. They’d been here before. Many times.

“I’m still a little cautious. I hope coming out here doesn’t turn out to be a problem.”

Chris put both hands on her shoulders and looked her in the eye. “Nothing is going to happen. This time the doc said your hormone levels are good. We’re fine.”

She smiled, “You’re right.”

“Of course I am! God showed us this path, he’ll see us through.”

Joanna nodded. They had taken an entirely different route with this IVF try. Chris had heard about a group that adopts frozen embryos no longer needed or wanted by the bios. It seemed like the perfect thing for them, morally and medically. Chris was convinced that if they did the greatest good with their desire for a child, God would bless it.

She wasn’t as convinced. She loved Chris for his faith, but she didn’t share it. Still, she couldn’t deny that there seemed to be something to it because this embryo had implanted, unlike all the others. She was almost to the magic fourteen-week marker and the risk for miscarriage would drop even more, but she wouldn’t let her guard down until she held a breathing, crying, squirming baby in her arms.

A strong gust of biting wind assaulted them whipping her hair straight up and into Chris’ face. They laughed, and he leaned in and kissed her. She thought that the world could not be more perfect and her heart swelled with love.

“Come on! There’s a waterfall just over this hill. This time of year it should be frozen and spectacular!” he said.

His enthusiasm won out over her cold nose, and she followed him up the trail. Tiny flakes of snow had begun to fall, and the icy blasts of wind made them twirl and dance, making it look like a winter wonderland.

Chris’ boot prints led the way up the small hill for her. She put all of her concentration on her feet, not wanting to slip. She had on excellent winter hiking boots, but she wasn’t going to take a chance of tumbling down. It wasn’t a big hill, but steep and she could not see past the summit. The drop to one side in a small area she would pass looked precarious, and she could hear the river rushing down below. She had to keep her small passenger safe.

Joanna had been thinking so hard about where to put her feet she hadn’t realized that the trail was suddenly virgin. She looked up to find Chris was not in front of her. He must have crested the hill before her, but when she reached the top the trail leading down was empty and the snow untouched.

“Chris?”

Tree branches breaking off in the distance answered her.

“Chris!” Joanna turned every direction praying to catch a glimpse of his red down coat. She turned to go back the way she had come. Maybe he’d stepped off into the trees to pee, and she had missed him somehow.

Looking down the trail, she saw where the double tracks ended, and the single track began. No directional change. Chris’ footprints just ended right at the area with a steep drop, the spot she had been so worried about. A shot of ice went through her heart.

“Chris!” She tried to strain her ears against the growing wind.

She inched back down to where Chris’ footprints ended and peered down the embankment. The snow was disturbed as if someone had sledded down it. She peered harder and saw a glimpse of red through the thick trees.

“Chris!”

“Joanna!”

“Oh my God! How did you get down there?”

“The wind. A big gust knocked me right off my feet!”

“Are you, okay?”

“Well. My ankle is screwed up, and I ended up in the river.”

“The river?”

“Yeah, my feet are wet.”

She wasn’t as avid an outdoors person as Chris, but she knew what that meant at this temperature. Panic threatened, and she placed her hand over her womb.

“Okay. What do you need me to do?” Joanna asked trying to sound calm and in control.

“Don’t try to come down here. I’ll try to come up to you.”

“Okay.”

She could hear him grunting and see trees being pulled and snapped. Suddenly, he shouted out in anguish.

“Chris? Oh my, God! Are you okay?”

He let out a frustrated growl, “It’s my ankle, babe. I don’t think I’ll be able to climb out on my own.”

“What?” a lump in her throat kept it to a squeak.

“Go back to the cabin, babe. Call 9-1-1.”

“No! I can’t leave you out here!”

“You have to.”

“Chris, are you sure? Can’t you find a way up?”

“It’s not that, babe. I think I broke my ankle and I can’t put any weight on it.”

She choked back a sob.

“You can do it, babe. Go back and call 9-1-1.”

“What if I come down and help you up?”

“Jo. Baby. It won’t do any good if we are both stuck down here. You have to call 9-1-1.”

“Oh, God. Okay. I’ll be right back! Right back, honey!”

“Okay, babe. I’ll be here!” he chuckled.

The snow had picked up and was falling in large continuous clumps. In places, their footprints were beginning to be covered over. The wind slapped her face and pushed back against her progress. Her heart was racing, and she thought about the tiny being in her womb. Could he feel her panic? Was she scaring him? She was scared enough for the both of them. Please, little baby, hang on!

By the time she reached the cabin, the snow was coming down like a blanket, and she had to lift her knees to step through the new powder. Snow had built up around the door, and she had to struggle to pull it open.

“Why does this freaking door open the wrong way?” she shouted to the forest. Grunting, she yanked hard feeling the muscles in her back, thighs, and abdomen strain.

Wait. She wasn’t supposed to lift anything. Did this count as lifting? She managed to get the door open wide enough for her to slip in. She tried to pull it closed, but the snow had clogged up the threshold, and she left it.

She yanked her wet gloves off as she ran to the little couch where she thought she had left her cell phone. When she realized it wasn’t there, she shrieked out of frustration and desperately began throwing couch cushions onto the floor.

Trying to calm her mind she chanted, “think, think, think.” She tried to visualize herself and when she had last had her phone. “Oh yeah!” A mental picture of her rinsing a coffee mug at the sink popped into her head.

Joanna rushed to the little kitchenette. The phone was sitting next to the sink just where she had left it. She pressed the button to wake it up and stabbed in her security code. The phone vibrated in response, wrong code.

She screamed at the phone and tried again. This time it came to life, but wouldn’t be for long. The battery was showing only ten percent life left. Thanks to the ski resort of few miles away, she had three bars.

She dialed 9-1-1.

A ring.

Another ring.

“This is 9-1-1. What’s your emergency?”

Sobs strangled her voice.

“Hello? This is 9-1-1,” the woman sounded friendly as if this were the neighbor calling to invite her for coffee.

“My husband has fallen down an embankment and broke his ankle,” she choked out.

“Okay, Ma’am. Who am I speaking to?”

Blood roared to her head, nine percent life left.

“We are at Devil’s Gate. We rented the cabin here. He’s fallen and got wet in the river. He can’t get up the hill alone! My phone is gonna die, and I don’t know how to start the generator to charge it!”

“Okay, Ma’am. I’m dispatching Mountain Rescue now. Is he conscious?”

“Yes. But he’s wet and broke his ankle. It’s snowing hard here and cold!”

“Yes Ma’am, I understand. What’s your name?”

“I’m Joanna.”

“All right, Joanna. I’ve got to make a few other arrangements. Can I call you back at this number?”

“Yes, but like I said, it’s going to die.” She began crying.

“It’s going to be all right. Stay calm Joanna.”

“I…I’m pregnant,” she didn’t know why she blurted that out.

“How far along?”

“Almost fourteen weeks.”

“Are you having contractions or bleeding?”

“No. No, please just hurry.”

“Okay, Joanna. Help is coming. Stay calm.”

The line disconnected. Seven percent.

She could not just sit here. She could lower blankets, dry clothes, and a hot thermos to Chris. She put a pan of water on the stove and began bundling some of his clothes in the tartan blanket off the back of the leather sofa.

Her phone rang. Six percent.

“Joanna, this is Alpine County 9-1-1,” the same neighborly woman. “I have Alpine County Search and Rescue on the line.”

A new voice broke into the conversation. “Hi, Joanna. My name is Robert. We are getting a crew together right now. I don’t know if you are aware, but we are in the middle of a major storm here. It might take us some time to get up there, but I have some guys on snowmobiles that will be headed your way shortly. You said he got wet?”

She could hear Christmas music and kids in the background. Robert must have been celebrating Christmas Eve.

“He fell in the river. I’m sorry to take you away from your family,” her voice broke on the word family.

“It’s no problem.”

“I was going to lower blankets and dry clothes to him.”

“Are you at the cabin?”

“Yes.”

“How far to him?”

“Um. I don’t know. Maybe fifteen minutes.”

Silence.

“Joanna, I think it’s best if you stay at the cabin. It’s getting dark, and the last thing we need is to have to find you too. Wait there for my guys, all right?”

“But he’s wet!”

“I understand that. The best thing you can do for him now is to get dry clothes ready and wait for us, okay? For now, we better get off the line because I know your phone is almost dead. Just hang tight.”

They disconnected. Five percent.

She slumped down on the couch cushions. The wind whipped in through the open door, and she shivered. If she was cold, how much colder was Chris? How long before hypothermia set in? She walked across the little room and yanked the door the rest of the way shut. She’d give them ten minutes, then she was going back to him.

She paced from the couch to the front door. Helplessness began to take root in her heart. It had taken them at least twenty minutes to drive from the main road to the cabin. No one was coming. Not anytime soon.

She put her hand over her womb, “We are going to go get Daddy.”

Using the word daddy made her think about the couple they adopted the embryo from. The Parker family had a rough go. The husband was diagnosed with cancer only two years into their marriage, and his treatment would likely leave him infertile. They had chosen to freeze several embryos for future use with the hope he would survive his diagnosis. He hadn’t, and the wife decided against using the embryos on her own. Mrs. Parker couldn’t destroy them, however, and donated them to the embryo adoption group.

Joanna squeezed her eyes tight. Chris’ God would certainly not let this little one loose two daddies, would he? Surely He wouldn’t let this little one who had waited so long to be born not make it. She bit her upper lip and thought about that for a few seconds. No, she was sure He wouldn’t, at least she hoped so.

She opened the small closet by the front door and began yanking out all the items to see if there was something that she could use. It was almost as if God approved of her plan because she found climbing ropes and a harness. She put the items in the blanket with the clothes and used the climbing ropes to tie it into a bundle.

The little pot of water had almost boiled away, but she poured what was left into their big green thermos and dropped a tea bag in before tightly twisting the lid shut. Digging in a kitchen drawer, she found a notepad and paper and scribbled a quick note. She rifled through the cupboard under the sink and found a working flashlight and a big garbage bag to keep her couch blanket bundle dry. With all of her finds she was more convinced that God was directing her rescue mission, she would not fail.

Joanna put on heavy ski gloves that she had found in the closet and slung her pack over her shoulder. It was almost ten pounds at least.

I’m not supposed to be lifting. Please God, if you are there, help us. Don’t bring us this far to leave us now.

She pushed the door hard against the snow that had piled up outside of it. Wind and snow blasted into the small opening and stung her face and eyes. The snow had been coming down in a steady stream and she sunk down half-way to her knee when she stepped out into it.

The sun was completely blocked out by the clouds and snow, but she knew it was almost ready to drop behind the mountains to the west. To the east, the sky was already an inky black. She needed to hurry.

The trail was not visible under the snow. She had to guess where it was based on the spacing of the trees and a couple of times she veered off and had to reset. It was tough going plowing through the snow, and she wished she had snowshoes. Her watch told her she had been walking for at least twenty minutes and should be close to where Chris had fallen, but nothing looked familiar. She knew the snow would change the way the terrain looked, but she felt like she was too far from the river. Maybe she had gone way off course and not realized it.

She stopped walking and looked around in every direction, trying to get her bearings. Everything was white. Silent. The snow had stopped. The sky was growing ever darker, and  soon it would be pitch dark. Her breath came in little misty clouds.

“Hey!” a man’s voice called. A man, not Chris.

“Hey! I’m over here! Are you with the Search and Rescue guys?”

“Come this way!”

“Which way? I can’t see you!”

“This way!”

She headed in the direction she thought the voice was coming from.

“Keep coming!” he shouted.

She stepped through some trees and could plainly see the trail. She had veered off by fifteen feet and was headed away from the trail. She would have been hopelessly lost herself if the rescuer hadn’t found her when he did.

She still didn’t see anyone, but she saw a faint light up ahead. Behind the light, she could just make out the silhouette of a man.

“Oh man! Thank God you’re here!” she gushed, and she moved as quickly as she could toward the light.

As she grew nearer the light flickered and faded out. The man must have gone over the side to get to Chris. She realized she was right at the washout where Chris had fallen.

“Chris!” she shouted.

No reply.

“Chris!” she fell to her knees and leaned as far over the edge as she dared.

“Jo! I’m here!” he sounded like he had been sleeping.

“I’m here! The rescue team is here! Are they down there with you?”

“No!”

She looked around and didn’t see any sign that anyone had gone down this way. Maybe they had to find a better route.

“I’m going to lower a pack to you, okay? Will you be able to grab it?”

“I think so.”

She lowered the trash bag bundle to him. He had to strain but eventually got a hold of it.

“I can’t…I wont beable to putadryboot on my ankle,” his words were slurring.

“It’s fine, honey. Can you put on the sock?”

No answer.

“Hey! Hey, you guys! He’s right here!” she shouted as loudly as she could. “Chris!”

“I’m heere.”

Where the hell was that rescue guy?

“Can you put on the harness?”

“I doono,” his words were getting more jumbled.

That could only mean that hypothermia had set in. He didn’t have much time left. She’d have to act, now.

“Christopher! Put that damn harness on and click the carabiner in! Do you hear me? Do it now!”

She heard the jingle of the various clips on the harness, and she knew he was putting it on. She looped the other end of the rope through some trees as best she could.

“Are you ready?  Me and the baby are gonna pull as hard as we can, but you’re gonna have to help us! Do you hear me?”

“I wonletu down,” he said.

After several minutes of yanking, grunting, screaming, and pulling she saw the top of his head over the edge of the trail.

“Keep coming, honey! Almost there!”

“I caan go anymooore,” he sobbed.

“No, baby, no! Just a few more feet! You can do it!” she couldn’t let go of the rope to help him.

Suddenly he flopped up the last bit and lay on the trail, his legs still dangling off the edge.

Joanna dropped the rope and ran to him. She hugged him for all she was worth. He had one dry sock on, and his other foot was bare. The ankle was misshapen and various shades of red and purple.

“I told you you could do it!” tears streamed down her face.

“I dinnnt. Someone pusssshed meee from behind,” he said.

She peered over the edge. No one but the steep ravine and growing darkness.

“Joanna!” someone shouted from a distance.

“Over here! Over here!” she jumped up and looked in the direction the voice had come from.

Four men in black ski pants and read coats pushed up the hill towards her.

“Hey, Joanna! It’s me, Robert!”

“Oh my God! Robert! I’m so glad to see you!” she sobbed.

Robert got to her and held his hand out. Behind the headlamp, she saw a  weathered but kindly face and a warm smile. “I thought you were gonna wait at the cabin.”

“I couldn’t.”

“Well, when we got to the cabin we found your note saying you had headed back out, but the wind had blown snow over your tracks and we would have had no idea which way you went if not for your friend.”

“My friend?” she said, shaking her head.

“Yeah, the guy at the cabin. He told us which way you went.”

She had no idea what he was talking about, but it didn’t matter. They were safe now.

They checked Chris over and put a temporary splint on his ankle. Then they loaded him on a stretcher and began to make their way back to the cabin, a man on each corner. Joanna followed behind.

She could hear the generator for the cabin running as they approached and caught glimpses of the string of lights along the roofline through the trees.

“Looks like your friend got the generator going. Oh, yeah, he wanted me to tell you that Parker makes a good first name and you’d know what that meant.”

Her mouth dropped open, and her hand went to her lower abdomen, “That’s the last name of a man that I know of who passed away. My husband and I, well, he left us something really important.”

“Well, your friend thinks it’ll make a good first name,” Robert said.

************

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and get a miracle or two.

Until next time, Never Turn off the Lights!

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Thanksgiving Flash Fiction: Turkey is Served

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The new baby.

I’m calling the following Thanksgiving story flash fiction in that it is well under 1,000 words. A quick and hopefully entertaining tale I jotted down at my kitchen table at 5 am this morning. Such is life when you have a new baby that needs to go out to potty every hour!

 

***

Turkey is Served

“What a time for Ron to get called out of town on a trip,” my brother-in-law, Rick, said.

I was putting the finishing touches on the sweet potato casserole and was feeling a little annoyed to have anyone in my kitchen while I was cooking. Lately, everything had been irritating and the holidays were exacerbating my foul mood. I loved the cooking, but having my in-laws over for dinner was always daunting.

My sister-in-law, Rick’s wife, Lisa, always drank too much wine and spent the entire time bragging about her job and her decades-old business degree. Their kids were zombies attached to their electronic devices and never even grunted so much as a greeting let alone appreciate the excellent meal I always provided. Rod, my husband’s youngest and unmarried brother, usually brought his trollop-de-jour and spent his time ogling her and making kissy faces. My widower father-in-law did not waste the opportunity to remind us all that his only daughter, Regan, who never came to Thanksgiving, would be heir to all his worldly belongings when he died since she was the only one who helped him when my mother-in-law was dying.

He forgot about the part where I had actually helped, every day. Regan just happened to be present at the time of her passing. I had been at the hospital for two days and a night and had just left to go home and shower when she passed, but thank God for Saint Regan. Maybe it was because my name didn’t start with an “R” and thus I’d never be real family.

No wonder my husband could be such a monumental jerk, it was apparently genetic.

“Oh well, it couldn’t be helped,” I said.

“Can I help you with anything?” Rick said, and he glanced at his watch. “He had to leave in the middle of the night, huh?

“I guess so. He said the scheduled pilot got food poisoning or something.”

Rick grunted, “That’s my brother, always jetting off somewhere. Want me to take a look at the bathroom upstairs?”

“The bathroom?”

“Yeah, you said it was backed up and to use the one down here instead.”

“Oh! No, it’s fine. I’ll call the plumber tomorrow,” I said.

“Okay, then,” he said, and he left to plop down on the couch.

I was glad to have him out of my way. I needed to get the meat out of the oven, feed these people, and get them out of my hair. I would have to deal with the bathroom, but I couldn’t do it until after the meal.

Rick was right, Ron was always jetting off, as a commercial pilot it was his job. It had never bothered me that he was gone for days on end sometimes, that is, until recently. I had come to realize that he was never around when I needed him, like when his mom was dying. And before that, when I had to have shoulder surgery after a fall, he left to fly an overseas trip the day of my surgery. I had to have a neighbor bring me home from the hospital.

When I pointed all of this out to him and shared my thought that he was doing it on purpose, he said I was exaggerating and being over sensitive and paranoid. He started telling me that he missed appointments and dates because I forgot to tell him about them. We began arguing about it almost every day.

During one of these arguments, he literally smashed most of our wine glasses and then had the nerve to say I did it! He went so far as to cut his own head and tell me that I did it to him when I threw a wine glass at him! These types of incidents began to happen at least twice a day. I actually started to worry that I was losing my mind.

But now I know the truth.

Obviously, it was Ron’s memory that was faulty. Thank goodness because if he hadn’t forgotten to check the pockets of his slacks, I still would have no idea. If our dry-cleaner weren’t meticulous about preserving every little item left in the laundry to return to the owner, I would be clueless. But he is, and I’m not.

Admittance paperwork. Folded over into a small square as if he were trying to conceal it, which I’m sure he was. Daniel’s Behavioral Health Hospital blazed across the top of the first page. My name was neatly written in Ron’s hand on the line labeled, Patient Seeking Services. He’d been gaslighting me this whole time, just to put me away and be rid of me. Pretty clever, actually. Insurance would cover it, and there would be no financial hassle of a divorce.

No matter. A slice, a slash, and a stick and I was having the last laugh.

I pulled the roaster pan out of the oven and had to admit that it smelled like turkey. It even looked like turkey, but I knew it wasn’t turkey. Well, Ron had been a turkey if he thought his plan would work. I snickered to myself.

“Turkey is served,” I called to the rest of the turkeys in the other room. I couldn’t help but smile with pride in my resourcefulness.

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***

Disclaimer! I just want to say that this is a work of fiction and in no way reflects any true holiday that I am aware of. My husband isn’t even a pilot!

Have a nice holiday and enjoy your family (hopefully not in the way of the story)! Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!

 

 

Ghost Light Stories Featuring Author Richard Crofton

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By LouisHeon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17896781

Just in time for Halloween!

Ghost Light Stories Episode 2! Visit my YouTube channel and subscribe!

Connect with Richard Crofton:

Website: https://richardcrofton.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/richardcroftonauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriterCrofton
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16367519.Richard_Crofton
Amazon: Richard Crofton’s Amazon Page

 

I Know Who Took It, But What is IT?

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angle-19887_1920Sometimes the universe smiles on you…even if it is a creepy grin!

I’ve seen this photo here and there all over social media and found it to be very compelling. I couldn’t attribute the creator with confidence and was beginning to think that it was a Photoshop deal. I wanted to know three things.

  1. What the hell is that?
  2. What, when, where, how, and who took the photo.
  3. Is it Photoshopped?

The person who took this photo, Julie M., contacted me and I got most of my questions answered!

Julie is indeed the person who took the photo, she has the memory card to prove it! Watch here to find out all the info. It is worth the watch and includes other spooky and unexplained photos taken on the same night.

Many times with a picture of this nature the photographer is associated with a ghost hunting group or paranormal research team, but in this case, Julie was just out showing this strange park to some friends from out of town. She did not take or post this photo hoping to gain attention or market anything.

I’m not sure if knowing that it is the real deal is better than suspecting (maybe I was hoping) it was faked! Knowing the location just makes it even weirder. Memory Grove Park in Utah features memorials to Utah’s veterans and various other monuments. Like most parks, it has hiking trails, a dog park, and a facility for weddings and such. However, unlike other parks, the ghost of a bride killed on her way to her nuptials at the park now walks the garden paths of the scenic area in her wedding gown. Based on Julie’s photos there are some other very strange symbologies and structures on the property. I don’t think the ghost bride walks alone!

The missing child poster in the picture not only gives context to the photo but makes it even more ominous!

Back to the photo in question. I have looked at this thing from every angle, and I just don’t know what it is.

I know what it looks like…

Like a demon crawling out of the ground! He is so solid he is casting his shadow on the rock wall behind him!

I asked Julie if anything weird happened to her after she took the photo and she said it had. Here’s Julie’s account of the night she took the picture and got home:

“Actually, weird things did start happening, or maybe I was kind of scared and had all these people telling me it would follow me now, so I might have paid more attention to anything weird. But the crazy thing was that very night (or early morning, I must have gotten home around 3:30 or 4 AM), my sister was up and I was showing her the pictures I had taken on my camera. We zoomed in on that picture because we saw the bright orb by the “demon”. Then we saw the figure and we both screamed and freaked out!! I had seen that I was capturing a lot of orbs in my photos, but nothing like that!

About fifteen minutes after we first discovered the figure in the photo another strange thing happened. My room at the time was in the basement of an old 70-year-old house. There was an old, small window in my room that used to look up into the backyard years ago, but since then an addition had been built on the house, so my window looked into a crawlspace with a dirt floor which was now under the addition.

I had actually never really even noticed that window! The house was a rental and there were heavy drapes over it, it was high up on the wall, and small. But when I went down to my room, for the first time in living there for almost 2 years, the drapes were pulled over to the side and I could see the blackness through the window! I had never even noticed the dang thing before, or what was behind it.

I was so scared I didn’t even want to go near that window! I called my sister in and went over, and when I pulled the drapes back into place to cover the blackness they FELL DOWN ON ME and the window fell open!! It was the kind of old window with hinges on the bottom and opened that way. We SCREAMED and were so scared, and I really had a hard time sleeping that night! I had to put furniture in front of it!

It’s funny because the picture scared me so bad I jokingly named the “demon” Matthew. Whenever anything weird happened after that I’d say, “Matthew!!” It became a kind of a running joke with me and my friends and family.”

Umm. Holy Cow! Glad she can joke about it!

Julie first posted this photo on Tumblr about four years ago and has since then seen others take credit for the photo. This is one of my favorite “hmmm” paranormal photos, and I wanted to give credit where credit is due. Julie certainly captured one of the most fascinating images I have seen! So, if you share it, please give her credit for the photo. Julie is, after all, the one who traipsed around at night in this creepy park to get the shot! She says that she has not caught anything strange on any other photos she has taken.

Julie says she is not a believer in the paranormal, per se, but has an open mind and is open to any and all explanations of this photo (me too!). If you think you have an answer, please feel free to reach out to me, and I’ll pass the information on to Julie.

I want to thank Julie for reaching out to me with her story. I’ve been so curious about this photo, like an itch I can’t reach! Although I’m thrilled to have my questions answered, I’m feeling kinda uneasy now. I hope that chatting about “Matthew” doesn’t get him looking my way…but it would make for some good writing material!

Until next time, Never Turn off the Lights!

 

 

 

Dottie Daniels’ Affliction is Infectiously Entertaining!

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affliction

Back to my Summer of Great Reads!

The minute I saw the cover of Affliction by Dottie Daniels I knew I wanted to read it! I love a good zombie romp and enjoy seeing how different authors attack *get it?* the subject. Most all have a unique spin, but this one was one of my favorites!

The main character, Seanna, is a twenty-something paramedic that we meet just as a mysterious and violent outbreak is gripping her city. She’s smart and strong like other female leads in the genre, but make no mistake, she’s quite different! The story is told from her POV and Ms. Daniels does an excellent job of bringing us into Seanna’s head and body…you have to read to see what I mean! I don’t want to give too much away because it is such a cool twist that I want you to discover it yourself!

It’s tense and funny and terrifying and moving in all the right measures. The characters are diverse and well developed, I got really invested in what was happening to them right from the start. When I hit the last page I scrolled back several times to be sure it was over because I was so into it!

As with my other summer reads I am so lucky to have actually been able to chat with Dottie about her book!

Hey there Dottie! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thank you for taking the time to interview me, I really appreciate it! I’m a thirty-something zombie genre-loving woman who works in a busy surgical services department at a local area hospital by day and has aspirations of writing many books in the future. I enjoy traveling and also getting to know my other fellow writers.

What led or inspired you to become a writer?

A little over ten years ago I survived a brain aneurysm. After the surgery and coma and everything else that entails, I struggled with memory loss and it took me a while to recover. I feared I would never be able to retain information. While everyone assumed I would write about surviving that experience, once I was able- I began to write about another type of harrowing experience; the zombie apocalypse. I don’t know if I felt it was more interesting or what, it was what piqued my interest at the time. I never thought I’d want to write when I was younger, in fact, I was always intimidated by huge writing assignments in school.

Oh my! Dottie, we are so glad that you survived! What an ordeal! I think your experience enhanced your storytelling. There were many passages in Affliction where the feelings of distress was real I had to take a breather!

Why do you write in the horror/zombie genre?

For me, as a writer, there’s something special about the horror genre, zombies in particular. There’s a certain feeling of overwhelming desperation that can really draw a reader’s attention if written properly. I guess it would be the equivalent to a character vying for someone’s affection in a romance novel or the amount of adventure required in a fictional bank heist. The desperation of surviving (or not) in the world of the undead is what does it for me. It holds my attention the longest whenever I read someone else’s work or when I’m writing my own.

Well put!

Speaking of harrowing experiences and desperation, I don’t suppose much scares you, but is there anything that gives you pause?

Honestly, it’s indecent and uncaring people. You know, the alive ones. Seriously. I was told as a kid it’s never the dead you have to worry about- be wary of the people walking around.

I was told the same thing. Sadly, it’s true.

People, myself included, are always fascinated by the creative process. Do you have any unique writing rituals?

I don’t really have many rituals anymore other than I write whenever I have time and I’m always in need of more time. I prefer to write in the middle of the night or early morning when all is quiet. My thoughts seem to be more clear then. A lot of times I’ll light a candle too. Oh, and sometimes I’ll have classical music playing in the background. I have to sit in my office chair too because it’s comfortable and have a cool, sweet beverage and the ceiling fan on low. Yeah, so I guess I have a few rituals- ha!

I like the candle!

Your book Affliction has a very cool POV and twist on the zombie tale. Where did you get the idea for your story?

Up until then, I hadn’t read many books in the genre with a female main character. There are some out there but then I hadn’t come across any that were biracial or of color. I wanted to challenge myself and bring a few of those attributes into the story and see how well it all plays in a typical apocalyptic storyline. I wanted to write the kind of book I would expect to read and enjoy. A lot of the writing and style is intentional and I feel plays very well into the details of the story. The flashbacks the first-person writing, almost as if she’s explaining to you herself. It was all a challenge for me to entertain my readers.

Challenge met! I was deeply entertained. Being bi-racial myself, I appreciate seeing more characters with diverse backgrounds in all media, but horror in particular. Nice work, Dottie!

What’s next for you?

Well, Affliction is definitely set up for a sequel. I’m aiming to get it completed this year. As a published author you too understand the many hats you wear (writing, promoting, actually selling) and then everything else that life itself requires. I hope to pull the strings together again and get back in the routine of getting the sequel ready. It can mean less promoting and less selling but then again nearly every author has to make that sacrifice if they want more book titles on those shelves.

Too many hats at times! I’m looking forward to the next book, I have to know what happens!!!

Where can we find out more about you and your writing and keep tabs on that sequel?

I’m on most of the larger social media outlets that are older than 5 years. Twitter, Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 9.21.18 AMFacebook, Goodreads, and WordPress. I enjoy interacting with other writers and readers. In fact, I purchased a couple of copies of your novel Dread that I’m going to include in a giveaway this Fall as we near the Halloween season! I always follow back (unless it appears Spammish). Thanks again Joy for the opportunity let others know I exist! 🙂

 

Facebook   https://www.facebook.com/authorddaniels/
Twitter       https://twitter.com/AuthorDottie
WordPress https://dottiedaniels.wordpress.com/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34209033-affliction

Thanks so much, Dottie! It was totally my pleasure. Hear that kids? Follow Dottie for the chance to win a copy of my novel Dread! Check out her book Affliction for an entertaining and zomberific read!

By the way, look for more opportunities to win a signed paperback copy of Dread from me in the coming weeks! If you can’t wait and want to get your Halloween scares started early, the eBook version is on sale from now until midnight October 31!

Until next time, keep your survival instinct on high, and Never Turn Off the Lights!

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Is Mothman Trying to Warn Us, Again?

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It feels like our world is unprecedented turmoil. Every day there is a new piece of alarming news, from the weather to terrorist attacks to social unrest and violence to nuclear testing. In uncertain times people tend to look for meaning in the terrible, it has to mean more than just being, well, terrible. We examine the incident to see if there was any fore-warning or another way to avoid it, or perhaps, all of these happenings are warnings of worse things to come, and we must uncover their meaning before it is too late.

Mothman_Artist's_Impression.png

 

By Tim Bertelink (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Perhaps the most recognized harbinger of doom is the Mothman. He’s been described as a large black, red-eyed, winged humanoid. The movie “Mothman Prophesies” fictionalized the Mothman sightings in West Virginia from 1966-67 directly before the collapse of the Silver Bridge on December 15, 1967, killing 46 people. The creature was seen in various areas by credible witnesses and many claim to have seen the Mothman near the bridge directly before it fell into the river. The sightings were covered by various newspapers at the time, and it was speculated that it was possibly a large owl, a previously unknown species of animal, or an alien being.

People began seeing him again, twenty years later, far away from West Virginia in the area of Pripyat in what was then part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union (USSR). Did you guess that Pripyat is near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant? In April of 1986 people began reporting sightings of a giant winged humanoid with no head and piercing red lights that could be eyes in the neck area. The people reported having terrible nightmares after seeing the creature. On the morning of April 26, 1986, the No. 4 reactor at the nuclear power plant exploded killing at least 30 people directly with more than 9,000 deaths related to the subsequent radiation. Workers who survived the initial blast reported seeing a large black bird-like creature flying through the smoke of the resulting fires. It was never described again after the Chernobyl disaster and although it was dubbed “The Black Bird of Chernobyl” many believe it was indeed the Mothman.

Now, a winged humanoid has been spotted near Chicago. Since 2011 there have been almost 50 sightings of something that looks a large black bat between six and eight feet tall with a twelve feet wingspan flying around Chicago. One even jumped from the Sears Tower and flew away as reported by a man who claimed to be a police officer. A group of people reported seeing two of the creatures perform aerial acrobatics near the planetarium.

Could it be just that? Large bats? After all, megabats or flying foxes can have wingspans up to 5 feet. However, they are not indigenous to West Virginia, Ukraine, or Chicago. A costumed drone? Drones were not a thing in 1967 and maybe not even in 1986. A guy in a flight suit? I’ve only seen those coast on the air, not do acrobatics.

Does this mean something terrible is going to happen in Chicago, aside from the gun violence (as if that isn’t horrible enough)? I don’t know. There is a debate regarding whether the Mothman is simply a warning or does the creature actually cause the destruction. It’s the same for the Black Eyed Kids in my novel DREAD, and we may never know the answer.

Fortean researcher and author Lon Strickler has an interactive map of sighting reports on his website Phantoms and Monsters if you want to check out the reports for yourself. It’s quite astonishing to see the visual of how many sightings there are and their close proximity to one another.

A few years ago, someone that I trust who lives in a Denver, Colorado, told me the following story:

I was coming home with both dogs, kind of late in the evening. The sun was almost down but still light enough. I got the dogs out, and we started walking up the front walk to the house. I just happened to glance up at the sky and flying right over me was a dark shape. All I could say is that it looked like a giant bat with a dog’s head. Its wings were stretched out and were probably over six feet across. It just silently glided away. I watched it until it disappeared behind some trees. My dogs didn’t notice it all. For the next several weeks I was scared to look up, afraid I might see it again. It really freaked me out to know that something like that could live around here.

Nothing terrible happened, and he never saw it again. It does sound like it could be a flying fox. If it is, why and how did it get to Colorado? Why hasn’t anyone reported seeing them or found a dead one? Just what is going on? Weird. I’m keeping tabs on this story.

Got your own encounter or sighting? I’d love to hear about it!

Until next time, keep looking up (or not) and Never Turn Off the Lights.

Author Richard Klu Delivering Moments of Awe One Story at a Time

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KluOver on GoodReads I joined the 2017 Reading Challenge and pledged to read 30 books this year. So far I’ve read 14. A bit behind the pace of two books a month to reach the goal, but many of those books were read this summer. It was a very good season of reading and as promised, here is one of my summer reads.

I picked up Moments: A collection of Flash Fiction and Short Stories by Richard Klu after I saw a review by an author that I like and a recommendation in a Facebook group I belong to. It’s a collection of short stories so I thought it would be a great poolside read. Well. Let’s just say my neighbors who were at the pool with me may now think I’m a little nuts.

I couldn’t help it. At the end of most of the stories I sighed, ooowed, aaawed, and said things like, no freaking way and good one. I know you are thinking, that’s fine it’s a good story, but I said it all out loud. I caught some of my good neighbors from the corner of my eye, and I was getting some weird looks, but I don’t really care!

Some of these stories are so darkly beautiful and written more like prose that I thought about printing them out, framing them, and hanging them on the wall. Reading this book was like those nights when a nightmare or strange dream wakes you, and then you fall back asleep right into another one. I love when I finish reading a book, and the story (in this case – stories) keep popping into my thoughts long after I close the covers (or swipe to the end in this case).

I got to chat with Mr. Klu about his writing and wanted to share with you!

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Richard Klu, and I am from western Michigan. Always an artist at heart I write to explore. You can find 3 of my free shorts here.

I grew up in Grand Rapids Michigan and still reside there with my 3 dogs, 3 cats, 23 fish, and 1 wife. Yes, it’s a lot of animals in our little 2 bedroom house, but it keeps things interesting. Blame my wife, they were all her idea.

I have been a Store Manager, a Cook, and various kinds of Salesmen as well as having owned my own business for a little over a year. All the while I’d neglected one of the few constants in my life, writing. Actually, I can thank my wife for that. As much as she hates me ignoring her for hours on end as I type away, she did encourage me to make an attempt at writing enough books to make a living.

On my blog I am sharing stories and what I’ve learned to better help other writers and to keep myself motivated. I primarily write cosmic horror. Similar to the style of HP Lovecraft although I am in the process of creating my own world starting with a short story collection called “Cabals of Blood” which focuses on cults around the world praising ancient deities long lost to modern society. This collection will include 3 planned book series which will be released between 2017 and 2018.

Thank you for the gifts! I’ll be checking those out!

You said writing has been the one constant in your life, why do you find it so attractive?

I like writing because it exercises creativity and gives my mind something to work on. Writing makes me happy even when it ends badly for the characters.

Yes. Things ended badly for some of your characters!

Why do you write in the horror genre?

I didn’t know I was writing horror until someone told me. It’s just kind of where I landed and how I think. To me, a lot of what I write isn’t horror until I am editing it. Then I realize where the story landed. I aim to write things that are interesting. They happen to end up being horror.

I think most people reading this blog would agree that many interesting things are horror related.

Some of the stories in Moments: A collection of Flash Fiction and Short Stories are quite scary. What kinds of things scare you?

Drowning, cancer, and being trapped underneath a weight or buried alive. I used to have a nightmare that I couldn’t move and was in an empty space with no gravity. Almost like space without the stars. In this place, I had something burrowing into my back and up my spine. Thankfully that nightmare has been gone for some years.

Wow! I knew I liked you!

You said that you blog to keep yourself motivated. I struggle in that area, and some fellow writers have suggested a writing ritual to keep things moving. Do you have any unique writing rituals?

No. I write whenever there is free time. Rituals would slow that down.

Hooray! Someone in my camp! I’d love to sit down with my favorite beverage and listen to great music to write, but I have to grab it when I get a chance.

Your book Moments: A collection of Flash Fiction and Short Stories has a broad range of stories: disturbing, interesting, shocking, and spooky! Where did you, or do you, get the ideas for your stories?

Most of them came to me while I was in college and day dreaming during math class.

You should send your Math professor a copy of your book just to show that you were productive in his or her class!

You already mapped out some of the things you have in the works. What can we look for next?

Cabals of Blood is my next collection. It is a group of short stories. Cosmic horror similar to H.P. Lovecraft. I also have 3 books, 1 a trilogy mapped out in the same world.

Where can we find out more about you and your work?

https://richardklu.com/

On Twitter https://twitter.com/Richard_Klu_  @richard_klu_

and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RichardKluAuthor/

Excellent!

Thank you for your time and darkly wonderful stories! I look forward to more.

Readers, I finished this book several weeks ago and still can’t stop thinking about it! Grab a copy and check it out for yourself! Until next time Never Turn off the Lights!