Quiz: What Type of Ghost Are You?

“I wasn’t scared; I was just somebody else, some stranger, and my whole life was a haunted life, the life of a ghost.”
― Jack Kerouac, On The Road

Halloween is almost upon us. The veils are thin and our thoughts often turn to the dearly departed, the occult, spirits and worlds unknown. Have you ever wondered what sort of ghost you would be in the afterlife? This completely unscientific, just for fun quiz will let you know!

Take the quiz here:

https://www.quotev.com/quiz/10064819/What-type-of-ghost-are-you

Let me know your results in the comments!

As for me…

Apparently I would be a Banshee.

“You are the Banshee. An Irish ghost known for crying or screaming to warn people of a death in their family.”

Quiz: Which Ghost Are You?

 

With just three days to Halloween, I thought it might be fun to explore our ghostly potential! What type of spirit will you be when you go to the great beyond? Will you be vengeful or helpful? Scary or sentimental? Bloody of beneficent?  Take the quiz to find out!

Click here to take the quiz.

I got:

Compassionate Ghost

“You’re not here to hurt anyone. As a compassionate ghost, your mission in death is to help someone who is still alive. Maybe this is someone you loved in life, or just a stranger who needs you. To them, you could be a guide or a guardian angel. But in reality, you’re just a trapped soul doing something good for the sake of doing something good.
SCARE FACTOR: * 1 Star”

Seems I would not be very scary…

Let me know your results!

 

And just for fun, here is  a “ghostly song” by the Psychedelic Furs. Hope you like it!

 

 

 

 

Resurrection Mary

His name was Vince. By day he worked as a mild mannered bookkeeper for the infamous Chicago Stockyards — those that fueled the meat packing industry and gave us the name “Hog Butcher To The World.”  Vince, however, liked to reassure people he worked “Nowhere near the slaughter houses.” But most of the time he figured it was best to not mention his place of employment at all. Especially in polite conversation, when he hoped to meet girls. Which was his exact intention one spring evening in 1939 when he cruised out to the Oh Henry Ballroom.

A fan of the big bands,  Vince loved nothing more than to patronize Chicago’s many dance halls, tap a toe, and if he was lucky, get a pretty girl to dance with him.

And so, nothing was so very strange about that one Saturday night when a restless Vince slicked his hair with Bryl Cream, put on his best double breasted suit, and headed out to his favorite  jitterbugging joint. The Oh Henry Ballroom was located in the suburb of Justice, Illinois, just southwest of Chicago on Archer Avenue.

Vince spent a while grooving to the music and drinking Cuba Libres (rum and cokes) before he spotted one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen. She was wispy and ethereal, what Vince would call “a real looker,” a blue eyed blonde dressed in a white ball gown and fancy silver dancing shoes.

Vince could not resist. He approached her, and, wanting to appear cool, said as casually as he could manage: “Hey, it ain’t right to stand still for Count Basie. Why don’t we cut a rug on this one?”

The girl agreed. The couple danced to a few loud, fast numbers. When the band took a break, Vince began a conversation. He found out her name was Mary and she lived in  Brighton Park on Chicago’s south side, somewhere near south Damon Avenue. Vince was from the same neighborhood.

The band played a slow, romantic ballad and the couple danced cheek to cheek. It was then that Vince noticed that Mary’s hands were cold and her skin brittle. Much colder and more brittle than they should have been, for Mary could not have been more than twenty or twenty one years old.

Vince sensed that she seemed self conscious as he cringed at her cold skin, so he made a joke. “You know what they say? Cold hands means  a warm heart.”

Mary smiled. The couple spent the rest of the night dancing together and when the ballroom closed, Vince offered her a ride home.

Mary gave Vince her exact address on south Damon. It was a straight shot down Archer Avenue, not a bit out of his way. However, on the ride home something strange happened.

Vince was driving down Archer when they passed Resurrection Cemetery, the graveyard of Chicago’s Polish community. Mary insisted that Vince stop the car there.  Vince was baffled, but, not wanting to upset her, he complied. Mary opened the door, and stepped out of the car.

She looked at Vince, her eerie ice blue eyes piercing.

“I have to go now. You can’t follow me, so don’t try.”

With that, she turned and walked up to the cemetery gates. She put one hand upon the iron chain that bound the gates together. She then disappeared.

At this point the dumbfounded Vince began to wonder if someone had slipped a mickey into his Cuba Libres. He was terrified, but determined to solve this mystery. Not only was there the weirdness of her disappearing, but since she had danced with him all evening, Vince had hopes of beginning a relationship with this lovely girl.

Vince spent the rest of the night driving his Chevy up and down Archer Avenue, looking for a blond girl in a white dress. He drove until dawn, and then, when the cemetery gates opened, he entered. There, among the cement angels and monuments engraved with a variety of old world names like Barankowski, Ignasiak and Janulewicz, he explored.

The morning sun reddened his sleepless eyes. The Bryl Cream of the night before had lost its effect and Vince wandered, hair falling on his face, clothes disheveled and stubble of a beard now sprouting on his cheeks.

There was no sign of Mary.

Vince decided to drive to the address Mary had given him.

He drove to south Damon Avenue and parked the car. The street was a chain of near identical brick bungalows separated by narrow concrete gangways. Only the porch and lawn decorations differentiated the houses – American flags, statues of the Virgin Mary, velvet portraits of an all seeing Jesus whose eyes seemed to follow him as he walked up the street.

Finally he came to Mary’s “house”. He rang the doorbell.

The woman who answered looked (as you may have guessed) like an older version of Mary. Her mother! That, of course made perfect sense. Vince would inquire after the daughter, who no doubt had somehow made it home by now.

“Is Mary home?” Vince asked.

The woman stood silent for a few moments, then a look of fresh grief spread across her face. “Mary doesn’t live her anymore,” she said.

“She… She doesn’t?”

The woman took a deep breath. “My daughter Mary died in a car accident four years ago. Who are you?”

Vince, who feared for his own sanity as well as his reputation as a “normal” person, made up an elaborate lie on the spot:

“I knew Mary in high school,” he said.

Vince claimed he had been Mary’s friend, but lost touch with her when he went to attend college downstate. He said he had only recently moved back to Chicago, and sought to rekindle their friendship.

Mary’s mother invited him into the house. The first thing Vince noticed was a framed photograph hanging on the wall.  It was indeed the same girl he had danced with the night before.

Mary’s mother went on to explain that, four years ago, Mary had gone out dancing at the Oh Henry Ballroom with a boy she had been dating. Sometime in the course of the evening, Mary had gotten into an argument with the boy. Mary stormed out of the Ballroom. Even though it was winter, she did not bother getting her coat. She wandered down Archer Avenue, dressed only in her gossamer white ball gown and silver slippers. It was then she was struck by a hit and run driver and instantly killed.

Mary’s family, who were of Polish descent, had her buried in Resurrection Cemetery. The corpse was dressed in her white ball gown and silver slippers.

Her ghost has ever after been known in pop culture as “Resurrection Mary.”

** NOTE: There are many similar stories of Resurrection Mary that have circulated over the years. Several people have claimed to see “a woman in a white gown” hitchhiking near Archer Avenue. Some have even claimed to pick her up. She inevitably pulls the same stunt Vince witnessed; asking to be let off near the cemetery, upon which she touches the gates and disappears.

I chose to relate Vince’s story because it seemed to have the most character. Vince was a patron of Chet’s Melody Lounge which is located across the street from Resurrection Cemetery.

Photo of Chet's Melody Lounge - Justice, IL, United States

According to patrons and bartenders, Vince told his story in the Melody Lounge for fifty years until his death sometime in the 1990’s. Reportedly, he told it in intimate detail and each time, looked as if he had, indeed, seen a ghost!

The bartenders at the Melody Lounge began a tradition which they keep to this day. Every Sunday, they mix a Bloody Mary for Resurrection Mary. The set the drink on the edge of the bar in hopes that Mary might show up and drink it. So far, no luck.

Vince never returned to the Oh Henry Ballroom. The place was later renamed The Willowbrook Ballroom, and remained open as a dance and banquet facility until it was destroyed by a fire in 2016.

Vince also never located Mary’s grave. He was apparently too spooked by the whole incident, plus he never asked her mother her last name (as this would have trapped him in the lie…)

For the record, I have two grandparents and a few other relatives buried in Resurrection Cemetery. I have also been dancing at the Willowbrook Ballroom. However, on no occasion have I seen Mary, not near the ballroom, not on Archer Avenue, nor in the cemetery.

But hey! I am still a believer. Who doesn’t love a great ghost story? 🙂

Do you believe?

Free Horror Anthology! (For a limited time.)

 

Dark Visions

With just twenty-five days to go before Halloween, I am pleased to announce the release of our second annual Horror Anthology, Dark Visions!

It will be available on Amazon on October 15. And I have a proposition for you.

We are looking for ARC’s  (advanced-copy-readers) who would be willing to read a free download of the book and post an honest review on Amazon for the release date.

Such a deal!  You’d be crazy to refuse.

I mean, like, really crazy.

 

As you may recall, last year I teamed up with author/editor Dam Alatorre and a group of very talented writers to bring you The Box Under The Bed.

This year, we have an even bigger and better anthology, full of spine tingling tales to haunt your dreams and nightmares.

If you are a horror loving loving lunatic like me, and would like to read this, please CONTACT ME through this blog.

I will need your email, but don’t worry, no one will see it except me. And I am sworn to secrecy. By Vito.

I will then send you a link for your FREE download.

Are you up for the challenge?

In case you’re wondering what you’ll get — here is a list of our stories. (Yes, three by me. Not one, three.)

Prologue: Now Comes Death, part one

  1. The Corner Shop – Dan Alatorre
  2. The Stranger – Allison Maruska
  3. The Right Time To Move On – Jenifer Ruff
  4. Devil’s Hollow – Adele Marie Park
  5. Where The Black Tree Grows – MD Walker
  6. The Storm – J A Allen
  7. The Bloody Dogwood Tree – Dabney Farmer
  8. Ghosts Of Tupelo – Sharon Cathcart
  9. Cabin 5 – Heather Kindt
  10. Bella And Button – Allison Maruska
  11. Doll’s Play – Bonnie Lyons
  12. Spirit Lake – Sharon Connell
  13. Ice Cream – Geoff LePard
  14. A Glimpse Of The Monster – Anne Marie Andrus
  15. A Best Selling Lie – Christine Valentor
  16. Normal Things – BA Helberg
  17. Roadkill – Ernesto San Giacomo
  18. Behind The Leather Apron – Alana Turner
  19. Clicking And Clacking – Nick Vossen
  20. The Haunting Of William – Robbie Cheadle
  21. Where The Power Hides – Anne Marie Andrus
  22. Nightmare Man – Betty Valentine
  23. The Willow Tree – Robbie Cheadle
  24. The Changeling – Christine Valentor
  25. What If – Geoff LePard
  26. Swimming – Frank Parker
  27. The Call – Juliet Nubel
  28. La Garconniere – Bonnie Lyons
  29. Lucifer’s Revenge – Christine Valentor
  30. The Nightmare – Lori Micken
  31. Who Am I – Chuck Jackson
  32. The Documentary – Ellen Best
  33. The Doctor’s Walk – Betty Valentine
  34. Excavation Murder – Victoria Clapton

Epilogue: Now Comes Death, part two

 

After you are finished reading, we ask that you post an honest review on Amazon on October 15.  That’s it! Simple 🙂

But hurry! This promo is available for a limited time only!

Let me hear from you  before the door of opportunity permanently closes…

One Wedding and a Funeral

All eyes will be on St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle next Saturday, May 19, 2018 as Prince Harry ties the knot with his American princess, Meghan Markle.

The event has been dubbed the ‘wedding of the century’ – much in the same way the wedding of Harry’s parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer back in 1981 was the ‘wedding of the (20th) century’.  These nuptials, however, are filled with controversy.

In case you have been living under a rock, or missing the News, I will fill you in on the juicy details.

Former bad boy and beloved troublemaker Prince Harry – AKA Henry Charles Albert David Windsor, Prince of Wales – announced his engagement to American actress Meghan Markle on November 27, 2017.  Harry’s former outrageous antics include underage drinking, pot smoking, dressing as a Nazi for a costume party, and being photographed naked after he lost at a game of ‘strip billiards’ in Las Vegas.

Prince Harry Blames Wild Behavior On Princess Diana's Death

But now!

In making Meghan his bride, Harry the rebel is breaking with tradition, big time!

First of all, Meghan is an ‘older woman’. (Only by three years. But still.) Second of all, Meghan is a divorcee. (Not such a big deal, considering Harry’s father is also a divorcee who married a divorcee.) Meghan was an actress. (Gasp! Luckily she quit that scandalous profession.)  She is an American, she is of mixed race and a commoner.

Meghan is not the first American commoner to enter the Royal Family. Before her there was Wallis Simpson, who in 1936 famously caused Kind Edward VIII to abdicate his throne in order to marry her. (Read more about Wallis Simpson HERE.)

Neither is Meghan the first woman of mixed race. Before her there was Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who married King George III in 1761.  Charlotte was a direct descendant of  Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a black branch of the Portuguese Royal House.  Harry is also a descendant of Queen Charlotte, so technically Harry is part black too. Albeit some 250 years past. (Read more about Queen Charlotte HERE.)

Perhaps the most controversial thing about Meghan is that she was raised Catholic. Prior to 2015, the law would have forbidden Harry from marrying outside the Anglican Church. The new law declared that the reigning monarch would be considered ‘defender of the faiths’ rather that ‘defender of The Faith’ (meaning only the Anglican Faith). Hence Catholicism is sort of okay.  Although Henry VIII is perhaps turning in his grave. Read on.

Some people are welcoming this new, 21st century style marriage with open arms, while others have condemned it. And yet! There is one more, less talked about ‘controversy’ that everyone seems to be ignoring, except those of us who are (like me!) rabid Tudor fans.

The glaring elephant in the room here is… NOT Meghan’s background. Consider this: The royal wedding will occur on PRECISELY THE SAME DATE that QUEEN ANNE BOLEYN was BEHEADED AT THE TOWER OF LONDON!!

Cue eerie organ music.

What were they thinking? This is surely bad luck. The ghost of Anne has been known to haunt various locales in and around London. These include:

  • Hever Castle, her childhood home
  • Blickling Hall, her alleged birthplace
  • The Tower of London, where she was executed
  •  Windsor Castle, where Anne and Henry resided during their marriage

Was it unwise of Harry and Meghan to choose this ominous date? Are they stealing Anne’s thunder in doing so? Will there be consequences?

Maybe not.  After all, Anne, like Meghan, was a bit of an ‘outsider’ herself when she decided to wed the still married King Henry.

Anne Boleyn became a lady in waiting in the court of Henry’s wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon, in 1521. Henry was anxious that Catherine (also an ‘older woman’ being six years Henry’s senior) was unable to bear him a son. By 1527 Henry was questioning the validity of his marriage and set his sights on the younger and presumably more fertile Anne.

Henry begged Catherine for a divorce. She said no way.  Henry began a relationship with Anne, flaunting her in public and taking her on various outings. In the meantime he started bugging his religious people, Cardinal Wolsey in particular, to figure out a way that he could get a ‘legal’ divorce from Catherine. Wolsey petitioned the Pope. The Pope said no way.  England was a Catholic county, divorce was impossible.

Henry and Anne got married anyway, in a secret ceremony which took place on November 14, 1532. Henry was of course, still married to Catherine.

Anne soon became pregnant. There was a second wedding service, which took place in London on January 25, 1533. Henry was of course, still married to Catherine. Eventually Henry decided to break from the Catholic Church and create his own church where he was essentially the Pope.

And you thought Prince Harry was controversial?

To make a long story short, Anne gave birth to a daughter Elizabeth, but ultimately failed to give Henry a son. So… Henry needed to get out of that marriage too. He got his legal counsel to nail Anne and several men on charges of adultery/ treason. These so-called adulterers even included Anne’s brother George Boleyn. All were arrested, taken to the Tower and executed. Anne was the last to die, thus leaving her to witness the long line of bloodbaths. She was beheaded on May 19, 1536.

But the restless spirit of Anne is far from dead. According to eye witness accounts, Anne has been known to haunt the Tower of London.

In one story, a Captain of the Tower Guard claimed he saw a light flickering in the Royal Chapel one night.  The chapel was locked, so the Captain tried to find the source of the light by climbing up a ladder and looking inside. He then saw a wondrous sight; a procession of Knights and Ladies dressed in ancient costumes were parading around the chapel.  Their leader, he claimed, resembled Anne Boleyn from the portraits he had seen. The procession soon disappeared.

In 1864, a soldier, on duty near the Lieutenant’s lodgings, made another sighting of Anne’s ghost. He claimed to have seen an intruder, the pale figure of a woman. He confronted her but when she refused to respond he plunged his bayonet into what he thought was her flesh.

To his complete shock, the weapon went straight through her. There was another witness to this event; an officer stationed in the Bloody Tower claimed to have seen the whole incident from his window and verified the soldier’s story.

Blickling Hall in Norfolk is believed by many historians to be Anne’s birthplace. Each year on May 19th, Anne is said to return to Blickling Hall in a carriage drawn by six headless horses and driven by a headless coachman. The carriage gallops up the driveway to reveal a headless Anne sitting inside. She is dressed in white and holds her severed head in her lap.

When the carriage reaches the front doors, Anne goes inside where she roams the halls until daybreak.

Also on May 19 Anne’s brother, George, has been seen being dragged across the countryside by four headless horses. His headless ghost then wanders around the grounds of the Blickling estate, pleading for justice.

Blickling Hall is also said to be haunted by their father, Sir Thomas Boleyn. (Sir Tom, it should be noted, dropped the ball on his own children, choosing not to come to their defense when they were accused of incest, adultery and treason. Instead he sided with Henry, mostly to save his own skin and stay in the King’s good favor.)  Some say Thomas Boleyn is the driver of the coach that delivers Anne to Blickling Hall. After dropping Anne off at the front doors at midnight, Sir Thomas continues on. He is pursued by hoards of screaming demons who condemn him for his betrayal of his family.  According to this legend, Sir Tom is forced, as his penance, to drive the spectral carriage over 12 bridges between Wroxham and Blickling for 1,000 years.

But Blickling Hall is safely far away. What about Windsor Castle, where the wedding of Harry and Meghan will actually take place?

Anne’s ghost has reportedly been seen standing at a window in the Dean’s Cloister of Windsor Castle. Henry VIII also haunts the castle — guests claim to have heard his  footsteps echo along the corridors. Henry, who in life suffered ill health and a painful leg wound due to a jousting accident, has apparently brought these ailments with him to the afterlife. The ghost of Henry moans and groans as he miserably drags his ulcerated leg  behind him through the hallways.

And that’s not all.

The ghost of Queen Elizabeth I haunts the Royal Library of Windsor Castle as well.  Bess’ heels have been heard clicking along the floorboards in a steady gait. Her ghost then appears, passes through the library and disappears into an inner room.

Bess’ ghost has been seen standing at a window in the Dean’s Cloister, wearing a black dress with a black lace shawl. Since Anne has also been seen in the Dean’s Cloister, perhaps mother and daughter have reunited in the afterlife.

But all that is old history. Surely the date of Anne’s execution should have no bearing upon the date of this current wedding. Right?

It is interesting to note that Prince Harry is a descendant of Anne Boleyn. How so, you ask? Well…

It seems Queen Elizabeth II (Harry’s Grandma) is related to Anne Boleyn through the children of her sister, Mary. Mary Boleyn, we may recall, is famous for having an affair with King Henry before Anne came into the picture.

The Queen Mother (Harry’s Great Grandma) is descended from Catherine Carey, the daughter of Mary Boleyn.

Furthermore…

Catherine Carey was the mother of Lettice Knollys, the Countess of Essex. Lettice, who was Queen Bess’ cousin, was also her Lady in Waiting. Lettice made the great mistake of marrying Robert Dudley, Master of the Horse, who was Queen Bess’ favorite, and also rumored to be Bess’ lover.

And you thought Meghan Markle was controversial?

Needless to say, Bess disapproved of the marriage.  Lettice was banished from court, never to return again. Bess, however, forgave Robert and restored his position.

But back to the blood line. Queen Elizabeth II, and hence Prince Harry, descend from the Boleyn line through Lettice Knollys. In further controversial news, a very high degree of probability exists that Mary Boleyn’s children, Catherine and Henry Carey, were the illegitimate children of Henry VIII. This is because Mary’s pregnancies coincided with the time she was having an affair with Henry.

Therefore:  the current Queen of England can presumably claim descent from Henry VIII both through her patriarchal line (via Margaret Tudor who married James IV of Scotland) and through her matriarchal line by way of the Queen Mum.

Got that? Prince Harry descends from both the Boleyn and Tudor bloodlines.  With all this haunting going on – perhaps it would have been wise for him to choose a less ominous day for his wedding…

Come what may, Meghan and Harry are very much in love, and they will be married next week. We wish them the best of luck!

What do you think of Meghan, Harry and the hauntings? Let me know in the comments below!

We Beat Stephen King?

 

box

It looks like Friday the 13th brought us luck after all!

Hard to believe, I know — but I am proud to say that our horror anthology The Box Under The Bed  outranked Stephen King on the Amazon bestsellers list!  Who’d have expected it?

box beat King

 

I thought I heard someone applaud,

but alas!

In my distracted state of mind I could not be quite sure…

horror gif 3

 

If you are seeking supernatural thrills, bloodthirsty revenge, mystical ghosts and a plethora of eerie events, please take a look. CLICK HERE to get a copy.   (And if you are so inclined, please write a short review! )

scary ty

 

 

 

 

Free Horror Anthology! Today Only!

 

box promo

Today, October 11th is your chance to get a FREE copy of our horror anthology The Box Under The Bed  on Freebooksy!

For all fans of the macabre and supernatural, this anthology is a must have! Featuring works by me and 20 other award winning and best selling authors.

Readers are saying:

 5 stars   brilliant collection of horror stories!

 5 stars      For all you horror fans

Don’t miss out!

To get your free copy of The Box Under The Bed  CLICK HERE!

Otherwise BEWARE! For you, dear reader shall be crushed in the abyss,  sadly left behind forever.

 

horror gif 1

 

 

 

 

Krampus Nacht

 

krampus-and-nicholas-pd

 

KRAMPUS:  Oh, it was easy enough for Saint Nicholas! His job was to coddle them. He gave them sweets and toys, praised them on how good they were, filled their stockings with candy and marzipan. When a child is docile it is simple enough to reward that child with some shiny, useless thing!  But the rebels, the transgressors, the nay-sayers, what of them? Oh yes they are much harder to deal with!  It was I, Krampus, who was given that difficult job.  You see, I was deemed the disciplinarian, whereas Nicholas was the jovial gift giver.

My position was not enviable in the least. Obedient children are simple. They rise when told, sleep when told. Perform their chores and tasks as expected. But the bad ones.  Ah, the bad ones!  It is they that must be punished, and that punishment is most necessary if ever they are to achieve their true potential.

And so it was upon the eve of the saint’s feast, the 5th of December, 1877 that I took to the humble Kabacki Forest near Warsaw Poland in the Russian Partition. It was there that dwelt a poor family of seven who were much in need of my services.  All of the children were quite obedient, save for one; the youngest. She was called Mania (as in maniac) though her true given name was Marie.

Mania had a fine but scattered mind when she first came under my switch. Yes, yes, I took a birch stick to them!  What of it? Spare the rod, spoil the child. Have you not read your Good Book?

krampus-pd

Seldom do folk take the time to consider the anguish I felt!  For what sane being would take pleasure in the injuring of a child? Still. They needed it.

 

MANIA:   I first encountered Krampus in the forest of Kabacki on the eve of the Feast of Saint Nicholas.  I was but ten years old and my mother had sent me, along with my sister Zosia and my brother Joseph to fetch kindle wood for the fire.

The night was black, the waxing moon only a yellow arch in the sky. A deep snow had just fallen and my boots crunched on the path. When we came upon a small tree suitable for chopping Joseph took his ax while Zosia and I tied its base. It was there in the shadows I first saw him; a man with a goat’s legs, hooves and a long thudding tail that swished back and forth.  From his head sprouted two twisted horns. I was a child of great imagination, and so, in all honesty, such a being seemed entirely credible to me. My brother and sister, however, were not so open minded.  Joseph stopped his ax in mid air, frozen in a mixture of fear and disbelief.

Krampus approached slowly, stealthily. Had the adults been with us, I suppose their first instinct would have been to kill him, for all manner of dangerous beasts are known to lurk in the forest. But he was no ordinary beast.

“Lay down your ax, boy. I mean no harm,” Krampus said in a voice that was husky but not  unkind. “It is your sister that interests me most.”

Zosia shuddered as the goat man approached closer.  She put her hands over her eyes and began to weep.  The sight of him, I’ll admit, was quite gruesome, for his body was hairy and he stood a good eight feet tall. As for myself, I was intrigued. I had always been a curious child, and somehow, in my heart of hearts, I was certain that the world I lived in,  as it had been presented to me, was not whole.  Therefore, I was delighted when Krampus turned to Zosia and spoke again. “Not you, precious girl,” he reassured her. “It is Mania I must address on this night.” He then placed a furry hand upon my shoulder. “Come with me,” he ordered.

I followed him through the woods, all the while keeping my eyes upon his twitching tail. In his hand he carried a birch stick, and I knew what was coming. I had been a bad girl.  A defiant, disobedient child. I spent far too much time with my nose in books and I often neglected my chores. Why, just that very night my mother had to pry me away from my science books in order to get me to chop the wood!  I was lazy and hopeless, never doing my part to help the family. Now I would pay for my despicable behavior!

Krampus lead me to the edge of a babbling brook, one that had not yet frozen over in December’s cold. The water churned, silver blue and fast moving.

 

brooke-at-night

The goat man stood at the bank gripping his birch stick. “Bend over, Mania ,” he commanded.

I stood close to him, determined I would not show fear or vulnerability. I would TAKE my punishment. I’d take it like a woman! I closed my eyes, turned my back to him, bent over and braced  for my beating.

I waited.

A full minute passed. Then another.

Impatient as I was, I turned around, squinted at Krampus through my half closed eyes. He stood tall and straight, his body black against the already black night. He grinned and his white teeth gleamed in the darkness. He then began to laugh a hearty chuckle that rang through the forest.

I keeled around and stomped my foot in the snow. “What is the meaning of this?” I demanded. “Are you not to beat me? You, the great and powerful Krampus who punishes all bad children? Am I not a bad child? What delays you?”

It is an odd thing.  Sometimes one can be so ready and accustomed to defeat that when the defeat does NOT come we are angry, taken aback.

Krampus dropped his switch to the ground. “Mania ,” he said, “you have no need for this switch. You have proven yourself curious and dedicated enough to follow me to this brook. I shall not injure you, but I will show you something marvelous, something sacred.”

It was then that the goat man reached his hairy hand to the stream. He retrieved a cupful  of water which he poured into a glass jar. He held it to the sky, tiny ripples reflecting the sparse moonlight.

“In this water,” he stated, “you will see your future.”

I stared in the glass. The water separated into balls and spheres, swirling, vibrating particles of light and color. They spun round and round, droplets jumping, some emitting light as bright as flickering candles.

 

broken-light-pd

“What is it?” I asked, but Krampus only smiled.

He then shook the jar again and this time I saw a picture. The jar became  a snow globe and inside was a domed building. Snow swirled over its high spire and arched windows. In a nearby courtyard men in cloaks passed, clutching books, engaged in conversation. It was, to be sure, a place of learning. But why present this to me?

“Sorbonne,” Krampus said. “The University of Paris. You  will study there, if you are disciplined enough.”

The Sorbonne? But it was beyond my wildest dreams!

Krampus shook the jar again. This time inside the glass there appeared a collection of gold letters. They floated, surfaced and formed a strange name which made no sense to me: Polonium.

“What is the meaning of this?” I asked, but Krampus only grinned and poured the water back into the brook.

“Polonium,” he said finally. “Named for your native Poland, which will never be far from your heart.”

Silly words!  Of COURSE Poland would always be close to my heart.  Though our region was now occupied by Mother Russia with her Cossacks and soldiers, we, the Skłodowska family, were Polish nationals and would always be so.

Krampus was a frustrating and nonsensical old goat!

“Go back now Mania,” he ordered. “Your siblings await you. Remember, keep steadfast to your studies. This world will be unkind to you, and your life will not be easy, for you are a female competing in the scientific realm of men. However, you must never let this deter you!”

With that he kissed my forehead, chucked my chin and waved a hand to motion me away.  He then jumped into the brook. He bobbed up and down, grinning the whole time, before he began to sink.  I watched as his twisted horns vanished beneath the water.

I ran back through the forest to where a dumbfounded Zosia and suspicious Joseph awaited me at the standing tree.  I never told them what had transpired.

KRAMPUS:  Mania Skłodowska was perhaps my best prodigy. She did indeed go on to study at the Sorbonne and even became the first ever female professor at the University of Paris.  Her chemical research led to the discovery of – yes, you guessed it — polonium. Her revelations in radioactivity shook the very foundations of physics itself. She was the first woman to ever win a Nobel Prize, though she gave away the money she acquired from it. Even Mr. Einstein himself said of her,  “She was a person who could not be corrupted by fame.”

Needless to say, I was most proud of my Mania.  And to think I never even once used my switch upon her!

She married a man named Curie and was ever known to the world as Marie.

 

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** This story was inspired by my friend Vicky.  Check out her post Scary Xmas for more about Krampus and an EXCELLENT Krampus Night recipe!

 

 

 

 

 

Jack the Ripper

 

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Jack: They called it murder but I called it art.

I lurked in the shadows, waiting  for the perfect moment to pounce.  The bevy of beautiful women I selected as specimens were perhaps unsuspecting of my talents.  The good people of London were unsuspecting as well. Yet as that month of September, 1888 passed, after I had skillfully managed to dissect and disembowel four women, leaving their remains to decorate Whitechapel  like human canvasses, it occurred to me; the locals now had great expectations of my work.  I had become a skilled artist in the medium of human flesh.

Why did I do it? Ah, I am quite sure the gentlemen at Scotland Yard would love to know the answer to that. Why indeed? I did it with purpose!  It was sublime and beautiful, this sight of torn flesh.  The rushing scarlet that trickled from their necks as I first pricked my knife. The red river that flowed across their clavicles.  Once the blood began to pour I was insatiable in my creation.  Like a painter’s brush I wielded my dagger, deeper and deeper until I hit solid bone. I could not stop till I’d sliced their torsos clean open.

 

 

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