Happy Halloween to All. Had hoped to share my decorations but it was too dark to get a good pic. So please make do with this cool vintage Halloween card. In November while I try to write 50,000 in one month as part of NaNoWriMo, I’ve scheduled a salute to Americana with Thanksgiving through the ages, a few vintage Thanksgiving cards centuries-old recipes as well as some of my southern coastal favorites, and antique tools and equipment from my packrat family. Rita Bay
Tag Archives: goosebumps
Goosebumps Author is Lynn Rae writes contemporary romance. She’s published with Musa and Sweet Cravings Publishers. Her paranormal story was a workplace incident.
Let’s Not Play Hangman
The following is a true story.
I used to work as a museum director in a medium sized town in Ohio. My work took place in a historic house with an addition we used for exhibits. The place was under constant renovation and the sound of saws and hammers and a fine coating of sawdust and sanded plaster were everywhere, so whenever someone invited me to go out and visit another site, I was happy to leave the building for a few hours.
On this day, I was lucky enough to get a behind-the scenes tour of a nearby castle. Yep, that’s right, a stone castle with a tower and tapestries right in the middle of the Midwest. The director was leading us around and since we were all in the public history field, we spent much of the tour bemoaning how difficult it is to care for old properties with limited funds. We were in an upstairs corridor not included in the public tour and the director stopped at a heavy wooden door.
“We don’t go in here much, it’s full of stuff,” he explained as he laid his hand on the knob. Every museum has such rooms; a catch-all for the bulky items that don’t fit with the period of the house. I wanted to see it to compare to the ones I had back at my museum; if it was really messy, I wouldn’t have to feel too bad about my disaster zones. Then again, if it was wonderfully organized on gleaming metal shelves, I would shrink with shame.
He opened the door and we entered the long, high ceilinged room illuminated by numerous windows. There was a lot of furniture, a lot of boxes filled with mysterious items, but before I could really take a look, my throat closed off. Completely tight and painfully obstructed. I tried to swallow and coughed harshly. Once I started to cough, I couldn’t stop and it wasn’t the sort of cough that would clear out an obstruction. It was a weak hacking that didn’t alleviate my distress. I finally waved my hand and stepped back out of the room into the hallway so my choking and gagging sounds wouldn’t disturb anyone else on the tour. Within seconds, the constriction was gone and I was breathing easier.
Soon enough, everyone emerged from the room because once you’ve seen one sprung horsehair sofa, you’ve seen them all. I assured everyone I was fine even though I was very confused at why I’d had such a reaction.
“Are you allergic to dust?” The house director asked and I told him no. I’d worked in museums for years and you don’t hold those sorts of jobs if you have any sensitivity to grime. I explained it was like someone sudden grabbed my throat and I’d never experienced such a sensation before. He went pale and closed the door to the room with a firm click.
“I probably shouldn’t say this, but years ago, someone hung himself in that room.”
Here’s the funny thing; as soon as he told me that I felt completely fine. Everyone else on the tour gaped and expressed horror, but I was happy there was a paranormal explanation. I love working in museums, so if I’d sudden developed an allergy to dust, I’d have had to find a new line of work. Ghosts I can deal with.
Copyright 2013 © by Lynn Rae Used with permission.
James Winchester is content with his predictable small town life. He lives alone, helps out at his family farm, and doesn’t miss an ice cream social. His life is so neat and ordered he could use one of his accounting spreadsheets to chart his upcoming years.
Evelyn Prentiss’s world is in chaos. She’s returned to her home town twenty years after leaving and the transition isn’t as smooth as she’d anticipated. Her home needs renovated, her parents are once again too hands-on, and she only has the summer months to settle in before she starts her new teaching job.
In an effort to be a good neighbor, James finds himself stopping by Evelyn’s house more and more to help with her endless to-do list. When a mystery from their past resurfaces and opens old wounds, the two find comfort in each other. And so much more.
Allison Knight is an award-winning author of historical, medieval, contemporary, and gothic romance. She is published with Champagne Book Group, Wings e-Press, and Red Rose Publishing. Her ghost story teases the imagination and makes the reader wonder if the paranormal guests live with us.
When we decide to retire away from the snowy north and move to the warm south, we found a beautiful home, acreage, a kitchen to die for, the perfect house. The neighbors came to introduce themselves even before we moved in. However, in our discussion with them we learned the original builder, (not the people we bought the house from,) built the home for his wife. We were told she planned the entire house, down to every detail. She even selected the property, because she and our new neighbors were not only friends but could ride their horses together on the acreage.
It was only later when we found out that just before the house was completed, she was out riding one day. Her horse must have stepped in a hole, because he fell on her. She was alive. They rushed her to the local hospital, but the damage was bad. She was going to be in wheel chair for the rest of her life. Because her house wasn’t quite finished they made some changes, widening doorways, etc., but her husband discovered he couldn’t care for her in the house. He sold the place and moved to Florida, where, I understood from the neighbors, she passed away a short time later.
After we got settled, we installed a security system. We were out in the country and the neighbors weren’t that close. Two of our children had moved south and were about forty five minutes away from us, so we thought it was a perfect arrangement. They were close enough to handle any problems if there were any problems with the house.
We retired planning to travel, made our plans, and took off. After all, there were places to go and things to see.
We had been away for about three days when our son called to tell us the police called him. Our security system had gone off. The neighbors hadn’t seen anything and when our son got to the house, everything was fine. A fluke everyone decided. We came home and it was as our son said. Nothing was disturbed.
On our next trip we were gone two days, but the same thing happened. We called the security people. They checked the system. Everything was okay. We took off again, but once more, two days out, our son called again. It is happened again the police said they would have to charge for unnecessary trips. Obviously something weird was going on.
I had always wanted to see Alaska and we already had our reservations. But how could we leave? Because of the problems with the security system, my daughter, her husband, and two children volunteered to come to the house and stay. They arrived and we left.
When we came home, we discovered the alarm had not gone off once, however, while the kids were in the house, kitchen cabinet doors opened, while the four of them were at the table eating supper the doors to the rooms slammed shut although there were no windows open. On the third night, my daughter and her husband were awakened in the middle of the night when someone jumped on the bed in which they slept. However, both of their daughters were asleep in the guest room.
The next morning they turned off the alarm and went to their own home. They had been in our house for four days and we weren’t coming home for another six. Afraid to ruin our trip, they didn’t call us.
However when we got home, my husband and I wondered if they were exaggerating, but two adults and two children? After we talked to our neighbors, the only explanation that made sense was the woman who designed the house, I’ll call her Nellie, never got to enjoy the place so she wasn’t about to leave. She obviously knew I loved the house but she didn’t appreciate our kids. Or maybe it was because we were gone again.
We had no more trips planned for a time, yet one day we were both in our office working when the smoke detector in the entrance hall went off. Neither of us smoke, I had nothing on the stove, and after my husband checked all the wiring and found nothing wrong, we decided Nellie wanted company.
We had the security system disconnected and planned to live with a ghost. Shortly after that, our daughter and her family moved further south to the Gulf area. We visited, fell in love with the area, put the house up for sale and moved once more. And no, we didn’t tell the new buyers about Nellie. I can’t help but wonder if Nellie liked them, but I’m not going to ask.
Copyright © 2013 by Allison Knight. Used with permission.
Betrayed Bride is a Contemporary Romance from Champagne Books. According to the author, “This is what happens when an author gets stuck in the hospital for a time. I tried to use my impressions and figure out a story to go with them.”
BLURB: In the hospital they keep calling her Sam and telling her she’s married to Alex Porter but she doesn’t know this Alex. Then she discovers she’s lost more than a year of her life and Alex can’t, or won’t, tell her what happened. He refuses to let her see or talk to her father and there is also something very important about Samantha, she can’t remember.
Alex Porter can’t explain how Sam was either pushed or jumped from a moving car traveling away from him, or why Sam’s memory disappeared but he’s sure her father played a role. All he can do is offer support as she recovers and wait for her to come to him as she had before the accident, hoping against hope, Sam’s father has not ruined his marriage and driven away the woman he is starting to love.
Guest author Chris Fenge who writes Young Adult and Fantasy is published with BURST from Champagne Book Group. Chris has a truly unique bio on her beautifully done website—well worth a visit. Her story is a two-fer. Her husband wrote his version (address below).
What follows is a true story, and because it’s true it lacks Hollywood-style sensationalism. Indeed, the events were commonplace enough: two phone calls, a feeling, a coincidence of timing. Nothing more than that perhaps – a mere coincidence?
But I was there. I know the people involved. I remember the look on his face. And even to this day, years later, I feel a tingling terror that the world may not be as I believe it; that there are possibilities beyond the ordinary we both glimpsed that day.
This is what happened: the phone rang.
It was the nursing home… again. My husband’s mother was ill… again. Would we go over?
Me: “We should go. She’s 94 years old. They say it’s serious.”
Him: “They’re just covering themselves; they have to say that to relatives just in case. But she’s a tough old bird; she’ll rally. She always does.” He looked at his watch. “Our boy gets home soon. Let’s all go together when he arrives. It’ll cheer Mum up to see her grandson. She’s always had a soft spot for him.”
My husband wandered off humming a Bee Gees tune, tunelessly, in that random fashion he has when all is well with the world and nothing much bothers him. I turned back to the mess I’d created on the dining room table, a chaos of pens, elastic bands and general junk. The bureau had become impossible and I was on one of my rare cleaning sprees, getting some satisfaction from creating pockets of order. I picked up yet another black biro. Where do they all come from? They must be breeding in that bureau. Attempting to scribble with it on a scrap of paper, I was vaguely aware of my husband’s footsteps creaking their way upstairs, with the repetitive chorus of Staying Alive dwindling out of earshot. The scrap of paper ripped, and I tossed the dead pen in the bin to join its fellows before picking up another.
A door overhead slammed. There were running footsteps, and then a tremendous pounding down the stairs. My husband appeared in the room, his face stricken and drained, his eyes pure panic. He couldn’t seem to breathe and was clutching his chest. “We have to go,” he gasped. And then he pinned me with those panicked eyes and yelled: “NOW! She’s afraid. She wants me with her. We have to go… NOW!”
He rushed out leaving me dazed. This wasn’t like him at all. Something very odd was happening, so odd I knew instinctively not to argue, not even to speak. I dropped the dead pen and dashed after him, grabbing my coat as I reached the front door.
He was already at the car when it happened: the phone rang.
It stopped us in our tracks and he turned to look at me. And with that eye-contact, complete comprehension passed between us, for we both knew it was the nursing home again and that our Mum had just died. And we also knew, with gut-wrenching certainty, that in those dying moments of life she had reached out, somehow, to connect with her son.
That’s all that happened. Not much, really, when you think about it: two phone calls, a feeling, a coincidence of timing. It can’t be anything else. I can’t allow it to be anything else or my whole world collapses, and in march the ghosts and ghouls and other such rubbish that properly belong in story books.
But even today, years later, I feel a tingling terror that the world may not be as I believe it.
(Copyright © 2013 Chris Fenge. Used with Permission)
P.S. My husband has his own take on what happened, which he believes was an example of “Family ESP.” And he adds: “It wasn’t the only instance on that day.”
If you want to read his version, click on: dimensionsbeyond.typepad.com/ for ‘Matters of Life and Death: 5.’
‘THE SALAMANDER STONE”
Note: ‘The Salamander Stone’ features a demon (see Extract below). And, since I can’t create characters unless I’ve actually met them (or aspects of them), it follows that I’ve met this demon. The sceptic in me believes it was a dream. Let’s hope so. If this demon exists in reality somewhere, I want out!
BLURB: Amber uncovers a conspiracy so earth-shattering it threatens the human race. She goes on the run and everyone is after her—some for her power; some to make her their saviour; others out of twisted love or simple lust. But her necklace, the Salamander Stone, attracts more than earthly evil. A demon is after her too, and what it wants is unspeakable.
EXCERPT: In this excerpt, Amber’s enemy, Meshak, enters the demon’s lair and allows it to sucker onto his soul:
That weird cry came again, much closer now, cutting through the thick air – a high thin wail thrown far into the darkness and returning as a series of diminishing mocking echoes. Like a baby, thought Meshak, though no baby ever cried like that; no human ever cried like that.
He stood up shakily on the sandy path, straining to see, trying to make sense of this alien world. Below him, on the trail he’d just crawled, another thing was crawling. He sensed it as a furry black shadow shifting and sliding, sucking its way towards him. It cried again as it slithered closer.
Meshak knelt in the sand on the pathway, and the thing, the black shadow, stopped crying and snuffled up close, filling the air with its rotting reek. It slithered behind him and he waited. After a moment he felt a soft suction as it burrowed under his clothes and battened greasily onto his back, inching its way up his body until it reached his left shoulder. Its voice hissed, insistent, as it whispered in his ear, filling his mind and blocking out all other thought.
Meshak stood up, his body giving little shivers of excitement like greeting an old friend. A long slow smile split his face in half; an evil gleam glinted in his eye. He moved down the path and back into his own world.
And the shadow on his shoulder went with him.
Buy Link: THE SALAMANDER STONE
Visit Chris Fenge: WEBPAGE
Author Eliot Baker contributes a rolling-on-the-floor-laughing-thank-God-that’s-not-me story to Goosebumps today. Eliot writes historical mysteries and supernatural suspense The Last Ancient is his December release for Champagne Books’ Burst imprint. Eliot worked for two years as a reporter on the island of Nantucket, where the book primarily takes place. After moving to Finland, he found himself longing for the Grey Lady. A story emerged incorporating the elements of his life and work there as an environmental and general reporter, along with his interests in Greek mythology, coinage & history, alchemy & philosophy, science & psychology, peak oil & conspiracy, and the meaning of love & relationships. Check out “Snoring at Monsters” and a blurb from The Last Ancient.
“Snoring at Monsters”
Jimmy was snoring—he just wouldn’t stop. Every time he’d snort and shift his football player’s bulk, the thing outside in the Yellowstone darkness would harrumph and stomp, shaking the ground and loosening my bladder. It belched primal, savage snorts that rumbled in my guts.
I smacked my buddy and whispered, Jimmy! Jimmy, shut up! Stop snoring! There’s something out there. Half awake, his eyes went wide, and he said, “Whatever that is, it is big.” Then he conked out. I should mention we had an empty bottle of tequila outside on our camping table beside our scraps of dinner. Having driven from Seattle, we’d celebrated the first night of our last epic college road trip together.
Jimmy shifted into his chainsaw snore. The monster circled us, depressed my side of the tent with its gigantic snout, snorted hot, foul breath at me, and pawed the ground as if to charge or to devour. It was either telling us to shut up and let it sleep, or come out and let it eat. I shook Jimmy awake again. He looked at the monster’s head pressed against the tent. “Whatever it is, it probably would have eaten us already if it wanted to,” he said sagely. “Just go to sleep.” Worriers and warriors, indeed.
Six hours like this. Time bled by like hourglass sands before an execution. Each second involved me shivering, Jimmy snoring, and the thing outside harrumphing and pawing the ground—HRUMM! Pppphhh. STOMP STOMP. Unable to dream, I imagined heroically bolting from the tent to my SUV, knowing I would not. Even if I made it, Jimmy would be left for chum for an angry bear, yeti, sasquatch, wendigo, bigfoot, landshark, James P. Sullivan, or whatever this monster was, hot-blooded after a failed pursuit. Worse, Jimmy might have had to actually wake up, and if he blamed an untimely rousing on me there was no telling what violence would ensue.
Finally, the sky beyond the tent brightened, shining rays of hope onto those primal knowledge centers we humans continue to carry to remind us: Monsters are shy of sunlight. The thing raised itself on all fours. Stomped its mightiest of stomps. Let out its mightiest harrumph. Pushed against the tent with a big, broad part of its body. Unloaded a whizz-banging eruption, followed by an avalanche of plopping sounds, like wet stones thudding onto the grass. The monster was pooping on us. A long, dramatic, heavy, decisive monster poop. The monster plodded away, snorting and grumbling. Then silence. I began laughing giddily, terror overwhelmed by a five-year-old’s sense of hilarity. Meanwhile, Jimmy snored on.
I poked my head out of the tent. I just had to see our grizzly bear roommate. A large buck stood a few yards away, staring at me nonchalantly. No, no way, that couldn’t have been the monster. I swiveled my head towards the valley behind us, surveying the tall grasses swaying in the pink dawn sunlight, ensconced by majestic peaks and diminishing stars and the silver moon glimmering over Yellowstone.
Buffalo. Dozens of them, sleeping. Except one–a mutant mega-buffalo, if memory serves—stood like an angry living boulder twenty yards away. It stared at me icily while the rest of the herd still snoozed, nestled into their grassy beds. I surveyed our tent grounds. Sure enough, there was a buffalo-sized patch of dirt pawed into the grass right by where we’d raised our tent. Squatters, we were. We’d slept in a buffalo’s bedroom. And Jimmy was still sleeping, his snores roaring over the valley like a challenge to all creatures who would stand between him and his pillow.
I laughed even harder then, maniacally perhaps, until Jimmy stumbled from the tent, confirmed the monster’s identity, and said, “Told you to just go to sleep. Wuss.”
The Last Ancient
He knows he should write the story. Maybe even kill the mythological creature hunting on Nantucket. A mysterious French alchemist and his best friend, a charming Greek hit man, tell him billions of dollars and lives are at stake if he doesn’t– not to mention the story of the century. Trouble is, he’s falling in love with it. And She doesn’t want him to write the story. She wants something else. Something only he can give.
While following a trail of ancient coins left at animal mutilations and murder scenes, Pulitzer-nominated reporter, Simon Stephenson is forced to piece together a diabolical conspiracy – and confront his family’s darkest secrets. Meanwhile, his tennis-champion fiancé is going Defcon One bridezilla, and a gorgeous TV reporter has her own intentions. Battling panic attacks and pursued by a host of nasty characters – from deadly alchemists and virulent beasts, to a sleazy rival reporter and a corrupt Sherriff – Simon faces a world where no one is what they seem. Especially not himself.
When the Romans invaded Britain in 55 BCE, they brought with them the Roman festival of Pomona, the goddess of orchards and gardens. She was portrayed as a beautiful maiden carrying fruit and nuts or a cornucopia and crowned with apples. Her harvest festival merged with the Celtic festival of Samhain (summer’s end) and the later Christian feasts of All Soul’s Day and All Saint’s Day and celebrated as Halloween. A 17th century Christian description turns Pomona into an “Angel” who presided over the harvest of fruit and nuts. This description of Pomona is reflected in the art of the period.
The origins of the Halloween celebrations stem from several pagan traditions. The Celts believed that during Samhain spirits of the dead walked among the living. The living wore ghoulish costumes to keep away the unwanted spirits. Earliest stories had Druids in costume leading parades to keep the spirits away from the villages. The apples associated the celebration of Pomona’s festival were the origins of “bobbing” for apples where the first unmarried man or woman to bite the apple would be the next to marry and also the tradition of young women peeling an apple and tossing the peel over their shoulders to see the name of their future husband written in the peel.
An ancient drink was associated with Pomona’s festival and the Celtic pagan celebration of la mas ubal, the day of the apple fruit. The word was pronounced “lamasool,” but was later corrupted to Lambs’ Wool. The drink was a frothy mixture of warmed spiced and sweetened ale and roasted apples. The drink later became associated with Wassail and the Twelfth Night of Christmas, but its pagan origins are evident in the descriptions of Wassailing.
Even though it’s January, wassailers with their lambswool in hand paraded into the orchards with lighted torches beating posts and pans with wooden spoons. They beat the trunks of the trees and splashed the trunks of the apple trees with lambswool to drive off the spirits of the old year and bless the area. The wassail chants for the apple trees were:
“Here stands a good apple tree, stand fast root,
Every little twig bear an apple big,
Hats full, caps full, and three score sacks full,
Hip! Hip! Hurrah!”
So what is this “Lambs’ wool” drink with pagan origins in Halloween that ended up as a Christmas tradition? Descriptions of its preparation are pretty standard across the centuries, though later recipes allowed the substitution of cider for ale and sugar replaced honey which was used as an early sweetener. Robert Herrick in 1648 wrote a poem about Lambs’ wool:
Next crown a bowl full
With gentle lamb’s wool:
Add sugar, nutmeg, and ginger,
With store of ale too;
And thus ye must do
To make the wassail a swinger.
One rather nebulous recipe from the 19th century read: “To one quart of strong hot ale add the pulp of six roasted apples, together with a small quantity of grated nutmeg and ginger, with a sufficient quantity of raw sugar to sweeten it; stir the mixture assiduously, and let it be served hot.”
Here’s a recipe that I converted from English measures that worked well:
6 C (1500 ml) traditional ale
6 small cooking apples, cored
2 1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
2/3 C brown sugar
Preheat the oven 250 F. Fully Core six apples and place 2″ apart on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake until very soft, about an hour. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Discard peel and mash apple to a smooth puree (no lumps) while warm. Set aside.
Add sugar to large pot and cover with ale. Heat to dissolve. Add ginger and nutmeg. Stir. While keeping the pan on a gentle simmer, slowly add in the rest of the ale. Heat for 10 minutes.
Add apple mixture to the ale, mixing it with a whisk. Heat for 30 minutes. Whisk again for a couple of minutes (or use a stick blender) to form a froth. Pour into bowl or heat-resistant mug and serve hot.
How did it taste? Rather bitter, but spicy. Ale-lovers would have a real treat, though. It was also labor intensive and not quite as foamy as I imagined. The pic is not of mine. Like I said, not enough foam.
Tomorrow, A Vintage Halloween Card