This ghost sent to me by a wonderful gentleman named Derrek. It is a personal story and I think these ghost stories are often the most resonant and the most terrifying:
What I am telling you may or may not be a story, perhaps it is just the drunken ramblings of a local from a village near Masai Mara in Kenya or my own drunken memories. Nonetheless when I travel for business, in the product development industry, I often make it a point to stop at local places I have been told are good to visit for a conversation or two. I was directed to a Mara Bush Camp, the kind where tourists go to take pictures of the wildlife.
As soon as I arrived at the bar I knew exactly who I wanted to sit by. Most people that I know look for a party while they are on a business trip trying to find a lively group for a night on the town. Throw some money around and you look like a big spender in a place that doesn't have a lot, maybe you get mugged too in the process. Not me, that is just not me. I took a glimpse of the setting, too many tourists but one local sitting on a stool by himself staring deeply into his drink. A drink that looked like it had barely been touched.
He looked like he was dressed as a tour guide or at least someone that could spend a few moments speaking English with me. (I am the horrible business type that doesn't even try the local language, although it is part out of respect as I do not want to butcher their language.)
So I chose a stool right beside him and asked him how his day was. Something light to try and start a conversation. His reply was, "ask me tomorrow after the night."
We sat there in silence for a while, what was I supposed to follow that up with. So, business man...I bluntly ask him what he meant and this is what he told me.
A few months past there was a rehabilitated lion released back into the reserve. He then continued to explain that often what happens with events like this is that boundaries for prides shift to account for a new male lion in the area, it gets pushed around a bit itself until it settles and finds its pride. What the male lion does when it finds its new pride and essentially defeats the dominant male lion of the pride is kills all of the cubs from the previous leader. I nodded a little but wildlife being what it is I was not so surprised.
He paused, scrunching his face up in perplexity, and then said that was not what had happened. Apparently the particular lion they released was unusually aggressive about territory. It took a straight path to the first pride and fought and drove off the pride's leader and then killed the cubs hastily. The former leader was then essentially outcast and injured, forced to find his own food and way without the help of the lionesses of his tribe having just seen his offspring slaughtered.
For the next few weeks the former leader continually encroached closer and closer to inhabited areas. Never so close as to be perceived as a threat. Until one day when another rehabilitated lioness was about to be released he charged at the personnel without abandon. The stranger himself had to act quickly and regretfully shot and killed the former leader.
The next night a goat was killed and left mangled by a nearby village with no trace of any predator around.
And again another night a dog, that was a pet of one of the reserve workers was killed and practically mutilated without tracks or any sign of predator.
Such senseless killing doesn't happen by what I was told by the stranger. Killing by a predator sure but it will eat the animal or drag it off to hide somewhere. Were it a jaguar it would even potentially carry the dead animal up a tree for safe keeping while it ate.
He continued to tell me how him and a fellow coworker just the night before were told to keep watch. The coworker in particular was a long time friend of his. They had seen wondrous things in the reserve from the growing populations of once dwindling species to the smiles on some of the faces of the children of the tourists as they watch a giraffe eat in the wild or awkwardly gait away to the next stand of trees. I could see in his eyes how much of his life was shared with his friend. It was almost the look one has when they speak about a family member proudly.
He took a deep breath and stated very bluntly the former leader of the pride killed his friend his brother.
We both sat in silence, his drink still barely touched, me on my second. I shook my head and began bellowing with laughter and slapping the counter with an open hand. This reserve worker had just told me one of the longer stories I had heard on a trip to try and scare me.
That is what I thought until he grabbed me by my tie with our faces mere inches away from each other's. Mine with tears from laughing and his filled with tears of sorrow.
He quickly placed something on the counter while holding me in place by my tie, myself slightly wishing I had tied it a little looser that day.
I heard muffled sounds coming from the counter as the man jerked my tie toward a small digital camera screen sitting on the counter. I could see what was likely the stranger's friend walking ahead of the camera with the stranger's voice in the camera. They looked happy. If I could understand what they were saying I am sure they would have been joking around.
Then his friend fell to the ground thrashing or being thrashed around but by what nothing, I couldn't see anything. His head jerked violently to the side and he stopped screaming. I looked closer at the screen and could see as he was drug slightly and slowly beginning to be ripped open by what I would think only claws could do as the camera slowly crept backwards. I couldn't take anymore and had to turn my head around.
I quickly stumbled off my stool toward my rental and then to my hotel room. I didn't sleep that night. I slept restlessly for the next few until I left Kenya, lost out on one or two business pursuits. Who knows maybe more. I just wanted out of there. Before seeing that video my world was smaller. Only humans had souls and only humans could have ghosts. That stranger though with that video, I doubt a reserve could pull off such effects and to what end?
This is our third year going to the Halloween Horror extravaganza that is Universal Studio's Halloween Horror Nights. Every year, for a little over a month, Universal Studios shuts down one of its parks after five and transforms the park into a theme park of horror. They have at least four scare zones. These are areas that are decorated to look like certain horrific themes and filled with actors that could jump out at you at any moment. I am hard to scare and the actors in these zones are always the most likely to get me because I am not ready for them. I will be standing there having a drink and boom, a killer clown with a chainsaw jumps out from behind me.
They also have 10 unique haunted houses. This years haunted house line up included, Halloween 4, Trick R Treat, Stranger Things, Poltergeist, a French Zombie Attack, Seed of Darkness (a vile plant related apocalypse house that was far better than I expected), Blumhouse, Slaughter Sinema (a wonderful homage to b horror movies), Scary Tales, Carnival Graveyard, and The Harvest. They were all wonderful. The scare zones this year were Child's Play, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, 80's vampires, and Dark Harvest. This was the best and most intense year we have experienced. I can't take pictures in the houses and the dark, slightly intoxicated photography that comes out of these experiences are never perfect, but I have posted what I was able to photograph from this year's horror nights!
The Accidental Witch was a bestseller on Amazon for three weeks in a row. Now the sequel, The Darkest Art, comes out today! This book is second in this trilogy of black magic and dark spirits. Come join Phaedra Black as she dispels the demons lurking in the swamps of
Phaedra Black is having a rough year. Her marriage fell apart, she lost her license to practice clinical psychology, and she was fired from her job at the hospital in her home town of Dismal, Alabama. But those are the easy problems. Phae is also a witch, one with a prophesy hanging over head. A prophesy that claims her as the Phoenix, the most powerful magical force in the world. And the most destructive.
Phae only trusts two people—her best friend Diane and her boyfriend Frederick Navarre. Diane is an oracle, when she’s not working twelve-hour shifts at the hospital. Fred is a warlock and Phae’s touchstone and teacher. Without him, Phae feels completely lost. The trouble comes when Fred leaves to go on some unknown quest. He doesn’t tell her anything except to avoid magic at all costs. Easier said than done. Phae’s new job as a counselor at a methadone clinic is exhausting, pointless, and pays peanuts. Her boss and co-workers are miserable, rude, self-centered people who should be in rehab themselves instead of helping addicts, and her beautifully restored plantation house, the Black Magnolia, put her in the red. With her bills piling up, Phae is at her wits end. Not even Diane, who’s moved in with her, can help. She has no choice but to use her magic, sparking a chain of events that takes her down a road of no return. Her power begins seeping out into the world and no matter what she does, she can’t control it. When she gives her boorish boss a tail and turns the condescending clinic doctor into a tin of coffee, Phae realizes the immense force she has inside her will continue to grow and leave a trail of doom behind her. Worst of all she finds out that The Guild of Witches wants her dead and it has nothing to do with not paying her annual dues. In desperation, Phae turns to an ancient demon who promises to help her. She accepts, but his assistance comes with a steep price and consequences bigger and more catastrophic than Phae could ever imagine. With no choice left to her, Phae has to undo what she’s unwittingly set in motion, or she could lose everything and everyone she loves.
My life is mired in darkness of one kind or another. I write horror novels and ghost stories. I decorate for Halloween. I collect skulls. But at the end of the day this all seems light and airy compared to my day job. I am a counselor during the day and I specialize in rape and sexual abuse. For me, horror stories and ghosts are a jaunt into the lighter more magical side of life. I recently advocated for a young woman who went to court after a rape. The guy got off. Not only did the guy get off but the defense attorney had the jury so mad at the victim that one of them, a Mr. Wilson started emailing her and telling her what a bad person she was. She fell apart, of course, and she gave me permission to talk to him on her behalf. She couldn't handle his telling her she was a liar and a monster. She was already falling apart. This just made it worse. So I conversed with him via email. We fought over the facts for a long time and he still saw her as a monster. The juror was convinced he rapist was a nice guy. He was so convincing on the stand. She had fallen apart after the rape and the defense had made her look like a freak because her PTSD symptoms were terrible. She was obviously a monster conspiring to destroy him because he wouldn't love her.
I couldn't get him to relent until I told the story below. Suddenly, everything made sense to him. He saw that she was the victim. He stopped yelling about her being a monster. It is funny that the only way people understand that rape is wrong is if they image sex is coffee. Here is the story that made him understand the victim:
I want you to imagine for a moment that you are young and single. You have had a hard time dating and meeting the girl of your dreams. You haven’t been with a woman in a while and you are lonely and you crave a woman’s touch. Imagine that a beautiful woman who embodies everything you want comes up to you and asks you over to her house for coffee. You emphatically agree and hope that her invitation might include more than coffee. You hope it might include sex and romance. The day comes for the coffee and you enter home filled with hope, perhaps this hope is unrealistic. This woman is a ten and out of your league, but the hope remains. She starts making the coffee and you again agree that you definitely want coffee. You love coffee. You tell her you want nothing more than to try her coffee. She smiles and brings the entire pot of coffee over and hands it to you. For a minute you hesitate, but you drink because you want her. It is boiling hot, so hot that it burns your throat. You put the pot down. You tell her it is hot. She laughs and tells you to man up grabs the pot and begins pouring the boiling hot liquid down your throat. You fight and yell but she is much stronger than she appears and much stronger than you. You throat is burning. You have never been in so much pain. You didn’t even know pain like this existed. You beg her to stop but she keeps pouring until the entire pot of scalding hot liquid has been emptied into your throat. When she is done, she kicks you out.
You are stunned, embarrassed, humiliated. You don’t know what happened. You are bleeding. There is blood everywhere. You text a friend to help you. You look in the mirror. Your face is covered in blisters. Your neck is burnt. Your friend comes and convinces you to go to the hospital. You go. The doctor is shocked by the damage this woman has done to you. You need surgery. You need skin grafts. The police come. They talk to you. Apparently this is this woman’s thing. She invites men over and burns them. She loves it. They have seen at least a dozen men come into the hospital like this and they push you to press assault charges. You agree. Everyone seems to be on your side. Other victims come and talk to you and thank you for being braver than they were. They couldn’t face the beautiful woman again, even in court. They were embarrassed that they were so easily overpowered by a woman and that they were stupid enough to agree to go to her house for coffee. They didn’t want anyone to know. Their shame was overwhelming. The police tell you that you are brave and that you are going to be the one who stops this woman from doing this to other men. You believe them. You believe that there will be
justice for the agony you have suffered.
Finally, you have your day in court. Over the past year while you waited for court, you fell apart. You can’t taste anymore because your taste buds were so badly damaged. You can’t swallow. You have scars that are visible and others mock you in public. Your behavior has changed. You have PTSD. You can’t sleep. You became addicted to pain pills because you took them for your burns. You get to court. You are put on stand. The questions come. You admit on stand that you told this beautiful woman you wanted coffee. You admit that she was beautiful and you dreamed of having sex with her and falling in love with her and spending a life with her. You admit that you were a fool and that when she asked if you wanted coffee, you said please give me coffee. I want coffee. You are torn apart by the attorneys. The attorneys say, “ You wanted that coffee. How can you complain now? Why would the police push you to press charges? Clearly this is a vast conspiracy? What kind of jerk would go over to a nice girl’s home for coffee and ask for coffee and then try to ruin her life after he got coffee? What kind of police would try to ruin this beautiful woman’s life. She is so sweet. So beautiful. Look at you. You are a drug addict who conspired with your friend and the police to ruin this beautiful woman because she wouldn’t give you what you wanted.”
You are now made the monster. No other victims are brave enough to stand beside you. You are alone on the stand with your scars. You’ll never swallow right again but that doesn’t matter. Your face will never be the same. Your scars are long and ugly but you asked for that coffee so you are the monster.
I watch the news. People yell and wonder why women don't go to the police after a rape. Why don't they press charges? This is why. Even when they do, they are humiliated and degraded on the stand and attacked after the court case and the only way the jury will understand rape is if you explain it like coffee.
My new YA has just come out! This YA horror novel is a blend of the dark, horror of HP Lovecraft and the classic gothic, romance Jane Eyre. To Celebrate, I will be giving away a $25 amazon gift card to the person who can comment below with their favorite Lovecraft story or favorite character in Jane Eyre. I will give the card away to the best response! Good Luck!
Jane Marsh has spent her entire life hiding. Hiding under bulky clothing. Hiding behind glasses. Hiding behind books. Abandoned at a hospital emergency room at the age of four with her name written on her forehead in black Sharpie and a mysterious tattoo of a door on her back, Jane grew up in foster care in the small town of Gateshead, Massachusetts. She learned early on that keeping her head down and pretending to be normal was the only way to survive.
Now, at the age of sixteen, Jane is looking forward to a fresh start. Hard work and many late study nights earned her early graduation from high school and a full scholarship to a small, but prestigious college in Huntington, Virginia. Even better, her best friend Helen—her only friend actually—is going too. Older by two years, the beautiful and off-beat Helen is the only person from high school who broke through Jane’s shyness and made her feel accepted. As the two girls embark on their new adventure, Jane is feeling hopeful about her future. But with limited resources and no family to help her, Jane takes a job as a live-in companion to a wealthy old woman who lives near the college. She grows to care for the elderly Miss Adele and the kindly housekeeper, Mrs. Fairfax. Jane also falls in love with her new home, the magnificent Thornfield Hall, even though everyone, including Helen, says it’s haunted. Helen begs Jane to leave and move in with her and her boyfriend in town, but Jane refuses. Jane feels at home at Thornfield and its massive library. For a book nerd like Jane, Thornfield is like her very own Gryffindor House.
When Adele’s grandson, Edward Rochester comes home for a visit from Yale, Jane can’t help but be drawn to the brooding, good-looking young man. As tentative friendship blooms between them, Jane believes that maybe, just maybe, she can have a normal life. Maybe even a boyfriend. But then one night Jane begins to hear ghostly whispers that lure her into the dark corners of Thornfield. Wicked whispers about Edward and his past. As the ghosts continue to haunt Jane, her tattoo begins to transform and spread across her back. Soon, Jane fears that Helen was right, something evil does lurk at Thornfield. But is the evil in Edward or in Thornfield itself?
The worst truth in this life is that the true monsters don't live in horror movies or paranormal novels. They live in reality. Most of the time they look nice and they often come in the guise of temptation. Some of the biggest monsters today are internet scammers and this year alone Romance internet scammers have been able to take over 15,000 people for a net total of $230 million dollars. They come to us like lovers when we are lonely and they take you for everything you've got. So I decided to have a little fun with the most recent scammer to try to play with me and see if I could get him to give me his eternal soul.
Like many women these days, I have noticed a significant increase in men sending me love letters and pictures of their genitals. The love letters usually start on social media and the men tell me I am the one for them. They have been following me on facebook, twitter, Instagram, whatever and they love everything about me. I am beautiful. I am unlike anything they have seen before. For a long time I just deleted these obvious scams, but lately I have been playing a little game. I call it Buying Souls for Cthulhu. For those of you who aren't familiar with the work of the brilliant horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft, he was one of the most influential horror writers in history. His work has inspired Clive Barker, Stephen King, Guillermo Del Toro and countless others. His most famous creation was the elder god, Cthulhu. Merely looking upon this sleeping god could drive you insane. He has a cult, of course, and he loves devouring souls. I thought I would help him a little by collecting a few souls for him and making myself laugh.
So I got this lovely scammer, evansphilip060, on Instagram. He is a personal trainer who is covered with tattoos and has a beautiful body but seems to periodically forget he has tattoos. He forgets what he looks like and where he is from, but he sure adores me. His English is terrible but he is from Georgia and he just needs $20,000- $100,000 to build his dream gym station in Atlanta and then we can finally be together and consummate our love. After playing a long for a week, I finally agreed to fund Mr. Philips gym on the condition that he join my church. The Church of the Golden Dawn (A reference to the Order of the Golden Dawn). He very quickly agreed to give his soul to my god if I could help him with his finances. He also asked if I could give him some money on an iTunes card because his phone wasn't working. He sent me the picture to the left to prove to me that he went in the woods at night and said words giving his eternal soul to the great lord Cthulhu. After he sent me the picture, I confronted him and asked him why he does this. He was steadfast in his insistence that he was not a scammer but his broken English only made it more clear that he was a scammer. The conversation that follows is below.
I must admit. I had far too much fun with this and am overjoyed that Mr. Phillips loved me enough to pledge his eternal soul to the cult of Cthulhu for me. La! La! Chtulhu Fhtagn! Long live Cthulhu and shame on all these scammers that work so hard to con lonely women out of money. The worst part isn't even the money. They break the women's hearts so I am happy to give all their hearts to Cthulhu. He will know what to do with them.
The truth, however, is that after I did significant online research, I found that these men have been able to con women out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some women have lost everything. These cons are very common and they are quite cruel, so if someone tells you they are falling for you online, be careful. Never send anyone you have never met money. Do a reverse image search on the images used in their account and make sure the images match the names that come up. The internet is full of scammers. Be careful with your heart and your money.
Information provided by Wayne Miller The Lowry House is a historic home in Huntsville, Alabama. It was built circa 1850 by John Tate Lowry, a merchant with the firm of Lowry, Hamilton and Company. Elements of an earlier Lowry family log house, built in 1809, that stood on the site were incorporated into the new construction. The Historic Lowry House, a 3000 square foot Italianate-Federal style home, was purchased by Louie and Jane Tippett in 1998. After an extensive 4 year restoration process, The Lowry House was restored to its original beauty, and placed on The National Register of Historical Places. Many ghost stories surround the home about a young bride, Anne, who people have claimed to see in the upstairs window.
People claiming to be able to detect the presence of spirits have told the current owners that one of the ghosts at the Lowry House is that of a child. They have researched the history of the House for mention of a child having died there but found nothing. There are gaps in the history. They do know that a doctor lived there, Dr. Lowry, and that he may well have treated patients out of the House. It's certainly possible that a child died there at some point. Run away slaves were hidden at Lowry House at some point and it is possible that one of them was a child.
To read about the many ghost hunts and paranormal experiences at the Lowry House go to: http://evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-face-in-window-and-shadow-behind.html
One of the most impressive attractions at The University of Chicago is the Oriental Institute. This museum features a sizeable exhibition on Assyrian and Babylonian art and history. As I walked through this lovely museum, I was surprised to see the small statue seen in the photo above. As a fan of the movie The Exorcist, I recognized this figure immediately. It was Pazuzu and the plaque beneath read "Pazuzu; 1st Century BC Protective Deity". This seemed very contrary to what I had seen of Pazuzu in the Exorcist so I decided to spend some time exploring who Pazuzu was in mythology and history.
In the movie, The Exorcist, based on the book of same name by William Blatty, Pazuzu is the primary antagonist. At the beginning of the movie, the primary priest and exorcist is seen standing face to face with a giant statue of Pazuzu. This foreshadows the battle that is to come. Pazuzu is the demon that the two exorcists fight. He is the demon that possesses a little girl and the final battle is a show down for the girl's soul.
Of course, the use of Pazuzu specifically is a bit anachronistic. The English word demon is a translation from the Greek daemon and in Greek this meant spirit. It didn't have the negative or Satanic connotation most modern Western, Christian based cultures give the word. Pazuzu was a demon in the ancient sense of the word rather than the modern sense. He was a spirit and a god from the 1st century BC and was popular in Assyrian and Babylonian culture. He appeared in The Epic of Gilgamesh. He is the god of the underworld and brother to Humbaba. He controlled the west wind, storms, and locusts. He was a destructive force but ancient Assyrians would often offer prayers to him as he could also offer protection. He was terrifying but most gods were in this time. He was often a protector as well and he was commonly invoked to protect against Lamashtu, a goddess who stole children. Although he could be helpful, Pazuzu was feared so the statue I saw at the museum was more typical of how he would be represented. He was so feared that a statue the size of the one seen The Exorcist would have been improbably as the people believed that a statue that large might invoke him and bring his wrath as well.
Although, Pazuzu is terrifying and his image is disturbing. His use in the exorcist was not true to his mythological representation in Assyrian culture. Perhaps they should have used a Christian demon instead. They are more true to the Catholic based spirit of the movie. After all, the imaged in the movie were more based on our Western fears.
Happy Friday the 13th. I am reposting my origins of Friday the 13th post to help celebrate this wonderful day. I hope your 13th is as luck as mine has been! Friday the 13th is considered the most unlucky day of the year. Most people aren't entirely sure where this bad luck comes from, but fear of Friday the 13th can affect as many as 1 in 4 people. The fear of Friday the 13th is known as triskaidekaphobia.
"It's been estimated that [U.S] $800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day because people will not fly or do business they would normally do," said Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina.
So where does this fear that can cripple a nation come from? There really seems to be no consensus on the origin of Friday the 13th. Everyone has a story, but most of them are different. The fear comes from an unknown source. Here's a look at a few of the Friday the 13th origin stories I've found.
One folklorist traces the origins back to Norse mythology. There were 12 gods who had a dinner party in Valhalla. A 13th guest, Loki, was uninvited. Always the trickster, Loki tricked the god of darkness, Hoder, into shooting Balder, the god of joy. Balder died and darkness descended on the earth. Joy was lost to man and from then on 13 was considered unlucky.
In 1307, on October 13, 1307, King Phillip IV of France ordered every member of the order of the Knights Templar executed on charges of high treason and heresy. King Phillip owed the Templar's a good deal of money and they had amassed an enormous amount of wealth on their crusades. It is thought that the order was actually to strip the Templar's of their wealth. The Templar's were tortured horribly and forced to confess to crimes they didn't commit. They all died, but as the grandmaster died he cursed King Phillip and the day making Friday the 13th unlucky for future generations to come.
Many believe the fear comes from the number 13 itself. According to numerologist, the number 12 is associated with completeness. There are 12 months in a year, 12 zodiac signs, 12 apostles, 12 Olympian gods, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 hours in the clock, 12 labors of Hercules. The list goes on and on. The addition of the 13 ruins perfection is utterly bad and unlucky. In many stories, the 13th guest is always a bad sign. Think Judas at the last supper and Loki in the above story. It is the number 13 that lends the curse to Friday the 13th. Combine that with the unlucky Friday, when Jesus was crucifies and Adam tempted Eve and you have a recipe for an unlucky day.
It is clear there are many reasons to fear the dreaded Friday the 13th, but for me Friday the 13ths have always been lucky. So have a happy Friday the 13th, watch one of the 12 million Friday the 13th movies (I like the one in space), and wish me luck on my lucky day.
Chicago's history is littered with ghosts and haunted places. It is home to the nation's first serial killer, H.H. Holmes, and to some of the nation's most famous gangsters (Al Capone). Every street offers a new view of some fascinating and dark piece of old and forgotten history. Ghost tours abound and some are much better than others. However, my favorite place in Chicago is Graceland Cemetery. It is the home of several famous ghost stories and it is also the resting place of many of Chicago's most prominent figures. What I love most about this necropolis is the beauty of the tombstones. They are some of the most striking in the world. The most famous is that of hotelier Dexter Graves. Beside his grave is a statue called 'Eternal Silence.' It was created by Taft in 1909 and is stunningly beautiful. This sculpture was at one point entirely black but time has faded its edges and that has only made it more lovely and more haunting. Legend has it that if you look into the statues face, you'll see your own death. I stared for a very long time yesterday, but didn't see my death. Maybe I will have to try again tomorrow.