Category Archives: Births, Deaths, Marriages

Chris Mole joins the ranks of the uncertain

Chris ‘The Mole’ Mole shipwrecked on Hopeless Maine five years ago, the sole survivor of a ship that had, as far as anyone could tell, been swept backwards through time. Where most shipwrecks just lie around breaking up while we frantically try and salvage them, The Eldritch Whale simply blinked in and out of focus for a couple of days. There was one, final damp plopping noise, and the strange craft was never seen again.

For the duration of his time with us, Chris Mole perplexed islanders as much as we seem to have perplexed him.  His questions were always challenging, especially his desire to know when people come from, and not where. We know Hopeless Maine has an odd relationship with the state of Maine to which we properly belong. None of us have seen the mainland in a while. We know from what washes in that our attire and speech may be a bit eccentric compared to what goes on inland. But the suggestion that we are temporally out of place has been unsettling.

It makes far more sense to assume that we are perfectly fine here on this island, and that Mr Mole had somehow moved through time towards us.

None of this goes any way towards explaining the digging. My personal hunch is that nominative determinism was at play here. How could a chap called Mole not feel a tug towards the pick and spade? For five years, he dug small holes all over the island, and still, no one knows why. What did he hope to find, or achieve? What did he dig up? No one knows.

As is often the case with island deaths, we can only infer the demise of Chris Mole. No body has been found – he may have fallen from a cliff, been swept out to sea or eaten by something. He may have become undead. He may be with us still but in some non-corporeal form brought on by something he dug up. He may have fallen into one of his own holes and somehow buried himself.

What we do know is that his pick and shovel were found beside a small hole just off the Fish Hill road. There has been no sign of him in any of his usual haunts in the past week. Until or unless a body appears that might be attributed to him, he will join the ranks of the uncertain – and we will shout his name at the sea, the sky and the land on each full moon until we know what happened, or we forget to mention him.

 

Find out about Chris Mole’s comics here – https://www.chrismole.co.uk/comics/

And join the kickstarter that killed him – there’s plenty of room in the mass grave for anyone who regrets not having got in for a personal obituary – just let us know! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/countrostov/tales-of-hopeless-maine

 

Paul Mitchell’s Indecent End

By Frampton Jones

I’ve made several attempts at drafting this obituary with tact and delicacy, but the results have proved almost incomprehensible. Readers of a delicate disposition are advised not to read on – suffice it to know that Paul Mitchell died as he lived.

For those of you who are made of stronger stuff, here are the details.

One of the young ladies from The Red House came to my office yesterday to report Paul Mitchell’s demise. She was almost inarticulate with grief. I visited the scene and attempted to interview the others, but there was rather a lot of sobbing, so I may not have the details in perfect order, but here is my best understanding of events.

Paul Mitchell departed this life from The Red House in the early hours of this morning. Of the seven young ladies currently resident at that establishment, three were too exhausted to talk to me for long. All seven blamed themselves for overtaxing the deceased gentleman. It is evident that rum was involved.

Perhaps the most telling comment from the whole debacle came from Esmerelda, who told me, “He was never a customer. We just used to invite him round.” The further explanation of why they used to invite him round cannot be printed in a publication such as this. Clearly, he will be much missed in certain quarters.

Reverend Davies preached an impromptu sermon outside The Red House on the sins of the flesh and the way in which a debauched life is bound to bring a person to such an end as this. His words only seemed to encourage people into The Red House, which was not, I imagine, his intended purpose. Reverend Davies has been a long standing critic of Paul Mitchell – frequently speaking out about the ways in which his bawdy and irreverent music would corrupt the young. I might comment that many of our younger, and less young people have been entirely open to such ‘corruption’ and readily persuaded that there is no particular virtue in misery.

There will be no official funeral – not that I imagine Paul Mitchell would have wanted Reverend Davies to bury him. The young ladies of The Red House have set their hearts on a burning ship burial, notifications of the date and time to follow. Bring musical instruments, rum, improper poetry and songs that cannot be sung in polite company.

 

If you would like to be led astray by Paul Mitchell’s music, start here – http://ragingpagan.yolasite.com/

And to get involved with the kickstarter that killed him, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/countrostov/tales-of-hopeless-maine

New light on suspicious deaths!

Following on from Mithra Stubbs Item in the paper yesterday, New Evidence has been found that may (or may not) shed new light on the case. You will have to read the note that has been found and come to your own conclusions.
TO BE READ IN THE EVENT OF MY UNTIMELY DEMISE A ‘head injury’ the papers said. My darling Fiona no more died from a head injury than from a broken finger nail. I know this fact because I was able to carefully examine her head at around 09:30 as she lay on the ground under Evangeline Plumage’s sewing machine, still wearing the chartreuse-coloured wig that she had been given by another of Evangeline’s clients, not five minutes later. The client in question was Marine Molly, taxidermist in waiting to the village aquarium, one of the region’s foremost photographers of sewers and Frampton Jones’ half-sister. The broken finger nail in question was really no more than a scratch in the shellac, but it was nevertheless clear evidence that a struggle had taken place, most likely a struggle between Fiona and Molly. After checking for signs of physical injury (of which there were none other than the scratched nail) I carefully stepped into the handbag that Fiona had been carrying and soon discovered that Molly had made away with the bronze key to Fiona’s shoe room. I hastened back to the room myself, entering through the secret staircase from the laundry chute, where I found fourteen pairs of almost identical black court shoes, one pair on each step. When I reached the shoe room I found further evidence of a struggle, this time seven pairs of green court shoes along with four dresses, two pairs of trousers and three skirts; Fiona had clearly been in a hurry to get dressed that morning. The broken clock on the floor suggested she had still been getting dressed at 10:30. I returned to Evangeline’s sewing room (via the Black Swan Bakery for a light breakfast), arriving around 9:15. As the sound of Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony from Testimony Albatross’s fish organ filled the air from the nearby church and as the village clock struck 9:00, I became acutely aware of a metallic taste in my mouth and I started to feel unsteady. Tumbling forwards, I pricked my finger on Evangeline’s sewing needle before grabbing a lock of the chartreuse wig on my fall to the carpet. Desperate circumstances call for desperate measures. I must find out the true cause of and hopefully prevent Fiona’s demise, to which end am going back to my workshop to continue work on my time travelling shoe machine. To date I have succeeded only in travelling back from an F fitting to an E fitting. If I can travel back from a size eleven to a size ten and a half, then the future of the island will surely lie in my hands. Should my own life come to an apparent end in the pursuit of this objective I implore the finder of this note to seek out the toxicology report on the chartreuse hair and I bequeath my collection of tintype portraits of cats, ferrets and subterranean clowns to the village museum. NR
If you are wondering why the mortality rate on the island is so dreadfully high at present, it is because Nimue has offered to write one hundred obituaries for the early birds from our kickstarter campaign to launch a new line of Hopeless, Maine illustrated fiction. It is ongoing, and can be found here.

The highly suspicious deaths of our island’s only fashion icons

Written by Mithra Stubbs

Do you remember when the only questions we asked of our clothes were whether anything else might be living in them? Do you remember when Mrs Beaten was the only person making a fuss about properly starched shirt collars, and Frampton Jones was the only person wearing them? Those were the old days, before Fiona and Nimrod Lancaster floated ashore with characteristic grace and aplomb.

When Fiona Lancaster died from a head injury last month, we all mourned her passing. Doc Willoughby said it was probably an accident, and that she had fallen all the way from the bottom to the top of the stairs in a moment of freak unreality that probably happens around the town hall all the time. Some of us muttered to each other then. Some of us had suspicions – but there’s not much you can do with suspicions. If we lynched everyone we felt suspicious of, who would be left to tell the tale? Because while Fiona was much loved, and much emulated, she was also the focus of much jealousy.

In light of the recent accidental death of Nimrod Lancaster, all of these suspicions seem more reasonable. According to Doc Willoughby, he appeared to have backed carelessly into one of his own shoe-making devices, and stayed there until it hammered him to death. It seems an odd way to go for a man who had always seemed so thoughtful and careful. Not all of us hold much stock by Doc Willoughby’s ability to assess cause of death. Only last week he proclaimed that someone who had clearly been savaged by werewolves was in fact a victim of chronic indigestion.

It is my suspicion that whoever killed Fiona, did so in the hopes of better being able to get something out of Nimrod, and on failing to achieve that end, killed Nimrod as well. Clearly they were not after his shoemaking machine, which will never be quite the same again. Who had the motives? Who had the opportunity? And will they strike again? Because this may not be a case of perfectly reasonable private assault, but may be the opening moves from someone bent on a killing rampage, and no one wants to go through all that again.

I think it was Mrs Beaten. She’s always seemed jealous of Fiona, and a bit obsessed with Nimrod. There was that time when she fainted in the street as a consequence of his especially beautiful shoes. With Fiona out of the picture, she might have imagined she stood a chance with the island’s best dressed gentleman. And then, when he resisted her advances – as any sane man would – she fell upon him in a rage – probably quite a literal falling that pushed him accidentally into his own machine.

I look forward to hearing other people’s murder theories. There won’t be any justice for these needless deaths – we’re rubbish at justice. But what we can do is make a series of ever more unlikely accusations and become paranoid about each other, and suspicious of anyone well dressed, and then we can get back to being the dirty, slightly infested wearers of whatever held together when we pulled it on this morning, and that would be much better for all of us.

And before anyone suggests that this kind of clothing Puritanism might be a motive for murder, let me just say that if this is some kind of killing spree, it’s best not to offend the perpetrator and therefore you should pick less likely suspects to accuse.

Frampton Jones pays tribute to Gregg McNeill

Many years ago, Gregg McNeill saved my life. It is with great sorrow, then, that I must report upon his death, and the probable connection with my own terrible experiences. Those of you who have lived on the island for some years, will remember that I went rather awkwardly mad.

There was that business with the beautiful baby competition, and all that followed. I became convinced that my camera showed me true reality, while what I saw with my own eyes was nothing but illusion. The camera showed me horrors, and things I shudder to recall and will not describe. I came to believe in the truth of my camera, and would not relinquish it.

Gregg McNeill sat with me as I raved, and calmly explained the technical details of cameras to me until I was persuaded to relinquish my grip on the device and hand it to him for repair. My recovery began at that moment, and I have no doubt I would have done myself some terrible harm, had I been allowed to continue. I did not ask what became of the camera, thereafter.

Gregg himself appeared to live a normal enough life, with no more fits of mild and temporary insanity than is normal for those of us who live here. I recall with some fondness the night he climbed onto his roof and refused to come down because of the way the chickens had been looking at him. There was the time he became convinced that the sea creature he had eaten had in fact eaten him – but these things pass in their own way. Who amongst us has not done something of that ilk at one time or another?

Only after his unexplained demise have I come to realise the full extent of the horror that possessed him. Despite what he claimed at the time, he never did destroy that camera, but continued to take photographic likenesses with it, and to develop them. A room in his house was devoted to the images – strange, uncanny things that they are. Faces unknown to me peer back from the walls. Eerily attired, sometimes inhuman – somehow he has drawn these beings from beyond the veil, or through the void and captured them.

The last image Gregg made was of himself, gazing mournfully at the camera. I have no idea how he achieved this self-likeness. I took it home, along with the cursed device, which I will keep safely and make sure no one ever uses again. No matter how tempted I may feel. Gregg stares at me from my mantelpiece. Sometimes I feel that he is trying to speak to me, but I do not know what he is trying to say.

 

You can find out more about the beautiful babies here – https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/what-beautiful-babies/

And you can find out more about Gregg NcNeill’s Dark Box Photography here – https://www.darkboximages.com/

To get involved with the Hopeless Maine kickstarter – source of all the carnage – throw your non-corporeal self this way – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/countrostov/tales-of-hopeless-maine

Lyssa Lopez Wain has finally unwound

Self-winding automaton Lyssa Lopez Wain was one of the many curious inventions of Testimony Albatross. Most of us do not remember the great inventor himself but everyone will have seen his remarkable creations. The church’s fish powered organ was restored some years ago thanks to the efforts of Balthazar Lemon. The giant musical cockroach no longer plays tunes, but waves its legs mournfully upon the hour, while making sad, crunching noises. And of course there’s the automated glass washing machine at The Hand Of Glory – which still operates late at night. There’s a reason no one drinks at the Hand of Glory any more.

Lyssa Lopez Wain was in many ways, his finest creation. Able to self-wind, she continued for many decades after the inventor’s death. Stunningly lifelike and remarkably communicative, she thwarted many attempts to contain and control her. I believe there were five separate exorcisms carried out upon her on the grounds that she was ‘unnatural’. She fended off all kinds of other uncivilized approaches with considerable style, leaving her would-be attackers humiliated but bodily unharmed. She always did have a rare knack for rapidly un-making garments and many the fool found his undergarments exposed for having tried to meddle with her affairs.

The true purpose of Testimony Albatross’s creations is seldom clear. Lyssa has been no exception in this regard, although I wonder if he created her with an eye to search and rescue missions. How many people has she successfully pulled from the sea? I do not know, but she was always there when a shipwreck had been spotted, striding into the waves to find survivors. Her largely inedible status no doubt helped her greatly when venturing into our hungry waters.

It is possible that at some future time, Lyssa may be fixed. At present, there is no one on the island with the skill to restore her to life. Conscious that her immobile form may attract attention from those who harassed her in the past, a few of us have taken her to a safe place where she can stand, unmolested, until such times as we have a genius inventor amongst us again.

There will be no funeral. Partly because death may prove temporary, and partly because Reverend Davies refuses to acknowledge her as having been a living person. It is my understanding that a number of people she rescued from the sea intend to go to the approximate places where they shipwrecked in order to offer tributes to her. Hopefully no one will be eaten by sealife during these rituals, as that would be no tribute to her legacy.

 

Lyssa is of course another victim of The Hopeless Maine kickstarter. It’s not quite funded yet, so if you’d like to make sure that she did not die in vain, wander this way… https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/countrostov/tales-of-hopeless-maine

 

Gary Death by Poetry

“It was undoubtedly the poetry that killed him.” So said Edgar Melon Foe, the infamous blind poet of Hopeless, Maine.

(It is to be noted that Infamous Blind Poet of Hopeless, Maine, is Edgar Melon Foe’s official title at this time.)

Sources close to the recently departed Mr Gary Death have suggested to me that it might have been because he recently tried to set up a rival poetry event. Or it might have been because of the satirical pamphlet he printed last month. All three copies of it, because that was all the paper I could spare him. Perhaps it was his insistence on driving rhythms and the use of rhyme, suggested another observer who wished to remain anonymous. Edgar Melon Foe supports unstructured, free verse and is staunchly opposed to anything that smacks of traditionalism.

I have always said that it is better if what goes on between poets, stays between poets. It seems that most of the island agrees with me, as in the days since Gary Death’s death, Edgar Melon Foe has continued unimpeded in his business. I can’t say I’m surprised – although it seems to bother the newcomers. This island has a fine tradition of treating murder as a personal, private sort of matter so long as a person doesn’t make too much of a habit of it. And while Edgar Melon Foe has smacked a few people around the head with his cane, he usually considers it sufficient to cause a few bruises.

Gary was, on the whole, quite a popular islander and his humour and helpful inclinations will be much missed. But not missed sufficiently for anyone to consider a revenge attack, by the looks of things.

It seems fitting to end this obituary with the elegy written by Edgar Melon Foe who insisted I also mention that the elegy is a specific poetic form that he has entirely ignored.

I did not like him

He is gone

We do not need poetry obsessed with rhythm

And I find rhymes annoying.

Free verse triumphs again.

Because sometimes the cane is mightier than the pen

And you have to stand up

For what you believe in.

I was merely the instrument of fate.

The hand of the universe.

It was undoubtedly the poetry that killed him.

 

Gary Death brought this upon himself by being an early bird funder of the Hopeless Maine kickstarter. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/countrostov/tales-of-hopeless-maine

Those of you who have been following the Vendetta for a while may recall that Gary wrote us a poem about the blind poet of Hopeless, Maine… https://hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/the-blind-poet/ 

Barry Dodd has thwarted the psychics, again

At some point or another, every known mystic on the island has predicated something terrible about Barry Dodd. Slightly Mystical Mary was adamant only a few months ago that Barry would be killed by a hideous monster from beyond the stars. Clearly she was wrong.

Some of you well remember when, ten years ago or so, Agatha Innovation Jones had a series of highly accurate predictive dreams about future events. The one thing she got wrong during that period of extreme enlightenment, was that Barry Dodd did not go on a sudden killing rampage in the vicinity of Old Gaunt Town. It is of course possible that her prediction prevented the attacks as for weeks afterwards people shunned the old town even more thoroughly than usual, and shunned Barry for good measure. We had a special food parcel delivery team leaving sustenance at his door in case the cause of the anticipated killing rampage was transformation brought on by extreme hunger, or death.

But in the end, none of it happened, and Eustace Pennygoat had had some kind of vision about how Barry was going to summon an elder God so a lot of people wanted to follow him round and keep an eye on him instead. He ended up also being followed about by a swarm of teaselheads, which as far as we know don’t constitute an elder god even when they band together in large numbers.

I remember when part time astrologer Leniency Jones predicted that Barry Dodd, under the influence of the sign of The Cuttlefish Overlords, would return to the sea and assume his true form. He didn’t.

I remember when Barry started an ambitious allotment scheme to try and grow vegetables that would not fight back. Cuthbert Rockbottom – a recently shipwrecked rune master – assured us that Barry’s digging would uncover the grave of an ancient monster that would devour us all. This did not happen. Cuthbert Rockbottom died shortly thereafter – apparently he got lost in the dark and walked off a cliff. He may not have been the island’s greatest seer.

There are of course many other such examples, but these remain my personal favourites. Barry has foxed the would-be prophets one final time by dying quietly at home in an entirely unpredicted way. Both Eustace Pennygoat and Leniency Jones assured me that it was just a ruse, and that all the signs made it clear to both of them that on the seventh day he would rise up and eat the faces of anyone who saw him. It is day eight, readers, and I have no eaten faces to report to you.

 

Barry Dodd is the director who gave us Ragged Isle (which we love)  http://www.raggedisle.com/ . His current project is Night Is Falling https://www.nightisfalling.com/

Barry’s death was brought to you by the Hopeless Maine Kickstarter. We’re all out of individual graves, but if you back the project and would like to be killed off with a bunch of other people and stuffed into a mass grave, just let us know. We’d be delighted to throw you on the pile…

Israel Skelton has baked his last pie

Leading spookologist and pie maker Israel Skelton has sadly departed from this life. We wait with interest to see if he will return as one of the ghosts, either to continue his ghostly mapping, or his pie making. Either seems possible.

Regulars at The Black Swann Bakery will of course know that for the last seventeen years, Israel Skelton has faithfully kept the shop stocked with tasty, largely edible pies. The secret of his crust goes with him to the grave, having been the subject of great speculation for those seventeen years. What was he making the pastry out of? We will never know. What made the gravy so tasty? The mystery remains. These two factors transformed otherwise normal Hopeless pie fillings into something one could almost feel enthusiasm for eating. It is rare praise to heap upon a person.

Israel Skelton leaves behind him a lifetime’s study of spookology – a patient mapping of ghostly activity around the town and beyond. His work established beyond any doubt that ghosts do disappear sometimes. His extensive interviews with ghostly residents shed almost no light on the issue of life after death – but we have come to know that ghosts have no more idea how being a ghost works than the living have insight into what that’s all about.

His was a life lived fully, and shaped by his twin passions for pies and ghosts. It’s not often one can say this of a person – that they lived their dream to the full, right up to the end.

Mithra Stubbs tells us that she shut the pie machine down very quickly but that there was a considerable amount of her colleague missing at this point. Food waste is a terrible thing, of course, and so she did the decent thing and baked the remaining pies. Some of you are, in effect, Israel Skelton’s final resting place, but comfort yourself in the knowledge that it might have been exactly what he wanted.

Speculation is already rife that the pie machine was in some way possessed by a malevolent and hungry force. Mithra told me this is nonsense and that the pie machine clearly loved Israel and always seemed excited when he came into the room.

Based on Israel’s own work, we understand that haunting tend to follow the bones or stay at the death site, except in the rare cases of strong willed individuals like Miss Calder. If Israel returns, will it be to haunt the machine that ate him, to haunt what remains of his remains, or to haunt those of you who ate his last pies? I can only feel it’s a question that would have greatly interested him.

 

You can find the rest of Israel Skelton over here – http://skeltoncrewstudio.com/  with comics related goodies, including Hopeless Maine pins.

This death was brought to you by the Hopeless Maine kickstarter. If you feel cheated of your death because you missed the early bird pledges, just let us know when you pledge and we’ll slide you gently into the mass grave we have planned.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/countrostov/tales-of-hopeless-maine

Mark Lawrence is dead, again

Today it is my uneasy task to announce to you, my fellow citizens, the latest death of Mark Lawrence. I’d like to say ‘apparent death’ and make it sound like these are simple reporting errors, but I was there for death number three, and I saw what the sea monster did to him. I do not believe that any normal human being could have survived being torn into quite so many pieces.

I have been reliably informed by witnesses to his first death – crushed to a bloody pulp by a falling gravestone – that this death was not survivable, either. At his second death, Mark was bludgeoned to death after a minor disagreement with an immodest number of Chevins. Death four saw our unlikely returnee trapped in a burning building. Nothing remained of the building, and yet… Death five involved a singularly improbable drowning, and death six a rather gory impaling on the fence outside the town hall – which many of you were unfortunate enough to witness. For his seventh death, Mr Lawrence was swept into the sea by an unusually large wave during recent storms.

I feel, and not for the first time, that he is playing with us. How, and why remains a mystery. I have no evidence to prove my point but I ask, can a man die so many times and in such extraordinary ways and not somehow be considered responsible? What kind of sorcerer is he? What ungodly powers are at his command? I shall only speculate until he returns of course, and then I shall go back to keeping sensibly quiet about the whole thing.

Something of a cult-like nature has grown up around the many deaths of Mark Lawrence. So, the usual wailing and keening will take place tomorrow morning at the statue we put up in his honour the first time he died. Betting will then follow as to how long it will take him to return this time. I have been informed that this time there will, with all due pomp and ceremony, be a retelling of his deaths and returns to date.

Until evidence emerges to the contrary, I think we should assume that this latest death is only a temporary setback, and that Mark Lawrence will return to us, as whole and hale as before at some point of his choosing. And then we can get on with the now also traditional ‘lo he has returned to us’ party with all that invariably implies.

 

The Hopeless Maine kickstarter is now out of obituary spots. However, if you pledge and feel sad that you can’t have an obituary, just let us know… we’re sorting out a mass grave for anyone who needs it! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/countrostov/tales-of-hopeless-maine

 

Mark Lawrence (for the few who are not yet aware of this) is one of the finest writers of fantasy in the world, at all-ever.  To explore his work, you would do well to go here.