Damien Donovan and the Widows Peak

 

halls-falls

 

 

Messr’s Brown and Thompson 

President, Vice President, Funding 

The Explorers Club 

1225 Maple Blvd 

New York City, New York 

 

 

Sirs: 

 

My name is Dr. Damien Donovan and you perhaps know my name as you co-funded the most recent expedition  in which I took part on behalf of Miskatonic University.  

Last year, 1917, per our expedition charter, I made final verification of our stores, equipment and personnel and we travelled by the most economical means, sea transport, to the northern wilds of Australia.  We performed our duties as directed and are in the process of finalizing our report, photograph logs and specimen charting.  I am happy to inform you that we were one-hundred percent successful and were in fact able to exceed our scope and reach within the financial constraints set by your gracious finding and the Miskatonic board.  That said,  we complete our field work a week early and I being expedition led, was able to leave the processing and preparation in the hands of junior staff under the direction of other senior researchers.  I thus set forth on my own excursion which is the topic of this letter. 

As you know, or may know, I am a biologist by training, specializing in tropical herpetological species with an interest in what some choose to call, “cryptids”.  By loose definition, these being creatures that though documented in various means, are not at present accepted in the scientific community as actual or real.  Some of these being creatures long thought extinct (Lazarus Taxon), creatures of legend (the northwestern American sasquatch or Tibetan Yeti) or are as yet undefined creatures spoken of in legend (sea serpents or the Japanese Kappa, likely the Andrias Japonicus).  I believe there are no such things as  “monsters” per say, merely animalia etc. that have yet to be properly observed and catalogued utilizing proper science due to the great expanse of our world and depth of our oceans. Over time, with man spreading wider and wider, these will become more and more encountered in the wilds, but until that time, I wish to search them out and preserve them from those that would cause harm to them. 

Pardon me for my soapboxing digressions. 

I had ten days free time until the ship was to arrive in Darwin for our transport back to the United States and gave instructions to the team to fly from Borroloola Northwestward as soon as they were ready.   I decided to look into a report of a smallish body of water to the East known as the Widows Bath, where a number of small Aborigine (Yanyuwa) children and one settler have died under mysterious circumstances.  I left detailed mapping of my projected route of travel with trusted colleagues and rented a motorcycle.  My satchel heavy with tools and my saddlebag full of foods and clothes, I made my way.  Three hours rough ride out, I encountered a small town where I was directed to an Aborigine village and provided with a horse for loan for a small sum as the ground beyond it to the Widows Bath was not conducive to wheeled locomotion. 

The sun was blistering hot that day and I had to stop numerous times to swig water from my skins and bottles.  I was near empty when I encountered the village.  It was squalid and unassuming but the people who populated it were both friendly and accepting. Given a stabling area with shade for my horse and a place to bunk down (free of spiders I was guaranteed as they and every other creature here wishes to kill you), I ate with the locals a food stuff I dare not describe and went to sleep after the long day’s ride. I was awoken after midnight by sounds outside my sleeping quarters and found the local chief I would assume or elder at least standing by me flanked by two solid, squat men, one of whom I knew spoke English as he assisted me earlier. 

We sat by the fire silently for a good hour and then the Chief went on to tell me a tale of his childhood,  when he and a friend went to Widows Bath (they had a different name for it) on a similarly hot day.  The body of water he described, is a deep D shaped cut into the high cliffed rocky shore of a larger brackish, ocean fed lake. Freshwater tributaries running to the sea further diluted the brackish waters flowing in from the tide fed lake to which it is attached.  They spent the day playing on the cliff edge, throwing rocks into the deep waters, drinking from the waterfall and trying to catch birds for food.  The chief went to relieve himself in a bushed area, heard a slight splashing noise and returned to find a single shoe and his friend’s hand carved wooden hunting stick halfway down a sloped embankment, the waters below calm and sedate apart from  widening ripple.  He spent the balance of the day looking for his friend, all the while feeling as if being watched.  The chief returned home in the dark, unwilling to sleep anywhere near the water. 

Following the story, the chief stood, patted me on the shoulder and wandered off into the dark toward his home, the other two in the direction of theirs I assume.  I added a log to the fire as is custom, and myself went back to my shelter to turn on the lamp, make notes and eventually go to sleep. 

In the morning, I awoke later than I had planned.  The sun was mid way up toward noon and I cursed myself for the nightcaps I had taken advantage of to help sleep come about. I stretched, found food waiting for me and began to pack my things and fill my water skins.  My horse was watered and fed as well and with a wave to my uninterested hosts I set off.  

The trek took me most of the remaining daylight hours and as planned I camped at a spot indicated on the mapping I was given in Boorloloola.  It was a small fenced in meadow along a small stream with a useable paddock and a shed utilized by researchers to protect them from the elements (not to mention the multitudes of venomous creatures that populate this god forsaken land) while on fauna documenting research sojourns in the general area.  I whipped up a fire, fed my horse, ate a meagre meal, stared at the stars while a sipped a bit of brandy.  I then headed to the shed, carefully investigated every nook and cranny for spiders and snakes and such (it was sealed and screened quite well) then bunked down for the night. 

At half past three in the morning I was awoken by a far off scream of some sort or animal in distress to the west.  I stepped out cautiously, ensure the paddock was secure and the horse was good (she was spooked but otherwise healthy) and throw a good deal of wood on the fire.  No more disturbances noted, I went back to a fitful sleep, stomping on an arachnid that trundled past the shed as I approached. 

The following morning I awoke to a brisk wind from the west that brought smells of the ocean and slightly fetid marsh-like odour that is to be expected at this time of year along the edges of rivers that have somewhat shrunken since the rains.  (I will provide you by the way with verbal verification of the location of Widows Bath following this correspondence should you wish to afford me an interview for further expeditionary consideration.  I will leave it to say it is between the Calvert River and the Pellew Islands region).  I ate, fed the horse, made a written and mental note to return as is customary and replenish the firewood stores, and headed in a general westerly direction for the remaining five miles of travel.  As I approached the location indicated on my map, the ground became more and more treacherous.  Rivers, creeks and rivulets shored by thick at times impossible forest, surrounded by cracked, bone dry land, flats and rock outcroppings.  Thankfully, a signpost had been erected with a wooden, hand painted yet now unreadable warning that was described quite well in my notes was still in place.  I took a long drink and provided the same to my horse, stowed the map and extricated both my shotgun, which I loaded, rope and my binoculars.  We approached the Widows Bath. 

We were able to traverse an ancient path that was only partly overgrown and make our way through the foliage to the edge of a large “D” shaped body of water, perhaps five hundred feet east west and double that north to southeast.  It was surrounded by a stony cliff face with a drop of perhaps twenty to twenty-five feet to the water’s surface.  I could see around the edge of the  low-lying, barren rock island that made up the center of the “D” distance flats that lead to the ocean (according to my mapping), the oceanic inlet that provided the tide driven current that cut the D into the rock and to my immediate right, a small waterfall of fresh surface water and spring derivation.  It flowed down directly into the salty ocean waters to create quite beautiful visible difference in light refraction and color, even given the discernible depths. 

At this point, what should have been a relaxing day’s expedition went sour so to speak.  Instead of dismounting, tying the horse to a nearby tree and walking over to the waterfall, whereby one could walk down the talus/scree slope to the waters below, I thought I would bring her to the waterfall to allow her to drink.  We moved forward on what seemed to be sold, stable rock (well travelled given the presence of  large mammal scat), to adjacent to the waterfall. As the saying goes, leading a horse to water and such, she was spooked and uninterested in drink.  I dismounted, thinking better of my plan and took the lead, attempting to turn her around on the rock slab so I could bring her back to the edge of the wood when a huge splashing from an unseen source below erupted, followed by a roaring bellow that echoed off of the cliff walls.  

The horse reared, my hand caught up in the straps I was pulled off of my feet and swung into the waterfall as she twisted to the left trying to turn on her own back from whence we came.  I tried to extract my hand unsuccessfully, as she tried to bolt.  I was dragged against a large jagged boulder, my progress halted, she realizing she could not continue, whipped to the right as another bellow rang out.  I was yanked free of the water and rocks but in her panic, she went over the edge, just as the straps came free.  I plunged down into the waterfall outfall, striking my head and losing consciousness, my last vision of the horse being her sliding down the rocks, a piece of the large flat stone outcropping we had been standing on coming free and following her down the slope.  Her whinnying scream and a loud cracking was the last thing I remember hearing as the world went black. 

I awoke a short time later (I assumed due to the position of sun).  As my eyes opened and adjusted to the light, I found myself on my right side, the lower, left half of my body cold and wet, my right leg trapped between two large rocks. Thankfully I was not completely immersed in the waters and the sunlight that bore down on me was dappled, passing for the present at least, through some overhanging trees.  I could see I was half way down the slope to the dark, the dark, foreboding waters farther below.  Looking downward and to my right I could see the avalanche that had occurred had also trapped the horse on her side at the water’s edge between a large portion of the flat stone we had perched on earlier and hummock of soil.  She was flopping around, whinnying and snorting but I was unable to determine her condition.  Mine, well, I was sore, my head hurt greatly from the impact, but my wedged leg seemed fine, just locked in place.   

I looked around to see if I could find a branch or pole within reach I could use to utilize as a lever to extricate my leg.  I saw nearby but not within reach, my bag, the strap torn away but otherwise intact, my shotgun and a horse blanket. Immediately I thought to remove my belt and use it too try to snag the items when I saw a curious thing.  A full-sized adult make Chlamydosaurus Kingii (Frilled Lizard) with beautiful colors was standing slightly uphill from my things staring at me.  Its eyes were locked on mine, its frill down and pressed against its neck, its breathing very, very slow, it rocked gently side to side as if in a trance.  Typically these lizards will raise their frills and hiss, open-mouthed in a defensive stance so close to a human in my experience, but no, this one was watching me intently.  I felt no personal concern as they are not a threat, only subsiding on insects and small animalia, but as one who studies reptiles, I wondered what was wrong.  I spoke to it, asking it gently as I do “what is up friend”, and in doing so, broke the spell. It waddled off uphill to climb the overhanging tree and return to what they do best, looking for food.  

My interest was detracted by a pained whinny from the horse.  I looked down and saw fear increasing in her eyes.  She was somehow being pulled against the rock and soil that held her firm.  With each movement, she screamed as only horses can.  I could not tell if she was kicking against the rock with her hind legs or if current was pulling her downward, only that she was definitely moving and entirely  voluntarily.  I turned me attention quickly to my gear. 

Not to bore you with the details, but I managed to over time obtain my shotgun and bag which contained water and much-needed food all the while distracted by the strange jerky movements and horrid noises emanating from the horse.  I ate, drank (not wishing to risk drinking the water falling upon myself from above until I ran out of my own) to prevent dehydration, and debated how best to free myself.  All the while, I kept an eye on the events below me and the lizard above who had found a comfortable perch to watch from. 

I decided as the sun moved westward, threatening to bathe me in its light,  that I needed to find a way to escape using the only available source of energy apart from my own strength.  Water.  I grasped every rock of substantial size I could and began to construct a flume of sorts to funnel the falling and flowing waters toward my leg.  Eventually, a substantial amount of diversion was made and I could feel the waters flowing along the length of  my trapped limb and between the large rocks.  I also felt a bit of a tingling sensation as it appeared that my leg though not broken was torn somewhat.  the waters pooling around below my knee darkened with blood.  My concern began to abate however as with a bit of a pulling sensation, I could tell that the diverted stream had begun to wash away some of the small rocks, gravel, clay and silt that had entombed my foot.  I could soon wiggle it and with a small whoosh, it pulled free, the pooled water shooting down between the rocks toward the Widows bath like a drain emptying. 

I pulled myself backward, gingerly examining my leg.  It was bruised and swollen, a few long though not deep lacerations along the shinbone that I could easily bandage for the trek back to the shelter.  I looked down toward the horse, plotting how to free her and most likely put her out of her misery, when the entire surface of the waters churned like a whale nearly but not completely breaching the surface of the sea. I scrabbled back up the slope toward the base of the tree just in time to see a black blue thick rubbery arm slither up the waters of the inflowing stream, slapping, seeking, probing for me.  Grabbing my shotgun and bag, I moved slowly like a crab to the shaded area, intrigued as one in my line of employ is but of course cautious, my leg made progress slow and as expected, painful. 

The arm, appendage, lifted and swung violently, thrashing the rocks and water, coming within ten feet of my position. I feared it would lift itself up onto the shore, gaze upon me with whatever eye or eyes it possessed, and better direct its aim. I slid back as far as I could, into the shady overhang at the base of the cliff, not bothering to concern myself with whatever I was dislodging out of fear for my life.  I heard a snap behind me, rolled to the side as best I could and saw that a coastal taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus), a horribly venomous angry snake with extremely long fangs (yet beautiful coppery brown colorings) had erupted from the leaves piled beneath.  It reared back to strike and I was faced with two forms of death, when the frilled lizard rushed into view, bit the snake at the base of its head and proceeded to roll down the hill toward the waters.  This as you may know is not a normal reaction between the two species, a frilled lizard generally eating only mammals and insects of relatively small size. 

I stood, knowing another snake or more may be I the vicinity and limped to the right to attempt to traverse the remainder of the ridge and make my way back whence I came.  The arm was still thrashing but dislodging loose stones and rocks upon itself.  Eventually, it turned its attention to the horse who was now herself white eyed in fear at the sight of a snake and lizard in a death battle within five feet of her head.  Knowing what I must do, I loaded a shell into the shotgun, aimed first at the probing arm that was tentatively touching the lower half of the horse, then moving a bit closer as I dared , I changed my aim for her head instead, mercy taking over my sense of fear.  I pumped two shots into her skull, killing her near instantly before the revolting rubbery arm had fully wrapped around her flanks and began to twist her free of her rocky captors, in might I say, two distinct pieces.  She slid into the waters and beyond view into the depths just as the lizard and snake separated.  Snake moved off along the shore and lizard turned to face me.  As I watched, it dropped on its side and expired. 

I rapidly as possible walked the length of the lower ledge, then up the embankment to the rocky cliff above the Widow’s Bath.  Staring into the dark , brackish abyss, I was able to discern only a modicum of movement below the surface but enough for my liking.  I took what notes I felt were important, drank my fill of water, bandaged my wounds as best possible, then walked briskly toward a small copse of trees to the west. There, what I deemed a safe distance, I set about constructing a small camp for remainder of the day, for walking in such heat was unsafe especially in my condition.  Come nightfall and the rising of the moon, I walked the five miles back to the shed and paddock, shut the gate and started a massive fire utilizing the wood I had left the night before. I cleared the hut to ensure again no snakes or spiders would interrupt my sleep, and dropped, exhausted into the arms of Morpheus. 

I awoke some ten hours later to a knock on the door and the sounds of shuffling feet.  I stood, forced myself to awaken, stood and opened the door to find the aboriginal Chief standing before me. He handed me a skin of water, a small sack of food and clapped me on shoulder looking sideways into my eyes.  He spoke no words, but for the briefest of moments, I saw his eyes for the space between blinks change to yellow with no whites. They became those of a lizard, and then, they were not. I stepped back and stumbled onto the floor of the shed as the Chief laughed uproariously, something I had not expected from someone so stern. 

He helped me to my feet as his two associates came around the corner with a new, saddled and provisioned horse in tow.  I accepted the loan, and it was made clear that it was such and that I owed them for the lost horse. I accepted, made an oath to repay them their kindness and generosity and made my way back to their village to collect my vehicle. 

There is not much more to this story to add sirs, apart from my assurance that I plan to return with a full crew of students this coming summer and would graciously accept any grants you could bestow me for provision of a confidential, fulsome account, including photographic evidence and mapping, in your hands within three months of my departure. 

 

Yours Sincerely 

Dr. Damien Donovan,

June 20, 1918 

 

Personal Food Facts

Since I am in between projects for a few days, I threw together a few fun personal food facts that persons who know me can utilize to explain my somewhat (according to them) odd food ways and means…

1. I had no idea what a casserole was until I was about 20. We never had them when I was a kid and only knew that “tuna casserole” was some disgusting food thanks to TV sitcoms.

Some Disgusting Casserole

To me this looks like something you find on the ground in an alley outside a shady bar at 2 am.

Note: The idea of making, eating or looking at a casserole even to this day is disgusting to me. Gross.  A pan filled with a miscellany of foods and baked together.  Only Lasagna is acceptable as it is technically a casserole.

2. I had no idea what the term “seconds” was until I was in my late teens. My parents being avid fitness and nutrition folks only ever made meals sized to how much we would eat and my sister and I ate like birds. We didn’t like food. We never had leftovers.

I went to someones house once and they asked “do you want seconds?”… I assumed it was some kind of ethnic dessert (they being slightly olive in complexion, thus “ethnic” in my hometown). I said “yes please!” being a polite child.  I was given a second plate of food.  I was in horror. I barely ate the first.  I started to cry part way into it, I couldn’t eat all of this!! I said “thank you, I don’t feel well” and ran home.

*Granted, I also had no idea what my last name was until the first day of kindergarten when they called out first and last names.  I thought they were making fun of me when they did as people laughed at my lack of response.  Yes, I grew up in one of THOSE households.

3. We never had desserts at my house except on very special occasions.  Once or twice my mother did try to make a black forest cake and failed miserably as I remember. When my sister and I went to grandparents homes we scoured them for treats.  When I went to someones house on a mid week summers day and they had pie after a simple, basic meal I was aghast. Was it a birthday party?  What happened?  Why is this thing here on the table? Are we allowed? Maybe just a little piece.

pumpkin pie

I do like pie

4. I never, ever, ever have had a birthday party or a birthday cake.  Ever.

Ever.

Me, 2047

Me, 2047, I get my birthday party

5. I only had a vague idea what brown bagging or “doggy bag” meant again from TV sitcoms primarily.  I ate all three meals at home most every single day of my childhood except special occasions where we went to an actual sit down, very expensive (for the area I grew up in) dress up place. I thought everyone did this. I had no idea for years that we had fast food in my city.  When I finally did go to a Harvey’s ™ I was grossed out by the consistency of the burger I excitedly ordered and couldn’t finish it.

6. We only ate beef 1-2 times a week and for a good three years we primarily ate Asian and Caribbean food. Seafood was was a staple. I thought only rednecks and cavemen ate beef and pork all the time. We very rarely had pork.

Ribs

Unlike pie, I do not like ribs

7. We ate more rice than potatoes which were were a strange anomalous thing we only had with turkey at xmas or occasionally as mashed potatoes which as I remember my mother could never get right.  Once she blended them and produced an inedible paste.

8. Food was never an event, it was just something we needed. I’d show up at the table at breakfast or at home lunch and dinner and something my mother threw together would be ready to eat.  I never took part in the cooking and it wasn’t until college that I actually knew how to make kraft dinner (which is again, disgusting).

9. I don’t like eggs.  I eat eggs but don’t like them.  I would tell people I was allergic to them to keep from being given any or anything that contained eggs.

 

Thus, I am not a foodie.  I do eat, surprisingly, but merely to end a craving.  I don’t care about food generally.  I have a LONG list of things I do not eat or like to eat but generally I can eat most anything.  If I could get Jetson’s food pills I could have a good two hours back each day and that would be okay with me.

 

Chronus

I see the minute and I am angry

Fleeting seconds flit by

Tick tick tick

Sixty more

One minute of one hour of one day

Gone
I see the  day and I am angry

So few per month

Some bastards even have only Thirty

One only twenty eight. 

Fucking February

Go and take it away
I see the year and I am crushed

Yet another summer not so productive

No decent holiday

No memorable trips for the children

Yet winter looms

And I plan for the next
I see my birthday  and I an saddened

Another reminder of the cresting wave

At best I am half way

At worst, tomorrow’s sad tale

And regret frosts the cake

Yet the bliss of forgetfulness eludes me
And the children leave home

to tell tales of an unhappy father

And how they won’t be so

And that terrible song from the sixties plays

Cats in the Cradle

There is always still time

Weekly Update the Second – Timberjack, Golf Sucks and Stop Being A PhotoClown

It’s been a whole week! Or has it.  Maybe not. I’ll forget these if I wait till Friday. Enjoy.

Oh I got side tracked.. Side tracked. One word. Now you get two posts. This was supposed to be up June 16.

05e79dec112b78398641f37f3ad2155b

Timberjack

 

Driving in the car the other day with my family and it hit me, “why do people say lumber and timber interchangeably?”. I asked my long suffering spousal unit and she promptly found a website that provides the difference between two similar words.  Apparently, Timber is fallen tree stuff ready to be cut up into Lumber.  There are regionalizations, for example people in Australia (gurus of proper language that they are) refer to lumber as timber.  I think English people do too but they don’t even have trees except ornamental ones that grow spaghetti so their opinions on word use do not count.  Hell they call arugula “Rocket” because French people call it Roquette and they can’t POSSIBLY pronounce something foreign correctly. They also call a zucchini a “vegetable marrow” which is disgusting and dumb. Anyways.  A Lumberjack is a person who cuts down trees for use as lumber but the trees they cut down are not made into lumber until they are hewn at a factory or sorts.. Therefore a Lumberjack using common word use is in fact a TIMBERJACK.  That is all.

Golf

golf-cart

THANKFULLY a golf tournament I attend annually has been cancelled.  It’s free.  Free as in free round of golf, free cart, free meal, one free drink (boozy drink).  I like free.  I used to like golf.  I don’t like golf anymore.  Now I don’t have to golf at all.

Don’t get me wrong, like darts, pool, lawn darts, beanbag toss, horseshoes, dwarf tossing, golf is an at times fun “game”.  It’s not a sport because to me, regardless of the fact you can win money at it and people keep score, it’s based on accuracy and skill not “fitness” so to me it’s just a game.  I like games, I do, don’t get me wrong (again) but to me a game is something you do for fun and riding around with one friend, two strangers, in a small car, hitting a ball, swearing, swatting bugs, watching old men flirt with uni age cart girls, getting sunburnt/stroked then when it’s all over and you want to go home you still hang around the place for drinks and speeches.. That’s a chore.

Plus, when I was a kid golf was cheaper.

Plus when I was a kid, golf had dress codes.

Plus when I was a kid golf courses were less busy.

Plus when I was kid, everyone and their drunken dog didn’t golf.

I have other hobbies and sports to do.  Golf you are dead to me.

Photoclown

clown_crime

Everyone that buys a monster lensed big frigging camera nowadays calls themselves a photographer.  That bugs me.  A friend who DOES this, and does slide a stupid “Photography by Ted Smith. Not for commercial use, copy-write 2017” (not his real name) on his pictures says to me “well, you’re a writer..”. I then remind him I may have written a few books but its not my job and I NEVER call myself a writer.  I also paint pictures in acrylics.  Some people like them. I do not call myself an artist. Sorry but unless you make a living at it, it’s a hobby.  You can make balloon animals, hang out at kids birthday parties and wear lots of makeup. That doesn’t make you a clown.  (Okay it could make you an alcoholic mom who is a bit of clown (pass the wine)..) Speaking of parties, a few years back, an in law invited their cousin to a family xmas gathering.  Small home. Small livingroom.  This person (not related to anyone else in the room) stormed around phot documenting he event with a giant SLR digital taking unplanned action shots of kids opening gifts, me generally avoiding them, people talking.  A full 70% of attendees wanted to kill them. Don’t do this.

That’s all I have.

So in summary:

  • Go ahead buy that nice camera, I would, I wish I had one that was better
  • Putting your name on the photo (especially in script font) is lame
  • Using a HUGE oversized lens when taking photos of anything mundane within 50 feet of you is lame
  • Calling yourself something you are not is lame
  • Toting a huge shoulder bag of lenses and such to a family event makes you target for a punching or at least verbal abuse.

WEEKLY UPDATE THE FIRST – I AM IN EXILE, I KNOW ABOUT MAYAN CITIES AND I DO NOT LIKE STREETSWEEPERS

Welcome to my new weekly update.  I should do a podcast but damn the idea of forcing myself to edit audio and actually meet a schedule is tedious.  Daily “blogging” (I despise that word) is also not going to happen due to my latent procrastination.  So this is what you get for now.  Enjoy.  A weekly post of rambles and rants.

 p1

Exile

Well that was easy. I’ve managed three days without posting anything on my personal Facebook page.  The original intention was to stay off till I completed three separate writing assignments and I am one third done that self-imposed electro-exile* and will be two thirds complete this afternoon.  The last one, well, that will take a bit longer, probably a few more days up to a week if I see something shiny I end up chasing across a parking lot.

But I digress.

In truth, the ease of this is staggering.  I’m an obsessive facebook poster.  I complain, drop links to songs I like or discover, incite riotous conversation to spark a change in public opinion, post photos of “Cute Celebrities I’d Never Bang Even Were I Single and A Billionaire” ™ , you know, the usual.  I may extend this.  Honestly I have enough people reading my things here and buying my occasional (and at present long overdue) books.

It’s fun being an outsider.  It’s more fun to be an outside that lurks social networks, drops funny comments here and there and runs back to ones cave. I think my new faux-career option has become Facebook Lurker.

We’ll wait and see I guess.  Pardon me while I go make fun of someone’ shoes.

*Band name of the week: Elektroexile  (note the Germanic use of a K for fun)

Sweeper

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I have an unreasonable fear of streetsweepers (odocatharistophobia**) so when I see one I generally, being an adult, cringe a bit inside and just give it space.  When I was a kid late at night, I would be awoken to the sound of hissing brushes on the roadway, a groaning moaning engine and flashing lights that shone on my ceiling.  It was horrible, nightmare inducing, double plus ungood.

I was this week making a left turn into my parking lot when I saw a small one moving up the laneway, whipping around the traffic island and turning back into the property.  It (for the human occupant is not in control of these beasts) was collecting dirt and mud spewed all over our roads and parking lots due to a recent construction project. As it turned, it ran over a very recently patched section of asphalt road. A giant pothole filled with malleable, hot black asphalt.  It chewed into it and sprayed the black sticky goo everywhere and completely re-opened the recently filled hole.  It was glorious destruction and resulted in one group of worker arguing with another group of workers. I have no idea why this amused me as much as it did. Perhaps because in my child mind, the streetsweeper was getting in trouble.

** Not a true, accepted phobia.  I just googled “irrational fear of streetsweepers” and found some linguist guy made up a term from a Latin word for streetsweeper.

Teotihuacan

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Today he says when we are mid highway on our ways to work and school “Dad you know that ancient Mayan city Teotihuacan?” Which he pronounces flawlessly as were he a 600 ad resident of the place. My middle son is very intelligent.  Annoyingly intelligent at times.  It often happens that he, out of the blue, when I am busy doing something like oh, having a shower, writing a book, driving a car, eating a piece of toast, will ask us a question to verify something he already knows or wants to use a lead in to explain something else.  We being educated, experienced S-Mart people most often have answers but we are left wondering “why did you need to know that now? You are 17 not 7…” Example: “Dad, you know when you are (doing some calculus or coding thing) and (something apparently obscure of odd happens) is it best to (do this) or (do other thing)?”  I will, assuming I know the answer or can determine it through logic will say “do (this)” which will set him off with a tirade about how “(the other thing) is the better choice and here is why”.

My wife and I burst out laughing as the odd question, which he repeats then he repeats the city name, again pronounced perfectly two more times.  We laughingly scolded him at the  obscurity of his questions, realized he was reading another of his strange leftist social justice books and patiently awaited him to defend the ritualized murders or laud their communal farming (and murdering) culture. Thankfully he dropped it, mildly embarrassed at our reaction***.  I expect him to try again.  I will again laugh at his pronunciation. Best dad ever.

*** The saddest thing is that I actually knew what city he was talking about and probably had answers to his questions.

A walk in the storm

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We had a fairly large storm two weeks ago. After half a day stuck in side and two trips out to try to keep up with the snow, I got a bit of cabin fever and took my youngest, the one most like me in many ways, out into it for a walk.  We trudged, clad in parkas, boots, face shields and mittens, the half kilometer or so to the highway near our home.  The wind and snow blew and more than once we debated turning back, but we persevered until we reached the middle of the normally busy two lane road.

“Look up that way” I told him pointing north, “what do you see?”

“Nothing.”

“Look that way” I directed him to the south, “what do you see?”

“Still nothing.”

“What do you hear?”

“The wind in the trees”

We kept walking, crossed the highway, down a sideroad to a small creek that had only a skittering of ice on it.  We tossed rocks until they broke through.  Threw long branches like spears, sticking them into the ice until the surface looked like the grounds of a medieval  battle.  We walked on, up he road until we reached an area where a small grove of ancient pine stood, likely over a century old.

“Do you hear that?”

“The creaking?”

“Yes, cool eh?”

“Is it dangerous?”

“No” I laughed, “It’s just the trunks rubbing together in the wind. See how they all grew from the same point at the bottom?  Likely it was one big tree that was knocked over by lightning or wind years and years ago and new shoots grew from the trunk to become almost separate trees”.

“Cool.”

“What have we not seen since we left the house?”

“People, cars, animals.”

“Yup.  I like this. Its what I do when I go outside in the snow or at night sometimes.  I wander. It’s like we are the only people left on the planet.”

“Cool” he looked around, threw a rock or two into the woods at a small pond full of ice. “I like it too”.

“I find it calming.”

He nodded.  “I’m getting cold, can we go back?”

“Sure.  Hot chocolate?”

“Sure.”

And we headed back, calm, quiet and content if a bit cold and windburnt.  My thirteen year old hold him my hand like he did when he was much smaller for a good portion of the return trip. We saw no cars, no people, no animals the rest of the way.  We heard nothing but wind and snow blowing.  We were alone in the world and okay with it, because that’s the kind of people we both are.

And it was good.

The Story

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It sits in my file on my desktop.  It peeks at me. It calls me to finish it. I do not.

I know it will be my last tale, my last fable.  Something said it should not be completed.

So I do not.

Magix are real.

And I see it every day and I think about it every day and I ponder nuances of its ending, its middle, it’s pace.

It begins at the end, for now.  The end of what I tell you.  The end of what will be written

It never truly will end, for you see it ends in the middle, though as mentioned, the end, the end you see, it is at the beginning.

So you need to end it yourself.

But I warn you.

Do not read this story.

If I ever publish it.

It doesn’t, won’t end well, for you, for me, for the characters.

Evil is real.

The beginning maybe should be moved to the end, where the end should go, but I can’t do that.

It serves as a warning, a precursor, a threat, of what will come. It gives you a sense of wonder and perhaps, fear.

The middle, builds, as middles should.  It builds on the fear from the end at the beginning, and as a climax seems ready to drop like the proverbial second shoe.

I should say no more.

The end, well, it is a beginning and isn’t a beginning really a path to the end.

There is death, oh, so much death. Unforeseen though hinted at in the beginning or more appropriately the “beginning” which is of course the end, but not the end, or again, to confuse you, I am sorry, the “end”.

And by reading the story you complete the circle and thus I have transferred to you the responsibility of truly finishing that I dare not complete.

But I should.

Stories are magic, they are telekinetic as they take a thought and drop it word by word, phrase by phrase, sentence by paragraph by chapter into your head from the authors.  Then, you play with it, interpret it, modify, criticize and change it the way you think it should have gone.

Should Tim have just stayed home?  Should he have just stayed at the party?  Should he have avoided the strange man in tatty old clothes who handed him the devices and the sachet and the monocle?  Should he have run away? Should he have just accepted his fate and not ate, sipped and donned and seen the evil that hides within society and thus be forced through the magix of clarity to deal with said beasts? Should he have hidden from facts and continued life as a human sheep destined to be consumed by the evil that pervades the world around us?

Should he?

Would you?

I cannot.

It must be told, this, story.

I am sorry.

I said too much.

Forget about Tim. He is not real. There is no Tim.

Forget about the aforementioned “evil” and those who know magix and exist in our world and are real and know of the evil that is around you EVERY DAY ALL DAY LONG.

And forget I just said that.

Forget it all.

Read no more.

I feel compelled to finish the story.

Just don’t read it.

I guess more appropriately I should say… “story”.

Be afraid.

or do not.

 

 

The Christmas Tour

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Oh sister, here they come again!

Oh, oh how do I look? Are they coming up the walk this time?

No one is around.  Get inside fast.

Yes, fine Marie, fine as always.  Yes, here they are, walking up the stairs, they are very quiet mind you.

Oh, get the door, oh wait, they have it.

Welcome to our home, please, shut the door, yes, it is very blustery outside.

This place is a mess!

So dark.  Wow.  How long has it been shut up?

Decades. The most haunted house in Boston.

So you keep saying.

My name is Marie and this is my brother Jacob.  Yes, welcome to our house.  We are so happy you finally decided to come in.  We saw you looking from the street the other day.  We have so few visitors given the weather, please let us show you around.

We apologize for the darkness.  Power is out.  Oh, look Marie, they brought their own torches, so well planned young people!

Let’s go this way.

Okay but stay with me. Don’t wander off and leave me in here.

Why would I do that and let him find you?

Stop it Tom. I’ll leave right now.

Sorry.  C’mon.

Oh yes, very good, very well thought out, I would have never.

Neither I sister. Please feel free to wander, oh, yes, please go ahead, please do. Yes, this is the family room or as you may call it the living room.

Look at the furniture.  It’s just piles of rotten fabric and wood.

Smells like animals have been living in here.

Animals and probably crack addicts.

No, nobody would live in this house.

So you keep saying.

Many a night we spent entertaining others with mama and papa.  She had a grand piano right there.  She would play for hours.

And the tree went right there.  Wouldn’t it be nice to see one again like we used to have?

What is that?

An old tree in a stand, all the needles and balls have fallen off.  Wow.

It’s like an Edward Gorey drawing.

Tall, oh so tall and to the ceiling and a ladder needed to put the star on.

And we tried so hard to not break one of mother’s precious glass balls.

Yes. That was the best plan.

Look over here through the arch.  It’s some kind of dining room with chairs around an old fireplace.

Look at all the rotten books.  They would have been worth money too.  Most of them are really old.

This is creeping me out Tom. I swear it’s getting darker.

Well, yeah, farther from the streetlights.

Oh and so much comes in through the wooden slats and those rotten drapes.

Oh and here is the family room, or the sitting room if you will. A desk for writing, shelves for books, cabinets for whatever your heart desires.

I bet this is where they hooked up.

Who.

You know.

And there is of course the dining room.  Oh the meals we would have. So many people.  With the leaves, that table say all of the extended family.

And then some.

Like when Margaret came with her family.

Enough Marie.

Mister Browning.

Enough Marie. He’ll hear.

Hey, watch the hole in the floor.

Woah, this place is a death trap.

You have no idea.

I will leave Tom.

Sorry, c’mon.  Hold my hand.

Oh, you’ve moved on, sorry.  Yes, the kitchen, in need of some cleaning and the pantry as well. A dumb-waiter that leads to the upper bedroom floor. Exit to the back gardens, again in need of cleaning and weeding. Wait, no, NO you need not go into the basement.

Ah the basement.  Where they found him.

Both of them. So frigging weird.

Here help me with the door.  Its stuck.

Jacob.

No, please, no, NO!  It is unsafe!  The stairs are rotting and the light is out.

I got it open a crack but what a stench.

Oh, shut it Tom.

Ow, crap!  My fingers! Must be some window open down there or something causing a cross breeze.

Are you okay? That wind, oh god it made me gag!

Yeah, just bruised knuckles. Hey, let’s leave this last, let’s go upstairs where all the action took place.

You are so morbid Tom. Okay.

Yes, it is very windy and oh the door is stuck yes.  Please. Yes, I agree.  Onward and of course upward.

Marie, follow them please, I shall re-secure the door.  Father will not be pleased.

Of course Jacob.  What time is it?

Near three-quarters past eleven in the evening.

And it is?

Yes. Almost.

I knew that did I?

Yes. Follow them

These stairs, what a mess.  Watch your step.

Hold my hand Tom. Cripes.  What is that at the top of the landing?

A family painting but, holy crap.  The mother’s face.

Ripped out.

Help me get my headlamp out of my backpack.

What else you have in there Shelly?

Oh, nothing.  Nothing you’ll see till we get out of this place.

Meow.  Here you go,

Finally.  I can see on my own now.

Oh wait up, wait up! It’s good you have your electric torches.  Wait, Jacob are you all right?

Yes.  I’ll be there soon!

Oh, be careful on the stairs, the carpet tacks have popped out.  There are three bedrooms and the servant’s quarters. This was my room, thus the frill.  No, the wardrobes have been, oh.  I see.

This was the daughter’s room.  It looks like it hasn’t aged.

Look in the wardrobe. All these clothes look like new!

Wow. This, is, wrong. So wrong.

That is odd.  I swear they were empty. Oh the dust.  Here, over here, this is Jacob’s room.

Lets, ah, check the next one out.  The brother’s room. Holy crap.  Same thing.

Only a little dust, bed looks like it was made yesterday.

Is that a glass of water?

It can’t be.  Someone else must be sleeping in here.  The roof doesn’t look like it’s leaking and what would the odds be.

A boy room of course, all pennants and rugby balls.  Neither of us have slept in those beds since the night of the party when we returned home from school for Christmas. When father found mother with the..

Shelly, hold up!

Tom, Tom!  In here!  Look at the master bedroom!  It’s so perfectly preserved!

Okay, hold on.  Wow.  This is wrong. I’m taking photos of this.

Wait, Tom, what is that noise?

What? The Wind?

But never mind, please yes, that is the master bedroom. Oh my.

It seems to be coming from that little door in the hallway.

That’s the old servant’s quarters.

Oh.

That’s where he found them.

We should go.

No, hear? It stopped. Just the wind, probably blowing through the crack of that door.  It’s more of a hatch than a door. Doesn’t even fit the frame.

You know what that is.

Oh, yes. You must leave now, please thank you for visiting, if you wish to come back please do at a later, time, oh no, don’t go in there, that is nothing. JACOB!

No you must not enter that room.  I am sorry it is off-limits.  Marie! Help please!

Help me Shelly.

We should go.

Come On Shel!  It’ll be cool.  Nobody else has been here in decades!

And there is a good reason, AS YOU KEEP TELLING ME!

No, please leave now!

You must not, damnation!

Damn, its stuck too. Completely stuck.  The brickwork seems to have fallen and jammed the door.

Good.

That is where…

…it happened.

That is where she died.

And we found her.

This is where she wails night and day.

You know what happened right?

The father found the mother on Christmas eve in that room with another guest, the father of Jacob’s girlfriend.  There was a fight and she died.

The guest, a local merchant, pulled a penknife out of his pocket and in the scuffle that she tried to break up, she was stabbed or slashed in the side of the neck.  She dropped to the floor and her husband slammed the other man’s head against the wall.  He dragged the unconscious man away, who was never found mind you, not knowing his wife was bleeding out on the floor.

That’s horrible.

He had a history of a temper with others but never her. She however was known around town to have many, relations when he was away.

What happened to the other man?

Nobody knows.

And that why we both.

Yes.  We had to.  We had to help father.

She was.

Is.

Was.

Was not kind to him.

They have gone Jacob.

No, they are still here. I sense them.  So does he.

Oh, Jacob.  I hear the door.

The basement!

Father!

Run.

The door is open, oh no.

The door is open!  Shh, there is a light down there. Look.

Are you down here?  You must leave, I insist!

Father? Father are you?

I am here Jacob.  I am here Marie.

It’s coming from behind that shelf. Look.

It’s a door.  Help me.  Help me move it.

Father where are they?

Here, the door, I can see inside. It’s a man.  He is hunched over, crying.

In the room, with the butcher.

Is he awake as well?

Sir, sir, are you okay?  Can we help you?

He is.

Is he mad.

Shelly, you have some food. Bring it here.

But it was for later.

Shelly, listen, church bells.  It is Christmas day.  He can have what we…

The door Tom! The door!

He is never not mad child.

Is mother?

I pay no heed to your mother, the harlot.

Is she in there as well?

She may be. I hope so.  I thought I heard her and woke.

Is she mad too?

No, she is only ever sad.

Are you?

I am happy dear.  Happy we have found them.

And they? The visitors?

Sound like they have met the butcher. He sounds very hungry.

And they?

Have helped us find him. Now to finish what we started.

Merry Christmas Father.

Merry Christmas Children.

 

With my telephone I write this…

… because I am in bed and completely meant to post something earlier then got sidetracked.

(Why did I turn the clothes dryer on…)

Winter has sprung upon us like a feisty little snow leopard.  I could see all the perennials laying on the wood mulch like washed up jellyfish just two days ago then spleacchh (that’s the sound of a lot of snow landing all at once) all this damn snow landed all at once. Now it’s frigging Hoth outside.

I saw a rabbit. It was huge. Huuuge. It looked angry. Probably because my cats killed a lot of it’s babies this year.  For the briefest of moments I reverted into neanderthal moi and pondered killing it myself and cooking it  with a little butternut squash and some potaties. (Insert disgusting ironic sloppy wet sounds of lip smacking) then I remembered I didn’t like eating rabbits. Also my son again broke his braces so we were all eating soft old people food tonight.

Rabbits are soft I have learned.

(Jesus I can hear it. Thunk thunk thunk thunk THUMP (REPEAT AD NAUSEUM).. the dryer I mean. Not a large frost giant storming around (pun intended) outside. Though I’d not be surprised. Stupid winter.

And Alan Thicke just died. Playing hockey apparently.  Now I get to tell naive Americans that this is how we all doe in Canada.  Poor bastard went to his grave knowing he helped give that numbnuts TV son of his that became a nut job rapture weirdo a start…

(I’m seriously going to have to turn that dryer off till morning…)

And it’s winter. And cold. And I put insulating plastic on almost all the windows in the house but not the one above my head of course.

(It’s making a new noise now. Washing and drying two feather duvets at once is  a Bad Idea…)

So that’s out really. No complaining.  No promoting books. No.. 

…seriously what the hell? It just beeped to signal that it’s done drying. No chance. I’m not getting out of bed to check. . Bastard dryer.

.. no political rants. Just me being cold and everyone in the house asleep.

Need time. 

1:50 am. Clothes definitely not dry. All clumped up into a ball. Ugh. Turn them back on. Sleep
2:15 am. Stupid dryer. Thump thump thump.