Helke Jonkman’s fateful map

By Frampton Jones

Helke Jonkman had not, it turned out, even intended to be on this side of the Atlantic, but is not so very good with directions. And of course sometimes directions here are complicated. We’re so used to the way paths come and go. There are places you can only ever reach at the full moon, doors that only open in winter, graves that are only properly visible at twilight – if you’ve been here a while, you likely already know this. It bemuses newcomers and of course there are always people who are confused by directions that include questions of time, or wind direction.  Perhaps as island people we are more used to thinking about tides, and places that are sometimes unavailable.

The shortage of reliable maps has always been a problem, but how do you map that which changes? Being someone who struggled with directions, Helke became one of the few people to ever try and map the island, in all its oddness.

Helke has gone, but the maps remain. One map could never be enough. There are paths painted in silver, and one marked with a note that it requires blood to walk it. There are paths on these maps that I have never seen myself and would not venture down.

I speculate that there is also a missing map; the one Helke took along on that final journey. The one that tracks the route into whatever mystery occurred, two weeks ago. The map from which Helke may well never return.

We none of us know what might wait for us in the trees, in the darkness, in the silvery trail of moonlight we have never seen before. The unknown is always so alluring, but seldom treats anyone kindly.

John Kokkonakis embraced the darkness

By Frampton Jones

I always have to remind myself that a love of darkness in a shipwrecked resident is not the same as a love of darkness in someone who grew up here. It takes newcomers a while to realise that the beloved velvet darkness of home, with all its charm and whimsy, is not to be found here. Our darkness is full of teeth and eyes, and hunger.

The shift from one calendar year to another generally causes fights. At the moment, the most popular choices of date for next year are 1837, 1896, 1924 and 2215. This is why our consensus about the year recently has gone 1846, 1923, 1860 with last year rather confusingly being 1492. We all keep our own calendars in practice, it may be best that way. And so last night we passed from one calendar year to another, and some of us felt the need to get drunk and punch each other over this, as is traditional.

John Kokkonakis apparently felt the need to celebrate midnight outdoors. I’ve seen this before, and it seldom goes well. People who expect the darkness to be full of merry bells and neighbourly good cheer are always disappointed. Sometimes, I rather suppose the darkness embraces them, instead.

Knowing John’s birth sign, I shall have to re-write the horroscopes for this year, as I firmly believe the prediction of death by nostalgia in the night was meant for him. We’ll just have to see what’s in store for the person most likely to die, who shares his birth sign.

And so we have another obituary in which the departee always claimed to have been born in what I consider the future, and whose year of death is equally impossible to pin down. Years are cruel, unreasonable entities, we should not trust them, and it is clearly unsafe to try and celebrate their capricious comings and goings.

Mark Goodman’s unquiet heart

By Frampton Jones

Last Christmas, Mark Goodman gave me his heart, still beating, and contained in a beautifully decorated box. I was, as you can imagine, rather troubled by this. The next day, I showed the heart to Doc Willoughby, who said he would take it away and examine it. Mark turned out to be rather upset about this, and later retrieved his heart, making it clear that he intended to give it to someone else.

I saw Mark this morning, looking pale and with distinct bite marks on his throat. He also seemed dazed and at first did not appear to recognise me. I was concerned, but did not initially associate this with the strange business of his heart and what he did with it last Christmas. I tend to forget all about Christmas unless reminded.

When he collapsed in the street, I went to his aid. I was able to get him into the shelter of Jed Grimes’s store, where he raved for some time. I can give you only an approximation of his words.  “I gave it to someone special,” he said. “I thought this was someone I could rely on, but I was wrong. Fooled again. But it’s worse this time.”

I managed to ask if this was about his heart. “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart,” he said, “I thought you were a responsible sort of person.” If only he had explained to me what he wanted me to do with it! I am still mystified. It was hardly a romantic gesture, it was a bleeding organ in a box that had no business still beating whilst being in a box. I was more than a little disconcerted at the time and would have benefited from some guidance.

Whatever happened to Mark’s heart this year proved fatal, this Christmas has killed him. I admit to feeling deeply disturbed by the whole experience, a kind of personal Armageddon, a sense that some heavy, blunt object has been whammed into my own innards.

 

 

Paul Jarman’s final chapter

By Frampton Jones

In the months since his arrival on our island, Paul Jarman has made a number of startling suggestions. That libraries should be places where people can go to read and borrow books has divided opinions. Many young islanders are taken with the notion of having more reading material than my humble newssheet. A fair few people like the idea of a library as a place you might visit, not nervously avoid.

Our deceased Librarian Theophrastus Frog has maintained however, that people are not good for books and that frequently, books are not good for people and it is best to keep the two separately.

The launch of The New Hopeless Maine Library for People Who Want to Read was initially a success. Many book owners donated from their own collections, and offered their own writings. As a consequence, Paul Jarman’s new library had dozens of books in it, and regular visitors. However, in recent days things have taken a dramatic turn.

Paul’s body was found this morning, in a blood spattered scene that spoke all too clearly of murder. Paul’s ghost was very much resident at the scene as well, but unable to say anything useful about how he had died. What he did say, goes as follows.

“I understand now. Some books are not good for people. Some books should be hidden away. I must remain here now, and make sure that the books are safe from the people, and that the people are safe from the books.”

So now we have two libraries with ghostly librarians who see it as their job to keep people out, and frankly, I do not believe this to be a coincidence.

Mirco “SteamTinkerer” Sadrinna has been remade

By Frampton Jones

There are some people whose lives you watch with a feeling of morbid unease. Mirco was one such – a tinkerer by nature whose fondness for messing about with devices seemed likely to prove fatal. The risk of attracting a demon into a warm, comfortable device is one I wish more people would take seriously. But, I shall not use Mirco’s untimely death as a reason to lecture on the dangers of demonic infestations.

Not least because I am fairly certain demons were not to blame on this occasion.

In recent weeks, Mirco’s workshop had ever more figures in it. I’ve been seeing more of these little figures around town for a while now – at first I thought they were amusing sculptures made of rubbish. Then, having seen a few of them move, I assumed them to be clever automata. Now, I am unsure and uneasy. Those figures, with their vegetable and bucket heads, their whimsical anatomies do not seem so innocent now.

Mirco was found propped outside the workshop, having been reassembled to resemble one of these creatures. I am no longer sure what to call them. Where Mirco’s actual head went, no one knows. About half of the available body parts are missing, according to Doc Willoughby. All of the automata, sculptures, creatures… whatever they were, they have all gone. Not a one remains in the workshop, and I have not seen one about town for a few days. I am afraid we will start finding parts of Mirco in other assemblies of parts made to resemble a person.

Reverend Davies will be performing the funeral rites for a percentage of a person, where the unburied parts are assumed to have taken on some kind of unwholesome second life. It will be an unsettling service, these forms always are, but we can hope it will bring some relief to the departed.

Lord Loverduc – a jest too far

By Frampton Jones

Arthur Foot III, Lord Loverduc of The Cogkneys gave me a curious education into the strange world that exists somewhere beyond our unquiet waters. I was never able to ascertain to my satisfaction where The Cogkneys are, but understand it to be a small kingdom with its own language, based on English, but wholly inexplicable to non-natives.

Arthur’s ribald poetry made him a popular figure at any gathering, saving for the Church picnic, from which he was banned at least four times for making lewd remarks. Not that the ban proved effective. I think Arthur saw all gatherings of people as potential audiences and acted accordingly.

His death was unfortunate, and it seems that he was killed deliberately – with repeated blows to the head. As the killer left a helpful letter to explain their motives, Doc Willoughby has not needed to assess the body and there’s not much need for further investigation. A note was left on Arthur’s fallen form, that clearly reads, “Let this be a warning to all of you who live careless, unGodly lives and bring this island into disrepute.” Clearly, any of us could be next by that reckoning, and we can safely assume that either Reverend Davies or Mrs Beaten is to blame.

Arthur is survived by fellow shipwreckee from his Cogkney kingdom, Miss Tilly Maydme, who said “He was a dirty old man, but I’ll miss him.” When I suggested that Arthur had not seemed so very old, she burst into tears, and said, “That’s what he always said.”

 

Jeffrey Fleisher’s ghastly premonition

“I am so sorry to see me go,” announced Jeffrey Fleisher at a meeting he called last night. “I have had a premonition that I will shortly be eaten by an Elder God, and thought it only fair to warn everyone. In the meantime, I thought you might all like the opportunity to say something nice about me while I’m here to appreciate it.”

On the whole it was a pleasant evening and a cheerful sort of party. Curiously Doc Willoughby felt the need to publicly declare that he did thought people preparing for sacrifice should take the whole situation a lot more seriously and not make jokes about it. “You never know when you’re going to be sacrificed,” he said. “That’s part of the point.” When questioned, he refused to comment further on this.

At the end of the evening, Jeffrey called out a cheerful “See you in another life,” to the crowd and opened the door into the street. There was a puff of something sulphurous and suggestive of old decay. The three people nearest the door were reduced to trembling wrecks and could not find any decent adjectives to describe what they had seen. Or they were already exceptionally drunk – it was hard to tell. Rather than risk whatever was outside, the rest of us stayed in the hall overnight and kept drinking.

Of course by morning, there wasn’t much to see. Perhaps it is for the best.

Emerson Kasak’s final adventure

By Frampton Jones

When an exciting new island, complete with trees appeared just a short distance from our own island a few days ago, most of us ignored it. Being relatively new here, Emerson Kasak had not acquired the levels of disinterest that preserve life. Curiosity kills. In fairness, apathy and disinterest also kill, but they tend to kill someone else and many of us are less troubled by this.

Emerson took a small boat and went to visit the new island, no doubt excited by the mystery and romance of it all. There were of course a fair few onlookers. It’s one thing being too apathetic to act, quite another to pass up a few hours of entertainment. And so, as is often the way of it, a sizeable crowd formed and several members of the Chevin family ran books on what would kill our intrepid adventurer first.

Emerson reached the island unscathed, and wandered around its small circumference. I placed a bet on the island itself being a sea beast that would dive beneath the waters. We all watched, and waited. Emerson climbed back into the small boat, still unharmed, and started rowing. We were then able to observe the dory going round and round the tiny island, unable to break away from it. Eventually exhausted by rowing, Emerson allowed the boat to drift – and still it would not leave this tiny piece of land. When twilight set in, we onlookers went home.

Returning the following morning, I observed that the dory remained, but Emerson Kasak had vanished without a trace. It occurred to me that there might be an extra tree on the island, but I had not counted them before and could not be certain.

It has been confirmed that Greg Tulonen was not Aqua Man

 

By Frampton Jones

If you ever spent time with Greg Tulonen you likely heard him mention that he isn’t Aqua Man. That he can’t breathe underwater, has no gills, definitely can’t swim long distances, did not swim to this island in the first place, has no mermaids in his ancestry and so on and so forth. You probably also assumed that he was protesting too much and there was some awkward shred of truth in amongst the protestations.

And apparently, you would have been wrong.

How Greg came to be down the well in the yard behind the abandoned public house – The Hand of Glory, is anyone’s guess. Did he go there by himself? Why would anyone do that? Did he have enemies? It seems unlikely, he was always a popular chap. Was he lured? Was he killed somewhere else and then hidden in the well? Did he jump? No one knows.

It was only because, by some perhaps-related freak incident, the glass washing machine in the pub started up. Normally it only continues its peculiar activities at night. The lack of glasses to wash has never dissuaded it. Drawn by the noises of the machine, several children came to the scene. They’ve asked not to be named and I assume they were not supposed to be there, but a good journalist protects his informants.

They found Greg’s boots sticking out of the well, and on closer inspection, the rest of Greg turned out to be in the well. It’s not a deep one, so removal was not difficult.

Doc Willoughby said, “I can confirm that he definitely didn’t have any gills at all. There were no occult markings on his body. I expect it was an accident. It’s not a deep one.” And then he kept repeating the phrase ‘not a deep one’ while staring past my left shoulder.

Greg had somehow taken up a considerable quantity of water and his remains continue to drip, so the funeral will have to wait until he has dried out enough. He’ll be at the mortuary until then. Friends will be taking shifts with the body to prevent the curious from looking for gills.

 

(Whether Greg is in any way Aqua Man, can be ascertained by watching Ragged Isle, which you should definitely do… http://www.raggedisle.com/ )

News for the residents of Hopeless, Maine.