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

Nightmare Fuel — The Midnight Game

NightmareFuel

Hello Addicts,

Welcome to a new season of Nightmare Fuel. What better way to start than with a game… The Midnight Game, perhaps?

To play, you will need paper, a writing utensil, a drop of your own blood, a candle, matches, a wooden door, a clock or watch, and a shaker of salt. You start by writing your full name (first, middle, and last) on the piece of paper and allow the blood droplet to soak into it. Then, turn off all lights and place the paper in front of the door with a lit candle upon it. Next, knock on the door twenty-two times at a rate of once per second, making sure the last coincides with the stroke of midnight. Finally, open the door, blow out the flame, close the door, and immediately light the candle again . Following this ritual calls The Midnight Man, an entity humanoid in shape and blacker than the darkest shadows. You play the game by wandering around the house with only a candle to light your way. If the flame blows out, it is said the Midnight Man is there, and you have ten seconds to either relight the candle, or encircle yourself with salt. To win, you need to last with the lit candle or remain in the salt circle until 3:33 A.M. without turning on any other lights.

If you break or choose not to follow the rules, it is said that you will either relive your death multiple times over, or see your greatest fear while your organs are removed one at a time. Some have even described having horrific nightmares in the nights following the game.

Legends say that the game was used as punishment for those who broke Pagan rules. Over the years, it has become a popular thing to play among teenagers, much like Ouija boards, Bloody Mary, or “Stiff as a Board, Light as a Feather”. If you choose to play, it is recommended that you treat it and the Midnight Man with respect, lest the bogeyman makes your torment more horrific.

If you plan on checking this legend out yourself, please do so with caution. The legends also say The Midnight Man may literally scare you to death.

Until next time, Addicts.

D.J. Pitsiladis

Review: “The Tank” by Nicola Lombardi

Hello Addicts,

Imagine you live in a world where any crime, from murder to having a difference of political opinion, is cause enough for lifetime incarceration?  The governments which come to mind probably are Nazis, communists, and, to some people, the United States’ current political climate.   Dystopian stories are some of the scariest ones you can read.  True, there may not be blood, gore, monsters, or jump scares like the traditional horror stories utilize, but they deal with people as the monsters.  People so desperate for relief from red tape, corruption, and chaos that they are willing to give up freedom to feel safe and in control.

the-tank“The Tank” by Nicola Lombardi tackles the dystopian story very well and in a pretty believable manner.  It is the future, and a military coup has placed the New Moral Order (NMO) in charge.  When is person is convicted of a crime against the NMO, they are delivered to one of nine Tanks for storage.  The Tanks look fundamentally like grain silos, however there are no cells inside.  The “guests”, as the training manual refers to the prisoners, are tossed into the main cylinder of the building and left to suffocate and rot among the other prisoners.  Those who survive the landing struggle to survive as refuse until a quarterly Cleaning, which involves acid, occurs.

Giovanni Corte is named the Keeper of Tank 9, one of the more sought after positions.  For enough money to relocate to an island with no more worries, he sacrifices one year of his life to run the facility.  Spending a year with little to no human interaction, save for the brief daily prisoner deliveries, plays on a person’s mind.  Before long, paranoia begins to rear its ugly head, which only gets worse when he finds a diary possibly left for him by the previous Keeper.  In that are mentions of spirits roaming the halls in revenge for being tossed into the Tank.  Things only get worse for Giovanni as the story progresses.

I thought the story was well told and you got pulled into the story pretty well.  There are a few spots where you notice that the translation from Italian didn’t work out as smoothly, but overall, I really enjoyed this book.  If dystopian stories are your cup of tea, definitely check this one out.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review Car Nex: Demon SQUASH! (A One Hour Special) by Tim Miller

Hello, Addicts!

This week I take a look at the book that takes a not so serious look at one of the few reality television shows I enjoy: Ghost Hunting shows.  This one follows Simon Smoke, the host of one such show named SQUASH!.  On its fifth season, the ratings aren’t doing well at all.  In order to keep the show from being canceled, Simon takes his video crew to the small town of Pleasant Storm, TX on the fiftieth anniversary of a blood bath that decimated the town.  Blamed on the Car Nex, or Carnivore Nextdoor, the team doesn’t hold much hope of seeing a return of the beast.  By the end of the night, they will have wished they were right.car-nex

I found this story to be a fun little tale told in a less than serious manner, which I’m sure the author fully intended.  As a passing the time sort of story, this one delivers pretty solidly.  If you prefer your horror less tongue in cheek and more serious, then this story may not be for you.  All in all, I recommend this story in the Car Nex universe to people looking for a little light horror.

Until next time Addicts,

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel – The Philip Experiment

Hello Addicts,

We’ve all heard theories on what ghosts are.  Generally speaking, they are viewed as either spirits of dead people, remnants of energy stuck in a constant loop, or demons sent to torment us.  In the 1970’s, an experiment was conducted that showed another way to view ghosts, as literal creations of our minds.

In 1972, a group of scientists gathered in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with the premise of creating a ghost through intense concentration.  They came up with an intricate back story for the ghost, which included some details of his death, and gave him the name Philip Aylesford.  For weeks, nothing happened.  Eventually, they decided to try recreating the atmosphere of a classic spiritualist séance, much like the ones attended by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife.  In these séances, the scientists surrounded themselves with items from Philip’s era, along with photographs of the kind of castle they imagined he’d live in.  A few more weeks passed without any success, and then it happened.  Philip communicated with the scientists.

philip-experiment

It began simple.  The scientists would ask questions about the history created for the spirit, and the ghost responded using a series of knocks and raspy whispers to confirm his identity.  After that, the phenomena increased with each session in ways not easily explained by science.  Philip would slide the table from side to side and was known to chase people with it from time to time.  In each case, the scientists claim that no one was touching the table at the time.  In the end, the group was unable to conclusively prove whether Philip was their creation, or some other entity portraying the character they expected to find.

The existence of ghosts tends to be a more personal experience and belief.  They may be spirits of the deceased, creations of our own minds, or a figment of our imaginations. The only true variable is who you ask.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel — The Goatman

NightmareFuel

Hello Addicts,

For this week’s Nightmare Fuel, we take a look at another popular cryptid legend.  Our destination is Beltsville, MD for the legendary Goatman.

When one thinks of someone being a Goatman, they may think of a character portrayed by comedian Jim Breuer on Saturday Night Live.  Another thought is of the famed satyrs from Greek and Shakespearean mythology, such as Pan.  While these appearances are close to the descriptions given of the cryptid, they differ in two distinct ways.  The first being that, while the creature has the body of a man and the hindquarters of a goat, it also possesses a goat’s head instead of a human one.  Also, while the versions from the mythology and SNL want to make people laugh or play pranks on us mortals, the creature in Beltsville, MD has been reported as wielding an axe.

There are different versions of Goatman’s origins.  Some involve brokering a deal with the Devil or the creature being born that way and living life as a hermit in the woods, attacking those who wander into his domain at night.  His favorite haunts in the latter legend includes a local lover’s lane.  Other, more modern legends have the creature being the result of early DNA experiments, always with the end result of the scientist mutating into the beast.

the goatman

The reports of the infamous creature are not just limited to Maryland, with other sightings occurring in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Florida, Washington, and Ontario, Canada.  One story from 1962 depicted the Goatman hacking fourteen people to bits because they wandered too close to his lair.  According to unidentified witnesses, it emitted sounds only the “devil himself” would make.  When authorities arrived on the scene, they found partially eaten limbs and a blood trail that led to a cave.  No official written police reports of the incident are said to exist.

The Goatman may be just an urban legend; however, this doesn’t seem to keep people from continuously reporting sightings of the creature.  It may also be people wanting to keep the story alive to frighten future generations.  The only advice I can offer to you is, if you are wandering near an ominous looking cave near a rusted old bridge and hear terrible noises, make your way further from the bridge.  It may allow you to live just a little longer.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel — Baron Samedi

Hello Addicts,

This week’s Nightmare Fuel takes us down to the bayous of Louisiana to visit a bit of voodoo royalty.  I am speaking of one of the more widely known loas, or spirits, of voodoo, Baron Samedi.

Dressed in a black tail coat, top hat, dark glasses, and cotton plugging his nostrils and a face painted white like a skull, Baron Samedi is responsible for digging the graves for the dead and welcoming them to the afterlife after they are buried. He is a married man, but it doesn’t stop him from chasing mortal women, swear continuously, tell filthy jokes to fellow spirits, and behave otherwise outrageously.  Rarely is this loa seen without a glass of rum in his hand or a cigar to puff on.  And, although he is known for death and sickness, many people offer entreaties with the hope of their loved one being denied for death and be healed instead.baron_samedi

Baron Samedi’s likeness can be found in many forms, such as in “The Princess and the Frog”, “Live and Let Die”, and even in WWE wrestling programs from the 1990’s.  If you do run across someone dressed as the Baron, offer him a cigar or a glass of rum. You never know if it will be the real one, and he may grant you more time on Earth for you generosity.

Until next time Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel — The Wendigo

NightmareFuel

Hello Addicts,

This week we take a peek into one of the more famous legends of the Algonquin tribe, the Wendigo.

Wendigo-beastThe Wendigo, or Windigo in some translations, is a tale prevalent in the Northern United States and Canada.  It is viewed by some as a demonic spirit capable of either possessing a human or taking the form of one.  Other legends claim that people are cursed to become the creature by the simple tasting of human flesh.  The latter version of the legend depicts the creature as over fifteen feet tall and gaunt with deeply sunken glowing eyes, an overly long tongue, yellowed fangs, and yellowing skin, either in the process of decay or covered in fur.  They are almost impossibly thin with an unending hunger for human flesh.  There are also some who claim that the creature is so thin that you can only see it when you are looking at it directly in the face.  It is believed that to become one of these creatures is so terrible, you are better off killing yourself than to resort to cannibalism, even when your survival depends on it.

These tales are commonplace in locations where a combination of food scarcity and long harshly cold winters make survival a dire challenge.  There are even some reported cases where people with access to ample food supplies become so overwhelmed with desire for human flesh, they will kill their own family for it.  These cases are what psychologists refer to as “Wendigo Psychosis”.

Sightings of the beast still occur to this day, mostly in the northern Minnesota plains and in Canada.  Some see it as a simple superstition or warning to dissuade people from the practice of cannibalism.  Others say that the creature lives on; killing any it comes across.  For those of you enjoying a campout this summer, be careful when wandering in the woods, lest you become the Wendigo’s next meal.

Until next time Addicts…

Nightmare Fuel – The Slender Man

NightmareFuel

Hello Addicts,

The entity known as The Slender Man has become a major part of our mainstream consciousness, thanks in large part to the various video games, stories, and news reports involving him.  This week, we look at the possibility that The Slender Man legend may be much older than originally believed.

For those who do not know, The Slender Man is a tall being with exceedingly long, branch like arms and legs.  He wears an all black suit and has been sometimes described as having tentacles sprouting from his back.  He has no face to speak of, although some stories say that he may be able to change his visage into whatever you fear the most.  Some stories also grant him the ability to imitate voices.  According to the stories, he stalks his prey by toying with their minds before revealing himself and moving in for the kill.  Although his motives and specific victim preference are never clearly defined, the stories usually depict him tormenting children.

The modern legend of The Slender Man is attributed to a creation of Creepy Pasta and/or the Something Awful websites.  There are other sources who trace the idea even further back, possibly as far as 16th Century Eastern Europe.  Two woodcut carvings from that era were discovered in the 1800’s depicting a being known as Der Grossman, or “tall man”.  The legend goes that misbehaving children would encounter Der Grossman days before they disappeared forever.  Any attempts to stop him through violent means meant retribution against the tenants of the nearest town, including impalement of the townsfolk with the darkest hearts upon tree branches.

What is also interesting to notes is that the artist who created the carvings, Hans Freckenberg, was known for his accuracy in depicting human anatomy.  Der Grossman did not resemble any of the characters used in his other artwork.  Adding to the eeriness is that Freckenberg vanished shortly after completing the pieces.

There are other stories of people encountering the creature we’ve come to know as The Slender Man, but I’m saving some of those for another episode.  Until next time, Addicts…

Nightmare Fuel — Sleep Paralysis

NightmareFuel

Hello Addicts,

Very few things are better than a good night’s sleep.  To relax and slumber while your body heals itself and your mind goes through a reboot of the upper level thought processes.  Many a writer or artist attributes their creative career to dreams had while they slept.  But, what happens when you wake up and realize that you can’t move or speak?

The medical term for this condition is “sleep paralysis”, and it can occur when you are either just falling asleep or starting to wake up.  Your body naturally makes it so that your muscles are “deactivated” when you sleep.  If it didn’t, every action you took in your dreams would be acted out in real-time and you or someone else stand a good chance of getting hurt.  With sleep paralysis, you wake up faster than your body is able to turn the physical switches back on.  Even if you know what is going on, you can’t help but feel the terror that follows.

What is perhaps the most frightening thing about sleep paralysis are the hallucinations that sometimes accompany the condition.  People have reported seeing things that range from an old hag sitting on their chests, demons, aliens, and shadow people, beings darker than the blackest of shadows.  Lying helpless in your bed while these entities stare at you is deeply terrifying, and that is something I speak from experience.  Thankfully, it lasts only a matter of a few seconds to a few minutes, but the memories can potentially last a lifetime.

So, when you go to bed tonight, make sure to get nice and cozy for a good night’s sleep.  You never know when you might wake up to find an old hag staring at you from your chest or a black shadow standing beside you .  Until next time, Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel – The Dybbuk Box

NightmareFuel

Hello Addicts,

EBay has long been an auction mecca for everything imaginable.  You can buy vehicles, whole towns, and even a ghost in a bottle.  For one such item, the website became the birth of an urban legend.  This episode we bring you the story of the Dybbuk Box.

In 2003, an eBay auction was posted for a Jewish wine cabinet that the owner claimed he’d bought at a yard sale a couple of years before.  The original owner was a 103-year-old Polish woman who escaped the Holocaust with the box.  The family was told to never open it and seemed anxious to part with the item.  When the new owner, Kevin Mannis, brought it to his antique shop, he quickly found out why.  Within half an hour of the cabinet arriving, Mr. Mannis received a telephone call from a terrified employee who claimed that someone was in the store’s basement destroying things and cussing up a storm. When he and the police arrived, there were no signs of an intruder and no other way out of the store.  That proved to be just the first of many bad events to follow.  By the time he listed the box on eBay, his store had been raided by the FBI, his identity stolen, his lease taken away, and his mother suffered a stroke when he gave the box to her as a gift.

Aside from the stories, the contents of the box in the listing are an interesting sort.  Inside are two U.S. wheat pennies, two small locks of hair bound with string – one blonde and one black or brown, a small granite statue engraved and gilded with Hebrew letters that spell the word “Shalom”, a dried rosebud, one golden wine cup, and a very strange black cast iron candlestick holder with octopus legs.  Also reported to accompany the ordinary looking cabinet is the smell of jasmine or cat urine.

The box eventually was sold to its current owner, John Haxton.  He claims to have experienced some physical maladies since obtaining it, including hives, welts and coughing up blood.  Presently, Mr. Haxton, with the help of a Rabbi, has sealed the ybbuk inside the box and hidden it away for study.  This has only helped the story to grow like wildfire, eventually coming to the attention of director Sam Raimi, whose horror production company, Ghost House Pictures, released the film “The Possession” in 2012.

Whether the story is real or just a creepy way to sell an otherwise ordinary item, the dybbuk box is a sensation that ranks up with Slenderman and the Boogieman.   Buyer beware!

 

 

Nightmare Fuel –Robert the Doll

NightmareFuel

Hello Addicts.

This week’s Nightmare Fuel takes us to the Florida Keys, where we look at a haunted and cursed doll named Robert.

Robert Gene Otto, known by all as Gene, was four years old when his family’s maid presented him with a gift, a three-foot tall straw doll dressed in a sailor’s suit that bore an uncanny resemblance to him.  Instantly falling in love with it, he named the doll Robert, after himself, and the two of them became thick as thieves.  When the family ate dinner, Robert had a place setting like the rest of the family.  When little Gene went to bed, Robert slept with him.  The boy and the doll even carried on conversations with each other according to Gene’s mother.  The little boy even went so far as to blame his fits of rage or any odd occurrences in the home on Robert.

When Gene married and inherited the family home, he relegated Robert to a room of his own in the house’s turret.  Visitors reported hearing footsteps coming from the room along with a demonic laughter when no one was upstairs.  School children walking past the house saw the doll in different windows, scowling down at them.  At one point, Robert was moved to the attic but still found his way back to the little rocking chair by the window.Robert the doll

When Gene passed away in 1972, a new family moved into the home.  Their ten-year-old daughter found Robert in the attic and laid claim to him, but that did not last long.  The girl was traumatized by Robert, even going so far as to accuse him of trying to kill her.

Fast forward to 1994, and Robert is donated to the Key West Martello Museum, but his antics are far from over.  Reports from staff include childlike laughter, changes in the doll’s expression, and even position in his glass home.  Some people say that they hear a tapping when they walk past his case, only to find the doll’s hand pressed against the glass when they look back.  One employee claimed that they cleaned Robert before leaving for the night, turning off all the lights as they walked out.  The next morning, several lights were blazing bright, including the one next to Robert’s case.  Stranger still was the dust on the soles of the doll’s feet, like he’d been walking around outside his glass case.

If you do go visit Robert, it is a recommended practice to introduce yourself and ask for permission before recording or taking pictures of him.  It is also suggested to not disrespect the doll in any fashion, as bad things have been known to happen to those who do.  The effects have ranged from camera malfunctions to actual accidents after leaving the museum.  To this day, Robert still receives letters begging forgiveness of their rude behavior towards him.

Until next time, Addicts!

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel: Centralia, PA

NightmareFuel

Hello Addicts,

This week we visit the real life town that inspired the 2006 movie Silent Hill… Centralia, PA.

Located in coal mining country of eastern Pennsylvania, the town once boasted a population of a thousand people in 1981, but now has been all but abandoned with a population of ten.  The reason for this is a fire that has been burning beneath the town since 1962.  No one knows the exact cause of the fire, although some of the theories circulate around a fire starting at the city landfill that spread into the mines along a vein of anthracite coal.  As the years went on, the fire spread closer to the town, with telltale signs of smoke and steam rising from the ground.  No matter what methods were used to cut off the fire or stop it in its tracks, nothing worked.  Eventually, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, amongst other gaseous byproducts, were being detected in the residents’ homes. Sinkholes also began to appear. It is these elements that were included in the movie adaptation of the popular game series.

Today, the town is all but abandoned, with most of its residents having long ago relocated to other areas.  Those who remain are determined to stay until their dying day.  Centralia itself still exists as long as the townspeople who refused to relocate still live, as per a court order.  Eventually, the town will be a memory, but one that has a creepy vibe about it when the steam and fog rolls on in.

Until next time Addicts,

D.J. Pitsiladis

 

 

Nightmare Fuel:  Black Eyed Kids

NightmareFuel

 

Hello Addicts.

I thought I’d ring in the new season’s Nightmare Fuel with a creepy bang by looking at the phenomena known as The Black Eyed Kids, or BEKs for short.

Picture if you will, it’s ten o’clock at night, and you are sitting in your living room reading a book or watching television.  You wonder who is bothering you so late, and, when you look out the window, you find a couple of children standing on your porch with their heads bowed.  Knowing no child their age should be out so late, you feel a strong urge to open the door to find out what is wrong.  Instead, you ask them through the closed door if you can help with something and why they are out so late in the first place.  They answer with, “Please let us in,” or, “Can we come in and use your phone”.  You feel a  strong compulsion to open the door, but there is also a weird or bad vibe from them.  Instead of opening the door, you make sure the doors are locked before telling them you can’t help them.  When they do finally look up, your blood chills.

black eyed kids.png

What you thought were normal children are now staring at you with eyes so black you wonder if they are empty sockets.  The smaller of the children asks again, “Please let us in,” and you feel a stronger urge to open the door.  Instead, you shout at them to leave or you will call the police.  You look away long enough to get your cellphone, and find an empty porch when you return to the window.

That is but one of the many stories that have been circling since the first reported sighting of the Black Eyed Kids in the late 1990s. The stories share many similarities with some encounters dating back to World War II.  Skeptics regard these stories as merely victims of pranks, urban legend, or just campfire stories, but to the people who have reported these encounters, they all are quite real.  Stories detailing what happens when the children are allowed inside are very rare.  What stories I have found detail the death of the home’s occupant circumstantially linked to the BEKs.  One story where the homeowner claims to have allowed these children inside, and then felt a menacing vibe from them.  It was so strong, she left when the kids refused to. By the time she returned home with the police, the kids were gone.  All reported run-ins with the BEKs have related tremendous feelings of terror and dread, which lead some believers to speculate that the kids are demons, alien/human hybrids, or something much more terrifying. Reports of run ins with the kids are still shared and reported to this day, and they don’t always stick to houses.  Some have even shared stories taking placed in empty parking lots late at night.

So, when Halloween around on us this year, keep in mind that the child asking for candy at your doorstep may be in costume, possibly even wearing a pair of all black contact lenses.  Then again, they may be the real deal.

Until next time…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review: The House That Dripped Gore by Dan West

house dripped goreHello Addicts!

While I generally try to not watch reality television, one type has caught my attention when they first debuted about a decade ago, the ghost hunting shows.  I’ll admit that I believe ghosts are around and that I enjoy these shows partly for their findings and partly for their attempts at making compelling television.  When I saw what “The House That Dripped Gore” was about, I couldn’t resist checking it out.

This story follows Stanley Matheson as he is hired to check out Hull House, a haunted home inherited by a rich benefactress.  In Stanley’s research of the home he finds that it was the birthplace of a cult and that all of the problems with the home grew from there.  He wastes little time in putting together a team consisting of an unbelieving skeptic and two mediums, one a buxom curator of a dark objects and other paraphanelia and the other a victim of a possession that ended with his team dead.  Will this ragtag group survive their stay at Hull House, and what secrets will they discover?

I wanted to like this book, I honestly did.  This story plays out in a similar fashion as the “Scary Movie”, “Tales From the Crypt”, and “A Haunted House” horror comedies, which I’m somewhat a fan of, but not a whole lot.  The attempts at humor come across as a bit heavy handed and downright low brow at times.  The twists and turns are what one might expect from this style of horror comedy.  If you are a fan of the aforementioned movies, they you will enjoy this book.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review: Turning Face: A Tale of Horror, Comedy and Wrestling! by Terry M. West

turningface copyHello Addicts!

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a big fan of two things: horror stories and professional wrestling.  When I saw that we had a book with both, I knew it was one for me.

When it comes to professional wrestling, most people think of the major federations like WWE, Ring of Honor, and TNA.  This story doesn’t take place in any of those, but in one of the independent federations deep in the heart of Texas.  Tojo Smith is an Earth born demon whose very existence is to promote evil in any fashion possible, albeit on a small enough scale to not draw the attention of Heaven.  He takes his childhood love of professional wrestling and creates a heel character, or villain, to promote the hate Hell requires.  What Tojo doesn’t count on is the crowd getting behind his character and cheering him on.  He does everything possible to remain the bad guy, but the crowd continues to cheer and this catches the attention of a denizen of Hell.

I really enjoyed this story and felt a lot of nostalgia for the Texas based federations I used to enjoy watching when I was a kid.  I didn’t find the story all that horrifying as it played out much in a similar soap opera fashion as a pro wrestling storyline.  If you are a fan of the art of wrestling, or enjoy reading about demons creating mayhem on Earth, then this story is for you.  Definitely a fun read.

Until next time, Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

 

Nightmare Fuel: The Watcher of Westfield

Hello Addicts,

For the season finale, I thought we might go house hunting in Westfield, NJ, where one home has garnered a lot of attention over the past year. It’s a house with everything a young family might want, including it’s very own stalker.

A family of five closed on the $1.3 million house in 2014 and were excited to move in, but within three days their happiness turned into terror.  A letter left at their front door claimed that the house had been watched since 1920’s by people known as The Watchers, with the latest member of their clan doing so for the past twenty years.  The current Watcher boasted about roaming around the house and imagining living with the rich occupants.  As if that alone wasn’t creepy enough, The Watcher claimed to have told the previous owners to fill the house with young blood so he could learn their names and call them to him. He also claimed control of the house later letters to the homeowners, asking them which room each family member would get so he could plan better.  He even hinted at something hidden within the walls of the home..

Although it is still an ongoing investigation, skeptics have hypothesized that the entire affair was made up by the new homeowners as a way to back out of the completed sale. Another possibility is that they wanted to create something to grab attention and give them their fifteen minutes of fame, and, if so, it seems to be working.  Movie studios, such as Blumhouse Productions and New Line Cinema, are already rushing to secure the story rights for a potential movie.  All of this may come as little relief to the current owners of the home as they refuse to move into the house and are unable to sell the home because of the ever vigilant Watcher.

Until next season Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel — Sawney Bean

Hello Addicts!

Cannibal families have long been a staple of horror movies.  Some of the more famous ones being The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, House of a Thousand Corpses, and The Hills Have Eyes.  Today I thought I’d share a spotlight on one of the famous cases that contributed in large part to those movies, that of Sawney Bean.

According to the legends, Sawney Bean lived with his family in a seaside cave in Scotland around the Fifteenth or Sixteenth Century. They were an incestuous family that consisted of forty-eight people: Sawney, his wife, their fourteen children, and thirty-two grandchildren.  The family lived off the land and the flesh and blood of any poor soul who wandered too close.  Stories say that, after they killed their prey, they would then butcher the bodies and pickle the flesh they didn’t use right away.  The family managed to avert capture, aided by the cave entrance being covered during high tide, for years.  According to some accounts, they murdered around one thousand people before their capture and eventual execution.

As gruesome and possible as this legend is, many historians are unsure of the story’s validity.  They cite the rampant anti-Scottish slant that fits a little too well with England’s view of the Scots at the time.  Sawney was a common generic name at the time to describe anyone from Scotland, much like Paddy when describing the Irish.  The one consistency that remains with the story is it’s ability to frighten, making it a good boogeyman story for children.

Until next time Addicts…

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel — Dyatlov Pass

Hello Addicts!

This week we take a trip to the cold Ural Mountains for a real horrific mystery.  A group of nine Russian skiers led by Igor Dyatlov ventured out for a ski trek across the northern Urals and were forced to make camp on the side of a mountain name Kholat Syakhl, which translates to “Dead Mountain”.  On February 26th, their campsite was found in disarray, The tent the group stayed in was torn out from the inside as if those on the inside needed to get out in a hurry.  Footprints, both barefoot or sock covered led away from the campsite and to the trees where the first two bodies were found near the remnants of a fire.  They wore only socks and underwear, so their cause of death was deemed as hypothermia.  Shortly after, three more bodies were found along the path back toward the campsite, all in the same state of undress, and all frozen to death.  They may have been the lucky ones.

Two months after Soviet authorities came across the campsite, the remaining four hikers were found, and the real mystery began.  Three of the bodies bore injuries one might suffer in a car crash — a fractured skull and chest injuries, but none of them showed any outward signs of injury to coincide with the injuries.  In addition, one of the hikers was missing her eyes, tongue, some of her lips, a portion of her facial tissue, and a fragment of her skull.

Many theories exist to explain what happened, but no one appears to be able to cover all the details of this mystery. The reasons range from an avalanche, to secret government testing, and even UFO’s.  Someday we may find out what actually happened on Death Mountain, but then the question becomes do we want to know?

Until next time Addicts…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Nightmare Fuel — Elisa Lam

Hello Addicts,

This week’s Nightmare Fuel looks at the mysterious case of Elisa Lam.  Lam was a twenty-one year old Canadian college student on a trip through California that included a stopover in Los Angeles.   On January 31st, 2013, an elevator security camera in her hotel, the Stay on Main, filmed the student enter and press multiple floor buttons.  When the elevator doors didn’t close after a few seconds, Elisa stuck her head into the hallway and looked to her left and right in a quick turn of her head.  Seeing nothing out there, she backed up to the middle of the elevator car before pressing her back against the wall with the buttons.  Throughout her entire time with the elevator, the doors didn’t close and her behavior became more erratic.  Eventually she is seen walking out of sight of the camera, and the elevator doors close.  As the car stops on each floor, the shiny doors open and close just like normal.

The video itself might seem a little creepy to some and strange to others, but that isn’t where the story ends.  A massive search involving the FBI begins at the request of Elisa’s parents, but nothing was found.  A week after her last conversation with her parents, the video is released and becomes viral.  As popular as it is, the footage doesn’t help in finding the missing student.

Around February 19th, 2013, the hotel sends a maintenance worker to the water tanks on top of the hotel’s roof after guest complaints about the low pressure, discoloration, and oddly tasting water.  Inside the tank he found the naked decomposing body of Elisa Lam with her clothing and personal effects floating next to her.  Her death is ruled an accident, although some people point the cause finger at the fact that she was bipolar or may have been under the influence or some other illicit drug.  What is never completely answered is how she wound up in the water tank with the unhinged lid closed behind her.

While she is gone from the land of the living, the bizarre circumstances of her death and its influence is still seen.  Some people have noted the similarities between the case and the 2005 horror movie Dark Water, and there are a slew of movies and television series that have used the case in their plots including Castle and the latest season of American Horror Story.  As strange as this story is, it is not the only strange thing about the Stay on Main, also known as the Cecil Hotel, but that is fuel for another episode.