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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Presence

Dora was the first to notice their presence. She heard the footsteps; slamming of doors. Then the voices. At first faint unintelligible whispers, later full sentences. They didn’t address her directly, she said; just random thoughts.  I was skeptical. But now that I look back, I knew it was inevitable. The house (our home) had been vacant for as long as I cared remember. It is a grand house, built at the turn of the nineteenth century; a beautiful home that has served Dora, our son Joseph and me, Henry, well.
     Dora was frightened by the imposition. I was troubled by the disturbance and the impact it could have on our family. Joseph wasn’t aware, at first, and I tried in vain to keep it that way. Once renovations started however, the instances increased. At first it came to us like candle light through a fog, flickering in and out of our reality. Most of the time it could be ignored, although it was becoming worrisome to Dora and her weak constitution.  The raps and bangs became louder and more frequent. Sometimes dragging noises could be heard through the living room. I once saw a figure in odd clothing in the kitchen, under the kitchen sink! After what seemed forever, the restorations were complete and the activity became much less frequent.
     It had by no means ceased. Somehow it seems that their universe is parallel to ours. I suppose the more comfortable they became with their surroundings, the more invasive their presence became; crossing or fading between realities. I can’t pretend to fathom the mysteries of the universe.  It was at this time that Joseph would complain of the “wailing sounds”. He found the wails most unbearable, and would seek solace in his mother, who having heard the sounds herself, was equally terrified. We had been fortunate, if you can call it that, that the disturbances that plagued us came mostly in the late afternoon and would subside by midnight, but this was no longer to be. That very next evening, I heard the same awful wail. It was a baby’s cry. It continued for hours. Sometimes receding momentarily, but never completely disappearing. It was a harrowing night for all.  It wouldn’t be the last.
     As time passed, the presence became quite unnerving and more intrusive. We could see them clearly now. No longer were they of another dimension, clouded in darkness. It was time to act. Dora and Joseph were quite shocked by my boldness, but I could no longer tolerate this invasion!
     I waited past midnight, and then I smothered the baby in its sleep. We three watched jealously as its soul passed over. The next morn I tripped the mother down the cellar stairs. She escaped limping and screaming out of our house and down the street. The man of the house never returned.

     Our home is vacant once again. With its new reputation, it should remain so for at least a few decades, if not the next half century. That’s the way we like it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

No Redemption

The clock has stopped
Let the mourners in, the silence
Broken by their muffled weeping
Attending to the dead

I prayed that there was some mistake
When I received the call
How easy it would’ve been
To end your life as well

You may pass this off as history
With your sour, perverted thoughts
Still as dust in the corners of memory
But history is fated to repeat

The caged bird dreams of the wind
Dream becoming nightmare
Once realization comes
The worms wait patiently
For their turn at retribution

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Spirit Box part 2

continued from 12-19-11

     The next evening the ritual repeated itself. Morris was waiting. Or at least he came through the Spirit Box once again. I asked a few more basic questions. I was amazed at the most mundane responses, responses that should not happen in any rational world. Morris was fifteen years old. No, he couldn’t see me. Could I see him? He knew what year it was. He knew who was president. The more mundane the question, the more aggravated he became. When aggravated he would end every answer with the word “ass”. When asked, “did you die when you were fifteen?” he answered “didn’t die, ass.” “Are you alive?” I followed up. “No, I’ve passed over… (static, click) … to here, ass.” Once the conversation went in this direction, I would say goodnight, sometimes followed by no response, sometimes followed by “don’t” or “sorry” or “tomorrow.”  It had occurred to me to record the sessions. I didn’t have a recording device to do so, and no real funds to invest in one. Soon I forgot about the notion of recording the responses; I was too enthralled by the phenomenon, I suppose. I continued these sessions for the next few days.

     Having spent too many early mornings conversing with Morris, I made the realization that I had been ignoring the few responsibilities I do have in this world. I put away the Spirit Box as not to be tempted, then took my first shower and shave in days, and got under way with my list of errands. Unchaining my three wheel bike (once mother’s), I went grocery shopping, paid the electric bill and made a trip to the Charlotte Home (“Gentle Assisted Living”) and visited with mother. Eighty seven years old and two hip surgeries later, no longer able to attend to herself, but as lucid as any of us, she was elated with my visit. I. however, feigned enthusiasm. We chatted about my youth, as usual, when I was still her sweet Joey, before I became a black mark on the family. A few arrests for distributing cocaine and a short prison stint after jumping bail will do that. I made my peace with myself by visiting with her once a week. Pathetic. I realize now that she shouldn’t have been there. It was my selfishness, I know that now, or I always knew it but didn’t care. I don’t expect your forgiveness, or even your understanding, David. I know what I’ve done. It can’t be undone. God, it can’t. I can only offer this explanation.

     After returning home with my meager purchases, I decided to use the box. “Decided” isn’t the right word; I was “obsessed” to use it, would be closer. Was it that I was a slave to my own addictive personality, or could it have been completely outside my control? Was I somehow influenced by the Spirit Box? A simple box of transistors and wires, sitting unplugged and dormant on the top shelf of my bedroom closet? I pray for the latter, if nothing more than to placate my guilt.

      I didn’t wait until “dead time”. I knew it didn’t matter. I discarded the prayer. I knew it didn’t matter, either. I just knew it. There was a certainty to it that I cannot describe. I didn’t cover the window, nor did I light a candle. I simply took down the crude instrument and plugged it in. Immediately after switching on the box (now the red knob was permanently switched to the right), Morris spoke. “Where… haveyoubeen?”

“Errands,” I responded.
      “Rude,” he said in a whisper.
      “I visited my mother.”
      “Your mum?” was the reply. “Your mum is close.” “Your mum is close to… us.” Close to us? Or maybe, closed to us? Why was Morris referring to us?
      “She is closed to us? You mean as in you and me?” I inquired, with confused trepidation.
      “No,” there came another faint whisper. Then, a different voice, a different spirit or entity or whatever it was, spoke clearly, “Mum is close to Morris and I.” I didn’t know how to reply. A high pitched squeal followed by dead silence shocked me from my trance. “Morris, are you there?” “I can’t,” was Morris’ response. “Why do you talk to me?” It was Morris’ voice, barely audible behind the hiss-tick and electronic fragments.
      “I don’t… really know,” was all I could think of saying back. Who was that other voice?
      “You don’t care” … (static, tick, static, tick) “you don’t care”… (static, tick, static, tick).
     “Care about what?” I implored.
     “Care about what they’re doing” (static, tick, static, tick) “to me,” was Morris’ final statement. I watched amazed and horrified as the toggle switch clicked to the off position by itself! The smell of ozone hung in the air. I sat stunned. I unplugged the box. Expecting the box to be hot from use, I was dismayed by the cold surface of the painted plastic as I placed it hastily back into the closet. It was cold, very cold.

     I slogged through the day, attempting to push the afternoons experience from my mind. I felt lethargic and confused. I warmed over what was left of the packaged lasagna that I had eaten the night before. I ate in front of the glowing TV set, tasting nothing, hearing nothing, seeing nothing, feeling nothing. I retired for the evening at , an hour earlier than usual. I didn’t set my alarm. I slept fitfully, unremembered nightmares sliding through my subconscious. I awoke at three in the morning, listened intently for disembodied voices, then slipped back into a troubled sleep.

     Waking in late morning, I showered and shaved. I ate breakfast. I followed my daily routine in hopes that the normalcy of it all would break my feelings of depression. I dressed, and decided to get some fresh air. I walked rather than taking the bike. My head wasn’t clear enough to deal with traffic. With no particular destination in mind, I ended up walking the three miles to the Charlotte Home. I realized that I had chain smoked all of the way, as I ground out my cigarette butt on the gravel drive. I hesitated before entering. What would mother think? Here unannounced, a day after my usual weekly visit? She would be happy to see me, of course. Wouldn’t she? I signed in and went down the pea green painted hallway; the lingering smells of antiseptic, floor cleaner and cafeteria food assaulting my nostrils. She lay in bed, staring out the window at the idle cars in the parking lot. A room with a view I thought. I couldn’t help but stand quietly as she stared, unaware of my presence. I was startled when she spoke softly, though urgently, seemingly to herself.

     “I won’t do it. You can’t. I’m safe here. Leave me alone!”

I retreated from the room, my heart pounding. My mind raced back to my last Spirit Box session. What was happening? I strode quickly back down the hallway, passing a resident nurse who had an expression of alarm on her face as our eyes met. I didn’t stop or look back until I was half a block up the street. As I caught my breath, I began to giggle uncontrollably. Get a grip, baby, I thought to myself. Go back. She was obviously talking in her sleep. What other explanation was there? But I couldn’t go back. Ashamed at my own fear, I started back home, at a very quick pace. What would the RN think? Would she mention this to mother? I caught myself, sickened by my callous selfishness. But not bothered enough to go back. Not bothered that much, not bothered enough. God forgive me.

     The brisk walk home had tired me. Fatigue set in from the nearly non-stop six mile trek. I took two aspirin, drank half of s bottled water and soon fell asleep on the couch. I awoke to a darkened room. Gazing confusedly at the glowing digital clock on the stove through the kitchen doorway, I came to the realization that I had slept through the afternoon and evening, and it was now three the following morning. As my head cleared, I could hear the familiar hiss-tick of the Spirit Box coming from the bedroom. Did I wake up sometime during the evening and plug that thing in? I couldn’t recall. I approached the darkened room. There, in the center of the bedroom floor, sat the box, its LED lights slithering back and forth. “Hiss-tick, hiss-tick”. The random words and syllables idiotically droning, snippets of melodies sliding together in hideous discord.  Then the voice. The voice I recognized; the voice that wasn’t Morris.
     “Hello, Joseph.” There was no way I was going to respond to that deep guttural voice. How did it know my name? I’d never mentioned my name, even to Morris.
     “Yes, I know your name,” it said in a sing song childish timbre.
     “Where is Morris?” I demanded, although rather weakly. (Static, tick, tick, tick), “…e’s being punished,” followed by laughter so demented that it made me feel faint.
   “Who are you?” no longer a demand from me, but a statement of disgust and confusion.
  “…go by many names… you will… some … know me well…” a sound of blatant indifference in its voice.
     “What do you want?” I screamed, startling myself with the absurdity of it all. (Static, tick, static, tick) “In todays… war is inev…” more radio transmissions…
     “It’s not what I want; it’s what you’ve brought…” the voice stronger now, “… your mother will know… she’ll know what you’ve brought…”

     With that, I snatched the cord from the box, pulling the plug from the wall so violently that the ground prong broke off in the outlet. The plug wire was so cold that my palm was frost bitten. I ran outside and practically threw myself onto the bicycle, pedaling with fierce abandon as I headed the long three miles to the Charlotte Home. Nearly overcome with fatigue, I pushed myself harder. Sliding into the gravel drive, I overturned the bike, driving sharp stones into my palms and elbows. I felt none of it. I ran to the side of the building that faced the main parking lot, there wasn’t any possibility of getting in through the main entrance. I took off my jacket and wrapped my hand in it, punching through the glass window to mother’s dark room. The security system alarm sounded. I crawled through the window, shards of glass on the sill piercing the flesh of my shin. I tried, David. I know this was all my fault, but I tried the best I could. She lay on the floor, a dull blue aura surrounding her frail body, and then to my horror I realized that I could not see her legs! Somehow, I know this sounds mad, somehow she was being drawn into the floor, or consumed by the earth below. Our eyes met as her body jerked another six inches lower, the fear in her eyes burning into mine. She pleaded with me to make them stop. I was totally helpless. I grabbed her wrists, but the pull was incredibly strong. Her gaze turned from fear to accusation, to a realization that I had brought this upon her. I pulled harder, so hard I felt her wrist snap. I gazed in sheer horror as her head was yanked from sight, a blue glow emanating from the surface of the floor where her head had been. I could hear her muffled cries, calling my name, screaming my name! In a last attempt to save her, I pulled so hard that her left arm separated from the floor. It now dangled freely in my grasp as I watched through tearing eyes as her right hand clawed at the air, then the linoleum floor, her nails digging into the yellowed waxed tiles, then disappearing into the depths below. The blue glow dissipated. I was once again in the physical world. My body convulsing, my mind overwhelmed from fear and remorse.

     The screech of the security system alarm was assailing my ears, and as I crawled out the window, I could hear the blare of approaching sirens. I stumbled into the neighboring forest with mother’s arm still in my hand. I ran through the brambles, ran for miles deep into the forest. I hid well. It was days before I was found, still clutching her arm, delirious and suffering from near hypothermia. Of course you know the rest. I was arrested and convicted of her murder. As you know, they’re still looking for her remains. They won’t find any.

      David, I did not murder our mother. I am at fault, but I did not murder her. I wish I had. It would make things so much easier. Please destroy the Spirit Box, if you haven’t already. It is very important that you destroy it. I don’t need the box anymore to hear the voices. They tell me about mother. And what they are doing to her.


Monday, December 19, 2011

The Spirit Box part 1

This is the first short story I wrote, circa 2009. Needs a re-write, but I still like it as it stands. Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, Poe and "Ghost Adventures." lol

Dear David,

     I’m writing this down as a record of events. I guess it’s my attempt to explain the last year. You can write this off as a selfish exercise to exempt myself from blame, and it might be. However, I also feel you deserve to know the truth as only I know it, being you’re my only sibling and closest kin. You have every right not to believe a word of this, but please give me the chance to explain.

     Where should I begin? As you know, I’ve always had an interest in the paranormal, although being more of a skeptic on the subject than a believer. The more I delved into things paranormal, the less convinced I became. It had become a fool’s game, however, to be drawn into the trappings of the peddlers of the occult. As you know, I had even delved into Satanism in my miss-spent youth, discarding the practice when it didn’t result in instant riches or power.

     Nevertheless, it had become quite the guilty pleasure to research every new angle that was presented by both hoaxster and “believer”; searching the library and web for the most ludicrous theories regarding the afterlife, sorcery, demonology, etc. It was after whiling away countless hours on the internet that I came across the “Spirit Box”.

     Bear with me and let me explain. The Spirit Box is an apparatus described to allow the dead to converse with the living. Incredibly, the box is based on the schematic drawings recently found hidden in a home once owned by none other than Thomas Edison. Yes, the Thomas Edison. Edison had discussed with colleagues the workings of such a device. However, after his death in 1938, no further mention of it was ever found in any of his papers. Until 2007, that is. The Spirit Box uses Edison’s basic principles, modified by using current radio frequency technology. I won’t go into technical detail, but the device allows spirits to manipulate the tonal qualities of the electronic transmissions to form words, which can be broadcast through a basic audio device. Sometimes muffled and garbled, the messages are short, usually no more than two to five words. Of course, none of this is accepted by the scientific community. Having piqued my interest, I searched diligently for further information. I came across an individual by the name of Fred Sampson who had video recordings of his sessions using the box. The conversations were chilling. Fred never expounded on his genius, or even defended the validity of his recordings; he merely presented them. I watched and listened to many a posted video of these supposed conversations with the dead with a mixture of excitement and skepticism. The more I listened to these tracks, the more intrigued I became.

      I finally decided to go beyond casual observer to experimenter. What did I have to lose? Having been laid off months before, living in what was once our mother’s house, free of rent, and receiving my unemployment check; I had nothing better to do to pass the hours of the day. I found a unit on an online auction site, lovingly constructed by a “believer” and follower of  Fred Sampson’s, from various radio components obtained from the local Radio Shack. I bid my fifty five dollars and became the proud owner of one Spirit Box. In four days, it was delivered to my door step.

     I set up the Spirit Box in my bedroom. A very simple device, a hard plastic box around eight inches square and six inches in depth, crudely spray painted black. There are very few controls; merely an on-off toggle switch, an adjustment for volume, and a red knob that is labeled “flux control”.  There are a series of LED lights that run across the top of the box, which fluctuate when the “flux control” knob is turned. A small two inch round exposed speaker in the lower center of the box completes the apparatus. There were no fasteners whatsoever. The box was sealed. There were no directions.

     I placed the box in the center of the room, plugged it in, half expecting it to begin sparking and smoking. Once I was sure I wasn’t going to burn the house down, I toyed with the controls. A static modulating hiss came from the box. Twisting the red knob further to the right, I began to here tones and bits of radio broadcasts, along with a continuous ticking noise, like the sound of a metronome. I spent the next hour asking simple questions, straining to hear a response. Nothing came. I turned off the crude machine, feeling disappointed if not a little bit foolish for buying it. I put the contraption in my closet.

    After a few days had passed, I revisited the box. I decided to put to use some of the trivial information that I had amassed over the years in regards to the spirit realm, although jaded on any of its validity. I went to bed at my usual time, but set my alarm clock for When my alarm sounded, I arose and began to prepare for my Spirit Box session. Once again, I placed the box in the center of my bedroom floor. Light from a nearly full moon streamed through my window, so I covered it with a heavy blanket. I found an old candle, saved for the occasional power outage, and set it up on a makeshift foil candle holder. Lighting the candle, I placed it within arms reach of the box. Then I waited for “dead time”. In the world of paranormal research, “dead time” begins at , and is said to be when spirits are most active. At the appropriate time, I turned off all the electric lights. Once my eyes adjusted to the candles flicker, I switched on the black box, which took on a rather sinister appearance in the dim light. The steady clicking and hissing of the machine filled the silence. I adjusted the red knob, slowly turning it to the right, anticipating everything, expecting nothing. The bits of radio broadcasts came through. I could occasionally here complete words, totally unrelated to each other. “Sale” (static, tick) “In sai…” (static, tick, tick), “In relation…” (tick). Feeling foolish, I took out the prepared notes that I had scribbled earlier in the day, and began my “session.”
      David, I realize this must sound like lunacy, but please bear with me.

     I began with a simple “hello”. Instantly I heard the word “hi” come through the small black speaker. Was I imagining things? “Hello?” I repeated. Again, the word “hi” in a male’s voice came through as clear as a bell. It was not a fragment of any radio broadcast. The word came over the static, not from behind it, or mixed in with it. I can’t explain it any better than that.  In shock, I choked out “hello” in an odd falsetto. The box responded, “Hello, hello …HELLOOO.” I turned off the Spirit box as quickly as I could, flicking off the toggle switch as if I were touching a hot stove. I slept on the couch that first night; with every light burning in the house.

     In an attempt to ease my apprehension of using the box, I went online and read of others experiences with the Spirit Box. Most users of the box seemed unaffected by their contacts with the dead, something that I found hard to fathom. Can one be so nonchalant about such an experience? Maybe in the name of research, they simply do not let their own personal feelings enter into their accounts. Or, fundamentally, they don’t truly believe in the very research they are involved in. After much speculation, I began to rationalize that there was surely a logical explanation for my experience. With some trepidation, I decided to make another attempt. I couldn’t bring myself to set up the Spirit Box in the center of my bedroom before I went to sleep, so I left it in the closet for the time being, and set my alarm.

     Upon waking, I went through the ritual of covering the window and fetching the candle. I took the rough edged black plastic box down from the closet shelf and placed it on the floor, plugging it in. Lighting the candle, I turned off the lights. As a precaution, I decided to recite the Lord’s Prayer before turning on the box. I sat cross legged on the hardwood floor, facing the box, sitting as far back from it as I could and still reach the controls. Switching on the power, I was greeted with the familiar hiss-tick. I sat still for a good two minutes before reaching for the red knob. As the knob turned, the LED lights came to life, the glow skittering back and forth as fragments of sounds invaded the small room. Having discarded the notes from my last undertaking, I had no plan of attack. Once again, I began with “Hello.” Nothing. (Static, tick, static, tick). “Hello,” I repeated. Once again, there was no response. A feeling of relief came over me, followed by a frustration, edging on anger; anger at myself for stupidly pursuing such an absurd notion. What had I originally heard? Nothing but a fractal of a distant radio signal, electronically repeated by a charlatan’s “magic” box.

     Then it came. “Hi,” (static, tick, tick, tick) “are…  you there?” I pushed myself back violently with my legs, standing in one motion. After taking a deep breath, I spoke, a mere whisper, “I’m here.” “What is your name?” again, in a whisper.  I listened to the hiss-clicks for a good fifteen seconds, then, “…your name?” came through, very faint, followed by “…in the” and a snippet of violins, and other little clips of radio broadcasts. Was it asking for my name? Or trying to verify my question? “What is your name?” I said loudly, and a little too forcefully. “MORRIS." It was a shout, so loud the small speaker vibrated. I switched off the box and tried to regain my composure. I wished I’d had a friend to call, or a relative, a relative that would still speak to me, but of course I do not, as you well know. I was filled with an excitement I needed to share, but with no one to call. I went out into the chill October night and chain smoked on the front porch of  mother’s old Victorian for nearly an hour.

To be continued 12-20-11

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Out of his chamber led by the deranged
feeble wanderings of his life estranged
A doomed man creeps haggard and stark
lurching onward in gossamer dark
The moon has awoken the villainous beast
who will soon find in flesh, a bountiful feast

An early poem of mine, as sparse as it is unintentionally quaint.