Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Paranormal Day Party: Lore and History of the "Talking Board"

Lore of the Ouija:

Never play alone!
Never let the spirits count down through the numbers or go through the alphabet as they can get out of the board this way.
If the planchette goes to the four corners of the board it means that you have contacted an evil spirit.
If the planchette falls from a Ouija board, a spirit will get loose.
If the planchette repeatedly makes a figure eight, it means that an evil spirit is in control of the board.
If you should get an evil spirit, quickly turn the planchette upside down and use it that way.
The board must be "closed" properly or evil spirits will remain behind to haunt the operator.
Never use the Ouija when you are ill or in a weakened condition since this may make you vulnerable to possession.
The spirit of the Ouija board creates "wins" for the user, causing him to become more and more dependent on the board. Addiction follows. This is called "progressive entrapment."
Evil spirits contacted through the Ouija board will try to win your confidence with false flattery and lies.
Always be respectful and never upset the spirits.
Never use the Ouija in a graveyard or place where a terrible death has occurred or you will bring forth malevolent entities.
Witchboards are so named because witches use them to summon demons.
The very first Ouija boards were made from the wood of coffins. A coffin nail in the center of the planchette window served as the pointer.
Sometimes an evil spirit can permanently "inhabit" a board. When this happens, no other spirits will be able to use it.
When using a glass as a message indicator, you must always cleanse it first by holding it over a burning candle.
Ouija boards that are disposed of improperly, come back to haunt the owner.
A Ouija Board will scream if you try to burn it. People who hear the scream have less than thirty-six hours to live. There is only one proper way to dispose of it: break the board into seven pieces, sprinkle it with Holy Water then bury it.
If you must use a Ouija board, make your own. Arrange the letters and numbers, into a circle so whatever is trapped within that circle can't escape.
If you place a pure silver coin on the board, no evil spirits will be able to come through.
NEVER leave the planchette on the board if you aren't using it.
Lecherous spirits from the Ouija board will sometimes ask young women to do rather . . . ah, odd things. Ignore them and always remember that your Ouija partner (i.e. boyfriend) has nothing to do with this.
Three things never to ask a Ouija board:
Never ask about God.
Never ask when you are going to die.
Never ask where the gold is buried.

History of the Board:
Ouija boards appeared to have been around for forever it seems, but it really hasn’t.

In the year 1848, something unusual happened in a Hydesville, New York cabin. Two sisters, Kate and Margaret Fox, contacted the spirit of a dead peddler, became instant celebrities, and sparked a national obsession that spread all across the United States and Europe. It was the birth of modern Spiritualism.

Spiritualist churches sprang up everywhere and persons with the special gift or "pipeline" to the "other side" were in great demand. These unique individuals, designated "mediums" because they acted as intermediaries between spirits and humans, invented a variety of interesting ways to communicate with the spirit world. Table turning (tilting or tipping) was one of these. The medium and attending sitters would rest their fingers lightly on a table and wait for spiritual contact. Soon, the table would tilt and move, and knock on the floor to letters called from the alphabet. Entire messages from the spirits were spelled out in this way.

A less noisy technique used a small basket with a pencil attached to one end. The medium simply had to touch the basket, establish contact, and the spirit would take over, writing the message from the Great Beyond. This pencil basket evolved into the heart-shaped planchette, a more sophisticated tool with two rotating casters underneath and a pencil at the tip, forming the third leg. Spiritualists immediately discovered that in addition to writing messages, the planchette could perform as a pointer, setting the stage for the talking boards to come. It was said by some writers, that the inventor of the planchette was a well-known French medium named M. Planchette. Not likely, as there has never been any information discovered in this individual. The French word "planchette" translates to English as "little plank."

Problem with table turning, it took far too long to spell out messages. Planchette writing was often a challenge just keeping the instrument centered on the paper long enough to get a decipherable message. Eventually, most mediums dispensed with the spiritual apparatuses altogether and mentally in an altered state of consciousness with the spirit world to something called "trance." Others eliminated the planchette but kept the pencil, finding the hand a less troublesome writing instrument. Others though felt need for equipment to communicate with ghosts. These resourceful individuals built weird alphanumeric gadgets and odd-looking table contraptions with moving needles and letter wheels. These early machines suffered from over engineering if not lack of imagination. Called dial plate instruments or psychographs, a few of these devices appeared in the marketplace under various names and incarnations. 

American and European toy companies peddled the planchette. It became popular. Dial plate devices, although more sophisticated, were largely ignored. Planchettes were easier to make and market inexpensively as novelties. But both took a back seat in 1886 when an exciting new "talking board" sensation hit the newsstands. It was even mentioned in the March 28, 1886 Sunday supplement of the New York Tribune, the story quickly spread across the country.

This "new" message board was simple to make. It required absolutely no understanding, skill, or mediumistic training to do—or so people were led to understand. The message indicator "moved by itself" from letter to letter to spell out a message, This amazed people. Was it new, or not, though? At about the same time, one of the nation's largest toy makers, W. S. Reed Toy Company of Leominster, Massachusetts, put out a device strikingly similar to the "new planchette." Dubbed the "witch board," its description went like this: "Upon the four corners of the board are respectively "Yes," "No," "Good-by" and "Good-day," while the alphabet occupies the center of the board. A miniature standard rests upon four legs and stands upon the "witch board." Those place their hands on it, and then the spirits begin their work. Should an answer be "Yes" or "No," and communications are spelled out by the diminutive table resting over such letters to spell out the message. 

Reed's short-lived "witch board" might have been completely forgotten had it not been for an amusing incident. Charles S. Dresser, Reed's treasurer, sent President Grover Cleveland one as a wedding gift with the wish that "it may be of service." And no, the president did not use it on matters of state!

Reed wouldn't trademark another similar item, the Espirito, until 1891. But others leapt on the ‘board” bandwagon. The first patent for "improvements," filed on May 28, 1890 and granted on February 10, 1891, lists Elijah J. Bond as the inventor and the assignees as Charles W. Kennard and William H. A. Maupin of Baltimore, Maryland. It is wondered if Bond or his Baltimore cronies knew about Reed's earlier "witch board,” but they were the first to heavily promote the board as a novelty. 

Charles Kennard stated that he named the new board Ouija (pronounced wE-ja) after a session with Miss Peters, Elijah Bond's sister-in-law: "I remarked that we had not yet settled upon a name, and as the board had helped us in other ways, we would ask it to propose one. It spelled out O-U-I-J-A. When I asked the meaning of the word it said 'Good Luck.' Miss Peters there upon drew upon her neck a chain which had at the end a locket, on it a figure of a woman and at the top the word 'Ouija'. We asked her if she had thought of the name, and she said she had not. We then adopted the word. There were present Mr. Bond, his wife, his son, Miss Peters and myself." Kennard and Bond, doing business as Kennard Novelty Company, wasted no time advertising in local periodicals, calling it even the “wonder of the Nineteenth Century.” 

Charles Kennard left the company after fourteen months to found Northwestern Toy Company in Chicago, Illinois. His ex-financial partners, headed by powerful Baltimore capitalist Washington Bowie, who was also manager, secretary, and treasurer of Kennard Novelty, changed the name of the firm to Ouija Novelty Company. This didn't concern Kennard who made another board as his flagship product, the Volo board—a Ouija replica. Bowie immediately filed suit for patent infringement forcing the end of the Volo along with an apology. Unrepentant, Charles Kennard continued in real estate and other business ventures and produced one more talking board, the Igili, in 1897. 

Kennard claimed that he was the sole inventor, having in 1886 (the year of the talking board craze) put together a crude board, using a cake board and a table with four legs and a pointer, marking in pencil the alphabet and numerals. Next to his office was a cabinetmaker by the name of E.C. Reiche who, at Kennard's request, made several copies of the board. Asked to make them in numbers for market, Reiche refused, complaining of a heavy workload. After shopping the idea around Baltimore and finding no takers, Kennard met Elijah Bond who made several improvements including the semi-circular alphabet pattern and the addition of felt cushions on the indicator legs, and had those improvements patented. Bond then joined with Kennard as manufacturers under the Kennard Novelty Company name. 

Washington Bowie disputed Kennard on several counts. He said that the inventor of the Ouija was not Charles Kennard but Mr. E. C. Reiche, of Chestertown, Maryland. He further stated that Kennard Novelty paid Reiche in stock for "using his invention without compensation" and that this happened, not once but twice. E. C. Reiche's son, W. Mack Reiche, backed Washington Bowie and said that Kennard may have named the Ouija, he did not invent it. W. Mack Reiche was adamant that the Ouija "came into existence through the brains and hands of father alone." 

Whatever the story, Washington Bowie remained the powerhouse behind the Ouija Novelty Company making most of the corporate decisions and installing his son, Washington Bowie Jr., as manager of the Chicago factory. Early on, he took 20 year old William Fuld under his wing and taught him everything he could about the business. Fuld rose quickly to position of foreman and became one of the original company stockholders. In 1897, Washington Bowie leased the rights to manufacture the Ouija board to William and his brother Isaac. With that single stroke of fate, William and Isaac Fuld embarked successfully on their new venture and manufactured Ouija boards in record numbers. This business partnership didn’t last. Ouija Novelty’s contract with the Fulds was for three years only. At the end of this period, William formed his own company—ended the partnership. Isaac’s rights to produce the Ouija board ended. A legal battle ensued. The acrimony created a bitter family feud that was to last for generations. Isaac worked from his home workshop and produced and sold Ouija facsimiles, called Oriole talking boards, along with pool and smoking tables. Ouija Novelty collected revenues on the Ouija name from Willam Fuld and then in 1919 relinquished the remaining rights. William sold millions of Ouija boards, toys, and other games and kept a job as a US customs inspector. Later in life he became a member of Baltimore's General Assembly.

For twenty-six years William Fuld ran the company through good times and bad. He was a Presbyterian, didn't believe that it was a medium of communication with departed spirits, but at the same time still thought that the Ouija a reliable advisor in matters of business and personal life. He explained a type of magnetism or some kind of psychological phenomenon controlled the hands and led to the right answers. He offered personal anecdotes to illustrate. The board told him to "prepare for big business" and he did, building a new factory to support huge demands. When a large shipment consigned to St. Paul, Minnesota got lost, and a search by railroad officials failed to find it, Fuld asked the Ouija board and it directed him to Ohio, right where it had been misdirected. 

Fuld said. "We didn't know what to name it, so put the question up to the board and it spelled out O-U-I-J-A. We hadn't any idea what it meant and scratched a long time before we found any clue, until discovered the word a close approximation of an Egyptian word meaning good luck." Although he had "inventor" printed on the back of every board, he didn’t claim to be the originator, but credited E. C. Reiche. He just beat him to the patent office.
William Fuld climbed to the roof of his Harford Street factory in Baltimore to supervise the replacement of a flagpole, but a support post that he held on to, gave way and he fell backwards to his death. This happened in February 1927. Following his death, William's children took over and marketed many interesting Ouija versions of their own, including the rare and marvelous Art Deco Electric Mystifying Oracle. In 1966, they retired and sold the business to Parker Brothers. Parker Brothers produced an accurate Fuld reproduction and briefly even made a Deluxe Wooden Edition Ouija. They still own the trademarks and patents to this day. 

In early 1999, Parker Brothers stopped manufacturing the classic Fuld Ouija board and switched to a smaller less detailed glow in the dark version. No longer is the faux bird's eye maple lithograph and also gone is the name William Fuld. 
Today, as in the past, there are companies that produce interesting variants of the talking board. It may be accurate to say that there is a renaissance afoot. Hasbro, who currently owns Parker Brothers, has introduced two new limited edition versions of the Ouija board within the past few years. Other manufacturers have also joined in with imaginatively styled, contemporary talking boards. Online auction sites allow artists, who formerly would not have had the opportunity, to display and sell their handcrafted creations to a worldwide audience. Talking board enthusiasts are creating websites, sponsoring public shows and events, and connecting with other collectors in an entirely new way. At this period in time, the Wonderful Talking Board has never been more popular. 

Parker Brothers motto: "It's only a game—isn't it?"

Friday, April 29, 2016

Supernatural Friday: Read Something Scary--It Just Might Make Your Heart Beat Faster

Here we are at the end of April, where summer is a promise beyond the horizon, with time at the beach and beach reading. What are you planning to bring to read on your summer vacation? Romance? A good mystery. Thriller? How about a good, scary read? Horror is a good read beyond the month of October. You could read it in the DEAD of winter, when the leaves DROP DEAD in the fall, and even in the frightening BLOOM of spring. Why not summer? After all, Jaws was a terrifying book about a shark in the ocean.


Any excuse to be scared to death. And dark fantasy and horror can be read by the light of the day. Just watch out for sharks!

Fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat. It's a basic reaction to a stimulus, such as pain or dangerous threat. Fear is separate from anxiety, which occurs without external threat. It means to terrify, or to frighten.


Physical reactions from fear are:
Rapid heart rate

Increased blood pressure

Tightening of muscles

Sharpened or redirected senses

Dilation of the pupils

Increased sweating

So why would a person get a scary book when these symptoms of fear take over them? For the imagination is the greatest bringer of fear--you read a few pages and suddenly, there is a shadow in the corner. Did it move? Was there a sound when you should be all alone in the house?

But being frightened is good for you. Just as laughter is. Fear is that rush that brings out the prey in all of us, from our caveman days.

So go ahead. Pick up that book and buy it, or check it out. Read it. You know that shadow didn't more and the sound was the house settling. Nothing more.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Supernatural Friday: Are You Scared Yet? (Original Poem)

Scared Yet?
Pamela K. Kinney

Eyes watching me in my nightmares,

A shadow hovers in the corner of my room

A howl on a moonlit night gives me shivers,

Footsteps of someone 
invisible caught on my recorder

Are you scared yet?

Fingers touching my shoulder,

Turning, nothing's there.

Whispers carried on the air,

No one is there.

Are you scared yet?

Alone in the house,

All the lights on,

One by one, they go out,

Leaving you in the dark

Are you scared yet?

You should be. . .

*Copyrights of this poem belongs to the author--do not take, but do share the link with friends.*

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

New Author Intervew for Pamela K. Kinney

I've been interviewed. You can read it at http://bit.ly/1Skz6vh

Pamela K. Kinneys Ravencon (April 29th-May 1st) Schedule

My panels, book signing, and reading schedule for Ravencon (Doubletree by Hilton Hotel  50 Kingsmill Road, Williamsburg, Virginia,)
5 pm (Panel) Southern Gothic Fiction / Room F
7 pm (Opening Ceremony) Large Auditorium
8 pm (Panel) 50 Years of Star Trek / Room E
10 am (Panel) Kid Scary vs. Adult Scary / Room F
Noon (until 1:50 p.m.) 10 :00 a.m. Book Signing / Dealer's Room
2 pm (Panel) Going Where No Man Has Gone Before / Room G
11 pm (Panel) Ghost Stories / Room 8
10:00 a.m. Reading / Room J

For panel and workshop descriptions, plus rest of the programming at the conventionhttp://www.ravencon.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2016PanelDescriptions.pdf


Friday, April 15, 2016

Supernatural Friday: How Raven Got His Black Feathers (Tlingit Myth)

There is a tale about Black and White Raven. It is derived from Tlingit mythology.
In the beginning the world was in total darkness. No light at all. An old man, Grandfather, lived with his granddaughter in a house. Grandfather owned a great chest within his house. It contained the sun, moon, and stars, and also sickness, disease, famine, mosquitoes, and other parasites which, if released in the atmosphere would cause great harm to man. (Not unlike the Pandora story).
Raven in his white spiritual form of the raven, was aware that Grandfather had these items in his possession, He had the most interest-in the sun which radiated light. He thought how he could obtain all this for the world. He noticed that the old man’s granddaughter would come out to fetch some water from a nearby stream, and she always stopped to take a sip of water before filling her pail;
Raven devised a scheme to disguise himself as a speck of dust to flow down the stream at the time granddaughter scooped up her first drink. He managed to flow into her cup and she swallowed him. Nine months later, to the happiness of Grandfather, Raven was born by granddaughter in the human form of a boy.  (He did not question how she got pregnant.)
When Raven was older, he asked grandfather about the contents of the great chest. Grandfather explained that under no circumstances was the chest to be opened by anyone other than himself. But as time went by, he allowed Raven to play with the sun and moon and stars to occupy his time, as the youngster had no one else to play with. Each time grandfather grew more trusting and let Raven play with these celestial objects, but always instructed Raven to return them to him to be placed back into the chest. Otherwise, famine, disease, sickness,  mosquitoes, and other parasites would be released in the atmosphere to harm man. But there came a time when Raven was the only one in the house. That was the moment to steal the sun, moon and stars and he changed into his true spiritual form of the raven. He opened the chest and took out all the celestial objects under his wing. At the same time, all the sickness and diseases known to man escaped. Raven flew to the top of a smoke hole in the great house, but because his wings were so full of the celestial objects, he could not get through the smoke hole. Grandfather had just returned and he saw Raven in his true form, realizing the trickster’s deception. He ran to the fire located below the smoke hole to rekindled the flame which caused a great heat and soot to rise and tarnish the feathers of Raven from white (which was his original color from the beginning) to black. Raven could hardly breathe from the heat and soot so he let the celestial objects go and managed to get away. Because the sun, moon, and stars had no control they flowed out of the smoke hole and assumed the space in the present positions they now hold.


Friday, April 08, 2016

Supernatural Friday: Gothic Done Southern Style: Guest Blogger D. Alexander Ward

Today, I have as guest blogger D. Alexander Ward, whose latest book is Beneath Ash and Bone. He is blogging about Gothic done Southern style for Supernatural Friday. Welcome him and enjoy his post.

When someone uses the term “Gothic,” we all know what they’re talking about, right?

It conjures up a great many things that we have seen, watched, or read. Everything from the arches and gargoyles perched on the ledges of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris to the barren and windswept moors of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and the ubiquitous, Mary Shelley-esque manor house or castle, with candlelit windows, set against a sky cracked by lightning.
Born out of the Romanticism, these notions and images that represent the Gothic are very true to their European origins.

But like any American Southerner will tell you, “We don’t care how y’all do it _________.”

Now, usually we fill in that blank with the words “up North” but in this case I’m going to say “across the pond.”

The Gothic, as reimagined by Southern writers, has a long and complex history that I won’t attempt to address here. I don’t want to get into the whys and the wherefores of it, but let’s see if we can at least identify it and some of the places it has shown up. And, finally, I’ll share a little bit about how I infused my latest novel, Beneath Ash and Bone with it.

It’s impossible to address the Southern Gothic without talking about Flannery O’Connor. Her fiction—and some of the best Southern Gothic fiction, if you ask me—also often includes some of the finest examples of transgressive fiction, where we are concerned not with the “betters” of society and their lives but with the people that exist on the edges of polite society and who feel encumbered or restrained by its tenets. Early Cormac McCarthy novels, such as Outer Dark and Child of God are fine and classical examples of the Southern Gothic.
Quite simply, where the Gothic tradition as exported from Europe tended to shine a light on the lives and troubles of upper or upper-middle-class folks, the Southern Gothic often veers off to the side and focuses, instead, on those the European tradition would have only cast as bit characters. The help, the indigent, the poor, the damaged. The grotesque.

Flannery O’Conor once famously said (and it’s probably my favorite quote from her):

“Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.”

So, yeah. We like the freaks. And we find something important there in the lives of those regular folks who walk around every day, not with their affairs in order, but their lives and their psyches messy and broken. It resonates with us because, deep down, we feel that we all have known that level of brokenness at one time or another. Maybe we even know it still.

But sometimes the freaks don’t take center stage.

Sometimes, in keeping with the origins, the Southern Gothic does concern itself with the plantation owner and his family or the politician—the upper-crust folks that were and are in power. Granted, it’s usually only to bring them down a peg by exposing their misdeeds, their family drama, or their most savage and basest tendencies. In my view, it’s done as a means to say to the powerful that they are human, too, and they are not immune from the scars and the demons that the rest of us poor souls must bear.

This is what I’ve always loved about the Gothic done Southern style. It’s a great equalizer. Fiction for the people by the people, you might even say! Because, quite frankly, stories where the powerful or the wealthy or the well-heeled are glorified and held aloft as something to which we should aspire, are dreadfully boring.

If you’re looking to dip your toes into Southern Gothic fiction for the first time, I recommend anything by Flannery O’Connor, although my personal favorite is Wiseblood. Along with that, I would recommend A Feast of Snakes by Harry Crews to get a look at just how weird and brutal it can really get. Pinckney Benedict is another writer, alive and working today, that stands tall as a purveyor of the Southern Gothic. And, lastly, an unequalled example that tends more toward the horrific would be the late Tom Piccirilli’s novel, A Choir of Ill Children.

In my own recent novel, Beneath Ash and Bone, I blended—as I often seem to—different elements and aesthetics of the Southern Gothic with the old European Gothic. I wanted a typical Gothic ghost story as might be written by someone like Susan Hill… but with a bit of Southern flavor. (Some great contemporary examples of this sort of thing that come to mind are Rhodi Hawk’s A Twisted Ladder and the film The Skeleton Key).

So, setting it in Virginia in 1860, before the unrest of the Civil War, at an influential local family’s estate, was my way of calling back to those great works by Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, Bram Stoker, and the Bronte sisters. But I didn’t want to get bogged down in the often flowery prose of those earlier times, so I kept the writing more in my own style, which is contemporary and (sometimes) poetic, but always with an edge. I also wanted to employ a very distinctive aspect of Southern Gothic fiction, which is a sense of place. Not only to employ it but to give it more teeth than is customary. I wanted Evermore and the winter blizzard that had cut it off from contact with others to permeate every moment and to come across almost as antagonistic characters themselves.

You’ll have to be the judge about whether or not I succeeded in my efforts. In the end, I hope I crafted a riveting and entertaining tale with both the Gothic and the Southern Gothic as my inspiration.

As I wrap up here, I’d like to thank the generous Pamela K. Kinney for the opportunity to take over her blog for a day! Since you’re likely a reader of her blog, you already know what a fabulous author and a wealth of knowledge Pamela is on not only the subjects of writing and publishing and conventions but on paranormal phenomena and legends of local ghost stories and haunted houses (the kind of place I imagine my fictional Evermore has become in modern times). Keep doing what you do, Pamela!

D. Alexander Ward
Beneath Ash & Bone Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ashandbone/


Beneath Ash and Bone Blurb:
Selburn, Virginia: A quiet backwater town nestled among the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the days before the Civil War, Sam Lock keeps the peace as the town sheriff, like his father before him.

That peace is shattered during a raging winter storm when a boy goes missing at Evermore, the sprawling estate of Horace Crownhill and his family. Racing against time and the elements, Sam must mount a desperate search for the child—but what he finds in the snow, and the dark halls of Evermore, are madness ... and murder.

As Sam searches for truth in a house poisoned by mysteries and haunted by ghosts, he hopes to weather the storm, but the harrowing secrets he uncovers may prove too terrible to bear. Will he escape with his sanity intact or will the dark presence rumored to hold sway over Evermore claim him as another sacrifice?


Excerpt from Beneath Ash and Bone:

Later, when he woke for a moment in the dim light of that fading candle, he made a vain attempt to crawl out of the dreams that enshrouded him like a grave. Before that could be accomplished, though, a familiar hand lighted on his shoulder and the sound of his father’s voice filled the room as the man stood by his bedside.  The moment was so familiar that Sam knew it must be a dream.
“Wake up and stand fast, boyo,” his father uttered in his thick brogue. “They’re comin’ around the back way and ye’d better have more than yer knob in yer hand when they arrive.”
“Da?” Sam groaned, bleary in the near darkness.
It had to be a dream for there was no other reason his father would be there, uttering those words again; words which echoed as small tortures in Sam’s mind. Words that were a bitter reminder of how Sam had failed him one hot summer night long ago and how the old man had paid for it with his life.
Still, when he sat up in the guest house bed, he saw the old man’s form lingering at the threshold of the small bedroom and he rose to follow him.
“Somethin’ goin’ on,” his father said, turning the corner, “and ye’d better see to it.”
As Sam put his first step forward on the achingly cold floor, he was suddenly aware that this was no dream. Something cold and wet mushed between his bare toes and he looked down to see what it was.
Messy, irregular heaps of the stuff led away from his bed, out the door and around the corner. In the quiet of the guest house, he heard a rhythmic, wooden thumping.
He checked his side expecting to find an empty holster but felt the grip of his pistol there, drew it, and crept through the house to follow the path that his father had taken. His wits now about him, it wasn’t that he thought his Da was actually present in the room. It was just that his dream of the dead man and the moment of his waking had intersected with something very real.
Someone had left these tracks of snow on the floor and it wasn’t him.
Sam turned the corner from the bedroom and looked into the shadowed confines of the sitting room. He saw more lumps of snow staggered along the floor and the door to the guest house ajar, banging open and shut with the wind of the storm.
Then something else. The crunch of deep snow and a pressing against the house.
He froze, waiting, scanning the room.
As his gaze fell upon the wide window that looked out onto the wood, he saw a pale and deathly face looking in. The face of his father, returned to taunt his son. He recoiled and brandished his pistol.
“But I have it this time, Da! See?”
Then the face was gone and something in its movement uprooted the sheriff from his frozen fear. Indeed, it had been a spectral face that he had glimpsed in the window, but it hadn’t been his father’s. And it had moved away quickly, not with the slip of a spirit but the clumsy gait of a man.
Sam ran to the door and kicked it open, looking out onto the white landscape of the grounds. Something wild was tramping through the snow in the direction of the manor house, pale and gangly looking, its thin white hair flying behind it.
“Stop there, you,” he hollered out and gave chase, but before he could get far, the figure had disappeared into the shadows, incorporeal as the night itself.
The sheriff stood there, his heart pumping. On the far side of the main house, he saw an orange glow pulsating in the darkness. He barely sniffed the air before he smelled it; burning.
Something beyond the house was burning.

Author Bio:
D.Alexander Ward is an author and editor of horror and dark fiction. As a volunteer and Affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association he is an involved participant in the independent horror community.
In addition to Beneath Ash and Bone, he is the author of Blood Savages: A Blackguards Novel (Book 1), A Feast of Buzzards, and After the Fire & Other Tales.
As an editor, he co-edited the Lovecraftian horror anthologies, Shadows Over Main Street, Volumes 1 and 2 from Cutting Block Books and also, GUTTED: Beautiful Horror Stories from Crystal Lake Publishing.
Along with his family and the haints in the woods, he lives near the farm where he grew up in what used to be rural Virginia, where his love for the people, passions and folklore of the South was nurtured. There, he spends his nights penning tales of the dark, strange and fantastic.
He is active on social media and you can find out more on his website: www.dalexward.com