Category Archives: Births, Deaths, Marriages

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/ )

Edward Sostre was too attractive

Edward always used to say that he was quite a normal chap before he came to the island. He had no supernatural powers worth mentioning. What it was about the island that changed him, we may never know. Edward became curiously attractive to small pieces of metal. In the few years he lived here, it was a mostly funny, sometimes annoying trait that he learned to live with. In the end, it killed him.

Jed Grimes’ biggest ever nail sale happened this week. It was, it is true, the biggest sale of nails he has ever undertaken. There were so many nails, that many of them were on display outside the shop, in boxes.

The rest, it may be as well not to dwell upon. I am told that it all happened fairly quickly and that the speed at which Edward could draw metal to him had increased quite dramatically.

Jed Grimes told me, “It’s a tragic waste of nails. We’ll have to bury him like he is, and then I’ll have to dig him back up in a year or so to get the nails back. It’s a lot of work, and nails are important. No one ever has enough nails. And I’d only just got those nails back from last time.”

Which leads to the question – is being attractive to metal something inherent in the person, the island, or the metal objects themselves? Anyone finding they have become attractive is advised to keep well away from Jed Grimes’ store.

Edward’s funeral will be held on Monday next, the matter of a coffin having become problematic due to the sudden shortage of available nails.

Dan, the man, the lamb chop

By Frampton Jones

 

Some of you will remember how Dan “the man” Lam “Chops” got his curious name. It was that terrible winter seven years ago when those of us who did not starve to death mostly wished that we had. For some of our citizens, hunger lead to hallucinations, and so it was that three people in the street saw Dan Lam, and thought him to be a tray of freshly cooked meats. They fell upon him, but soon discovered that his hat, scarf and coat were neither tasty nor easy to swallow. A man less prepared for the cold might easily have been eaten alive in such circumstances.

In the embarrassed aftermath, someone managed to explain what had happened, and thus the notion that he was both man and lamb chop took hold.

If, like me, you have ever experienced a powerful hallucination, you will understand what I am about to write. Others may not. Afterwards, there remains that lingering feeling, that the hallucination exposed something real. A truth normally hidden from sight. Once you have felt the suspicion that all is not as it seems, it is hard to trust what your senses tell you, for the senses may lie to us. To this day, I cannot look upon a baby without a creeping sense of horror.

The story I have managed to piece together is a troubling one. Some weeks ago, Dan took to lying on tables in The Crow and the Squid and Teapot. Jack Ephemery had to remove him from the kitchen having found Dan trying to get into the oven. Fortunately the oven was cold and no one was hurt in that incident. A week ago, Dan caused consternation by setting himself out on a large board in the street, covered in a herb garnish and little else.

I can only conclude that Dan had come to see himself as a lamb chop. Citizens of Hopeless Maine are about the usual distance from starvation this winter and thus no one was moved to take him up on the implied offer.

Dan was last seen heading for the mermaid-infested beach, where the black dog is assumed to still be at large. No one has been to see if there is any evidence there – myself included. It seems likely that he threw himself to the hungry dog.

Perhaps I will not be the only one to wonder if the hallucinations revealed a deeper truth. What are we, any of us?

Nothing is ever simple

By Frampton Jones

Chris died after falling from a roof. It is, on the whole, a rather simple and uncomplicated death – Chris was on the roof alone, there were witnesses on the ground, a misplaced foot, a slip, a brief plummet, and that was that.  It’s rare that anyone gets such a good, quick and simple death, and it is something to admire and envy.

Or at least, that is how it first seemed.

As I interviewed the witnesses, I noticed mixed reports about how Chris came to be on the roof in the first place. “Chris acted like there was something else up there, but we couldn’t see anything,” Petunia Chevin told me.

There was nothing odd or peculiar to be found inside the house. This struck me as unusual. How does a person have a home free from all traces of the sinister, occult and dangerous? How had this been achieved?

Chris’s neighbour, Mrs Beaten said, “Chris always had the lights out at a decent hour. Always got up early in the morning. Always had spotless laundry on the line. Never buried anything in the garden in the middle of the night. I kept watching, but I never saw anything untoward, and that troubles me.”

On examining the body, Doc Willoughby pronounced that Chris had clearly been dead for at least a week and had probably drowned. I saw the starfish in Chris’s ear. I do not know what to think of this.

Professor Stephen Candy’s death may be permanent

By Frampton Jones

Where most of us have the good sense to stay away from anything that seems remotely creepy, Professor Stephen Candy seemed oddly attracted to all things uncanny. He was one of the few people shipwrecked here who gave every sign of actively enjoying the place. You might find him out voluntarily of an evening, admiring the way a ghost caught the moonlight, or listening attentively to the sound of a distant werewolf, howling and sneezing.

On several occasions, I saw his distinctive, tall figure from afar and was briefly convinced that Stephen himself was some unnatural entity on the prowl at night. One can never tell with confidence who has a second, secret life and whose secret life is tainted with magic or monstrosity. Gentlemen who find themselves unexpectedly meeting each other in the dark do not tend to ask questions.

I have never spoken of this before, but over a period of several years and many unexpected night encounters, I observed that Professor Stephen Candy was not always fully corporeal. Sometimes he seemed a regular fellow of flesh and blood. At other times, he was oddly translucent and his feet barely touched the ground. As though body and spirit were already pulling away from each other, or had never been quite as attached as is normal.

Late last night, as I was walking home, I met Stephen in the street. We raised our hats to each other. I noted that he was perhaps a foot above ground level, but said nothing. This morning, I heard that he had been found dead in his rooms yesterday afternoon, his landlady, Mrs Accuracy Jones, having found him slumped over his desk. She said “This happened a lot and at first I thought nothing of it. He keeps odd hours, and sleeps erratically. He’d stopped breathing – he often does when asleep, so I just let him be. Usually he wakes up in an hour or so and goes back to normal. But there he is, still not breathing.”

Doc Willoughby confirms that Professor Stephen Candy is dead. “I don’t know if he’s been dead before, I’ve never been asked to look at him. He could wake up I suppose.”

Professor Stephen Candy’s remains will be left at the mortuary for a while to see what, if anything, happens.

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”.