The Missing Girl – 2

November 17, 2006 at 9:55 am (Missing Girl)

Suzanne and I talked for quite some time. She didn’t seem to be any older than me. She said she lived alone in the Grove and never went to town, but that sometimes friends from town would visit. She knew Randolph, Von Josti and the gardener guy, Chen Yet Chen. Talking to her was all very pleasant, but it seemed I should be going back. I tried standing up and promptly fainted. She caught me and laid me back in bed.

Gradually I did make it back on my feet, but anytime I thought of leaving, I suddenly felt weak again. To make the time pass I helped her with her work which mostly consisted of gathering things from the Grove, crushing them, boiling them, drying them, and blending them in various ways into powder, oils or perfumes, and storing them in dark brown jars in shelves in a shed, behind her house, underneath a giant locust tree.

She had an unusual knowledge of these matters. “I’ve been in the Earth a long time,” she said.

A few days later we had visitors at night. First I heard the cats howling, then there was a rush of wind. Suddenly two women entered. Both were young and had black hair – one was Mexican, well shaped, wearing a tight black dress and bright red lipstick, and the other was incredibly thin and pale, wrapped in what looked like a shroud, a waif off some London backstreet. They smiled at me and went outside with Suzanne. About twenty minutes later I heard the wind and the cats, and Suzanne walked in. “Sit down,” she said. “I want to show you something.”

She pulled out a small casket about eight inches long. “Open it,” she said and handed it to me. I took off the top lid, and looked in. There was something wrapped in a very fine, almost luminescent cloth. I lifted it out of the casket and unraveled it. At the center was the most perfectly shaped figure of a man, in perfect detail, as if it were some real being that had just fallen asleep.

“One of the Gods” she said, as if that meant something to me. “People who were here before the Kaw. This was their most powerful artifact. When brought to life there is nothing it cannot do.”

“How do you bring it to life,” I asked.

“I don’t know. I want you to help me find out.”

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The Missing Girl – 1

November 16, 2006 at 8:52 am (Missing Girl)

Hi, This is Jenny Lynn, Samantha’s roomate. I just wanted to let everyone know that Samantha is fine. I’ve been keeping in touch with her. She’s been through a lot, but I’ll let her tell her own story.

I didn’t exactly plan it this way. That’s for sure. It was Randolph. Of course he was nice to look at, and his French accented English was so beautiful. And the poems. And his 67 Cadillac convertible. And the way he played Chopin. Randolph had many endearing qualities. But still, I shouldn’t have listened to him.

But I did, and here I was, the Dean’s one good daughter, out in the cemetery with Randolph and a dozen of our classmates bewildered by rum, nearly naked, and calling on the Gede to possess me. It had been a long time since I called on the Gede. My grandmother always said to avoid them, and I am a girl who listens to her grandmother, but if I didn’t do something soon Randolph was going to have the whole lot of us in really deep trouble.

What happened next definitely put a scare into the party. Within a few minutes the cemetery was empty. Then I went into the Grove. I didn’t want to go into the Grove, but that’s where She wanted to go. I don’t remember a lot after that. I woke up the next morning in a small cottage room. Sunlight was pouring over the thick down bed I had been placed in from an open window above. The room was full of flowers. For a few moments I thought I was dead. Then a tall, pale blond girl with yellow eyes walked into the room and handed me a glass of water.

“Hi,” she said, “ I’m Suzanne.”

“The missing girl? ” I asked.

“Yes, but you’re a missing girl now too.”

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The New Testament

November 15, 2006 at 10:23 am (Blue Kansas)


We entered a reception room
Plain, in the style of the last century
With just a few pieces of simple, solid wood furniture
A long table, a few chairs, a smaller end table
A large oak barrel in the corner
And a painting of Jesus praying 
Sitting in one of the chairs was a minister
In a plain, dark suit with a collar
He stood up and walked towards us
Coming up very close and looking us over
Curious and yet calm
“Where might you be going?”
“We would like to see the foundation of the house. Can we go downstairs?”
“No, that’s not allowed,” he said abruptly. “You don’t need to go there. It wouldn’t be of any use to you.”
“You don’t know why we are here or what might or might not be of use to us.”
“And you don’t know why I am here, ” he answered sternly. “No, you must turn back.”
We took a seat by the table and opened a pack of cigarettes.
“Would you like one? ” I asked.
“No, never smoke,” he replied.
“Of course.”
We sat quietly a few minutes smoking.
“Of what church are you? ” I asked.
“Yes, but there are many varieties. What denomination are you?”
“To you there may be many varieties, but in that you are mistaken.”
“I see”. There was another long pause. “Well, we must push forward.” I said moving toward the basement door.
“I’m afraid not,” he replied pulling out what appeared to be a scythe. It was quite old and the blade was covered either with rust or dry blood, or perhaps both. He showed no emotion, it merely held it in his hand as if the gesture itself should prove a sufficient deterrent.
I responded by pulling out a thin, leather covered book from my pocket.
“The New Testament, ” I said handing it to him, “You can read it while we look.”
And with that we slid past him and opened the door. He offered no resistance.

Randolph David Emerson 

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Desert Fathers

November 14, 2006 at 10:49 am (Blue Kansas)

Within the book it is written
That the words of the Lord
Come as a river of fire
A vast desert of fire
Windswept with anchorites
Who gaze through the flames
Toward a distant endless sea
A sea that sparkles
In the unstoppable sun
A sun that burns all desire
The scent of madness swirls
As a windstorm envelops the sand
The white monastery
Perched on the mountain cliff
Is lost in an ocean of its own
The ocean of a god
No one remembers
For once the names disappear
The names of the Father
The names of the Son
The names of the numbers between zero and one
Only then in the translucent light of paradise
Does the unsought appear
Unhurried, nearly invisible, nothing at all
Yet to reach that place
That place no one has ever been
Old men, white as stones
Will stay awake night after night
In expectation

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The Master’s Hand

November 13, 2006 at 8:30 pm (Blue Kansas)

At the Abby I meet Sister Louisa
Who works in the gardens
Incredible gardens, flawless vegetables, unblemished fruit
Not a single weed or insect to be seen
It’s a bit uncanny
What do you use to keep everything so intact I ask
It is a secret she smiles
Over time I pry it out of her
The Master’s hand she says
That is what guides everything to perfection
With this she glances shyly towards the sky
I am sure the Master who guides souls
Has many means to His disposal I reply
But here in the garden you must do the tending
Am I to believe you attain such results with prayer alone?
She smiles
The Master’s hand touches everything she says
I look over the neat rows of unnatural perfection
Everything precisely, abundantly alike
I become concerned
If we were to be touched like this garden…
I feel a sharp pain in my heart
I look at the rich dark soil
Suddenly it comes to me

Show me this hand, where have you buried it?
She looks at me coldly and turns away

I leave quickly
Perhaps I have misunderstood
Perhaps I haven’t

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White Mountain

November 10, 2006 at 5:43 pm (Borjes Society)

By Ed Mathisson

I went hiking earlier this week and ran into Old Trolmong who has been living on the road to White Mountain. I thought he had died some time ago and was surprised to find him alive and about. Discovering I had a flask on me, he invited me in, and we shared a drink. We got to talking about the mountain and he told me the story of how it got its name.

He told me that one of the old settlers came down from the North, from where they have real mountains with snow on their peaks. One night in winter during a storm he got lost in the bluffs when he was out drinking and stumbled onto a mountain even higher than the ones he knew in the old country, so he told his wife when he came home in a daze three days later. He took to be with a fever, became delirious and started say all sorts of wild things about the mountain which he called White Mountain. Apparently this is some mountain in the North that reaches all the way to heaven. His wife brought the preacher and the elders in to reason with him, but he would have none of it. I have seen what I have seen, he said. Too much Habanero Tequilla they thought, shaking their heads as he worsened and died. After this the bluffs began to go by the name White Mountain, and people avoided them.

Old Trolmong went out to talk of his wanderings in the bluff and some of the things he had seen there. Finally, he bid me adieu, and I continued on my way. It had been many years since I had climbed all the way to the top. It’s the best view around – you can see the river and the creek, the grove and the town, pretty much the whole township.

That evening back at home, I lit a warm fire and with a glass of port in hand sat down to examine the XIth volume of Grunwald’s Geography of the Interior Ranges and found the following account:


In the deep North, there is a mountain that soars so high, that it touches the formless heavens. This mountain is a destination for those who weary of deserts, savannah, and forests. It is notoriously difficult to find. Surrounded by clouds, it is rare to catch more than just a glimpse of it. Still, its existence is well established – in fact, over the years, certain villages at the base of the mountain have sustained themselves in service to the tourists who come hoping for just such a glimpse.

These villages have, in fact, grown quite prosperous in the services they provide and in other ventures such as producing travel guides that tell of past expeditions that allegedly reached the peak. Other villages, not content to simply amuse sightseers, outfit the more committed with the equipment and training necessary to actually ascend the mountain oneself. However, climbing the mountain is considered quite dangerous. Numerous deaths have been attributed to accidents and snow madness is a frequent occurrence. This has led to a view held by some that the mountain is haunted by spirits, not all of a beneficent nature. In fact, a whole genre of guide books has developed along these lines as well.

Yet, ascending the mountain confers certain magical benefits, not the least of which is that those who reach its summit are said to live forever in the company of the gods. Writers of guidebooks often stumble over themselves as they vie for the most ethereal and evocative description of the many delights of such an existence. Some of these stories are no doubt based on the reports of those who have partially ascended the mountain and then returned. Unfortunately the accounts of such ascent are sometimes so fantastic that it is not clear who in fact has really ascended the mountain and who having studied the literature of the guidebooks simply imagined such an ascent.

Due to this confusion, an entire school has developed that holds the opinion that the mountain itself is simply a dream, one developed by villagers as a pleasant and clever way to sustain a living. The villagers themselves have contributed in no small part to such opinions by the way they themselves have elaborated certain stories, especially those that encourage belief in mystical guides who can magically carry one to the top of the mountain without any effort on the part of the seeker.

Of course the proper way to invoke such guides is itself a matter of some dispute, and this and other issues have led the villages into numerous trade wars among themselves. Even to this day they often disparage each other while at the same time secretly borrowing whatever new technique or innovation their competitors discover that becomes popular.

It is well known, but not always believed, that one of the great dangers of attempting to ascend this mountain without proper preparation is that one may fall into deep crevices that reach into the very depths of the earth, where great fires burn without ceasing, or great rivers of ice churn and toss. The fear of these crevices is a great stimulant to the business of the villagers who at times have spent more of their energies in explaining and guiding people away from these crevices than in preparing people for ascent itself. The existence of such crevices is also commonly cited as a reason why a reliable guide is necessary. Such beliefs in fact are so strongly ingrained in certain villages that any individual attempt to ascend the mountains without the use of an approved guide is considered reckless and a sign of impiety toward the summit itself.

In all villages, it is common that those who in their youth aspired to ascend this mountain over time find themselves spending the rest of their life engaging in the comfortable provision of services to other villagers and in the general discussion of mountain lore that is so perennially popular. Naturally enough, one who spends a great deal of time in the villages will on occasion see the mountain itself and that coupled with an incessant preoccupation with mountain discussion will lead them to producing books themselves, which often are merely compilations, commentaries and summaries of other books. In fact it is a rare village that does not now have both large libraries of such literature and stores which do an excellent trade in selling these books of this type along with supplies for expeditions, postcards of the mountain, t-shirts and small statues of past mountain climbers, music that makes one think of mountains, and so forth.

Indeed, life in the mountain villages has become so refined and accommodations improved so much from earlier days and it is now possible for the tourist to visit these villages on a frequent basis and without actually seeing the mountain itself, which appears to have become even more distantly embedded in clouds, return refreshed to the flatlands with certain souvenirs that evoke a fine mountain feeling and at some later point write a short, popular book on the subject.

Strangely enough, those who have actually encountered the mountain are the most reticent to talk about it. It is sometimes possible with the aid of wine or bourbon to pry out from them certain details, but for the most part they keep to themselves what they have discovered. Thus it is, that the most prized genre of guide books are those that purport to reveal just those mysteries that have never been written down or widely discussed. Most of these books are of course quite worthless but occasionally there will be a fragment of dialogue or a piece of description that proves useful.

Such fragments tend to suggest that the mountain may be altogether different than has been imagined, and perhaps that is why those who have encountered the mountain first hand find themselves at a loss to describe their experience. Reports of these experiences have given rise to a school of opinion that asserts that the mountain, while real exists only in the climber’s mind, and that everything, including the villages is simply a mirror image of one of the mountain’s innumerable faces. Precisely because everything other than the mountain is simply a mirror, so many different reflections have arisen.

This school further believes that because of its invisibility that it is impossible to ascend the mountain directly, but that by a careful and informed study of the mirrors it is possible to ascend the mountain indirectly on the steps of the images that the mountain has itself generated. This staircase of reflections is said to be the most difficult of all possible ascents because of the fragility of the images. Here, there are no books or guides, because books and guides are themselves simply images. And yet others say that ascending the staircase of reflections is the easiest of paths since the mirrors are everywhere and ascent can be initiated at any moment and any place.

These opinions of course have had little impact on the villages themselves. At this point the economic life of the villages has become so intertwined with the promotion of various tangible representations and vividly rendered descriptions that suggestions of the mountain being invisible or only indirectly apprehended are almost incomprehensible. Also since villages pride themselves on their long lineages and the reliability of their approach schools that lack such credentials are held in little regard.

This is particularly true of those who believe the mountain is invisible and omnipresent, as they, having little inclination to create a replica of something that is in plain view have dispersed themselves over existing villages such that it is difficult to even discover who they are. This lack of visibility of course is precisely what members of this school desire since it permits them to explore the various facets of the mountain reflected in appearance without drawing attention to themselves.

I sat the book on the table next to me and poured myself another glass of Port. Just then something occurred to me, and I reached for the current edition of Jason Plutarch’s Lives of Eminent Stranger Creek Residents. I was right – Old Trolmong has been dead for ten years. I shook my head. Then I reached for a notebook and tried to remember what he had said.


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November 9, 2006 at 5:11 pm (Blue Kansas)

In the back of the general store
The black girl
Sells torn maps
Of countries without roads
On the walls are hearts
Drawn in chalk
On the floor old ladies
Lie twisting and moaning
The shopkeeper is impassive
Seated in the cobra chair
With a bell and rattle in his lap
He could be a thousand years old
The counter has bottles of dark liquor
And dishes of bright food
In the center the virgin smiles
From a faded unframed print
It is not clear what currency
You must use
To make a purchase here
Nor why you would want to go
To this land where the moon rises
From the ground
And the sun disappears
Into red oceans
Something in her eyes perhaps
A thin thread
From before the war, before the peace
Before everything
A thread left dangling
In some impossible wind

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Salvation Army of the Dead

November 8, 2006 at 5:24 pm (Blue Kansas)


They all return here
All the band members in their uniforms
Moving quietly down the dark empty streets
Their instruments held loosely at their sides
Their frayed leather bibles close to their hearts
And every word is written by God
And every word is true
But the voices are frail, the instruments worn
The stray person walking out at night
Hears only a vague rustling of the wind
And doesn’t see the thick shadows
On the crumbling brick walls
All night long they march
Storefront after storefront, street after street
As one by one the lights fade
In the upstairs apartments
And the tenants drift off into sleep
Only then
In the midst of endless dreams
Are the first hymns heard

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Republic of Ghosts

November 7, 2006 at 12:56 pm (Blue Kansas)


As we cross the border
Driving north towards the snow
We pass fields of debris
Jetliners torn in pieces
Houses and stores smoldering
Crumbled power lines
Dangling in the trees
Overhead, torn flags
Flutter uselessly
The republic is dead
The empire lurches on
The conversation drifts
Into a sea of white noise
We pass shopping malls
Full of politicians
We buy newspapers
To wrap sandwiches in
And continue north
Driving aimlessly
With no particular
Destination in mind


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Miss Emily

November 3, 2006 at 11:35 am (Borjes Society)

By Edgar Rice

It is a sunny autumn day and I am sitting lazily on the sofa, a book in hand, watching my cat probe about the antique desk in my study for a mouse it believes to have cornered. I have had a number of cats over the years, but this one is by far the best mouser of the lot. It has an almost uncanny ability to not only discern their presence, but to anticipate their movements and impulses, such that it never fails to capture its prey.

About a year ago, I became rather concerned over the health of my cat. Having left town for a few days to get a bit of fresh air, I returned to find that the cat, whose appetite had always been prodigious, was now not eating anything at all. She was listless and just slept all the time, occasionally letting out a brief, rather eerie moaning sound. I would hold her in my arms, and she would look up at me as if from a great distance and then turn away.

Although through various careless mistakes I have lost a number of pets in the past, I was especially attached to Miss Emily and was not wont to see her depart. So I took her to our town’s vet, who suggested I attempt to force feed her. This I did for a week, but only by offering her an extremely rare grade of serum was I able to pursuade Miss Emily to return to the living, where she resumed eating on her own.

All seemed fine for awhile, but then Miss Emily began to display some unusual new behaviors which troubled me. She has always been attached to a particular small stuffed animal which she drags around the house and nurtures in a somewhat motherly fashion. As I am often gone during the day, I have been grateful that she had a companion to ease her loneliness. You could imagine my distress when I came home several weeks ago and discovered her adopted friend in front of the fireplace, torn into shreds.

“Miss Emily! What have you done?” I exclaimed, holding her up and staring into her yellow eyes – but all I got back was a look of utter incomprehensibility.

Shortly after that, she seemed to have found a new friend – I didn’t know exactly what it was. She guarded it quite carefully, almost secretively, and I couldn’t pry it away to take a look. It was never left where I could see it clearly. Sometimes when I was in another room, or at night when I was resting, I heard her making the strange moaning sounds that I heard when she was ill.

Once I surprised her and saw that as she made these sounds she was clutching her new friend tightly in front of her, kneading it over and over as if she were praying. Yet the fully sensuous and abandoned way she gave herself over to this activity made it seem as if she was in some kind of trance state. There was something almost ritualistic about these cries that started slowly, gradually built to a crescendo, then fell back suddenly, only to start again.

In addition, I became convinced, though I have no way to prove it, that Miss Emily was becoming larger almost daily, and her fur was getting a blue iridescent sheen to it as well. She also began a new, rather upsetting behavior of bringing me little objects and laying them outside my door at night–things that I discovered each morning as I stepped into the hall.

The first was a dead toad. How it got into the house and how she managed to capture it, I don’t know. Seeing it, I jumped back – its warty, grayish-brown skin was repellent enough, and its large blood red eye staring up at me was definitely disconcerting, but the worst was the stench of the thing. Even after I removed it to the woods out back, the smell lingered for days.

This was followed by a menagerie of small dead things left to greet me each morning – a ring neck snake, a large green beetle, a chimney swift with intense black eyes, a mangled tail from what I assumed was a possum, and a long purplish tongue from something, I know not what. Miss Emily was an indoor cat who never ventured outside at all, so where she was finding these creatures – the attic or the basement, or somewhere else – I am at a loss to explain.

As if this wasn’t enough to disturb my quiet, I began hearing strange growling and howling noises at night from other cats. Sometimes it seemed as if they were fighting; other times they were somehow engaged in some sort of infernal conclave. I would wake with a start and look out the window into the yard, but I never saw anything.

I decided that the easiest way to put an end to all of this was to acquire a dog. I went to a certain dealer I knew to acquire the largest Russian wolfhound he had, and I brought it home. I wasn’t sure how Miss Emily would receive her new housemate. It had just been the two of us living together for quite some time now, but surprisingly she didn’t put up any protest. She looked at the dog warily, kept her distance, and went on her with life. I gave the dog the run of the house and the property and the gifting and the nocturnal conclaves both ceased.

Unfortunately my relief was all too brief. Two weeks later I woke up, called for the dog, and got no response. I went downstairs and to my horror saw it lying stiff and disjointedly in front of the fireplace, decidedly dead. My alarm only increased as I walked up to it and saw that its chest cavity had been ripped open and its heart torn out. This was altogether too much. I glanced back, and there on the piano Miss Emily sat as if nothing untoward had happened at all, calmly licking her paws, staring straight at me.

That afternoon I took Miss Emily to the veterinarian, and had her put to sleep. It was a very sad moment for me. The vet hardly recognized her she had grown so large – she weighed over 19 pounds now, but he didn’t ask any questions and I didn’t provide any explanations. Back home, the house seemed strangely quiet. I buried both Miss Emily and the Wolfhound in the little cemetery I have down by the creek. I felt shaken but hopeful that this would at last put the matter at rest.

In this belief, I was badly mistaken. For a few days all stayed calm, almost too calm, and then the most horrible thing of all happened. I woke up suddenly around 3 AM to sounds of an oncoming storm and the most dreadful cacophony of feline shrieking, hissing, howling, and growling. It seemed to be coming from all sides at once. I jolted up, grabbed my pistol, and darted to the window. By the outdoor lights I could see clearly into the yard. I saw nothing–nothing at all. Then slowly I realized the noises were coming from inside the house. I shuddered with fear, but not nearly as great a fear as I felt a few moments later when the scratching began. Something was at the door to my bedroom, and it wanted to come in.

At this I lost all confidence, and my skin turned pale. The door was solid oak and bolted, of course, but whatever was on the outside didn’t seem bothered by that at all. The loudness and rhythm of the scratches suggested that whatever was out there was of considerable size. This was further confirmed when it started throwing its entire weight against the door, and I saw the hinges groan. I myself couldn’t have achieved such an effect – whatever was out there had an unearthly force to it.

I was delirious with fear. I crouched in the corner of my bed, covers drawn up, gun cocked and loaded, and waited as the thing, whatever it was, repeatedly thrust itself against the door, loosening it with each crushing impact.

Suddenly there was a loud clap of thunder and all the lights went out. Livid with fear, I screamed and began to shout oaths, horrid oaths – I have no idea where they came from — and fired my gun over and over at the door until the bullets were all gone. I heard the most dreadful, anguished moan I have ever heard, a sound so infernal that every nerve in my body froze. Wave after wave of thunder rolled and rolled over the house. But whatever was at the door had ceased its attempt to enter.

The next morning, having not slept at all, I carefully unbolted the door and peered outside. There was a gift waiting for me. With fresh terror I looked down. There on the carpet was the severed hand of a woman lying there, as if it were the most normal thing in the world. Its long fingernails were caked with blood and on the wrist was a thin bracelet made of what appeared to be the beaks of small birds. Sitting next to the hand was Miss Emily.

She seemed quite calm, and I noticed she had returned to her normal size and color. I sighed. I put the hand in the African room, set a candle on it, and then went downstairs to the kitchen to find Miss Emily some food. I was greatly relieved to see that she would eat dry cat food again.

The next week I bought a tickets for a cruise for both myself and Miss Emily. While in Port-a-Prince, I bought her a small stuffed animal which she devotedly carries around with her. “As long as you behave yourself,” I tell her, “you can stay. But at the first sign of strangeness, we must part company.” I trust she understands this but holding her as I speak, I still get a look of utter incomprehensibility.







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Ghost River – Postscript

November 2, 2006 at 8:16 pm (Ghost River)

As a longtime friend of John Hayes who has followed his work with some interest over the years, I feel now is probably as good a time as any to pick up a few of the pieces he never quite came to grips with in his narrative.

With the help of Lynn Alexander, I have been going through both John’s papers and those of his grandfather, William Hayes. There is still much to be accounted for, but I feel we are getting closer to realizing some closure on this matter.

To put it in vaguely chronological order:

Professor William Hayes moved to Stranger Creek in 1924, and assumed the Departmental Chair in Metaphysics at Linden College. That same year his daughter Caroline was born, the mother of John Hayes. His first few years in Stranger were happy and uneventful, but in the 1927 the infamous ‘rip in the fabric’ occurred. Exactly how this happened is still not clear. Evidence points to certain events during WWI and its aftermath that may be responsible, but the effect was that certain forces hitherto kept at bay, were allowed to penetrate our world, forces of a decidedly unwholesome nature. By the early 1930’s these forces had concentrated their energies sufficiently to affect global affairs in a profoundly threatening way.

Hayes and several other senior members of the Omaha Theosophical Society, realized not only what had occurred but the potential severity of matters if they were not properly addressed. He was directed to create a special Lodge that would begin to attempt a remedy, by no means an easy or assured proposition. Eventually he would create a cadre of a dozen members who began various occult experiments, not all of which were successful.

By 1939, both the Lodge and the larger Theosophical Society had collapsed, but Hayes and three of his more stalwart fellow experimenters achieved a notable breakthrough. Although they were unable to halt the growing intensity of archonic manifestation, they discovered a method to shift parts of the physical world to another dimension, in essence to quarantine the invasive elements.

This method involved creating an elaborate but alluring labyrinth, one that would divert daimonic attention long enough, for the shift to take place. With their eyes off the wheel, the direction of the karma could be changed. The final rite in a series of rites was set for February, 1941. Unfortunately, for reasons that are still not understood, the last rite failed, in fact, it failed rather badly.

All three of his colleagues disappeared entirely to places unknown, and Stranger Creek itself shifted out of this dimension, into a close but not contiguous space – like a door that becomes ajar and no longer opens or closes properly. By this slight shift of dimensionality, Stranger Creek vanished both in the memory and the maps of Kansas, hence the difficulty that has been reported, of trying to locate Stranger Creek physically.

This disaster broke Hayes completely. His wife and teenage daughter were away at the time, and after the shift had no way, or even thought of returning, to what was now apparently, nothing at all. The remaining citizens were, as you might imagine, not pleased, and the Town Council launched an investigation. This report I have not been able to find – it may be somewhere still in the Courthouse. William Hayes, died that Spring, by his own hand. The worst war in history soon followed.

A Council was formed to assess the situation and make recommendations. They eventually were able to find a way in which town residents could return to the world they left, which they called Kansas. Also, they realized that Kansans could also enter Stranger Creek. It was difficult, but on certain days, when the signs and stars were aligned, one could, by an exercise later called ‘seeing diagonally’, enter the town by following certain angles of oblique sunlight, and the spheres they created. One of these visitors, was John Hayes, William’s grandson, who accidently stumbled into Stranger Creek, one afternoon in 1954, when he was eight years old.

Over time it appeared that the experiments of William Hayes were not a total failure. This is something that we only recently realized. It appears now, that by his actions, the rip expanded, and conversely to expectations, this allowed a more diverse array of beings to enter into the world at large. This diversity allowed for an increased number of karmically possible outcomes, and for that reason was positive.

The rather large hole that now exists – something akin to the missing Ozone layer over the poles – is slated to close fairly soon – for reasons involving certain other forces that are hard to speak about. That date is said to be sometime in the fairly near future – possibly 2012. There is continual discussion in Stranger as to what will happen then. Possibly Stranger Creek will shift back into presence with the rest of Kansas, possibly Kansas will shift out of orbit and join Stranger Creek in its special space, or on the other hand, perhaps both dimensions will cease to appear, or appear somewhere else entirely. This is all still an open question. Of course, there are larger implications to all of this, considerably more disturbing than global warming, but being a small town, we naturally, are more interested in what might happen locally.

John Hayes bravely attempted to carry on his grandfather’s work, but it is not clear just what he accomplished. It appears he was seduced by a certain kind of luminosity that surrounds perimeters and edges. He also neglected I think to realize that the nature of a doorway is that it swings both ways. But this is just the near-term view – further away, things might look entirely different.

Fortunately, we have managed to close the opening John created. This will have some immediate consequences. Mr. Samdi, being on the other side of the door at the time, having gone back to retrieve certain ritual implements, will no longer be able to roam freely here in Stranger Creek. I know some of the students at the college will be disappointed, as he was gaining a popular and loyal following there.

The Council of Elders has put a moratorium on occult experimentation that will stay in effect through the remainder of 2006. New guidelines on properly methodology will be issued in the next few months.

Of course our town forum will once again need a new moderator. I am pleased to announce that Lynn Alexander will take over this task. As our librarian, she is one of our most wholesome citizens, and I’m sure her cheerful Stranger spirit will brighten our site.

I appreciate the patience of our residents and friends as we work through this latest series of events. Hopefully, with the coming holidays we can take our minds off our particular troubles, and celebrate the simple joys of life that are still available to us.


Dr. Douglas Oostenburg

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The Depths of Tiredness

November 1, 2006 at 6:17 pm (Blue Kansas)


The depths of tiredness
Are like a dark pool at the end of a long winding path
In a still and quiet forest
Where the shadows of thousands of leaves
Form an impenetrable archway overhead
Looking into the pool
You see vague reflections
Which remind you of the ridged patterns
On Greek pottery
And images from a half-remembered poem by Baudelaire
Or sunlight reflecting on the auburn hair
Of a girl you knew a long time ago
You sit down under a thick cypress tree
And stare into the mirror of water
Until the reflections disappear
And there is nothing
Nothing but a thin line of numbness
Running from the back of your throat
Through your arms and chest
Into nothing
And the pool and numbness
Are both the same and there is no further ground
To step back on
The last layer is revealed, laid open
And there is nothing
Nothing but a slight wind
Which seems cold
And a feeling that from somewhere far away
Sleep and darkness are rumbling towards you
Like a heavy iron train at the distant end
Of a long fathomless tunnel
You only vaguely knew existed

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Library of the Dead

October 31, 2006 at 7:23 am (Blue Kansas)

After you die
They will give you a typewriter
And a quiet place
Where you can write down everything that happened
Everything you saw
Everything you felt
You can take as long as you want
Your memory will be perfect
All the details will be there for you
As crisp and clear as the moment they first occurred
When you finish the book
They will find someone to publish it for you
The only publisher left actually
The house publisher for the Library of the Dead
Once your book is printed
It will sit on the shelves with the others
Many others – too many to count
Curious, you might want to look through some of these
You might especially enjoy those you wrote
In your previous lives
You will find the catalog system superb
Telepathic in fact
You won’t just read words
The images and events will all appear as if they are real
So real you will forget whether you are living or dead
Whether the book you are reading is from a former life
Or one that has yet to be lived
The images will start to swirl together into a great blur
Of sound and color
And then a warm tunnel of light will open
And you will start to fall and fall and fall and fall
All the way down into the womb of the Great Mother
Who loves writers so much
She gives birth to them constantly

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Blue Kansas

October 30, 2006 at 11:00 am (Blue Kansas)

How do you know
If you don’t go
Where the black cat
Is leading
Into the field
Of nearly solid darkness?
How do you know
If you don’t surrender
To the open sarcophagus
That lies in front of you
And listen to the hymns of the dead?
Until you start falling
Into the weightlessness
That is like a dream or like
Any of a thousand other things
Suddenly present
You won’t even have a clue.
Don’t worry
If you exist or not
Or whether
You know anything
Special or useful
Simply float and see
The unimaginable beauty of it all
Even if the ravens and ibises
And crocodiles of the next world
Offer to make everything clear
Be sure you understand
The hieroglyphs
Before you converse with them
Or hope
That since you
Are one of the few
That can see
What the pictures never show
The daughter of the sun
Will find you

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Order of the White Rose

October 26, 2006 at 8:15 am (Borjes Society, Occult History)

We have concluded our Ghost River series. However, in going through the papers of the late John Hayes, we found this account of his grandfather’s work, which readers may find interesting.                                                              –Lynn Alexander



Anyone who casually glances through Melchizedek’s lengthy Unabridged Encyclopedia of American and European Religions will be impressed by the great diversity of creative energies represented there. As a species, esoteric spiritual groups are perhaps the most creative and temporal of religious associations. This is not surprising, since the spirit that informs such groups is by nature mercurial and almost antithetical to the clerical efficiency necessary to propel an organization into perpetuity.

We should not assume however that such organizations, having passed from their earthly existence, do not continue in some other world or dimension. For example, we could consider the continuing influence of one such group that–although it is unlikely that anyone living has even heard of–has affected everything around us in ways we haven’t the slightest knowledge of.

I am of course speaking of the Order of the White Rose. The fact that you are reading this now is itself an indication that you too are invisibly a member of this Order for reasons that will soon become apparent.

According the account compiled by Melchizedek, the Order of the White Rose was a Spiritualist organization founded in Chicago in the 1890s by one Jesse Charles Fremont Grumbine. Over the next thirty years the order moved first to Boston, then to Cleveland, and finally to Portland where it appears to have disappeared by the early 1930s. The Order was said to be mystical and contemplative in nature and was composed of two branches, the Order of the Red Rose–the exoteric or outer branch, and the Order of the White Rose–the esoteric or inner branch. Both branches led members to a third branch whose name is not specified.

Spiritualism was the most popular mystical movement of the 19th century. As the Industrial Age reached its apex and the bounty of its energetic developmental impetus began to touch all corners of the known world, the daimonic imagination, which been allowed to roam freely in the untouched regions of the earth for centuries, was forced to find a new home. It found this home in a region that technology could never reach, a region that was the pure antithesis and counterpoint to all positivist endeavors: the land of the dead.

As a popular movement, Spiritualism was continually energized by its controversial assertion that properly trained and receptive individuals could not only contact the dead on an individual basis but speak directly for them. In an age when death was a visible and pressing concern, not yet drained of mystery and brought under institutional auspices, the opening of such a conversational conduit provided tremendous assurance that the ties we forge in this life are not severed by the departure of souls from one world to another.

Grumbine, like his contemporary and predecessor Andrew Jackson Davis, was a philosophical spiritualist. The conducting of seances and the activity of mediums was fine entertainment, but the truly fascinating aspect of the movement was its metaphysical implications. If communication with the dead were truly possible, then a mapping of the land of the dead was also presumably possible. In fact, the entire invisible was opened up for exploration just as the far reaches of the visible were quickly falling under the purview of an imperialistic empirical geography.

Grumbine theorized that beyond or preceding individual personal spirits there was a universal spirit that existed not as a God outside of creation, but as the radiant center from which all spirits drew life. The individual spirit underwent a purification process through its existence on earth that renewed the dynamic of the universal spirit. Spirits living on earth were enveloped in earthly form that fell away at death and was replaced by a spiritual body that inhabited a celestial earth. The true medium, the one who through contemplative arts had emptied himself of mundane preoccupation, could become an initiate and emissary of this celestial earth, which we know as the land of the dead, but the dead know as a world even more vibrant and alive than ours.

It was not Grumbine himself, but a close student of his, William Hayes, who most fully completed the map that Grumbine had envisioned. His investigations were reported somewhat cryptically in a thin pamphlet entitled Tales of the World of the Spirits published in Omaha in 1931 by the Spiritualist Association of Nebraska. The precise relationship of the Spiritualist Association to the Order of the White Rose is unclear. It may in fact have been a pseudonym, made necessary by certain discoveries that took place within the Order of the White Rose that required it to further veil its existence

Since contacting the dead is at best an uncertain proposition, there is always the likelihood that one may bring back to this world a spirit whom the medium is unable to control, who in fact has a mission of its own to fulfill. For the most part, these rogue spirits quickly tire of communicating through such a dense material haze as we must present to them and go on to other amusements. On rare occasions though, a spirit will find a compatible host and set about to accomplish its desires.

Hayes himself had been close to Spiritualist circles for many years prior to meeting with Grumbine and was well aware of these difficulties. As he wrote in his pamphlet, “We would be more than a little amazed to know how much of our history, of our institutions, and our literature has been directly inspired by the dead, and what a great debt we owe to them.” Hayes’s own debt is made clear in the body of his pamphlet, most of which was communicated to him by a spirit in a series of séances conducted in Omaha in the winter of 1927.

The spirit, whose name we cannot mention here, informed Hayes that the creation of the Order of the White Rose was not an accident. Certain circumstances transpiring on the celestial earth had necessitated a transference of the Order from their plane to ours. Grumbine had more or less gotten the philosophy of the Order right, as much as could be explained at this time. The key task was to perform certain rituals that would widen the conduit between the two worlds enough so that a much larger infusion of spiritual force could take place. As to the end purpose of this infusion, that would be revealed later.

The first ritual that Hayes was to perform was called quite simply The Rite of the Dead. This was to be conducted once a month at the new moon. Initiates were to gather in a closed room in which eight black candles were arranged in a circle around a table holding a white rose in an urn, preferably one procured from a crematorium. Next to the vase was a black box in which certain names were placed. As the clock struck midnight, the preceptor would randomly draw names from the box, one by one, saying,

We invoke the spirit of —- and all those who are invisibly part of the Order of the White Rose. The world you have departed from has not forgotten you. Do not disdain the living, but following the path we have opened. Return and be present with us.

We do not know what names the box contained, or how many names had been placed there. Possibly it contained names of former members of the Order, or the names of various obscure visionaries who had died in the distant past. Hayes seems to suggest at one point that it held the name of every person who had ever lived, although how this would be possible within the confines of a small box is not made clear. At the close of the rite, the room was to be emptied and the lid of the box left open.

A second ritual involved contacting the inhabitants of certain celestial cities. Only their celestial residents knew the actual names of these cities, so as a substitute, the names of various cities of the ancient world were used. In all, there were seven such cities: Athens, Rome, Alexandria, Palmyra, Harran, Samarakand and Khotan. In a manner similiar to the Rite of the Dead, each of these cities was invoked by name, one at a time, on separate evenings. This time the initiatory circle would stay in the room, and from midnight until six in the morning would envision themselves as residing in these cities.

As Hayes narrates, this was not an easy accomplishment even for a circle whose members already possessed considerable visionary and mediumistic powers. However most of the initiates were eventually able to sustain the appearance of the designated city for six or seven hours without a thought. Then something went awry and some of the members were unable to leave the cities they had visited. Their bodies remained in a state of suspended animation, alive and warm, but they could not be roused back into normal consciousness. After the third incident of this kind, Hayes dispensed with the rite. The individuals involved were transported to a farm in northeastern Kansas where members of the group looked after them. Other than occasional dusting, the bodies required no special care and maintained their color and appearance without diminishment.

The Order of the White Rose itself disbanded in the early 1930s after disagreement between members over certain obscure theological points. One group believed that according to certain Tlonic texts, the world would end on Friday, December 31st, 2012 sometime around two or three in the afternoon, while another believed that it would end on the “twelfth hour of the twelfth day of the twelfth month of the twelfth year”. Both groups believed that the end of the world was not an occasion for panic, but rather a time when everyone would have their innermost dreams fulfilled in a world almost like this one. Very few people would realize that any change had taken place, but to the careful observer it would be apparent that a complete separation with the past had been made.

Hayes himself passed over to the other side in 1941, Grumbine having preceded him some three years earlier. The farmhouse and its special occupants became the charge of Hayes’s daughter, Lillian, my mother. I knew nothing about it until she took me there a few years ago and announced that she was going to Vienna and I was to now assume the family’s caretaking responsibilities.

After learning about The Order of the White Rose and having a chance to meet personally some of its former members, I have been able to uncover a few details of which even Lillian was unaware. The most striking discovery was that the three initiates, as Lillian called them, do not always remain in a state of suspended animation. It would not be prudent to discuss how I made this discovery, but suffice it to say that I have now come to realize that the accident Hayes thought had occurred was–like the founding of the Order itself–not a chance event.

Nor have any of my activities been chance events. Unfortunately, being a bit clumsy at keeping things secret, through my naiveté I have exposed a number of individuals to the Order. There is really no need to worry, as the Order is on the whole benevolent in its intentions. But those who cherish the notion of free will may on close reflection find that some of the events that more than a number of usual events may have occurred in their lives recently. I have tried my best to mask this under various contemplative auspices, but it has become too difficult to contain what is in rather uncontainable, and things have reached the point where I must make a clean account of the entire affair.

In brief, the larger conduit that Hayes was to create through his rituals was actually successfully constructed, bodily, in the persons of the three initiates whose spirits now reside in certain celestial cities. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of those cities have been pouring into northeastern Kansas for some sixty years now. These spirits reached such a mass that by the late 1960s a complete revival of the Order was possible. However, as the cities themselves possess diverse spiritual traditions, the development of the movement–as it has come to be called–is no longer contained within a single organizational structure. It is fair to say, however, that all serious discoveries of a spiritual nature that have occurred since that time can probably be linked to the Order of the White Rose and its rites.

Although I have not been able to discern which of the two dates concerning the end of the world is correct, I have felt it wise to make certain preparations since in my view the extent of the disagreement is not materially significant. As part of these preparations, I have deemed it necessary to revive in part some of the rites of the Order so that I can ascertain the direction that the movement is heading. To this end, I have attempted to envision certain cities. Unfortunately, even with the help of various ancient contemplative techniques I am unable to sustain visualization for longer than a few minutes without distraction. I can only hope that one of my friends or acquaintances will be more successful than I. If not, then well, things will soon become very interesting.

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Ghost River – 13

October 24, 2006 at 4:35 pm (Ghost River)

She didn’t have to tell me who she was. I already knew. What surprised me was how much we knew about each other. Seeing her, I knew exactly who she was, and she knew exactly who I was. We knew everything about each other.

For her to appear only could mean one thing – that it was time to cross over for good. She pointed to the woods, and I understood I was to follow. I dropped my rake and we went up the hill together, past the meadow, to the thicket where the burial mounds are.

Where there had been two, now there were three. The third was new – the black soil was freshly turned. We walked to the edge and she pushed me in. I fell through the earth into darkness. I felt a complete sense of peace. Then the darkness lightened and I saw that I was somewhere else entirely.

We were standing on a large sandbank gazing out over the ocean. Soft waves rolled in against the shore. In the air above large white birds darted and soared. At the far edge of the ocean, rainbow light radiated from the horizon. We stood next to each other, and I felt incredibly happy, as if all the good fortune that had ever existed had just been given to me.

I looked up from the booth at the Anti-Temperance Tavern. Simone, the fierce, red-haired bartender who ruled over the realm of quiet intoxication was staring at me and shaking her head.

“My God. Just look at you.”

I stumbled home. I looked at myself in the mirror and laughed. I was not the same. It had been a long time since I had been in the flesh.

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Ghost River – 12

October 23, 2006 at 4:38 pm (Ghost River)

There is a vast lore on the mystical significance of numbers. Like all theosophical investigators, my grandfather was fascinated by this. In his uncompleted and rather deeply unorthodox, A Treatise on Alchemical Magic, he begins to push the veil back a bit on this, but then stops. However, in his uncollected works I found some additional notes which suggest he was particularly enamored of the number nine.

In these notes there are frequent references to the ninth hour, the ninth room, to a castle with nine towers, to ‘nine brothers who rule nine different kinds of fire’, to the ‘nine daughters of dawn’, to ‘nine arrows of the spirit whose face is half red and half black’, to the ‘blacksmith and his nine sons who worship the horse headed god’, and to the nine ‘mirrors of creation’.

In Westcott’s 1892? edition of Numbers, Their Occult Significance and Mystical Virtues, a book still bearing the stamp of the Omaha Theosophical Society, we read, “the ennead, the first square of an odd number, is said to be like the ocean flowing around the other numbers…it is like the horizon because all numbers are bounded by nine”.

He notes, as have others, that whenever you multiply the number nine by any other number, the sum of the new numbers when added back to a single digit, will always produce nine again. Westcott refers back to a still more venerable work, John Heydon’s Holy Guide of 1662 which asserts that the number nine engraved on silver and carried about one renders the wearer invisible. He also recalls the roman festival of Novennalia, which was celebrated every ninth year, in memory of the dead.

So with all that in the back of my mind, why should I have been surprised when a young Indian girl appeared one morning while I was working in the garden, told me her name was Nava, her tribe the Dgulha, and that she was nine years old.

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Ghost River – 11

October 22, 2006 at 5:42 pm (Ghost River)

We have discovered in the papers of the late John Hayes, three final sketches, which we will share to complete his Ghost River narrative. This is the first.

Lynn Alexander

After the reappearance of my grandfather, I went back through his works, back through the alchemical treatises he had left, and back through those that I had gathered on my own. I searched out the obscure backwaters and dry wells of our town’s ample collection of obscure works on such matters, but to no avail. Nothing gave me a clue.

Each evening I would exhaust myself, but then every night about 4AM I would suddenly wake. I would try to remember what I had been dreaming but not a single image would come. One night, unable to fall back asleep, I went outside to the back porch and just stared out into the woods.

I saw something and started to follow it. The moon was almost full, and since I know the woods and path well, I don’t need a light to guide my way. I walked up the hill, past the meadow and down to where the burial mounds are. It was an exceptionally clear and quiet night – only the distant sound of the trains, and my own footsteps on the leaves broke the silence. I walked to where the dry streambed cuts a deep crevice and sat on the rocks and waited.

The deep peace of the night woods soothed my nerves. The cool, crisp autumn air wafted around me like a clear elixir. I sat there for an hour, maybe two, and then slowly walked back to the house and fell sleep. The next few nights as the moon stayed bright, and the weather mild, I continued these walks. Gradually I came to hear more –not just the surface sounds, but the different layers one doesn’t recognize at first. As the moon reached its peak, coyotes began howling and listening to their eerie cries which sound almost like laughter, I could imagine the doors of the underworld becoming ajar, but even that didn’t mar the deep clarity of the woods.

After a week, I stopped waking up at night and my walks ended. It is fine I thought, the dead do not want their mysteries penetrated. I was content with that. Then she appeared.

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October 20, 2006 at 11:24 am (Ghost River)

Welcome, I am Baron Samdi, the new chaplain, for Linden College. I will be helping guide things as we go along. My predecessor, Mr. Hayes, was a bit careless, but a most courageous explorer. I am personally very grateful for his efforts. What can I say? He was like a father to me.

As I grow accustomed to my new surroundings, I hope I can share something of my own with you. It is so wonderful – the fresh autumn air — don’t you think!

Where I come from we say: kill the philosopher, start the party. If you want to become intoxicated on words, you have to distill the spirits – otherwise you’ll never stay awake.

So go ahead relax, as we enter my favorite place, a land where the living and the dead almost touch each other.

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Death of John Hayes

October 19, 2006 at 11:18 am (Ghost River)

John Hayes, October 1, 1946October 18, 2006

I am very sorry to inform the readers and guests of Stranger Creek of the unexpected death of our narrator and town chronicler, John Hayes.

Information is sketchy, but according to his close friend Dr. Oostenburg, the body was discovered yesterday afternoon. Cause of death was not given. We have been told that the funeral will be on Saturday, followed by a wake. As is customary in Stranger Creek, we do not involve public officials in our town’s affairs, being a self-governing municipal unit, so there will be no autopsy or police report.

Dr. Oostenburg will be taking care of all final arrangements. He will be also going through the remaining papers of Mr. Hayes and will share any information that may be pertinent to interests of concerned citizens.

We are all quite stunned. John and his late wife were longtime residents of Stranger Creek. John contributed significantly to the town’s literary activities, was an active member of the Congregational Church, served on the Theosophical Museum Board and was a strong supporter of our local library.

I will be talking with community members soon. We are soliciting a new narrator to continue to share with you our town’s literary heritage.


Lynn Alexander
Stranger Creek Librarian

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