It Starts With a Knock On The Door

FOWC with Fandango — Paranormal

Photo A.M. Moscoso

The best ghost stories always start with a knock on the door- my Grandpa used to tell me as he settled into his favorite chair next to our fireplace and a nice drink to warm his bones.

It didn’t matter if it was day or if it was during the dead of night, but the best ghost stories are the ones that give you nightmares, the ones you share all over the place in the hopes that you’ll get it out of your head and the ghosts from those stories will go haunt someone else for a spell.

Of course, he said, they come back and when they do, they’re more likely to knock at the window.

No wait, he said. I take that back, they don’t knock at the window. They’re more likely to scratch at the window. Scritch scritch scritch. He told me.

That’s what the ghosts in the best ghost stories do. They knock at the door and then they’ll scratch at the window, it’s always the kitchen window and wouldn’t you know it? That kitchen window always seems to look out into a backyard with a swingset and one of those swings will always start swinging from side to side instead of back and forth just when you think that nothing is out there.

The Sun can be beating down from a cloudless sky or it can be the dead of night and even if there isn’t a breeze or even a cold blast of wind that swing will start to swing all by itself.

I nodded and asked, what do the ghosts want in those ghost stories? The good ones I asked. Not the silly ones where the ghost hides in a doll or plays with light switches.

” They want someone to open the door. ” he said.

My Grandpa used to like to sip sherry when he told me what made a good ghost story. Sometimes when he put the glass I’d stick my pinky into it so that I could have a taste.

Sometimes I knocked the glass over, but he didn’t seem to mind.

Once I was about to help myself to a dab of sherry

when I heard a knock at the door.

Grandpa sat back in his chair.

We waited and then we heard, from down the hall a scratching at the kitchen window and light as the sound the tiny bells on my cat’s collar made we could hear my swing start to move in a non-existent breeze.

I felt a shiver and it sizzled up and down my spine.

Then we heard it again, there was a knock at the door and this time it was more insistent and it was a little louder and it echoed through our dark house.

” Are you going to answer it? ” he asked.

I went to the door. I put my hand on the knob and then I turned around and smiled.

He smiled back and raised his little glass.

” This is going to be a good one. ” I said hopefully.

Siri Meets Hunter’s Mom

Putting My Feet In The Dirt Prompt#6: Eerie Siri

Hunter and his Mom were in her kitchen and she was looking down at Hunter’s phone on the table suspiciously.

” So I can just tell Siri what to do and she’ll do it?” his Mom asked for the hundredth time in the last two hours.

” Yeah. You just say, Siri -turn on the lights or Siri, Facetime Hunter…”

” I have three other sons you know.”

” I know Mom.”

” And I don’t know what Facetime is. Does that mean she’ll tell you to come over so I can see you?”

” No. Mom, we’ll get to that later. Look. Siri is going to be like a secretary. She’ll keep tracks of your mail and-“

” Sounds to me like she’s more of a slave.”

Hunter took a breath. A big deep breath.

” You know what slaves do? They rise up. It’s not worth it Son. Some of those uprisings are bad. Real bad. Maybe I should ask Siri to tell you about it “

Hunter collapsed in the chain at the head of the table. ” Look at it this way Mom. Siri is like the Clown head that we used to talk to at that burger place. Remember? You just tell it what you want. And it gives it to you. It’s a happy clown.”

” Can you play games with it?” his Mom put her finger on his phone and slid it a little closer to where she was sitting.

” Well. No. But she can find you games to play.”

” So you can set this up on my phone too?”

” Sure Mom. Sure I can.”

” Because there’s one game I really like. It’s called Ghost Finder. Oh and there’s another one called Demon Tracker, but I think that one is boring and another one that tell you if your house is haunted. Mr. Fletcher has them on his phone. He plays them when we’re supposed to be working on projects at the senior center.”

” Mr Fletcher, ” his Mom said with a snicker ” is not a team player.”

Hunter wasn’t sure he wanted to know anymore about Mr. Fletcher and his Mom playing Demon and ghost hunting games on his phone when they were supposed to be learning to paint golden sunsets or eating healthy.

Hunter asked his Mom for his phone. ” I’ll get you started.”

” Can you do it when the battery is dead? Because I forgot to charge it.”

” Come on Mom, you know better then that.”

” Look. I’ll go plug it in and while it’s charging we can go get something to eat at the Deli. But let me think about it while we’re out. I like my peace and quiet and it seems to me this Siri is chatty and a know it all to boot.”.

” Well. Yeah. But that’s the point.” he told his Mom as she went to plug her phone in.

She left the kitchen and when she came back in she had her car keys in her hand. ” Let’s go.”

Hunter got from the table and he followed her out the back door to the carport and he said under his breath,

” all she wants to know is if Siri can find Demon -. “

He felt his phone pulse and Siri said, ” Demon located .”

Hunter’s Mom turned around. ” What did I tell you? Mouthy little know it all, isn’t she?”

 

 

 

The Woman On The Bridge

Putting My Feet In The Dirt July Prompt: #19 Niceties Don’t Bring Rainbows

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Just as a side note- I was reading this article on ‘show don’ tell’ in writing and I was experimenting with an exercise and I used this prompt. I liked it so much I left it as it was.

Show don’t tell- How she waited on the bridge facing the traffic, exhaust and grit from the cars roaring by forcing her to smile and blush like a bride her hands clenched against her chest until her knuckles were white and as bloodless as her face.

Show don’t tell- how it was always noon when she appeared on the bridge rain or shine, Show how her eyes narrowed as they searched every single face that raced by her . Show how she sometimes she raised her hand and other times she almost raised her hand in the same smooth mechanical motion.

Show don’t tell- how one day a car slid to a stop and how she glided with the wind up to the driver’s side and looked in, her eyes rimmed with grit, her hair tangled with leaves and bits of paper her clothes just a little damp.

Show don’t tell how the woman in the car rolled down the window and asked the women if she needed help, show the confusion and disgust on her face when she looked up and saw the Woman On The Bridge’s up close. Show how she kept her hand on the window button and how she clenched with steering wheel with her other hand and leaned back into the car. Show how she leaned forward again and sat up straight and asked firmly if the Woman on the Bridge needed help.

Show don’t tell, how the Woman On The Bridge pointed out over the railing and said ” My car. It’s stuck down there. Can you help me get it out?”

Show don’t tell how the woman in the car looked down and saw that the woman on the bridge had no feet- and then she realized she did have feet but they were backwards show howthe woman in the car tried to roll her window up, tell how she wanted to drive away but she couldn’t take her eyes away from the woman’s feet- or the empty patch of concrete where they should have been

Show don’t tell how the woman in the car didn’t drive away, didn’t look up until she heard the passenger door open and then close and in just a few heavy heartbeats felt the air in the car wrap itself around her like cold heavy water.

But do tell how in the end the Woman On The Bridge thanked her for taking her to her car.

The Guest Room

Putting My Feet In The Dirt July Writing Prompt: #17. Sorrows of the soul

Lochan Ellis knew there at least two ghosts living in the closet in the spare room next to hers. There was probably one or two monsters living under the bed that nobody ever slept in and she was sure that the mirror in the corner was home to countless lost souls.

It’s not like Lochan had some special power that let her see into the next world-everyone, her Mother, her father and her three brothers all new that the spare room was full of troubled spirits.

In fact, if you went by for a visit and you were sitting in the kitchen snacking on home baked cookies you would hear them too- you might even see something run by you out of the corner of your eye.

I’m pulling your leg.

It wouldn’t be one of the troubled spirits that lived in the spare room, that blur would be one of the family cats who always seemed to know when the Spirits upstairs were a little more agitated then normal.

Despite the fact that the Ellis family home was infested with all sorts of troubled Souls, no one in Lochan’s family called for a Priest or a Ghost Hunter or a Pyschic to deal with their spareroom that was painted light green, they didn’t even bother to lock it because nobody ever went into it and whatever was in there seemed to be content with it’s place under the bed, inside of the closet or trapped in the mirror.

Sometimes at dinner or at lunch or when they were watching tv they would hear a thump, singing and sneezing coming from above their heads but they just turned the sound up on the tv or they talked a little louder around the dinner table and went on with their lives and they let the occupants in the spare room get on with theirs.

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Lochan kept the house and in that time she married and divorced a few times. She never had children and she never had company over, not because of the Spirits and Ghosts and Monsters upstairs in the spare room- it wasn’t because her cats would sit on the dining room table and hiss at the ceiling ( the spare room was right over the dining room ) but she had discovered over the years

that

people spent a lot of time pretending that the things that scared and horrified them, like the things upstairs, weren’t real and if you ignored them they would go away.

She knew better then that.

Crunchy Bones

Putting my Feet In The Dirth- July Writing Prompts# 3 Misty Moon Magic

” Fly me to the moon
Let me play among the stars
Let me see what Spring is like on
A-Jupiter and Mars “

Fern’s favorite song that Fall- and anyone within ear shot of her knew what it was because she sang it on a loop was ” Fly Me To The Moon “.

Most of the people around Fern tuned her impromptu concerts out after awhile because Fern sang a lot, but unfortunately the one person who could not do that was Grandma Beverly.

Fern’s Grandmother Beverly was on a good day not Fern’s biggest fan, but after nine year old Fern picked up that particular song and only sang those four lines and badly to boot, Beverly went from not caring for her scruffy Granddaughter much to outright hating her.

The sound of that child’s voice set Beverly’s teeth on edge now.

But to be honest everything about Fern set Beverly’s teeth on edge- her dirt brown hair that always had a snarl in it somewhere, Fern’s dark brown eyes set in her slightly muddy complexation that she inherited from her- as Beverly would politely say, ” Asmita, my son’s exotic wife. ” and said her granddaughter wide and toothy smile reminded Beverely of a screeching monkey- which is how Beverly actually referred to Fern every single chance she had.

” You’re such a happy screeching little monkey, ” Beverly would say with forced jocularity. ” Aren’t you Ferny?”

” I don’t know Bevy ” Fern would answer back ” am I?”

It was around Christmas when the family got together that Beverly snapped like one of the dry bones that littered her Son’s front yard- along with his Screeching Monkey Child, Frank had a dog named Mavis that got on Beverly’s nerves only a fraction of an inch less then Fern did.

Fern was outside with Mavis when her Grandmother breezed up the front walk for Christmas dinner. She only stopped long enough to ask her Grandaughter why she didn’t clean up after the dog every once and awhile.

The yard was littered with bones and dog toys.

” I did. I always clean up after Mavis. But she likes old bones. I’ll bet that’s why she likes you”

Mavis jumped up a little and wagged her tail like crazy.

” Well. You’re not doing a very good job of it.” Beverly said and just when she thought she had her temper in check she opened her mouth and said ” Good for nothing little Screeching Monkey.”

Fern watched her Grandmother gather herself up and arrange a smile on her face and then she watched her climb the steps to the front door, ” Ho Ho Ho! ” she sang out to Fern’s cousins were waiting at the door and who did not look like ” Good For Nothing Screeching Monkeys ” and none of them had ‘exotic Mothers “the way Fern did.

The door shut and Mavis picked up a bone and dropped it at Fern’s feet.

Fern was about to bust into her most favorite song in the entire world when decided to sing a new song her Mom had just taught her instead.

Mavis picked the bone back up and Fern lifted her face to the sky and just a full moon burst out from behind a cloud and she said, ‘ I’ll get you some good crunchy bones in a sec Mavy. I’m going to get you a bunch of crunchy bones”

Then Fern, who was not a screeching monkey and to be fair to Beverly she wasn’t even a human child all of the time and Fern’s mother was exotic but not in the bigoted narrow minded way Beverly thought- lifted her chin up and sang

Ooh, ooh, ooh
What a little moonlight can do
Wait a while
‘Til a little moonbeam comes peepin’ through

Mavis lifted her chin up too and howled along with Fern, she happily wagged tail in time to Fran’s singing and thought about Crunchy Bones in the way that dogs do.

After Fern’s tail sprouted and her claws and teeth popped through she started to wag her tail too.

Leaving Home

FOWC with Fandango — Asleep

” You don’t have to keep visiting me like this, after I’m moved” Eileen told her son as they drove to her new place.

Calvin who had dutifully visited his Mother after she moved into Leaning Birches two years ago was a little insulted. ” Mom, when I have not visited you? Me and Frankie and Birdie have never missed a visit with you and we’re not going to start now.”

” Well.” She said, ” I can’t expect you to run down here just to see me for our little visits. Frankie is going to be graduating from highschool in a few months and she is going to be driving now. Birdie is going to start teaching school again and you-” she sighed ” You work so hard. You have lives to be proud of and you should enjoy them. I do worry you don’t get enough rest. Do you nap? Naps are very healthful you know.”

Calvin was about to answer Mom but he could feel her mind was elsewhere. He decided to keep it short. ” What we enjoy is having you in our lives Mom.”

Mom’s new place was coming up on the left.

” I know. Now let’s get me settled in. This new place looks a little more quiet then Leaning Birches.”

Calvin pulled into the parking lot and drove to the side door, where the administration office is. He parked and shut his car off and then he rested his head on the steering wheel for a minute.

As he raised his head, Calvin reached to his Mom and carefully slid her Urn- the simple Urn with raised flowers pressed along the rim and her name in fancy script lettering on a brass plate that she had chosen out herself- towards him. He patted it reassuringly and then he picked it up.

” I have to agree with you Mom,” he said tenderly to his Mother’s Urn.” If we’re lucky the traffic won’t be so loud it can wake the dead the way it did at your last place. You need your rest too. “

Mabel’s Bookstore

Putting My Feet in the Dirt July Prompt:

1. The page where the heart speaks words

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

My bus stop

is in front of a used bookstore called ” Mabel’s “

Mabel’s has a cat that likes to lounge in the window on top of a fuzzy, dusty set of Encyclopedia Britannica’s that smells like catnip and cat pee and you get a nose full of it when you open the door.

Mabel’s customers are too polite to point this out.

Because Maybel’s customers are cat people.

Maybel’s bookshelves are packed with books about cooking and romance and how to travel to France on a shoestring budget. There are even books about how to train dogs and collect butterflies and there are books about poetry- how to write it, how to read it and how to understand it too.

Those books smell like catnip and cat pee too, but Mabel’s customers ignore it because Mabel’s customers are cat people so when the occasional cat ( sometimes it’s a black cat, there’s a few Tabby’s and couple of Siamese cats too ) strolls along the top of the shelf and wants to jump down, Mabel’s customers will politely step aside and let them pass because

Mabel’s customers are cat people.

After years and years of standing in front of Mabel’s and getting a noseful of cat pee and catnip and sometimes cat fur too, I decided to go into Mabel’s and shop around.

Because I like books.

I strolled around shelves of books about fairy tales and books about Dungeons and Dragons and books with covers where the Vampires strapped in corsets and there is even a few spinner racks full of bookmarks and another with bookplates jammed into corners where the light switches are, which must make it a chore to switch the lights off and on- on the other hand I can’t seem to remember a time when the lights were ever off at Mabel’s.

I heard a meow and I looked up and then I heard another meow and I looked behind me.

A chubby little Tabby was sitting on a table next to a chair where Mabel’s customers sometimes sat and thumbed through a volume or too that smelled like cat pee and sometimes catnip.

” Hello Mabel’s Cat. ” I said stepping back because, to be honest I’m not a cat person. I think I might be allergic because my nose always tingles when I’m around them and my eyes water a little bit too.

Mabel’s cat jumped off of the table and when it hit the floor, it sent up a poof of cat fur from the floor and when it’s paws where firmly grounded it streatched up and up and in it’s place was a small chubby man with salt and pepper hair.

” You’re not a cat person I see. ” he said.

I crouched and fell gently forwards and when my front paws touched the dusty floorboards I shook my head from side to side, sneezed a little and said, ” Not even a little around the edges.”

I may have barked that and I may have barked it a little to loud but Mabel’s customers would not have pointed that out because even though the customers at Mabel’s are cat people, they’re very polite.

Even to dog people.

Murder Hornets

RDP Tuesday: EXPLAIN

One of these days we’re going to have to explain this world we’re living in now and this is how I think it will go for me:

” Where did Murder Hornets come from? ” I imagine my Granddaughter asking me one day. ” Did you ever see one? What’s it like to be stung by one? Do they really sound like hummingbirds when they fly?”

” I saw a bunch of them try to carry off one cat and then they carried off another. It was pretty awful. “

” No you did not ” my Granddaughter will say.

” Yes I did. Don’t you ever wonder why you never see any cats around here?”

” I thought it was because you’re allergic”

” Murder Hornets ” I will say darkly.

” Lola,” my Grandaughter will ask me one day ” Was there really a sandstorm that circled the world? Did it really start in the Sahara Desert? Did it really dump sand in Texas? Did you see that? Did it dump sand in Washington too?

” Do you know what it was called? I will tell her, ” It was called, “The Godzilla Sandstorm

My Grandaughter, whose name is Jemma will roll her eyes up into her head. ” Lola that is the biggest pile of baloney you’ve ever stacked. “

” It’s true. Ask the internet-“

” Internet ” Jemma will snort ” Nobody calls it that Lola.”

” Okay, I’ll tell you the truth. It was a curse. One day someone in the Cairo Museum accidently damaged a mummy and the next thing you know…womp. What can I say, one of those Curses was bound to be real and it was bound to pay off and boy did it.”

Jemma will look at me and say, ” I knew it.”

And then one day Jemma will ask me about the Virus that swept the world when she was two years old and she will ask me if I had it and did I know anyone who died and what was it like to not be able to go to the movies or to concerts or parties and what did we do all day?

I will remember the times that I rode the train with “Fever Boy.” he was the guy who coughed and hacked and sneezed and finally he started to wear a mask- but he only wore it when he was waiting for the train. He took it off when he got on.

And then there was Crazy Cooter- he was the guy who only wore his mask over his mouth and when he was reading he would flip it on the top of his head, the way you do with your glasses when you don’t need them. Anyway, he would read quietly, out loud to himself.

He used to sneeze a lot.

The streets and trains were full of people like Fever Boy and Crazy Cooter. They made a lot of people sick. Lots and lots of people. It should have been a crime.

” Well, when we were under stay at home orders I started a new hobby.”

” What was your new hobby?”

” Head hunting. “

” Oh Lola! ” Jemma will laugh. ” That’s so silly. Everyone knows you didn’t head hunt.’

My Son will join in at this point, ” Come on Mom. Tell her the truth. You didn’t hunt for heads.”

I will look down modestly and then I will admit, ” I took up sewing again so I made-“

” Masks?” Jeamma will guess.

” Voodoo dolls. ” I will tell her.

” Best dang Voodoo Dolls in the entire state of Washington.” My son will say proudly. ” Those things really worked. But that was at the end of the pandemic when you started to make them, right?” my Son will say with a wink over his daughter’s head.

” Yeah. At the end” I will tell her.

And my son will try to laugh so that Jemma will know we we’re only kidding around.

But it won’t be a very convincing laugh.

Goodnight Midge

Fandango’s Friday Flashback — June 26 I’ve flashed back to a story I wrote around this time last year- actually there were two others but I liked this one the best.

Why?

Because it was one where I followed the advice all writers hear, ” Write what you know.

So I wrote about being a Mom.

More or less.

amm

Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

” I think there is a monster in my closet “

her daughter, Midge said for the one billionth time.

” No there isn’t. ” she told her daughtere- otherwise known as the kid who never got into bed when she was supposed to and could always find a way to avoid it.

” Mommy, I’m not fibbing. I think there is a monster in my closet. I think it has big sharp teeth and horns and knives for fingers.”

Midge pulled her fluffy pink comforter up to her chin and five of the twenty or so plush kittens she slept with tumbled to the floor.

” Mommy! Save my babies!”

Brenda leaned over and started to pitch Midge’s babies back up onto the bed. Her hair, which needed washing fell into her face and she could  see her yellow sweatshirt had popcorn kernels stuck to it.

She couldn’t remember when she ate popcorn last.

” Mommy. “

” No Midge. No I am not going to check your closet for monsters.”

” Why not? Don’t you love me?”

” No. I mean yes. Of course I love you. But I’ve been checking your closet for Monsters  every night since you were three years old and you’re seven now. Midge I’m tired of looking into your closet to check for monsters.”

Midge sniffed. ” It’s not like there are a million monsters. There’s only one, I think. Please. Please check.”

” Look. Just give me a break. I’ll tell you what. I’ll watch your babies and you check the closet for the Monster.”

Midge’s eyes went from little pools of blue light to gigantic saucer sized orbs. ” What if it gets me?”

” It’s never gotten me. Go ahead. I’ll wait and you be a big brave girl and check.”

Midge slid her comforter down and slid out of her white and yellow canopy bed.

She padded past her tea set and dollhouses and her shelves lined with dolls and books about fairies and princesses.

When she got to her closet door she reached for the knob and she turned to her Mother. ” If the Monster gets me, you’ll be sorry.”

” I’m sure you will be safe. Go on.”

Midge turned the knob and pulled the door open and then  a gust of warm air sent her flying forwards and she landed with a soft thud.

The door slammed shut.

” Mommy! Mommy help! The monster got me, the monster got me!”

Brenda  put her back against the closet door and slid to the floor. ” Actually Midge, ” said Mommy as she pushed a lock of hair behind one of her horns freshly sprouted horns with the shiny knife at the end of her finger that she hardly ever popped out anymore just for the Hell of it because she was too busy driving her daughter to dance lessons nowdays” The monster doesn’t want you! “

Photo A.M. Moscoso

RDP- Sunday–Closet

Milo and Jingle Hungerford

I was inspired by my friend’s new Journaling Project Anastasia Riversleigh to resurrect- as it were- two characters I created several years ago.

They’ve come back to haunt me now and then and I think it’s the perfect time to give them the chance to come out and play.

I hope you enjoy their re-entry into the world!

amm

” What are you looking at Jingle? ”  Milo Hungerford asked his wife.

Jingle was standing in front of their living room mirror and at first she didn’t seem to hear him. In the semi gloom of the evening filtering in through the drapes she turned slowly towards him and said, ” I don’t know. “

He came up behind her, stared into glass and shook his head.

” That’s not right Jingle. “

She put her hand to her face and looked into the mirror again and when she turned back towards Milo she started to cry. ” Milo what’s happening to me? “

Milo  pulled Jingle to his chest and turned her away from the looking glass.

” Is it still there Milo? “

Milo held Jingle tighter and said, ” yes. “

” The one in the foyer- let’s try that one too. “

” Jingle- it won’t…” he started to say and then when he saw the look on her face he nodded. “okay, we’ll try that one too.”

Milo held his wife’s hand and they walked down the dark halls to the entrance to their home and together they looked into the mirror there and Jingle burst into tears and grabbed her face.

” Oh Milo- oh Milo what’s happening to me? ” she cried.

Milo looked into the mirror and there in the glass he saw his wife distraught wife, her dark hair framing her face- all alone in the mirror except for the darkness that shrouded their home both inside and out.

He turned her gently towards him and said,

” I don’t know how it happened Jingle…but I think you’re alive. “