Shaun R’s fatal Speed Demon

By Frampton Jones

Shaun R is dead. I witnessed his demise, and it was almost too terrible to describe. Shaun died to a machine made of bone and metal. It looked almost like something contrived to please a demon, and I have no doubt that a demon dwelled within it. Whether Shaun summoned the demon himself, or accidentally attracted it with an aesthetically appealing and warm device, we will likely never know.

There was a terrible roar. A terrible smell. Motion to defy the senses and alarm the mind. What monstrosity had Shaun R cobbled together in his shed? What horror has he unleashed upon the island? For I cannot trust that this will be the last of the matter.

Folklorist Idris Po tells me that the lethal device resembled a bicycle – something familiar, apparently to people who started life elsewhere. Two wheels, and a seat. Proof if any further proof were needed that Hopeless is truly an island of sanity in a great sea of madness. How can anyone possibly balance on two wheels? Perhaps it was the unbalance that sealed Shaun’s fate. Perhaps the demon in the device was so affronted by this unnatural mode of travel that it ate him in self-defence. I think I might have been persuaded to do so in similar circumstances.

There wasn’t a great deal of Shaun to collect up and bury. Much of what remained had been badly chewed by the skull mounted on the front of the machine. Fortunately there was a shell-like construction within the shattered remains of the machine into which we were able to collect the chewed remains of Shaun. It seemed appropriate and safest to bury man and machine together. It also spared us some unpleasant labour separating the two. On the whole, given how self-determining the device seemed before it destroyed itself, burial seems a good choice – leaving it around might provide too much temptation for anyone else who craves speed and a way out.

RIP Odebralski – The Scientific Society endures another loss

By Frampton Jones

The Hopeless Maine Musical society does not, in the normal scheme of things, actively seek out music that is likely to kill the performers. Our literary society does not seek out books that will drive it mad – although there is always the scope for death by boredom. The chicken fancier’s limit themselves to the kinds of chickens that are not demons.

And so I must ask, what is it inherent in the Hopeless Maine Scientific Society that drives members towards their doom? Is it a cursed organisation? Does the membership process accidentally include some dire formula that commits those joining to the certainty of a gruesome death?

I’ve wondered for a while if it might be their meeting place, in an otherwise unused warehouse in Gaunt Town. There are those who say that Gaunt Town itself sits upon the grave of a mad and deceased God, and that this accounts for it being so very haunted, dangerous, and largely free from human citizens. Even the vampires do not much like it.

The Scientific Society has been vague to say the least on the subject of RIP Odebralski’s death – which happened at their meeting place in Gaunt Town late last night. The body of the deceased was returned to the living side of town in a wheelbarrow.

Doc Willoughby’s assessment is as follows. “The deceased had filthy hands with dirt deep under the fingernails. Poor hygiene is so often a cause of death, and the look of horror on the face supports this hypothesis. You can get all kinds of nasty things from soil, which is probably why the hands are frozen in claw-like gestures.”

The Hopeless Maine Scientific Society reports… “Sometimes science requires sacrifices. It’s really unfortunate. There’s nothing even slightly irrational about the kinds of sacrifices that have to be made for science. We’re very clear that our members are responsible for their own choices and the prices they are willing to pay for knowledge.”

But as a precaution, they suggest that RIP Odebralski should be buried with a stone in the mouth, and a liberal quantity of feathers.

Fatal flora for Sarah Louise Ephemery

By Frampton Jones

It was always likely that Sarah Louise Ephemery would be killed by some hungry inhabitant of the island. Being one of the few people who moved towards our non-human denizens rather than away from them has always put her at risk. I greatly admired her ability to reveal the true lives of things in rapidly taken images that, when put one after another, evidenced the motion. Objects that turned out to have legs. Trees that were not trees. Faces that were not imagined. We spent many happy hours comparing notes and photographs and I shall miss her greatly.

It is a sad irony then, that her death came about as a consequence of having eaten the wildlife, rather than being eaten by it. Sarah Louise Ephemery is the second victim of The Crow’s latest food incident.

Her brother, Jack Ephemery told me: “We try really hard, but when food is in short supply and something comes in you’ve never seen before, sometimes you just have to guess. Mostly we guess right. Sarah has been eating my dishes for years and I’ve not done her an injury before. Well, nothing she couldn’t get over within a week. I feel awful about this. I always do when someone dies after eating here, but, what can we do?”

It is a fair point. Who amongst us has never been hungry enough to take their chances cooking black eyed meese? Who hasn’t bought some troubling sea creature from a fisherman and wondered if it was a good idea? Who has not lost a loved one to a bad decision about what to put in the stew?

The official medical advice from Doc Willoughby is, ‘Steep everything in alcohol. Serve it with alcohol. It cleans the insides and keeps you safe and is why I am such a fine and healthy specimen of a man.’ My own method has been to boil everything, and then boil it again just to be on the safe side, and be ready with a large stick in case anything tries to get in the saucepan during the process.

There will be a wake for Sarah at The Crow tomorrow. Jack assures me there will be no experimental recipes whatsoever.

Did Scott Harwood lay himself to rest?

By Frampton Jones

Scott Harwood died (or at least, fell silent) this morning in the property on Gaunt Street he had been trying to renovate. It was a house with a terrible history – but most houses on the island are. Where have people lived free from murder, madness and grinding misery?

House owner Ermintrude Peninsula said: “It used to be in my family, that house, and I always wanted to go back. I hired Scott to do some carpentry, replacing the decade internal woodwork and he was doing a fantastic job. Only, he started talking… to the panels, the stair rods, the wainscoting in particular. It sounded like he was having conversations, only I couldn’t hear what the wood was saying.”

We can now deduce from the evidence that the wood was encouraging him to trap himself under the floorboards and scream intermittently. A rescue party attempted to locate him, but the screams never came from the same area of the floor, and despite their best efforts, no one found him before he fell silent. It may be fair to assume that he is still there now.

It is of course entirely possible that Scott did not trap himself under the floorboards, but was somehow pulled through the cracks by unnatural forces. The wood itself may have tried to consume him. Friends wishing to pay tribute are encouraged to leave offerings at the front step.

When asked if she still intended to live in the house, even with Scott Harwood somewhere under the floor, Ermintrude Peninsula said, “But of course. He hasn’t created an odour of any sort, and he’s hardly alone down there, is he? If the rumours about my grandfather are true, that is.” She smiled wistfully and would not be pressed for further details.

Someone is dead. They may not be who we thought they were

By Frampton Jones

This may be one of the most complicated deaths I’ve seen. Not because the death itself was complicated – it was a fairly normal case of food poisoning after Sophie Hawksworth ate last week’s ‘special’ at The Crow. Three other people are still trying to recover. What makes this complicated is the question of who, exactly has died, and what, exactly should happen next.

Inventor Lilly May came forward to explain. She said: “The person we think of as Sophie Hawksworth was actually an intelligence living in her mechanical arm and controlling a body that had otherwise been dead for years.”

Doc Willoughby disagreed, telling me, “It is ridiculous to suggest that the arm was the person. What next? Will you decide that my hat is really me? Anyway, no one has ever kept a dead body alive for that long, it makes no sense.”

Lilly May said “I believe the original circumstances of transplant were highly unusual and would be hard to replicate. But the fact remains that this arm represents a sentient being and we should not bury it. This is why I have taken the arm, and will keep it safely until such times as a suitable host can be found – organic or metallic.”

There will be a funeral on Thursday next, for the organic remains of the person we have been calling Sophie Hawksworth. Whether this name is a fair representation of who we are committing to the Earth, I am unsure. Reverend Davies tells me that in the circumstances, he is considering using the burial for an unknown personage format. He tells me that he is uneasy about this whole ‘haunted machines business’ as he calls it, but would prefer not to risk burying a body with the wrong name as that could have “sinister consequences”.

Micah Edwards, Nevermore

By Frampton Jones

Yesterday, at midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, over one of my well thumbed volumes of forgotten island lore, while I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, as of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. “Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door — Micah Edwards, here once more.”

And it was a terrible habit. I don’t know why he did it and frankly it comes as little surprise to me that it caught up with him. Sane and sensible islanders do not go out at night and tap upon other people’s doors, or windows, or piping or chicken sheds…  I let him in of course, chided him thoroughly for his antisocial behaviour, and reluctantly let him back out into the night an hour or so later – to what purpose I know not. Many of us have had such visits from Micah over the years. I assume he was not able to sleep soundly.

He was found a little after dawn, pale and still and very cold. The cause of death is itself a mystery. Doc Willoughby said, “You know, I’m not sure he is dead, I think we should keep the body around for a bit in case he’s only sleeping. I had this terrible nightmare recently about burying someone who wasn’t dead, so I’d like to be on the safe side.”

Micah Edwards was always a bit on the morbid side, and the described funeral arrangements he left for us bear this out. Gothic designs for a tomb by the sea – which I doubt anyone is going to go through with because a great deal of work would be called for. However, since this morning, ravens have been gathering outside the mortuary, in unusual numbers. I am not sure what this signifies.

As the weather is cold and the body will keep, the consensus is that Doc Willoughby may be right, and that the funeral should be delayed.


(And if you’d like to know what Micah Edwards has done to Edgar Allen Poe, aided and abetted by Tom Brown, check out Li’l Eddie –  )

Megan and the curse of the black dog

By Frampton Jones

Nearly a month ago, we lost Craig as he tried to protect us from mermaids. His death was, in part caused by an ominous black dog appearing on the beach. Folklorist Idris Po tells me that in some cultures, the black dog is seen as an omen of death and that this black dog may have been a manifestation of such mythology. Idris Po has been studying how folklore manifests here for some time, based, as I understand it on the knowledge that there are rather a lot of stories in which folklorists are the first to die from occult interference.

Megan already had one large, black dog of uncertain provenance. To the best of anyone’s knowledge, it behaved very much like a normal dog, aside from being more alive than is typical of our island hounds. This experience perhaps inclined her to think kindly of the black dog that appeared just before Craig’s death.

I grant you, it was a substantial and corporeal sort of dog, and not the kind of phantom Po tells me tend to presage death. It was however, also a rather hungry and slightly rabid dog. It greeted Megan with great enthusiasm, and promptly ate her.

“Normal dogs don’t tend to devour people whole in quite this way,” Idris Po said. “I saw the whole thing from a safe distance and am mystified. One massive gulp. It was impressive, but also disturbing.”

Friends of Megan intend to put up a sign warning people about the dog. Hopefully this will go better than Craig’s mermaid warning sign.

The Hopeless Maine Scientific Society intends to send a research party to investigate the status of the dog.  And we all know what that means.

Idris Po says he thinks he’s doing well for a folklorist in a scenario of folkloric danger, but that kind of optimism means we can probably expect to hear of his demise shortly.

Jennifer and the wrecking ball

By Frampton Jones

Jennifer was an unfortunate casualty, an innocent bystander laid low by an epic battle in which she probably had no part. Of course one can never really know, only guess at these things. She was the victim of a cat attack, but was not, I think, the intended focus of it.

Just after dark, two days ago, a large number of cats of all different kinds emerged into the street at great speed. Many of you will have seen that angry feline tidal wave, some of us even dared to follow in its furry wake. The cats were hunting for the cat demon. Numerous people received minor injuries during the brawl, but Jennifer was unfortunate enough to be in the path of a massive dustcat wrecking ball, and did not survive the encounter.

It’s rare to see a wrecking ball of that size – it seemed to me that every dustcat on the island must have joined it – tails intertwined on the inside, claws and teeth on the outside. It was a formidable thing to behold, and destroyed or mortally wounded everything in its path. In the chaos, it was hard to tell what was happening. The fight between the cat demon and the cats was noisy, but impossible to follow.

In the aftermath, the living cats sat with the bodies of the dead. The cats who had become parts of the cat demon were clearly in there somewhere.  Caterwauling continued late into the night. There was no sign of Durosimi – creator of the infamous cat demon. It may be fair to assume he has survived  He usually does. There is no justice.

I think we can infer that the cats felt some remorse over the accidental killing of Jennifer. She was the only human fatality. During the night, dustcats ate her face – an unusual act of tribute suggesting great preference. I have no idea whether the deceased would consider this a fitting tribute or a further indignity.

Jacob Shell – missing, presumed dead

By Frampton Jones

Doc Willoughby brought me the news of Jacob Shell’s death. I have done my best to record his words accurately – it was a long, hurried and sometimes garbled bit of reporting but I feel I have kept the most important parts.

Doc Willoughby told me it was probably his own fault and that he must have fallen on one of his own ceremonial knives. He then identified the victim as Jacob Shell and went on to say that when a person is meddling with the occult there’s no knowing what may happen and why wouldn’t a body fall on the same knife more than once? Occult accidents are not like ordinary accidents.

He then said, and I quote this precisely, “Dammit, if I’d known it was him… but how was I to know?”

What followed went something like this: “There was nothing for me to know, not until it was too late and I had to work out what had happened. It’s as well I was on the scene. Not at the time of course. I was on the scene a while later. I wasn’t there at the time, when he fell. I didn’t see anything. Or anyone. No one saw me. Because they wouldn’t have done because I wasn’t there.”

No one else has seen the body, or been able to find evidence of the body. We only have Doc Willoughby’s word for it that Jacob is dead, but, no signs of the man have been found since the report came in. His workshop is neat and tidy as though left that way at the end of a working day.

Jacob Shell made beautiful items – some of them clearly did have occult applications. Most of us have a little something around the place to ward off demons, ghosts and people to whom we owe money or explanations. There is nothing inherent in the making of occult items that invites death. I will make no further observations and leave it to you to come to your own conclusions, dear reader. Whatever trade you practice, I would suggest avoiding out of hours sales, especially after dark.

Tim Hewitt dug his own grave

By Frampton Jones

Cryptozoologist Tim Hewitt devoted his life to the study of the flora and fauna of Hopeless, and those things that are reluctant to settle in either category. His work took him into the wilds, and in many ways it is a wonder he survived for as many years as he did. It turns out that it wasn’t his love of uncanny creatures that killed him in the end, it was his failure to pay attention to the horrorscopes for this year.

I admit it doesn’t help that some of them aren’t terribly specific and that often my astrologer gets the birth signs wrong, but they are always right in the ways that count. Tim Hewitt died as a direct consequence of something he dug up in his own garden. Neighbours tell me they had been uneasy about his root vegetables for some time. “I saw them moving about,” Hoff Chevin told me. “And not in a reassuring way like a night potato. I’ll eat anything, me, but I wouldn’t’ve eaten those. ”

Having viewed Tim’s remains, Doc Willoughby came to the following conclusion. “It’s like he ate something that busted out of his stomach and then dragged him out of the house and planted him upright in the soil.”

Neighbours were able to confirm that Tim’s body had indeed been left where the row of uneasy root veg had previously been growing. There was no sign of other roots. After some discussion, it was decided to just cover Tim over where he is and hope for the best, as no one could face digging him out. As Tim’s remains were exposed from the waist up, this proved to be quite a job too and the end result is a tad unsettling. Best to stay away from his garden for the time being.

Hoff Chevin told me he wonders if anything will grow from Tim’s remains.

News for the residents of Hopeless, Maine.