My Annual Christmas Eve Ghost Story


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


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.


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.



“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.”


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?”


“How far to him?”

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


“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?”


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!



Thanksgiving Flash Fiction: Turkey is Served




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.



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!



Easter Bunny. Friend or Foe?

Easter weekend is upon us again. I’ll be dying eggs tonight with my family and preparing to host everyone for a meal on Sunday after sunrise service at a park here in my town. We will have an egg hunt or two and hopefully, we can find all the eggs. There have been a few years when some of the eggs disappeared into a different dimension and were never seen again. Pretty typical Easter.

My kids have made sure we have carrots for the Easter Bunny. I don’t know about you, but I think he might be the strangest Easter icon of all. You might believe he came about because he’s a symbol of new life and pagan in origin, but he might be more German than pagan.

German immigrants brought the tradition of Osterhase or Oschter Haws, a colored egg-laying rabbit, to America with them. As the tradition spread so did the gifts the bunny drops off on Easter morning to include chocolate, games, and other goodies.

Now, let’s think about that for a minute. A rabbit. That lays eggs. Colored eggs, no less.

Then the little freak, or mutation, or whatever he is, also leaves chocolate. Sometimes in the shape of HIMSELF. I don’t even want to know where the chocolate comes from!

I think there’s more weirdness going on here than first meets the eye.

I know what you are thinking. It’s a cute little furry bunny who brings nothing but happiness. But check this out. If you look at this one just right, it looks likes an alien skull. AN ALIEN for crying out loud! animal-1934328_1920

Yes, you say. But they are cute and furry. Oh? Really? He looks pissed. And look at those claws! I dare you to touch his eggs. Those things aren’t easy to lay, you know.easter-eggs-2009530_1920

That’s not even a bunny, just a bear impersonating a bunny. Okay, what do you say about this guy? What is that sticking out of his mouth? Antenna? Feelers? What, I ask, WHAT?DEARLORDBUNNY

I’m not being fair to the bunny you say? Okay, how do you explain these guys? It’s a whole dang army. Those are not bunny buck teeth. They are FANGS! I can see the bloodlust in their eyes.bunnies-151390_1280

Look at more traditional Easter Bunnies? Oh, all right. These guys look like specters haunting the woods ready to curse you or eat your soul.decoration-1557661_1920

Too commercial? Homemade bunnies are better. Really? easter-bunny-7253_1920

Oh, and look! Another unholy bunny army! You might want to eat them before they eat you. I think I see some black-eyed bunnies in there!easter-bunny-7255_1920

Come on, Joy! You are shouting at me now. Kids love the Easter Bunny, you say. Yep, looks like love all right. I’ll bet this poor kid is still in therapy.WEREBUNNY

Hey! That’s over the top now, you object. All I can say is, it’s better than this guy showing up! HALLOWEENBUNNY

Okay. Would you rather have this show up? easterbunnywagon

Now that we have examined the Easter Bunny, I’m not so sure I want him to come by.

On second thought, it’s worth it to get some treats! Hi, my name is Joy and I’m a chocoholic.

We had some fun with our dear rabbit. Take a moment to consider the most amazing icon of this holiday, the tomb is empty. Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!

p.s. a special thanks to Pixabay for providing many of the fun images!

Top 5 Reads and Flicks for a Spooky Valentine’s Day


Valentine’s Day will soon be upon us and fans of romance everywhere are rejoicing. Hearts, flowers, sweet chocolates, and sparkly cards will be flowing. But there is absolutely no reason that us horror fans should feel left out. Here are my top five things you can read or watch to keep your Valentine’s Day spooky.

To Read:

1. The Monk: A Romance by Matthew Gregory Lewismonk

Don’t let the fact that this book was published in 1796 put you off. Star-crossed lovers, pregnant nuns, cross-dressing monks, murder, rape, incest, ghosts, demons, and sorcery rule the twisting plot and subplots. Oh, did I mention Satan himself is one of the characters?

2. The Witching Hour by Anne Ricewitching

A story of a matriarchal family of witches with varying talents and powers. The newest head of the family, Rowan and her lover Micheal Curry, have a deep and touching romance. Rowan used her skill as a doctor and her powers of psychic healing to save his life. But the Mayfair family’s personal demon Lasher wants Rowan for his own and there is little he won’t do to get her. Now that’s a messed up love triangle. At over 900 pages it’s a longer read, but totally worth it.

3. Salem’s Lot by Stephen Kingsalems-lot

Writer Ben Mears returns to his hometown of Jerusalem’s lot after losing his wife in an accident. He plans on writing a book about his boyhood there. Love is a powerful healer and he strikes up a passionate romance with a local young woman named, Susan Norton. Their picnics and canoodling is interrupted when a local boy goes missing. Then the townsfolk start dropping one by one, converted to the undead by a mysterious vampire, Mr. Barlow. Leave it to a vampire to suck all the fun out of a new romance.

To Watch

drac4. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker; Screenplay by James V. Hart; Directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

Lovers torn apart by duty. A man who gave all for the Church only to see his love condemned for eternity. A vow of revenge with a price to be paid until the end of time. And that’s just in the first ten minutes. When the Count finds Mina and realizes she is his beloved Elisabeta reincarnated, redemption is near. Too bad everyone else wants to drive a stake through his heart and cut off his head. This movie closely follows the original novel by Bram Stoker more than some other Dracula films. It’s quite sensual and visually beautiful. You’ll find yourself disgusted with the Count one minute and cheering for him the next.

41irodztwxl-_sx342_5. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour.

This creepy story takes place in the fictional place of Bad City, Iran. Just like the name implies, it is a place of crime, drugs, and hopelessness. A lonely skateboard riding female vampire stalks the inhabitants, preying on the most depraved residents. She meets a young man Arash and they begin to fall in love. Too bad Arash’s father is one of the most depraved citizens around. Shot in black and white this tale of love is weirdly fascinating!

It’s no surprise that three out of the five on my list are vampire stories, right!? Enjoy your Valentine’s Day. If you need some card ideas, check out my blog post Valentine Cards to Die For. It will keep the spooky Valentine theme going. Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!

The 4th of July, Angels, and Other Weird Stuff You Should Know


America’s birthday is upon us once again. To most folks it means bar-b-cues and fireworks. Some of those folks might recall that way back when someone dumped some tea in a harbor and George Washington kicked the British out after a long cold winter at Valley Forge. Oh yeah, and a guy named Paul Revere rode a horse warning that the British were coming so George could kick them out. Clearly, there is quite a bit more to it than that and the American revolution really is a very compelling story. As with any major event in world history, there are many myths surrounding this period. Some of them with a supernatural twist.

Considered by many to be the “Father of our Country,” from the cherry tree story to the composition of his dentures, George Washington boasts numerous myths and legends, second only to Benjamin Franklin. One such story comes out of the harsh and deadly winter at Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War. Washington and the Continental Army wintered there in 1777-1778 under brutal conditions. 10,000 men began the winter and only 7,500 remained to see the spring thaw thanks to freezing temperatures, food shortages, and disease.

As the unverifiable (according to Snopes, likely fabricated) story goes, Washington was sitting at a table in his tent writing a communique when a beautiful otherworldly woman appeared to him. Referring to him as “Son of the Republic” she showed him a vision of the “birth, progress, and destiny of the United States”. Seeing that the Union would prevail and prosper gave him the renewed strength to endure the current and coming challenges.

You can’t think about the Revolutionary War without thinking about the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration is not just the famous “we hold these truths to be self evident” part but basically an indictment of the King. Signing the document would be an act of treason and these men’s property and very lives were at stake. There were tense moments of debate when the adoption of the document almost stalled.

There is a legend that says it was during one of these pivotal moments when an unknown person stood and gave a deeply rousing speech. When he finished the group erupted and even the most hesitant signed the document. When they turned to congratulate the man on his words, he had vanished. Was he a very humble patriot, an angel, a time traveler, or something else? Here’s an excerpt from his oration:

“Sign that parchment! Sign, if the next moment the gibbet’s rope is about your neck! Sign, if the next minute this hall rings with the clash of falling axes! Sign, by all your hopes in life or death, as men, as husbands, as fathers, brothers, sign your names to the parchment, or be accursed forever! Sign, and not only for your selves, but for all ages, for that parchment will be the textbook of freedom, the bible of the rights of man forever.’’


There is one strange coincidence that is verifiable, three of the first five Presidents passed away on July 4.  Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died in 1826 and James Monroe died on that day in 1831.

The birth of America is a truly fascinating and dramatic period. Personally, I like to learn about history from perspectives other than the commonly accepted “text book” versions. Kenneth C. Davis wrote a really great read, Don’t Know Much About History: Everything You Need to Know about American History but Never Learned. Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is another.

New perspectives on commonly known events provide deeper understanding about history and the people who lived it, and even those who keep re-living it. After all, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, is said to be haunted by none other than Benjamin Franklin.

Independence Hall, Philadelphia. Photo by: Rdsmith4, Wikimedia Commons

Independence Hall, Philadelphia. Photo by: Rdsmith4, Wikimedia Commons

Happy Independence Day!

Eerily Beautiful World of Relics

We are approaching Easter Sunday this weekend. Thinking about the meaning of this holiday for many, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the many religious relics of the passion always come to my mind. A religious relic is either the physical remains (whole or in part) or personal effect of a venerated person used as a tangible memorial. Think of it as a souvenir of sorts.

Growing up in Catholic school I used to imagine strange and spooky relics hidden in the nooks of my school or our church. The many alcoves and hidden areas (that grown ups said were so you could pray in private, uh-huh) reinforced my morbid imagination.

The Shroud of Turin is probably the most recognized relic related to the resurrection. The centuries old linen clothe has the image of a man, apparently crucified, visibly impressed on it. Many believe that man is Jesus of Nazareth and the power of the resurrection burned his likeness into the burial clothe. The Shroud has been the subject of intense and detailed study over the years. Carbon dating from 1988 and 2013 have contradicting results, the later test putting the age of the clothe to around the time that historians believe Jesus was crucified. Is it a forgery, a piece of artwork, or the real deal? I admit when I look at pictures of the Shroud of Turin it leaves me awestruck.

In 2013 archeologist excavating the ancient Balatlar Church in Turkey found a stone chest that may contain a piece of wood from the cross Christ died on. There are many reliquaries in various churches across Europe that claim to contain actual pieces of the cross. Pieces of this relic have made it across the ocean to the Americas, as well. There is a church in Florida that not only has a piece of the cross but a part of the table that the Last Supper was eaten from. A more popular culture reference, in the documentary My Amityville Horror, demonologist Lorraine Warren produces a relic she says is a splinter from the cross of Christ.

The crown of thorns placed on Jesus’ head while he was mocked before his death is housed at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and is displayed throughout the year. While it looks like it could be authentic it has never been officially authenticated.

Shroud of Turin, Wood from the Cross of Christ, Crown of Thorns relic

Shroud of Turin, Wood from the Cross of Christ, Crown of Thorns relic


Those relics from the passion and resurrection are interesting and even beautiful. However, there are many relics that are rather strange and equally interesting as disturbing.

Heads –

  • Saint Catherine of Siena – This devoted young woman who by her own description, experienced a “mythical marriage” with Jesus that has been the subject of many works of art and writings. She helped the poor and sick and even influenced politics. She died in Rome in 1380 at only 33. Blessed Raymond of Capua, Saint Catherine’s former spiritual director, sent the head back to Siena so a part of her could be in her home town. The mummified head is still housed today at the Basilica Cateriniana San Domenico in Italy.
  • John the Baptist – John had been telling King Herod that it was not cool that he had his brother’s wife, Herodias. Herodias used her daughter to ask for John’s head on a silver plate, can you say Sociopath? Legend says that his severed head was passed from person to person, place to place and the grace coming from the head was able to heal people. Where it is today is a matter of contention. Muslims believe his head is inside the Umayyad Mosque in Syria, while Christians believe it is on display in Rome, buried in Turkey or in France’s Amiens Cathedral.
St. Catherine, John the Baptit

St. Catherine, John the Baptist

Blood –

  • St. Januarius – Legend says he was beheaded in 305 C.E. for hiding fellow Christians during a persecution by Emperor Diocietian. Just after his death a woman saved some of his blood, the now dried blood is stored in two hermetically sealed ampoules. However, three times a year thousands come to Naples Cathedral to witness as the dried blood becomes liquifed.
  • St. Lawrence – He was martyred in 258 C.E. by being roasted alive on a large grill. Some of his blood was caught and like St. Januarius the centuries old dried blood turns to liquid in full-view of the worshippers.
  • Pope John Paul II – There are three known containers of his blood. One is a not a vial of blood but a piece of fabric stained with his blood after he was shot in 1981. Just this year, thieves broke into the remote mountain church of San Pietro della Lenca in Italy and stole the relic. It has since been recovered and returned to the church. Talk about bad mojo.


The Incorruptibles – 

Basically, this is when the dead body of a saint shows no sign of decomposition, some for over a thousand years! Unlike a mummy their skin remains supple looking. Catholics believe this to be a miracle and is a sign of the deceased holiness.



Various Body Parts –

  • Finger of St. Thomas – Thomas said he would not believe that Christ had risen unless he could put his finger in the wounds from the crucifixion, a risen Christ obliged. The Church of Santa Croce in Rome has the a preserved finger alleged to be the very one Thomas put into Christ’s wounds.
  • Tongue of St. Anthony – 750 years ago the tongue of St. Anthony was found to be an incorruptible relic. Perhaps because of his skilled preaching. Westminster Cathedral in Britain houses a piece of dried flesh and some facial skin said to be the tongue.

The Weirdest –

  • The Holy Foreskin – Supposedly when young Jesus was circumcised his foreskin was saved. Many churches claimed to have the relic but by the end of the 18th century these had been discredit but rumors kept circulating. Considered to be the only flesh of Jesus left on the earth you can see why some believers would like to possess it. In the Italian village of Calcata a reliquary containing what is reported to be the true Holy Prepuce was paraded annually until thieves stole it. National Geographic produced a documentary The Quest for the Holy Foreskin to search for any trace of the afore mentioned relic.

Relics are not exclusively Catholic, many religions and belief systems contain them. The faithful find them reassuring to their faith. Skeptics point out that many have been proven as fake.  One very pious woman I know said it didn’t matter if they are real or fake, if it got people thinking about Jesus it was enough. However, some point out that people become too focused on the relic and put their adoration in a very wrong direction. Then there are those who find the arena of relics to be just plain morbid and bizarre. It does seem terribly strange but how many of us have kept a funeral card or a flower from funeral flowers of a loved one? Perhaps relics are just an extreme version of that. At any rate they are weird and you know how I like that.

For those readers who celebrate Easter, have a most excellent holiday and those who don’t have a most excellent Sunday. Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights.





Happy Mardi Gras and National Pancake Day!

It must be fate, National Pancake Day and Mardi Gras on the same day!

What an exciting time in perhaps the most haunted city in America.The origins of Mardi Gras go way back to medieval Europe and perhaps even as far back as ancient rituals of fertility that celebrated the coming of Spring. But in New Orleans it’s time for parades, throws (beads and such thrown from the floats), costumes, lavish parties, and reveling in the streets before the penitent time of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

Some say that the excitement and energy of the events attract the dead of New Orleans just as readily as the living. Some of the parade routes include passing by cemeteries, funeral homes, and other supposed haunted locations. According to some, as the parade passes these areas they pick up some otherworldly participants and they have photos to prove it.

I found a few of these photos on line at Haunted New Orleans Tours. I know photos can be faked and manipulated, what do you think?

French Quarter Parade

French Quarter Parade




If you’re like me and can’t go yourself, books are the next best thing. Ruined, a Novel, by Paula Morris is a terrific choice. It takes place in New Orleans where we follow newcomer Rebecca as she struggles with moving into her Aunt Claudia’s strange and spooky house and navigating the alien social structures of her new life. Ghosts, a haunted cemetery, New Orleans’ lifestyle, a mystery, Mardi Gras Krewes, a cute boy, and some mean girls. What more could you ask from a book? Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.


If you are lucky enough to go to Mardi Gras take as many photos as you can. If you get anything weird, feel free to share with those of us who can’t be there. By weird, I don’t mean topless folks or broken fingers of those who tried to grab throws that hit the ground but any non-humans or former humans who might be partying with you.

If you can’t go to Mardi Gras you could head over to IHOP to celebrate with some free pancakes and make a donation to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Having had preemie babies in a NICU for many long weeks this cause is near and dear to me. At any rate, celebrate away! Tomorrow marks the start of the Lenten season.