Tag Archives: spoons


Why do we do things we’re not supposed to?

The label on the bottle was clear enough; ‘Do not open’.
There didn’t seem anything particularly interesting in the bottle, just sand, a couple of small pebbles all topped up with a lot of rather murky water. I shook it and something metallic bounced against the glass. I peered closely at the contents and through the swirling cloud of liquid dirt I could see a spoon. The bowl section was partly buried in the sand, the handle resting against the side of the bottle and then, just for a split second, I saw it. There was something written on the front part of the handle.
I squinted, as though that would make any difference. It was no use, the water was just too grim – so, I uncorked the bottle. I could swear I heard a young girl giggle. I looked around, but I was alone on the shingle beach. I looked up; the sunny day had begun to darken as a light rain started to fall.
I emptied the contents of the bottle onto the beach as the rain fell harder. I picked up the spoon and washed it in a nearby rock pool. The words etched onto the handle became clear.
“You shouldn’t have done that.”
A chill ran down the back of my neck. I dismissed it as a lucky raindrop. I felt nervous. I don’t know why, I’m not usually a nervous person, but the message on this spoon just spooked me. I dropped the spoon back into the dirt, firmly replaced the cork and threw the bottle as hard as I could into the Atlantic Ocean.
A fitful night’s sleep followed. I just couldn’t get that message out of my mind. On the rare occasions when sleep did take over there were visions of forbidding granite cliffs and a dense fog muting every colour.
I awoke early the next morning with a sense of doom enveloping me. I walked back down to the sea front to try and clear my head. The clouds had become darker and the rain was descending in vertical sheets as the waves swarmed around my boots. A dull clunking sound made me look down; it was the same bottle I had picked up yesterday.
Again I heard laughter, but this time something else – the sound of someone sobbing. It was only the faint, ghost of a sound, but I know I heard it. The crunching of footsteps on the shingle made me look around to see who I shared the beach with.
No-one. I was completely alone.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” a girl’s voice giggled.
I twisted around to see a thick fog rolling in from the ocean. But fog doesn’t talk, does it? There was definitely no-one else around. The message on the spoon must have spooked me more than I realised. The fog swarmed everywhere and within minutes I could hardly see my own feet. The laughing got louder.
“It won’t be long now,” the voice giggled.
“Who’s there? Show yourself,” as if I could see anything in this pea-souper.
More laughter.
“What’s so funny? Why are you laughing?”
“You’ll see. Not long now.”
“Not long to what? Where are you?”
“You’ll see.”
I tried walking towards the voice, but I was effectively blind. I stumbled forwards, my hands bracing my fall onto the sand.
This is a shingle beach, there isn’t any sand for miles in either direction. My hands dug in and clenched into fists. It was definitely sand. That wasn’t the only thing that had changed, the sea had got louder. No longer the gentle lapping motion of water on the pebbles, but now the giant crashing of waves against rocks. There are no rocks for miles.
No rocks and no sand.
I rubbed my hands together and could feel the sand smoothing down my skin. The freezing rain ran off my hair and dripped onto the sleeves of my coat. How can the rain be so cold? This is the middle of July. I looked up and thought I could see the fog thinning out.
“Almost there now,” the giggling voice seemed to mock me.
“Who are you?” I demanded. “Where are you? Show yourself.”
“Let him go,” a second voice moaned.
“No,” said the first voice, “this is fun.”
As the fog thinned into a mist I could see two young girls standing in front of me. One, slightly taller, had a mischievous smile on her face, the other tears trickled down her cheeks; both had a wan, jaundiced complexion. The mist seemed to dull the colour of their clothes, if they had any colour to begin with. I looked past them. Granite cliffs towered high into a dark green sky.
“Where is this place?” I asked
“You’ll like it here, given enough time,” said the taller one, the mischievous smile slowly replaced by a more sinister expression. “And you’ll have plenty of that.”
“It’s not fair,” said the second girl. “You should let him leave.”
“It’s too late for that,” said the taller girl.
“This isn’t the beach I walked onto,” I said. “Where am I?”
“This is Hopeless,” the tall girl smiled.
“I don’t understand.”
“It’s where you are. The island of Hopeless, Maine.”
“No, I can’t be in Maine. I can’t have crossed the Atlantic in only five minutes.”
The taller girl giggled again, “You haven’t crossed the Atlantic silly.”
“You’re not making any sense.”
“It makes perfect sense. You opened the door and came in.”
“What door?” I shouted, my anger starting to boil over. “Where am I?”
“When you uncorked the bottle it began. It didn’t matter that you threw the bottle back, you couldn’t stop it. You’re here now and you can’t leave.”
“Where’s ‘here’?” I asked, even though the awful truth dawning on me.
Both girls pointed to the top of the cliffs. Through the swirling mist I could see it. A huge metal sculpture arcing into the sky. Except, I knew it wasn’t a sculpture. The shape was the same and the engraving was the identical; ‘You shouldn’t have done that’.
“That’s impossible,” I croaked as the taller girl started laughing.
“The bottle is green,” said the other girl, “the same colour as the sky.”
“You mean I’m inside the bottle?”
They both smiled.
“You’re on the island of Hopeless Maine,” said the sad one, “and you can never leave.”

In the year of 1724, the month of July was unbearably hot. I sometimes wonder if it was the heat that induced a madness in me. Since I arrived on this forsaken island we have washed up on many shores. I have seen bridges span the widest rivers, buildings touching the clouds and dozens of poor, unfortunate souls have become my unwilling companions. I smile now as I think of the time I uncorked the bottle and I thought that was how I ended up here. It wasn’t. With the bottle came a note, written by the tall girl. It was the story of how she came to be in the bottle. I didn’t tell you that at the beginning because you may not have read this far.
Tell me, what colour is the sky?


This dark and lovely tale of Hopeless, Maine was penned by none other than the esteemed Mr. Symon A Sanderson, Author of the Steamside Archives.  Art by Tom Brown (and it is not the first time we have worked in this configuration!)


The Game of Spoons

There are few who can claim to have been kidnapped by a dead relative, albeit one aided and abetted by Spoonwalkers but Julian Thrupp had achieved just that. Even on the island of Hopelesss, Maine, this is a comparatively rare occurrence and of those selected for the privilege, none had yet returned. Fortunately, Julian was totally unaware of this nugget of information as he sat huddled in the corner of a dark cavern. Ignorance is indeed bliss, for had Julian realised that the very caves in which he was sitting were infested by all sorts of ghouls, ghosts and vampires, the abject terror he was now experiencing may have escalated sufficiently to reduce his already fragile mind to something possessing all of the mental agility of a semolina pudding. Luckily for Julian it was still daylight outside and Night-Stalkers are not called that because of their propensity for wandering around and enjoying the sunshine. Even a ghoul has to rest occasionally.

Julian had been dragged to the caverns by a horde of tiny men wearing metallic boots; at least, that is what he believed. To begin with he had been temporarily blinded by the flash that occurred when he reached for the wraith of his cousin, Tobias. The rest was something of a whirlwind adventure, and now he appreciated how a spider feels, being whisked up into a Hoover Company vacuum cleaner, a trick that Mrs Bellpitch, his arachnophobic housekeeper, was wonderfully adept at performing.

Once his sight had been restored Julian was only able to hear his captors; he  had made a point of squeezing his eyes tightly shut, for fear of what he might see. This probably saved his sanity, as a malevolent glance from even a single Spoonwalker can incite madness.


Joseph Dreaming-By-The-River-Where-The-Shining-Salmon-Springs squatted on his haunches and examined the ground carefully for signs. He had no idea what manner of signs he was supposed to be seeing but it seemed to satisfy his six companions. It annoyed him slightly that there was a general assumption that, being a full-blood Passamaquoddy Indian, he would have an instinctive ability to follow the faintest of tracks over rocky terrain. He had been a trader for all of his adult life and had little knowledge of, or interest in, a skill that would pay few dividends when haggling with the proprietors of the various Speakeasies that he supplied. Today, however, that did not matter. He was content to play the role of the Noble Savage, bring honour to his people and hopefully impress the rest of the search party, especially Betty Butterow.

He suddenly remembered something that he had seen in a Tom Mix motion picture, while once visiting The Strand Theatre in Portland. To the accompaniment of dramatic organ music, an Indian tracker – or at least the actor playing him – had pressed his ear to the ground and was apparently able to ascertain all sorts of vital information from whatever it was that he heard. It was worth a try. Getting down on all-fours, Joseph planted his ear to the cold rock. There was absolutely nothing to hear. There was, however, a teaspoon lying close by, hiding in a small cluster of diseased-looking grass and not visible to the others. Joseph nonchalantly slid his hand over the spoon, as if to steady himself. This was a clue worth following up.

“They went that way, “ he said, pointing his finger to a spot vaguely south of them.

Everyone looked at the direction in which he pointed and while they were distracted he quietly slipped the spoon into the buckskin bag slung over his shoulder.

There was a general murmur of appreciation and marvelling at his skills as a tracker. Joseph, who was usually as honest a man as you might wish to find, blushed a little but consoled himself with the knowledge that this small deception pleased his companions immensely; far more than if he had just said “Ooh look, I’ve found a spoon!” All he needed to do now was to keep his eyes open. There were bound to be more.

He was not wrong. He surreptitiously gathered up each discarded teaspoon along the way and continued the deception that he was following the faintest of tracks. All went well until they reached the crossroads. Joseph scanned the ground but it was worryingly cutlery-free. He had to admit defeat.

“The trail grows cold here,” he announced. “I think maybe that this is where the Spoonwalkers split up. I can’t tell which party took Julian.”

After some hurried deliberations it was decided that they should split into three groups. Joseph and Betty would take the  east, towards the sea and where Joseph’s canoe was moored; Ebley and Dorian the south, where the caverns lay, while Isaac and Sebastian would go west, towards the far shore. The Reverend Crackstone, almost seventy and not as agile as the others, would return to the Squid on the offchance that Julian had found his way back unaided.


Joseph and Betty stood on the rocks by the little sheltered cove where the trader had left his canoe. Human logic would play no part in deducing where the Spoonwalkers might have left the Englishman, so for want of a better plan they agreed to hunt for Julian among the network of inlets and shallows that marked the eastern shore. This was as good a place as any to begin.

Joseph was feeling pangs of guilt for deceiving the girl he had grown to love.

“I need to confess something that I have been concealing from you…”

“I could say the same” Betty smiled. “There is something you need to know about me – but you first.”

Sheepishly the Indian reached into the buckskin bag and pulled out a handful of teaspoons.

“I can’t track,” he admitted. “I just followed a trail of discarded spoons.”

Betty laughed. Joseph had the distinct impression that she already knew.

“Now my turn. Stay where you are, say nothing and watch,” she said and unfurled something resembling a grey rug that had been stowed in her knapsack, then started to strip off her clothes.

The two had secretly been lovers for some months and Betty had long stopped being shy in front of him but this was a new departure. Joseph looked around nervously, hoping no one was there to see.

When she was completely naked and her clothes safely stowed in the canoe, Betty draped the rug over her shoulders and stepped daintily over the rocks and into the sea. She shuddered as the icy cold water lashed around her legs.

Joseph found it disconcerting as he watched her descend deeper into the angry water. His instinct was to pull her back from this foolishness but trusting what she said he did as she had asked.

Betty had disappeared beneath the waves for longer than he liked. Deciding something had gone very wrong the Indian cursed himself for not having acted earlier and resolved to go in after her. He had only waded into the water for a few feet, however, when the surface was broken by a harbor seal. Joseph had seen this creature before on several occasions. It had often swum with his canoe during his trips to and from the island. The seal nuzzled his legs, then swam towards the canoe, obviously inviting him to follow. Then the truth dawned upon him and took his breath away. Joseph knew of shape-shifters but had not knowingly met one, that is until now. He had never suspected that Betty was a seal-woman and his secret guardian. Joseph knelt in the icy water and wrapped his arms around the seal’s strong body, buried his face in her fur and breathed in her musky, salty tang. For reasons he could not explain tears welled in his eyes. So many things suddenly now made sense.


Bill Ebley picked up a discarded teaspoon and his heart dropped. He and Dorian Bowbridge were standing in the yawning gash that marked the entrance to the caverns. They peered into the dark depths with some trepidation. Ebley recalled Colonel Ruscombe-Green’s experience when they first landed on the island. He had been dragged into the caverns by a ghoul and only escaped with his life when Elmer Bussage, the Night Soil Man at the time, arrived waving a flaming brand, keeping the Night-Stalkers at bay. Ebley related the events to Bowbridge, who tipped back his pith helmet thoughtfully.

“We could take some combustible material into the caves with us,” he suggested, “but do we have the means to light it?”

Ebley fumbled in his jacket pocket and produced a box of matches.

“As long as we find Mr Thrupp while it’s still daylight we should be fine. Just in case though, I’ve still got a few of the lucifers left that Joseph brought over.” ‘Lucifer’ was soldier slang for a match  and still very much a part of Ebley’s vocabulary.

“Splendid- and I have an electric torch in my knapsack which we can use to find our way,” declared Bowbridge, then added, “but what will we use as fuel for the flames?”

Ebley looked about him. All was barren rock as far as the eye could see.

“We’ll have to make the best of what we’ve got. I hope you packed some spare clothing.”

Bowbridge looked aghast at the thought of them burning their clothing.

“Let’s get this over with,” he said, slipping his shotgun from his shoulder. With that the two men made their way into the dark heart of the caverns.


The Lypiatts had drawn a total blank. There had been no sign of Julian Thrupp on the western shore and if he was somewhere out on the ocean they had no way of getting to him. The sea-fog was rolling inland and getting thicker by the minute. Sebastian decided that their best course of action would be to return to the crossroads and wait for the others.

They had been there for little more than fifteen minutes before Joseph and Betty arrived. They too had been defeated by the sea fog.

Sebastian looked at Joseph. The man looked soaked to the skin, as if he had fallen out of his canoe.

“Did you find any more spoons along the way?” He asked

“No. You?” Joseph was not one to waste words.

Sebastian shook his head.

“It looks as though they’ve  taken him to the caverns.”

The Indian’s face was grim, but he said nothing.

Suddenly Betty blurted out,

“Does anyone else think it’s getting dark?”

The four of them cast their eyes towards the skies.

“What’s the date today?” asked Joseph uneasily.

Betty knew that tone to his voice and it

worried her.

“June the twenty-ninth. Why?”

“It’s been in all of the papers on the mainland. Today there will be a total eclipse of the sun. For a while there will be absolute darkness” replied Joseph, “which means…”

The four looked at each other. It was Isaac who broke the silence.

“Even in the deepest caverns the Night-Stalkers will wake; they will know that there is no sunlight. It’s happened before… Bill and Mr Bowbridge are in a lot of trouble!”

“So are we,” said Betty. Just a few yards away, some unseen creature effortlessly shifted the large rock that concealed its lair. The friends stood aghast as three long and many-suckered tentacles slithered ominously towards them in the dying light…


To be continued…

Art by Tom Brown

A Mystery Solved

(by Frampton Jones)

Cutlery thief exposed

Ladies and Gentlemen of Hopeless, I present to you photographic proof of the existence of spoonwalkers. A recent explosion in their population no doubt accounts for the unusual number of missing spoons our island has suffered of late. Spoonwalkers are shy creatures, tending to be active at night. At this time, their glowing eyes are the most notable feature, should you happen to encounter one. As you will notice from the image I captured, spoonwalkers have no discernable feet, and when deprived of aids, find mobility difficult. I assume that the wild entities they descended from employed wood and other natural debris as a mode of transport, while descendants have moved into homes and adopted cutlery as a preferred source of material. These borrowed leg extensions enable them to take longer strides and move at remarkable speed. It also explains why spoons and sometimes forks will turn up in the most unexpected places, abandoned perhaps when the borrower no longer has need of them.

 It is my great pleasure to lay this mystery to rest, thanks to that most remarkable of modern innovations, the camera. Given time, science will provide answers to all such mysteries.


Spoon mystery stirs up more trouble!

(by Modesty Jones)

Mrs Witherspoon's spoons are missing!

When I interviewed Mrs Witherspoon about recent events at the orphanage, she told me she slept soundly all through the night when one of the little girls was taken and Miss Calder was killed. I tried to talk to the little girl but she just stared at me. I guess she’s too traumatised to talk.

Apparently other people can see Miss Calder and talk to her, but I can’t see her, so that didn’t go very well either. Maybe she wasn’t there. How do you tell? But what Mrs Witherspoon did say is that all the spoons have gone missing from the orphanage kitchen too. I suspect a connection with the theft from The Crow. Did they break in to steal the spoons and kill Miss Calder by mistake? Or were the spoons an afterthought? All very mysterious.


No Spoons!

Where the spoons aren't

(by Modesty Jones)

All the spoons have gone missing from The Crow!

Mrs Hester Ephemery says it is a mystery, and they’ve all disappeared in the last week. Knives and forks have not been taken.

Is there a spoon thief at work in Hopeless? Have they struck elsewhere? Let us know if your spoons have gone missing. Mrs Ephemery says it’s making the cooking difficult, but The Crow is still open for business.