Pass the Baton — September 2023

Note From Anita- I went over the word count-sorry!

Marla, from Marla’s World, has created a writing challenge. The challenge is for multiple authors to write a single story. She will choose a story that she has written, or that another author has submitted for this challenge, and she will nominate the next person to continue writing it. Once that person has added their section, they will nominate the next author. It will continue like this until the story is complete.

Link to this post to add in your addition.


Here is Marla’s start

They were sitting in his car, windows rolled up, air conditioning blowing low. The conversation had been flowing smoothly, as it always did between them.

He was telling her about the most recent date he had been on, and how the woman was very odd, trying to cut his steak up for him while they ate. At the mention of meat, she suddenly became extremely hungry. Her attention went from his words to her cramping, growling stomach.

She was vaguely aware he had stopped speaking, and she became very self-conscious. In the silence of the Tesla, she knew that if she even winced at the discomfort, he would hear her. She focused on staying as quiet as possible, but she was sooooo hungry!

Sweeter Than Nothing part

Her gaze drifted from his mouth to the pulse at his neck and her stomach growled again painfully.

“So about that steak?” She blurted out, trying to disguise the noise of her hunger, but she only managed to make it worse, the thought of that steaming hunk of meat, blood pooling beneath it.

“Well, the steak was delicious, the date not so much, you know she actually licked her napkin and wiped the steak juices from my chin,” he continued as if nothing else were the matter.

And just like that her stomach was at it again.

Steak. Blood. Hunger. Pain.

“I’m so sorry, I… I….” Without thinking of an excuse, she dashed from the car.

Sadje’s part

She had gone only a few steps that he heard him call her name. “Mindy!!! I know your secret! Did you think that being friends with you for so long, I wouldn’t know it?”

Mindy turned, reluctantly, slowly…. “You do? But how? Who told you?” She was firing questions rapidly not giving Charlie a chance to respond.

“I suspected that something wasn’t right when every month, on the night of full moon, you’d disappear for a couple of days. And then when I’d meet you, you’d be lethargic and pale. I did some research and I came to the conclusion…..”

Jim’s part

Charlie continued talking and he said, “We both have inner conflicts and there is no reason for us to fight with each other, but if we do, only one of us is going to survive and that is the one who gets fed the most. When you accepted my invitation to enjoy a steak dinner with me in my car, I knew right away that you were the same as me. After you devoured that 72-ounce ribeye steak in 10 minutes and never touched your salad or the baked potato, I knew for sure that we are kindred spirits. We were cut from the same cloth which sounds oddly strange, but you run in my veins. I breathe what is yours, and you breathe what is mine. I have your scent, I’m on the hunt, and I’m after you. My mouth is alive, with juices like wine all running inside and I’m hungry like the wolf. We can hunt together, or you can follow me, as I will always be the leader of the pack.”

Mindy chimed in, “I really like your electric car, and this is the first time that I have eaten more than just a hamburger in one, so I must thank you for the scrumptious meal. I feel that salad is rabbit food, but I always enjoy a nice rabbit. I have been a lone wolf for a very long time, and I am highly aware of your potential, but I need my own space. I may succeed or fail, but when I get a setback, I will try again, and I will be happy to say that I did it my way. I enjoy thinking for myself and approaching issues from my own angle. I know what I want in a relationship, and I am not looking for romance, but I also understand your needs. I have a preference for solitude, and I don’t care for chitchat or do I have any desire for social engagements. If we do hookup, you should know that I am going to be the dominate one and if I find out that you are the kiss and tell type of guy, you will never see me again.”

Fandango’s part

Charlie rubbed his eyes and said, “Mindy, did you say something? Mindy? Mindy?” But Mindy didn’t move. Charlie reached over and shook her. “Mindy?”

Mindy opened her eyes, stretched, and said, “Oh Charlie, I’m so sorry, I must have fallen asleep. That pot we smoked before must have really knocked me out. I do remember having a strange dream where you were a werewolf or something like that. It was so vivid.” Then she paused and said, “Wow, I’m famished. Can we get outta here and get something to eat?”

“Sure,” Charlie said, putting the Tesla in gear and pulling away. Just a dream. Right! Charlie thought, a broad smile on his face.

Anita’s Part

Mindy fluffed her hair up just a bit, she checked the corner of her mouth for drool and smeared lipstick. She adjusted her little jacket that had ridden up her back. She looked over and smiled at Charlie. ” Sorry about that, I must have dozed off. That’s pretty rude of me, I’m sorry. ”

Charlie’s smile was bright and enthusiastic.

” Almost there, ” he told her  ” go on roll the window down a little. I’ll bet you can smell Mrs. Beenettle’s from here. ”

Mindy rolled her window down. ” Oh Charlie- that’s – wow -delicious!”

Charlie took a  right by an Elm tree, further down  he took a left  at an Oak and then they were on  a gravel road. His car whispered it’s way  to front of a Cottage with a hand painted sign at the driveway entrance that read:

” Welcome To Mrs. Beenettle’s Garden! Side Parking to your right. “

The sign was trimmed with butterflies and tulips.

” Is this a Nursery? I thought it was a restaurant. It smells like a restaurant. ” Mindy said hopefully.

Charlie beamed another smile at side of Mindy’s face and then he found a parking spot- which was easy because they were in the little side lot alone, and there at the gate to the Garden was Mrs. Beenettle.

” Good evening!” Mrs Beenettle trilled at them  as they pulled up ” And how are we this evening? ”

Mindy tried to not throw herself out of the car before it had stopped and was almost successful. ” Hungry- I must say Mrs Beenettle, I followed my nose all the way here!”

Mrs. Beenettle’s smile said, ‘ of course  you did ‘ but her lips remained shut.

Mindy pointed to the path next to the cottage and Mrs. Beenettle nodded.

After Charlie shut his car off and locked it,  Mrs Beenettle was there next to him.  They watched Mindy scurry down the path. ” Door Dash would have been faster ” Mrs Beenettle said crisply.

” But would your delivery have been as fresh? ” Charlie replied with his bright, bright smile.

The strolled side by side to Mrs Beenettle’s Garden in the back where she grew her orchard of  purple and red Corpse Flowers.

Each flower stood a small distance from the other Corpse Flowers  and each Purple and Pink prehistoric looking plant was surround by finely crushed white gravel.

The flower Mrs Beenettle and  Charlie were now standing   directly in front  of was twice as tall as all of the others. Placed directly in front of  ther rancid smelling flower was a little white wrought iron table  and two chairs  and on top of  the table,  slightly crumpled and covered with soft gray pollen,

was Mindy’s jacket.

Midnight At RIversleigh


Here are a few projects I did waaayyyy back when I first started to blog amd  I was part of a group based out of the “ Soul Food Cafe “.  Looking at these stories now,  I can see some places where I could do some edits, but I kind of like them the way they are so let’s go to Riversleigh and Far Away…


From the Soul Food Cafe Project ” Riversleigh Manor ” 2007

Midnight At Riversleigh Manor

Photographer Unknown

There’s something buried in the Gardener’s Shed and why would someone bury something that wasn’t dead yet?

The thing in the shed isn’t buried very deep, so if you were to crawl over the dead fall in front of the door and were able to push your way through he matted cobwebs and you didn’t mind the smell of rotting leaves and small unburied creatures you’d find  there under the window a slightly raised mound of earth.

Were you to look at the raised mound long enough and the light somehow managed to find it’s way through the little panes of glass covered with dust and dirt you’d think someone was lying there on their side with one arm cradling their cheek and the other laying comfortably on their side.

Wouldn’t you?

If you brought a flashlight and the beam was bright you might think you could see something wrong with the entire left side of the sleeping figure’s face. You might think that maybe that the face was gone, smashed in by something like that shovel in the corner.

Isn’t that right?

They might wonder what you were doing back there in a rotting shed behind the Manor House in the dead of Night, they might see you take the shovel and try to smooth and pound that little raised mound of Earth flat.

That’s what they’d see wouldn’t they?

So I must ask you again, why would you bury something that is not dead yet?

Go ahead you can tell me.

Just keep your hands were I can see them.

Spooky garden






january 2006-march2006






Hidden from the safe roads and safe streets and quiet parks and green forests and the sunlight is my hometown…its called Faraway and no one comes here on purpose.

Maybe it’s because everything here is covered with dust…the people, houses buildings trees and plants. I guess it could be because no one speaks loudly here, no one is awake here. Faraway is the place where nightmares live and once you’ve been to Faraway you can never really belong anywhere else again.

So what do we do here, Faraway from the rest of the world?

When the sunsets we like to go out to the Middle of the Desert where the Wells of Angra Lei are and we drop stones down into them and listen to them fall and fall and fall and sometimes we swear you can hear them hit the bottom…but of course that’s not true.

These Wells have never held water and they are out here, away from anything alive for a reason.

The air that comes up from the Wells of Angra is so poisonous one whiff could melt your heart in your chest and your poor eyes would run like rivers down your cheeks. Nothing has ever come up from those wells except for Death…and why should that surprise you?

It has to come from somewhere…Death you see comes from Faraway.

My Mother use to visit the Wells during the daylight, she would lean over the sides and whisper things down into the Wells and sometimes she would laugh and sometimes she would curse but she did it by daylight.

She was also very, very insane.

She was you see, from Faraway and nothing here is familiar or safe. Nothing Faraway is what you think it is.

Living in Faraway will change you.

Being from Faraway will damn you.

Like it did to my Mother…and what it did to me.

And what it will do to you, if you’re not careful of Faraway.


There is a woman who is voiceless from wailing and wasted from weeping and Death visits her from Faraway at Midnight.

Death finds her in her long dead garden tending to weeds and thorns and sticker bushes and poisonous plants and as she harvests and picks and adds each deadly plant to her basket woven from human hair Death shudders and hides in the Shadows and is grateful the Woman can’t see him.

All the same she knows Death is there and when she senses it, she reaches into her basket and lifts one of the plants to her lips and pushes it into her mouth. She chews and swallows and screeches into the darkness, “ Where are you? Why aren’t these working…someone tell me why this isn’t working! “

Death would squeeze it’s eyes shut if it had eyes, so instead it raises it’s pale cold hand to it’s empty eye sockets and covers it’s face the best it can. It’s fingers press against it’s mouth and it does this to keep from calling out, from screaming because the Woman who is voiceless from wailing and wasted from weeping is a corpse and a shell and once long ago she murdered a man.

He was the husband of a woman who came from a place called Sawajinn, and a very long time ago the former resident of Sawajinn cursed the woman who is voiceless from wailing woman over her husband’s poisoned body

Her curse was simple and horrible.

The Weeping Woman would never die; she would never meet her own Death.

Instead she was cursed to meet her victim’s Death.

His Death comes from Faraway every night at Midnight and watches her from the upper branches of a dead twisted oak tree. Of course his Death can’t take her, it only visits her and then it leaves her at each sunrise.

Before it leaves Death shows her something it carries in its left hand.

It shows her a small bottle of white powder and it holds it up and the Woman sees it. She knows what it is, the little bottle once belonged to her, after all.

She puts her hands out and calls, “ Give it to me, take me with you. I can’t live like this anymore! “

Death can see her in the half light and it can see the maggots and flies tangled in her hair, crawling from the corners of her eyes. It can smell her flesh rotting on her bones and it can hear the skin on her legs and back splitting apart.

I’m not your death. But I’ll visit you, I’ll never stop visiting you.”

As the Sunlight works it’s way into the shadows cast by deadly sweet blossoms and fragrant green leaves dripping with deadly venom Death leaves for Faraway and the woman who is voiceless from wailing and wasted from weeping begins her wait for Death to visit at Midnight.



In my hometown, which is a place called Faraway, a man named Mr. Nightfall stands under a pear tree full of light green poisonous fruit and waits for the Sun to set.

Mr. Nightfall is my neighbor and our streets, like all the other streets in Faraway are lined with deadly fruit trees and deadly gardens. All these dark shady places are kept and tended by people with pale faces and empty eyes and here in our town Faraway no one is Sane and no one really lives because no one is really alive.

When Mr. Nightfall comes from Faraway sometimes he brings storms and in that wildness all you’ll see, all you’ll hear is Mr. Nightfall. You’ll know he’s coming and worst of all you won’t be able to stop him.

When Mr. Nightfall crosses your path and he settles over your town you’ll know he’s there because your skin will start to feel to tight and you won’t be able to pull air into your lungs.

Everything will seem…very Faraway.

That’ when you’ll know Mr. Nightfall is close enough to put out his cold, dark hand and lay it over your shoulder.

Once I followed Mr. Nightfall to a city with stores and cars and a coffee stand where the woman who served me wore a picture on her chest of a creature with stars in her hair.

 I asked if the creature in the picture was from the Well of Angra Lei and the Woman squeezed the cup of coffee so tight at the sound of my voice that the top popped off and the scalding hot coffee filled her eyes and mouth and she didn’t cry out. Not even a little

The woman had turned to stone, her face was frozen into a mask and her eyes had rolled up into her head and I could hear her someplace deep inside screaming and screaming and screaming and she will never stop.

They never do when they are taken Faraway.

Mr. Nightfall didn’ come back for me, he never turns back but he did call out to me and I followed him through the town and the entire time he cursed and spat and hissed like one of the cats that’ not really a cat from back home in Faraway and he said, “They know I’m coming.”

“Of course they know you’re coming Mr. Nightfall, don’t they always?”

“No, not like this they haven’t known me like this for centuries I don’t like this Miss Praecox. No I don’t like it at all.”

This time the people in this little town by the sea knew Mr. Nightfall was coming. There were candles in windows and there wasn’t a soul on the street. They were locked behind doors and the curtains where drawn and they knew they were very aware Nightfall was coming.

As Mr. Nightfall crossed the city I stopped here and there and looked in windows and when I could I found people and I touched them, carefully, quietly with my left hand and I told them my name and their minds stopped liked old clocks.

I could hear it loud as thunder as gears and cogs and wheels that turn their minds
ground to a halt and I could hear what they took with them to Faraway.

My name.

” Enjoying your visit Miss Praecox?”

” I always do Mr. Nightfall.”

He reached out to pat me on the head and thought better of it, ” Just like you’re Mother, we were a team in our day to. We worked well together.

The Praecox have always done their best work with Nightfall.”

” So what’s happened here Mr. Nightfall, where is everyone?”

He held a newspaper up and showed it to me. I couldn’t read it of course and he ran a cold dark finger under the headline and read it to me.

” Hurricane Force Winds Strike Seattle, Power Outages State Wide, locals ready for Nightfall and freezing temperatures. They were ready for me this time. Lord I hate the press”

” Killjoys” I said with feeling.

” Well, there’s always tomorrow, isn’t there Miss Demetia Praecox?”

I agreed because everyone knows Nightfall comes from Faraway and sometimes it brings madness with it and it always will.





Mr. Erasmus Undercroft tends the cemetery in a place called Faraway.

He’s the Chief Gravedigger, the Lead Mortician and sometimes the Sole Mourner and Mr Undercroft smiles no matter what his duties are on any given day.

This is Mr Undercroft’s Home and he always welcomes visitors.

So go ahead and take a walk down that little white gravel path that runs like an artery choked with blood through this dark place in Faraway and you will come to a chapel with no windows that sits in the back of Mr Undercroft’s Cemetery.

It’s hidden among the nightshade and Wolfsbane and bright white flowers that smell faintly of smoke and no matter the time of day it’s always Nightfall here.

After you’ve made your way this far go ahead and enter the vestibule and you might see a dark blue casket with bright silver handles sitting all alone in the center of the Windowless Chapel.

If you are feeling overly confident go inside the Chapel itself and look down into the the casket and laying there in his finest, blackest funeral wear is a tall thin man who’s pale thin hands are crossed over his narrow airless chest.

That man is Mr. Erasmus Undercroft.

Let me prepare you; he will be smiling and his eyes are shut but you know he can see you all the same.

Once long ago before Mr. Eramus Undercroft came to Faraway he lived in a town called Riversleigh.

He tended the gardens at Riversleigh Manor until the day the Servants all disappeared and upon discovering “ something horrible in the Shed” the Riversleigh Family was scared enough to leave their home in the darkness and by foot to the next town which was twenty miles away.

The only living thing the Police found at the Manor was Mr Undercroft standing alone in his Gardener’s Shed smiling.

The headlines of the town’s newspaper declared:
” Where are the Servants of Riversleigh? ”
The mysterious question has been answered by
Grisly Find in the Gardner’s Shed…

“ What did you do to them Mr. Undercroft?” the Law had asked, “ What did you do to all 35 of those poor Souls?”

Mr. Undercroft opened his hand and dropped something onto the table and smiled his cadaverous smile and said, “ Why I sent them Faraway.”

On the table were teeth, 7 teeth and from then on for a very long time Riversleigh Manor was called “The House of the Seven Teeth” and no one locked the doors of Riversleigh
Because nobody would go near the house that went on living after everyone in it had died.

Eventually Mr. Undercroft went Faraway too, but before he left he stayed for a short time in a place called the Prefontaine Asylum for the Criminally Insane in a town called Ravenswood.

When the staff there disappeared and the Patients were found wandering the treacherous hillsides it was quickly noticed that all two hundred of them were all missing their left eye the people of Ravenswood decided it would be best to not go looking for Mr. Eramus Undercroft.

They hoped and hoped he was Faraway…and he was.

That was long ago and now in the shade and fog shrouded village of Faraway Mr. Eramus Undercroft drives a black hearse that is so dark it’s invisible when the sunsets and the sun always sets when it knows Mr. Undercroft is out. He digs graves and feasts on the poisonous fruits that grow in Faraway and when it rains the little droplets of water hiss against his skin.

Mr. Undercroft’s best friend is a man called Mr. Nightfall and when he’s lonely he calls on Miss Praecox and they picnic in the ruined Cemetery Mr. Undercroft calls home.

Across the street from the Cemetery is a little house painted light blue.

It looks empty and should be empty but of course it’s not.

It’s the home Mr.Anthropophagite and Mr. Undercroft has admired Mr.Anthropophagite for a very long time. He just wishes that his pale friend wouldn’t do his own special brand of gardening at the Cemetery.

When the Wardens of Sawajinn come to Faraway in search of Mr.Anthropophagite who lives there inside the Blue House of Shadows it’s Mr. Undercroft who sends them away with little cloth bags full of presents from Mr. Undercrofts days at Prefontaine.

Nowadays Mr. Erasmus Undercroft rides out in his dark black hearse at Midnight and he looks for things to take Faraway.

When he brings them back he turns them loose in Faraway and sometimes he buries them and sometimes he feasts on them and the juices turn his teeth black and make his eyes
Water and the tears eat away at his face like acid.

Mr Erasmus Undercroft is the Chief Gravedigger and Funeral Director in Faraway and he buries the things best forgotten, the things you hope are Faraway.

Only sometimes for fun and it amuses him every single time Mr Erasmus Undercroft brings them back from Faraway.

When his passengers leave his car and swarm and ruin and corrupt everything in their paths you will hear in every storm, fire, war, and plague ridden town he visits…one sound above all the rest.

It’s screaming you’ll hear, and if you listen close you will find it’s not many voices its always one voice and it is not screaming it’s laughing.


 This additional story was inspired by a project that just started at the Soul Food Cafe:

it’s called the ” SOUL FOOD ALPHABET 

and can be found at:


The science of alchemy is the science of the conversion of things into other species”Dominicus Gundissalinus, scholastic philosopher.

(flourished ca. 1150)

Faraway at Riversleigh

Riversleigh Manor has been left in darkness and behind the Black House in the Gardner’s Shed Mr. Undercroft, The Undertaker from the town of Faraway is packing a bag.

His pale blue face is smiling and his hair is combed back and his suit has been cleaned and ironed and on his work table among the dusty jars and rusted pruning shears and dirt encrusted garden trowels are shiny sharp tools with curved hooks, thin razor sharp edges, jagged edges and bone handles. As he packs he takes inventory of the clean tools with his long skeletal fingers, not his eyes and when he’s done he carefully folds the tools up in a white linen  cloth decorated  in blue ink.

Then he places the bundle into his black leather case and snaps it shut.

“Leaving us Undercroft” a voice says from the window, “leaving us?”

Undercroft doesn’t look up because he knows there is nothing to see. Instead he looks down and says to the rotted floorboards “not for long, don’t worry I’ll be back.”

“What a shame. We do hate you Undercroft.”

“Likewise” Erasmus Undercroft snaps as he pulls the bag off of the table “likewise to be sure.”

As he leaves the little shed behind the Black House the darkness follows him.

It always does.

Erasmus watches Riversleigh disappear; she’s hidden herself behind an orchard that has been pretending to be green and alive.

No more pretending now.

He can see the windows crack, the marble fountain in the Courtyard crumble and the curtains turn to dust on their rods. Doors are slamming shut and rusted tumblers are falling into place and locking themselves.

Erasmus can hear the floorboards settle and spilt, he can hear support beams crackle and snap and struggle to hold themselves together. He can feel the Riversleigh’s foundation buckle and crumble and turn to dust under the house.

After its done Mr. Undercroft places his hat on his head, and smiles at the dead house and waves a little before he turns and walks into the hills.

It could have been days, or weeks or years or minutes before Mr. Undercroft arrived at the Abbey. On that first night the  Black Monks of Fallen passed him on the road up to the gates and he nodded a greeting and they laughed back and one called out, “Good luck to you Undercroft “
Erasmus startled at the sound of his own name. He wasn’t use to being seen…felt but not seen and he frowned a little and started to think…

Mr. Undercroft found his place in the Abbey, he’s in the Catacombs.

In the miles and miles of tunnels, among the bones and crypts and walls that whisper he was whistling and humming and unpacking his bag and when the door behind him swung open “Kamahra!” a voice calls into the darkness, “before we loose you down there why don’t you take the time now to come upstairs and say hello and have something to eat. You must be famished after your long trip.”

Mr. Undercroft doesn’t answer, there’s only the darkness and the sound of his unpacking, then he remembers to say in the dead woman’s voice “ Starving” Mr. Undercroft says as we puts on the dead woman’s face “I’m Starving”.