Horror Curated: Nightmare Fuel, Krampus

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Issue #1: Haunted Holidays

I’m sure that everyone in the world is familiar with Santa Claus. He is the embodiment of the giving nature of the holidays. As some of you may also know from pop culture, there is an opposite to the jolly old elf. For this issue’s Nightmare Fuel, we look at the anti-Santa Claus, Krampus.

According to central European legend, Krampus is a half-goat and half-demon with a long tongue who carries a switch or whip and a basket on his back. He whips the wicked children, sometimes carrying them away in his basket for more punishment or to be eaten later.

Some depictions have him wearing lederhosen, but is usually naked except for his fur or wearing chains. Sometimes he accompanies Santa, other times he makes the run before him. One thing included in any description is how evil and scary the Christmas demon looks.

The roots of Krampus’ legend stretch back to 12th Century pagan celebrations in Germany and Austria…READ more Horror Curated NOW!

Book Review: “Netherkind” by Greg Chapman

Hello Addicts,

In the horror genre, the consumption of human flesh and blood is a fairly regular thing. There are plenty of stories about cannibals and flesh-eating zombies, so it is refreshing to see a story that handles things differently. Greg Chapman offers a flesh-eating tale that falls somewhere between the extremes of the living and the dead in his novel “Netherkind.

Thomas leads a solitary life of torment. He has no memories of life before waking in the apartment he calls home, but that isn’t the most disturbing thing in his life. He has a condition where his body decays painfully if he doesn’t eat human flesh every day. It is an uncontrollable need he fights daily, but never wins. He doesn’t know how it started or whether there are others out there with his same condition. That all changes the day he meets his new neighbor, StephanieNetherkind 2

Stephanie is just moving into the apartment building Thomas lives in and does her best to spend time with him. After spending one night together, he learns some horrifying truths about her. She is like him, a consumer of human flesh. When he awakes, he finds the doors to all the apartments on their floor bashed in and the occupants stripped clean to the bone. His new neighbor, who he just had sex with, reveals that she is like Thomas and that there are more like them hiding in the world. She’d been stalking him for weeks, watching him live and kill, just for the chance to meet and get impregnated by him. With those tasks accomplished, she wounds him and leaves him to die.

Rather than succumb to his injuries, Thomas survives and begins hunting for Stephanie. His travels bring him close frequently, but never close enough. Eventually, he discovers another of their kind, referred to collectively as Fleshers. The Flesher,  named Nero and leads Thomas to their kingdom under the city. He discovers they are one of five tribes, each different in their mindset, physical conditions, and abilities.

Thomas’ clan refers to themselves as Phagun. Another group is called Lepers, whose skin is sickly looking and sloughing off, but whose touch is acidic. A third tribe is the spiritual Stygma, followers of a god named Okin. The fourth group of Fleshers are shapeshifters named Skiift, with humans making up the last group. The Skiift, the Stygma, and the Phagun have waged a centuries-long religious war between, partially fueled by the Phagun’s desire to treat humans as food.

There are a lot of twists and turns in the story, which develops into a chosen one tale. What is Thomas’ history and how does it fit into what needs to be done? How does Stephanie fit into the entire picture? The book answers these questions and more.

I liked the story, but found it a little confusing at certain points, particularly when following who was speaking. That aside, I thought Greg Chapman did a good job with this story, particularly with the sensory descriptions. I recommend this book for anyone needing a rainy day or late-night read. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or through your local bookstore.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Ep 217 Nightmare Fuel: The Bye Bye Man

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bye bye manHello Addicts,

In 2017, a movie came out that introduced us to the entity known as the Bye Bye Man. It was an introduction to a boogeyman who hunted you just for thinking his name. Rather than offer a review of the movie, this week’s Nightmare Fuel looks at the legend of the Bye Bye Man.

The Bye Bye Man’s first appearance was in a short story by Robert Damon Schneck titled “The Bridge to Body Island”. The legend begins in an orphanage in the 1920s with a blind albino boy constantly teased by the other children. He attempts to run away several times, only for his plans to fail each time. Eventually, he escapes by stabbing one of his caretakers with a pair of scissors. After that, the young man lives a life on the railroad hopping on trains and killing at each stop. In need of companionship, he creates a dog with pieces of his victims, mostly eyes and tongues, who he names Gloomsinger. When the Bye Bye man feels someone talking or even thinking about him, he uses Gloomsinger to track them down. Once this creepy canine finds its quarry, he lets out a shrill whistle to alert his master, who then kills them.

The Bye Bye Man’s description is of a pale white skinned man with long hair wearing black glasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and a pea coat. There is a tattoo on his right wrist and carries a sack around with him. Inside this Sack of Gore are more pieces of his victims, which he uses to replenish a constantly decaying Gloomsinger. His preferred killing locations are along the railways, but he has wandered to people’s homes and used tricks to get them to open the door. This includes voice mimicry of someone you know. Make no mistake, once you open that door, you are his next victim.

Could this just be an elaborate story to scare people? Certainly. Can it be true? Possibly. The only way to know for sure is to think of or talk about the Bye Bye Man and listen for the whistle.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Nightmare Fuel: The Seguin Island Lighthouse

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Sequin Lighthouse (2006)

Sequin Lighthouse (2006), courtesy of MaineAnEncyclopedia.com

Hello Addicts,

When you are out at sea during a storm, one of the most welcome sights is the light coming from shore. A bright shining beam cutting through the darkest night, the roughest of storms, and the densest bank of fog, letting you know that shore is nearby. It also lets you know that there are rocks nearby so you don’t run aground. But what is it like for those who maintained the light? This week’s Nightmare Fuel looks at the haunting of the Seguin Island Lighthouse.

Being a lighthouse keeper is a solitary life and an enormous commitment. Even if your family is with you, the isolation can get to you and do strange things to your mind unless you have some sort of release. A keeper’s wife at the Seguin Island Lighthouse in Georgetown, ME, used a piano to battle the loneliness, but according to legend, she only learned one song on it. Between the isolation and the repetition of the song, the keeper was driven insane. Much like in Stanley Kubrick’s version of “The Shining”, he destroyed the piano with an ax before turning it on her and then finishing with himself. This happened in the mid-19th century but hasn’t stopped them from letting their presence known.

People who visit the lighthouse report hearing the ghostly piano melody, even though there is no piano on the premises. Also, there are reports from members of the U.S. Coast Guard stationed there of furniture moving, things vanishing, a young girl laughing and waving, and other ghostly sounds. A Coast Guard warrant officer also claimed to have spotted a spirit wearing oilskin clothing, shaking him out of sleep and shouting, “Don’t take the furniture. Please, leave my home alone!” The next day, a boat carrying the furniture and the warrant officer sank. Was it the ghost trying to keep his possessions there, or was it just a freak coincidence?

Isolation can play a lot of tricks on people’s minds, especially when you have a high value and high anxiety position, such as a lighthouse keeper. That, coupled with moving water and the right combination of stone, can make for a recording of past events to be played out again and again. Can it also trap spirits there? Who can really say?

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Ep. 215 Nightmare Fuel: The Brahmaparusha

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brahmaparushHello Addicts,

One of the all-time classic creatures of the night is the vampire. Whether it is the debonair aristocrat like Dracula, the punk look of The Lost Boys, or the almost feral pack in 30 Days of Night, we have seen a wide variety of the blood sucking demons. There is, however, another type that doesn’t just stop at blood, and takes a particular revelry in devouring its prey. This week’s Nightmare Fuel looks at the brahmaparusha.

The legend of the brahmaparusha originates from northern India. Hindu legends describe it as a supernatural being who resembles a human, but is a separate species from them. When you come across one, you will find it wearing their last victim’s intestines like a crown around their head, draped around their neck, and wrapped around their waist. In one hand will be a previous victim’s skull, which they will use as a cup to catch your blood in before drinking from it. Once they have finished with your blood, they will then move on to your brains, consuming them as you helplessly watch. After that, they will disembowel you to add your intestines to their collection of adornments before ritualistically dancing around your corpse and then seeking their next victim.

It’s unknown how to create or stop a brahmaparusha. The legends speak of their almost insatiable hunger, thirst, and bloodlust. Sometimes it takes many feedings before they feel satisfied enough to stop for a time. They also take great pride in the kill, doing all that they can to prolong your life and enjoy every delicious morsel of it as you watch, powerless to stop them. Your best bet to keep from becoming one of its victims is to run, hide, and pray that the creature doesn’t find you.

Keep playing hide and go seek, and beware the person wearing entrails like fancy jewelry. If they catch you, you may be next on their menu.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Ep. 214 Nightmare Fuel: Bostian’s Bridge Ghost Train

Train Wreck of Bostian Bridge, Iredell County, NC. Wreck occurred August 27, 1891, near Statesville. Photos by Stimson Studio, Statesville, NC, courtesy of the State Archives of NC.

Hello Addicts,

We consider trains the lifeblood of the United States. They were one of the earliest forms of fast interstate travel, predating the automobile and airplanes. Many a western movie featured the train as a mainstay setting, second perhaps to the horse. They were also prone to horrendous accidents from jumping the tracks. These accidents have spawned legends about people seeing a train wreck replayed or a train on otherwise unused tracks. In this week’s Nightmare Fuel, we look at one such tale of a ghost train.

Early on the morning or August 27, 1941, a Statesville, NC, woman was waiting along the side of the road near Bostian’s Bridge, a sixty-foot-high arch bridge made of stone spanning over Third Creek. The tire on the car she rode in had gone flat and her husband left to find help, leaving her alone. As she waited for his return, she noticed a train approaching and watched as it reached the halfway point on the bridge and left the tracks. She saw the wooden cars pulled down to the creek and heard the screams of pain after it hit the water. Concerned, the woman followed the sounds until she came across the twisted wreck. The train lay in the creek, taking on water while passengers tried to climb free. She heard a car pull up on the road and ran to get help, knowing time was of the essence.

The car was her husband returning with help. When the men heard the wife’s tale, all three went back to the creek to see what they could do to help. What they found was an empty creek. There were no signs of any accidents having occurred, much less the catastrophic one the wife had seen. The couple later found out that there had been a train wreck in that same creek, only it happened fifty years prior. On August 27, 1891, a passenger train running from Salisbury to Asheville plunged into Third Creek from Bostian’s Bridge. The cause remained a mystery, but twenty-two people died in that accident.

People still report sightings of the Bostian’s Bridge ghost train, which eventually led to an unfortunate tragedy. On August 27, 2010, a group of amateur ghost hunters were investigating on the bridge when an actual train came along. They reportedly thought it was the ghost train, so didn’t get off the tracks until it was on top of them, resulting in two injuries and one death.

There are far more legends of ghost trains spanning the world. Wherever there are train tracks, you’ll find a haunting legend attached. Just be cautious when investigating them. You never know if the light at the end of the bridge or tunnel is an actual train or a phantom one.

Until next time, Addicts,

D.J.

Book Review: “Twenty Years Dead” by Richard Farren Barber

twenty years deadHello Addicts,

What if we lived in a world where the dead remain in their grave for a limited amount of time before coming back? That is the basis of many zombie and reanimated dead stories. Usually, there is no reason given or really needed in most cases. It just happens. In those stories, the way to return them to eternal rest is by injuring the body in some fashion. Richard Farren Barber looks at the reanimated dead, and how they behave, differently in “Twenty Years Dead”.

The dead behave differently in David Chadwick’s world. They get buried after they die, but, rather than stay in their grave for eternity, their spirit is returns to the body exactly twenty years after their final breath. The corpses are in a panic, a little crazy, and quick to lash out after emerging from the ground. While they are not driven by a need for blood and brains, they need a reminder of who they were and to be calmed so their spirit can move on. This process can be dangerous to someone who doesn’t know what they are doing or unprepared, so a new profession is born — Family Directors. They take care of the dead on behalf of the families for a fee, and most are good at what they do.

David, however, falls into a different category. He is one who feels they can take care of the crossing over by themselves. They watch YouTube videos, read all that they can about the procedure, and purchase all the recommended tools. They choose to do it themselves more out of cost and feeling an obligation to take care of their own, even in death.

For David, there is a more personal reason for being at his father’s gravesite when he rises. He was only five when his dad died, and his mother has done everything possible since to erase him from their home and their lives. The more she tells him to leave it alone, however, the more he thinks she is hiding something. He knows he only gets one opportunity to ask his father what happened to him, so he settles in to wait for the rising.

His girlfriend, Helen, joins him despite thinking he should let the professionals handle the rising. During the night, they assist a Family Director with a rising, which is admittedly more chaotic than either expected. They have second thoughts about what they are doing after one of the risen kills a lesser experienced Director. David is ill prepared when his father finally rises, and memories that rise with the dead man.

This was a well-done story that offered a different take on the reanimated dead. Rather than being mindless zombies guided by their base desires of eating and spreading their disease, there is a more practical and spiritual approach to the story. I enjoyed the slow build and how David changed from being so sure of what he was doing because he saw it online, to uncertainty, and finally realizing how over his head he really was. The ending was more of a surprise than I expected and felt appropriate. I recommend curling up with this book on an overcast night with a cup of hot tea handy.

You can find “Twenty Years Dead” at Crystal Lake Publishing, Amazon, Bookshop, IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, or through your local bookstore. 

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Nightmare Fuel: Mothman

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mothmanHello Addicts,

Imagine being out with your honey and you spy an enormous shadow with wings and glowing red eyes staring at you. You both decide it best to drive away and hope to leave it in your dust and taillights. To your horror, you look back to find that not only is what you saw flying after you, but it is keeping up with you as the speedometer hits one hundred miles an hour. That happened November 15th in Point Pleasant, WV. It was just the start of the Mothman sightings, which ended with the collapse of the Silver Bridge. Or did they? For this week’s Nightmare Fuel, we look at some other sightings of the legendary Mothman.

For those who know little about the Mothman, he is a tall, humanoid entity with giant wings, no neck, and glowing red eyes. Some say it is a harbinger of a disaster, others claim it offers warnings to protect people, while some hold that it is the reason for the disaster to come. Most think that Mothman is just a Point Pleasant legend, but its flight path has grown in the years since.

Witnesses spotted Mothman in the Chicago area between 2011 and 2017. Reports of an entity bearing a resemblance to Mothman were reported in Houston, TX in the 1950s, although locals referred to it as the Batman of Houston. People reported spotting the cryptid flying near the Twin Towers just prior to the 9/11 attacks. There are similar sightings near Minneapolis, MN in the month leading up to the I-35W bridge collapse in 2007. Some people in Chihuahua, Mexico, reported a being bearing a strong resemblance to Mothman just before the 2009 swine flu outbreak.

Can these sightings be cases of mistaken identities? Yes. There is always the possibility that they are something mundane as giant owls or sand-hill cranes. Other sightings, such as one prior to the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster, might be nothing more than fiction folded into the Mothman legend thanks to the “Mothman Prophecies”, a book by Richard Keel that was later made into a movie of the same name. There are some who theorize that it is an extra-dimensional being, or possibly someone from the future trying to warn us of something wicked on the horizon.

Regardless of what it started out as the Mothman today is a huge draw for the Point Pleasant area. They established a museum and statue of the legendary cryptid and host an annual festival in its name. He has also reportedly re-visited the area as recently as 2016.

Whether Mothman is real or not is difficult to find out. One bit of advice I may offer if you see the cryptid, is perhaps consider taking a vacation far from the area. You never know what disaster may be on the way.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Ep. 211: Nightmare Fuel — The Crossroad Blues

620889BB-105C-4C1D-905E-821E5B116422Hello Addicts,

As I’ve mentioned earlier this season, music has a certain magic about it. It can touch us on a deeply emotional level in ways few others can. What if the power of a song could span beyond that? Can a song be powerful enough to harm someone, possibly being a curse to any who perform it? The Hungarian Suicide song is one, but for this week’s Nightmare Fuel, we look at another — “The Crossroad Blues” by Robert Johnson.

I’m sure we are all familiar with Robert Johnson. For those who may not be, he is a blues legend. Born in Mississippi on May 8, 1911, he was a mainstay at many a street corner, juke joints, and Saturday night dances. In life, he had little success, but recordings he made in 1936 and 1937 made him a legend following his death in August 1938. His music influenced the likes of Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, and The Rolling Stones, to name just a few. Many consider him to be a master of the blues and the grandfather of rock and roll.

While Robert Johnson’s musical style and songwriting are enough to make him a legend, you can’t talk about him without discussing the supernatural stories surrounding him. Some refer to Robert as the musician who sold his soul to the devil at a Mississippi crossroads. He is also a member of the infamous Twenty-Seven Club, a group of entertainers who have all died at twenty-seven. This club includes Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Jonathan Brandis, and Anton Yelchin, among others.

The supernatural may not just surround Robert Johnson, but may also include his music. Some consider one of his songs, “The Crossroad Blues”, to be cursed. Tragedies have touched Lynyrd Skynrd, The Allman Brothers Band, Robert Plant, and Eric Clapton after performing the song. Kurt Cobain, also a member of the Twenty-Seven Club, considered recording a cover of the song prior to his suicide.

The catch with curses is the possibility of everything being coincidental. Humans look for patterns to make sense of things. It’s in our nature. However, one cannot completely rule out the possibility that curses may be more than just superstition. Many a strange thing happens in this world, some with no more an explanation than curse or coincidence.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Ep. 210 Nightmare Fuel: The Chambers Mansion

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Chambers-MansionHello Addicts,

Haunted and possessed homes have been a staple of horror movies for decades, and stories for centuries. Nothing quite beats finding out that where you sleep at night may not be as safe as you think. Previous tenants and homeowners may feel entitled to return, regardless if they are still alive or not. For this week’s Nightmare Fuel, we look at one such home — The Chambers Mansion in San Francisco, CA.

According to the legend, Richard Chambers, a wealthy baron from the Midwest, moved to San Francisco around 1887. He built a mansion at 2220 Sacramento Street, where he, his wife, and two nieces moved into. By 1901, however, Richard was dead, and the home passed on to his wife and nieces. Unfortunately, the nieces didn’t get along and one of them either purchased or had a home built next door to the mansion. The niece who stayed, Claudia Chambers, met with a grisly end. There are varying accounts which range from being murdered by a deranged family member living in the attic to a farm implement sawing her in half. Since then, people have reported seeing Claudia roaming the halls and flashing lights in the upstairs windows. An additional reason for the haunting given was the family’s practicing of black magic.

All of that makes for a good ghost story, however, no records prove a Richard Chambers lived in San Francisco. There are of a Robert Chambers living in that mansion. Robert died in 1901 from appendicitis, leaving the home to his brothers and sisters, none of who had children named Claudia. Robert’s wife, Eudora, had two nieces named Harriet and Lillian, who stayed with the otherwise childless couple.

While that part of the legend somewhat matches up, there were some strange occurrences involving Eudora that bear mentioning. In 1893, she went missing for a week before being found wandering a beach near Mussel Rock. On New Year’s Eve of the same year, she attempted to commit suicide by throwing herself in front of a train, only to be thrown out of the way before it hit her. Her family and friends viewed her as mentally unstable. Three years later, she died of undisclosed reasons.

In the decades that followed, an investor converted the mansion into a bed-and-breakfast that hosted such celebrities as Robin Williams, John F Kennedy Jr., and Barbara Streisand. A later investor split the home into two adjoining townhouses. Although there are no records of Richard or Claudia living in the mansion, there is nothing disproving that part of the story either. If any records existed, it’s possible that someone destroyed them at some point.

Regardless if the stories are true or not, the legend is enough for ghost tours in the San Francisco area to include it on their route. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to determine if the home is haunted or not. If you visit the townhouses, be sure to tell Claudia hello, just in case.

Until next time, Addicts,

D.J.

Book Review: Future Tense: Tales of Apocalyptic Vision

Future TenseHello Addicts,

Apocalypse. It is a word that has so many meanings to so many people. To some, it is the end of all things. To others, it is the end of one time and the start of a new. Both meanings are on full display in “Future Tense: Tales of Apocalyptic Vision” by Michaelbrent Collings.

This is a collection of stories that covers a gamut of horrific settings. It starts with using clones to deter suicides in a totalitarian future; moves on to a society where a computer decides your life; and then lands on a group of friends getting together being forced to play a deadly children’s game. There are post-apocalyptic stories on a global scale, and others covering a more personal perspective. Michaelbrent Collings seems to have all the bases covered.

Since starting doing book reviews for Horror Addicts, I have become a big fan of the author. When I see one of his books, I know I am in for a macabre ride and good storytelling. This collection didn’t disappoint. I don’t want to divulge too many details to keep from accidentally revealing spoilers, but I can say that there is something for everyone in there. There is humor for those who like their funny bone tickled while being chilled, and nasty people getting their just rewards. Even the author appears in a story as well. All will have a fun and scary time.

You can find “Future Tense: Tales of Apocalyptic Vision” by Michaelbrent Collings on Amazon in eBook, hardcover, and paperback formats.

Until next time, Addicts,

D.J.

Nightmare Fuel : Hungarian Suicide Song

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gloomy sunday 2Hello Addicts,

Music has a strange magic about it. It can make us smile, shed tears, or remember meaningful moments in our lives. Music also has the power to bring out some of the “not so pleasant” parts of ourselves, like aggression and anger. What if there was a song that affected people so much that they are driven to suicide after listening to it once? This week’s Nightmare Fuel looks at one such song, the Hungarian Suicide Song.

Originally titled “The World is Ending”, Rezso Seress composed the song in 1933 about the despair caused by war. The song became popular after a poet named László Jávor wrote new lyrics for the song and changing the name to “Gloomy Sunday”. Rather than being a song about war, the new version depicted the protagonist contemplating suicide following a lover’s death. In 1935, a Hungarian version of the song was recorded, followed by an English version a year later. Billie Holiday recorded the version most people are familiar with in 1941, although the BBC viewed it as detrimental to the war effort and banned during World War II.

Where the creepiness really comes in is the 100 suicides believed to have occurred after listening to the song. The reports range from suicides occurring during or just after listening to the song. Some people found either held the sheet music when found or quoted lyrics in their suicide notes. Perhaps the most notable suicide attributed to “Gloomy Sunday” was in 1968, when Rezso Seress leapt from his apartment window in Budapest.

While there are plenty of suicides attributed to “Gloomy Sunday”, many of the stories cannot be verified. Nowadays, people consider the song’s reputation as nothing more than a long-standing urban legend. Regardless of where your beliefs fall on the song’s reputation, it is one to listen to. If you do, listen with a friend.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Nightmare Fuel: Donkey Lady Bridge

Hello Addicts,

You can find haunted bridge legends in practically every state. Some are rather mundane tales, while others have details so far out there that they border believability. This week’s Nightmare Fuel falls under the latter description. This is the legend of Donkey Lady Bridge in San Antonio, TX.

A farmer living just outside of San Antonio, TX, snapped for unknown reasons. He murdered his children by setting fire to their home. His wife survived with permanent disfigurements. Her fingers and toes melted down and fused until they resembled hooves, and her face charred until it took on an elongated donkey-like appearance. It is said that she still haunts the bridge at Elm Creek, wailing over the loss of her children and tormenting any who try to cross. This is just one of many stories regarding this bridge. Some versions set the story in the 1800s or the 1950s. In some tellings of the story, a stranger set the fire in retaliation for something the family did to him.

Modern sightings of the Donkey Lady have her being a monster, yelling at people through their car windows and leaving hoof sized dents on the roofs. Others claim to hear her calling out in the night for her children. One almost surefire method of getting her attention is by honking your horn, but this method usually ends with the honker being chased off the bridge. The Donkey Lady’s fame even inspired the Texian Brewing Company to name a beer after her.

Regardless if the legend is true, the bridge still draws its share of curious people willing to chance an encounter with the Donkey Lady. Nowadays, there is a gate blocking access to the bridge itself, but people still claim to a feeling of being watched while there. It is for this reason that I plan to check out Donkey Lady Bridge someday.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Nightmare Fuel: Kokkuri

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Hello Addicts,

When one thinks of divination, many methods of communicating with spirits or seeking knowledge of the future come to mind. Popular amongst Japanese students is a game called kokkuri. The object of the game is to contact a spirit, known as kokkuri-san, which is believed to be a mixture of a fox, raccoon, and dog, and ask it questions. That, along with the history of the game, makes it a good choice for this week’s Nightmare Fuel.

The name kokkuri, which means “to nod up and down,” refers to the original version of the game. You play it by tying three bamboo rods together at one end and standing them like a tripod and balancing a wooden lid or metal pot on top. Two people or more place their hands on the disc and ask questions of the kokkuri-san. This version was more popular in the late 1800s.

The more modern version of the game is like an ouija board. You start by taking a blank sheet of 8.5 x 11-inch paper and drawing a picture of a torii, or the entrance to a Shinto shrine, on top in red ink. Then write Yes and No on either side of the drawing, along with letters and numbers beneath it in black ink. You’ll want to prop a window or door open for kokkuri-san to enter and leave and use a coin as a planchette for the spirit to converse with. When you are done, you must close the session, burn the paper, scatter the ashes, and spend the coin.

As with using an ouija board, you want to play this game with caution and never play alone. It is said that playing the game too often can make it easier for the spirit to stay and potentially possess you. These were some reasons that sparked mass hysteria in Japan, causing the schools to forbid the game from ever being played on their grounds.

Whether you believe these games can communicate with spirits or not, I recommend treating whoever you are speaking to with respect. You never know if it’s a cunning spirit of mischief.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review: Primal Real Estate by Nicholas Walls

Hello Addicts,

When you have a land dispute, it is often best to have an attorney help with the arbitration. What happens, however, when there are ancient shapeshifting clans whose blood feud goes back centuries involved? It is the dilemma a lawyer named Jon Doe faces in “Primal Real Estate” by Nicholas Walls.

Jon Doe is a freshly-minted Harvard graduate who landed a primo job right out of the gate working for a prestigious law firm. His first assignment is to arbitrate between the Senate – a clan of werewolves – and the Court of Raptors over who owns an important property. Soon, Jon discovers a secret plot involving a well-respected and connected individual to take over the disputed property and leave both houses out in the cold. Being new and expendable, he finds himself in a no-win situation. No matter which side he decides on, he will most certainly be killed by the other. Added to the peril is a group of renegade shifters who want to kill Marc and keep both sides from claiming the property. Helping Joe are Magda, a decorated Senate war veteran, Selina, a high-ranking member of the Court, and Marc, a vampire and Jon’s old roommate from college.

I liked this story. There is a mystery to solve and other ingredients you expect to find in a story about warring factions, which made it a fun tale to read. Unfortunately, I felt Jon Doe played the “fish out of the water in over his head” part well. However, I also found him to be nothing more than a frat boy who relies on others to help him out of the jam or to do the work for him. It was the supporting cast who felt more endearing. I plan on continuing the series to see how their tales play out. I give it a three out of five.

You can order “Primal Real Estate” at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or from your local bookstore.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review: Vacuity and Other Tales

Hello Addicts,

This month, I had the distinct pleasure of reading the 3rd annual horror anthology from Tell-Tale Publishing, “Vacuity and Other Tales.” This collection of short stories run the gamut of scary stories and does so very successfully. I found all of the stories fun and exciting, with enough variety to give a palate-cleansing from the more blood-chilling stories at the right moments.

The book begins with the most intriguing story of the collection, “Vacuity.” Julie Duplantier is a young schizophrenic woman whose mental voices take great pleasure in the slow, methodical ways she tortures and murders others. We also see things from the point of view of her doctor, Christian Andreu. His solution is to perform a risky surgery that will silence the voices forever, which he is successful in doing. What everyone realizes, much too late, is that the voices kept something much worse at bay. If you like your stories drenched in blood, this one is for you.

There are stories of missed love during the Crusades, government-sponsored experiments on vampires, a modern take on Hansel and Gretel, and a curse that nearly brings about the pumpkin apocalypse. There is a little bit of everything for everyone in this book. I especially recommend this collection for those cold and stormy nights ahead.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel: Tagus, ND

 

nightmarefuel

tagus

Hello Addicts,

Earlier this season, I told you about a haunted location right here in North Dakota, White Lady Lane in Walhalla. This week, I want to tell you about another haunted spot in the Peace Garden State rumored to be one of the many Gateways to Hell. Join me on a Nightmare Fueled trip to Tagus, ND.

North Dakota has its fair share of ghost towns. One such town is Tagus, located forty miles west of one of the larger cities in the state — Minot. Founded in 1900, Tagus hit its peak population of 140 in 1940 but has since declined to only a handful of people living there and no open businesses. In 2001, the sole remaining church burned down, possibly due to vandalism. A plaque stands where the building once stood.

It is inside this church that the rumored gateway is. According to the stories, the church was home to Satanic rituals and sacrifices, both human and animal. The stories chronicle bestiality, cannibalism, an upside-down cross on the door, and a stairway that led to the bowels of Hell itself. After the fire, the stairs became filled with dirt to hide their location, but if you stand quietly in the right spot, you can still hear the screams of pain from the tortured souls. Other stories document hellhounds lying in wait to tear your heart out, a phantom train running through town, and a glowing tombstone. The town’s abandoned homes are not spared from the legends either, with people reporting weeping, wailing, and the cry of an infant off in the distance.

All of this sounds like it comes from horror movies or the scariest of books. There may be something to the stories, or they could be urban legends shared to scare around a campfire. Based on pictures of the town, there is a creepy vibe given off. If and when I can make a trip to Tagus, I will certainly share anything that happens there. Until then, the legends of the town will have to tide us over.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Nightmare Fuel: Annaliese Michel

Hello Addicts,

Possession movies, when done right, are some of the scariest ones to watch. The level of acting and grueling physical work makes for very intense entertainment. What adds to the spook factor is when the story is based on true events. Some that come to mind are “The Exorcist” and the movies in “The Conjuring” universe. Another that comes to mind is the 2005 flick, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” Today’s Nightmare Fuel looks at the story of the real Emily Rose… Anneliese Michel.

Anneliese Michel was born September 21, 1952, in Leiblfing, Bavaria, West Germany, and grew up in a devout Roman Catholic family. At age sixteen, she suffered a severe convulsion and was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy. Even with this, she managed to graduate and attended the University of Wurzburg. She had been prescribed anti-convulsion medications, such as Dilantin, but shortly after she started reporting seeing the faces of devils. She was then prescribed Aolept, a medication used to treat various psychoses including schizophrenia. It didn’t seem to help as she fell into depression and began hallucinating while praying. She’d also begin hearing voices telling her that she was damned and going to rot in hell. Around the same time, she began showing signs of intolerance to sacred Christian objects and places. It was on a pilgrimage to San Damiano that she was deemed possessed by her escort because of her inability to walk past a crucifix and not drinking from a holy spring. This was followed by the first requests for exorcism approval from the Catholic Church. The Church has fairly strict criteria that they follow before granting permission to perform an exorcism. They recommended that Anneliese continue her medical treatment.

By this point, Anneliese’s condition began showing further progression. She’d eat insects, drink her urine, act out aggressively, and injure herself on purpose. She was prescribed stronger medication, but it didn’t help. She eventually began reporting seeing demons, growling, and throwing things about. Throughout her life, Anneliese would do things that made her uncomfortable, thinking that it was her way to atone for the sins of other youth. This thought process only increased as her condition worsened, and she began seeing herself as dying to atone for the sins of all wayward youth and the apostate priests of the modern church. She refused to eat, and her parents became convinced that the medical community wasn’t helping their daughter. The Michel family turned exclusively to exorcism, thinking this was the only way to help her. Adding to this was Father Ernst Alt, a priest who also viewed Anneliese as possessed because he thought that she didn’t look like an epileptic or having seizures. Over ten months, sixty-seven exorcisms were performed.

Anneliese Michel died in 1976. Her official cause of death is listed as malnutrition and dehydration. When she died, she weighed only 68 pounds (30 kg). Her parents, Father Alt, and Father Arnold Renz, who performed the exorcisms, were all charged with negligent homicide. They were found guilty, and each sentenced to six months in prison, which was suspended for three years. Amongst the evidence provided in the trial were recordings said to be the demons possessing Anneliese: Lucifer, Cain, Judas Iscariot, Legion, Belial, Nero, and Hitler. While they argued during the possession, the demons said that they freed the young woman before her passing. Anneliese’s gravesite has since become a pilgrimage site for Christians.

I remember watching the movie in the theater and thinking of how terrifying it was. Perhaps it was the story, or perhaps watching it in a theater added to the terror. Upon leaving the theater, I heard some bigger and stronger guys saying how they didn’t think they were going to be sleeping well that night. It remains one of my favorite possession movies. Knowing the story behind the script only adds to the horror.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Nightmare Fuel: Peggy The Doll

Hello Addicts,

A staple of most childhoods is the doll. Whether they are action figures, Barbie, or whatever you called them, practically all of us played with a doll in some fashion growing up. As Hollywood and paranormal shows have shown us, spirits can inhabit them. More often than not, they can be less than pleasant or downright evil. Many believe that dolls are not just toys but also used in education, rituals, and messengers or effigies of gods and goddesses. Some believe that the creation of dolls was to house spirits of the dead. Such is the case with Peggy the Doll.

Peggy is a three-foot cutie with blonde hair and blue eyes. It looks like the typical child’s companion, but that only seems to hide the ghostly abilities attributed to her. A previous owner reported being unable to sleep after purchasing the doll. She lived alone but heard footsteps around the house and the clicking of the bathroom light turning off and on at night. It spooked her to the point of wrapping the doll in a rug and placing her in a shed. From there, the doll, who was unnamed at the time, passed on to paranormal investigator Jayne Harris.

Within days of taking the doll home, Jayne began feeling fatigued, to the point of being unable to get out of bed. When she allowed a friend to take the doll away for a couple of days, she began feeling like her old self again. The strangeness became more evident after she posted a picture of the still-unnamed doll to her Facebook page without any details. Overnight, people sent messages detailing strange things that happened after just seeing the picture. The complaints included headaches, chest pains, lightbulbs burning out, footsteps, and dogs spinning in circles and barking. One message came from a psychic medium, who claimed that the spirit inhabiting the doll was a restless and frustrated woman named Peggy.

Currently, Peggy has a room in the Zak Bagans Haunted Museum in Las Vegas, NV, where cameras watch her 24/7. Before being allowed to see her, visitors sign a waiver in case of any strange occurrences that may follow.

Whether Peggy actually can affect the people in the ways described is left up to the individual. As for me, she has inspired a short story of my own involving a haunted doll. I hope to visit the museum someday and get to meet her face to face.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review: “Ghost Magnet: Crime and Magic in the New Russia #1” by James Beach

Hello Addicts,

When you are on the run from the bad guys, you always try to stay one step ahead of them. It could be continuous running, maybe even hiding in places they never think of looking. What if you do all of that, but they find you no matter where you go? Better yet, what if their informants are impossible to escape because they are ghosts?

In Ghost Magnet: Crime and Magic in the New Russia #1 by James Beach, Aurelian is a thief on the run after a jewel heist went sideways. He is hiding out amongst drug addicts for the night while he waits for a boat to take him to Odessa, where he can get the means for a new start elsewhere. He discovers that the drug den belongs to a former coroner named Mikhail Coba. Rumored to have murdered his wife and children because they got in his way, Coba and his bodyguards are looking for someone or something. That makes Aurelian more nervous but not as frightened as when he sees the thugs inject an addict with something that changes the man before he points to his hiding spot. After a brief surprise attack, the young thief escapes and doesn’t stop until he’s lost his pursuers, or so he thinks. Within minutes he is captured, and that is when the strangeness and horror kick in.

Coba has a channeling medium in his employ, along with a drug that allows ghosts to possess people before eventually consuming their bodies in a gruesome fashion. The mobster shares that he is looking for a wicker basket, which the spirits have advised Aurelian knows its location. This wicker basket provides a vital clue to a long-dormant experiment Coba wants to restart for his purposes.

This novella offers lots of twists and turns and whose pacing fits well between action and rest periods. It is an exciting start to a series I highly look forward to reading more of in the future. It is perfect for an afternoon read when you don’t want to jump into a girthy story and will want more by the end.

Until next time addicts,

D.J.

Nightmare Fuel: The Conjure Box

Hello Addicts,

There are plenty of different means of contacting those on the other side. There are ouija boards, spirit boards, tarot cards, tape recorders, and any number of other different ways used by mediums, psychics, and paranormal investigators. For this week’s Nightmare Fuel, I wanted to look into one of the more extreme methods: The Conjure Box.

Before I share any details on the box and the procedure, I must ask listeners and readers not to try this game unless you and your partner are strong-willed. It is said that people who enter the box change due to opening themselves to possible demon-like entities.

What you’ll need to build a Conjure Box are:

  1. Six metal sheets. Five should be no taller than the person who will enter the box with their hands raised, and the sixth should be slightly taller than the rest as it will be the lid.
  2. Six mirrors the same size as the metal sheets. All should be as flawless as possible.
  3. A battery-operated or crank-charging light source capable of emitting bright yellow or white light. Do not use a light requiring outlets since there can be no gaps in the box. Also, do not use candles for health safety reasons. (Carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide)
  4. Two or three alarm clocks, synchronized.
  5. Two ladders.
  6. Blankets.
  7. Water.
  8. First aid kit.

Construct the box so that the metal is on the outside and the mirrors attached inside facing each other. One ladder should remain outside the box, and the other placed inside when the witness enters or exits. There should be absolutely no outside light visible inside. Set all of the alarm clocks for ten minutes after the witness plans to enter the box. The witness should only take the light source, which should remain turned off until the lid is closed, and one alarm clock. Before closing up the box, the partner remaining outside needs to confirm they are ready to begin. If confirmation is not received, do not proceed.

After that, it is a waiting game for both people until either the witness signals they want out or once the alarm clock goes off. When either happens, the partner should open the box and lower the ladder for the witness to climb out. They should not remain in the box beyond ten minutes, no matter what is said. The blankets, water, and first aid administered if needed. It is important to only enter and exit by the lid and not dismantle the box until after the witness is outside of it.

If all of this seems too much or too silly to attempt, there is a smaller and safer version. The box construction is scaled-down and involves either metal or wood, with mirrors facing each other inside. However, instead of someone entering the box, you place a recording device inside before sealing it up for ten minutes. Demonic growls emanate from the speakers upon playback when there is no cause in the box. Either version of the game carries the danger of allowing something through, so always play with caution and respect.

Until next time Addicts,

D.J.

Nightmare Fuel: White Lady Lane In Walhalla, ND

Hello Addicts,

As you are all aware, you can find “lady in white” ghost stories anywhere and everywhere you look. This week, I thought I might share one from my current home state of North Dakota. In Walhalla, ND, there is a tale of a woman in a white flannel nightgown walking the dusty road long after her death. Join me on a trip down White Lady Lane.

white lady lane

Anna Story was a fifteen-year-old girl living with her mother and two brothers, aged 8 and 11, in a little shack by a railroad track near Leyden, ND. According to the official story, Anna drew the attention of Sam Kalil, a peddler of pots, pans, and other household items. Her mother, not keen on the older man’s affection for her daughter, managed to make a deal with him. She offered her daughter’s hand in marriage when she turned sixteen if he allowed her to take whatever she wanted from his wagon. Sam agreed and allowed her access to all his wagon carried.

When Sam returned a year later to claim his bride, Mrs. Story refused to honor her part of the bargain and showed him the door instead of her daughter. Angry at being denied his promised bride, Sam drew his gun and shot Anna in the chest. Mrs. Story was shot in the jaw as she attempted to protect her daughter. Anna’s brothers escaped through a window and ran for help. Sam, fully realizing the gravity of what he’d done, pointed the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Unfortunately, it failed to fire, so he resorted to using his pocket knife to try and slit his own throat. This attempt also failed as the blade was not sharp to cut deep into the flesh. He surrendered to authorities without a fight when they arrived.

Mrs. Story’s jaw was broken from the bullet and still had a dent after it healed. Sam Kalil was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in Bismarck State Prison. At the age of seventy-one, Sam was released from prison into the care of relatives in neighboring Minnesota after serving only ten years. Anna’s body lay dead and buried but perhaps not her spirit. Every Halloween, she is reported to walk through a muddy bog named Eddie’s Bridge in the same white nightgown she died in, searching for something she has yet to find.

Although the details of the murder reported in the newspapers of the time match this version of the story, it has not stopped other legends of Anna from being created. One has her becoming pregnant out of wedlock, forced to marry Sam, and then hanging herself when she lost the baby. Another has Sam taking advantage of her on the same road she now haunts.

I will admit, I have only recently been made aware of this tragic tale but am making plans on taking a drive down White Lady Lane one Halloween soon. I don’t know whether I’ll see Anna, but I hope to. If so, I’ll be sure to let you know so you might plan a trip of your own.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Nightmare Fuel: The Rake

Hello Addicts,

Urban legends and creepypastas are the campfire stories of our day and age. The stories they share are ones to frighten, make us question their reality, and fuel our nightmares. To me, the best are the ones that sound plausible enough to hope they are not real. One such tale is regarding The Rake.

The creature known as The Rake stands around six feet tall and hairless with gray, sallow skin and a humanoid or a dog-like appearance. As if not scary enough, the creature also has big black eyes and long talonlike fingers that will throw the bravest into terror. It is patient, preferring to stalk its prey to feed on their sanity via nightmares and fear. After it is satiated, the creature tears its victim apart or infects them in a fashion similar to the face-huggers in the Alien movies. As frightening as it is, the beast is not one to get physical right away when confronted. It will, however, widen its eyes and mouth to drive your fear into overdrive. There are also reports of it speaking at times in a shrill and otherwise indescribable way. Some say that hearing the Rake’s voice means being marked as its next victim.

Tales of interactions with The Rake are few. One of the earliest is a story in a mariner’s log from 1691, where it names the tormentor as The Rake. Other sources are a Spanish journal entry in 1880 and a suicide note from 1964, each reporting the feeling of terror in falling asleep and waking face to horrid face with the beast. A majority of the creature sightings in the U.S. are around New York and Idaho. There are even instances of the creature caught on video and in trail-cam photos. There was even a video taken in 2018 of a Rake stalking a moose in Quebec, Canada.

The popularity of The Rake in storytelling did not take off until after 2006 when a woman posted her terrifying run-in with the creature online. According to the story, she woke one night to find the terrifying creature staring at her from the foot of her bed and promptly woke her husband. His body curled up after spotting the monster and tightened more when it made its way to his side of the bed. In a flash, The Rake took off to their children’s bedroom, where it brutally attacked their daughter before fleeing. To make a tragic story worse, the little girl and her father died while he rushed her to the hospital by accidentally driving into a lake. The tale concluded with the wife claiming to have captured the Rake’s voice with a tape recorder as she slept, intimating that she may become its next victim.

Like any good legend, the truth behind the stories is often hard to prove one way or another. There is visual evidence and written accounts of The Rake seemingly dating back centuries, but none as abundant as UFOs, ghosts, or bigfoot. In the end, the stories may be tales for people to chill the blood of others around a campfire. Just in case, however, I hope none of you ever wake to find yourself face to horrible face with The Rake.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Book Review — “Made in L.A. Vol. 1: Stories Rooted in the City of Angels”

Hello Addicts,

This month’s book review takes us to Los Angeles, CA. The anthology Made in L.A. Vol. 1: Stories Rooted in the City of Angels contains stories written by Los Angeles based authors which take place in or around the Los Angeles area. The tales range from funny to spooky and many genres in between.

The first in the anthology, “Between Broken Pieces,” is about an actress trying to be what everyone expects her to be, no matter how self-destructive it is. The story, shared from the points of view of the four women most directly tied to her life and career, is the kind of tragic story that can carry the tagline, “ripped from the headlines.”

The second standout for me takes place in the Cecil Hotel, “No Vacancy.” A man travels to the famed haunted hotel with a psychic to help him solve a mystery involving his sister that led to her death.

Another that caught my imagination was “Unquiet Baggage.” The story is told from the perspective of a murdered man as he follows the suitcase carrying his remains wherever his husband goes with them. It very much has a “The Lovely Bones” feel about it.

In truth, any of the ten stories included in the anthology is well worth the read. I recommend it to anyone looking for a good rainy day read.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Nightmare Fuel: The White Bluff Screamer

Hello Addicts,

Most people who choose to live in small towns do so for the quiet, peacefulness, and relative safety they offer. Not just for the individual but their family as well. White Bluff, TN, is one such place. There is, however, a dark legend involving the woods and what may reside there — The White Bluff Screamer.

White Bluff, TN, is an idyllic town offering community, Southern hospitality, and beautiful scenery. Those reasons drew a family of nine to build a home and start a new life there in the 1920s. It wasn’t long before wails, cries, and screeches coming from the forest disrupted the night. As you might expect, it frightened the family and, after several days of the bloodcurdling sounds, the father grabbed his gun and went hunting for the source. According to the story, as the man searched his property, he noticed that the volume and quality of the sound improved the further he got from his home. He soon realized that his quarry wasn’t a single creature but multiple ones. He hurried back home, not wanting to face whatever made those noises alone. That’s where he discovered the dismembered remains of his family strewn about the house. Some versions of the tale also claim that the husband witnessed a female leaving the scenes engulfed by a white mist.

Another tale comes from a deer hunter who had strung up a buck he had killed earlier in the day and placed the guts in a washtub. He sat on his porch, strumming away on his guitar, and noticed that the woods had grown suddenly quiet. There was no croaking from the frogs or the buzz of insects. Suddenly, his hunting dogs came running around the corner of his house, where their pen was. They crawled into an opening under the house with their tails firmly tucked beneath them. He placed his guitar down and looked in the direction of the dog’s pen. There stood a creature as tall as a basketball goal with long, stringy white hair and hooves for feet. It let out a piercing scream and headed first for his dogs and then for him. The hunter barely closed the front door before the creature began clawing at it. Unable to access his prey, the beast let out more screams and paced the porch, waiting for him to come back outside. The standoff lasted until after the sun rose when the creature finally left with the deer carcass and washtub. The roof of the pen hung askew opposite of the hole the dogs used to escape, and his guitar lay on the porch covered in a slimy substance. Later, the washtub was found in the woods licked completely clean.

Other stories regarding the identity of the White Bluff Screamer range from a banshee, a werewolf, to an exotic animal that escaped a circus train. There are still reports of screams and wails coming from the forest around the town of White Bluff, with some claiming to have seen the beast. So, the next time you are outside and hear a scream or wail, it might be a good time to call it a night and head inside. You never know what may be looking at you with hungry eyes from the woods.

Until next time,

D.J.

Nightmare Fuel: Loveland Frogmen

Hello Addicts,

This week’s Nightmare Fuel takes us to the Loveland, OH area, where reports of bipedal lizards or frogs have frightened businesspeople and police officers alike over the decades. These are the aptly named Loveland Frogmen.

The creatures stand about three to four feet tall, weighing approximately fifty to seventy-five pounds, and can use sticks as tools and possibly electrical weapons. They are covered with leathery skin and have webbed hands and feet, much like typical frogs. What is most distinguishing is their frog-like heads with wrinkles in place of hair.

The first reported sighting of these creatures was in 1955 when a businessman ran across three as he drove along a dark stretch of road. He managed to watch them for a couple of minutes before one noticed him and waved a stick above its head like a wand, complete with shooting sparks.

The next run-in with the frogmen was in 1972 when Officer Ray Shockey stopped his car for what he perceived was an injured dog laying on the side of the road. When he stopped and exited the patrol car, the creature got to his feet and looked back at the policeman. Its eyes glowed as it reflected the light from the headlights before it turned and leaped over the guardrail and slipped into the Little Miami River. When Officer Shockey and Officer Mark Matthews returned to the scene, they found only scrape marks leading to the river. The same Officer Matthews would later have his run-in with one of the amphibious creatures.

On March 17, 1972, Officer Matthews was driving a different stretch of road outside of Loveland, OH, when he found a dead animal in the middle of the road. Just as in the previous experience, the frogman got up into a crouched position and walked to the guardrail with his eyes focused on Officer Matthews. This time, the police officer managed to fire a couple of shots at the creature before it vanished into the dark.

In the years since, Officer Matthews has retracted his reported sighting, claiming that what he saw was simply a large-sized lizard that escaped its owner. Perhaps his change of heart on the sighting was a case of mistaken identity or ridicule from fellow officers. There is plenty of reason to question the existence of the frogmen. Firstly, frogs are not known to walk on hind legs. Secondly, the part of Ohio where the sightings took place was a heavily populated area without any Native American lore to back them up.

While the legend of the Loveland Frogmen may indeed be a result of active imaginations, mistaken identity, and the dark, it does make for some compelling fodder for story ideas. There is always the possibility that the creatures exist. Until it is proven, however, the legends make for some great storytelling.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Nightmare Fuel : Olivia Mabel

Hello Addicts,

Olivia Mabel lived with her husband Travis and son Aiden on the Footlights Ranch, a thirteen-acre property near Celina, TX. Tragedy struck the family on March 13, 1990, when Aiden, then seven years old, drowned in a pond on their land. In her grief, Olivia began distancing herself from everyone: friends, family, work, and even her husband. There was a divorce, and Travis moved to the New England area, leaving Olivia all alone. The last reported sighting of her was in September 1991.

On February 27, 1994, police were dispatched to the Footlights Ranch after they traced a series of silent 911 calls to there. The home appeared empty, dusty, and neglected — all save for one room, Aiden’s former bedroom. Unlike the rest of the house, it was kept neat and tidy. It also contained an altar to the deceased child, complete with hand-drawn images and letters addressed to him. On the front of the altar were Tibetian and Sanskrit words which, when translated, said “Construct” or “To Build.” It was in this room that police found the decomposing remains of Olivia Mabel. She sat in a rocking chair with a hand-crafted stick doll clutched tight in her hands.

Although she had been dead for a while by that point, it was a letter dated 2-27-94, the same day of the 911 calls and discovery of the scene, that increased the creep factor. It read:

My Aiden,

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

I should have never let it get like this.

I’m leaving.

I will not let you keep me you ViLE, EViL CREATURE.

Mommy’s coming for you, Aiden, my sweet Aiden.

Mommy loves you.

Some believe that Olivia tried to create a tulpa version of her son based on translations of the Sanskrit on the alter. Further, they think both the tulpa and Olivia’s spirit still inhabit the home. Others see a woman unwilling to let go of her son who slipped into madness and despair. Although the case is officially closed, many aspects of it remain a mystery to this day.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J.

Nightmare Fuel: The Congelier House

For the first Nightmare Fuel of the season, I want to visit a legend from my old hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. Allow me to tell you the tale of the Congelier House, often referred to as “The Most Haunted House in America” and “The House the Devil Built.”

The house was built in the 1860s in the Manchester neighborhood on Pittsburgh’s North Side by Charles Congelier, a gentleman who made a fortune in the South. He lived there with his wife, Lyda, and their maid, Essie. According to the legend, in 1871, Lyda discovered her husband in bed with the maid and snapped in true horror fashion. Grabbing a knife and a meat cleaver, she ended the affair by brutally stabbing Charles and decapitating Essie. Lyda was discovered by a family friend several days later in her rocking chair, gently stroking Essie’s severed head.

After that, the home remained empty for almost twenty years before being purchased by a local railroad company in 1892. The company converted the house into several living quarters for their workers, but shortly after, stories circulated about strange sounds and other activities, including ghostly figures. By the turn of the century, the home sold again, and the legend only gets stranger.

In 1900, an immigrant by the name of Dr. Adolph C Brunrichter purchased the Congelier House. True to a serial killer profile, Dr. Brunrichter was a quiet man who kept to himself in a reclusive manner. Then, on August 12, 1901, a woman’s scream and the bright explosion of light from the house prompted neighbors to call the police. They discovered a woman’s decapitated corpse and a secret laboratory in the basement containing five heads. According to his notes, the good doctor was experimenting on methods to keep the heads alive after their removal. Unfortunately, Dr. Brunrichter vanished without a trace. In 1927, a drunken man claiming to be him was arrested and later released when police could not corroborate his story.

The Equitable Gas Company purchased the house, intending to convert it back into apartments for their immigrant workers to live. Not long after, stories of demonic voices began circulating among the tenants. It was only after two of their own were found murdered in the basement that the workers refused to live there. They blamed it on whatever spirits inhabited the home since there was no way for the killer to have escaped. In 1927, a natural gas explosion destroyed much of the neighborhood, leaving the Congelier House a smoldering crater. Locals believed that the house was transported back to Hell.

As with many other legends, there is more fiction to the story than fact. There are no records of a Charles Congelier having lived in Pittsburgh at the time, nor of the double homicide. There is also no evidence of Dr. Adolph C Brunrichter even existing. At one time, Mary Congelier owned the home, but that ended with the explosion in 1927. While it didn’t destroy the house, broken glass severed an artery in her leg, causing her death. The home was later torn down, along with the other damaged buildings in the area after the explosion. Even without facts to back it up, the Congelier House legend continues to this day.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review: “Severed Wings” by Steven-Elliot Altman

Hello Addicts,

Imagine that you are an actor on the cusp of becoming a breakout star in a new series, only to have fate take it away in the blink of an eye. How low would your life sink, and what would you do to get that life back? These are the questions raised by Steven-Elliot Altman in Severed Wings. .

Brandon Jones is a rising star set to take on a sitcom role that he sees as his big break. Fate intervenes in the form of a head-on car accident that takes the life of a teenager and places him paralyzed from the waist down and permanently in a wheelchair. He breaks up with his girlfriend, a starlet in her own right, loses the sitcom role he fought hard to get, and cuts off contact with family and friends. He sinks into depression, finding solace in alcohol and companionship with a drag queen and an escort working her way through college.

Life and circumstances change when new neighbors move in down the hall. At first, they are a mystery he feels a strong urge to solve, but he is smitten when he sees the woman living there. Unfortunately, while she is distantly friendly, her boyfriend is anything but that. The mystery behind the couple deepens when a man leading a blind older woman knocks on Brandon’s door by mistake. He recognizes the woman as a prestigious agent. Her presence in their apartment building is enough to inflame his curiosity further. What follows are miracles and the discovery of entities almost as old as the world itself.

I found the take on a man falling from the highs of stardom to the lows of despair, self-loathing, and depression to be engaging. The supernatural elements fold into the mix in a satisfying way for the tale. There is a bit of redemption towards the end, although it doesn’t go as far as offering a thoroughly happy ending. If you are looking for a quick read a la the Masters of Horror television series, I think this will satisfy that craving.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review: The Butcher’s Tale

Hello Addicts.

Imagine a future where people addicted to reliving other peoples’ memories they will give up everything for the experience. That is where former shock jock, Johnny C. Vid, finds himself at the beginning of The Butcher’s Tale by Nicholas Walls.

In the future, a new technology known as Vicarious Reality (VR for short) has become a popular past time.  It allows you to experience your greatest fantasies without actually doing them yourselves.  Even though it is someone else’s memories, you feel like it is happening to you.  The sights, the smells, the excitement, all feel like the real thing when it is nothing more than a replay piped through a physical connection in your brain.  That is where we find Johnny C. Vid, a former popular shock jock, turned unemployed and homeless VR addict.  So desperate for a fix, he goes to where his current supplier obtains his recordings in the lowest levels of the city. It is there that he finds a massive man wearing a pig mask hunting for people to torture.  It doesn’t take long for Johnny to find himself impaled on a meat hook, wishing for death.

The first half of this book was a good read for fans of slasher horror tales.  The amount of blood and violence is on par with what you’d find in a “Friday the 13th” or “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” movie.  Johnny also gives off serious Captain Ahab vibes as he remains focused only on his pursuit of destroying the man in the pig mask, whom he calls “The Butcher.”  The reason “The Butcher” tortures his prey is also clearly given: he too is a VR addict.  The difference? He rips the recordings from his victim’s minds so he can relive every juicy moment of pain, fear, and anguish.  For Johnny C. Vid, it’s not some noble quest to vanquish the demon but straight-up vengeance.

What took me out of the story was, after the midpoint, the narrative shifts from horror to space opera/spy thriller.  To me, it felt a bit disjointed after Johnny got his revenge, and the horror aspect ended.  Overall it is a good read, but only if you look at it as two books, an original and the sequel, for the price of one.

Until next time, Addicts!

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review: Sepultura by Guy Portman

Book Review: Sepultura by Guy Portman

Hello Addicts,

One of my favorite of slasher-style tales is where you get to see the crime from the killer’s point of view. Being able to get a glimpse into the mind of a serial killer to find out what makes them do what they do so brutally as well as the lengths they’ll go to remain hidden. I thought Sepultura would be a good one to try, and the results were mixed.

Dyson Devereux works in the Burials and Cemeteries Department and is a very meticulous person in his tastes, fashion, food, and drink. He has a son with Rakesha, an ex-girlfriend he still has a physical relationship with, and is very much a player when it comes to women in general. He is a judgmental person who not only looks down his nose at those he believes are beneath him because of how they dress or carry themselves. His interactions with these people give you an idea of his level of sociopathic tendencies. One of those individuals is Rakesha’s boyfriend, who Dyson refers to as Free Lunch. He hates Dyson but has no problem living off the money he provides for Rakesha and their son.

When Free Lunch gets physically confrontational, you see just how efficient of a killer Dyson is. He kills the younger man and cleans up enough of the mess to immediately spend time with one of his girlfriends in bed. Like most serial killers, he has a plan on disposing of the body and takes a souvenir to remember the act. As the story continues, you see his talent at making people disappear first hand. He gets rattled only a couple of times when he runs across people who bear a likeness to some of his previous victims but is cool when it comes to speaking with the police. It isn’t the only murder in the book, but it best illustrates just how much thought he puts into his crimes.

As I said in the beginning, I have mixed feelings regarding this book. It is the second book in the series, but the story stands alone well. You don’t need to have read the first book, Necropolis, to know anything about Dyson Devereux’s character. I can say that I wasn’t a fan of his, but because of his arrogance, pretentiousness, and disdain for people. That shows how good of a writer Guy Portman is. Dyson is one of those main characters who you either love, hate, or love to hate. Some people likened him to Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, a comparison that seems a good fit. I liked the attention to detail of viewing people he looks down on as not people, but things. With some, the only given names are the labels of what he dislikes about them.

One of the things I disliked about the book, however, is the dialog written with very heavy accents. It worked well for some, like the Italians, but made understanding others practically impossible. Multiple times I had to reread sentences to decipher what the character said. Also, how Dyson establishes himself as being above everyone else felt overdone at times. The ending felt kind of rushed as well.

Overall, I thought the book was okay, but not exactly a home run. If you can get past the heavy Cockney style accents and the heavy-handed descriptions, you will enjoy this book. If you can’t, then you might want to skip this one or go for an audio version. I recommend it for those American Psycho and Dexter fans out there.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel: Black Aggie

NightmareFuel

Hello Addicts,

This week I take you on a tour of a cemetery in Baltimore, MD in search of a particular statue known as Black Aggie. It is a statue with a bit of history to it, and a legend that makes it Nightmare Fuel.

Our story begins with the death of a woman named Marian Adams. She was married to Henry Adams, the grandson of President John Quincy Adams, until her death by suicide in 1885. Distraught by the loss of his love, he traveled to Japan in June 1886 in search of comfort. Upon his return home, he sought out famed American sculptor, Augustus St. Gaudens, and commissioned a statue from him to replace his late wife’s headstone. It took four years, and when finally finished was regarded as “the most powerful and expressive pieces in the history of American art.” While the piece itself was never officially named, it is commonly referred to as the Adams Memorial, although its nickname is Grief.

Strangeness surrounded the original statue. Henry Adams never spoke publicly about it or his wife’s death, even refusing to acknowledge the artwork’s nickname. His family heritage intensified the public’s curiosity, but it took hiding the statue behind walls of trees and shrubbery to capture the people’s fascination. It became a popular site to find, even though the piece was described as unnerving to see. Perhaps it was the public’s enthusiasm for it that inspired another artist, Eduard L. A. Pausch, to produce a copy, later dubbed Black Aggie.

The statue was a near identical copy of Grief, although differing in some details. Instead of being made of pink granite, Aggie was grey. It was also missing the bench and the original stonework of the original. Also, inscribed at the base of the statue was the name Agnus, the family name of the replica’s owner at the time, General Felix Agnus.

General Agnus was a war hero during the Civil War, who retired from the military to take over his father-in-law’s position as publisher of the Baltimore American newspaper until his death in 1925. The legend of Black Aggie began with the General’s body being buried at the statue’s feet.

A statue by day, stories began to spread of the stone woman moving on its own and dead spirits gathering around her on some nights. If your eyes met hers, you risked blindness. Pregnant women who passed through Aggie’s shadow faced possible miscarriages. While it’s easy to attribute these stories to fear and superstition, it’s the ones that followed that frightened people even more.

A local college fraternity took to including Black Aggie in their initiation rites, with the pledges being made to spend the night on the statue’s lap. One anecdotal case mentions that the stone woman came to life and squeezed the life out of the young man. Another instance reported by a night watchman was of a boy found frightened to death at Aggie’s feet. Other reports are of red glowing eyes at night and people dying after disrespecting the statue.

Due to the popularity of the statue and the damage caused by the people coming to see it, the decision was made to donate it. After several years where its whereabouts were unknown, the statue is now on display in the rear courtyard of the Dolly Madison house in Washington, D.C. After its removal areas of grass that refused to grow while it lay in Black Aggie’s shadow have begun filling in once again.

Is there something to this tale, or is it just an urban legend? Who can say? Perhaps these stories are as anecdotal as they sound, but what if there may be some factual evidence to back it up? Regardless, I hope this provides some fuel for your nightmares.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J. Pitsiladis

 

Nightmare Fuel – The Tragic Tale of Olivia Mabel

Hello Addicts,

In the last episode, I gave a brief overview of tulpas or thought forms. That is so I can bring you this week’s Nightmare Fuel, the tragic tale of Olivia Mabel.

Olivia Mabel was a happy wife and mother living on a ranch just north of Dallas, TX whose life was rocked by the death of her son, Aiden, who was found dead in one of their ponds. Devastated, Olivia began drawing away from everything else in her life. She spent less time with work, friends, and church, and eventually divorced her husband before secluding herself away in her home.

On February 27, 1994, police arrived at Olivia’s home responding to multiple silent calls to 911. After repeatedly knocking on the front door without a response, the officers broke the door down. Inside the house was filled with dust, stale air, and neglect. They eventually discovered Olivia’s body in her son’s immaculately kept bedroom, sitting in a rocking chair in front of a shrine dedicated to Aiden and clutching a stick figure doll. Based on the state of her body, the authorities figured that she died months prior.

The altar to Aiden was what you expect to find for a grieving parent: personal possessions of his, letters from his mother to him, hand-drawn pictures, candles, flowers, and an urn filled with ashes. Affixed to the front of the altar was Sanskrit writing that translated to “construct” or “to build.” These elements contributed to a feeling of an “angry presence” in the home.

Before long, some people began piecing together a theory on what may have happened to Olivia Mabel. They believed that the constant concentration, thoughts, and effigies focused on her son may have created a tulpa version of him. What is most disturbing about that is, if true, it is the first case where a tulpa is believed to have killed its creator. Fueling this is a note found at the scene from Olivia to her son which reads, “My Aiden, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I should have never let it get like this. I’m leaving. I will not let you keep me you ViLE, EViL CREATURE. Mommy’s coming for you, Aiden, my sweet Aiden. Mommy loves you.” What makes this note especially odd is that the letter was dated February 27, 1994, many months after her estimated death.

Did Olivia die of a broken heart, or did she create a tulpa of her son, who later killed her? If she did create a thought-form, what happened to him? If not, who placed the phone calls to 911? Is this case unique, or just a mischaracterization of a heartbreaking tragedy? We may never really know.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel – The Tulpa

NightmareFuel

Hello Addicts,

Have you ever heard of a being born of a thought?  I’m not talking about in a birds and bees kind of way, but literally, an entity created from a person’s mind?  For this episode of Nightmare Fuel, we take a look at tulpas.

A tulpa is an entity created by your mind and imagination that can sometimes gain a physical form with intelligence and sentience.   Tibetan Buddhists believe that by concentrating on a thought hard enough can make it become a real person, animal, or object.  The more you focus on the thought form, the stronger and more tangible it becomes.  Some say that a tulpa only exists in your mind, but there are some stories where they took on a physical form.

One of the more famous tulpa stories is about Alexandra David-Neel, a woman who created one in the form of a jolly monk.  She raised it like a child until it evolved into a separate entity.  Eventually, it became evil and needed to be destroyed.  David-Neel considered that the monk existed only in her mind, but some people claimed to have also seen him.  The Philip Experiment, previously covered in an installment of Nightmare Fuel, is another possible tulpa case.

The tulpa also plays a role in the world of fiction, especially in horror and fantasy tales.  Stephen King’s novel “The Dark Half” is a story about a writer’s pseudonym that comes to life in a murderous way when the author attempts to “bury” him.  Other examples are the entire cartoon series of “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” and an episode of Power Puff Girls, “Imaginary Friend,” where an imaginary friend begins being able to affect the real world, causing the girls to create a tulpa of their own to fight him.  Stories involving tulpas have also appeared in episodes of The X-Files, Supernatural, Dr. Who, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as in other mediums.

So, the next time something gets broken or taken, and they blame it on their imaginary friend, don’t be so quick to think of them diverting the blame.  It is a probability that they don’t want to get into trouble for doing something they knew shouldn’t, but there is also the possibility that they are telling the truth.  They may, through their powerful gift of imagination, have created a tulpa.

Until next time Addicts.

D.J. Pitsiladis

 

 

Nightmare Fuel: The Pooka

NightmareFuel

Hello Addicts,

I have a confession to make. I’m a Jimmy Stewart fan. To me, it just isn’t Christmas season without a showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” because it reminds me of the impact one person has on other people’s lives. However, this is a horror podcast, and, as good of a movie it is, it’s not my all-time favorite. That honor goes to another of Jimmy’s classics, “Harvey.” If you’ve never seen the movie, Jimmy Stewart plays a middle-aged man with a best friend named Harvey, a six-foot three and a half-inch invisible rabbit. Said rabbit is also referred to in the movie as a pooka, which is the subject of this week’s Nightmare Fuel.

A pooka is a much-feared member of the fae world in Ireland. Known as mischief makers, they enjoy nothing more than to spread fear and havoc. The appearance of these hobgoblins depends on where in Ireland you find yourself. Sometimes they appear as a small, deformed goblin demanding a portion of the season’s crops. Other times it can be a huge, hairy bogeyman terrorizing travelers out at night. Additional reported forms are an eagle with a massive wingspan or a black goat with curly horns. The hobgoblin’s favorite, however, is a sleek, dark horse with deep yellow eyes and a long mane. Perhaps the most disconcerting thing about a pooka is its ability to speak with a human voice.

The little creatures are known to be destructive and vindictive if slighted or ignored. It will damage property and scoop up travelers out late and toss them into muddy bogs or ditches. Some say that the mere sight of the little beasties can frighten hens into not laying eggs and cows not giving milk.

That is not to say that the pooka is all mayhem and chaos. There are some stories of them being helpful when given the proper respect by providing prophecies and warnings when asked.

So, the next time you hear a human voice calling to you when no one else is around; don’t be so quick to dismiss it as a figment of your imagination. It may be a pooka, and there may be painful consequences if it views your disregard as a slight to it.

Until next time addicts,

D.J. Pitsiladis

Music Review: Terror Universal, Make Them Bleed

Hello Addicts,

I’m a metal head and have been since middle school. I started with hair bands (it was the 80s, what can I say) and eventually graduated to harder music in college and beyond. I have fond memories from my younger days of banging my head to Marilyn Manson, Slipknot, and Disturbed among other bands. When I saw the Terror Universal’s video for the song “Through the Mirrors,” I felt a strong need to check out the rest of the album.

The band is made up of former members of Soulfly, Machine Head, Ill Nino, and Upon a Burning Body with each member wearing a mask that looks designed by Ed Gein and at home on Leatherface. Even their names play on the horror vibe they strove for: Massacre on drums, Thrax on guitar, Diabolous 2 on bass guitar, and Plague on lead vocals. With that image in mind, the video brought memories of early Slipknot and Drowning Pool videos. The longer I listened, the more of a distinction I picked up from the band. When I heard the rest of their debut studio album, I instantly added to my regular music rotation.

Every song is energizing in different ways, whether through harmonic choruses, catchy rhythm and beats, well placed screaming lyrics, and the sound variety. Each song is a story unto itself. The three standouts from the album are the previously mentioned song “Through the Mirrors,” “Spines,” and “Dig You a Hole.” Now, that’s not to say the other songs on the album aren’t great as well. Each finds just the right balance between tempo and singing styles. While my headbanging days are long behind me, I still felt the familiar adrenaline rush while listening to the album. If you are into horror metal or metal in general, I highly recommend this outing from Terror Universal and look forward to their next.

Until next time, Addicts…

Nightmare Fuel – Resurrection Mary

NightmareFuel

Hello Addicts,

Imagine driving along in your car and seeing a young woman in a white dress and dancing shoes walking along the roadside.  You feel sorry for her and offer a ride, which she graciously accepts.  When you arrive at the address she gives, you are shocked to see it is a cemetery.  You look to verify the address with your passenger, only to see her vanish in front of your eyes.  Immediately, you wonder whether she was there or if you were losing your mind.  A third option to offer is that the young lady in question was a ghost.

Hitchhiking ghost stories have long been a part of urban legends for decades, if not longer.  The scenario described above is one version of a famous tale from Justice, IL, a village not far from Chicago.  Resurrection Mary, as she is known, is described as a light blond-haired, blue-eyed woman wearing a white dress.  Additional details only sometimes reported are black dress shoes, a thin shawl, and a small clutch purse.  Another commonality in each story is Resurrection Cemetery, the location giving Mary part of her name.  Some reports claim that a woman matching her description runs out and either attempts to jump directly in front of the vehicle or on the side runners as they drive by before disappearing.  Other tales describe meeting the young lass walking along Archer Avenue, or at the O’Henry Ballroom, only to disappear once arriving at the cemetery.  Dozens of men over the years have claimed sightings or interactions with the ghostly woman.  In fact, Mary is considered one of the more famous hauntings in the Chicago area.

How did Mary become a ghost, you might ask?  Researchers of the legend commonly agree that the young woman spent her last evening alive dancing at the O’Henry Ballroom with her boyfriend before getting into a heated argument with him.  She left alone on foot along Archer Avenue when a car came out of nowhere and struck her down.  Her body is discovered the next morning and buried in the Resurrection Cemetery wearing the same white dress and dance shoes from the stories.  Whether this version of the story is real or simply an urban legend is impossible to say, but doesn’t the beauty of a good story lie in not knowing?

So the next time you’re driving at night and see a young woman matching Mary’s description, think twice about picking her up.  Once you arrive at the cemetery, she will most likely vanish before your eyes.  Then again, she may enjoy your company and take you with her.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review: Planet Dead: The Briggs Boys (Planet Dead Shorts Book 1)

Hello Addicts,

I’ve read many zombie apocalypse tales over the years, both good and bad.  The good ones tend to spawn prequels, which provide essential backstory on popular heroes and villains.  Planet Dead by Sylvester Barzey, is one such series.  This month, I decided to look at a tale set in that universe, Planet Dead: The Briggs Boys (Planet Dead Shorts Book 1).

The story opens with the Briggs brothers, Robert and Peter, arguing just outside of their infected mother’s room.  Robert, the older brother, knows what will happen once she turns and wants to send her off before she becomes a zombie.  Peter, the doting son, remained by his mother’s side after his older brother left to join the military and start a family of his own.  He holds on to the hope that Mama Briggs will not die or become a rabid, flesh-eating monster.  When she inevitably does, a small horde joins her, and the boys find themselves under siege in their own home.  What follows is a nonstop ride involving mercenaries and a possible cure.  Follow the epic beginning of the Briggs Boys as they find their place in Planet Dead.

I enjoyed this short glimpse into the Planet Dead world.  The story moved at a comfortably rapid pace, and I found myself not wanting to put it down until I found out what happened next.  The characters were well-developed, given the story length, and you can’t help but want to follow them in the later novels.  The only issue I had has more to do with prequels in general, predictability.  It becomes easy to guess the story ending and the fate of characters that don’t appear in the main novels.  That aside, I recommend this introduction to the Planet Dead world.  If you started with the main novels, this short provides some fun character backstory.  Personally, I plan on reading the rest of the books in the series as soon as I can.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J.

Nightmare Fuel by D.J. Pitsiladis: Ted Bundy’s House

NightmareFuel

Hello Addicts,

Imagine you buy a home with the intention of renovating it and selling it for a profit, only for strange things to start happening.  The idea of owning a haunted house intrigues many but is also a source of nightmares to many others.  But, what if the house in question was the childhood home of one of the sickest and most handsome serial killers in American history?

The little blue house in Tacoma, WA, was purchased in September 2016 by David Truong who planned to fix and flip it.  A month later, when Casey Clopton, the contractor hired to work on the house, arrived with his eleven-year-old daughter, she complained about feeling uneasy and refused to be left alone inside.  The feeling was echoed the following week by a member of the demolition crew, but the work went ahead as planned.

Things began happening, and Clopton figured it as nothing more than his employees playing pranks on each other.  That thought started to change one day when they arrived and found all of the doors and drawers inside wide open, even though the outer doors were locked up tight and the alarm system was still armed.  Another time, while cleaning a flood in the basement, the words “Help Me” appeared in the window even though there was a screen between the glass and the outside access.  “Leave” also appeared in drywall dust with no visible footprints anywhere near.  Electronics became unplugged and quickly died.  Then, a dresser inset in the hallway wall pulled itself free and toppled forward.  According to Clopton, two people were needed to move the dresser, and they were all on a different floor at the time.  Other reports ranged from jiggling doorknobs to phantom footsteps and knocks.

It was when Clopton talked to neighbors that he discovered the home’s infamous history.  The house he was renovating was the childhood home of serial killer Ted Bundy.  Bundy, who confessed to at least thirty murders, moved into the home with his family in 1955 when he was nine years old.  While that seems rather innocuous, keep in mind that he is suspected to have started his murder spree while living in that home, although nothing has definitively linked or cleared him of the crime.

Clopton called in two pastors who read scriptures and performed blessings in every room.  The clergymen encouraged the workers to listen to Christian music while they worked and to write Bible verses on the walls.  They did all of that and managed to finish the house four months later than planned.  The home sold shortly afterward.  It is unknown whether the new owners are aware of their new purchases’ history or if the protections done are still protecting them.  It almost makes me want to check the history of my home.  Almost.

Until next time, Addicts….

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review: The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema by Michael Vaughn

Hello Addicts,

For this month’s book review, I thought I’d take a break from fiction and embrace my inner cinephile and review a book about different movies. Of course, for our group, they can’t just be ordinary movies.

We all love them. There’s that one movie people think is so bad that it’s good. The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema by Michael Vaughn is chock full of movies that fit that bill. While we tend to favor more of the horror genre, there is that and more. He provides a wide bevy of options in drama, horror, science fiction, action/adventure, comedy, and fantasy. They cover movies involving cannibalism, zombie sushi, killer cars, transvestite bikers, shallow graves, blow up dolls, killer insects, mutants, aliens, and killer tires (yes, there is a movie about a killer tire). Notable names are attached to these films, either as directing, acting, and sometimes both. There are entries from noted directors Peter Jackson, David Cronenberg, David Lynch, Danny Boyle, and John Waters. Even actors like Ewen McGregor, James Brolin, Willem Dafoe, Jude Law, and Ryan Reynolds find places in some of these flicks.

It was fun to read and find out about some of the stories behind the movies I already knew about, but this book has given me a lot more to watch that I may not have thought about before. It is a good resource to find earlier works from stars, writers, and directors you are already fans of, and see where they started. The book also doesn’t just cover movies made here in North America. The author included movies he’s watched spanning the world. These are all tested flicks, and he gives you his take on each one. There are also content warnings for those movies that deal with subject matter or special effects that may not sit well with certain audiences.

Overall, I found the book to be very informative and definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a less than serious movie or who just wants a fun movie to watch. It may just help you find that diamond in the rough film. Big kudos to Michael Vaughn for providing such a helpful reference guide.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

 

Book Review: To Watch You Bleed by Jordon Greene

Hello Addicts,

How do you define horror? What is the difference between a horror story and a thriller? Those are the questions I needed to ask for this review. There is a fine line between the two, and To Watch You Bleed by Jordon Greene.

The tone of the story is set in the opening chapter with a car crash involving two young boys caused by their drunken and abusive father. The dad dies on impact, while the youngest boy holds on long enough for the driver of the other car to come and check on them. Once the older boy mentions that their father died, the other driver runs away, ignoring all cries for help. Flash forward to Halloween three years later, and we find a family of four getting ready for their coming day. The oldest daughter, Mara, is upset with her parents because it is the final Halloween party of her senior year, and she is grounded while her younger brother, Aiden, is allowed to go. Lenore, their mother, is anything but looking forward to greeting trick or treaters that night. Her husband, Dalton, promises to, but later backs out of it, claiming to be working late on a new client project. As night arrives, Aiden goes off to the party, where the girl he is in love with waits for him. Mara locks herself in the bedroom, where she waits for her boyfriend in a barely there negligee. Dalton blows his wife off, even rejecting her phone calls, to spend the night celebrating with his buxom secretary. Lenore is alone when three kids arrive with evil intentions.

The three masked boys hold Lenore and Mara hostage while they wait for Dalton to arrive home. Their true intentions for the family become horrifyingly clear when they stab Mara’s boyfriend in the neck and leave him to bleed out while their target races home. After Dalton arrives, they kill the boyfriend anyway by sawing deep into his throat with a sharp hunting knife. Dalton is forced to watch at gunpoint as his wife and daughter are violated and tortured. Things only get worse as the night wears on, more blood is spilled, and the bodies begin to pile up.

This was a difficult story for me to read, mostly because I’m not that big of a torture story fan. While the blood and gore was fitting to a point, it was hard to stay motivated at times to continue reading because of how unjust the story felt. It seems like the more sympathy you felt for a character, the better the chance they died in a very horrifying way. The information from the first chapter made it pretty simple to figure out who the three boys were there for, and who one of them was. It seemed to take forever for Dalton to figure out who the leader wanted to hurt, and he only did so when the boy spelled it out for him. The story did have a good rhythm throughout, and that was one of the reasons I stuck with the story. I feel the story qualifies as a horror story because of how the amount of terror the characters, and by extension the reader, feels as the story unfolds. There are points when you think characters might make it, only for the rug to be pulled out from under them.

Overall, the story is a good one to read, but if you are not a fan of torture style stories and movies, then you might not feel the same way. If those are your cup of tea, then To Watch You Bleed  is for you.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review — “How a Loser Like Me Survived the Zombie Apocalypse”

Hello Addicts,

As much as I enjoy a good horror story, I will admit that I am a sucker for the occasional oddball or offbeat story in the genre.  “How a Loser Like Me Survived the Zombie Apocalypse” kind of fits that bill, but it wasn’t as humorous of a story as I thought it might be.

The book, written by Steven Bereznai, follows a man named Marty at the start of the zombie apocalypse.  He is engaged to the love of his life, part owner of a gym, and in an otherwise happy place in his life.  All of that changes when he wakes one morning to find his fiancee, Steph, missing.  As he searches the house for her, he finds her eating a dog in the backyard.  She attacks him on sight like a rabid animal, and he is forced to kill her.  That begins his backward cycle to the person he was before meeting Steph, a man with little to no self-esteem.  It is only made worse when he ends he ends up at his business with the ex-girlfriend partially responsible for his self-esteem issues in the first place.  It isn’t long before she begins playing her mind games again.  Add to that the uncertainty of the infections and how it is transmitted, and you have a group of mistrusting survivors who are easily manipulated.

 

I expected this story to be more of a funny take on the zombie apocalypse type of stories.  Even with that in mind, I enjoyed this story a lot.  It was relatively short and paced pretty well, mostly.  You couldn’t help but wonder just how much of what was going on between the survivors was because of the ex-girlfriend, or if Marty read into things based on past experiences.  You couldn’t help but feel for him.  There were times, however, where it felt like things were rushed along a little too quickly when drawing it out might help the story more.  That being said, I did have a hard time putting the book down until I finished the story.  If you are looking for a nice, fun, and quick read, this is definitely a book to check out.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel — The Suicide Forest

Hello Addicts.

For the season finale of HorrorAddicts.net, let’s take an overseas journey to the Aokigahara Forest, in the shadow of Mt. Fuji in Japan.

The forest is about a two-hour journey from Tokyo, but that hasn’t stopped people from visiting for the beautiful sights, the macabre discoveries, and others for ending their lives. It is estimated that 500 hundred individuals have entered the forest since 1950 and never left alive, with a record-setting 105 deaths reported there in 2003.  Approximately seventy sets of human remains are discovered in the forest every year, some so old they are only moss-covered bones when they are brought out.

 

suicide forest

Then there is the paranormal aspect of the forest. Due to a number of suicide victims not yet discovered, many spiritualists believe that the souls of the dead have permeated into the trees themselves, adding to the difficulty of escaping the forest once inside.  Once discovered, the bodies of the departed are brought to the ranger’s station, where they await removal from the park.  Each time one unlucky ranger must spend the night in the same room as the body(s), since leaving them alone overnight is to deal with a moving corpse and a screaming yurei, or ghost of the departed.

Some additional facts about the Suicide Forest are:

  1. Many refer to its lush green beauty as the “perfect place to die”.
  2. The density of the Sea of Trees makes it easy to get lost without running across another living human being.
  3. Compasses malfunction due to the magnetic iron ore in the area.
  4. It is the second most sought-after place to end one’s life, behind the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA, USA.

For those who are considering suicide, know that there are people who care about you, understand the pain you are going through, and want to help you through it all.

Until next season Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel — The ZoZo Phenomena

 

Hello Addicts,

If you are a regular user of Ouija boards, then many of you have probably heard of this week’s Nightmare Fuel topic. If not, allow me to introduce you to… the ZoZo Phenomenon.

Let me start by explaining, for those just new to the horror realms what an Ouija board is. Sometimes referred to as a spirit board, an Ouija board is some form of a flat surface, most of the time wood or cardboard, with the alphabet, the numbers 0-9, and common words such as “yes”, “no”, and “goodbye”. You place your fingers lightly on a device called a planchette and wait for the spirits to begin moving it around. Once a connection with a spirit is made, you can ask it questions, which the entity answers by moving the planchette to different parts of the board. Because of the nature of people in moving the planchette, whether deliberately or subconsciously, there is a certain level of uncertainty in the effectiveness of the device. What makes the ZoZo Phenomena particularly interesting is a number of people reporting it from around the world before it became a talked about thing, since 1816 according to the earliest stories.

The beginnings of the stories share this similarity, an Ouija board session is started and an entity identifying itself as ZoZo (or sometimes ZaZa or ZoSo). From there, the stories diverge drastically. Some people have reported things like the spirit providing an answer to questions it had no reason to know and impersonating others just to frighten the users of the board. Others have reported bumps, bangs, and threatening messages. Still, others have experienced possession and death threats/predictions. For one person, in particular, ZoZo not only predicted how he was going to die but used the man’s ex to attempt to bring it into being when she stabbed him to death.

Some people say that ZoZo is simply a mischievous spirit or a collection of copycat spirits. Others claim that it is a demon bent on creating as much mayhem, death, and pain as possible. It may also be the result of mass hysteria, deep-seated human fears, or an urban legend. I myself think that ZoZo is a collection or mix and match of all of the above. One thing is for certain, the ZoZo Phenomena is one that should not be taken lightly or ignored, especially if you use an Ouija board.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel — The Town That Dreaded Sundown

NightmareFuel

Hello Addicts,

Throughout history, there have been few serial killers who have become infamous even though their true identity has remained a mystery. One such location with an as yet unidentified murderer is Texarkana, TX.

The terror began February 22, 1946. Jimmy Hollis and Mary Jeanne were parked on the local lover’s lane just outside of town when they were attacked by a large man wearing a white mask with holes cut out for the eyes and mouth. What they thought was an armed robbery became worse when Jimmy was severely beaten and Jeanne violently assaulted by the man. The attacker remained unidentified and quiet for a month before striking again.

On March 24, 1946, a car was discovered on a secluded road with the bodies of another couple. It is believed that the couple, Richard Griffin and Polly Ann Moore were sharing a romantic moment when the killer came upon them. Both people were shot in the back of the head, and Moore was placed in the back seat of the car, wrapped in a blanket. The coroner was unable to determine whether she was also assaulted as in the attack the month before.

A third attack attributed to the “Phantom Killer” occurred on April 13, 1976 when Betty Jo Booker and Paul Martin’s bodies were discovered. Betty Jo had just finished playing at a local club and was getting a ride home from her friend Paul. His body was found on the side of a road with multiple gunshot wounds to the head. It took several hours for her body to be found two miles away. Betty Jo appeared to have been sexually assaulted before being shot to death.

The final attack came on May 3, 1946. Gunfire shattered the living room window of Virgil and Katie Starks. One of the bullets struck Virgil in the back of the head, but that wasn’t the end. Katie attempted to contact the police, and “The Phantom Killer” shot her twice in the face. She survived by escaping the house and running to a neighbor’s house. Due to the amount of blood flowing into her eyes, Katie was unable to identify the attacker.

Panic filled the town during this entire ordeal. Businesses closed by sunset, a curfew was established, and the townspeople purchased stronger locks and barricaded windows. Rewards were offered and many suspects were questioned, and still, the killer remained unidentified. Even the famed Texas Rangers were called in to investigate with no results.

The legend of the Phantom Killer became so widespread that the events of his murder spree inspired the 1976 film, “The Town That Dreaded Sundown”, and the later sequel/remake with the same title. The details of the murder were followed, but with some creative license taken for sake of entertainment. Even with all of this attention, the killer of all those people still remains unknown.

Until next time Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel — The Bunny Man

Hello Addicts,

This week’s Nightmare Fuel comes courtesy of one of my sons.  Let’s take a look at The Bunny Man or The Clifton Bunny Man.

Our story begins with an asylum, which predated the town of Clifton, VA, that was petitioned to relocate. The reason given was that they didn’t feel comfortable living so close to the inmates stored there. During the process of moving the patients to a different facility, they bus transporting them overturned and most of the prisoners escaped. All but two were quickly recaptured. Marcus A. Wallster and Douglas J. Grifton evaded police for four months, leaving half eaten and dismembered rabbit carcasses in random spots. Eventually, they found the body of Wallster holding a handmade weapon that looked to be a cross between a hatchet and a dagger. The press and townspeople dubbed him the Bunny Man, although the name changed ownership to Grifton after the body of more rabbits were discovered. After three more months of not finding any other signs of the final escaped prisoner, the police called off the search for him. They figured he had either already left the area or died. Life went on.

Around Halloween, rabbit carcasses were discovered in the area around the Fairfax Station Bridge. On Halloween Night, a group of teenagers were drinking and having a good time on the bridge, but terror struck the only three remaining on the bridge at midnight. According to the legend, a bright light erupted from the portion of the bridge where the kids were. Within seconds, the teens were hung by their necks off the sides of the bridge with their throats slit and slashes running up their middles. It was determined that the weapon was similar to the one found with Marcus Wallster’s body months prior. These murders became an annual thing as defiant teenagers tempted fate at the Bunny Man Bridge.  Always on Halloween, and always foreshadowed by the bunny body parts, now renamed Bunny Man Bridge.

Fast forward to 1987, and a group of teens are hanging around the bridge, pulling pranks to scare each other and eating candy stolen from other Trick-or-Treaters. At midnight, one member of the group attempts to leave, not wanting to tempt the fate of the Bunny Man. Her body is halfway off the bridge when things brighten and the skin on her chest begins to slice open. There is nothing physically touching her to cause this, so she doubles her efforts to escape, which she does. In the process, the woman collides with one of the hanging bodies and she is rendered unconscious. When she wakes up, her hair has turned bright white and she has been bleeding. The woman spends the rest of her days sitting on a swinging bench on her balcony, just staring in the direction of the bridge without ever going near it.

As with any urban legend of the like, there is little evidence proving that these events, let alone all of the murders occurred. It is possible that this is a story told by parents to keep their children away from the Bunny Man Bridge. However, there may also be a nugget of truth to the story as well. In 1970, two incidents occurred within a week of each other in Burke, VA. According to police reports, people were chased off what he called his property. He held an ax in his hands and was described to possibly be wearing a bunny costume, or something resembling one. In each case, the man was never found, and there have been no similar incidents in the police records since.

Whether the stories are true or not, they do make for interesting nightmares and horror stories.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review: Resurrection America by Jeff Gunhus

Hello Addicts,

For this month’s book review, I selected Resurrection America by Jeff Gunhus. Let me start by saying that the book isn’t your typical horror story fare. I assure you that there are enough elements by the end of the book for the more discerning horror tastes.

Resurrection is a small, picturesque town in Colorado attempting to rebuild itself after many years of financial hardship. The day before their annual Fall Festival, an event they hope will jumpstart their tourism industry, the sheriff is called out to the mine overlooking the town. A new company has moved into the long dormant mine with plans to reopen it and give a large donation to the town. The sheriff agrees to keep mum about the company’s presence until they are ready to speak with Resurrection’s mayor and council. The actual plans for the town and the mine are far from the happy, hopeful story given. The real hope is for the events in Resurrection, CO, to kick the United States of America out of their post-war stagnation. Needless to say, what is planned for the townspeople is truly horrifying on many levels.

As I said at the beginning, this doesn’t fall easily into the realm of horror. The story as a whole would fall under science-fiction thriller, but there are enough horror elements to whet the casual Addict’s appetite. What is most frightening about the story is the plausibility of something like this possibly happening with the technology available today. If you are a hardcore horror fan, you may not appreciate the story as much. Overall, I think Resurrection America is a fun read.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel – The 11B-X-1371 Video

 

Hello Addicts,

For this week’s Nightmare Fuel, we take a look at a creepy video named 11B-X-1371.

Released in 2015, the video is a truly creepy one that is chock full of secret codes and hidden imagery. The video itself is two minutes in length and shows a person dressed up in what appears to be an old style plague doctor suit. The setting is a dilapidated building in a forest, and the distorted music and sounds playing throughout the video increase the creep factor exponentially. As the video plays, the person flashes various hand gestures while lights flash and symbols appear on the screen. This alone is enough for excite those of us who enjoy creepy mysteries, but this one is a multi-layered one that really caught on with code breakers and puzzle lovers.

Framed at the top of the video is a binary code, that, when translated, reads, “Te queda 1 año menos” or “You have 1 year less”. The soundtrack doubled as a code that, after being run through a spectrogram, revealed a skull, images of someone being tortured, and “You are already dead.” Other lines of code hidden in the video stills revealed other chilling information, such as the longitude and latitude coordinates of the White House, the phrase RED LIPS LIKE TENTH (which some take as an anagram for KILL THE PRESIDENT), “The Eagle infected will spread his disease. We are the antivirus will protect the world body”, and “Strike an arrow through the heart of the eagle.” Accordingly, many have interpreted all of this, including the costume, as a possible threat of bioterrorism against the USA.

Many have come forward to claim ownership of the video, but the strongest candidate for it is a person calling himself Parker Warner Wright, a US citizen living in Poland. He claims to have created the video at the former Zofiówka Sanatorium, near Otwock, a short distance south of Warsaw. The purpose of the video wasn’t any type of threat but was intended for an art project that needed multiple people to help decode all of the secrets. To back up his claim, he released an earlier video taken outside of the same location with a slight variation on the plague costume.

Regardless of the truth behind the video, I must admit that it is definitely a creepy one that has a lot of mystery yet to be unraveled. Check out the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quyXS4a0JGQ and judge for yourself. Perhaps you can help decode the full message behind the video.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel — Baron Kriminel

Hello Addicts,

Last season I gave a little glimpse at one of the four Barons of Voodoo with Baron Samedi. For this week’s Nightmare Fuel, I thought we’d take a peek at the muscle of the Ghede family, Baron Kriminel.

According to legend, Baron Kriminel was a murderer condemned to death and is invoked to pronounce swift judgment on criminals and those who still owe his family for services rendered. Those possessed by this particular Baron shout obscenities and spit on or stab anyone within reach. If he is served food he doesn’t like, he will torture his host body by biting chunks of flesh from his or her arms. Baron Kriminel’s cruelty isn’t just limited to people. This cruel Loa may demand a black chicken be doused in gasoline and lit on fire, for no other reason than to hear the shrieks from the poor animal.

This Baron is believed to be either an aspect of Baron Samedi, although his fashion sense favors black, purple, white, and deep blood-red. Out of all the famed Voodoo Barons, this is one you never want to appear at your doorstep. The end results may just be the worst pain and torture you can imagine.

Until next time Addicts,

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel – Leap Castle

Hello Addicts,

This week we take a trip to one of the most haunted locations in Ireland, Leap Castle.

Located in Coolderry, Ireland, Leap (pronounced Lep) Castle was built around 1250 A.D. by the O’Bannon clan, secondary chieftains of the territory under the ruling O’Carroll clan. It is the O’Carrolls who are closely linked to most of the castle’s brutal history. One such event occurred in the 16th Century when a fierce rivalry for control of the clan erupted. A priest named Thaddeus was conducting mass for his family in the chapel. Without warning, his brother, Tiege, burst into the room and drove a sword into his back. Thaddeus fell across the altar and died while his family watched. It is his ghost, considered to be one of the oldest reported in Leap, that continues to be a regularly reported sighting in the chapel.

Another bloody aspect of Leap Castle is tied to a small room discovered in 1922. Hidden in the corner of a secret dungeon, just behind the “Bloody Chapel”, is a hole big enough for a human body to fall into. At the bottom was a pile of skeletal remains impaled upon wooden spikes. They are believed to be a combination of prisoners and unsuspecting guests of the O’Carrolls, tossed in and left to die for entertainment. It took three carts to empty the remains found in the pit.

Yet another story of the O’Carroll clan’s brutality within the castle walls involved a dinner party thrown by members of the McMahon family. The McMahons were a family of mercenaries hired to train the O’Carrolls in improved fighting techniques. Unfortunately, instead of payment, the McMahon clan were all poisoned at a banquet held in their honor. Their ghosts are also reported to haunt the castle.

Perhaps the scariest part of Leap’s history is one with the least human connection. Reported by one of the later owners of the castle, Mildred Darby, is a primitive nature spirit called “The Elemental”. Mildred, a known dabbler in the black arts of magic, described the creature as being the size of a sheep, with an inhuman face, decomposed black cavities for eyes, and smelled of rotting corpses. Some have speculated if the malevolent spirit was drawn to the castle by the dark acts of the past or the magical practices conducted at the time.

These are but some of the stories surrounding the Leap Castle, with many others waiting to be shared. In fact, it is one of a few locations I intend to visit should I ever find myself exploring my Irish roots.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis