Clarissa Johal: 2018

Monday, November 12, 2018

#MeatlessMonday - Grandmother's Apple Dumplings #British #dessert #recipe

My British grandmother was a wonderful cook, especially when it came to desserts. Before she emigrated to America, she worked as a housekeeper for a well-to-do manor house in Sheffield, England. She would tell me many stories about England and how much she missed it. I loved hearing them and found myself pining for the green hills of Yorkshire with her. Many years after her death I was able to travel to her birthplace and saw why she missed it so. My latest paranormal novel, Whispers in the Wood, is a nod to her as it takes place in England.
This was one of my favorite childhood recipes she taught me how to make. If you don't wish to venture into homemade pastry, frozen sheet pastry will do (buy enough for two pies). Enjoy!

Ingredients 

Pastry

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
5-7 T cold water

Cut shortening into flour and salt mixture until it resembles small peas. Add cold water, one tablespoon at a time, until pastry sticks together. Roll out into a thin sheet and cut into 4 squares.

Apples 

4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
Fill each core with a pat of butter, a teaspoon of sugar, and a sprinkle of cinnamon

*Wrap each apple with pastry, closing the top like a drawstring purse, and set in a baking pan.

Sauce

Mix:
1-3/4 cup water
3/4 cup white sugar
3T butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Boil mixture for 3 minutes and pour over pastry wrapped apples.

Bake uncovered at 500F for 5-7 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350F and bake for 35-40 minutes more. Enjoy with tea (of course!) and a good book.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

#FolkloreThursday - Trolls, Hulder, and Nattmara - #Scandinavian Mythological Beings

Theodor Kittelsen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Part One - Scandinavian Mythological Beings

In Scandinavian folklore, there are several kinds of mythological beings. Trolls (jotnar), hulder and nattmara, to name a few. 
Trolls (jotnar) are said to dwell in isolated rocks, mountains, or caves. They often live together in small family units but are rarely helpful to humans. They are towering, stone-like creatures with colossal limbs. Some of them are so unkempt that plants will root in their skin. The ugliest jotnar can have single eyes or multiple heads. It is said they turn into stone when exposed to sunlight. Trolls are traditionally dim-witted creatures, boasting brute strength and a connection with nature.

Bernard Evans Ward [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The hulder are seductive creatures and can easily be mistaken for attractive humans. They have beautiful voices that mimic wind or water. It is said they can lure men into caves or forests in order to suck the life from them. The only giveaway to their deceptive form is they have a cow or fox-like tail, which they usually keep hidden. If a hulder can convince a man to marry them in a church, that tail falls off and they will become human. However, their beauty will also be lost and the hulder transforms into an ugly creature.

Nattmara (nightmares) are a race of female werewolves. They appear as a pale, skinny woman with long black hair and talon-like fingernails. They have the ability to turn themselves into sand and slip through the smallest crack. Once they've breached the home, they straddle the victim's chest at night to cause nightmares. Nattmara could also tangle one's hair so that the knots would have to be cut out. In some tales, they are similar to the banshee in that they are a death omen. The nattmara would leave a dirty poppet behind to cause a member of the family to contract tuberculosis. To avoid being targeted by a nattmara, a person could leave shoes (or nail a horseshoe) at/to the foot of the bed. Supposedly, the nattmara would see this are being an uncrossable boundary or find them distracting. They would then leave that person alone.

Stop by next Thursday for Part Two: Scandanavian Water Spirits

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Tangled Tuesday - National Novel Writing Month #NaNoWriMo




Committed to writing 50,000 words in the 30 days of November?
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun approach to doing just that. 

On November 1, participants can work towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.
NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.

 Many of my author friends are participating and what a great way to kick a novel into high-gear.
I thought I'd post a collection of photos to inspire anyone looking for photo prompts.
A picture is worth 1000 words, right?
All of the photos are mine (except for the old car, skull and apples, and the shoes, which are Creative Commons) and you are welcome to use them on Twitter.  Good luck!














May you be inspired to write The Next Great Novel... 


Monday, November 5, 2018

#MeatlessMonday - Tomato and Brown Rice Soup #vegan #vegetarian

This is a very easy recipe to make and it's vegan. Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of FOX via Pexels
Tomato and Brown Rice Soup

Ingredients:


1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped leeks
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup chopped carrots
3 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups vegetable stock
1 - 16-ounce can diced tomatoes

6 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 cup brown rice, cooked
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the leeks, red bell pepper, carrots and garlic. Sauté over medium heat until the leeks are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the vegetable stock, diced tomatoes, spinach and parsley. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Blend in food processor.

Cook the brown rice according to directions. Add rice to soup.

Season with salt and pepper. Heat and serve. Voila! Dinner is served!


Thursday, October 25, 2018

#FolkloreThursday - Vampires Around the World


Vampires. The mention of these creatures used strike fear and loathing, many years ago. After all, they were undead whose sole purpose was to kill. In the past fifty years, however, vampires have been simultaneously sexualized and emasculated. They share a new list of traits in films and literature. They no longer terrify but instead; their spit heals wounds, their fangs grow in response to sexual desire, they worry over moral choices, fall in love, sparkle and have babies. Oh boy.

But let's revisit the original definition:

Lithograph by R.de Moraine (1864).
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Vampires: mythological or folkloric creatures who subsist by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person/being. Belief in such legends became so rife that in some cultures it caused mass hysteria and even public executions of people believed to be vampires.

Vampiric entities exist in many cultures and go back as far as prehistoric times. These blood-drinking, flesh-eating entities were associated with demons or evil spirits. The term vampire was not popularized until the early 18th century.




Ancient Greek mythology contains several precursors to modern vampires. Empusa, the daughter of the goddess Hecate, was described as a demon with flaming hair, a serpentine tail and one leg of brass and the other of a donkey. She would transform into a beautiful woman and seduce men as they slept...before drinking their blood and eating their flesh.

Metropolitan Museum of Art
[CC0], via Wikimedia Commons


Aztec mythology described tales of the cihuateteo; skeletal-faced spirits of women who died in childbirth. Childbirth was looked on as a battle in Aztec culture, and those who died in the process were honored as fallen warriors. The spirits of these women were said to haunt crossroads at night; stealing children, seducing men and causing sickness, seizures and madness.

Various regions of Africa share folkloric tales of beings with vampiric abilities. The Ashanti of southern Ghana tell of the sasabonsam, or forest vampires. They are said to be hairy and man-sized beings with short stubby arms, a wingspan of 20 feet, blood-shot eyes and teeth made of iron. They hang from trees utilizing hooks on their feet, which make it easy to swoop down on their prey and drain their blood.

Illustration by Ernest Griset
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Vetàla are vampiric entities from Hindu mythology. Inhabiting the zone between life and afterlife, they are the hostile spirits of the dead whose children neglected to perform funerary rites in their memory. The vetàla can move from corpse to corpse, stopping decay and existing indefinitely. Victims reanimated by a vetàla would always have their hands and feet pointed backwards. They can haunt the living, kill children, cause miscarriages, and drive people insane.

In China, it is the jiāng shī, also known as a “hopping vampire” or reanimated corpse. The jiāng shī are said to have long, white hair, greenish-white skin, (due to rotting and mold) and a stiff gait. In the daytime they hide in dark places but at night they move, arms outstretched, by hopping. To kill living creatures, they must absorb their qi (life energy).

By Bin im Garten
CC BY-SA 3.0  from Wikimedia Commons
In European folklore, vampires were bloated with ruddy, purplish or dark skin. Their teeth, hair, and nails continued to grow, even after death. Blood would seep from their mouth and nose, and while their right eye was closed, their left eye would remain open. In general, fangs were not a feature. The origins of these physical attributes can be attributed to what we now know of forensic pathology: remaining bacteria in the body cause it to swell, which in turn, rupture blood vessels and cause blood to ooze from the mouth. Skin and gums shrivel and make the hair, nails and teeth look like they’ve grown.  It is the simple process of decomposition.

So why are we not getting down-and-dirty with these types of vampires? Sadly, romance with creatures leaking fluid or hopping about just isn't sexy. We save concepts of the aforementioned vampires for entertainment meant to scare. 
If you're interested in scary vampire movies for Halloween, my current watch list includes Cronos and Let the Right One In. I may even re-watch Nosferatu and What We Do in the Shadows (a not-to-miss comedy).
But if you like your vampires sexy, by all means, have at it. And don't forget your werewolves. They never get any love.

Photo courtesy of Harem Malik via Flickr

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

#Paranormal Wednesday - Exclusive Excerpt from VOICES by Clarissa Johal #99cents #sale

Do you like ghost stories?
VOICES is on SALE for .99 cents via Amazon during the month of October. 
Grab your copy now!



Book Details:

Title: VOICES 
Genre: Paranormal Psychological Suspense 
Author: Clarissa Johal 
Editor: Bobbie Metevier
Cover Art: David Walker
Published by Permuted Press May 2015
ISBN: 9781618685698
ASIN: B00WAH55JW
Pages: 264


Excerpt

“I’m bored,” Isabella complained.
“You’re always bored.” Moira flipped the page of her sketchbook and started another drawing of the hospital.
Isabella flopped down on the bed. “Play a game with me, Moira.”
“I don’t feel like it.”
“You never feel like it. Ever since you got here.”
Moira sighed, exasperated. “Isabella, I can’t exactly play a game with you while everyone can hear and see me, can I? If I start doing that, they’ll never let me out.”
“I wish you’d never been sent here! I hate it!” Isabella cried. She sat up and glared at Jack, who had been standing by the window observing them. “Why did you make her attack that man?”
“I was protecting her.” Jack’s expression hardened. “I don’t need to explain myself to you.”
Moira made an irritated sound. “That’s bullshit, Jack, and you know it. You weren’t protecting me.”
“He would have left,” Isabella continued. “Moira said, ‘No thank you,’ I heard her!”
“He put his foot in the door,” Jack snapped. “You don’t know anything. You’re only six, Isabella. I know what he was thinking—”
“You told me you didn’t!” Isabella tilted her chin defiantly. “You said you were just getting back at her—”
“You lying little—” He lunged forward.
“Leave her alone!” Moira slammed her sketchbook shut. “Stop fighting, both of you. I can’t concentrate if you two are going to bitch at each other the whole time.”
Jack hovered over Isabella for a moment longer before he finally pulled back.
“It doesn’t matter anyways,” Moira continued bitterly. “I’m here now.” She stood and gathered her sketchbooks. 
It would have been a grand exit, except for the fact that the both of them followed her to the door. That, and she practically ran into her nurse opening it.
“Afternoon, Moira,” Sheila said brightly. “You have a visitor.”
Adam leaned in from behind her.
“Hi,” Moira said, surprised.
“Busy?”
She glanced behind her. Jack had retreated to the corner of the room. Isabella lingered beside him, seemingly unsure. “Not exactly.”
“Nurse Sheila,” Adam said as if he were talking to a child, “I know how much you love me, but may I have some private time with my friend now?”
“If you need me, Moira, I’m down the hall.” Sheila eyed Adam warily. “You have a buzzer too.”
“Nice place you’ve got here,” Adam said after the nurse left. “Looks familiar, oddly enough.”
“Yeah, it’s…home for now.”  
“Didn’t see you in the dining room at breakfast.”
“I usually have breakfast in here.”
“Didn’t see you at lunch either.”
She glanced at her leftover spaghetti and hard dinner roll. “I was just finishing up.”
“You left me alone with all the crazies,” Adam said. “You okay?”
Hesitating, Moira picked up her plate and dumped the spaghetti into the garbage. “I’m having one of those days when I just want out.” She scraped the plate clean with a plastic knife.
“Want to go for a walk?” Adam asked.
A chill crept up her spine as she felt Jack’s presence behind her. Moira’s hand tightened convulsively on the plastic knife handle. “Around the hospital?”
“Unless you want to make a break for it?”
Adam approached her and Jack backed away slightly. Well, that’s interesting, she thought. Moira quickly dropped the knife into the garbage. “I’d love to go for a walk.”
“Let’s go, then,” Adam said. “Once we get past the station, I’ll strip naked to distract the nurse, and you knock her over the head. We’ll be out of here before they even catch us.”
Moira paused, torn between laughter and thinking he would actually do it.
“Kidding,” he grinned.
 ***

VOICES Buy Links:
 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Tangled Tuesday - #Haunted #Antiques #amwriting

I love antique shops. More often than not, I end up "just looking" but there have been several occasions in which something has captured my attention and I must have it. My husband jokes not to bring back anything haunted. Well....you know how that goes.

I do believe objects can hold onto energy. There have been antiques I've been immediately drawn to, but there are others that, upon picking them up, I wouldn't take home if the shop owner paid me. Are they haunted? Maybe. I do tend to touch things a lot when I'm perusing, something I wasn't aware of until my daughters pointed it out. Once, I picked up a large metal urn that immediately made me feel depressed and sad. When I asked the shop owner about it, she told me it was an old burial urn. I have no idea why it was for sale, nor do I know if it still contained ashes. Suffice to say, the urn would not be coming home with me that day.

Just for fun, I decided to do a search on eBay for "haunted antiques."  As of today, there are 521 listed items. Whether these items are truly haunted or sellers cashing in on the current fascination with "all things haunted" is unknown. Personally, I'd never purchase an antique I couldn't touch first but it makes for interesting window shopping.

Here's the link if you're interested: eBay: haunted antiques.
Let me know if anything captures your fancy.


Monday, October 22, 2018

#MeatlessMonday - Pumpkin Bread #vegetarian #recipe

Fall has finally fallen in North Carolina!
Today is the perfect day for something warm and delicious.
This is an easy recipe, super delicious AND it's healthy ('cause that's just how I roll) 
Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bread

1-1/2 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. ground flax seed
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
1/3 c. milk

Heat oven at 350F
Spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray

Photo courtesy of TheDeliciousLife via Flickr
Mix flour, flax seed, baking soda, baking powder and spices in large bowl.
Whisk pumpkin, sugar, applesauce, eggs and milk in separate bowl. Pour over dry ingredients and gently stir together. Pour into loaf pan.

Bake for 40 minutes or until knife comes out clean.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Frightening Friday-The "Real-Life" Case Behind The Exorcist: Fact vs. Fiction

Photo courtesy of Michal via Flickr
There was a lot of conflicting information concerning the "real life" case and inspiration behind The Exorcist. The general (compiled) story goes something like this:

Roland Doe (a pseudonym) was born 1935 into a German Lutheran family. An only child, Roland depended upon adults in his household as playmates. It was his Aunt Harriet who introduced him to an Ouija board and it seems they used it on numerous occasions. When Roland was thirteen, she died of multiple sclerosis. Several reports suggest that Roland tried to contact her spirit with the Ouija board. Eleven days after her death, supernatural events began to occur--marching feet, strange noises, and household objects allegedly flew or levitated. After being placed near the boy, a container of holy water smashed to the ground and a picture of Jesus rattled on the wall, as if being hit from behind. When hearing of the numerous Ouija board sessions, the family became convinced that evil had possessed their 13-year-old son and consulted with Father Albert Hughes of St. James Catholic church for further assessment.

Roland was observed overnight and it was reported that in addition to scratching sounds on the wall, a pallet of blankets moved across the room and a heavy armchair tilted and tipped over on its own. The boy went home the next morning only to have the activity worsen. Scratches and sometimes words began to appear on his body, a kitchen table turned over, and objects flew around the room. At school, Roland's desk vibrated across the floor and he was sent home. Father Edward Albert Hughes decided to perform an exorcism. During the exorcism, it was alleged that the boy escaped from the restraints and broke off a bed spring from under the mattress, using it to slash the priest's arm from wrist to shoulder. As a result, the exorcism ritual was stopped. The incident reportedly had a traumatic effect on the priest and Father Hughes went into a long seclusion.

The family sought further help from Rev. Raymond J. Bishop and Rev. William S. Bowdern. The priests claim the boy had an aversion to anything sacred. Strange welts would appear on his body and he would speak in a guttural voice. They also claimed that objects flew around the room and the boy's bed would shake. Bowdern sought permission from the archbishop to perform an exorcism. His request was granted with the requirement that a detailed diary be kept. The exorcism was performed at the psychiatric ward of the Georgetown University Hospital. The priests stated that during the exorcism, words such as "evil" and "hell," along with other various marks, appeared on the boy's body. Outbursts, including cursing, spitting, urinating, vomiting and the use of Latin phrases, were also reported. The exorcism ritual was performed thirty times over several weeks. When the final exorcism was complete, witnesses reported loud noise going off throughout the hospital. Afterwards, the boy went on to lead a normal life.

That's the story you'll read on various sites concerning this case.

Author Mark Opsasnick tells a different story. In his meticulously researched article for Strange Magazine, Opsasnick states that "Roland Doe" was actually Rob Doe; a troubled teen growing up in an overly strict and religious household. Rob and his best friend would continually try and "outdo" each other when it came to pranks and other shenanigans. The best friend states that, "(Rob was) smothered by his obsessively religious mother and grandmother who held deep interests in spiritualism and Ouija Boards, shunned by his classmates at school, prone to tantrums and even violent outbursts towards his family and his few friends, and exhibiting cruel and at times even sadistic behavior towards other children and even animals." Mark Opsasnick's research uncovers that there was indeed an exorcism, though most of the activity reported in the "real life" case behind The Exorcist wasn't confirmed by any of the priests involved. Father Hughes was never attacked with a bed spring, nor did he experience a breakdown due to an attack. Father Halloran states the boy mimicked their Latin rather than spoke it fluently, and with no guttural changes in his voice. There was no vomiting or urinating, and the scratches were questionable. The list goes on.

If you're interested, I encourage you to check out Opsasnick's article. It's quite fascinating. What do you think? Was Rob Doe's behavior a result of demonic possession, or merely a troubled teen acting out? 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

#FolkloreThursday - The Headless Nun #Canada #ghosts

Photo by Eric Huybrechts via Flickr
In the town of Miramichi, New Brunswick, an 18th century nun by the name of Sister Marie Inconnue (surname unknown) was murdered. One version of the tragedy recounts that Sister Marie was beheaded by a madman who hid her head in the woods. Another version states it was two sailors who committed the murder. According to that story, the sailors were looking for treasure and heard that Sister Marie had buried a stash of money to assist needy families. Regardless of who was responsible for the murder, Sister Marie was returned to France but her head was never found.

The headless ghost of Sister Marie is reputed to haunt the area, looking for her long lost head so that she may rest in peace. Late night travelers report they've been approached by the headless spirit. Other travelers have said that the ghost carries her head with her, imploring them to bury it with her body.

French Fort Cove, New Brunswick 
Public Domain photo 

Official records of Sister Marie's murder are difficult to track down. Was this a tragedy lending to a restless spirit or merely an urban legend? Join the Headless Nun Tour in French Fort Cove, New Brunswick and decide for yourself.






Wednesday, October 17, 2018

#Paranormal Wednesday - #Ghost Hunting Equipment

I watch a lot of ghost hunting shows before bed because (oddly) I find them relaxing. I know, I know. My teens think it's a bit weird but c'est la vie, it chases them off to bed and I get the television to myself. There are many shows to choose from, both reruns and newer ones. I judge them with a critical eye because sometimes, I feel the entertainment factor outweighs the genuine goal to gather "evidence." That said, and on my watch list for different reasons; Dead Files (all ghosts are bad and freaky as f*&k), Ghost Adventures (all ghosts are demonic), Kindred Spirits (ghosts are probably people you knew and just trying to get your attention), and Tennessee Wraith Chasers (bring on the ghosts 'cause we have special equipment we made ourselves). I miss Ghost Hunters International and Ghost Hunters, two of my favorites. The investigators were low-key with little drama, which would be my approach.

Most of these shows use equipment, save for Dead Files that utilizes a medium, and some of the equipment gets pretty darned complicated. Personally, if I was going "ghost hunting" the less equipment the better. I'm not technologically inclined and would probably break something.
However, if you're interested in the equipment side of ghost hunting, here's a rundown of the basics and not-so-basics. I won't try and explain the science behind these tools, simply because it's complex, debatable, and I'm not a scientist. I will, however, give my opinion because I've observed paranormal teams (in person and on television) use/misuse the same equipment with different results.
Ready? Here we go:

POV or General Camcorder: This camcorder is full spectrum and able to "see" in complete darkness. It is used to capture shadows and other disturbances when nobody is present in the room.
My opinion: Can't argue with visuals as long as the team is completely out of the field of vision.

3D Mapping Camera or Kinect: This piece of equipment is used to give shape to a spirit’s energy, which shows as a visible stick figure on camera.
My opinion: I don't know enough about the specifics of how this works but it's fascinating to see a stick figure show up and respond to questions.

K2 - EMF Meter: Easy-to-use tool that detects spikes in electromagnetic energy. A normal room will register between 0mg and 1.5mg while a room inhabited by ghosts will read between 1.5mg and 8mg.
My opinion:  If the room has other electrical disturbances (wiring issues or household appliances) these may cause the readings to be higher than normal.

EVP - Digital Voice Recorder: Generally used to record questions directed towards paranormal spirits. The recording is then played back in the hope that what the human ear was unable to detect were recorded.
My opinion: I've seen this used in a way where voices are clear as a bell. I've also heard playback wherein random noises in no way sound like words. Example: (Playback) "Pfft."  (Investigator) "Did you hear that? It growled and said, "I'm a demon!"" You get it.

Spirit Box: This tool is used for attempting communication with paranormal entities. It uses radio frequency sweeps to generate white noise which supposedly gives entities the energy they need to be heard. When this occurs, the user can hear sounds and voices coming through the static.
My opinion: I hate this piece of equipment. It's so noisy, plus I feel (in most cases) it picks up random radio words which can be interpreted any way that fits into the equation.

Thermal Imaging Camera:  A "point and shoot" tool used to record temperature changes in the environment. This tool enables the user to easily differentiate between hotspots (usually human) and cold spots (possible ghosts) in a room.
My opinion: Electrical and environmental factors would need to be monitored very carefully in order to rely on this piece of equipment.

REM Pod: Uses a mini telescopic antenna to radiate its own independent magnetic field around the instrument itself. Any shifts in temperature or electrical energy approaching these stationary pods will cause the LED lights to go on/off and an alarm.
My opinion: Probably my favorite instrument if I had to pick one. It seems to have consistent results--especially if the paranormal researcher utilizes them to ask yes/no questions.

Laser Grid: This high powered laser emits a grid of green dots useful for detecting shadows or visual disturbances. It is set in front of a running camera to catch potential evidence. Any solid object or mist will disturb the laser beams.
My opinion: Again, can't argue with visual evidence.

Boo Buddy: Used to communicate with child spirits. This piece of equipment, which looks like a teddy bear, asks questions in order to trigger a response. It detects changes in EMF, temperature, movement, and vibration and responds to those changes in a kid-friendly voice.
My opinion: As long as the paranormal team stays out of the bear's field, I see this as being a solid data gathering tool.

Ovilus: This piece of equipment converts environmental readings into words to enable communication with paranormal spirits.
My opinion: The words can either be spot-on regarding the questions asked, or interpreted way off-base, much like the EVP recorder and Spirit Box.

Overwhelmed? There are many more devices and the cost can sky-rocket. I don't endorse any of these (linked) products but wanted you to get an idea of the cost and what they looked like. If you're inclined to purchase, please do your research. If you use the instruments, again, do your research on the proper way to do so. There are many investigative teams who gather solid evidence but just as many who seem to let their imaginations go wild.
Me? I'll rely on my sixth sense and the blessing of silence. I expect the ghosts will come to me and make their presence known, no equipment needed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tangled Tuesday - A Visit to the Clown Motel and Old Tonopah Cemetery by Stan Hampton, Sr.


Please welcome my guest author,  Stan Hampton, Sr.

A Visit to the Clown Motel and Old Tonopah Cemetery  
by Stan Hampton, Sr. 

And Then…

            The thing about things that go bump in the night is that they can go bump in the daylight too. And it doesn’t matter what the season is, though I suspect Halloween adds to the possibility.
            Recently I had a chance to go with the Nevada Camera Club of Las Vegas, of which I am a member, to photograph the International Car Forest of the Last Church just outside of Goldfield, Nevada. Because it was an overnight trip, my youngest son, his wife, the three grandchildren, and I decided we would stay in nearby Tonopah, Nevada. Both towns were boom mining towns from the early 20th century, and both, especially Tonopah, are noted for hauntings.

            The world famous Clown Motel—only happy clowns make up the some 600 clowns in the lobby—sounded like a fun place to stay. Besides, as the front office assured me, usually there was no paranormal activity in the office or the rooms. Only when a lot of people visited the Old Tonopah Cemetery next door, otherwise known as the Haunted Graveyard, was there some activity. 

            My grandkids were excited about staying at the Clown Motel even if it wasn’t of “It” fame. They sort of gave me a suspicious look though when I told them that if they wanted to look out the window at the graveyard, make sure their mom or dad looked first—no telling what might be looking back. My son kind of groaned and I felt kind of, well, I guess not. When we stayed at the Clown Motel my 9-year old grandson turned on all of the room lights and the bathroom light.
           
Though my grandkids and I visited the Haunted Graveyard that night and in the morning, nothing untoward occurred. I guess all of the happy clowns kept—other things—at bay.

Photographing at the Car Forest was fun. There are some 40 cars, trucks, and buses partially buried on several acres of land just south of Goldfield. The Car Forest is visible from Highway 95, the road to Reno, Nevada. It is an ongoing art project; and artists are welcome to visit and decorate the vehicles. It does make for a different and exciting art project in the Nevada landscape.
As the twilight descended on us we began working on photographing a pair of vehicles beneath the Milky Way that rose into the night sky. I had photographed at night before, but it was always something of a hit or miss affair. That night I took enough notes and learned enough that I’m certain that with more practice, someday I’ll become pretty good at photographing beneath the stars. And when I had enough photographs, we headed for Tonopah and the Clown Motel to spend the night.

            As I had told my son before we journeyed to Tonopah, we probably didn’t have to worry about taking any anti-ghost precautions. We would only have to take precautions if something followed us back from Tonopah. My son looked at me and I felt—well, actually, no. I laughed.
                      

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

PS: The next day we stopped at Gemfield near Goldfield, where the grandkids looked for gems near the abandoned mine. And further south we stopped briefly at the ghost town of Rhyolite, near one of the entrance roads to Death Valley.






                                                                 


                                                                       * * * *                                       


TAG LINE: You can run, but what if you find yourself aboard a space faring Flying Dutchman?

BLURB: Luther Raynor is a son of one of the world’s wealthiest and politically influential families. When the Etava Virus appeared and spread across the world, mankind’s very survival was in question. Luther used his family’s wealth to construct a sleeper spacecraft to take the family into space, to orbit in safety around Jupiter for a thousand years while in suspended animation. At the last minute he changes the plan after calculating that upon awakening, survival supplies for one would last far longer than for two dozen or more people. He flees into space alone except for the Mobile Artificial Intelligence Image—May, responsible for operation of the spacecraft. But, Luther had no idea of what awaited him out there.

EXCERPT: The dream was always the same. He was floating alone in an unknown darkness until a pale dot emerged in the distance. He wrinkled his nose at the smell of burning wood and something else, something that smelled like sizzling bacon. His hand opened, fingers spread wide toward the dot that became a blue-green world, blanketed with dirty white clouds that sailed across a starry blackness. Dark, smoky clouds with a flickering yellow heart trailed the world whose colors were fading as if losing their vitality. An unfamiliar low, deep keening sounded from an unexplored deep…

* * * *
            “This is the Deep Space Sleeper Spacecraft Hope. Can anyone hear me?” After several moments of silence he closed with the by-now routine, “Hope out.”
In the cramped dimly lit cockpit cabin Luther Raynor covered his mouth with a trembling hand. Beyond the surrounding windows above the numerous instrument panels was a primordial night deeper than that of an unlit cave.
He listened intently. Beyond the dull hiss of circulating air he knew a stealthy creak issued from the narrow corridor through the open hatchway behind him. The sound would have been more at home on a haunted wooden sailing ship drifting aimlessly on a mysterious ocean rather than in a brightly lit spacecraft of which he was the only occupant. He was sure, after several frantic searches, that he was the only one aboard. But still…
Luther swallowed uneasily and ignored a faint groan. He touched the screens set in the control panel before him to activate another sensor and visual scan.
He was lost in the depths of unknown darkness, but knew he was a long way from Jupiter and the four moons discovered by Galileo Galilei - Callisto, Ganymede, Europa, and Io. After a months long journey the Hope was supposed to slide into position behind Europa, the moon with a possible planet wide ocean beneath an icy crust, and thought to have the best possibility for life outside of Earth. From there the gas giant, almost 700,000 kilometers distant with its myriad of misty blue, gray, orange, white and purple pastel bands, would fill the windows of the spacecraft. He would have a bird’s eye view of the mysterious Giant Red Spot, the hurricane-like storm that always was and always would be, as it grew and shrank according to its whim.
For a thousand years the five Galileans would circle that failed sun, after which the automatic flight systems would activate the return sequence and with a flare of rockets the powerful Zama Drive, descendant of the early 21st century Cannae Drive, would fling Hope away from its companions. Because of the speed generated by the Zama Drive, the world of his birth would soon appear in the spacecraft windows again.
            At least, that was what was supposed to happen.

* * * *
The darkness was fading before a kaleidoscope of spinning colors. A biting cold made moving difficult and painful.
Luther opened his eyes and after several moments of blinking against dim, yet painful lights, and blurriness, he realized he was still firmly secured within the titanium alloy suspended animation chamber.
            Elation filled him—he was alive! The emotion was replaced by confusion—where was he? But then, there was elation again—at least he was alive.
Luther examined the inside of the chamber with its maze of monitoring wires, electrodes, suspension fluid tubes, chemical nutrient tubes and waste tubes—the Personal Environmental Control and Life Support System—all connected to him through a layer of protective clothing by implanted plugs. There was a thick glass window above his face and one to either side of his head. Through the window all he could see was the ceiling of the cargo bay.
Luther frowned at a dim memory of being thrown around violently, but perhaps it was only a dream.
He had no idea how long he lay in the chamber lit by tiny lights from small instrument panels. When no one peeked through the chamber windows, he fumbled with the communication switch and in a hoarse voice painfully whispered, “Hello?”
  
                                                    Smashwords 


AUTHOR BIO


            Stan Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather with numerous grandchildren, and a published author, photographer and photojournalist. He served in the active duty Army and Army Reserve before enlisting in the Nevada Army National Guard; Hampton retired in 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class. He is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle and Iraqi Freedom, with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.
            He has shown two solo photographic exhibitions and curated a multi-media exhibit. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.
            Hampton has an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis, from the College of Southern Nevada. He is studying at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas with a double major in Art and English. Hampton also spent a cold, rainy Spring 2017 semester studying at a university in southwestern France in the shadow of the Pyrenees Mountains, where he developed a fondness for sugar crepes and hot chocolate with marshmallows, and a love for the French lifestyle.
            After almost 20 years of desert in the American Southwest and Southwest Asia, he still misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters.
           
 Hampton can be found at: