Category Archives: Births, Deaths, Marriages

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 –  https://micahbedwards.wordpress.com/lil-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.

Goole, in tribute to a lost genius

By Reverend Davies

He was a rare and remarkable being, and it may for once be fair to say ‘we shall never see his like again’.

The first time I encountered Goole, I had gone to the sea, feeling a personal need to shout the names of the lost, at the water. There are so many whose fates remain uncertain, and I find those so much harder to bear than the ones I am able to properly bury. I was deep in grief. And then, there came to me a most remarkable sound. A song of hope and aspiration, of determination, underpinned by a willingness to take joy in whatever small goodness this cruel world offers. It stopped me in my tracks.

Goole later told me that this is because I had experienced a ‘showstopper’. I’d not heard the term before, but it will live on with me, and keep me alert to those rare, precious moments when life itself pauses in this way.

That he was some sort of bird never seemed that important. That he spoke with human dignity mattered far more to me. That he was there on those days of grief when all I could do was shout at the sea. There have been many such days. How many times did his generous songs lift my battered soul on its wings?

We lack for beautiful music here. Rare indeed is the voice that can move me, or the song that can penetrate my heart. He had those. I will miss him dreadfully. In the end he died a pointless, foolish death, caught by a gust of wind and dashed against the cliffs. In his final moments I heard him call out ‘oh, here we go again’.  The incoming tide took his body. I will shout his name at the sea.

 

(Goole came to Hopeless from the magical dales of Matlock the Hare. Reverend Davies is the only sentient being ever to have appreciated Goole’s singing. Find out more about Matlock the Hare here – https://www.matlockthehare.com/

Skye Wilde was not cynical enough

By Frampton Jones

Longstanding residents of the island know that it pays to be a bit heartless sometimes. You only get to be a longstanding resident if you can protect yourself in this way. It is a sorry truth, and certainly it does not make us the best people imaginable, but we get to continue as people.

As a fairly recent arrival, Skye had not acquired the levels of deliberate apathy most islanders cultivate in self defence. However, there are no doubt others who can and will learn from this, and whose lives may be spared as a consequence. Perhaps this would provide the deceased with some consolation.

I grant you, it did sound very much like a small child. It sounded like a small child in great distress, crying and howling on the far side of the bridge over the River Gaunt. At twilight. I heard it myself on the previous evening, and hurried in the opposite direction.

Onlookers who had taken bottles to the bridge report that they had a brief conversation with Skye about what they were doing. When the wailing began, they reacted like sensible people turning their backs, intent on making a swift getaway. Skye, unused to such things, was understandably horrified. The longstanding islanders (who of course wish to remain anonymous, for there is little glory in this tale) did not want to hang around trying to explain why one does not hang around, much less offer assistance in such circumstances.

And so it was that Skye Wilde crossed the bridge and entered into the ruins of Gaunt Town, in search of a crying child.

We all know there was no crying child. There never was. Those wiser people who had left her to her fate report hearing a brief scream, after which there was no further note of youthful distress, and no further sign of Skye as the lengthening shadows consumed the landscape, and everything in it.

There will be no funeral, for there will be no body to retrieve. As Skye had no family on the island, I have made it my business to add a bottle at the bridge, as an offering, a warning, a small act of defiance.

Paul Davies has spread himself too thinly

By Frampton Jones

Come to the firework display, he said. Bring your children, he said. It will be fun.

While for most children this won’t have been the first experience of seeing a person die horribly, it’s always that bit harder to deal with when you’ve promised them an entertaining night out.

Miss Calder, of the Pallid Rock Orphanage was furious after Paul Davies’ firework display turned into a shower of human remains. “He’s done this before, but never exploded himself in the past. It’s just not good enough. If he comes back from the dead, I certainly won’t be taking any more orphans to see his displays.”

As a cousin of Reverend Davies, Paul Davies had a long history of providing amusement to the inmates at the orphanage. His various skills with combustible substances had, in the past, made him popular with children and adults alike. However, his final show left an unpleasant taste in our mouths. In many cases, literally.

Some effort was made after the event to scrape up the remains and collect them, but most of the people covered in bits of Paul Davies were keen to remove the carnage and less concerned about where it ended up. Some of him was definitely licked up by a small dog. A jug of material was gathered.

Reverend Davies said, “It will be rather undignified trying to provide a proper funeral for a jug of goo, but needs must.”

When asked if he would miss his cousin, he thought for a little while and said, “No.”

Michael Dalloway – lost in time

By Frampton Jones

Michael Dalloway was always confident that his wife would be along any day now, to collect him. If he told a true tale, and she really was a time traveller, then it may be supposed that his death will be no great barrier to this.

Time is such a troublesome thing that I have no idea why anyone would try to further complicate their relationship with it. Mr Dalloway of course is hardly the first visitor we’ve had for whom the time of departure for the journey that led here is as much a conundrum as the place of it. I can only assume that there is more to time and space than I am able to imagine. This thought does not comfort me.

I find, as I try to write something to mark the passing of Michael Dalloway, that I know far less about him than I do his wife. This is curious, having never met her. Many were the tales he told of her time travelling exploits, her detective work, and a talking dog called Elgie. Was any of it real? We shall never know. I have heard so many fancy and improbable tales from shipwrecked folk that I must either believe that all the world beyond Hopeless is mad, or that shipwrecking here drives people out of their wits. This seems likely, to me.

What we know then, of Michael is that he told a good tale and that perhaps this is more important than whether those tales were objectively true. Perhaps the belief in a time travelling wife who would one day rescue him kept him going in these otherwise bleak circumstances. Perhaps, in our anarchic culture, the idea of solving crime and handing out justice acted as a balm. He certainly kept us entertained, and I think that is how we will remember him.

And not the bit at the end. The messy bit. It is so easy to allow death to define the life before it, especially when writing one of these, but perhaps we should not. Perhaps we should remember the stories, and imagine that she really did come for him in the end, and not dwell too much on the infestation, or what he eventually did with his own entrails.

 

You can find time travelling detective Deirde Dalloway here – http://detectivedalloway.com/ 

Rachel Patterson will be sorely missed

By Frampton Jones

Rachel Patterson was always surprising. She brought an end to the longstanding belief that witches had to be born on the island, having shipwrecked here with discernible magical skills. She was the first person to talk openly about keeping agents of change in your kitchen – although I suspect she wasn’t the first person to try that. She talked about cake in a way that made grown men weep.

Her final act on the island will have lasting consequences, no doubt. We may now know what was going on with that series of uncanny cat deaths. I am still trying to make sense of witness reports, personal experiences, surmises and physical evidence, but this is what I currently believe happened.

We know that there had been some kind of conflict between Rachel and some of the island vampires. The details are vague, but there is every reason to believe the O’Stoats were involved. Durosimi O’Stoat is notoriously intolerant of people who will not do his bidding. He is a difficult man to say ‘no’ to and that’s as far as I’m prepared to go reporting my personal experiences.

There is a widespread belief that some kind of magical feud had begun. There is little clear evidence for this, aside from the conclusion itself which certainly points that way. Witnesses in the vicinity of The Crow two nights ago report that Durosimi O’Stoat summoned an enormous and terrifying cat demon to attack Rachel Patterson.

Mrs Ephemery, who has a good eye for things occult, told me, “This one was different from his usual demons. It seemed to be based on living matter rather than a cobbling together of dead things.” She speculated that he had made the cat demon out of a variety of cats and that this is why it had such a robust presence.

A person untroubled about offending O’Stoat might conclude that there could be some kind of connection between this new cat demon, and the recent spate of cat-related deaths.

Rachel put up an impressive fight, by all accounts. The outcome is unclear, other than that we have lost a remarkable islander. Bring your best cooking to the wake.

 

Find out more about Rachel Patterson’s kitchen witchcraft here – https://www.rachelpatterson.co.uk/