Everything Is Scary

Be responsible, contemplate the void.

A Ghost, Shared

The First Incident

John William Counter died in 2004, in a hospital bed, having undergone surgery for a back injury and suffered multiple heart attacks while in recovery. He left behind the family of his only son, Dave, my father. The four of us survivors - Dave, my mother, my brother Nick and I - were watching a VHS copy of Tim Burton’s Big Fish when this happened, and the phone rang as the credits began to roll. It was nighttime.

Dave took the call in another room, and after thirty minutes of hushed talk, he approached me from behind while I was sitting at our family desktop computer, chatting with school friends on MSN. He hugged me, for the first time I can remember, and it was awkward.

One of us, or both of us, said, “Grandad died.”

I can still feel the quivering, arrhythmic shakes as he nodded against my back in affirmation. The green upholstered computer chair squeaked beneath me as my father offered assurance. Everything was going to be okay. But it wasn’t.

A month passed. Maybe two. I had been struggling with my teenage mental health, and was diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar II disorder after a failed suicide attempt. I was in bed and couldn’t sleep. Insomnia was no stranger to me then, but there was something slightly different about the difficulty I was experiencing. A sort of dread hung over me as I lay on my back underneath a dinosaur patterned blanket that kind of embarrassed my sixteen year old self, and my eye gravitated to the far corner of my room, near my closet, where I kept my karate gear (I was a teenage martial arts instructor).

The shadows of my bow staves (Donny is my favourite Ninja Turtle) seemed more substantial that night, and I strained my eyes to see why. The shades of deep grey and black seemed fluid, as if to suggest motion at first, but as the moments passed in the green glow of my digital alarm clock, they became a darkness of weight and substance. The figure of an aged but able man, standing at that far corner of my room, upset and approaching me.

He closed the distance and grabbed my shoulders. He shook me and screamed in my face, the terrible wailing of an angry man. I joined him in screaming, before struggling out of my bed and escaping to the main floor of my parents' house. I spent the remainder of the night on the couch in the comforting blue glow of post 1 AM TV.

 Illustration by Nick Counter

Illustration by Nick Counter

Variation

The above story is true. It is likely a nightmare manifestation of my Catholic guilt combined with my grieving over my grandfather. At the time I was a semi-serious Catholic, so the possibility of it being a ghost held a lot more weight for me at the time. Traumatic events would later shift my faith to an atheist standpoint and eventually to the nihilism through which I currently identify, but for three years the memory of that night fit into a specific narrative for me: John William Counter was haunting my room because shortly after his death I attempted to commit suicide with a belt.

The emotional turmoil I was experiencing at the time of the first incident seems trivial in comparison to the experiences that shattered my faith - the experiences I will save for a much longer, more horrific post than this - but the important part is this: after I moved away from home to Toronto, I became a strong skeptic. I read Dawkins and Hitchens, and I got really excited about arguments over religion. I didn’t believe in the supernatural, and that extended beyond the existence of God to the legitimacy of the ghosts in my past.

My brother moved to Toronto and we became roommates. He would travel home on the weekends more often than I would and, on returning from one of these solo visits to our parents’ house, he recounted something that tested the steel of my realism.

Nick had been sleeping in the guest bedroom, which was my room in 2004. My single dinosaur themed bed had been replaced with two twin sized ones from my grandfather’s home, one with its headboard two feet away from the dark corner where the angry man had materialized. That was the one he slept in the night he was shaken by a screaming man.

He described his experience in uncomfortable detail, after which I told him that the same thing had happened to me when our granddad died. He remembered me telling him so. Sure enough, the next time I slept in that bed I was visited by that shadowy discontent too. These subsequent encounters inspired Nick and I to concoct the Memetic Ghost Hypothesis.

Our theory goes like this: My initial night terror, based on deep teenage angst, had passed to Nick when I told him about it in 2004. He forgot about it, then relived the experience, and through retelling the events to me, primed me to encounter our ghost the next time. It wasn’t the room that was haunted, it was us, and we were doing it to each other.

Evolution

Our shared ghost has become a frequent part of our lives. Nick and I live close to our home town, and visit with semi-regularity (I could stand to visit more to be honest, but you know: angry strangle man), and when we sleep in that guest room, we do so with the knowledge that there is a chance that we will suffer a very specific night terror.

Applying the Memetic Ghost Hypothesis to what we actually experience, it makes sense that our encounters with the angry man would evolve. With each sleep depriving incident we excitedly retell our run in with the man, feeding variation into our shared meme pool like a two person game of broken nightmare telephone. The following details remain, however, particularly consistent: it always begins with a palpable sense of dread, the man is always there and he always makes physical contact.

We are locked in a cycle of storytelling and torture, Nick and I, and it has escalated our haunting considerably.

The most recent encounter with our shared ghost was experienced by Nick in the summer of 2014. He had learned to sleep in the twin bed furthest from the shadowy corner, as it has proven to be the safer of the two places to dream. It is directly below a window, and on a moonlight night such as the one in question, the covers are brightly illuminated. The far bed is not a place for shadows. Or, at least it hadn’t been.

His retelling begins with that familiar sense of dread. Because Nick and I have mythologized this as the heralding of our shadow person, we have devised strategies to thwart the encounter. He covered his head in blankets and tried to sleep through the event. He awoke later, head uncovered, with the shadow of a man between him and the window. He shut his eyes, but it said his name. He managed to fall back to sleep, untouched.

He woke a third time that night, and though the shadow was gone and nothing whispered his name, he was uncovered and his right arm was pressed against the wall above the bed. He couldn’t move it and he couldn’t scream.

Nick told me about this encounter at our parents’ kitchen table the afternoon after it had happened and we explained it all away. This was our shared haunting and our storytelling has allowed it to evolve beyond its initial territory. Sleep paralysis has been a part of this phenomenon for a long time, which would explain the arm thing, and everything else can be written off as a nightmare or hypnagogic hallucination born from our shared mythology surrounding our grandfather’s death.

In that way it’s beautiful. Through a mutual love of the macabre, two brothers have managed to keep their grandfather alive with storytelling and dreams. Sure, those dreams are violent and terrifying, but it’s an adventure we share that commemorates a difficult time for our family. With every night that we experience the painful memories born from an awkward hug in a difficult time, we awake to a morning where we still have eachother.

We tell our mother this, taking turns to fill in details the other left out, giving the terrible nightmare man a chance to evolve yet again, but the nuance and beauty is lost on her. She’s not convinced. Forever the master of horror, she suggests that rather than some comforting pseudo pop scientific denial, we have actually, for the past decade, been haunted by our sleepwalking father possessed by some violent dream, of which he has many.

The Five Litre Rule: Horror, Blood and Bluebeard’s Castle

Inside of her new husband’s windowless home, Judith notes that the walls are wet. They are covered in blood, and though she doesn’t know it yet, so is everything else in this house that will soon become her tomb. She is the latest bride of Bluebeard, the man with a sanguine Midas touch, the legendary killer of women.

Part of a double bill playing at the Canadian Opera Company throughout May, Bluebeard’s Castle, by Béla Bartók,  is filled with blood. The entirety of the opera involves the newlywed Judith convincing her withdrawn and tormented husband to open seven locked doors in his dark castle. Behind each threshold she finds a grotesque amount of human bodily fluid and only once, when she discovers a lake made of white tears, is it not blood.

The COC’s double bill of Bluebeard’s Castle and the equally horrific Erwartung is directed by Canadian theatre visionary Robert Lepage, who manages to take these two operas and breathe into them a contemporary sense of abject horror. With Erwartung he does this with the application of mind bending acrobatics that help illustrate the protagonist’s mental anguish, but with Bluebeard’s Castle, a much more straightforward and popularly known piece of expressionism, Lepage achieves high terror with the oldest trick in the book: drowning everything in people juice.

 Oh man... Nothing gets people juice out. (image via  coc.ca )

Oh man... Nothing gets people juice out. (image via coc.ca)

The horror of blood is the horror of the unknown in the face of terrible possibility. Blood carries with it an implication of identity, since it is something each of us intimately houses within our bodies and if it were to be taken from us we would cease to exist. Outside of a body, we know that blood once belonged to someone (or at least something) but we lose our capacity to label it.

Blood is not always scary. In Bluebeard’s Castle it actually becomes kind of funny when viewed from a modern paradigm of repetition comedy. Behind the fourth door, where Judith finds her demented husband’s garden, the reveal that it’s all covered in blood is expected, so to deliver on that audience anticipation without any variation or self-reflexive acknowledgement is to enter into absurd territory. It's Family Guy by way of Béla Bartók.

Judith's constant discovery of blood is a reminder that human plasma is commonplace and not, in and of itself, horrific. Blood gives us life, and to donate it to other people in need is considered a highly moral deed. In many forms of Christianity, drinking the blood of Jesus is considered one of the most Holy acts a follower can perform and she is invited to on a weekly basis.

When you are cut, the sight of blood can induce panic, but it shouldn't induce terror. We know that it flows through us, and we should actually more scared, on a personal level, of the absence of our blood, than its presence, a useful rule of thumb being that if you can see your own gore, you’re still alive.

The typical adult human carries in them about five litres of blood. That’s enough plasma and red blood cells to fill two and a half large bottles of ginger ale (or whatever soda you prefer to ruin while reading this). Imagine those pop bottles: they have no face, or hopes, or dreams; they don’t have jobs, or put on soft clothes before they go to sleep. And yet, the contents of those plastic soft drink containers evoke the absence of those listed human qualities. Five litres of blood used to have all of that and more when it was in some veins and delivering oxygen to vital organs, but when extracted and pooled or used to paint your castle’s interior, it is a complex material stripped of purpose and value (though not necessarily stripped of its infectious agents).

 If it makes you feel more comfortable, feel free to imagine 5L of cherry Kool-Aid instead of blood. Yum!

If it makes you feel more comfortable, feel free to imagine 5L of cherry Kool-Aid instead of blood. Yum!

In great abundance things become even more upsetting. If five litres of blood is all one person can hold, then a river of blood, an elevator full of blood or, in the case of Bluebeard, a castle covered in blood, requires that we further dilute the idea of the individual from whom it inevitably first squirted. Two and a half pop bottles can hold the blood of a single human, but what if you encountered three pop bottles filled to the top with blood? There is at least a bit of an additional person in there, but at that point the unholy refreshments could be provided by any number of suppliers. When it's inside of us, it’s just us, but when blood is free flowing and from multiple donors it mixes and becomes un-extractable. It's like mixing Pepsi and Coke, but for Draculas.

Too see blood in abundance of five litres is to behold a truly upsetting reality. Our precious identity can be taken from us, and we can be transformed from people into fluids. In the Outlook Hotel of your nightmares, when the elevator doors open up, the question isn’t how you’re going to get the stains out of your cool Apollo 11 sweater, the question is: who were these people that I’m wading through? A puddle of blood is an object with a hidden identity. A river of blood is a population transformed into a climatological phenomenon.

 I hate riding packed elevators.

I hate riding packed elevators.

In Lepage’s Bluebeard’s Castle, when Judith opens the final door, expecting to find the corpses of her husband’s previous three wives, the (surprisingly) still living women emerge from the stage floor covered in an abundance of blood. I can't say I have ever seen something so truly horrific on stage. Doused in visceral fluid, they carry on them transformed human existence. Lives have gone into their wardrobe (including their own) and you will never know the amount of death, dreams and simple pleasures that contributed to their sticky, salty, possibly infectious liquid accessories. 

The maniac Bluebeard ends the opera with an apocalyptic note. Now that he’s claimed his final victim there will be eternal darkness, he sings. The line is spine chilling in the context of the opera’s climax, and Béla Bartók’s music brings the show to an appropriately unsettling end, but nothing evokes horror like the thought of her precious, life giving and unique blood joining the anonymous red fluid that coats the walls of a castle no living eyes have seen save its owner’s.

Finding Something Made of Nothing

One day we will be devoured by nothing. It will be as paradoxical as it sounds, and thankfully you and I will likely be dead by the time it happens.

I’m not being poetic. Nothing exists and it’s coming for us. Nothing is the largest structure humanity has ever discovered. We are calling it the supervoid, and it is the very essence of horror. Found by both the Pan-STARRS1 telescope in Hawaii, and NASA’s Wide Field Survey Explorer satellite (poetically acronymed WISE), the super is best described through the language of absence.

 Pale Blue Dot, meet Dark Blue Abyss (photo via  University of Hawaii )

Pale Blue Dot, meet Dark Blue Abyss (photo via University of Hawaii)

An article in the Telegraph describes the supervoid as “a curious empty section of space which is missing around 10,000 galaxies.” It is cold, large, and made of the absence of matter. The supervoid doesn’t fit into current models of the universe, winning it the classic horror adjective of unthinkable.

What’s more, the supervoid isn’t completely empty. The giant cold region in space is curiously characterized as being under-dense. There should be 10,000 galaxies there, but there aren’t. A few are there though, and I imagine they’re pretty lonely. The supervoid, therefore, isn’t so much nothing as it is nothing-ish. It has a border, where temperature changes, and some sort of incomprehensible stomach where it digests light and good dreams, but objects can pass through it and even exist in it. The supervoid is the astronomical equivalent of a malevolent fog, only bigger and less substantial.

The  supervoid feeds on light and is expanding. It is 3 billion light years away from us, and our galaxy is being sucked in at a speed of 14 million miles per hour. We are hurling through space at incomprehensible speeds, propelled by an unknown force, and after a cosmic amount of deep time we will find ourselves devoured by nothing. Essentially, NASA discovered Azathoth, the Blind Idiot God of H.P. Lovecraft’s dream world.

 "Could a blind idiot god do this?!" (from   Elder Sign  )

"Could a blind idiot god do this?!" (from Elder Sign)

Unthinkable, unknowable and indescribable are words of boundary, and while they can adequately paint a picture of the supervoid, they are most often used in supernatural horror. Most infamously, Lovecraft uses the un-words to dodge description of his multidimensional horrors, and even without the help of his legions of imitators and acolytes, unthinkable terrors began to fit into categories. Un-words became shorthand for sensory paradoxes that are actually quite fun to imitate in Lovecraftian parody:

“I wrote the unthinkable words, my fingers typing away at my mortal keyboard, but when I looked upon the text to proofread and perhaps analyze these eldritch thoughts made manifest on Google Drive, my eyes slipped down the letters (or did they slip up?) and I passed into a nightmare reverie of unknowable, unspeakable chaos.”

The paradox is, of course, that to call something indescribable to to describe an elusive quality. The very use of language implies some kind of comprehension, even if it's only vague. But that is not to say that weird fiction and cosmic horror are built on a shaky foundation of misapprehension and lies, rather, to use un-words like Lovecraft did is to make a terrifying statement through action: even nothing, the most unknowable of all possible nouns, exists. NASA found it on a map of the universe.

What’s at stake with the above, headache inducing thought, is our human subjectivity. Thanks to human gifts of empathy and compassion, we are capable, as individuals, to understand that there are aspects of existence that we are not a part of. Our subjectivity isolates us, but community helps remedy that with the humbling idea that our individual sensory experience is only part of an objective whole.

Expanding on that thought, however, brings us to a conclusion that there is a non-human objective reality. In the same way that light exists when my eyes are closed, so does it exist independent of all eyes. Were eyes to not exist in the universe, what we have identified as light would still cast shadows, but those shadows would be unseen.

The supervoid is real, and though reality can be horrific (adj.), horror (n.) is something we use as humans to get close to the borders of knowing. So, while NASA can’t win a Hugo award for its most unimaginable discovery, we can use horror to better understand the supervoid, and in turn understand how a giant un-massive structure 3 billion light years away affects our lives.

That the supervoid exists is evidence that absence is tangible. When life turns to death, for example, and leaves us in a room with a body instead of a friend, the absence of company is an unknowable structure. Maybe to some it's a ghost and maybe to others it's miasma or bad vibes. Maybe it’s the supervoid, stretching out to us though the power of living metaphor, filling our experience with the un-words that protect us from the vast emptiness of an indifferent universe.

We Are The Dead: A Ghost Tour of Salem

The Graveyards

In Salem, Massachusetts, you aren’t allowed in the cemetery after dark. I expect that the same is true in most places, but given that the small New England city has become famous around the world for truly morbid reasons, the law here seems more appropriate, almost campy. This is where the witches were killed.

It is because of this law that the Salem Night Tour begins in a parking lot. My partner Emma and I, along with a Bostonian couple, follow Dominic, our young guide, to an empty gravel lot and he apologizes. As a tourism industry worker in one of America's most horrific destinations, he must understand better than anyone else how much his guests are hoping for a chance to walk on some corpses.

He’s sorry about the law. We won’t be able to enter any graveyards and that’s why we are standing on this parking lot instead of in a field of headstones. In Salem, grave markers are made of slate, meaning that its corpse lots (the last place Salemites will ever park) are the thin kind that don’t weather in the acidic New England rain and remind you of Halloween decorations. We’ll have to look on from a distance but that doesn’t mean we won’t be treading on the dead.

Our tour begins on a parking lot because it was a graveyard. We stand six (ish) feet over the dead who were buried next to a now haunted Episcopal church, their headstones moved into the basement and to the opposite side,  but their corpses still resting. The showmanship of Dominic's reveal is pretty deft - especially considering our guide is wearing only a red lifeguard’s hoody with the sleeves rolled up in one degree weather - but the very act of standing on unmarked graves produces horror all its own.

A grave consists of two essential parts: a body and a marker. When the two become separated into a headstone and an unseen subterranean corpse, an unsettling semiotic transformation occurs. Graves are in graveyards, but headstones can be moved in the name of progress or politics and the dead may lie anywhere you can dig a hole.

A grave is a security blanket. We bury a body, mark its place and tell ourselves that dead people are only where we want them to be. It’s how we build a barrier between ourselves and the most incomprehensible of all thoughts: that one day we will no longer exist. Out of an anxiety born from the unknown experience (or un-experience) of death, we let the dead keep their labels. In this place, a body with this name that did things from this time to that time, is laid to rest.

All human comforts are contextual because with the absence of a reference point we can’t know anything. Alive, we claim death as our own, in death we are taken from the void by our survivors and made into a grave: a story that comforts everyone who will eventually join you.

 Markers without bodies outside of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Salem, MA.

Markers without bodies outside of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Salem, MA.

Taking Back The Night

Because context is controlled by the living storytellers, a death can mean something, but that meaning can change. This is true of all kinds of loss and all kinds of stories. Without context, we are nothing, on nothing, in nothing.

The power of context is formidable, and Salem is an excellent example of how re-framing the story of death can become political, and high-mindedly human. Emma put it perfectly when we first decided that we would spend our Easter Sunday in Salem: “The witches are taking back the night.”

Twenty women were executed in Salem during what Dominic calls “the Witchcraft Hysteria.” Those 20 women were among the 200 tried by puritan New Englanders, a process that saw them crammed into a windowless building - known officially as the Witch Dungeon - with a cellar that would flood in the spring. The women were imprisoned in coffin cells, which are long wooden boxes with bars instead of casket lids. They were left standing and defecating into frigid spring flood water.

The horrors of the Salem witch trials are poignant because witches are imaginary. And yet,  paradoxically, they aren’t. Though the women in the dungeon and hanging from the trees in the 1600’s were wrongly (and sometimes maliciously) accused of signing a deal with the devil, Salem goes a step further than claiming their innocence. The city has embraced the image of the witch so much as to say, “Look, even if you were a witch, you didn’t deserve to die. Witches rule, puritans drool.”

 The old Salem prison is now used as luxury housing, unlike the adjacent Witch Dungeon that was re-purposed as a haunted workplace.

The old Salem prison is now used as luxury housing, unlike the adjacent Witch Dungeon that was re-purposed as a haunted workplace.

Hidden Doors

Without context, my visit with Emma to Salem won’t seem magical, but the things we experienced carried with them an air of the sublime. Three key details will help frame the story:

  • First, we went to Salem on Easter because its reputation as a place for witches lead us to believe Christian holidays wouldn’t equate to closed stores.

  • Second, Emma’s bag had been stolen on our arrival to Boston, containing (in addition to thousands of dollars worth of property) her phone. My phone was blocking my data roaming, so our information resources were limited.

  • Third, we had trouble finding a Boston microbrewery and were pretty disappointed that our weekend trip would not involve craft beer tasting, which is somewhat of a travel tradition for us.

We arrived in Salem via the commuter rail at 5PM and it was empty. Aside from the (maybe) 20 other people who trained-in with us and quickly dispersed, it was just us. The campy occult shops we’d researched online were closed, leaving us in the cold on Salem’s main drag with three hours to kill and only one visibly open door: one leading to a real-deal, sans irony witch depot.

Inside, things were quiet and two warlocks patiently tended to their business while we browsed. If you’ve ever been to a mystic’s shop, you’ll know the drill: lots of herbal scents, working altars, library voices. We purchased a good intention (local herbs, oils and flowers meant to foster a specific state of being) for our pagan friend back home in Toronto, and the magic men sincerely but quietly wished us a pleasant stay.

Immediately upon exiting the store, our luck changed. We needed to find the meeting spot for the Salem Night Tour, found another open door, and were greeted by the organizer who also happened to be a paranormal investigator named Crash, who's appeared on Ghost Hunters International. The tour is run out of his Harry Potter shop and he was waiting for us. Because we were early, and hungry, and a bit shaken by the intensity of our encounter with Crash the Harry Potter fan, we exited and set about looking for food.

Two aimless right hand turns later we found ourselves in front of a Salem craft brewery.

Given the context, it is still difficult to explain these events with enough gravity. In the end, these doors were all open, just hidden from us at first. That we easily found the only open stores in Salem on Easter Sunday is barely a coincidence.

We set to framing our events immediately as soon as our luck turned, because we were dealing with the difficulty of losing Emma’s things and didn’t want to bear the responsibility of blaming ourselves for a lonely eventless evening in a small New England city. We felt the energy switch when, after thinking we were all wrong about Salem, it turned out we were so fucking right.

Giving ourselves over to the present, through disappointment, mild trauma and the fear of regret, allowed us to find the occulted doors of Salem, and they managed to lead us exactly where we wanted to be. The coincidence of that is too difficult to comprehend, so we layer a narrative on it. Reframing, context, the blessing of two warlocks - whatever we want to call it, it’s just something we tell ourselves instead of admitting we’re afraid of what we just don’t know.

 The Salem Beer Works reclaims witchiness with horror camp and great brews.

The Salem Beer Works reclaims witchiness with horror camp and great brews.

Bodies

Dominic tells us about the skeptic, who was exiled from Salem prior to the hysteria only to return, dig up a prominent corpse, drag it through the streets and then hold a gun to its head demanding he be reinstated as a citizen. He tells us about the dungeon, the Apocalyptic Salem curse and the time Houdini sprung three convicts from the local jail house during a high profile escape attempt. The Parker Brothers are Salemites and, in addition to making Ouija, they  based Clue on a real life candlestick murder. Dominic shows us the Clue house.

Salem is the site of North America’s only execution by pressing. Giles Corey, who’d deflected witchcraft charges by having his wives tried for witchcraft ran out of human shields, found himself underneath a large church door as the townsfolk piled stones on top of him. It took three days for Giles Corey to die, and he is known for these final pleading words: “More weight.”

I ask Dominic what the trigger was for the trials. He says he doesn’t normally talk about that because it’s a deep question and most people have the preconception that a psychedelic contaminant had entered the town’s wheat source. While that may have been the catalyst, the short answer is really simple: fear. A woman had been tortured into confessing that a dark man had visited her and made her sign her name in his dark book. She said that seven other women had signed it, and the hunt began.

We pass another tour while Dominic finishes this story. Their guide is dressed like Jack the Ripper, lecturing his poor subjects about Dracula of all things, and I see the dark side of all of this. Dominic’s style is respectful and enthusiastic, for some people the symbols of horror are all lumped into one spooky category. A vampire, a witch, a zombie, a ghost - fiction or history - some people just want their stories to entertain.

Our second to last stop on the tour is not shown to every group Dominic walks around Salem, but I think he sees Emma and I nerding out and knows we’d appreciate the symbol. Six trees grow in a grassy lot with a broken wall at the end. This is the official memorial to the 20 women and five men executed for witchcraft. On the other side of the breach’s stone fence rests the man who tried them.

The idea was that their judge would look upon this memorial for all eternity, but Dominic says his grave actually faces the opposite direction.

Dominic says that the women recognized by the witchcraft memorial were never given a Christian burial. They were hung by the neck until dead on top of a hill, cut from the gallows and rolled down into a mass resting place.

This is not that gallows hill. The witches of Salem are remembered on a lot that was available in 1992, the 300 year anniversary of the hysteria. He tells us to look down, where we see quotes from the dead, engraved in the ground, one of them unceremoniously cut off by a stone bench: “I am not a wit-”

“This represents the fact that these women were not listened to,” he kicks dirt on some letters. “People walk over them without noticing.”

As we make our way to the Clue house and then onward to our Boston hotel, the massive full pink moon creeps above the horizon, peaking out from behind a graveyard, making the tombstones into silhouettes. It is a perfect image: a symbol made of lost lives, whose names I will never know, and who I will one day join, out of context; a pacifier for the living who just don’t want to be scared anymore.

 For historical record: it was Colonel Mustard, in the bedroom, with the candlestick. 

For historical record: it was Colonel Mustard, in the bedroom, with the candlestick. 

Darkness follows.