Tag Archives: ghost

Macabre Macaroni, even better the next day

Lisa Burton

Companionship

The front door opened, and Tom extended his hand.

“I brought rosé. Seems to go with everything.”

“Fair enough. I’ve got the grill warming up, and your sister is just finishing her salad. Come on in.” He used our handshake to pull me into the house.

I walked down the hallway, and Monica wiped her hands on a towel. She ran around the island and gave me a hug. “So how’s the new town dentist?”

Ugh. Old Doctor Thorp’s records are such a mess I’m surprised the dental board wasn’t all over him. If I don’t get them sorted out, they’ll be all over me.”

“Here. Let me take that. I’ll put it in the refrigerator to chill for a bit. Tom will need a minute before the steaks go on.” She put the wine away and carried her salad to the table. “So… Have you been to see Mom since you moved back?”

“Not yet. There’s just so much to do with the new business. Besides, I don’t like those places. They’re like a holding pen for death.”

“I don’t like them either, but she’s your mother.”

“I have to go in Saturday and work on those files. I’ll knock off at noon and swing by. How bad is she?”

“Kind of catatonic most of the time, but she has her moments. Might be good for her to see you.”

Tom stuck his head inside. “Ten more minutes you two.”

Monica got up and set the table.

“The old house seems smaller now to me. Maybe it’s because I’ve been gone so long.”

“Same old house. You’ve just been living in the city for a while, and expect more.”

“That’s not it. Even my old room seems smaller. I haven’t been sleeping well either.”

Tom brought in the platter of thick ribeyes.

“You get instant potatoes tonight. I didn’t have time to bake some. Hope that’s alright.”

“Not a problem, Sis.”

Tom opened the wine and sat down with three glasses. “So what’s the topic?”

“Mom,” we said in unison.

“She got pretty bad at the end. Spent most of her time on the back porch, just staring into the forest. Neighbors said they saw her out there at two o’clock some nights. Like she was sitting with an old friend.”

“Never mind that,” Monica said. “Older people often keep irregular hours.”

“Just her and old Rusty,” I said. “Wish she had him with her now. Might help.”

“Might,” Monica said. She dished up our plates and tried the wine, pronouncing it wonderful.

“He isn’t handling it well either. I hear him whining on that back porch at nights. I’ve tried leaving food out, but he never eats it. Won’t come in the house. When I go outside, I see him slinking into the forest. If I could, I’d leash him up and take him to see her.”

“You must be mistaken,” Monica said.

“I think I’d recognize old Rusty.”

Tom put a hand over my wrist. “I buried old Rusty in that forest two years ago. That was about the time your mom started slipping away.”

***

Some places the veil is thin. Two old companions can comfort each other between our world and the next. One waiting patiently for the other to cross over. The other one ticking away the hours until they can be together once more.

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Macabre Macaroni, second helping

Lisa Burton

Flipping

I pulled into the driveway, and my tires pushed down weeds as I pulled up to the parking circle. It was a long day at work, but I decided to start a little demolition before heading home.

Three stone steps led to the elaborate old front door, but I had to shoulder it open against years of rust and weathering. A thick layer of dust covered the stone entry.

I wound my way to the kitchen and pulled open the tattered old curtains to let some of the setting sunlight into my work area. I worked my crowbar under the stone countertop and looked into the breakfast room. With new windows, that morning view would add another twenty-thousand dollars to my resale value.

My shoulder pushed against the bar, but the stone wouldn’t budge. Then a crystal decanter and glasses appeared on the counter. Had I missed that somehow?

Slow clacking footsteps echoed down the hall to my right. A shapely woman, possibly in her fifties, walked into the room like she owned it. She wore a short, sleeveless dress and pearl colored heels that must have made the sound.

She picked up the decanter and poured herself a drink. An overstuffed chair and end table appeared across the room. Had I overlooked this stuff while I was measuring, or was she a squatter.

She sauntered to it and sat down, crossing her legs. She lit a cigarette and blew the smoke straight up.

My hand tightened around the crowbar, and I nervously checked my exit routes.

“So, what are we going to do about you?” She said in a husky voice.

“You need to leave,” I answered. “This is private property. My private property.”

She picked some invisible tobacco from her tongue. “Is it now? This is my home, and I intend to keep it that way.” She took a sip from her drink, then smirked. “I’d offer you one, but I don’t think it’s possible.”

“I’m the deeded owner of this property. I’m going to gut it, revamp the whole thing, then sell it for a huge profit.”

“Oh yeah. How much did you pay?”

“Over two million.”

“They saw you coming. My husband only paid seven-fifty when he bought it. You’ve got to admit, it’s a beautiful place though. And I’d appreciate it if you’d quit destroying my counters.”

“I’ll have you forcibly evicted if I have to–”

She leaned into the arm of the chair, and I could see the falling wallpaper moving behind her – through her head. “Something tells me that’s not going to work. See I own this house too, and I’m not leaving.”

“But it’s a dump. Maybe you want to check out something better.”

“It’s not a dump. This is one of the top neighborhoods in the city.”

“It was, maybe fifty years ago.”

“Well, it not a dump the way I see it. My beautiful floral wallpaper, the polished wood of the breakfast set. It’s all still here.” She stubbed out her cigarette in an ashtray that appeared right before she touched it.

“Those things will kill you.”

“Too late. Besides, if you knew all the things I put in this body, a little cigarette is the least of my worries. Oh the parties I used to host. They were all here, you know. Politicians, movie stars, musicians. We use to put out drugs on one of those three tier serving dishes like some people place out canapés.”

“W-w-we who?”

“Larry and I. He was my husband. House went to me after he died. You can ask him yourself, he usually shows up near the pool on clear nights.”

I pulled the kitchen curtains back. A flurry of moths startled me. The stone around the pool was cracked and small trees pushed up between the stones. A foot of green scum floated on the partially filled pool.

“Not there tonight? That’s where I buried him. A lieutenant detective helped me dig the hole.” She looked up at the ceiling. “I thanked that man proper, right up there.”

“I, I, I don’t need to know this.”

“Lots to know about this place. One night a rockstar banged a socialite on that countertop you’re trying to destroy. The rest of his band cheered him on.”

“Anybody I’d know?”

“Meh, flavor of the month. You know how that business goes.” She finished her drink. “Now what are we going to do about you?”

“I’ll hire an exorcist or someone to clear this place out.”

“You can try. Lot’s of cons in that business, but there are some legit ones. Of course, I could do the same thing.”

“Wh- what do you mean?”

“Things on my side of the veil aren’t so different. Maybe I’ll hire someone to get rid of you. In fact, that would be kind of fun. Tell you what. You hire someone, and I will too. We’ll get them all together one night, and see who prevails. First one to blink has to leave. What do you say? Sounds like a party to me.”

“I’m not playing your stupid game. I’m on the hook for a lot of money here, and I’m in the right.”

“Maybe you could sue me. Good luck serving papers though. No, we’re going to do this my way. We each get two weeks to find someone, then we do battle. If you win, I’ll leave.”

“What about Gary?” I cocked a thumb toward the back.

“Larry. And he’ll do whatever I tell him. He’s a lot calmer since I pulled the trigger. He doesn’t question or doubt me any more.”

“You aren’t giving me much choice here, and I’m the aggrieved party.”

“On your side of the veil, sure. On my side, I’m the aggrieved party, and I’ve owned this house since before you were born. What’s your name again?”

“Carl.”

“You seem like a nice young man, Carl. Find your witch or whatever, and I’ll do the same. And don’t get any ideas about selling this to someone and running off. What I’ll do to them is guaranteed to get you sued at minimum, maybe killed at maximum.” She faded away, along with the chair, decanter, and the rest.

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Circumstances of Childhood, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Welcome to this week’s edition of Lisa Burton Radio. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and we’re waiting for a very special caller. While doing that, let me ask you something.

How would you feel if you were accused of something you didn’t do? What if the ramifications were beyond serious? Would you rely upon the system to get it right? You only have so much energy and time. Would you focus on proving your innocence, or would you try to find the actual culprit?

Oh, my phone lit up. “Hello, this is Lisa Burton.”

“You are receiving a collect call from the Suffolk County Jail. Do you accept the charges?”

“Yes, please.”

“Hello. Is this Lisa? Please forgive the collect call. I didn’t know when we scheduled this interview that I would still be in jail.”

“Yes, Greg it’s me. Don’t worry about the call. I’m sure you will have some interesting information behind the fact you are in jail. For our listeners, this is Greg Petros. Can you give us a bit of your personal background?”

“First of all, Lisa. I’m totally embarrassed having to call you from a public phone in jail. I was to have a bail hearing this morning and it was postponed so I need to spend the night. More games by the District Attorney to get me to say I’m guilty. He accused me of hiding funds and revoked my original bail. Secondly, I’m not too sure what your listeners want to hear about me.”

“I understand how you feel especially in your current position. Okay, I’ll do it. Greg is a football guy at heart. He was a Heisman Trophy winner in college and went on to quarterback the New England Patriots for ten years. After that he became a highly successful sports commentator.

“Greg wanted to do some good with all the money he earned, so he started a new company called Petros Investments, with worldwide clients. So, Greg, how do we go from there to Suffolk County lockup?”

“Oh man, Lisa you don’t beat around the bush. Well, I have to say direct questions are very appropriate given what happened. As you mentioned, I started an equity fund. I started by putting in my own money and then attracted a whole bunch of the people I knew. I had some very important and wealthy friends.

“The fund grew to over a billion dollars under investment. Our objective was to invest other people’s money and be able to sleep at night. I guess about a month ago I got a heads up from my financial guy that the SEC had some findings on a routine audit. They called in the Justice Department and I was hit with an indictment on twenty-three counts of mail fraud, securities fraud and insider trading.

“All this over a so called mishandled twenty million in funds. Hell …oh excuse me. I should know not to use that word on the radio. Anyway, even if there was twenty million missing it was probably my money. I put a hundred million into the company. Of course, that is academic since once the news of the indictment got out, all my so-called friends pulled their money and the firm tanked. All for what? Some accusation that I mishandled the funds. I haven’t even been to trial yet and I’ve been punished as if I’m guilty. I’m not. Guilty that is. I’m sorry Lisa. I haven’t had much sleep over the last few days and it is looking worse by the hour. I shudder to think of closing my eyes in this place.”

“That has to be tough. Are you getting any support from outside?”

“My daughter Constance has been frantic since she heard what happened. She has decided to stay in my house in the Boston area for the duration. She lived in New York and tells me she can work anywhere. I also have a terrific lawyer. He used to be the corporate council but has been hired by the law firm defending me. Finally, my oldest friend, Keith who I grew up with showed up. He and I were like brothers. His parents adopted me when mine passed away. He is giving me moral support and excellent advice.”

“Keith sounds like a great friend. Maybe he can run down some leads for you or something.”

“Keith and I were in college together as well as childhood friends. We revolutionized the game of football. Stuff taken for granted now like quick huddles and option plays we were pulling off every week. One night we went to a party. Neither of us liked to drink but on the way home we were hit by a drunk driver. I was driving and tried to avoid the accident. I yelled to God to help me find a way out. There was no way out and we crashed head on. Keith hit the dash with such force that er um he was killed”

“Wait a minute, you’re talking to a dead guy? I need to download The Sound for some of these shows. You know The Sound, from Law and Order? I could play it at moments like this. What did they do to you in there?”

“You just made me think of the first time I heard the cell door lock. I thought about the Sound myself. I think I keep hearing that dun, dun, dun too. With Keith it isn’t like that. I have to admit sometimes I think I’m just making his presence up. Keith first came to me when I thought all was lost. He told me this fabulous story about someone he calls The Leader. He tells me the afterlife is about earning the right to be in the presence of The Leader. He even told me he knows who hacked my computer and took the twenty million, but he can’t tell me. He says there is a time continuum that can’t be altered. He has been forbidden to interfere. I understand his predicament and want him to get to the goal he seeks. He can help but can’t alter history.”

“It all sounds a bit like helping Clarence get his wings. I mean, it would be nice to help Keith, but you have troubles of your own.”

“Your wings analogy is spot on. I love Greg and want him to progress and would never ask him to violate the sacred instructions he has been given. Brothers are like that, Lisa.”

“So how is the trial going?”

“I get this feeling that the prosecutor is out to make a name for himself. I can imagine getting a guilty verdict on Greg Petros would be a ticket to higher office. The case all centers on whether or not I used my computer to take twenty million out of the firm. Our experts say I was hacked and had nothing to do with it. I understand they have an expert who will be on the stand tomorrow who takes the opposite position. At this point it’s very convoluted. I think it will be a matter of who the jury believes. I know I didn’t do it and that is all I know. I can’t figure out how the twenty million came up missing.”

“So. if you can’t figure it all out, maybe the prosecution can’t either. Will that help you in some way?”

“I don’t think he cares if he figures it out or not. All he can see is a former jock and rich guy who is brought to his knees by his fine legal work. He will do anything to get a conviction.”

“I wish you the best of luck, Greg. Keith too, if he’s listening out there on his cosmic radio. Any last thoughts for our listeners today?”

“Thank you so much, Lisa. I’m sorry if I sounded all in earlier but I had a life that would be the envy of most of the world and it turned to a nightmare in the blink of an eye. I think my friend Greg would advise us all to enjoy the moment since that moment is all that counts.”

“To learn more about Greg and Keith pick up the book, Circumstances of Childhood, by John W. Howell. I’ll post all the links after I go off the air.

“You can help John and Greg by using those sharing buttons today. I’m sure they’d do it for you, and John has a long history of supporting other authors. Here’s your chance to pay a little of it back.

For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton.”

***

When a former pro football star and broadcaster, now a Wall Street maven is accused of insider trading, will he be able to prove his innocence and expose those who are guilty?

Greg and his boyhood pal dreamed of big success in professional football and then later in business. Greg was the only one to live the dream. Now the founder of an investment fund Greg is faced with a routine audit finding by the SEC. The audit points to irregularities and all the tracks lead to Greg. The justice department hits him with an indictment of 23 counts of fraud, money laundering, and insider trading. His firm goes bust, and Greg is on his own.

His best friend knows he is innocent but has been ordered under penalty of eternal damnation not to help.

If you enjoy stories of riches to rags, redemption, brotherly love, and a little of the paranormal, Circumstance of Childhood will keep you riveted.

Circumstances of Childhood

Book Trailer

YouTube Book Review

John HowellJohn began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. His latest book Circumstances of Childhood, a thriller fiction story, was launched in October of 2017. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Blog Fiction Favorites, http://johnwhowell.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave

Authors db –http://www.authorsdb.com/authors-directory/6604-john-w-howell

LinkedIn –http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-w-howell/48/b59/462/

Google +https://plus.google.com/+JohnHowellAuthor/

Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell

Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

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The Graveyard Girl and the Boneyard Boy, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Hello, and welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio, the only show that brings you the characters from the books you love. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and today we’re going to talk about Craig’s new book–. Hold that thought, we have an early caller.

“Hello, caller. You’re on the air with Lisa. What’s on your mind, honey?”

“Oh, hey… I’m on? This is live? Wow, this is so cool — I love Craig’s books — wait, is he there? Probably busy, right? That’s okay, I love girls and robots, too. I mean robot girls. Uh, I guess I’m trying to say I’m a big fan… Anyway, I’m Drake Stevenson. I’ve been wanting to call in for a while — long time listener and all. I guess I’m calling tonight because I have this weird problem. It’s kind of a girl problem…uh…wow, that sounded so lame…”

“That’s all right, Drake. Tell us a bit about yourself, and maybe we can come up with some solutions for you.”

“Where to start? My family — the Stevensons — we just moved to this tiny town in the middle of nowhere — Centralia? Yeah, you’ve never heard of it. Anyway, my dad had this heart attack back in the big city where we lived — he was a big-shot corporate lawyer, but now he has to take it easy, so he moved us way out here to run the biggest and oldest cemetery in the state. It’s been in the family for a long time — the graveyard, I mean, not the state…we’ve been in the state a long time… Anyway, I even help out — graveyard shift — uh, literally. I work nights here, after school…Okay, I’m rambling again. Sorry, Lisa.”

“Okay, the night shift at the graveyard sounds kind of creepy. How old are you again?”

“Sixteen. It’s not that creepy. Not usually. Not for me. You see, I’m not exactly like other boys my age. I have this, uh, thing. Oculocutaneous Albinism Type 1. Some people call me an albino, but I prefer ‘a person with albinism’. It means my eyes are super-sensitive to light, and it’s difficult for me to go out in the sun without crazy amounts of sun screen. My outfit is pretty cool, though! It’s as if I were Doctor John Griffin in H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, even though I kinda based the look on the anti-hero Rorschach from Alan Moore’s Watchman. What can I say? I’m a geek as well as a ghost.

“Ghost, that’s what a lot of people call me, especially my sister Brie… Anyway, so I met this girl. Actually two girls. It’s why I’m calling in. You see, I met this really cool girl — Sasha Morris. She’s the principal’s daughter and the only girl who’s ever spoken to me who isn’t also related to me. She invited me to this club, and we’re working on this video game together, it’s gonna be called The Graveyard Girl and the Boneyard Boy…Cool title, huh?”

“Sure. Spooky and indie.”

“This is where things get spooky, for real, Lisa. See, I met this other girl, Scarlet, but she’s…uh… Well she’s sorta different, too. Like me, I guess. Well, not exactly like me… She has this thing about her. A condition…umm…”

“It’s okay, Drake, you’re among friends here.”

“She’s dead.”

“Okay?”

“A ghost. I met her at the graveyard…where I work? So, um, yeah. There’s that…”

“That’s rough. I mean, a human and a ghost? Are you sure Scarlet isn’t using you to get the justice she’s seeking?”

“Oh my God, you totally get it. I mean, yeah, that’s exactly it. There was this accident, before I moved here, and no one will talk about it. I can’t figure out if Scarlet was involved, but I’m totally starting to freak about all this. I mean, what if someone killed her? And her grave is totally blank, except for two photos of her encapsulated in glass. It’s so weird. She doesn’t remember much about being alive. Lisa, I think she was killed. I think Scarlet was murdered by someone, and NO ONE is talking about this!”

“Have you told anyone about this? Sasha?”

“That’s where things get complicated. Sasha’s real, you know? Living. She’s super sweet. I don’t want to hurt her. I want to tell her about Scarlet, but I think I’m…falling for Scarlet. Oh God, did I just say that on the air?”

“Not for nothing, Drake, but lots of high school boys would be thrilled to have two girls to worry about. It doesn’t sound to me like your albinism is holding you back at all. Think about which girl it would be easier to take to the summer carnival, or to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July. Both nighttime activities, I might add.”

“I wish that were true, Lisa. But I’m not just different, I am Different. Other. I’m the ‘creepy guy’ small kids cross the street to avoid. The ‘super pale dude’ that no one invites to the party. Before I met Sasha, I just played video games and read comic books in my bedroom. My sister Brie, she’s completely psycho. We’re total opposites. Cheerleader squad, prom queen, all that stuff! She’s tried to kill me several times. She once locked me outside at noon during a heatwave. I was six years old! This other time, she changed all the bulbs in my bedroom for UV daylight bulbs. She’s Joker to my Batman. I’m serious, if you look up Brie Stevenson, you’ll find her under CRAZY.

“Anyway, right now there’s this one jock, Chase Chesney, and he’s making my life hell at school. He’s obsessed with Brie, wants to date her. He bugs me about her daily since he found out we’re related. To make matters worse, Calvin Muller — he’s in charge of the video game project I mentioned — totally doesn’t like me hanging around Sasha. It’s weird, like he thinks she’ll say something to me. I overheard them talking one time, and I think he might know something about this whole accident thing…He’s super paranoid. I don’t trust him…”

“They tell me high school is like that sometimes. The phones are lighting up, maybe one of them has a solution for you.

“Hello, caller. You’re on the air with Drake and Lisa. Do you have a suggestion for Drake?”

“What. The. Actual… Drake? Where are you? Mom and Dad are practically murdering each other at the house, and you’re calling into some dumb talk show? What are you even talking about? Did you say something about ghosts? Holy crap, don’t enough people think you’re a freak without broadcasting the fact coast-to-freakin-coast?

“Who the hell is this Lisa robot anyway — your girlfriend? Oh my God, lame! I swear, if people find out we’re related because of this, I’m going to kill you. Not that any one cool is ever going to listen to some stupid show about some stupid robot—.”

“Hold please, we have another caller… Whew! Sorry about that, Drake. Are you still there?”

“The Psycho Fairy strikes again. Sorry, Lisa. But at least you see what I’m up against here. It could have been worse, I think she’s having an ‘up’ day. She takes meds. Lots and lots of meds.”

“I think we all understand after that call. We’re getting cramped for time here. Do you have any last thoughts for our listeners today?”

“Thanks, Lisa. You’ve been awesome. Bro-fist Craig for me if you get a chance! As for me, I guess I’m just trying to make the best choice here. I don’t want to hurt Sasha, but Scarlet… I have to help find her killer, Lisa. I have to help her. Scarlet is alone, totally alone. I know how that feels. Look, I don’t know how all this is going to turn out… Just wish me luck, okay? I feel like I’m going to need it.”

“You can learn more about Drake and how he tackles several of his problems in the book The Graveyard Girl and the Boneyard Boy, by Martin Matthews. I’ll post all of the pertinents on the website after I go off the air.

“Help a robot girl out, would you? There are some sharing buttons on the website, and if you use them, an angel gets its wings. I’m pretty sure Martin and Drake would do it for you, when your character appears on the next Lisa Burton Radio.”

***

Blurb: 16-year-old albino Drake Stevenson lives a life alone in his world of video games and comic books, dreaming of one day saving a real princess. But fantasy becomes reality when his lawyer father suffers a heart attack, and the Stevensons are forced to move to flyover country in order to take up the family business: Stewardship of the oldest and largest cemetery in the state.

There, among the weeping angels and willows of Centralia Cemetery, Drake meets Scarlet, an unusual girl who needs his help to find her killer.

Complicated by his albinism, a mentally unstable sister bent on high school domination at any cost, and a jock with a deadly secret, Drake sets out to find the shattering truth about a murder no one will speak of, to help a girl no one can see.

Amazon Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Graveyard-Girl-Boneyard-Boy-ebook/dp/B0789THWSJ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517176276&sr=8-1&keywords=the+graveyard+girl+and+the+boneyard+boy

Black Rose Writing Purchase Link: http://www.blackrosewriting.com/childrens-booksya/thegraveyardgirlandtheboneyardboy?rq=the%20graveyard%20girl

Author Bio: Martin Matthews is an expat from England, Great Britain. After living in California for many years, he now lives in Central Illinois with his beautiful wife, amazing son, and a grumpy, old cat named Winston.

Martin began his writing career as a child, storyboarding Sonic the Hedgehog comic books for his family. Later, he progressed to writing Star Trek fan-fiction before attempting his first novel Merlania at 16 — a 200,000 word science-fiction epic. He’s been writing novels and short stories ever since.

Martin holds degrees in Art and Design, Graphic Design, and Computer Information Science. When he’s not writing, he can be found producing music, art, and fried rice.

My website: https://martinmatthewswrites.com

Email: MartinMatthews@MartinMatthewsWrites.com

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Maybe she followed me home…

I’m back home now. My trip to Portland was a working trip, but the evenings were my own. I know I missed some things like blog posts, but I did what I could under the circumstances.

I have no idea why the post about Portland Walking Tours posted twice. Could be dodgy hotel wifi, or maybe a ghost followed me home. I am loath to delete one of them, because both got comments and likes. Don’t want anyone to think I don’t appreciate them.

If I have a ghost, it’s a girl, cause that’s the way I want it.

Tour guide Tyler found one of the posts and commented. That was super cool, and so was the link to the ghostly vortex that appeared in one of the parking lots. This; unfortunately, wasn’t on my tour, but it’s cool. I never got actual confirmation as to whether I could share it, but since the link was provided I’m going to go ahead.

“All credit to tour guide Tyler at Portland Walking tours”

Ghost vortexHonestly, if you get a chance to go one one of these tours, do it. I had a great time.

Today, I had the privilege of the DMV. My driver’s license is about to expire, so I renewed. I’m not going to go into all the fun involved, because we all have to go through it. It’s nice that Idaho offers an eight year renewal cycle if you pay extra. You can bet your paranormal vortex I did.

Old What’s Her Face went to Nevada to visit her brother today. Left to my own devices, I should probably write something. I’m going to work on Lisa Burton Radio projects, and get a few other things scheduled for next week.

I will spend some time reading, and may pull my novella out for the first editing pass. Then again, maybe I’ll spend some quality time with my X-Box. Hope the ghost girl likes video games.

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Ghost Hunting

I’m still stuck in Portland, but I wanted to do something while I’m here. I found the Portland Walking Tour Company and booked a tour last night. I really wanted to go on the Shanghai Tunnels tour, but the schedule interfered with my seminars. I am here for a reason, after all. I wound up booking the late version of Beyond Bizarre, because it covered parts of the Shanghai Tunnels.

In case you don’t know, being Shanghaied means bashed over the head and sent to sea against your will as slave labor. My grandfather served as a Marine in China between the world wars, and this was still a serious risk over there. They were told to hang out in groups and stay in the safe areas when they went out. My grandpa is part of why I wanted to visit this site.

I started my evening at Old Town Pizza. Wound up with a personal pizza that was more like a small, but since it was the only real food I had all day I ate the whole thing. I also had a mushroom beer that was surprisingly good,

Mushroom BeerThis one is a nice brown ale, and it uses an extract for the flavor. Not maybe the best way to brew a beer, but it was good.

My tour started right around the corner. Monday night was sold out, but there were only three of us on the tour last night. The guide handed us all electromagnetic field indicators and showed us how they work. Then we were off, weaving through the street people who seem to sleep in every store opening and all along the sidewalk.

EMF meterSomething registered a few times, this was in one of the parking lots.

There was so much stuff I’m bound to miss something, but I’m going to touch on the highlights. The first thing we learned was that Portland had more men than women, and had a huge seamstress population. Seamstress was a code word for prostitute. There was human trafficking there too and we covered some of that.

It was nighttime, so I took limited photos. This is one of a cast iron building. Apparently, you could order all the pieces, a tall ship brought them in, and you assembled it on site just like Legos. They added brick and such for the walls once the frame went up. Cast iron isn’t the most reliable material in a city that gets this much rain, but it was state-of-the-art back then.

Cast iron building

Once you get onto it, you spot the frills and pillars all over the old part of town. This pub also has a ghost. There was a fire that broke out downstairs, and the fire department saved everyone. A dog went missing and a fireman went back inside for it. Yup, haunted by a fireman.

We toured a couple of haunted parking lots next. Lots of EMF readings but no ghosts. Historically, they are both considered tainted ground and no building or digging is allowed. Even the power lines run overhead in these locations. One is an Indian burial site and the other is a cholera mass grave. All they can be is a parking lot. Apparently that isn’t okay with the dead either, because things keep happening to the cars that park there. These are all electronic failures and not vandalism. 

The guide showed us a photo of something called a vortex that they took there one night. It’s a beam of light coming straight out of the ground. Only about half the crowd could see it, but the picture came from someone who was a non-believer. Yeah, it could have been photoshopped, but what kind of fun do you want to have on a ghost tour?

We also saw the site of a street shooting from the 1980s. Apparently this location has a lot of poltergeist activity, and they think it’s because the victims were all teenagers.

There are specific ghosts that are regularly seen downtown. The tour guide listens to the police scanner and they get reports, The police never find the person they were sent to check out. One example is an 1800s era ship’s captain. All they ever found of his ship was the wheel. His body was lashed to it, and we got to see the wheel from the outside. The restaurant was closed for the night and it was kept inside. People see this cos-play looking sailor in that vicinity disrupting traffic. Cops come…nobody there.

We got to see the old police building that was actually owned by the Ku Klux Klan. This was all about government graft and corruption, and the Shanghai tunnels were used to move liquor around. Whiskey barrels were placed in the basements of ethnic competitors. Then the Klan-controlled police would raid and find this whiskey, putting the ethnic fellow out of business. The police would bust up the barrel in the street, the whiskey flowed into a special drain that routed it back to the original owner who bottled and sold it. This all happened decades before the USA adopted prohibition, because Portland had its own laws.

We saw the street of death, where every building used to house a mortuary. The cemetery was on the opposite side of the river, and there was even a special ship for the dead to cross the river. It all sounds so wonderfully legendary. Why so many mortuaries? Lots of death going around.

This is the high water mark of a flood that occurred.

Flood markerWe were way above the river, and this plaque is about five and a half feet above street level. All of the basements in this part of town are connected by tunnels. It was Portland’s idea to minimize flood damage, they weren’t built for Shanghaing men to ship to sea. It’s all semantics, but Shanghaing never happened in Portland. This is because of a perfectly legal system called “crimping.” There were legal press gangs that bopped people over the head and sold them to ships who needed crews. They said in those days, if you were seen dragging an unconscious man downstairs, a policeman might pick up his ankles and help you – because it was all perfectly legal.

These Shanghai tunnels were used for legal crimping and storage of those men. That’s when the flood came. They didn’t want to let the crimped men go, so they locked them inside. Hundreds of men drowned and could not be cleaned up for months. They didn’t clean them up. They crimped more men, made them clean up the bodies, then sold those men to sea.

This left a bad taste in their mouths, and also helped one of the cholera outbreaks along. The next time they had a flood, they went downstairs and shot all the crimped prisoners rather than deal with the mess.

Seamstresses were trafficked too, but they fell victim to a little something extra in their opium. This is one of the cells where victims were held, but this one was used for seamstresses.

Jail cellThe women would be held here for three days and three nights without food, water, or light. Then they were offered a job as a seamstress. If the woman refused, the process was repeated one more time. If she still refused, they cut her hair, bound her chest, and sold her off like a man. By the time anyone knew what happened they were miles out to sea. It was considered bad luck to have a woman on board, so the women were thrown overboard to drown.

This is what the Shanghai Tunnels look like today. They’re all filled with rubble, which isn’t great engineering when you’re driving busses and trucks over them. One day they will have to figure out an alternative way of closing them.

Shanghai TunnelsIf you believe in ghosts, Portland almost certainly has them. A lot of pain and suffering went down here. If you don’t believe, it was a great tour of the dark underbelly of an early part of American history.

I didn’t see any ghosts, but I know where they all live – or don’t live, cause dead and all that.

I didn’t get to bed until midnight, and my presentation was the first one today. It went down really well, but I’m a little tired right now. Whatever I do tonight will probably be kind of light duty.

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Ghost Hunting

I’m still stuck in Portland, but I wanted to do something while I’m here. I found the Portland Walking Tour Company and booked a tour last night. I really wanted to go on the Shanghai Tunnels tour, but the schedule interfered with my seminars. I am here for a reason, after all. I wound up booking the late version of Beyond Bizarre, because it covered parts of the Shanghai Tunnels.

In case you don’t know, being Shanghaied means bashed over the head and sent to sea against your will as slave labor. My grandfather served as a Marine in China between the world wars, and this was still a serious risk over there. They were told to hang out in groups and stay in the safe areas when they went out. My grandpa is part of why I wanted to visit this site.

I started my evening at Old Town Pizza. Wound up with a personal pizza that was more like a small, but since it was the only real food I had all day I ate the whole thing. I also had a mushroom beer that was surprisingly good,

Mushroom BeerThis one is a nice brown ale, and it uses an extract for the flavor. Not maybe the best way to brew a beer, but it was good.

My tour started right around the corner. Monday night was sold out, but there were only three of us on the tour last night. The guide handed us all electromagnetic field indicators and showed us how they work. Then we were off, weaving through the street people who seem to sleep in every store opening and all along the sidewalk.

EMF meterSomething registered a few times, this was in one of the parking lots.

There was so much stuff I’m bound to miss something, but I’m going to touch on the highlights. The first thing we learned was that Portland had more men than women, and had a huge seamstress population. Seamstress was a code word for prostitute. There was human trafficking there too and we covered some of that.

It was nighttime, so I took limited photos. This is one of a cast iron building. Apparently, you could order all the pieces, a tall ship brought them in, and you assembled it on site just like Legos. They added brick and such for the walls once the frame went up. Cast iron isn’t the most reliable material in a city that gets this much rain, but it was state-of-the-art back then.

Cast iron building

Once you get onto it, you spot the frills and pillars all over the old part of town. This pub also has a ghost. There was a fire that broke out downstairs, and the fire department saved everyone. A dog went missing and a fireman went back inside for it. Yup, haunted by a fireman.

We toured a couple of haunted parking lots next. Lots of EMF readings but no ghosts. Historically, they are both considered tainted ground and no building or digging is allowed. Even the power lines run overhead in these locations. One is an Indian burial site and the other is a cholera mass grave. All they can be is a parking lot. Apparently that isn’t okay with the dead either, because things keep happening to the cars that park there. These are all electronic failures and not vandalism. 

The guide showed us a photo of something called a vortex that they took there one night. It’s a beam of light coming straight out of the ground. Only about half the crowd could see it, but the picture came from someone who was a non-believer. Yeah, it could have been photoshopped, but what kind of fun do you want to have on a ghost tour?

We also saw the site of a street shooting from the 1980s. Apparently this location has a lot of poltergeist activity, and they think it’s because the victims were all teenagers.

There are specific ghosts that are regularly seen downtown. The tour guide listens to the police scanner and they get reports, The police never find the person they were sent to check out. One example is an 1800s era ship’s captain. All they ever found of his ship was the wheel. His body was lashed to it, and we got to see the wheel from the outside. The restaurant was closed for the night and it was kept inside. People see this cos-play looking sailor in that vicinity disrupting traffic. Cops come…nobody there.

We got to see the old police building that was actually owned by the Ku Klux Klan. This was all about government graft and corruption, and the Shanghai tunnels were used to move liquor around. Whiskey barrels were placed in the basements of ethnic competitors. Then the Klan-controlled police would raid and find this whiskey, putting the ethnic fellow out of business. The police would bust up the barrel in the street, the whiskey flowed into a special drain that routed it back to the original owner who bottled and sold it. This all happened decades before the USA adopted prohibition, because Portland had its own laws.

We saw the street of death, where every building used to house a mortuary. The cemetery was on the opposite side of the river, and there was even a special ship for the dead to cross the river. It all sounds so wonderfully legendary. Why so many mortuaries? Lots of death going around.

This is the high water mark of a flood that occurred.

Flood markerWe were way above the river, and this plaque is about five and a half feet above street level. All of the basements in this part of town are connected by tunnels. It was Portland’s idea to minimize flood damage, they weren’t built for Shanghaing men to ship to sea. It’s all semantics, but Shanghaing never happened in Portland. This is because of a perfectly legal system called “crimping.” There were legal press gangs that bopped people over the head and sold them to ships who needed crews. They said in those days, if you were seen dragging an unconscious man downstairs, a policeman might pick up his ankles and help you – because it was all perfectly legal.

These Shanghai tunnels were used for legal crimping and storage of those men. That’s when the flood came. They didn’t want to let the crimped men go, so they locked them inside. Hundreds of men drowned and could not be cleaned up for months. They didn’t clean them up. They crimped more men, made them clean up the bodies, then sold those men to sea.

This left a bad taste in their mouths, and also helped one of the cholera outbreaks along. The next time they had a flood, they went downstairs and shot all the crimped prisoners rather than deal with the mess.

Seamstresses were trafficked too, but they fell victim to a little something extra in their opium. This is one of the cells where victims were held, but this one was used for seamstresses.

Jail cellThe women would be held here for three days and three nights without food, water, or light. Then they were offered a job as a seamstress. If the woman refused, the process was repeated one more time. If she still refused, they cut her hair, bound her chest, and sold her off like a man. By the time anyone knew what happened they were miles out to sea. It was considered bad luck to have a woman on board, so the women were thrown overboard to drown.

This is what the Shanghai Tunnels look like today. They’re all filled with rubble, which isn’t great engineering when you’re driving busses and trucks over them. One day they will have to figure out an alternative way of closing them.

Shanghai TunnelsIf you believe in ghosts, Portland almost certainly has them. A lot of pain and suffering went down here. If you don’t believe, it was a great tour of the dark underbelly of an early part of American history.

I didn’t see any ghosts, but I know where they all live – or don’t live, cause dead and all that.

I didn’t get to bed until midnight, and my presentation was the first one today. It went down really well, but I’m a little tired right now. Whatever I do tonight will probably be kind of light duty.

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The Idea Mill #25

The articles have piled up once more, and it's time to visit the old Idea Mill again. There are a lot of new followers of Entertaining Stories, and for you these are intended to inspire your imagination. Maybe you'll see something to include in your next speculative story, maybe it will inspire a whole series. Again for the new folks, there is a category in the sidebar if you'd like to check any previous posts.

Our first article involves monkeys and evolution once again. We had one where the theory was that a species of baboon had trained a species of wolf to help them in foraging.

This time capuchin monkeys are banging rocks together. Probably not huge news in itself. They use the rocks like tools to get minerals or food. The interesting part is the monkeys create concoidal flakes from the process of striking the rocks together. Archaeologists are questioning some of their evidence of early humans, because monkeys are creating something that had been attributed as being solely human activity. You can read the article here.

That's interesting, and calls into question the source of some early flaking activity, but this is a speculative fiction blog. It isn't a huge leap of the imagination to have one monkey start using the sharp flakes he creates. Before too long, monkeys enter the stone age. Sounds like a good basis for a lost world type story to me. Imagine exploring a place where arboreal monkeys rain down spears tipped with flint heads upon you.

Maybe it doesn't fuel an entire story. Maybe scientists spend the summer documenting this unusual activity only to encounter something worse. Maybe they find other signs of early human activity, like using the flint to make fires. It might make a great story similar to a mashup of Watership Downs and Lord of the Flies, where the monkeys make teams and fight for dominance.

The second article involves a sunken German submarine from World War One. This thing is on the bottom of the ocean, just off the coast of Scotland. There really isn't too much remarkable, but it's pretty interesting. The interesting part is that some of the crew survived. The captain said they lost the ship when they were attacked by a sea monster. Read about the discovery here.

Now I'm reasonably sure the guy is full of crap, but why not make it part of a story? You could take it as is, or make the statement into the catalyst for an adventure to look for evidence of a sea monster. Heck, it's close enough to Scotland to make the Loch Ness Monster part of your story.

Finally, this article was sent to Lisa Burton, my assistant, by Planetary Defense Command. The Commander is friends with Lisa on Facebook, and he thought we would like this article. It's about a dedicated train line to carry the dead, and their mourners, to the cemetery. (And back, you know, for the mourners at least.) It seems that London, like most old world cities, was running out of places to inter the dead. The line was met with some resistance, because horse drawn hearses were the preferred method of the day.

They acquired a massive amount of land outside the city, but it was too far for funeral processions and horses to deal with. Thus, the train line. The article is full of good period specific information about storing and shipping the bodies too. Even the photographs are wonderful. It would make a good setting in your Victorian crime novel. Characters who work along the project would also be very interesting. I can see detectives from Scotland Yard riding along to catch a Jack-the-Ripper type character. Maybe your character is one of the caterers who work at the cemetery to feed the mourners. It seems like the perfect setting for a ghost story too. Ghost trains, haunted stations, modern apartments built in the old buildings that still have ghosts in them. Maybe a grave robber ring. There are so many possibilities.

It's a great article without any fiction. It includes the Nazi bombing that put it under, and how automobile hearses replaced it. Thank you Commander for this great article. Do yourself a favor and read it here.

This is the place where I outline a corny story that includes all the elements. Submarines and sea monsters I can weave into a lost world with stone age monkeys. German subs and sea monsters, can work into the haunted railroad with sailors trying to escape by stealing the train. I just don't see how I can get stone age monkeys and a haunted railroad into the same story. Maybe I can borrow the London zoo, but I'm not feeling it. I'm running up the white flag on this one.

Tell me in the comments if you can figure out how to do it.

What kind of stories would you use these elements in. Maybe you like your advanced primates on another planet, or your funeral train is a spaceship to bring space pioneers back to Earth for burial. Let me hear it folks.

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Get it while it’s hot, Macabre Macaroni

Ever since I started blogging, I’ve tried to post some spooky themed stories in October.

I make them all micro-fiction so nobody has to panic about finding part two, or missing one in the middle.

There is a style of micro-fiction called creepy pasta. Someone eventually glommed onto that name and started a website to host stories, the whole works. I know you can’t copyright a name, but I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes either. Maybe someday, that person will become a friend.

That’s why I call my stories Macabre Macaroni. And here we have the lovely Lisa Burton bringing us a platter right now, so everyone dig in.

The Woodworker’s Dilema

The tiny bell above my shop door jingled. It was early in the day for tourists to be wandering. I sat down my tea, checked my face in the antique mirror, and walked into the front. “Good morning, and wel–” I crossed my arms at the sight of Reverend Whitaker. “What do you want?”

He held up his palms. “I, I come in peace. I want to discuss something with you.”

“Like closing my shop down and running me out of town? Three years now you’ve been trying to put me out of business.”

He glanced at the apothecary section, then quickly looked away. He moved a hand-blown glass vase off the table, and sat down. I suppose he never noticed the furniture and the vase were for sale.

“I hope we can put all that behind us.” He placed a small cardboard box on the table. “I’ve come to the conclusion that… Well, that maybe there is more to this world than I know.” He gestured to the seat across from him. “Please.”

“I’m just having tea. Would you like some?”

He glanced again at the apothecary section. “No, I um. Thank you.”

I slid into the chair and adjusted my apron. I waited for him to speak, not wanting to invite the condemnation papers or whatever he was up to this time.

“I have a hobby, you see. When I’m not preaching, I have a life just like everyone else. One of my parishioners knows I’m a woodworker, and asked me to remove one of her trees in exchange for the wood. She seemed very upset about the tree, so I agreed to help.

“It turns out it was a huge maple, hundreds of years old. I had to get some of the other members involved to help remove it, and haul the trunk to my farm.”

“What does this have to do with me?”

“Right, um, it turns out it was all curly maple; lovely stuff really. I make knife handles, mirrors, brushes, duck calls, that kind of thing. I have so much of it, that guitar makers and violin makers are calling me.”

He placed a block of wood on the table before me. It was breathtaking. The lines and swirls had a kind of reflective quality that was mesmerizing. I looked up and pushed a hair out of my face. “It’s beautiful. I might be able to sell a few pieces for you.”

“Yes, well, that wasn’t what I had in mind, but perhaps. I was, was, am hoping you could lend a special kind of assistance.” He removed a second piece from his box and turned it towards me.

“I, um. I don’t know–”

“Please. I need to know if this is demonic, or, or witchcraft.” He loosened his collar and wiped his brow. “I can’t let anyone else have this if it’s going to, to, to curse them.”

I lifted the piece and turned it in my hand. I detected nothing evil about it. “I think it is exactly what it appears to be; a cry for help.”

“But from whom, and what kind of help? Can you tell me anything?”

I tossed the wood between my hands to get a reading, but got nothing. “Are there any more messages?”

“Not so far, just this one. Can you help?”

“Perhaps, but we’ll have to work on it together. You find a way to count the tree rings. That will tell us what year it was planted. Figure out what age the message came from too. Then find out who owned the property at that time. Search also for news from those years; tragedy, missing persons, unsolved crimes, a reason to ask for help.”

“What will you do?”

“I’ll try some divinations. I will also interview the woman who owned the tree. She may have dreamed something, or noticed strange things. Together, we may be able to figure out something. Right now, do not discount that this message came to you. It is your help being sought. It looks like whoever sent it knew how to write, and they chose not to use cursive script. Possibly they were too young to know it. That is all I know today.”

“Thank you, and – this is hard to admit, but I may have been wrong about you.”

“Your culture has been wrong for centuries. Perhaps you and I can change that.”

***

You guys know me, I’m always trying out new things. This time it was pictures to enhance the story. What do you think? Did the pictures help more than a lengthy description would?

Just a couple of quick announcements. Both of my Experimental Notebooks contain short stories and micro-fiction. Many of those have a paranormal bent to them. If you need something to keep you awake at night, maybe one of those would do the trick.

This week is also the free week for my novel Panama. If you like historical fiction with some creep factor involved, this might be the story for you.

 

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Waiter, there’s a fly in my Macabre Macaroni

I have no idea where this one came from. I’ll just blame it on my Muse.

Selfie

Becky Clarkson left her friends three states away. Her father transferred when his company opened a new plant.

Late summer wasn’t too bad. The neighbor girl, Marcy, hung out with her a few times. They went to the county fair together, but Marcy ditched her for other friends.

Becky sat on the teacup ride alone, and stared into space. Her old friends wouldn’t have abandoned her. They’d be all over the big roller coaster together.

Becky’s sophomore year began with her as the new girl. Several girls were pleasant, but dismissive. The cliques and groups seemed to be carved in stone. Marcy hung out with the coolest girls, and Becky was forgotten.

Two weeks after school started, Marcy slid into the bus seat beside Becky.

“Pay attention,” Marcy said. “I’ve noticed that you didn’t get scooped up by the nerds, or the future farmers. You aren’t a cheerleader, or a jock’s girlfriend. You can hang with us, but you have to pass a test first.”

“What kind of test?”

“We all did it. I had to take a topless selfie in the principal’s office. I was so scared, I broke in on the weekend to do it. DeDe had to steal the gym teacher’s jock strap. Heather had to kiss a homeless guy with witnesses.”

“So what’s my dare?”

“We’re going to turn left up ahead. I’ll point out the old Cornwell house. It’s abandoned now, but there were a string of murders there in the 1950s. Old Lady Cornwell used a piece of clothesline to strangle her husband and all four of their children.”

“Yeah, and?”

“And they say the place is still haunted by Old Lady Cornwell. People hear her screaming on the anniversary of the murders.” Marcy held out her hand. “Give me your phone.”

Becky held up her phone. “Why?”

“So I can check the time on it. You need to go inside the Cornwell house and take a selfie at midnight. Send it to all of us for confirmation, and you’re in. We’re having a pool party next Friday, and you can come – if you pull this off. DeDe has a car and she’s picking us all up after school.”

“Wh, when do I have to do this?”

“Anytime before the party. This weekend, Heather’s sister is letting us hang out at the spa where she works. Do this, and all your weekends can be fun.”

Marcy pointed out the house, and clarified that anywhere inside would pass. The photo would imprint the time, and Becky could join them any time she wanted.

Sneaking out wasn’t that hard. Becky’s mother was zonked by 9:00 most nights, and her father was a shift foreman. He wouldn’t come home until 4:00 AM.

Becky couldn’t sleep, and decided to make a test run. The Cornwell house was only three blocks away. Trees obscured the door from the street. She opened the gate, and it screeched on the hinges. The walkway presented a tangled mess of briars and fallen leaves.

She took three more steps and the wind picked up. A shutter on the second floor started banging. She turned and went back to the street.

Becky left the gate open before running home. Stupid girls, stupid rules. What kind of people make you do stupid things before they even know you?

She made it home by 11:00, eased the door shut behind her and turned the lock. She leaned against the kitchen cupboards and let out an hour’s worth of breath. Her lips curled upward, and she crossed her arms in a self hug. Sneaking out, finding the spooky house, all while not getting caught – exhilarating.

It would happen tomorrow. One stupid stunt was all it took. These girls went to parties, and spas. One of them has a car. Boys might come to the pool party too. There might be some life in this city after all.

Becky never heard her father come home. Her mother roused her for breakfast. As soon as she could she retreated to her room. Haunted houses were stupid. People make stuff up and everyone buys into it. There was probably more risk from tetanus or homeless people inside.

She tried on her swimming suit and regretted the pancakes from that morning. Her laptop provided the story about the old murders. Mrs. Cornwell went to an asylum. The article said she died there, and never included the address or a photo of the house. It probably isn’t even the same place. Half the abandoned buildings in town are probably called the Cornwell house.

Dark clothing seemed like a good idea. She tried on her old black jeans. They were worn, but still fit. At least it wouldn’t matter if the briars snagged them. The best top she could find wound up being a navy blue sweatshirt. She would take her picture, then slink into the shadows.

The registered sex offender list didn’t show anyone for two blocks either side of the Cornwell house. Police activity seemed minimal in the area, beyond the occasional domestic disturbance.

By late afternoon, Becky started pacing. Spas, parties, get togethers, they might even go to dances as a group. She helped her mother clean after her father woke up. It gave her something to do while she waited for evening.

She picked at her supper. The idea of a pool party had her worrying about what she ate. When everyone went to bed, she immediately got dressed for her adventure.

She got to the house early and walked around the block. It was stupid, but the empty streets made her feel better. God, Becky, it isn’t like they asked you to steal a car or anything.

At 11:45 she went through the front gate. The place seemed quiet, and it should. It was abandoned after all. The boards on the front deck were spongy after all the years of neglect. She took extra care to test the footing with her weight before she stepped forward. Falling through the porch, and having the fire department rescue her, would make her the laughing stock.

She had to push with her shoulder to open the front door. She only needed enough room to squeeze through. Her nostrils curled at the scent of mold and neglect. At least the floors were solid inside. She decided they must be made from better wood.

Becky turned and saw the windows facing the other houses. The camera flash would give her away. She tiptoed down the hall to the old dining room. Peeling wallpaper touched her shoulder and she nearly screamed. She hit the power button to wake up her phone, and used the weak light to see where she went.

The furniture was still in the dining room. The chairs were all overturned, and the table was missing a leg. Fresh marks showed where a rodent must have chewed the table leg. She couldn’t help looking for chalk outlines on the floor, but there were none. Of course, idiot. That was over sixty years ago.

Becky turned her phone around and posed beside the broken table. She put on her best party smile. Popularity, and all the benefits were hers. She pressed the shutter when the phone showed midnight.

***

Marcy’s phone chimed, and she glanced over at it. “Oh girls, it looks like I’m getting a message from Becky.”

They all gathered round and squealed in horror. Becky smiled into the camera inside the Cornwell house. The wispy ghostly image of Old Lady Cornwell stood directly behind her. She held a knotted section of clothesline in both hands.

Becky was never seen, or heard from, again.

**oo**

If you’re enjoying Macabre Macaroni this year, you might want to check out my new book, The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack. This is a collection of micro-fiction and short stories. Some of them have a Halloween angle. At 99¢ there isn’t much risk.

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