Category Archives: ghost stories

Dark Thinking

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On a quiet back street in Toonerville there is a haunted house.  Obviously four meddling kids and their talking dog are looking around inside, but they won’t find anything.  It is my dark place.  I am the only one that can go inside and discover what truly is there, for the dark things inside are all a part of the dark side of Mickey.

But Mickey doesn’t have a dark side, you try and argue.  Micky is all goofy giggles and nerdy Dungeons and Dragons jokes.  Mickey is all cartoons and silly stories and he makes us all guffaw.

But I can assure you, everyone has a dark side.  Without darkness, how can anyone recognize the light?

So, I have to go inside the old Ghost House every now and then and take stock of all the furniture, and make note of everyone… and every thing that has been living there.  I go in there now because I am starting to rewrite a very dark story that I really have to get down on paper in novel form.  It isn’t a true story.  Ghost stories never are.  But it is full of true things… old hurts, old fears, panics, and ghosts of Christmases Past.

There was the night I was stalked by a large black dog when I was nine and walking home from choir practice at the Methodist Church.  We are talking Hound of the Baskervilles sort of big damn dog.  I knew every dog that lived in town in those days, but I didn’t know that one. Maybe it wasn’t actually hunting me, but I ran the last two blocks to my house that night faster than I ever knew I could run before.

There was that cool autumn afternoon when he grabbed me and pushed me down behind a pile of tractor tires in the neighbor’s yard.  He forcibly got my pants down… and what he did to me… It has taken more than forty years to be able to talk about what happened.  I wasn’t able to talk about it until after I learned that he had died.

There were the nights spent in the emergency room.  Severe potassium depletion… chest pains that could’ve been heart trouble but weren’t… The morning when my blood pressure was so high I thought I was going to die in front of my second period seventh grade English class.  And the terrible waits in the emergency room when someone I loved was serious about suicide… that was the most terrible of all.

I am not frightened by the grim reaper in the same way that Shaggy and Scooby are.  I have spent time in his company too many times for that.  I do not fear him.  In some ways he brings welcome relief.  And I do believe I can beat him in chess and at least tie him in checkers.

So, yeah, the dark resources are all still there… still in place at the bottom of a deep, dark well. Bad things do wait in the future… but they are in the present and the past also.  I am not a slave to fear and evil has no power over me.  So, I think I can safely write a horror story.  And I admit I am not Steven King.  But I don’t want to be him.  I want to be Mickey.  And that is certainly scary enough for me.

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, Depression, feeling sorry for myself, ghost stories, horror writing, humor, novel plans, photo paffoonies

Penny Dreadful (Thoughts from the Uncritical Critic)

 

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I confess to binge-watching the show Penny Dreadful, all three seasons on Netflix.   Good God!  What was I thinking?  It is everything that I cringe about in movies.  Blood and gore.  Gratuitous sex and debauchery.  I almost gave up and stopped watching when the Creature came bursting through the chest of Dr. Frankenstein’s latest creation.  And yet for a monster to be introduced to the series in such a way, and then to become the one character that strives hardest for redemption… I was hooked.

Sin and redemption is the major theme of the whole series.  And each character strives so painfully for redemption that you cannot help but love them… even though they are monsters.

You see, I, like all other people, am aware that one day, sooner than I would like, I will die and live no more.  And life, though filled with heartache and suffering and regret, is a priceless treasure to be guarded for as long as I can hold onto it.  There is poetry in that condition.  The greatest beauty that can be beheld is soon to pass away into ugliness.  The candle flame lights the darkness briefly and then is gone.

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The story is built from Victorian era literature and includes Mary Shelly’s Dr. Victor Frankenstein, Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a couple of werewolves, numerous witches, demons, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll, and a character named Lord Malcom Murray who is obviously based on the African explorer Allan Quartermain from King Solomon’s Mines by H.Rider Haggard.

The characters all do a lot of suffering and striving.  Friendships are formed and made blood-and-family deep by shared adventures and brushes with pure evil and death.  The main character, Vanessa Ives, is variously possessed by a demon, courted by Lucifer, hunted by witches, and then seduced by Dracula.  She uses her deep faith in God, which wavers continually, to defeat every enemy but the last.  She is also aided by a cowboy werewolf and sharp-shooter who is her destined lover, protector, and killer.  It all swiftly becomes ridiculous-sounding when you try to summarize the convoluted Gothic-style plot.  But as it slowly unfolds and reveals new terrors with every episode, it mesmerizes.  The sets, the cinematography, the costumes, and the horrifyingly sweet-sad orchestral background music puts a spell on you that, when you awaken from it, you realize you want more than is available.  Three seasons was simply not enough.

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As I believe I indicated previously, the character that almost made me give up on the series, Frankenstein’s Creature, became the most compelling character of all to me.  He began as such a violent, repellent, selfish thing… and in the end became the most self-sacrificing and tragic character in the entire drama.  He took the name of the English poet John Clare for himself, and became a tragically beautiful person.

Do I recommend that you watch this thing?  This poetic and sometimes deeply disturbing depiction of what it means to be human and be alive?  I cannot.  It was a moving personal experience for me, one that made me weep for beauty and horror at almost every episode.  No one can find that sort of thing through a mere recommendation.  It is entirely between you and your God.

 

 

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Filed under ghost stories, horror movie, humor, insight, monsters, movie review, review of television

The Story Continues…

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I find myself caught up in the story once again.  Netflix put a new monster-movie series out there with eight episodes starring a Dungeons & Dragons-playing group of middle school kids, a psychically powerful girl-experiment named Eleven, an assortment of dysfunctional adults, star-crossed teen romantics to use as potential monster food, and a creepy mouth-headed monster from the “upside down” to eat them all.  How could I not binge-watch such a thing?

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This binge-watching addiction comes at a time when I have other things on my mind.  My aging parents are in poor health and have a critical doctor’s visit coming up this week.  Bank of America has decided to experiment on me to see what happens if they sue me for the total amount of my debt, plus court costs, plus additional fees for betraying them by going to Wells Fargo, plus additional additional fees just because they don’t like me and think I’m ugly.  I am awaiting a call from a potential lawyer-advocate to help me even as I am writing this.  I am also planning how to live without money until the total is payed off in garnished pension, seized property and bank accounts, and whatever other way they can squeeze more money out of me.  Some monsters are all mouth.   This of course comes after I completed a program of debt resolution and paid off all my other creditors.  When I called Bank of America, they didn’t seem to know what happened to the debt, so they did not participate in that.   Were they plotting evil, or just that stupid?  Such questions go into the making of a monster.  Perhaps a monster movie television series on Netflix was precisely what I needed.

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The only episode I haven’t watched yet is the last installment.  Potentially the monster gets its comeuppance.  That’s what the lawyer, a consumer rights attorney, promised me in his letter.  It also is what the kids in Stranger Things are promising as they prepare to enter the monster’s lair.

Why do I need to see the ending of the story so badly?  Because when we reach the end of our life course, the happy ending, in real life, does not overcome death and endings.  We live our time on Earth, reach the end, and then we are no more.  Only the story continues.  New lives and new adventures begin, only to proceed relentlessly to their ending.  Even when the human race’s story comes to end and there is no more life on Earth, the story continues.  You have to be caught up in that.  There is no other choice.  The things you dread stalk you and eventually catch you, and the happy ending is bound up in how you handle it along the way.

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Filed under angry rant, autobiography, commentary, ghost stories, horror movie, humor, monsters, review of television, science fiction

The Ghost Dog

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Before I begin this very confusing and confusticating tale, I need to start by stating clearly that I do not believe in ghosts.  I am firmly convinced that there is a rational scientific explanation for everything, and those things we may be tempted to see as a spirit living on after death of the body are really only misperceptions of other things… and wishful thinking.

In spite of all that, we have a ghost dog living in our house.

I know that contradicts everything I just said, but human beings are like that.  Practically everything about this life is shot full of contradictions and impossibilities.  So, let me lay out those contradictions as I encountered them.

This house we live in now was built in the 1970’s.  It was lived in by a middle-class white family.  A woman showed up here ten years ago wanting to look at the house because she grew up in it, and it had been sold when her parents died.  So this house is not young enough to be free of potential spirits of those who lived before.  But no tragic deaths, the kind that the lore says cause ghosts to walk, happened in this house.  Except for the possibility of a family pet hit by a car in this neighborhood.

The first time I saw it was when I got out of the bathtub one evening in early January.  As I opened the door to the bathroom, still not having my glasses on, I saw a dog sitting in the upstairs hallway, panting with its tongue hanging out.  Now, we do have a dog, but our dog, Jade, is a small yellow-and-white dog.  The dog I glimpsed out of the corner of my near-sighted, astigmatic eye with no corrective lens in front of it was a rather large chocolate brown dog.  I jumped a bit and looked directly at it.  It was no longer there with a speed that gave the lie to the notion that it was a real dog.  It had to be a trick of the eye and the goofy old brain.  Our mind is wired in a way that makes sense out of every visual stimulus-blob  in the best way that it can.  I must have misinterpreted some shadow or blob of color in a way that my brain instantly converted into a chocolate-brown Labrador-retriever sort of dog… with a goofy, open-mouthed dog-smile.

So, I didn’t really think anything more about it.  I investigate ghost stories and conspiracy theories all the time as a part of the kind of surrealist writing I like to do.  I always find those wedges of doubt that smugly allow me to dismiss the Don Knotts’ Mr. Chicken response.

Then, I saw it again.  I have to get up in the night to go to the bathroom at least three times every night.  About a week ago, I was making one of these necessary nocturnal treks when I happened to look down the staircase in passing.  I saw the tail end of a big chocolate-colored dog trotting past on the way towards the garage.  My heart leaped.  And then I reminded myself we have a dog and she lives on a very different schedule than we do.  I went to the bathroom, and then went down the stairs to investigate.  The family room door was shut and blocked with a clothes-hamper.  We have been trying to keep the dog out of the family room because she has a bad habit of trying to pee on the family room carpet in the middle of the night to mark her territory.  There are certain discolored spots on the rug that we have worked very hard to keep dry.  And I found our dog asleep on the foot of my son’s bed where she always sleeps.  Whatever I saw wasn’t her.  But again, I didn’t have my glasses on.  I began mulling over the possibility of this post at that point.

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Last night made this post a necessity.  While returning from my nocturnal pee-break after midnight, I distinctly heard a dog whimpering, coming from the landing of the stairs.  I stepped into the landing, and I still heard it.  If it was not a dream sound or a misinterpretation of my own stomach growling, then I was hearing an invisible dog whimpering.  It didn’t last for more than a minute.  Again, the dog herself was nowhere near the place.

Should I be scared?  Of course not.  Ghosts don’t exist, do they?  And even if this one does exist somehow, it was a beloved family pet, more likely to protect us than hurt us.  So I was able to get back to sleep easily.  But this post became absolutely necessary.  If you read in the newspapers that a family in Carrollton, Texas was eaten by wolves in the middle of the night some night… tell somebody about my unfounded suspicions.

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