This is first-rate prose. I am enamoured of the style. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Yesterday I saw Jamie Goodwin burst into flame.
He was just sitting on one of those cheap aluminum-back chairs we all have, eyes closed in the shade of Hester’s old RV, trying to get some relief from the heat, same as everyone else. I was checking the stock of coolers, seeing if any held even a bit of water left to siphon out, when Jamie let out a tiny gasp like he woke from a bad dream. If it was a bad dream he had, he woke to something worse, ’cause little glints of light popped and fizzed off him like the sparklers we used to wave around on Fourth of July. Smoke or steam or something else rose up, then Jamie’s eyes went cartoon-big and he turned into a fireball.
Jamie’s the fourth person to spontaneously combust this month. Two women burned last Wednesday, and old Tom Puddingpaw blazed the week prior. Before that, we averaged only one or two fireballs a month, but now it’s getting worse. And after Jamie burned, Ms. Crankshaw didn’t even cancel lessons like she normally did, as if coming to terms that folks fireballing was the new natural order of things.
“That’s another lesson in evolution. One day we’re apes, then we’re humans, now we’re fireballs.”
She didn’t really say that, but she might as well have.
At least Loud John and Rudy were there when Jamie burned, and they contained his cinders so it didn’t spread like when Quiet John caught flame. But I still saw the whole thing, and it still scared me, even if others pretend to somehow be getting used to it.
“I watched him die,” I tell my friends. “Jamie didn’t scream. I think he tried, since his mouth opened wide, but nothing came out except flames.”
“Why is this happening for no reason?” Ogre asks, though that question is rhetorical because he doesn’t expect an answer. His voice hitches and he overcompensates for it by yelling, “When’s it going to stop?”
That’s rhetorical too.
We’re not supposed to be outdoors because of the heat, but we’re wearing protection, and sometimes out in the desert is the only place we can talk without everyone else listening in.
“I told you we weren’t safe,” Liz says. “Ms. C.’s wrong or she’s lying to us. Anybody can fireball.”
“No one ever tells us the truth,” Tommy adds. “It’s stupid going to lessons if everyone shields us from what’s really happening. I mean, what’re we learning? Facts or make-believe?”
Me and Tommy and Liz and Ogre are shooting at sand lizards with a pair of slingshots. I oughta clarify we’d shoot at anything daring our range of rocks and marbles, but it was too hot for anything but lizards to come out under the sun.
“The adults don’t want us to know…” A red bandana covers half of Liz’s face, so her voice is muffled. “I think we’re all gonna die.”
The wall-writings at England’s infamously haunted Borley Rectory have proven to be of enduring interest. Although they may not be unique, they are memorable, with the repeated calling of the name ‘Marianne’, their chilling pleas for ‘Rest’, exhortations for ‘Light’ the ‘Mass Prayers’, and childlike scribbling, redolent of a tortured soul desperate to communicate.
Who can fail to be stirred by the account of their arrival as remembered by a visitor, the professional medium, Guy L’Estrange?:
“Later, being entertained by the rector and his wife, he heard for the first time of mysterious forms, male and female, being seen inside and outside the house; of lights in unoccupied rooms; of articles appearing and being thrown; of fires breaking out; of mysterious whisperings and unexplained writings on walls and scraps of paper. Once, the rector told him, he was working alone in his study when he saw a pencil rise from the desk and scrawl words on the wall in front of him -no hand was visible!’
— Guy L’Estrange, quoted in Borley Postscript by Peter Underwood, p.114
It is an image that we all kept when we first read the Harry Price books about Borley Rectory: the pencil rising from the desk and scrawling the words ‘Get light, mass, prayers.’
This account was introduced by the professional medium, Guy L’Estrange. Unfortunately Guy seems to have made it up. Lionel Foyster, the rector would never have said it. He was meticulous in his care for the truth and was always keen to point out that he never saw anything of a paranormal nature whilst at Borley Rectory. The story of the pencil rising from the desk does not appear in any other account.
The ‘paranormal’ writings first appeared in the spring of 1931 when the Foysters were living at the Rectory.
The diary of occurrences, written soon after the event, records the first manifestations of this strange phenomenon, and then, in instalments describes how it evolved:
“Another strange occurrence is that Marianne’s name was at one time continually being written on little odd pieces of paper in a rather shaky childish hand (Adelaide, needless to say, cannot write yet) That has stopped now as far as I know (March 23rd).”
—Lionel Foyster Diary of Occurences, p.17
In Lionel’s final account which was written seven years later, some detail was added that gave this a much more ‘paranormal’ air:
‘MF sees paper in the air; it at once falls to the ground; discovered to huave some hardly decipherable writing on it. Next day, when we come up, it has disappeared.”
—Lionel Foyster, Summary of experiences, p.4
“I feel the presence of a nun in this church…”
—Lorraine Warren, psychic investigator/demonologist, speaking to a group of psychic researchers and photographers (including husband Ed Warren) at Borley Rectory in England, during a trip there in the 1970s; it is noted that Lorraine uttered the remark immediately upon entering the building at 12:00 A.M.
In The Nun, the latest movie in the ever-expanding Conjuring universe, a cowl-clad demon with piercing yellow eyes and dagger-like teeth haunts the cloisters of a Romanian abbey and terrorizes local clergy. The film is a prequel to The Conjuring, which detailed the real case files of noted demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. Those case files have also inspired film classics such as The Conjuring 2, Anabelle, Annabelle: Creation, and the 1979 horror classic The Amityville Horror.
So how much of the story about The Nun is based on actual events?
The Warren’s son-in-law, Tony Spera, said that The Nun’s ecclesiastical phantom bears resemblance to a “real” spectral nun the Warrens encountered during a 1970s trip to the much-haunted Borley Rectory in southern England.
Below: Rare color photographs of Borley Rectory taken in 1929 (left) and 1943 after the fire (right) by England’s own famous (and infamous) ghost hunter Harry Price (Source: www.harrypricewebsite.co.uk/Borley)
Remember The Occult Files of Dr. Spektor? It had a very short run, sadly. But I was an eager 12 year old and this was my cup of brew. In fact, the 1970s publication, which ran for about 20 issues, was my very first comic book collection! And…it was my initiation into the world of the Occult. I’m bringing it to you, now, Dear Reader, every month–an issue at a time…Guess you could say I’m “resurrecting a personal monster”…
Long May He Live!!!
All right, I’ll tell you why the Girl gives me the creeps. Why I can’t stand to go downtown and see the mob slavering up at her on the tower, with that pop bottle or pack of cigarettes or whatever it is beside her. Why I hate to look at magazines any more because I know she’ll turn up somewhere in a brassiere or a bubble bath. Why I don’t like to think of millions of Americans drinking in that poisonous half smile. It’s quite a story—more story than you’re expecting.
No, I haven’t suddenly developed any long-haired indignation at the evils of advertising and the national glamour-girl complex. That’d be a laugh for a man in my racket, wouldn’t it?
Though I think you’ll agree there’s something a little perverted about trying to capitalize on sex that way. But it’s okay with me. And I know we’ve had the Face and the Body and the Look and what not else, so why shouldn’t someone come along who sums it all up so completely, that we have to call her the Girl and blazon her on all the billboards from Times Square to Telegraph Hill?omGv
But the Girl isn’t like any of the others. She’s unnatural. She’s morbid. She’s unholy.
Oh it’s 1948, is it, and the sort of thing I’m hinting at went out with witchcraft? But you see I’m not altogether sure myself what I’m hinting at, beyond a certain point. There are vampires and vampires, and not all of them suck blood.
And there were the murders, if they were murders.
Besides, let 3nme ask you this. Why, when America is obsessed with the Girl, don’t we find out more about her? Why doesn’t she rate a Time cover with a droll biography inside? Why hasn’t there been a feature in Life or the Post? A Profile in the New Yorker? Why hasn’t Charm or Mademoiselle done her career saga? Not ready for it? Nuts!
Why haven’t the movies snapped her up? Why hasn’t she been on Information, Please? Why don’t we see her kissing candidates at political rallies? Why isn’t she chosen queen of some sort of junk or other at a convention?
Why don’t we read about her tastes and hobbies, her views of the Russian situation? Why haven’t the columnists interviewed her in a kimono on the top floor of the tallest hotel in Manhattan and told us who her boy-friends are?
Finally-and this is the real killer-why hasn’t she ever been drawn or painted?
Oh, no she hasn’t. If you knew anything about commercial art you’d know that. Every blessed one of those pictures was worked up from a photograph. Expertly? Of course. They’ve got the top artists on it. But that’s how it’s done.
And now I’ll tell you the why of all that. It’s because from the top to the bottom of the whole world of advertising, news, and business, there isn’t a solitary soul who knows where the Girl came from, where she lives, what she does, who she is, even what her name is.
You heard me. What’s more, not a single solitary soul ever sees her-except one poor damned photographer, who’s making more money off her than he ever hoped to in his life and who’s scared and miserable as hell every minute of the day.
The following is a paper published in the eminent Soviet Journal ‘SPUTNIK’ by Russian scientists Mikhail Vasin and Alexander Shcherbakov in the 1970s.
Although people long ago began to wonder whether the “canals” on Mars were the creation of cosmic engineers, for some odd reason it has not occurred to look with the same eyes upon the peculiarities of the lunar landscape much closer at hand.
And all the arguments about the possibilities of intelligent life existing on other celestial bodies have been confined to the idea that other civilizations must necessarily live on the surface of a planet, and that the interior as a habitat is out of the question.
Abandoning the traditional paths of “common sense”, we have plunged into what may at first sight seem to be unbridled and irresponsible fantasy.
But the more minutely we go into all the information gathered by man about the Moon, the more we are convinced that there is not a single fact to rule out our supposition.
Not only that, but many things so far considered to be lunar enigmas are explainable in the light of this new hypothesis.
AN ARTIFICIAL SPUTNIK OF THE EARTH?
The origin of the Moon is one of the most complicated problems of cosmogony. So far there have been basically three hypotheses under discussion.
HYPOTHESIS I: The Moon was once a part of the Earth and broke away from it. This has now been refuted by the evidence.
HYPOTHESIS II: The Moon was formed independently from the same cloud of dust and gas as the Earth, and immediately became the Earth’s natural satellite.
But then why is there such a big difference between the specific gravity of the Moon (3.33 grams per cubic centimeter) and that of the Earth (5.5 gr.)?
Furthermore, according to the latest information (analysis of samples brought back by the U.S. Apollo astronauts) lunar rock is not of the same composition as the Earth’s.
HYPOTHESIS III: The Moon came into being separately, and, moreover, far from the Earth (perhaps even outside the Solar system).
Out of what crypt they crawl, I cannot tell,
But every night I see the rubbery things,
Black, horned, and slender, with membranous wings,
They come in legions on the north wind’s swell
With obscene clutch that titillates and stings,
Snatching me off on monstrous voyagings
To grey worlds hidden deep in nightmare’s well.
Over the jagged peaks of Thok they sweep,
Heedless of all the cries I try to make,
And down the nether pits to that foul lake
Where the puffed shoggoths splash in doubtful sleep.
But ho! If only they would make some sound,
Or wear a face where faces should be found!
—H. P. Lovecraft