Thursday, August 28, 2014

Supernatural Friday: Ghost That Predicts Hurricanes

With two tropical storms hitting both sides of the United States, one off the East Coat, and the other, off the California coast, it is time to talk about ghosts. Of particular, the Gray Man of Pawleys Island.

Pawleys Island is a barrier island, incorporated town and  unincorporated community, all of the same name, located about 26 miles south of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina,  along US Highway 17. It is here that the Gray Man haunts. The name of the island came from George Pawley, an early owner.

The area is one of the oldest resort areas along the East Coast. Inland rice planters in the 19th century were believed to have constructed "summer cottages" on the island which, because of its consistent sea breezes, less infested with mosquitoes. In the 2000 U.S. Census, it stated that there were 138 souls on the island, but that number may be incorrect. Locals claim there is an additional soul who appears from time to time, a soul whose sole occupation appears to warn residents of approaching storms.

"The Gray Man" is a good name for the apparition. It appears as a man, wearing drab, nondescript clothing. The apparition appears and vanishes within the blink of an eye. Sometimes the ghost speaks and sometimes it remains silent. The spirit has been seen along the beach at Pawleys Island off and on for almost two centuries. The first appearance goes back to a hurricane that hit the region in 1822, which caused over 300 deaths.

Another sighting happened before a terrible storm called "The Sea Islands Hurricane." This storm made landfall near Savannah, Ga., on Aug. 27, 1893. With sustained winds of 120 mph, this hurricane killed 1,000 to 2,000 people and did, by 2010 U.S. dollars, $24.1 million in damages. Another hurricane from October of 1954, Hurricane Hazel, clobbered the Carolina coast, destroying some 15,000 homes and structures, killing 19 people, and doing $136 million in damage. Seventy-three miles up the coast at Holden Beach, N.C., all but 12 of 300 cottages were obliterated by winds estimated at between 125 and 150 mph.

Now, there were a couple of newlyweds on Pawleys Island. They were supposedly warned by a "man in rumpled gray clothing." He awoke them when he knocked on their door early in the morning before the storm's arrival. They prudently left the area as soon as they could. Other Pawleys Island residents reportedly observed a solitary "gray man" ambling along the beach, just before a storm hit.

When Hurricane Hugo roared through, doing damage as far inland as the North Carolina piedmont in mid-September of 1989, it caused at least 76 deaths and did an estimated $10 billion in damages. Before this one, two Pawleys Island residents said they saw a man entirely dressed in gray on the beach. The lone pedestrian looked as if approaching the couple, but when they waved to him, he dissipated. Evidently they were familiar with the legend of the Gray Man, for they packed up and vacated the island two days before Hugo arrived.

Another facet of this legend is that residences of those whom the Gray Man warns are often not touched by these storms that level surrounding neighborhoods. As with all such tales, there are several variations. There are at least three-concerning the origin of the ghost.

The one most folks know goes like this:
It seems that there was this young engaged couple. The young man was separated from his beloved for several months, perhaps on a voyage across the Atlantic. When his ship finally put in at Georgetown, he rode a horse (some versions say he was accompanied by a friend or servant) back home to Pawleys Island.

In a hurry to see his young lady, the rider (or riders) took a shortcut through the swamps. The betrothed young man and his horse became mired and overcome by quicksand. His companion [if there was one] was unable to save him.

Later, after his funeral, his lady love saw an apparition resembling the young man when she took a walk along the beach. The apparition warned her to take her family and flee the island. She did so and upon returning after the storm, found her home one of few sole surviving structures.

There is also a tale concerning a ghostly couple that are said to occasionally visit the Pelican Inn on the island. Whether the male of the duo is also the Gray Man has not been established.

The legend of the Gray Man of Pawleys Island has been the subject of the TV program, "Unsolved Mysteries," and has been featured in many books about Carolina ghosts.

I wondered if the “Gray Man” appeared before Hurricane Sandy’s appearance a couple of years ago. It would be understandable if the ghost had, as this hurricane not only came upon the East Coast not only at the end of October, but close to a time when spirits are said to roam the earth: Halloween.

I'm Guest Blogger at I Smell Sheep Reviews Friday, August 29th-Giveaway

I will be guest blogger for I Smell Sheep Reviews Friday, August 29th. Due to the release of my latest short story, "Weregoat" in the anthology, Strangely Funny II. I will be blogging about why weregoats should get equal rights like the rest of the shapeshifter world.  Leave a comment sometime during the day at the blog and be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift cert. The contest goes until midnight tomorrow.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Supernatural Friday: Talking About Worms--the Monstrous Kind

I am not talking about the kind you put your fishing hook, or the kind that you might find in your cat or dog. No, these worms are terrifying and monstrous. The old English form of the word worm (or wyrm) refers to a humongous snake or dragon. Like the Lambton Worm from the northeastern part of England.

Lambton Wrym: This gigantic worm terrorized the above mentioned region in medieval times. The story goes, that John Lambton, heir of the Lambton estate in County Durham, decided to go fishing one Sunday morning. He had been warned by a mysterious old man that no good could come of skipping church. But the young man ignored the advice and went fishing anyway. He had no success in catching anything out of the Wear River, then he pulls in a strange fish. The eel-like creature had the head of a salamander and nine holes on each side of its skull. Lambton said he’d caught "the devil." On the advice of the old man, he decides not to return it to the river. Instead, he throws it down a well.

When Lambton became a man, he went off to fight in the Crusades. All this time though, the creature thrived underground and had grown to an immense size inside the well, poisoning the water and when it emerged, it started to terrorize the land by eating livestock, along with the occasional village child. It approached Lambton Manor, where John's father manages to placate it on a daily basis by filling a stone trough outside the building with fresh milk for it to drink. In between assaults on the surrounding countryside, the creature relaxes by wrapping itself around the base of a hill.

Various villagers and knights try to slay the monster, but discovered that slicing off sections of the worm is ineffective as the creature seems to be able to reattach lost parts without much permanent damage (or more likely grew the part back like a lizard?). The worm also would catch some of the foolhardy in its coils and slowly squeezed that person to death (like a boa constrictor or python?).

Young John came home from the Crusades to find his father's land in ruin from the worm. He vows to destroy the creature and seeks the aid of a local witch. The witch tells him that he is responsible for the worm's existence by his actions as a boy. The witch’s' advice is to go to the local blacksmith and have his armor covered with razor-sharp spear points. Then he must find the worm as it lay wrapped around a great rock down by the river to fight it. She warns Lambton that if he is successful in his quest, he will be required to kill the first living thing he sees after his victory, or the Lambton family will be cursed for nine generations with no heir dying peacefully in his bed.

Brave Sir John takes her suggestions to heart and they prove to be the keys he needs to defeat the beast. When the animal gets a hold of him in its coils, it cannot squeeze him to death as the spear points on his armor drive into the creature's body. Because he is fighting the worm at the edge of the Wear River, any parts cut off fall off into the water and are swept downstream, so the beast cannot heal itself by reattaching/ The monster is killed.  It has been arranged that at his bugle signal, one of his hunting hounds will be released. It will run to him and John will slay it to save his family from the curse. Unfortunately, John's father forgets about the signal and runs out himself to greet his son after the victory. John does not have the heart to kill his father and the family is cursed for nine generations.

Also, did nine generations of Lambtons die violent deaths? Some of them may have. Given that the Lambtons were involved in such actions as the English Civil War, however, a premature end to their lives doesn't seem all that unlikely. The curse may also have been self-fulfilling: It is said that by the ninth generation one Lambton slept with a horse whip by his bedside to defend himself in fear that his servants might take actions to make the curse come true.

There’s a song about the myth: one might like to listen to.  

The Mongolian Death Worm: This cryptid has gained status in the past 90 years. It is alleged to exist in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia. The creature is believed to exist by traditional inhabitants of the area. An expedition in the 1920s was sent out to try and discover and capture one of these beasts. The expedition met with failure.

It is described as a red worm ranging from two to five feet in length, with a thick body. It can kill at a distance, spewing acid, poison, or causing an electric shock. Biologists who have studied the area cannot find an indigenous animal to equate the myth with this creature..

The Minhoc√£o: This means "big earthworm" in Portuguese. This giant subterranean worm-like cryptid inhabits the earth beneath South American forests. Though enormous earth worms, there are reports of them also being aquatic. There is a type of tentacle like appendage that protrudes from the head and it has been reported to prey on large mammals, namely cattle, capturing them from below the water where the bovines came to drink. Its body length can vary in size, from seventy-five to a hundred and fifty feet, and it also is known for the enormous tunnels it leaves behind. These tunnels suggest a diameter of up to ten feet. Buildings collapsing into the earth have been blamed on the tunnels left by this creature. These tunnels can sometimes flood and created subterranean water bodies. The Minhocao is featured in the game "Final Fantasy" as a "sand worm."

Unlike their mythological cousins, there are giant earthworms that actually exist and are not dragon or snakes.  They live in Australia, Japan and South America. The giant Gippsland earth worm is found only in the Bass River valley of South Gippsland in Victoria, Australia. These huge worms regularly reach sizes of 10 feet. The longest specimen on record was measured at 14 feet long. These rare earthworms are so large that it is possible to hear the gurgling sound of their movement through the earth when they are disturbed.

In New Zealand, there is another large worm known as the North Auckland worm that reaches a length of 4.5 feet. These worms have the added surprising, some might even say creepy, feature of glowing in the dark. By some accounts, the light the worms emit is said to be bright enough to read by.

Tales of enormous earthworms surface from time to time in various areas of Japan. One such account is Hyogo prefecture, on Honshu Island, which has many historical accounts of worms at five feet long. One tale comes from the year 1712, in what was then known as Tamba province (now part of Hyogo). A huge landslide occurred in a village, after which two giant earthworms were found in the debris. One of these worms measured five feet in length. The other was larger, at ten feet long. Another landslide that occurred in the same general vicinity allegedly unearthed a long worm around fifteen feet. A more modern report from Mikata-gun, which is located in the mountains of Hyogo prefecture, dates from 1996 when a farmer uncovered an earthworm 3.3 feet long and 0.8 inches thick while planting a tree on his rural property. It was the first time the surprised farmer had ever encountered such a large worm in all his years in the area. 

Giant worms have been reported from other parts of Japan as well. In Okayama, one woman said she had seen a worm ten feet long in a field that was being tilled. The worm had apparently been disturbed by the farming activity. Another farmer in the same area brought up a still thrashing piece of a worm that had been hacked off during farm work. The piece is estimated to have come from a worm up to 13 feet long. The rest of the worm could not be located.
Another of the largest known species is the South African giant worm that normally grow to around six feet long, but there is evidence that they maybe larger. In 1967, a South African worm was found by the side of a road in William’s Town, measuring at an incredible twenty-two feet in length, though its diameter was still only around 2 cm. This remains the longest earthworm ever confirmed.

So, the next time you start digging in your garden, take care. That earthworm you unearthed, may not be as small as you think. And it just might be hungry for human flesh!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Supernatural Friday: Book of Imagination

Book of Imagination
Pamela K. Kinney

Book of imagination,
Nightmares carved in words
Darkly my soul covets,
Freely calling the need to read.

The ghosts haunt the pages,
Werewolves stalk the lines
Vampires hide among the paragraphs,
While chapters are mummified.

Come now, open that book,
The raven near you has the key
Beware what I tell you,
The story will haunt your dreams.

This poem is original and copyrighted. Please just share the link ad not the poem so others can come and read it. Thank you.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Supernatural Friday: Towns and Cities with Names To Scare You or Freak You Out!

While working on my latest nonfiction ghost book, I discovered a section of Enon (in Chester, Virginia) that is also known by Screamersville.
Screamersville? Yes, Screamersville. There is even a page for it on FaceBook. There are some stories behind why it is called by this. Couple are ghost stories. One that the free Blacks who lived here earlier in the 20th century, are calling from their graves in a cemetery or two hidden back in woods behind some apartment buildings now there. Another concerns that the earthbound spirits of  Civil War soldiers who had their limbs amputated at a Civil War hospital that was on the land of what is now Point of Rocks Civil War Park.
But this is not the only town or land with such a scary or weird name.  Here are more:

Bad Axe, Michigan
Bat Cave, North Carolina
Black Cat, Arkansas
Blood, New Hampshire
Bloody Corners, Ohio
Bloody Springs, Mississippi
Boos, Illinois
Casper, Wyoming
Cricket Corner, New Hampshire
Cricket Hill, Georgia
Cut Off, Louisiana
Dead Mans Crossing, Indiana
Dead Women Crossing, Oklahoma
Deadman Crossing, Ohio
Deadman Landing, Florida
Deadmans Corner, Maine (there’s also one in Wyoming)
Deadwood, Oregon
Death Valley, California
Devil Canyon, California
Devil Town, Ohio (Rumor has it the Devil wasn’t such a nice guy. So we’re wondering why so many towns honor him.)
Devils Backbone, Connecticut
Devils Corner, Michigan (there’s also one in Wisconsin)
Devils Crossroads, South Carolina
Devils Den, Wyoming (there’s also one in California)
Devils Elbow, California (there’s also one in Michigan and Missouri)
Devils Gap, Nebraska
Devils Ladder, Idaho
Devils Lake, Michigan (there’s also one in North Dakota)
Devils Slide, Utah
Devils Tower, Wyoming—Remember the Devils Tower as a mashed potato sculpture in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind?
Erie, Pennsylvania
Frankenstein, Missouri
Fresh Kills, New York
Goblintown, Virginia
Half Hell, North Carolina (so it’s only half fire and brimstone?)
Hell, Michigan—is the only place where Hell freezes over..\
Hell For Certain, Kentucky
Hell Hollow, New Hampshire
Hells Corner, Ohio
Ghost Town, Texas
Ghost Creek, Texas
Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
Little Hell, Virginia
Looneyville, Minnesota (there’s also one in New York, Texas and West Virginia.)
Monster, The Netherlands
Pumpkin Bend, Arkansas
Pumpkin Center, Alabama (also ones in Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana,
Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina,
Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia.)
Pumpkin Hill, New York
Pumpkin Hook, New York
Pumpkintown, South Carolina (also North Carolina, Tennessee, and West
Red Devil, Alaska
Satan’s Kingdom, Massachusetts (there’s also one in Vermont)
Scary, West Virginia
Screamer, Alabama (also Tennessee)
Seven Devils, North Carolina
Shadow Hills, California
Slaughter, Delaware (also Louisiana and Tennessee)
Spider, Louisiana
Spiderweb, South Carolina
Spook City, Colorado
Spook Hill, Maryland
Tombstone, Arizona
Skull Valley, Arizona
Skullbone, Tennessee
Skullhead, Georgia
Skull Run, West Virginia
Skull Creek, Wyoming
Transylvania, Louisiana
Transylvania Beach, Kentucky
Transylvania County, North Carolina
Witch Hazel, Oregon
Witch Lake, Michigan

How some of the towns got their names:

Bad Axe, MI: Back in 1861, two surveyors set up camp in the area and came across a badly damaged axe. To mark the site, they made a sign that read “Bad Axe Camp”, hence the city’s name was born and was officially established in 1905.

Bat Cave, NC: This is the home of Bluerock Mountain, otherwise known as Bat Cave Mountain. It features a cave that houses several species of – you guessed it – bats! Fun fact: This mountain is reportedly the “largest known granite fissure cave in North America”. Sorry, it’s not open to the public.

Casper, WY: Commonly referred to as “The Oily City”, Casper’s name originated from Lieutenant Caspar Collins who was killed in 1865 by enemy forces. Nope, that’s not a typo, folks, at least not on our part. The change in spelling is due to a typo that was mistakenly submitted when the town name was officially registered with the state of Wyoming.

Cape Fear, NC: Widely recognized as the name of a 1962 thriller (and its 1991 Martin Scorsese remake), Cape Fear is a tiny town halfway between the larger metros of Raleigh and Fayetteville. Cape Fear’s name dates back to a 1585 expedition in which a ship became stuck behind the cape. The crew was afraid they’d wreck, giving birth to the name Cape Fear.

Deadwood, OR: This small town takes its name from nearby Deadwood Creek, an area known for a series of wildfires caused by dead timber snags along the water.

Frankenstein, MO: Sorry to burst your bubble, but this small town does not take its name from the popular square-headed monster. It’s actually named after Gottfried Franken in honor of the land he donated to build a church back in 1890.

Sleepy Hollow, NY: Located on the coast of the Hudson River just minutes from White Plains, Sleepy Hollow was known as North Tarrytown up until 1996. At that time, residents voted for the name change in honor of local author Washington Irving’s story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”.

Slaughter, LA: The name of this small and fairly new Baton Rouge town comes from an award-winning fictional novel by Michael Ondaatje. Buddy Bolden: Coming Through Slaughter, is largely based on the legendary New Orleans jazz musician.

Slaughters, KY: A simple bet is how this town earned its name. Augustus G. Slaughter won a card game, ultimately winning the right to name the town as well as the local post office where he served as postmaster from 1860 to 1865.

Tombstone, AZ: During the late 1800s, U.S. Army scout Ed Schieffelin searched the area looking for “valuable ore samples”. Around the same time, three army officers were killed by Indians. Schieffelin’s friend told him, “The only rock you will find out there is your own tombstone.” Ed continued his search, eventually locating a stash of silver ore. He named this spot Tombstone, which became the name of the town. It’s since been dubbed “The Town Too Tough to Die.”

Have you seen places with weird or scary names, not mentioned on here. Can be anywhere in the world. If so, do leave a comment.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Friday, August 01, 2014

Supernatural Friday: House of Headstones and More.....

It can be fascinating, but it can be strange too. Most homes are built of lumber and brick. But others are made most differently.
Like a house of tombstones. Like the one in Petersburg, Virginia that will be my future nonfiction ghost  book, Haunted Peterburg and the Ghosts of the Tri-Cities Area from Schiffer Publishing. Builtin the 1930s, the builder used tombstones from Poplar Civil War Cemetery, which is in Dinwiddie County. This house’s exterior walls are fashioned from the 2000 marble tombstones of Union soldiers killed during the Siege of Petersburg. Sixty thousand people were killed during the siege, which lasted ten months during 1864-65.

To save money, the city sold these tombstones to the builder, O. E. Young, for forty-five dollars. The ones used to build the house were put in facing inwards, and then Young plastered over the inscriptions. He even made the walkway out of the tombstones too, facing down. Wooden markers were placed upon the graves at Poplar Grove at first. But wood is not a very durable material and the weather destroyed them over a couple of years. In 1873 the government replaced them with marble ones. The soldiers’ names, states, and ranks were inscribed upon these new markers. Poplar Grove is the only cemetery in a national park where the tombstones lie flat. Besides being creepy enough to live in a house of gravestones, the place is also haunted. To find out more about it, you will have to buy the book when it is finally released, to learn more.
To save money, the city sold these tombstones to the builder, O. E. Young, for forty-five dollars. The ones used to build the house were put in facing inwards, and then Young plastered over the inscriptions. He even made the walkway out of the tombstones too, facing down. Wooden markers were placed upon the graves at Poplar Grove at first. But wood is not a very durable material and the weather destroyed them over a couple of years. In 1873 the government replaced them with marble ones. The soldiers’ names, states, and ranks were inscribed upon these new markers. Poplar Grove is the only cemetery in a national park where the tombstones lie flat. Besides being creepy enough to live in a house of gravestones, the place is also haunted. To find out more about that, you have to buy the book when it is finally released, to learn more.

Though this is the only place made of markers from graves I found, other materials a builder wouldn’t think of using nor ally, are used to build buildings. More than 50,000 cans adorn John Milkovisch’s Houston home in Texas.  It also includes bottle caps, bottles and other beer paraphernalia. The project began in 1968 when Milkovisch, a retired upholsterer was tired of mowing grass and covered his front and back yards with concrete, inlaying thousands of marbles, rocks and other glittery items to create a unique lawn.
He then turned to the house and began decorating it with flattened beer cans, covering the walls and roof, and even creating beer-can wind chimes.
Garlands made of cut beer cans hanging from the roof edges not only made the house sing in the wind, but also lowered the family's energy bills.
Today the Beer Can House is a museum. Find out more on how you can visit it at

It was in Rockport, Massachusetts, in 1922 that mechanical engineer Elias F. Stenman constructed his two-room home, planning to insulate it with newspaper. Before long, he made the entire house out of paper, and two years and 215 layers of newspaper later, he moved in. At that, he went on to make all of the home’s furnishings — including the desk and the piano — out of newspaper as well. He worked on the project until his death in 1942. Although the frame, floor and roof are made of wood, the rest of the home is composed entirely of newspaper, all donated by Stenman’s friends and family. Although the Paper House is completely sturdy, it does have to be revarnished every few years to keep it well-preserved. Of course, you can visit it. You can learn more at

In the southern part of Virginia, actually in Hillsville, there’s a house made up of all things, bottles. In 1941, pharmacist John “Doc” Hope commissioned a builder to build for his daughter a playhouse made out of bottles. Glass containers that had contained castor oil to soda pop were used in construction of this place. But unlike most children’s playhouses, this one stretched from fifteen to twenty-five feet.

Nicknamed the “House of a Thousand Headaches” due to the wine bottles also used in its construction, unlike many homes today, this one has stood the test of time. It is said that unlike other homes made of bottles in the world, this one had all its bottles arranged backwards, making the inner walls green. Green bottles form an "H" pattern (for Hope) on one of the side walls. There is also a blue bottle chandelier.