Archive for Ghosts

Fragment from THE NIGHT SHADOWS REPORT: Ghosts in the Dark

Posted in Original Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2017 by smuckyproductions

The air is turning cold in the forests and mountains; autumn is staking its claim. In honor of the darker weather, here is another fragment from THE NIGHT SHADOWS REPORT – this one relating to the character’s search for answers in a nebulous, eerie world. 

The mountain looks down on this room every night, just an outline against the stars. I stare at it from the window, listen to the wind slipping through the pines and the shaky hoot of an owl; but the mountain is all I can see. I intend to initiate a staring contest between us. It hasn’t accepted the challenge.

When it’s this late at night, with the bloodstream clogged and the air cold, inky – no need for ghouls or winged beasts or God up there. The town has its own ghosts roaming the dark. The ghosts of the miners, for example, trekking through the trees from that final place of rest that no one has bothered to uncover yet. The ghost of that suicidal woman, Janet, a rather new shade. Ghosts who lost their jobs, rich families who abandoned their legacy and patronage; fathers trying to start a fire with wet matches in the dark. And the missing girl, Stephanie. Her ghost is the most intangible. I still don’t know where she’s been or where she’s gone. I can feel all of them at the window if I try hard enough – maybe the regulars can, too, and that’s why they drink, to convince themselves it’s just the wind. And it is just that, just a lonely breath in the other room, gone cold by the time you hear it. That’s one thing about the city. Nights are just brown or grey gloom, depending on pollution, and you know someone, somewhere is still awake; the night and silence are never complete. Here, they’re sovereign. Anyone who wanders out there at this time of night might as well be a ghost, because no one will be there to see them, and with just the moonlight cast upon their doomed steps – there! There he is, at the window. Going to tell me one more story. This time the beast’s already breathing down my neck. My own breath, and it hardly stirs a hair.

Mom hated that I got drunk. But she never understood the medicinal effects. It’s fair, isn’t it, to get drunk? Breath no longer cold; vision unreliable enough to blame these shapes on the poison, a side effect. Graham and Roselyn and Stan get it. They’ve learned the secret of living with this empty air. But not with the ghosts. No, I suspect there’s no secret to that; the shadows will continue to creep, creep closer to the window and tap – polite until they lose patience.

But even ghosts need to sleep, and dream. My vigil on the mountain ends. It’s already against the window. I won’t invite it in.

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Short Story: ON THE WIND

Posted in Original Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2015 by smuckyproductions

Here is a story for the beginning of winter, and the strange, liminal phenomenon of snowstorms at night.

ON THE WIND

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The streets emptied themselves when the snow fell in earnest. Lamps pooled cold light on abandoned drifts, frozen seas of ice, an alien landscape laid over one too familiar. Houses revealed their warmth through glowing windows and shuttered walls. Inside, people pretended to listen to the wind, ignoring how it begged. Trees bowed to the wind, earth withdrew to escape its blast. It owned the world on these nights. And across its domain it carried voices.

On the sunlit days that clamored with the cries of the living, these voices would be lost. They waited until the snow fell in thick palls and masked their whispers. Then they disembarked from close hollows and reunited with the world that was once theirs. Anyone who wandered into the storm might hear their cries, brushing against frozen ears, but no one ever believed what they heard. In that way the voices were merciful. They wanted one thing, and it did not concern the living.

In a flurry of ice and wind the voices collided. It was almost like touching. Their forgotten molecules flew against each other and joined. Through the dark rushing air they could feel their words.

My love.

I longed for you. I almost couldn’t –

Hush. We are here. We are here.

Trees moaned, branches sagged, the moon hid behind grey clouds. The wind became their breath and their flesh. For a moment, so brief in the span of their eternity, they could press against and into each other. It was a kind of intimacy that they had never known while still alive. They tried to cry and howl, instead whispering their ecstasy over the snow, which stirred and trembled at the sound.

It was never long enough. The wind returned and ripped them apart before they could ever finish. Daylight began to seep into the kingdom of ice, banishing all who muttered there. They whistled in torment as the gusts carried their particles back into the dark emptiness, where they would wait for another storm; and as they went their voices whipped the snow, dangling from blind rooftops and sleeping trees, into glistening icicles.

Poem: “ROOFTOP PARTY”

Posted in Original Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2015 by smuckyproductions

Not all ghosts have yet died. 

ROOFTOP PARTY

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Upon this murky hollow
The congregation waits:
City a ghost in the distance
A dome of brown night above them
Even the darkness is not real

 

Their floating hair wreathed
In timid moon, cloying streetlight
Too weak to reach their faces
Conceal the drunken sheen
Of desperation, voices
Uniform cacophony of
Blearing silence
Wordless, yet their mouths gape

 

Glued to empty cups,
Failing places on this wasteland,
Smoke wise enough to drift away,
Faces they can’t see
And would turn from anyway –
These ghosts deny their state
To the point of a half-life
Resurrection, false reflection
Because actual breathing
Repulses them –
Better to draw fractal air
That will not show the holes
In their rotted lungs

 

To be one of them is to be blind
As they are –
To observe from the edge
Extracted defunct tooth
To listen to empty mouths
Spouting garbled pleas
Is to know
And to fear
And to pity
What they do not see

 

An era ago I was a ghost
Not yet dead, shivering
Beside the moonlight
Straining for a shock of flesh
To understand – but you
Cannot return once
You see them screaming
And do not scream back

 

I lurk on the sides
No better than a vulture
Yet no worse than one, either
For I keep my tongue
And solitary cries comfort
When their non-skin chills

 

My muse is the throng
Of these grinning creatures
Who have forgotten their name –
What use is a wordless muse?

Yet still I lurk
And on the coldest of nights
I, too, would trade
My name

 

How I Pick My Halloween Films

Posted in Dark Musings, Halloween with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2015 by smuckyproductions

THREE. MORE. DAYS. 

Until the best, most horrifying day of the year. And one of my favorite ways to celebrate is to curate a marathon of films that speak to the spirit of Halloween. As a horror fan, this isn’t terribly difficult, but I still believe there is a precision to the selection process.

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When I mention this to the uninitiated, the response is usually simple – aren’t all horror films good for Halloween? My personal answer is: No. I am undoubtedly pickier than most, but many horror films don’t fit into the spirit at all. (It always confuses me why “The Shining” – year-round, my favorite movie of all time – is always chosen for October movie nights. It’s a winter movie, guys.) It’s a combination of atmosphere, imagery, and storyline, not just scariness.IMG_1097

So, what are my guidelines? I’m not totally sure. But it has to do with the spirit of Halloween itself. This holiday is a celebration of the spectral, the liminal, and the uncanny. The air itself is brittle with the impending change of seasons. Fireplaces newly lit exude a smell of homely smoke, and the quality of the light becomes shadowy as nights grow shorter. Houses drift and lunge with paper ghosts and fake spiderweb. It’s a unique time of year, tingling with a pleasant time of dread, as candles ignite and costumes conceal – so unique that film has a difficult time capturing the authentic atmosphere.

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Films that work for me, then, evoke the intangible and phantasmal quality of October. Surrealism and dream logic are the best examples. Synth-y music and dreamy camerawork combine to transport the viewer into a world apart.

There’s also the stories, of course. Monsters and ghouls make up so much of the childlike glee of Halloween – things that aren’t real become possible. Films that feature a terrific, fantastical villain, perhaps even several to give the film the quality of a well-produced haunted attraction, pay tribute to the variety of creatures that come to life on the 31st. These films don’t have to make their monsters scary, either. They just have to be honest.

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It isn’t precise, and is certainly ridiculous, but I hold true to my little science: autumnal atmosphere, ethereal score, dream logic, and a funhouse-esque parade of ghouls. Films that feature most, or all, of these qualifications are my favorite for the Halloween season.

Watch out for my personal top 10 list, coming out the day before Halloween, if you’re wondering what meets my conditions!

FOOL’S GOLD AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE!

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2013 by smuckyproductions

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