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!

 

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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.

sliced-turkey

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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!

 

 

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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!

 

 

 

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.

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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.

Tales from the Ghost Town Writers Retreat

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15493618_10154899107475972_7094799763006043672_oI have had a difficult time writing this past year. I have a novel that I have started and stopped more times than I care to admit and a Christmas project that I decided to postpone from the planned November publish date. I had amazing momentum coming into this year, but it fizzled quickly, and I’m not sure why.

I decided many months ago to attend the Ghost Town Writers Retreat at the beginning of August to see if I could get my groove back, then my Grandma passed away a few weeks ago, and I almost canceled. Losing her hit me harder than I expected and I just wanted to hide out. My darling husband took time off from work to go with me and said it would give us some time away from the kids together, I suspect he knew I needed him to give me an extra push.

The retreat was held in the small mining town of Georgetown, Colorado. I’m a Colorado native but can say I’ve never hung out in Georgetown for anything more than a bathroom break, fill up, or to get to the pass to go to Clear Lake. I remember when I was little my parents looked at buying a piece of property there. The day they went to look at the property they dropped me, my two siblings, and my grandparents off at the little park in town to eat lunch so they could speak to the realtor without distraction. My sister would not play or leave the bench she sat on. It wasn’t until I told her where I was going that she said the park was full of spooks and they demanded to know why she was there. It scared the hell out of her, and that’s why she wouldn’t play. Weird story, I know, but totally normal in my family.

Georgetown is only about an hour from our house on I-70, but the ride up was hairy. The retreat needed to borrow some grills for the Grill and Greet, so I volunteered ours. Since my husband was coming along, we took his truck and loaded our old gas grill into the bed. The day was overcast, and the wind was picking up. Just as I inquired if the grill was safely tethered a huge bang shook us. The grill had fallen over but not out of the bed. Sadly, the handle didn’t survive. After readjusting the bungee cords, we journeyed on. We drove through dense fog, drenching rain, and pounding hail. It didn’t help that I woke up that morning with a nagging headache. Maybe it was a sign to go home, I thought.

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I-70 Westbound

 

When we got to the hotel we discovered that it would be some time before for our room would be ready and we were a little confused about where to check in for the conference, but we did figure out where to take the grill. After an uninvited cloud burst, my husband helped cook up some buffalo hot dogs and burgers, and we had a tasty little dinner with some fascinating folks.

One of the things I really wanted to do was check out the park. I still had a headache, but the next morning I grabbed my camera and off we went. The moment I entered the park through the iron archway my headache was joined by a turbulent stomach. No one demanded to know why I was there, but it felt heavy and strange. My husband asked if it used to be a cemetery because it gave that kind of vibe. As a side note, I got a terrible headache working on this piece, and I kept getting an error message when I tried to upload the photos of the park, it took several tries. Coincidence? Maybe, but my husband says I should quit messing around with this subject!

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The Park Entrance

Even though my head and tummy were very unhappy, I continued to hit up all the sessions I could. Every single session was terrific, and the presenters (some first timers) were great. When we got home and were describing some of the things we learned my daughter laughed and said it sounded like a murders’ convention! Most of the sessions were held in the historic Heritage Center, the old school house. The building restoration was fabulous!

The marketing sessions were beneficial, as that is the area I dislike the most about this author thing and find the most challenging. I’m a quiet, shy, introverted person which is a huge hindrance to my marketing efforts. I made a commitment to myself to move way out of my comfort zone in the coming months regarding this.

I also had an epiphany. I believe my difficulty in writing has come because I know the marketing will come after. Yes. I hate it that much. I think I got some tools and resources at the retreat that will help me, though.

Being the very first Ghost Town Writers Retreat, there were some hiccups and places where there is room for improvement. I thought Georgetown was a great location and I had the best burger ever (after my tummy finally settled down) at Round About Burgers. The waffles at The Happy Cooker were amazing, and the Family Dollar is stocked better than a full sized Walmart! It turned out to be more of a conference than retreat, however. I would have liked more opportunities to meet up and write with other writers. And coffee! Coffee at the venue for morning sessions, please!

I wasn’t sure where or how to sign up for editor/agent sessions, but since I didn’t feel well, I opted not to pursue it. Maybe for next year,  the signup and location information could be available a few days before the event begins.

There was a walking ghost tour that I would have loved to attend, but it happened on Sunday evening, and I was already jonesing for my kids. We opted for the train, mine tour, and of course, the cemetery.

We really didn’t need a ghost tour anyway. I drug my husband around the town late on Saturday night, just to see what we might see. He always warns that I better not get him arrested, but I’ve been doing this to him for years, and so far we are arrest free, knock on wood!

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Haunted Hamill House After Dark

 

Even though I didn’t feel well for the first three days, I feel like I got out of it what I wanted. I have a strategy to push through my writing wall, and I got to spend some time with my husband. He got a better idea of what it is I do and struggle with and ended up getting into it himself! I said we should just write spooky books together and forget everything else!

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My Handsome Husband – It Looks Good on Him!

 

I can only imagine what it takes to organize a thing like this. The speakers and moderators were great. The movie screening of Dead Awake was fun, and I wanted to ask Jeffery Riddick (Dead Awake, Final Destination) what led them to cast Lori Petty (Orange is the New Black), she was great by the way, but my head was killing me.

How you go about contacting all these folks and getting them to come to a retreat in a tiny Colorado mountain town is beyond me. I’m grateful for the opportunity and that I ignored my headache AND did not go back home. I am already looking forward to next year, but I think I’ll stay away from the park…or not!

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Beware the Garage Sale!

It’s not like I need more stuff. We are drowning in stuff at my house, but I just can’t seem to resist a good garage sale. In my town, the various neighborhoods have community garage sale weekends where almost every house has junk in their driveway. Junk begging to come home with me.

My more sensitive relatives remind me to be careful bringing used stuff home, you never know what’s attached to it. Sorry, dear loved ones, but I am purposefully looking for weird objects.

johnI don’t mean that I want a museum of cursed objects in my basement like The Warrens, John Zaffis, or Zak Bagans, but I do want to figure out if this idea of haunted objects has any merit. Like with most paranormal topics, I want to know how it ticks. Is there a logical, organic, natural explanation? Or is it something else? If it is something else, what is it and what does that mean in a broader world-view sense?

peggySomeone I would consider an expert in such matters is Jayne Harris of HD Paranormal. She believes that sometimes it is something else. She explains it as an emotional or spiritual connection to an object, either through prior ownership or displacement (this is when energy is transferred or absorbed by an object in the location of trauma; a gun used to kill someone for instance). Many times her team finds other explanations, but not always.

What happens in the rare event that you bring a haunted item into your home? Some people report that the item will make them feel anxious, angry, sad, or cold. Odors, good and bad, can accompany the item. Most disturbingly, however, are items that purport to move on their own and voices that emanate from the piece. Worse yet are reports of bad luck or illness befalling the owner.

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99¢ start!

Hate garage sales? Thrift stores, not your thing? There is no shortage of haunted items that you can purchase on the internet. I did a quick search of haunted objects for sale and ran across several dolls, some priced as high as $2,000.00! That doll better do dishes and laundry for that price. A lot of haunted masks that would be creepy enough on their own are available in a wide price range. Voodoo dolls and haunted jewelry tend to be numerous and in my indie author price range!

In all my years of bringing home odd items, I can’t say any of them caused any of the above-mentioned symptoms. However, last year I was rummaging through an old barn that had been renovated into an antique store with my daughter. We entered an area on the second-floor hay loft and all the hair on my arms stood to attention. I can only describe the feeling as the heebie-jeebies. We left the area and I felt fine. I went back and the heebie-jeebies returned. I love that feeling. It makes me happy. I hung out there for several minutes. I thought about buying something. I thought about warnings from my family. I went home empty handed.

I figure it’s better to write about spooky stuff than forcing my family to live through it, I mean you never know. But someday all the kids will be grown and out of the house! Sorry, husband.

I went back to this antique store a couple weeks ago. No heebie-jeebies. Either it was my mind playing tricks, wishful thinking, OR the haunted item has been SOLD!

Been to any garage sales this summer? Been feeling a little under the weather? Feel any strong emotions you can’t explain? Smell something weird? Is that doll in a different place than you left her? Please. Please, invite me over!

Until next time, Never Turn off the Lights!

Announcing Ghost Light Stories

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

I’m a firm believer that you can never get enough scares in your life! That’s why I’m so excited to introduce a new feature to this site: Ghost Light Stories. Once a month you’ll be treated to a spooky tale either from myself, a guest horror author or from readers just like you!

A Ghost Light is a single naked bulb left burning in an empty theatre. For practical reasons, this light keeps someone from accidentally walking into to the orchestra pit or off the side of the stage, but it’s also surrounded by superstition. There is a widespread tradition that most theaters are haunted. One story goes that the Ghost Light allows the spirits to take to the stage in otherworldly performances when the living actors have left the building. In a little darker version, the Ghost Light keeps the spirits with evil intentions away from the theatre ensuring safety and success. Either way, you may wish to fire up your own Ghost Light before you hear these creepy tales!

If you have a story of your own you’d like to share with us, please email it to info@joyyehle.com  Fellow authors encouraged to play! You can also follow Ghost Light Stories on my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7yz0LWLYNbdv-02mUvq0Aw

Enjoy!