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!



Ghost Light Stories Featuring Author Richard Crofton


By LouisHeon – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Just in time for Halloween!

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

Connect with Richard Crofton:


Amazon: Richard Crofton’s Amazon Page


I Know Who Took It, But What is IT?

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?

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.



By Tim Bertelink (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, 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

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.


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!


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!

hamil house

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!


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!

roy and joy

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.


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!