The Parker Brothers: Nos Galan Gaeaf (Part I of IV)

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice on October 8, 2015 by cairnwood


Nos Galan Gaeaf


“You know, just once,” Allen Parker grumbled, “I’d like to go trick or treating with my friends instead of sneaking around the woods on Hallowe’en Night.”

“To be fair,” his older brother Dale replied, “I’m not really sure what we’re doing would be considered sneaking, not with you running your mouth every five seconds.”

The two brothers were on a deer trail, on the north side of Goose Creek, crunching through fallen leaves on their way toward a hilltop rendezvous. Dale, a sophomore at Converse High, had found a mysterious note left in his locker that read:

Nos Galan Gaeaf Yr Hwch Ddu Gwta ei eni
gwydd cilfach / carucrefft bryn
byddai’n drueni os byddwch yn ei golli

At first he thought it just gibberish, but when he showed it to his dad, paranormal author Steven Parker, the Parker patriarch had recognized it as Welsh. After consulting the family library, a veritable treasure trove of supernatural lore, they came up with a rough translation that promised that on Hallowe’en Night, a black sow would be born to a witch between Goose Creek and Lovecraft Hill. The note concluded by stating that ‘it would be a shame if you missed it’.

The elder Parker had laughed, sure it was an elaborate prank being pulled on his son. Dale wasn’t so easily convinced. After promising his father that he’d ignore the invitation, he immediately made plans to do the opposite and enlisted the aid of his younger brother, Allen.

And now, here they were, deep in the thick of the Mississinewa Forest, a waxing orange crescent watching over their slow ascent up Lovecraft Hill.

“What do you think you’re going to find up there?” Allen coarsely whispered toward his brother, several feet ahead of him and nearing the top of the rise.

Dale looked back and held his finger up to his lips, begging silence from his little brother, but instead a cry of alarm escaped the middle-schooler’s throat. A flash of light erupted from the top of the hill, as flames climbed high into the night sky, licking the canopy of Ash and Elm that clung to the hillside.

Shielding his eyes, Dale climbed forward, cresting the hilltop where a circle of camp stones did little to contain the unnatural blaze before him. He sensed his brother taking his place behind him and they both stared in wide-eyed wonder as the flames subsided and they saw standing in the smoldering embers, dark, acrid smoke rising all about it, a black sow with red eyes aglow, burning with a fire all their own.

A cackling laugh split the night and the sow joined in, grunting and snorting, its hooves clawing at the fire’s remnants. It bolted forward, impossibly fast, and the two boys screamed as it barreled into them, sending the brothers tumbling from atop Lovecraft Hill toward the muddy bed of Goose Creek below.

—to be continued—

Spirits of the Dead

Posted in Horror on October 7, 2015 by cairnwood

Thy soul shall find itself alone
’Mid dark thoughts of the gray tombstone—
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.

Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness—for then
The spirits of the dead who stood
In life before thee are again
In death around thee—and their will
Shall overshadow thee: be still.

The night, tho’ clear, shall frown—
And the stars shall look not down
From their high thrones in the heaven,
With light like Hope to mortals given—
But their red orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee for ever.

Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,
Now are visions ne’er to vanish;
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more—like dew-drop from the grass.

The breeze—the breath of God—is still—
And the mist upon the hill,
Shadowy—shadowy—yet unbroken,
Is a symbol and a token—
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries!

Edgar Allan Poe
January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849

Come on Little Devil

Posted in Horror, Liber et Auda, Magick by Trial & Error on October 6, 2015 by cairnwood


Today I had planned to post pictures from our 1991 Hallowe’en Party on Washington Street in Muncie, but life sort of got in the way this week and they didn’t get scanned. Watch for that post next week (gods willing and the creek don’t rise).

When we were younger, one of our favorite haunts was Hobbitland. We camped there frequently, in all seasons, but especially once true autumn rolled around. Hobbitland and October were made for one another.

If you look up Hobbitland online, you’re likely to run across this description:

LaFontaine: Mississinewa Reservoir Forest: Hobbitland: Legend says it is inhabited by evil little hobbits (or demons) who guard the devil worshipers. It is said if you drive back to where it is and turn off your car and get out you can see the hobbits coming after you. They carry lights or its their eyes, that you can see coming after you.

First of all, I don’t think the writer of this is in danger of being mistaken for a wordsmith any time soon.

Secondly, they’re sort of mixing up their Urban Legends, tossing ’em all in a pot and giving ’em a good stir.


Brent and I spent a fair amount of time in those particular woods, along with a laundry list of compadres. One such night, round about All Hallow’s Eve 1985, we were camped along the Mississinewa River eating strips of deer liver we skewered onto whittled tree limbs and cooked over an open campfire.

We drank cheap whiskey, cheap beer, and even cheaper wine, smoking Marlboro cigarettes and Backwoods cigars and swapping ghost stories until dawn and then some. We were still raw from the loss of David Farr a few months before and us all gathering there in that spot of haunted woodlands was cathartic for the lot of us.

Brent’s story that night was one I knew well, and he enjoyed telling it. It was as much a Converse Urban Legend as a Hobbitland one. It essentially boiled down to a story told by the Converse old guard, by way of the Dennison clan I believe, of how they’d been out this way and caught something unnatural. But far from just catching it, they’d caged it.

We were told that the natives in these parts, the Twatwa, or Myaamia as they called themselves, communed with an ancient race of tiny creatures that lived in what we would come to call Hobbitland. These creatures resembled reptiles but walked on hind legs and had long barbed tails and beards of sorts. Standing 6-8 inches in height, they were said to be ‘little devils’… and supposedly, for a time, one was kept in a birdcage, sitting on a workbench in an old garage down by Fox Lake.

This was before our time of course, but Brent told the story with fervor. I’ve long since forgotten where the story originated, whether Brent collected it from his grandpa, Dick Slaughter, or it made its way to us through our pal Robert, but Brent liked to chew on that one, tell of how the ‘little devil’ promised granted wishes and wealth to whomever set it free.

That was the part Brent generally changed from time to time, of its escape or it being killed when a wish didn’t come true. But that wasn’t the point.

Urban legends are just that. They get stretched and twisted and manipulated all around, but there’s usually just enough facts sprinkled in to make one wonder if maybe, just maybe, there might be some truth to it after all.

Horror on the List

Posted in Dice Upon A Time, Horror, Liber et Auda on October 5, 2015 by cairnwood


kimconnrenfaireOn Sunday, Kim, Conn, and I traveled an hour south to Fishers for the 11th Annual Fishers Renaissance Faire, our third year in a row attending. It’s one of my favorite events of the year, primarily because it gives me a chance to see the Knights of Valour Joust Troupe live and in action.

After taking in Molotov’s act, browsing the vendors, and Conn purchasing a couple of LARP swords, we finally approached the arena. We marveled at the armour on display, took a few moments to allow a cameraman to  capture several sound-bites regarding jousting in general and about Troupe-Founder Shane Adam’s former Discovery Channel Reality Competition show, Full Metal Jousting, and then spent some time watching the rescue horses be groomed.

For about an hour before the joust, we sat on bales of straw, eating lunch, talking, playing, and watching children ride the warhorses before the exhibition got underway.

We also battled more than a few spiders, but that’s another horror story altogether.

Then, after much anticipation, Adams took the field and welcomed us to the field…


There is absolutely nothing like a live, full-contact joust. Two armoured knights, armed with solid wooden shafts and mounted on magnificent warhorses, riding into each other as fast as their steeds will carry them, to deliver a brutal strike into their opponent’s gridded grand-guard? Yeah, that’s the very definition of insanity. Look it up.

I love it. It is violent, to be sure, but there is a grace and precision involved. The horses are beautiful, massive creatures. These mounts are the very epitome of awe-inspiring, and the knights who ride them are skilled athletes to be sure.

The joust is no easy task, and it’s dangerous stuff as Sunday’s List proved.

We were told beforehand that Knights Joseph Miller and Jaclyn Ziemniak had faced off the day before, and were part of a double unhorsing. Shane Adams, an accomplished knight in his own right, holding nearly a score of international titles, told the crowd that Dame Jaclyn had been unconscious for 8 full minutes but that she was ready to perform.

This was obviously far from the case.

damejaclynDuring the warm-up exercises, Dame Jaclyn’s depth perception was obviously off. She missed badly on both spear tosses and he sword strike during the cutting heads exercise was far from accurate. I leaned over to my wife and said that I suspected she was concussed…

To be honest, she still looked better astride Max than her opponent did on Paladin. Sir Joseph struggled to get his mount up to a canter in both exercises.

But, come the joust, both riders and their steeds were up to the challenge. We were treated to shattered lances and precision strikes, but on the third pass, Jaclyn was unhorsed.

It was a horrible feeling seeing her lying there, unresponsive. Shane Adams did his best to keep the crowd distracted, to try and interact with his fallen comrade and give her the opportunity to alleviate the audiences’ fears, but she didn’t have it in her.

When they finally got her to her feet and unhelmeted, there was plenty of blood on the side of her head and as we exited the arena we were treated to the sound of approaching sirens.

Needless to say, we were worried for her. Internet rumour tells us she suffered a concussion and would be back in the saddle soon enough, but I’ll feel better once we get some form of official word from Knights of Valour themselves.

Despite this ‘Horror on the List’, we had a terrific time, and it really was a brilliant and thrilling joust. It’s a deadly sport and I appreciate the bravery these modern day warriors display for our entertainment.


Midwinter of the Spirit, Episode 2

Posted in Horror, Media Macabre on October 2, 2015 by cairnwood


Midwinter of the Spirit continues its magnificent exploration of satanic evil. Christ, but that was bloody disturbing. It tickles the old fears that used to sit with me when I was a wee lad, living in a trailer on the edge of Turkey Creek. Having seen The Exorcist before I was in double digits, it deeply effected me. Yeah, Midwinter is rekindling that old tinder, first piled by Blatty’s horrific vision.


Poor Merrily is in way over her head. She’s cracking under the pressure of her new role as Deliverance Minister and now her child’s in harm’s way. It’s all delicious stuff. Cliched, oh sure, but that’s what pulls the trigger, no? They are time honored tropes for a reason, and Midwinter brings them all out, like a parade of the dead, and every bit of it is wonderfully wicked, you know.

Don’t get me wrong, they take these cliches for a spin all their own, but the nod is there, every step of the way.

Enough of all that, let’s get to the real bit of loveliness — that bloody library.



To die for, am I right?

I like where Midwinter is going, but by the devil’s own beard, with but one episode left, it’s sure to be one helluva climax.

The series finale of Midwinter of the Spirit airs Wednesday, October 7th on ITV.

Happy October

Posted in All Hallows Read, Magick by Trial & Error, Media Macabre, Occult Detectives, Writing in Theory & Practice on October 1, 2015 by cairnwood


Here at last… October.

How do I plan to celebrate the month?

This weekend I’ll be hosting a ‘ghost hunt’ on Saturday and then traveling with Kim and Conn to Fishers on Sunday for their 11th Annual Renaissance Faire to watch the Knights of Valour Joust Troupe in action.

The biggest day of the month falls on the 9th when we bust out the party hats for Connor’s 12th Birthday. We’ll follow that up with D&D on the 10th and a trek out to Hobbitland on Sunday for the Mississinewa 1812 Reenactment.

There’ll be more ‘ghost hunt’ tours and CODA paranormal investigations throughout the month, more D&D and a night of Mansions of Madness, All Hallow’s Reads and Poe readings by campfire, trips to pumpkin patches and corn mazes and more than a few cemeteries.

I mean, c’mon, nothing says October like a walk through an old boneyard.

straubI’ll be revisiting Peter Straub’s 2010 novel A Dark Matter. This was a work that struck very close to home for me. Straub is a brilliant author, a true master of the craft, and A Dark Matter holds a mirror up to my past in so many ways that, when I read it five years back, it almost felt like a nightmare was visited upon me.

I look forward to those feelings being rekindled.

If I chew through A Dark Matter fast enough, I may dip into some more Straub for old time’s sake. It’s been a while since I last read Ghost Story and I’m always eager to revisit that one.

But I’ve an itch to climb into some Machen and Blackwood as well, and Gaiman’s Fragile Things, and Bradbury’s October Country, and… October’s just not bloody long enough.

Hell’s fire, I’ve words of my own to write as well. Many of them here. I’ve a Parker Brothers tale just dying to get out, so expect a bookstore window serial to take flight very soon.

barbaracramptonAlso, this year I’ll be treating myself to a Scream Queen Legend Barbara Crampton movie marathon, every Friday throughout October. I’ve cued up Chopping Mall, From Beyond, Re-Animator, You’re Next, and We Are Still Here.

You can also bet your bottom dollar that The Monster Squad and The House of Dark Shadows will get watched… and I hope to sneak in The Devil Rides Out and Wicker Man… and I’m always a sucker for network tv ‘Hallowe’en’ episodes.

As usual, we’ll be sampling what the Family Channel and Turner Classic Movies has to offer, and we’re working our way through Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated.

And, least I forget, John Constantine’s back this month, on the fourth episode of Arrow. That should air on the 28th. Can’t miss that… Expect a review of Matt Ryan’s return to the small screen the following Thursday.

And Devil’s Night? What mischief do we have planned? Well, some things are better left a mystery.

That leaves us with Hallowe’en itself

Oh, there’s always something special brewing on All Hallow’s Eve. We’ll talk more about that later…

Happy October everyone. May its magic find you and wrap you up in its skeletal embrace.

September Mourn

Posted in All Hallows Read, Horror, Magick by Trial & Error on September 30, 2015 by cairnwood


So at long last September comes to a close and we welcome October, my favorite month of the year. The long, dread summer is finally gone, autumn’s roots run deep, and everything changes.


October is a month of birthdays and renaissance faires, of war reenactments and paranormal investigations, of corn mazes and haunted houses, of scary movies, costumes, and Samhain. It is a time for All Hallow’s Read and D&D and Mansions of Madness played at midnight. It is a time for ghosts and goblins and ghouls and gremlins and things that go bump in the night. It is a time for horror novels and campfire tales and graveyard walks and hallowe’en.


It is my time.

So fare thee well, September. You did your job. You kicked the season off, but it’s October’s turn now.

September collects the components, but October casts the spell.

01 sigil magick


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