Sunday, October 28, 2012

Watrous & Valmora (Part 7)

To celebrate the upcoming holiday, Bindlegrim Productions is proud to present Watrous and Valmora: Further Tales of Pumpkinheart, (from the book On Stranger Winds: Tall Tales for Shorter Days). And tonight, through the magic of modern blogging, offers this Halloween-themed selection as a vintage-style serial during the chilly nights of October 22nd to the 28th.

In our last segment (Part 6) things have gone terribly wrong, and it appears our heroes have been helplessly captured by the witch. All is doomed! Or is it? And now the conclusion...

Watrous & Valmora: Further Tales of Pumpkinheart
(Part Seven)

From a night full of strange events, one might think that Valmora might cease to feel such emotions as surprise. But even while the threatening hat mechanism astounds, odder events continue to unfold. Fortunately she has just enough sense left in her weary mind to shelter beneath a nearby table, hidden from the hat, and from there watch the latest marvel.

A furious witch is turning upon the wood-wrenching noises behind her head, screaming in response to a pair of hands now departing through a large hole that has been torn into the roof. The gaping destruction is filled by one very large flame-flickering pumpkin eye. This huge triangular inferno burns with a warm yellowish-orange heat, while an eyeball, seemingly carved along its rim, is turning attention upon the cottage’s treacherous resident. A booming and irritated voice falls upon the airwaves, not so much with words but reverberations of exasperated thrums.

The witch shrieks and attempts to grab the hat but too late. The entire ceiling vanishes up and away into shards, causing her instead to fall backwards away from the fallout. The roof is replaced by an immense and warty-surfaced Jack O’Lantern, seemingly big as the room. The triangular eyes, nose, and zig-zag mouth form a terribly wicked expression, as dark muscular arms reach down, and one very large hand grabs the witch. Imprisoned, the wriggling creature screeches with curses and warbled spells, but these fall harmless against the charmed hull of the monstrous being who simply grins warmly while reacting silently and calmly.

First, the hat is beset with tinkering tendrils emerging from the wrists of the big arm, and these impel the hat in reverse. Materializing from the orange beam, Watrous, Carbon, and the ghost, suddenly appear huddled on the floor among a host of other fleeing creatures such as bats and owls flying up and away through the open ceiling. Valmora runs to protect her brother, and they watch in hopeful yet dismayed ignorance, not knowing what to make of this gigantic vision that smiles down upon them.

The thrum of the giant’s voice sounds pleased yet rises in a questioning pitch. It glances upward, off toward something in the distance, and the great head is almost instantly blurred by a mass of returning crows. As the children scream, the hands of the pumpkin attempt to shush away the annoying birds; however the witch, yelling curses from the wizard’s unfaltering grip, stokes the attack. The crows batter against the hull of the great round gourd, where upon they claw and peck into the flesh. They are sometimes flattened into a feathery pulp, with a great swat against its head; or their ranks are thrown against walls, the floor, or in whatever trajectory the swiping hands send them. Bats also reappear with an attempt to assist the pumpkin, and to block the crows from this attack, but the stronger birds perform their terrible work unhindered.

The pumpkin’s expression changes into a furrowed frown as the eyeballs peer at the incessantly babbling witch. He extends the blathering woman at arms length, as if in disgust, out among the swirling cloud of crows. All the while, the witch continues with her endless caterwaul of hexes.

With another great reverberating moan of final exasperation, the great pumpkin brings the screaming witch to his face, and chomps the great lips of rind down upon her midsection. Her legs frantically dangle, and something inside the pumpkin begins to burn as rings of curling smoke waft out from the pumpkin’s nose. The witch’s shrieks ratchet into howls of pain and hatred.

It isn’t too long after that the Pumpkinheart dislodges and careens from the black folds of her clothing. The shimmering jewel flies into a graceful arc upon the air. At this, the furies of the crows intensify, all attempting to catch it. But the pumpkin’s hand, quick and surprisingly nimble, captures the airspace around the flying jewel all at once, catching the Pumpkinheart in his grasp, and pulverizing anything else to mush. The powerful jewel is safe but the birds’ wrath is unceasing in their attempt to help the witch who squirms like a pinned bug.

Finally, the sheer mass of murderous birds drives the pumpkin away in a running retreat, with wildly gesturing hands. Not nearly defeated, it seems as if the wizard is merely moving the battle away from the group huddling in the cottage, and he even manages to wave before departing.

In the quiet that follows, it takes a bit of time for our heroes to recover from the amazing spectacle. It is the voice of Carbon who eventually reaches through the mental haze of the others shivering together in a corner. “I believe that we have just met the great wizard of the pumpkin patch.”

Given the ferocity of the great fight Valmora witnessed, she is both terribly relieved and exhausted. Holding the hand of the little werewolf, they approach the hat noisily spinning its cogs. To the top of the table where it ticks, Carbon jumps to give it a good cat-styled hiss.

“Well, I say.” With the swat of his paws, Carbon proudly sends the hat crashing from the edge of the table, and he attempts to return their world to a proper state of mundane affairs. “That was dreadfully exciting. And I dare say we indeed accomplished our goals,” seeing that the two children are reunited safe and sound. “I take it, dear friend ghost, that that was indeed the great wizard you mentioned?”

The ghost, in rare form, perhaps from seeing so many crows smashed to bits around his feet, is again smiling, and sighing in relief, and nodding his nebulous head. “Yes! The owl must have passed the word to the scarecrow, who in turn told the wizard….” But that statement, in a much truer return to form, is followed by an outburst of tears, “I hope he’s not mad at me!”

Carbon once again flattens his ears, and narrows his eyes, “Oh no! We’ve got to do something about your ghastly depression!” And the cat turns to more controllable matters. “Valmora! How are you? Are you okay? And how is this lost little canine of yours?” He looks over to see the two children are smiling, each asking one another if everything is okay.

“Water, did that wicked old thing hurt you?” Valmora asks the little werewolf.

“Nah…,” the little boy-cub says. “And I still got all my candy!” He smiles holding up his loot for her to see.

With her own treats half lost down a dark street, she cringes, embarrassed by her earlier goals of conquest into the candied kingdom of Halloween… not to mention getting involved with the whole Pumpkinheart affair. “I’m so sorry, Water. I’ll never drag either of us out into a mess like this ever again!” She hugs him, though Watrous rolls his eyes knowing that she’ll definitely forget those words next time another big mess just happens to happen.

Valmora then gives her attention to the cat and begins her introductions. Carbon and Watrous shake paws. And then she introduces her little brother to their terribly sad friend the ghost, that is between snuffles and sinus trumpeting.

Wondering if the ghost, finally, shouldn’t be happier, she ponders the events. “Do you suppose that everything is okay now? What will happen to the wizard, and the witch, and Pumpkinheart?” For herself and her friends she feels happy, but unsure the battle over that lovely powerful jewel is by any means finished.

The ghost calms down just a bit, self-loathing somewhat lessened, as he realizes the truth in his own upcoming statement, “Oh, I’m sorry to say, but the battle we witnessed here tonight has been going on long before your great-great-grandparents were born. Tonight, you were just a small part of it, and you did a good deed in the struggle. I suppose I was a small part too, and I hope I helped set things right. The great wizard of the pumpkin patch will eventually shake off, or should I say spit out the witch, and he will find the next new home for the Pumpkinheart tonight… but I’m sure that wretched crone will follow. She always does…”

Carbon chimes in, “Be glad of things Valmora! The witch lost the battle tonight! I only hope next year’s pumpkin patch is just as well guarded.” Carbon chuckles to see the ghost puff up with a bit of pride at the night’s outcome. Inwardly though, the cat shivers from a thought of ongoing battles.

“Well, I see no reason to stick around here. Let’s go everyone!” Carbon rallies and jumps from the table toward the door. And the members of the little group quickly follow. They are all so eager to exit this cottage, and to get back home; they travel outside, across the old porch, through the debris of the night, and stand at the edge of the road. There they sit for just a moment, hesitant now to head off in their separate directions.

Valmora crouches down low to speak eye to eye with the cat. “Thank you, so much, Carbon. I don’t know what I would have done if you had not found me crying at the Kilkennys.” As then, she sniffles just a bit despite all the complaints they had directed earlier at the morbid ghost for such dribble. “I suppose when I see you again we won’t be able to talk.”

“Ah, indeed,” Carbon sympathizes. “That is certainly true. This Halloween charm is going to fly away soon. But sometimes,” he winks secretly, nodding sideways toward the ghost, “it is best just to communicate silently. Please, you and Watrous, come by the farm sometime, and my meows and purrs will mean more than anything I could say with human words.” She giggles and lovingly pats the cat’s head.

After that, in turn she stands and faces the ghost. “We couldn’t have fixed anything without your help tonight. I really am sorry again to have caused such a stir. Please, if you can, tell the scarecrow too, I’m sorry to have created such a great commotion this night, and I’m so thankful for everyone’s help. Perhaps, I can help you in the future?”

The ghost does his best to control his tears, though he is obviously close to bawling, and manages to whisper, “I’m so happy I didn’t spend this night sulking in a well. It’s been wonderful to spend time in human company again, and in good conversation… well, that is, human conversation you see…” and he winks secretly, as unaware of the jab, Carbon’s own attention is currently turned to Watrous telling him to be good, and for he and his sister to watch after one another.

Valmora giggles at the ongoing squabble of her new friends, but her attention is drawn down the road where a car approaches. She turns to see Watrous squealing and waving. It is their parents’ car, and Valmora groans wondering if she can come up with anything remotely believable to explain to her parents this night’s trick-or-treat mayhem.

The ghost is disappearing behind tall grasses, and Carbon is crouching in shadows as the car’s headlights illuminate the night. Safely hidden, the cat and the ghost peer out at the strange world of humans, as the two children gather their trick-or-treat goodies and wait by the side of the road.

The door to the car opens and immediately there is a torrent of adult voices expressing concerns, questions, and outright shock to see the two of them trick-or-treating out of the neighborhood. What a scare they have caused! What worry! What a peck of trouble they are going to be in for the next few weeks!

Valmora sighs with a smile, happy to be heading home even to the doom of impending restrictions. The two children climb into the car, and as she prepares for endless scolding, Watrous already spins impossible yarns of ghosts, witches, talking cats, and giant pumpkins. As the car door closes, she assures her parents that the boy has just had too much sugar, and between breaths of his fantastical tale, apologizes again and again, and again.

She looks outside the car window and smiles secretly to her new friends. Carrying the children off toward their next adventure, the big car revs its engine and pulls away toward home. From behind it, the little black cat and the soggy ghost wave, and are later seen setting off into the night to also start their next adventure… all of them into the wondrous spell of Halloween night.

And that is the end of our story. Or is it? We hope you have enjoyed the tale of Watrous & Valmora: Futher Tales of Pumpkinheart and may we recommend a book to you?

Book of stories & poetry by Robert Aaron Wiley (aka Bindlegrim) for autumn & winter. Great for Halloween.

Tonight's story  was brought to you by Bindlegrim - maker of fine vintage-style arts for the autumn season.  We thank you for tuning in to this special presentation, celebrating the release of On Stranger Winds: Tall Tales for Shorter Days, (a book offering both light to dark writings of whimsy for autumn and winter), coming soon in both digital and print formats.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Watrous & Valmora (Part 6)

To celebrate the upcoming holiday, Bindlegrim Productions is proud to present Watrous and Valmora: Further Tales of Pumpkinheart, (from the book On Stranger Winds: Tall Tales for Shorter Days). And tonight, through the magic of modern blogging, offers this Halloween-themed selection as a vintage-style serial during the chilly nights of October 22nd to the 28th.

With the help of a wise old owl (in Part 5), our heroes, now a trio plus bats, near the witch's cottage. And though they may have a plan, I can only tell you that nothing will go as expected...

Watrous & Valmora: Further Tales of Pumpkinheart
(Part Six)

The little queen, the talking black cat, and the sad drippy ghost peer out of the bushes, out upon the dreary cottage. The house looks much worse than Valmora remembers and they are all amazed to see the cottage is actually shedding. Every once in a while, a shingle will slide toward the eaves, or a shutter swing off its hinges, or a piece of brick, a plank, or pane of glass flake off and come crashing violently down. Surrounding the weird cottage, the yard swarms with shrill crows all of which occasionally speed off, startled, as pieces of the house clatter to the ground. In agitation most of the flock squabbles and brawls. 

Valmora’s group remains hidden, not daring to get any closer. They watch the black form of the witch, with her pointy hat and long crooked nose, moving around past various windows. Her unfriendly silhouette is like an eyeball in the leering windows of the cottage, and it appears as if the building itself is rolling its eyes in search of intruders. Our heroes, hidden in the bushes, strain to catch any indication of Watrous or the Pumpkinheart, without a sign.

Carbon takes charge. “Okay, my good company, with this terrible lot of crows there is no way, even for a sneaky cat like me, or a waterspout ghost, to reach any side of this building without the witch getting the alarm. We’ve most certainly got to use our plans for stealth and surprise,” and he looks over to the ghost who lets out a pitiful little sniffle.

On this unfortunate cue the sad spirit departs toward the road, toward a gutter. There he slips into the grill as a ribbon of vapor until some moments later he has traveled through the pipe system and found a drain leading into the house. The thin body as nothing but a vapor trail wafts upward from the basin. And there a head slowly coalesces, floating above an old sink.

He peers about the empty kitchen. The room, like the rest of the cottage is illuminated, and here the light reveals walls of innumerable shelves covered in various bottles coded with indecipherable labels for unknowable contents. They are apparently the ingredients used in the recipes of variously abandoned concoctions stacked here and there throughout the room. Each cooking pot has spilled over in an assortment of fresh oozing glop, fuzzy green spores, and ancient crusts. “I’m glad I can’t smell,” he whispers quietly and miserably to himself.

From the other room he hears the witch stomping madly back and forth through the house, and it makes bottles rattle nervously. She doesn’t seem to have any interest in the kitchen, so the ghost decides to start snooping. He uncurls out of the drain and drifts as a non-embodied head, in and out piles of variously sized pots. Then reaching a connecting door, he peeks out ever so slightly.

The distant end of the larger room burns with a massive fireplace of dirty smoke occasionally belching around the mantel. Strewn about it are bulky antique cabinets and tables that reverberate as her feet impact unsteady floorboards. The witch is currently in the middle of the room, her silhouette dark against fire. She is walking place-to-place, frantically packing up assorted things into a black leather case. High upon an elaborate metal stand, beside the case, shimmers the Pumpkinheart casting reflected beams upon every surface. And in a large chair beside the table, the ghost spies the reflections hitting the frightened face of a small boy sitting with legs tucked, chin to knees, and face flinching every time the witch flings something into the open bag.

On one particular circuit, the witch pauses by one of the cabinets. After sniffing the air with her big nose, she makes a hasty exit. The ghost sees his chance and immediately drifts over to the little boy. As he floats across the room his ethereal arms begin to materialize reaching outward, as he hopes to tell of the mission and of his sister. But unprepared for this fantastic apparition, the little werewolf howls in fright! The ghost moans and shushes him, and tries to explain… but it is too late. From behind him the witch’s black form is already towering.

In her hands she holds an upside down jar and a wand. As she taps the wand to the rim, the ghost feels his body drawn toward the container. Though he frantically tries to pull away back toward the kitchen, and escape through the drain, instead his body turns into a ribbon of plasma and flows like thin syrup in reverse. And before he can release a single tear of dismay, she has tightly spun the container’s top. He is completely bottled up, a trapped spirit.

The boy whimpers in his furry werewolf costume, having no idea what to make of any of this, while the dark lips of the witch let slip a dry cackle of laughter. “I am sorry little whelp, but that was someone come to save you. But I won’t have it! Do you hear?” And as she cackles some more, the laughter is joined by the rough cawing of a crow landing upon her shoulder. The horrid pair leer at the disembodied face whimpering in the jar. The crow tormentingly taps the container with his beak, and the ghost winces which sends his despicable captors into a raucous outburst.

The witch sets the jar on the table and sneers over her shoulder. “We’ve got a couple more guests, my little pup! I think it’s time we allow them inside.”

She glances at the now attentive crow and lifting the bird to her face, whispers. The crow flies out of a nearby window, and in flight around the house carefully scans the edge of the woods. During a wide circle, it spies the little queen and the black cat worriedly whispering to one another behind a bush; they have heard the screams and are desperately discussing plans. Having spotted them, the crow calls its fellow minions away into the night, their departure leaving the house fairly quiet except for occasional shedding of deconstruction. The little girl and the cat peek out through the bushes astounded to hear the great sound of so many wings taking off at once, leaving the molting house now completely unguarded.

“Stay here!” Carbon commands, and then runs toward the house, and there leaps upon the porch railing. Clambering up a rickety lattice, he finds his way to an open window. But to complicate matters, Valmora, being obviously headstrong, is far too concerned after hearing her brother’s scream. With ideas of her own, she is also making her way toward the house. Bats flurry around her in an effort to keep the child safe; and she reaches the house just in time to see Carbon slip out of sight inside the nearby window.

At this stage any existing plan the group may have made is completely lost. Having no idea what to do, Valmora runs around to the front of the house, to the old porch where the children’s night of trick-or-treat derailed just a short time ago. She boldly pushes open the front door, to meet the danger that lurks inside.

Entering directly into the large fire-lit room, Valmora is greeted by a long dark silhouette, the horrendous creature that transformed beneath the streetlight. Suddenly confronted by the witch, the fearful girl stalls now, unsure what to do next. Sensing the danger, a small contingent of bats flood into the room to defend her, but they instead drop, one by one stunned as they pass the threshold. The remaining bats flutter hesitantly outside the door, away from the spell.

“You have a severe deficiency when it comes to manners, your royalty? And the place is an absolute mess,” the witch snarls. “Well, it’s no matter. Do come closer. I was packing for a trip before you so impolitely dropped by my humble abode. And I see you’ve brought friends. Sadly though your new acquaintances are as dreadfully rude as you.” And she sweeps her hand toward the table holding both the ghost-filled jar, and a new addition, a birdcage holding Carbon. There is no jewel; there is no sign of her brother.

“I’m so sorry Valmora,” worries Carbon. “She certainly is a most wretched creature.”

“You see,” interrupts the witch, “a good hostess plans ahead no matter the occasion. But, unfortunately, I really have to leave town you see. With so many uninvited guests you never know who is going to show up next! But since you are all so eager to see me, I’ve decided just to pack you all up for the trip. It’s going to be horrible fun, my dear! Shall I show you the royal dungeon?”

“You tricked me,” scowls Valmora, as if suddenly sharing new information.

“Tsk-tsk, your honored highness. This is All Hallow’s Eve! And I am a dark nasty witch! Would you honestly expect any different? You humans can be so na├»ve. You come to a stranger’s door and request trick-or-treat. Well, I didn’t give any treats you see. You were tricked! You took the jewel from the pumpkin patch, which I could not, and from there willingly handed it to me. So by the rules of this Halloween charm, it now belongs to me.

“But we have a bit of a problem, your majesty, and so I accept your intrusion. You see, once the Pumpkinheart is removed from the ground it begins to fade. I know how to tap its powers but the jewel needs a battery, or it could become inert. I need to transplant the little jewel as quickly as possible! But I don’t dare plant it in the ground where the pumpkins may find it again. So as a dark and nasty witch, I can think of nothing better than testing it on what my kin abhor the most - children!”

Valmora stares dumbly at her, having no idea what the long-winded hag could mean. And this only sends a sneer across the lips of the witch who laughs again. “My dear monarch of ignorant mortals. You really have no idea of the powers that move through the earth this night, and every night. A seed needs to be nourished, especially one that catalyses the transference of power to a billion pumpkins in a single night.”

Valmora looks to Carbon and the ghost, who both shrug their shoulders in shared misery at their helplessness. Carbon can only guess. “I have no clue what this revolting monster is babbling on about…”

The witch laughs unnervingly at her mad inventiveness. She glares down at the little girl and comes frighteningly close. “Hasn't anyone told you, to never ever swallow a watermelon seed? Well, let’s say we try a magical pumpkin seed, and see what happens!” And at that she shrieks even louder in maniacal amusement.

Confused and tired, Valmora interrupts the woman’s insane babbles, and demands of the atrocious, conniving witch, “Where is my brother!”

“Don’t fret. He’s safe for now.” The witch fumes, “But I have no more time to argue. I believe it’s time to pack our suitcase, and we will all just have to see what happens next.” And with those words, so much indeed happens. The witch removes her hat and places it upon the table, the hat revealed as some sort of mechanical contraption. The conical top of the hat opens up like shutter doors, and reveals a pair of horrific mechanized eyes and a terrible gear-work maw, rotating and aligning upon objects in the room. While Carbon is pleading from the cage for Valmora to run, the hat faces toward the black feline who, covered in orange beams of light, disappears. This is followed by a similar occurrence upon the shivering ghost that upon vanishing leaves behind a trembling bottle of empty air.

The hat then slowly rotates toward Valmora. But during this final rotation something bizarrely wonderful happens. That something is altogether different, and it is taking place outside of the witch’s control; in the ceiling from behind the old crone, large black hands are ripping a hole through the roof of the small cottage.
(to be continued...)

Stay tuned for Part 7, and the exciting conclusion of Watrous & Valmora. Our heroes are going to need a big hand to help against a very terrible witch. Can they succeed? 

Book of stories & poetry by Robert Aaron Wiley (aka Bindlegrim) for autumn & winter. Great for Halloween.

Tonight's story  was brought to you by Bindlegrim - maker of fine vintage-style arts for the autumn season.  We thank you for tuning in to this special presentation, celebrating the release of On Stranger Winds: Tall Tales for Shorter Days, (a book offering both light to dark writings of whimsy for autumn and winter), coming soon in both digital and print formats.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Watrous & Valmora (Part 5)

To celebrate the upcoming holiday, Bindlegrim Productions is proud to present Watrous and Valmora: Further Tales of Pumpkinheart, (from the book On Stranger Winds: Tall Tales for Shorter Days). And tonight, through the magic of modern blogging, offers this Halloween-themed selection as a vintage-style serial during the chilly nights of October 22nd to the 28th.

After a watery introduction (in Part 4) to a sad drippy ghost, the spirit joins Carbon & Valmora on their quest to save Watrous & the Pumpkinheart. But they must first cross through a spooky forest to get there...

Watrous & Valmora: Further Tales of Pumpkinheart
(Part Five)

“That’s weird…” Valmora muses as they reach the playground’s exit. She has noticed a peculiar change. “I used to walk back and forth to this school when it was still open, so I know we’re heading the right way, but this road was much nicer even just earlier tonight. Now it’s just creepy! The last time I was here, the street lamps were lit and there was a proper sidewalk. But just look at all the tall weeds overgrowing all of it. Seems as if the few trees around here have turned into a forest. I can’t even see the moon.”

Beside the playground gate, Valmora and the ghost pause at the side of this road. She is unsure but tells herself that roads don’t change overnight. Carbon is many steps ahead but he looks back questioningly. Beyond him stretches the forested area, wind whistling gently and limbs creaking.

Valmora remains in place and shakes her head. “I don’t know,” she says slowly. “This just doesn’t look like the same road. I have a very hard time believing we would have ever walked through here! I didn’t want a jewel that badly, did I?”

“Ah, this is not so scary!” The ghost whines in a fashion that Valmora has learned makes every fact, good or bad, sound like the worst thing in the world. “But I can tell you I sense a charm in the air. I think you are seeing things now as they really are. Or else they only appear to have worsened.” As usual the statement is followed by a pitiful sob. And after a few more sniffles after which he blows his nose, he continues to assure, “I am a ghost you know. I’m not so easily spooked.”

But at the flutter of wings just a few feet above their heads, they all jump having only just minutes ago escaped the terror of the crows. This time, in an old broken tree there is a hoot owl alighting on a branch. He settles as if purposely facing them, and tilts his head a few times together with a couple of quick blinks. The stunned silence is broken as he calls down to them, “Whooo whoo, whoo whoooo.”

Carbon sits down, calling out to the group not to worry, and looks up at the owl. “Is that so?” he replies. “Well, my fine feathered friend, I can’t say we would know what to make of that statement. For all we know you might be just another accomplice of the witch.”

Valmora walks nervously over to the cat as the owl turns to look. In response she crouches low beside Carbon. “You know what the owl is saying?”

“Well, of course, my dear girl. I can decipher quite a few bird languages, though I’ve never been able to speak them. Basically, in human terms, he is warning of danger, that there is a witch up ahead.”

His big eyes blinking, the owl watches the trio down below. He perches there impatiently yet seemingly waiting for an appropriate response.

“Can you talk to him?” Valmora asks the cat.

“Well, uhm, I don’t think so, but I’ll try,” and Carbon attempts a few lame hoots back at the owl. In return the owl blinks and extends his ruffled wings. His beak pops open-and-shut a few times. But ultimately he settles upon the branch; the head is cocked with big eyes winking, yet the creature remains silent as if puzzled beyond reply.   

“Hmmm, I see, well I guess the answer is no, I cannot speak owl. But just maybe he knows a bit of cat?”

“Oh no!” the ghost bellyaches. “From what I heard earlier, he’ll never understand your bad cat impression.”

Carbon flattens his ears, and looks over at the pitiful spirit. “Look, sir, have I mentioned to you what a pleasure it will be once this Halloween charms flies away? No more conversations with your miserable soul…”

“Oh, now, don’t get snippy with me,” the ghost whines, “I just clobbered a few foul bird brains for you earlier… so show a bit of respect.”

Valmora steps in and urgently whispers at the the two of them. “My friends, we’re in a hurry!”

Carbon stops short of a full retort to the ghost, and responds with calm civility. “Quite true, my dear Valmora,” and instead turns to the owl, though he slyly flips his tail self-importantly in a silent gesture meant for the spirit. He proceeds to meow a few of his best, though still obviously human, impressions of how a cat might sound, trying his best to remember his native cat tongue.

“Whooo whoo,” the owl cries. It blinks, waves it feathers, and follows with a few more hoots and various beak clacks.

“I see then!” Carbon says to his friends. “Well, then here is the news. The owl says the witch house is just up ahead. And the place is guarded by many crows.”

“Whoo whoooo, whoooo, whoo whoo.”

“He also says the witch has captured a small werewolf?”

“Watrous!” Valmora whispers loudly to the cat and she looks hopefully upward at the informative owl. Adjusting her nervous crouch to a more regal air, once more as royalty, Valmora now accepts his audience. “Ask him if he can help us?” Valmora asks Carbon as the ghost snuffles under his breath that he alone would be happy to flatten a huge number of those awful crows.

Carbon meows up at the owl. This time though there is again the long silence, and Carbon confides to Valmora, “I’m pretty sure he understood. He seems to be ignoring my question.” Carbon looks up, semi-repeating his earlier string of cat sounds, but much longer this time as if telling a story to which at the end, the owl extends his handsome wings, clacks his beak, and hoots before calming.

Carbon sighs. “Well, basically the simple answer is no. And considering what we are about to do, I would guess owls are smart creatures after all.”

Valmora sighs but she is not one to argue with a wise old owl. “Then we must be on our way. The owl has at least given us good information.”

“Wait,” the ghost interjects. “We do need one thing: a messenger. I asked the scarecrow to stall the pumpkin wizard until we could return the jewel. But the scarecrow should be told of recent events. This bird could tell him of our further travels, and the location of the witch house. Will you ask the owl to go there and tell him these things?”

Carbon meows back at the owl, to which the owl returns in a number of brief hoots. And Carbon mews briefly back in an appreciative tone.

“Good,” Carbon announces to their little group. “The owl will fly to the scarecrow. He is going to take his evening’s hunt in that direction and will pass on the information, killing two, uhm, rats, as it were…” but before the cat can complete the pronouncement, the owl lifts off the branch. They watch the raptor’s shadow travel over them, and past the derelict schoolhouse.

“Well,” moans the ghost, “it’s always a good idea to let someone know where you are going, or else when disaster hits, no one will find you.” He breaks into a crying jag that neither Carbon nor Valmora can stop. They wait for a few minutes but, when there is no apparent change in the specter’s attitude, agree to continue onward hoping their nebulous grief-stricken friend will catch up.

“Are all ghosts like that?” She wonders aloud, doing as much as she can to hold a conversation as they pass through the unbearably dark road leading them ever closer to the terrifying encounter with the witch.

Carbon walks slightly ahead, always on the watch for trouble. “Well, I haven’t met many ghosts but I think they’re as different as cats. And he was once human; we cats are still mystified with all you various people types.

“Anyway, I think he fell into that old well, and broke his neck or some such thing. It’s all very sad really. Humans can be so clumsy… uh, well, no offense to you. Anyway, I’m always patient with the guy around the farm, but until tonight, speaking with him, I had no idea how insufferable he could act. I can’t help but wonder if someone pushed him down that well deliberately!” Carbon’s ears flatten as he glances back at the ghost, still crying in the middle of the road amidst the dark woods.

Carbon faces front, and spots what seems to be a dim shaft of moonlight. He turns to Valmora asking her to wait and vanishes into the darkness. She sits there alone listening to the scraping of branches in the wind and, on occasion, the insufferable whimpers of the ghost, which isn’t helping calm her awful chills. She wants to ask for his company but is too frightened to call out.

After what seems to pass as an eternity, she hears Carbon approaching, identifying himself so as not to scare her. “I think I have found the witch,” he informs. “There is a cottage up ahead, a tattered gray thing with a big front porch, just as you described. The lights are on inside. Crows surround the house though, and they are making terrible noises quarreling with one another, which at least helped me come and go unnoticed. But I couldn’t get close enough to see into any of the windows.”

He sits next to her and ponders the situation, “There is no way you and I alone can do this. I think we should try and get through to the ghost, ask for his help…”

“Oh, don’t bother, I am already here,” says the ghost, uselessly trying to dry his eternal tears with the back of his hands. “I have some company.” His words are followed by chattering in the air, and Valmora identifies the bats. She remembers the flying animals’ brave attack on the witch earlier this evening. She spins about in the friendly cloud and speaks both apologetic and welcoming words.

Carbon spins his confused head about, eyes wide, taking in the haphazard flight patterns of the new arrivals. He looks pleased. “Well, my friends, I think we have gathered together everyone we could, and more than I ever expected. I suggest we take a moment now to make a plan!” And the group huddles, preparing their whispered scheme, as the bats flit above them in an obscure blur. 
(to be continued...)

Stay tuned for Part 6 of Watrous & Valmora, when our heroes reach the cottage of the horrid witch. Unfortunately, their rescue doesn't go according to plan...

Book of stories & poetry by Robert Aaron Wiley (aka Bindlegrim) for autumn & winter. Great for Halloween.

Tonight's story  was brought to you by Bindlegrim - maker of fine vintage-style arts for the autumn season.  We thank you for tuning in to this special presentation, celebrating the release of On Stranger Winds: Tall Tales for Shorter Days, (a book offering both light to dark writings of whimsy for autumn and winter), coming soon in both digital and print formats.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Watrous & Valmora (Part 4)

To celebrate the upcoming holiday, Bindlegrim Productions is proud to present Watrous and Valmora: Further Tales of Pumpkinheart, (from the book On Stranger Winds: Tall Tales for Shorter Days). And tonight, through the magic of modern blogging, offers this Halloween-themed selection as a vintage-style serial during the chilly nights of October 22nd to the 28th.

After the terrifying and perplexing events of Part 3, Valmora and Carbon have set off in search of a ghost who turns out to know a helpful thing or two... but who can help when you are attacked by a murderous flock of crows?

Watrous & Valmora: Further Tales of Pumpkinheart
(Part Four)

The pair of them, Valmora the dethroned queen, and Carbon the talking cat, set off in search of this unhappy ghost. As they walk, Carbon explains how he is accustomed to seeing the spirit pass to and from a long forgotten water-well in a small copse near the barn. He suggests this would likely be a good place to intercept his travels. Thus, in a longish perimeter, they follow a questionable footpath into the shadows of trees. There they linger by the old ruins of the well as moonlight shudders in the breeze among a canopy of slow moving branches.

“I’m so worried about my little brother,” mourns Valmora as the minutes seem to pass on forever. And at that, Carbon decides to pick up the pace of his suggested adventure. “I’m not even sure the lazy fellow is awake,” he chides.

Carbon jumps up and nimbly balances on the old tattered wall. Being a somewhat impatient cat, he proceeds to scratch pebbled debris into the pit’s darkness. Valmora jumps as the tiny impacts echo loud and hollow. These then mimic the chills down her back when answered by a reverberating moan traveling upward out of the well.

“Ah, that’s got his attention,” Carbon chuckles, eyes glinting in the light as he glances back at the girl. He winks to assure his new friend there is nothing to worry. He then lowers his head into the darkness of the dank pit shouting “Helllloooo….llooooo….ooooo!”

In seconds a slow ribbon of thick murky air drifts upward in front of the cat’s nose. There is a moment where they touch as if the equivalent of a shy handshake. “Well, come on then,” says the cat rather flatly.

Slowly, with much moaning, there coalesces on the opposite curve of the well’s bricked wall a most miserable looking man. His hair is wet and long around his shoulders. His shoddy clothes drip, and the lost soul is devoid of any color, a bit like an old black and white photo. As he sits, his body fades in and out of the scenery like the quivery moonbeams, and Valmora is no longer sitting but instead observing all of this safely now from behind one of the trees.

The man shivers with head down. Slowly looking up, and yawning, he complains in a depressed voice, “I was taking a nap. What do you want? And when did you start talking? That is an annoying development.”

“Ahem,” the cat interrupts. “My good sir, I’m sorry to trouble you from your busy ghostly schedule, but something has happened tonight and we hope you might be able to assist us with your knowledge.”

The ghost groans again, and lowers his head, “I want to go back to sleep,” and starts snoring immediately.

Carbon lets out a high-pitched snarl that is actually a bit funny because he no longer sounds like a cat, but rather a human's poor imitation. He looks a bit embarrassed by it, but clears his throat and shouts in human-speak for the ghost to wake up.

The man lifts his gaze again and says, “Oh quiet. You are ridiculous with a human voice. I hope you lose that soon.” But before the cat can interject again, the man continues, “Did you say we need your help?” And he turns his head looking directly in the direction of young Valmora.

“Oh, you,” he glumly snips. “Well, you’ve certainly been busy mucking up the order of things,” and he groans in despair and disgust.

Discovered, Valmora eases forward and doing her best to regain a courtly posture, stands next to Carbon. “I’m really sorry,” she apologizes, not really knowing why she should. But regaining a sense for royal humility, she drops her chin due to his ambivalent scolding.

“Now see here…!” Carbon boldly interjects but the ghost continues on with an explanation.

“I was up earlier, and saw the whole racket. Pumpkins in distress... Gangs of crows roaming the air... Bats on full alert, and that fool scarecrow screaming at the top of his cankerous throat... What a racket! And then you had to go and get the witch involved on top of all that! Humans on Halloween! When will it stop?” And he moans and moans until the cat finally breaks in again.

“Sir, please, get a grip on yourself. My young friend is at a loss to explain these events. And from what she tells me, I am sure she has been tricked by the horrid machinations of this sinister witch.” Carbon moves in front of her in a defensive posture, ears down, and ready for a fight.

“Oh, whatever,” the wretched man drawls, “it’s no concern of mine. It’s been an exhausting night. And she’s not the only trick-or-treat brat getting into trouble. Earlier in the fields, I saw a little kid, by himself no less, dressed like a wolf, which is just asking for trouble.” He swats at a bug and creates a big wet splat of ghost plasma against the well’s crumbling brick. “And he found it too! It makes you glad to be a ghost instead of one of them,” he snuffles, “especially with what is going to come next…”

Valmora has been moving over to the other side of the well, nearer to the ghost. The news bothers her but she is braver now realizing this ghost is just a miserable spirit with nothing but nasty words. And so she isn’t going to let it bother her. She decides to take another approach and curtsies by his side. “Sir, my name is Valmora. I didn’t mean any of this to happen and I’m very sorry for it. I’m really just an innocent little girl, looking for that little boy. He’s my brother and I’m very worried about him. We all just want to return home, away from the strange world of Halloween.”

The ghost is brought to tears as he listens, and cries out, “Oh, you poor little child! This world is so terrible!” And he is again racked by sobs and buries his head into his chest. Across the arc of the wall, Carbon sits flat-eared and gazes disgustedly at the ghost. He will be very happy, he thinks, when the night is done and he can no longer converse in this language. But for now it all seems very important.

“Look here now,” the cat interrupts. He tries to be very even-toned with this overly dramatic apparition, “You’ve told us some very important things. You have been a great assistance to us. We just need some more details and we will be on our way. There is no time to lose. We are not ourselves ghosts yet, and cannot waste time! Someone is in trouble!”

The sodden ghost sniffles and calms himself. “You just don’t know. The whole thing is absolutely awful.” He snorts then continues talking, though it is punctuated by occasional phlegm catching in his throat. “From where I sat, safely hid in the fields, I saw your brother chased by crows. And the witch rose out of the corn and snatched him like a spider catches a fly.” He checks to see if the spider he swatted is dead. “And she sent him off in a net pulled by a murder of crows. I am certain he’s a prisoner of the witch.

“That was when the noise started. The scarecrow started screaming, and then the witch turned into a little old lady. She waited there until you came running to hand over the Pumpkinheart. Oh how could such a thing happen?” And he starts a whole new round of sobbing.

“Stop this now,” Carbon demands, “and shame on you for just watching events without helping! It is at least obvious now where to find Valmora’s brother, and we must go right away. But what is this Pumpkinheart? Is it important?”

The dripping man ceases to cry as guilt washes over his face. He takes a serious tone concerning the mysterious importance that engines these events. “The Pumpkinheart, The Halloween Soul, The Stone Fire of JOLs… call it what you want, but it’s the power that gives the Jack O’Lanterns their spirit. It’s the catalyst that once planted inside of the earth, engenders pumpkins with great magic as they ripen. Without this, pumpkins are just another deformed gourd. Humans will forget to carve them, and to light them, and on nights of Halloween future, the darker spirits will begin to run amuck on the earth. There will be no such thing as Jack O’Lantern flame to hold them at bay. The wilding demons that cross over from the nether world will have little to stop them from doing terrible things...” And he looks at the little girl and starts sobbing all over again.

“Valmora,” Carbon makes sure he has her attention. “I think we better be on our way! Perhaps we had best try retrieving this thing that you found at the farm!” At this she nods her head silently and earnestly. And with deliberately brief gratitude, the two excuse themselves, and turn back toward the dim footpath.

“Wait,” the nebulous phantom calls out. “There is a charmed spirit, a wizard of sorts, who will come to this farm tonight. He will return for the Pumpkinheart, to once again move it to another place. You must hurry. It must be here before he arrives, or I don’t know what will happen…!”

The pair nod and thank him yet again, leaving the ghost grousing and sobbing in the dark. They hurry off through the forest and back to the road, to start a long journey toward the cottage where Valmora first met the old lady, the now dark and treacherous witch.
Walking from the Kilkenny’s farm, the girl is quite nervous but Carbon assures and keeps close watch with his keen senses. As they travel, Valmora grabs the pieces of a frantic escape; she gathers her scepter, the crown and, in time, reaches the splatter of candy sprawling out around the tiara-topped cat-pail. She dawdles over a few pieces but, given the urgency of their mission, is content leaving most of the sweets strewn across pavement to meet their own ends.

In a few more minutes the traveling pair reach the trip’s halfway mark, the old school. The grounds are a mixture of barren well-tread patches of dry earth stippled with vigorous weeds. The architecture is a grim two-story brick building, of numerous past lives, sitting with windows boarded, doors planked, and all with colorful graffiti. As an eyesore, the school sits in limbo waiting for a decision - develop or raze.

They decide to take a shortcut through the playground and this is when the quiet journey ends. Something rushes past Valmora’s ear but in the darkness her anxious head spins and sees nothing. “What was that?” she asks, startled.

Carbon sounds a bit worried. “We’re being followed by crows,” he says. “They’ve been keeping a good distance so far...,” but before he can finish his sentence, one of the birds swoops past the briefly appointed queen, and knocks her glittery crown once more to the ground.

Valmora attempts to pick it up, but falters as a second bird flies toward her. This is countered with the not-so-courteous claws of Carbon as his lithe form flips upward to meet the bird mid-air, the crow jutting away before those vicious blades make contact. At the same time Valmora, without thinking, screams and runs for the shelter of a playset offering a place to hide inside metal tunnels. Carbon follows and quickly scrambles into an opening, into the dark, as a flurry of forms race back and forth across the entrance.

“We can’t stay here!” Carbon catches his breath and assesses the situation. Valmora stops not too many feet inside, afraid to crawl any further past a border of complete blackness; between the entrance and the darkness, she curls up into a ball. Carbon’s huge eyes peer past her. “But I don’t think it would be any wiser to go deeper,” he determines, having caught sight of the tunnels numerous twists and splits before they entered. “I think they would just catch us at another exit… so this must do for the moment until we can plan our escape.”

Valmora crumples and looks a bit stunned. “Will they leave us alone now?”

“I hate to say it, but crows are smart.” Carbon ponders. “We’re rather caged here. The witch couldn’t have found better allies than these cunning birds. At least they don’t seem to be getting inside, but I don’t think anything, even my claws, could stop such numbers.”

The crows are landing on top of the structure, where their talons skitter across the metal. Their beaks threateningly peck upon the ringing surface. A few more land on the ground near the opening and peer inside. With mean eyes, they squawk loudly in shrill chorus. And all of these sounds echo terribly through the cold steel tunnel.

Valmora grabs some of the candy remnants from her bucket and throws, but the birds are unperturbed. Avoiding the projectiles, the crows are intimidated only long enough for a less than curious peck. But they soon return, noisily as before, to the tunnel entrance.

“Just go away!” Valmora screams, but this has the same effect, and the awful birds begin their obnoxious ruckus once again. She sighs. “We’re stuck, even if we could escape to somewhere else like the school building. We’d be stuck there too. But it might be more comfortable...” She shifts about in the confined space.

Carbon bravely stands guard between Valmora and the tunnel entrance. His ears are flat from distress, his eyeballs huge, and he keeps glancing to the front and back.  “We will think of something,” he assures her, but admits to himself that he has no idea how they will ever leave.

Valmora sniffles, “The witch has won. What will become of little Water…”

Carbon places a paw on her hand, “Is that your little brother’s name? I’m sorry I neglected to ask until now. It’s been such a crazy night.”

Valmora nods. “Watrous is his real name, but I call him Water from back when he was learning how to talk.

“This is all my fault. He didn’t even want to leave our own street, but I talked him into leaving the neighborhood. We would have never met that old hag…”

Carbon flexes his paw a few times in her hand to try and comfort her. “I will think of something. We will get your brother back, and correct everything. I just need to determine an escape from this current predicament.”

She sniffles and dries her cheek and, as captives, the two huddle there for some minutes with the cacophony of crows on patrol. The situation is truly hopeless, but at some point Carbon notices a change, as birds once guarding the entrance turn away with enraged squawking. And the crows on top seem even more obnoxious than ever stamping and pecking on the metal. Above all of this racket, something else, a long and loud irritated wailing sends shivers down Valmora’s spine and raises the hair on Carbon’s back.

As the two watch stunned, the birds directly in front of the hideout are suddenly struck by a wave of water that knocks them flapping off their feet. Their wings beat furiously, and one bird barely begins an attempt toward the safety of the tunnel before a wall of water carries it, and its cronies, out of sight. From above, the sound of a torrential downpour hits the metal, and the crows cease there too, their troubled squawking vanishing in the deluge. From the aftermath, the scene beyond the tunnel-view is steeped with dripping water and round puddles.

With tail flipping madly, Carbon stealthily creeps to the entrance and peers stunned. From the playground gate there is a smiling, self-satisfied specter approaching. It is the ghost of the well, the very ghost who has never been anything but a miserable, infuriating wretch.

“You!” Carbon yells out.

The smiling ghost grins wide. “Crows! Have I ever described how much I detest crows! But I had no idea how satisfying that could be! Just wait ‘til I tell the scarecrow in the pumpkin patch about this!” and he laughs which makes Carbon laugh too in great amusement and relief.

“You did it, my good, uh, man! You saved us!” Carbon announces. And Valmora who is now timidly poking her head out from behind the cat, also looks stunned at first glance of the new arrival. Yet she too collapses in contagious laughter and relieved exhaustion. The water-well spirit plops down with a squish into a muddy puddle.

“After you left,” he says seriously, “I thought about the extraordinary events of this night. Your voice... your new friend Valmora here... and most certainly the trouble that awaits you both..., and, well, to be honest there is something more I haven’t told. Last year on this very night, I spoke with this magical pumpkin fellow. He chose that pumpkin patch for a reasons not completely random. It was the energy of the place. He had found me there that night, and though it was unspoken, I became a guardian ghost of sorts - someone to keep an eye on things. But tonight, of all nights spent in my deplorable misery for which there is no cure, I roamed too far and failed the world of the Jack O’Lanterns.”

Valmora and Carbon listen to his tale punctuated with the dripping of water around them. And Valmora speaks up bravely, feeling quite gladdened by this rescue. In some ways repeating Carbon’s words earlier, trying to assure all three at once, she says very bravely, “Together we will find a way. Everything is going to be all right!”

However the ghost’s downward slide into depression is again completely at bottom by the time Valmora speaks such positive words. Despite her efforts, he is already weeping. And the wretched soul whimpers as he speaks, “Oh the witch has such dark magic. She has been seeking the Pumpkinheart for an eternity. Though there have been powerful charms keeping her from crossing over into the pumpkin patch, she now has the seed. She is not someone we will overcome very easily. It will end badly for…”

Carbon interrupts before he and Valmora are utterly dismayed by the dejected ghost’s change in attitude. “Sir ghost,” he assures with a tone of utmost authority, “we were completely lost here without your help. Valmora is right! With the three of us together, we will find a solution.”

The ghost lets out the oddest gurgle and argues, “Those horrid crows. I fear now that they are on their way to the witch, to snitch on our situation. She will be ready for us.”

“Then we have no time!” Carbon demands. However with a fastidious paw testing the wet ground in front of the tunnel, says sheepishly, “Valmora, let us find a drier exit than this, and be on our way! The house of that old hag can’t be much farther now.”

As they exit from another end of the playset, the gloomy ghost floats over to join them. And the three continue walking toward the road on the far side of the playground, toward that very road leading to a most terrible destination.
(to be continued...)

Stay tuned for Part 5 of Watrous & Valmora, where we discover that a dark and terrible forest can be  less intimidating when conversing with a wise and helpful owl...

Book of stories & poetry by Robert Aaron Wiley (aka Bindlegrim) for autumn & winter. Great for Halloween.

Tonight's story  was brought to you by Bindlegrim - maker of fine vintage-style arts for the autumn season.  We thank you for tuning in to this special presentation, celebrating the release of On Stranger Winds: Tall Tales for Shorter Days, (a book offering both light to dark writings of whimsy for autumn and winter), coming soon in both digital and print formats.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Watrous & Valmora (Part 3)

To celebrate the upcoming holiday, Bindlegrim Productions is proud to present Watrous and Valmora: Further Tales of Pumpkinheart, (from the book On Stranger Winds: Tall Tales for Shorter Days). And tonight, through the magic of modern blogging, offers this Halloween-themed selection as a vintage-style serial during the chilly nights of October 22nd to the 28th.

Following the mysterious pumpkin patch scene of Part 2, our story now takes a frightening turn as the magical Pumpkinheart is caught in a struggle between our young trik-ot-treat queen and a terrible witch. And later, an affable fellow named Carbon comes to the rescue, but with a frightening suggestion.

Watrous & Valmora: Further Tales of Pumpkinheart
(Part Three)

As she emerges beyond the tall stalks of the cornfield, and steps upon pavement, the girl is surprised to see not the little werewolf, but instead find a certain old lady. With each footstep ever slowly passing the other, the frail woman approaches from the direction of the old school. And not too far off down the street, passes through a wan streetlight. The girl immediately runs, meeting in the twilight of the lamp.

“Hello. Have you seen my brother?”

The woman gazes downward and smiles warmly but with a furrowed forehead. She stops and takes some labored breaths. “Oh dear, no, my child. Has our royal highness misplaced her very blood line?”

Having no idea what the old lady is rambling on about, the little queen continues, “His name is Watrous. I left him over there by the water tower,” she points, “and when I came out of the pumpkin patch he was gone!”

The woman tenses just a bit, straightening upward rather quickly against the protest of old joints. She seems perhaps less frail than the little monarch had imagined.

“And what,” the fractured voice crumbles, “could have distracted you enough to lose that poor innocent little boy?”

The little girl takes in a breath and remembers the prize. She brightens up just a little bit, forgetting the worries of their predicament. “Oh, ma’am, you were right. I found something just like you said - a jewel, I think. A jewel fit for a queen!” She digs into her plastic cat pail until encountering the peculiarly shaped object brought out into the night. There it catches the light of the streetlamp and it glitters, throwing off shards of luminosity.

“Just look at that!” A weird exhaling whistle comes out from behind the elderly woman’s dry cracked lips, the air tunneling through rotted dental gaps. The ancient eyes now wide, admire the object as the face moves closer. “That is mighty beautiful. It does look a bit like the jewel I mentioned… but you should let me take a closer look,” and the old woman puts out her hand.

Doubtful, the girl looks at this kind gesture of invitation, and up into the face of the elderly woman. The woman’s dark black eyes gleam and the little girl imagines what appears to be a wet membrane, like a second eyelid, twitching at their edge. But the woman’s pitiful smile is grinning down without malice, and again there is an impression of her own dear grandmother. The girl looks back at the waiting hand while again the wind seems to kick up. The corn at the edges of the road sways and chatters, and rusty metal is rasping from the hollering scarecrow in the distant pumpkin patch.

The girl shivers but says, “Well, okay,” and reaches out with her prize. “You did tell me where to go find the jewel, but I wasn’t sure if this is what you meant?”

As the jewel hits the palm of the woman’s hand, the change is immediate. The fingers extend, stretching around the object like black stalks. They wrap around the object as the girl’s fingers retract in surprise; the once pale stooped figure is transforming into a towering dark-skin witch of a most hideous sort. The mouth grows dental work that is frighteningly, perfectly sharp bordered in lips of dark olive green parting with a sickening grin. The nose stretches out downward over the mouth, and a wart pops out with long dark hairs at its tip. The once-friendly eyes become animalistic, as the now obvious second membrane blinks. Above, the middlebrow of the forehead creeps downward turning the once friendly expression into a dreadful leer. And all around the face, the white unkempt hair turns oily black extending about her as a dark halo, while a deep and disgustingly phlegmatic cackle emerges from the woman’s throat.

In terror, the young girl backs away from this hideous vision holding the jewel up into the light. But almost at once, bats from the pumpkin patch mob the witch, burying the singular creature in a cloud so thick the girl can no longer see the terrifying face. The now horrible witch is topped with a swirling blackness; and inside it, the satisfied laughter turns into a screech of frustrated annoyance.

The scene worsens as a second dark cloud of crows begin orbiting and attacking the first. Their loud sonorous voices deafen, and the girl is horrified to see them picking off bats with their sharp beaks to do unmentionable bloody things. Not wanting to see any more, she turns fast on her heels and runs toward the Kilkenny’s farmhouse. 
Wanting only to see the welcoming sight of that distant place, to find her brother waiting… the little girl lets her royal accessories drop to the road. Between her flight and the ink-black spectacle, there spans a stretch of glittery debris. Back near the troubled witch rests a splattered bucket of candy, followed later by a crown here, and later with a scepter there.

With great relief she finally arrives yet, distressed from this illogical nightmare, weeps and pounds at the door. But there is no answer. Exhausted, she sits on the doorstep, and realizes the house is empty. Maybe it would be best to wait here for just a while… to figure out what to do next?

As her breath returns to a quieter pace, a rustling from the hedges catches her attention. Startled, the girl spies two yellow eyes peering outward. And for a time the two gazes meet, doing nothing more until the mysterious watcher blinks slowly, and steps cautiously out of the shadows. The creature, a cat, is dark as midnight, and as it steps haltingly forward, attends a series of motions that involve feigning interest in anything but this stranger at the door.

“Hello kitty,” the girl whispers in a soft sob, drying tears from wet cheeks.

The lush feline stops about a foot distant and sits. It looks up into the stranger's face, blinks some more, and bobs a curious nose in the air. Stretching out its neck, the cat replies not with the expected mewing, but in the courteous tones of a gentleman, “Good evening. And who are you?”

Stunned, the girl stares for some time without a word. With the youth seemingly catatonic, the cat sniffs the air and occasionally looks off into the night around them. When his randomly-placed interest returns, the cat looks directly into her face and tries again. “Well, can I help you? You were knocking at our door. Remember?”

Being ever so polite but feeling the need to return the upturned world back toward familiar territory, the young girl whispers, “Cats can’t talk.”

That cat takes it all in great stride and answers with complete civility. “Oh, well, that is quite true. Cats don’t talk like humans, that is.” The cat seems a bit embarrassed and tests the air again, looking sheepish but still ever so curious of the girl at the door. Then, suddenly, at complete ease prattles on as if he can share with her the oddities of this Halloween night.

“And you know what’s most surprising to me is that just before you arrived, I was singing like a human. Yes, singing a song, an old cat classic it would seem about two cats competing in a game of mouse-catch. Now how could I translate and sing such a song in human? I guess you are aware that cats don’t sing either, not as you do, but I’m certain you are well aware.

“Well, it would seem tonight that I do talk and sing, like you. I think it quite strange, but it’s that whole Halloween thing, you know? Happens every year. I never know what it’s going to be. The best year was when I had wings! That surprised a mouse or two, not to mention the bats and owls! I certainly showed them how to terrorize the night with a pair of terrible wings!

“Anyway, it’s all quite interesting is it not? I’ve never before talked with a human. I always thought your kind was a pretty rackety bunch, but it would seem you’re a bit of a sullen type. Maybe you’re just bewitched by the night too?”

The girl tenses up at the choice of words, and shrinks away from the dark animal. “Are you a witch’s cat?”

“Humph!” At this abrupt twist in the conversation the cat looks away with his ears down a bit, “I suppose it’s because I have black fur,” the cat says scornfully. “So, no, to ease your mind, I’m not a witch’s cat. I’m the Kilkenny’s cat. They are simple loving folk, and you, by the way, still haven’t told me who you are, or what you want here.”

The young girl, only recently dethroned in a shocking turn of events, wakes up a little, and worrying she has caused insult is quick to apologize, “Oh no, I’m sorry, you don’t understand. I just met one... a witch... and not far from here. I thought maybe you were together.”

The cat’s nose twitches in the air, and his whiskers shudder. “Well, I don’t sense any witch around here at the moment. We are safe for now. So please, do tell me about this witch you met, and why you are here”

The girl then relates her dramatic evening of trick-or-treat and ends with a question, “What can it all mean and what should I do? Oh, and my name is Valmora.”

“Well, Valmora, pleasure to meet you, though these do sound to be most unfortunate circumstances. My name is Carbon. And I’m not sure what to make of your wild tale. I’m a simple farm cat in a human’s world. I sleep around the barn during the day, and hunt around the grounds by night for mice. However, I do occasionally come across some extraordinary things such as witches and their ilk.

“Now, as I recall there is a spirit that passes around here on nights like Halloween. It’s a wandering thing called a ghost. Not much of a life, or what’s left of it, I should say. It just goes about the fields moaning… and floating about… but perhaps it knows of more things than either of us? I believe we should ask it.”

The girl starts to tremble again. She had become rather calm holding this matter-of-fact conversation, even though it was with a cat. But at mention of possible ghost-hunting, she stutters, “I don’t know. Sound dangerous. And I don’t believe in ghosts.”

“Oh,” the cat blinks. “I see.” He gives her a moment, and then begins again. “It appears to me as if this night may have changed a few of your opinions, like or not. It would seem something is afoot, and you are in the middle.

“The Kilkennys are not here, and in any case, I suspect they wouldn’t be able to help in matters of this charmed mayhem. No offense, but humans are a bit inept when it comes to the inner workings of Halloween night.”

At that the former queen, now a scared little girl, agrees. She has indeed made a royal mess of things. She is far from home, running from a terrible witch... and hiding at a deserted farmhouse while her brother is lost… or worse. And here she is conferring with a cat about a ghost. She sighs and resigns herself to further weirdness and, supposes, will have much to tell her instructors at school the next morning.

“Okay,” she gulps, “how do we find this ghost?”

“Hmmm,” the cat peers thoughtfully out into the night. “That could be tricky. He is a wandering ghost after all, and not a very happy one.”
(to be continued...)

Stay tuned for Part 4 of Watrous & Valmora. Our heroes find the ghost they are seeking, though it is not at all happy to see them. And who is there to help when a murder of crows has you cornered in a playground?

Book of stories & poetry by Robert Aaron Wiley (aka Bindlegrim) for autumn & winter. Great for Halloween.

Tonight's story  was brought to you by Bindlegrim - maker of fine vintage-style arts for the autumn season.  We thank you for tuning in to this special presentation, celebrating the release of On Stranger Winds: Tall Tales for Shorter Days, (a book offering both light to dark writings of whimsy for autumn and winter), coming soon in both digital and print formats.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Watrous & Valmora (Part 2)

To celebrate the upcoming holiday, Bindlegrim Productions is proud to present Watrous and Valmora: Further Tales of Pumpkinheart, (from the book On Stranger Winds: Tall Tales for Shorter Days). And tonight, through the magic of modern blogging, offers this Halloween-themed selection as a vintage-style serial during the chilly nights of October 22nd to the 28th.

Following Part 1 of our story, the trick-or-treat queen and werewolf, in search of the Pumpkinheart, discover a mysterious field inhabited by a strange weather-vane scarecrow, and before it's all over, someone disappears...

Watrous & Valmora: Further Tales of Pumpkinheart
(Part Two)

“Why?” Another high-pitched cry curls upward into the air around the werewolf who is now physically pulled by the hand of the young queen. “Mom said stay close! That lady’s house was already past the neighborhood… just stop!” And again the last word comes out in a long drawl of wavering notes as the boy is able to jerk hard enough to halt their forward motion.

“Ouch! Behave!” The girl lets go of his hand and scowls. “You better follow me or you’ll lose your way back home!”

It was true; his greed long ago made him all too happy to follow her out of the neighborhood’s boundaries, following the promise of more candy. Now he is suddenly aware that he isn’t sure where here is, or how to get back. His wide eyes start to water and his grip on the pillowcase slackens. Maybe the sweets aren’t all that important. He is honestly ready to throw it all away if it means he can return home, safely held in the arms of his parents.

“Oh, just look,” the girl sighs. She sits by the side of the road, making him seem the bigger and braver of the two. “We’ve almost just passed this half of the Kilkenny’s corn field. See the water tower there? That’s where we’re going, and after that, then we’ll turn right back around. I promise!”

The boy looks skeptical. The town would someday stretch out with new developments but currently this area is occupied with only fancy signage and vacant cul-de-sacs. Streetlights are few and far between as the road travels mostly through old farming country, with distant houses slightly revealed in the pools of their own weak light. She had promised they would turn around after that last house, hadn’t she?

Unfortunately his arguing power and limited vocabulary comes out something more like, “But I’m scared,” which he immediately regrets, knowing this statement has just put the power in her hands. She is his only way to get back home.

“Right,” she says, “so let’s just stick together. I know this area because I used to go to the old school we just passed. So we’re not that far now. Just a few more steps right over there toward the water tower.” And, as if sensing the right words that will make the smaller kid less nervous says, “You see, there’s a light right there, on the rigging of the tower.” And at that she stands as if she has also just convinced herself this is the normal thing to do, ignoring the urgent whispering in the back of her mind that says they are stuck in the no-good of nowhere on the dark side of an unwelcoming night.

The little werewolf sniffles and clutches harder at his bag of candy. Making sure she has his hand, he follows past the final stretch of the field where a dirt road will lead off toward the water tower. But the new scene, now in view, causes him to pull backward and stall again. Sure the water tower has a light on it, but between stretches many feet of thin and rutted road bordered on either side by tall crops. His imagination doesn’t dare consider what monsters might be crawling through there!

“Look,” proclaims the girl, pointing to a house not too far in the distance. She speaks in a manner that helps quiet her own doubts. “That’s the Kilkenny’s farmhouse and you know them. If they can live out here, and sleep in peace every night, then it’s going to be fine. Their lights are still on, so after this we could head over, tell them we got lost and ask for a ride home, maybe...” And she starts to work out her account of the night’s chain of events, explaining the matter in some way that keeps them from getting into trouble.

Beside her the little wolf-boy groans but takes her hand again and trails off behind her down the overgrown road. On either side of them the late season harvest and weeds rustle dryly in the breeze, and the light ahead makes shadows dance underfoot as they approach.

The tank climbs high and fat, sitting heavy on a crisscross pattern of wood framing. Above, a light juts horizontally outward from a rickety curved pole and casts its orange light dimly downward. Behind the light, a weather-vane or some sort mechanical device occasionally ticks and clatters above them.

Past the tower, the road runs further into darkness, and all around surround fields of corn with the exception of one large low-growing patch of vines dotted with pumpkins, light bouncing off smooth orange surfaces. In the middle of that patch stands a strange scarecrow, less like a person than a mishmash mobile of crooked sticks, sagging burlap bags, rusted cooking pans, and dented mirrors, all pushed about on the whims of the wind. The assemblage slowly turns on its axis and completely unnerves her when the contraption comes to a halt, facing them. The construction is topped with a round piece of worn plywood painted crudely with a face topped by old and wrinkled aluminum Christmas tree icicles fluttering in the breeze. The face stares glumly, mouth open, in their direction.

“OK, can we go back now,” says the young werewolf. If it were possible, his corduroy fur would be standing on end.

The girl looks off into the distance at the farmhouse for some reassurance. “Well,” she says weakly, “I guess the Kilkennys were always a bit artsy…”

She directs the young boy to a bench beneath the light. And with strict instructions for him to stay in place, she turns toward the field and crosses the weed-choked road. She is glad for a dry season, because her shoes are completely inappropriate for the farm. But pretty soon she discovers some of the previously foot-worn paths and this makes the going somewhat easier. Quickly she heads in the direction of the weird scarecrow that, if she didn’t know better, is following her with its gaze. With no idea where she will find this jewel, she figures the scarecrow is a good place to start even though it gives her the willies.

“Hello,” she says timidly yet not really looking at it, as she reaches the large post that holds the wild contraption in the air. She turns in a slow circle looking out around the field, taking it all in, catching sight of her brother waving back from the water tower. She mutters to the scarecrow without looking at it, “I don’t suppose you know anything about a really fabulous pumpkin jewel?”

She feels really dumb as she speaks the words. But, as if in answer, the contraption behind her swings a grating three-sixty, with a rusty moan that sends shivers down her spine.


She swings around too and stares at the eerie bogle. Once more it has coincidentally come to a stop with its gaze in her direction. However as an educated girl, she knows that such inanimate things are just that, and not something one should let trouble you. But as if to argue her mental note, the contraption spins around again as all about the leaves of the pumpkin plants shiver.


She gawks. Staring at the ghastly face of the contraption, she ponders the weirdness of this whole adventure, and wonders if she should be over at the Kilkennys asking for permission. But she shrugs it all off and remembers the words of the kind old lady who reminded her of her own sweet grandmother. Such a lovable old soul would not fabricate tall tales to little children, leading them into trespasses and theft. Satisfied with this assessment, she turns toward the field, to the task at hand. She crosses her arms, bringing the tiara-cat candy bucket close.

Looking around again, at her feet she notices a particularly hefty pumpkin vine coming out of the ground. She begins to follow it, putting some distance between herself and the bothersome scarecrow whose rusty moans seem to continue with greater frequency. But with the courage of her desire, she traces the path of the huge vine as it snakes off, sometimes hiding beneath the canopy of its own leaves and often with fingered tendrils pulling it away into the distance. Finally, she arrives at a most incredible pumpkin that glows in the moonlight; the hull is almost transparent from something inside, deep yet bright.


The scarecrow’s corroded metal grates with continuing spins that screech as a rusted siren.


As she walks, the doubtful queen turns to look back at the sound, and falls across a vine. As she sits up and straightens her crown, she reaches out to recover a few pieces of candy, and shudders. The canopy of pumpkin leaves are moving in the wind, and was it just her imagination that a breeze alone could push vines across the ground?

Again, not one to be frightened by inanimate objects, but definitely shaken, she decides this is all very fine, but it’s time to leave and quickly but not without reward. With renewed commitment she pounces back toward the odd glowing pumpkin. Having carved innumerable pumpkins in her short days, and being ever so resourceful, the girl uses her royal staff to stab into its translucent flesh toward the glittering seed.

At this, something awful occurs. As the scarecrow moans, a dark cloud of wings descends in front of her face. “Bats!” she screams. She is surprised but as an educated girl is also not one to go running off in a wailing panic, and instead assumes they are just confused during their nightly hunt for insects. She drops down lower into the vines near the shimmering pumpkin, and works more quickly toward the magic glow. It is not long until she extracts a large seed-shaped object that, without hesitation, she crams among her stash of sweets. All the while the bats are frantic, flapping and squeaking.

Before she can bother with further worries, she flees toward the distant light of the water tower. Unconsciously she hurdles strange movements that cross her path among the pumpkin vines. The near-distant scarecrow screams, and a shadow of dark bats trail behind her. Yet she clears the border of the patch without further incident, at which point the night seems to fall into a shocked silence. To her amazement, all is as before with the scarecrow again staring bleakly, noiselessly toward her.

She turns to claim the young werewolf, only to find he has not stayed on the bench as earlier instructed. She calls out, and walks about and beneath the frame of the tower, and lastly sits for a few minutes on the bench pondering the incurable little brat. Most probably, she thinks, he has headed back home or toward the Kilkennys. As she ponders, she also digs through her candy bucket, and pops a piece of gum in her mouth. She rifles through the sweets for a glimpse at the jewel sparkling from the electric light of the tower but dares not, conscious that the scarecrow contraption is still staring in her direction, bring it out into the night.

“This is worth it,” she whispers admiringly. “Best to get you home.”

She buries it safely among the night’s loot, and begins her journey back. If she doesn’t find the little werewolf out by the main road, she will head to the Kilkennys who she has determined will be glad to help a couple of lost trick-or-treat children. But she better move fast. It most certainly won’t do to have him arrive first and destroy her carefully fabricated explanations.
(to be continued...)

Stay tuned for Part 3 of Watrous & Valmora, as our trick-or-treat queen finds herself in terrible danger after witnessing a horrifying transformation. Can an affable fellow name Carbon come to her rescue? 

Book of stories & poetry by Robert Aaron Wiley (aka Bindlegrim) for autumn & winter. Great for Halloween.

Tonight's story  was brought to you by Bindlegrim - maker of fine vintage-style arts for the autumn season.  We thank you for tuning in to this special presentation, celebrating the release of On Stranger Winds: Tall Tales for Shorter Days, (a book offering both light to dark writings of whimsy for autumn and winter), coming soon in both digital and print formats.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Watrous & Valmora (Part 1)

To celebrate the upcoming holiday, Bindlegrim Productions is proud to present Watrous and Valmora: Further Tales of Pumpkinheart, (from the book On Stranger Winds: Tall Tales for Shorter Days). And, through the magic of modern blogging, we offer this Halloween-themed selection as a vintage-style serial during the chilly nights of October 22nd to the 28th.

In our opening segment we visit with a couple of innocent trick-or-treat children at a tiny cottage on the edge of town, and receive an introduction to the mysterious existence of the Pumpkinheart.

Watrous & Valmora: Further Tales of Pumpkinheart
(Part One)

The little three-and-a-half-foot werewolf stretches the word into a high-pitched whine of long syllables, up and down the scale, as he turns toward the jeweled queen behind him. Almost growling in character, he defiantly pushes and repeats in one short loud bark.


In exasperation the queen huffs and with haughty attitude replies, “You forgot the magic words.” Then with more emphasis she says, drawing out her word in mockery of the boy’s previous long howl, “a-gainnnnnn…!” Taller by a head, the queen brushes the paw away from her sparkling sequined finery.

Spinning the boy back around, she explains once more, “I’m trying to teach you. It’s very important.” She whispers this loudly in obvious frustration so the person in front of them can hear she herself knows better what constitutes proper trick-or-treat etiquette.

Behind his wolflike features the young boy’s cheeks turn red, and he promptly blurts something like, “Tickle teeth?” Moaning, the girl whispers again quickly into his ear, to which he states loudly, “Trick or Treat!”

There is heard a very pleased and proud gasp, and the light clap of hands. Their audience is a withered old form sitting on a barren wood bench. On this brisk autumn night, the woman is dressed in a plain gray wool dress, shoulders wrapped in a knitted mustard-color shawl of thick patterns. Her form is barely visible beneath a low watt bulb inadequately lighting the gloomy whitewashed porch of the old cottage, the building’s foundation standing behind a crowded lawn of late season sunflowers many feet beyond the brighter street lamp.

“Well, look-y there,” and the old woman fusses over the scariness of the young lycanthrope (of corduroy fur and grease pencil whiskers) receiving a much visible boost to his previously frustrated morale. She turns to the bowl resting on the bench beside her. “You almost scared me out of this whole trick-or-treat business,” she winks. The boy’s grin turns huge.

Her withered hands pull out a treat passing it quickly between them to the floppy pillowcase held firmly in the fur-gloved hands of the little boy. On hearing something thud to the bottom, he remembers this time the incessant training of his older sibling perhaps assisting with a nudge. The boy squeaks out a proper thank-you before turning around and whisking off to wait by the sidewalk.

The young girl, with noble dress and imperial regalia, steps forward and without hesitation slowly emotes the night’s key phrase as royalty, “Trick… or… treat.” With one hand her royal scepter thuds to the floorboards, while the other hand comes forward revealing a plastic black cat-faced candy bucket complete with its very own tiara.

The woman looks at her wide-eyed. “Oh my, how gracious of you to travel among the peasant folk! I am not worthy your highness!” The tiny queen smiles with satisfaction, and waits patiently for a proper show of tribute to be gifted from this lesser subject.

“Let’s see,” says the old woman eyeing the little girl carefully, one seemingly innocent creature to another, time passing in what almost seems like a game of poker. The woman turns to the bucket and, instead of spiriting the prize into the young girl’s candy bucket, brings it out and waves it into the air like a wand… a single small pixie stick, its packaging faded and even perhaps a bit dusty. The old woman smiles through her frailty, with love for what she does. And after tapping it to the nose of the young queen, holds it outward for a hand to hand transaction.

The little queen looks at the offering and, with a smile falling to a flat horizontal line, stares seemingly stunned. After a pause she lifts her royal pail so the gift might fall inside. When she looks back at the old woman, to see if there may be some forgotten additional prize, the frail figure has already reclined with hands resting upon the drab fabric of the dress. All the while the woman continues smiling at the deflated girl. 

The small monarch slowly sensing that the game of trick-or-treat has ended, recaptures a semblance of manners and mutters a belabored thank-you with a small wave from her scepter as she turns back to the street. At this, the smile of the old woman drops. “Wait there, your royal highness,” her voice splinters, “I may have forgotten something.”

As the miniature sovereign comes back to the bench, the woman lowers her face down to the same level. “You have,” she says with voice cracking, “keen aspirations for the finer things in life, my dear,” and her smile breaks to one side.

The young girl stares back, waiting, making sure her back is straight and her heels turned properly, chin upturned, and with scepter and candy pail neatly placed to the forefront. Her glittery array (dress, crown, royal staff, and jewelry) catch small bits of light, and her cheeks blush slightly on her soft skin. Blue eyes look hopefully upward at the woman’s, and shine a certain hope for a forthcoming prize in this extended round of trick-or-treat.

The old woman’s face nears within the porch light, and this reveals pale tissue-like skin replete with the texture of countless years. Her lips part once more into a smile, this time though, in the new light, revealing the remnants of black teeth turned at obtuse angles, her face now perhaps too close, wafting a most unpleasant odor.

“My young queen, I understand what you seek. And I believe you deserve it! You have obviously shown yourself an expert in the political arena of such trifles as trick-or treat...” Her words trail as she straightens her back. This induces a painful wince during a simultaneous string of loud pops in old bones.

Unsure where any of this could be going, the young girl remains silent, still expecting another piece of candy or two to come from the candy bowl, or better yet, a larger guilt-trophy such as a heaping handful of small coins. But the old woman continues talking and brings her face in closer, looking directly into the face of the girl. “You, my dearest, you deserve a jewel. And I happen to know of one... called the Pumpkinheart!” Which, at that, the eager girl’s eyes light up and her legs wiggle just a little in anticipation. Is that even a slight nod she gives?

“You see,” continues the elderly woman, “there is, on every Hallow’s Eve a certain pumpkin patch given property over a priceless jewel. And would you believe how lucky for you, that this particular patch is not too far from here? In that one patch exists a pumpkin holding within it a seed made of charmed gemstone! This, my deserving spirit, is the grandest of all prizes on Halloween! I would go get it myself but I am too old for such things. And so my great gift to you is the telling of this secret. Is this not much better than the candy you would get from a million lifetimes of trick-or-treats?”

“Where?” The girl wastes no time in asking.

The old lady smiles, turns to her candy bowl, and pulls out another ancient pixie stick. She waves it in front of them, again kissing it to the girl’s upturned nose, and waves it in a certain direction down the street. “That way,” the serrated voice instructs, “near the old schoolhouse to the east, and just past the Kilkenney’s corn field. If you journey to the far side of the property you will discover a small acre of pumpkins near the water tower. You cannot miss it!” And at that the old woman plunks the second treat of questionable value into the girl’s candy pail.

The young girl’s excitement is beyond measure. This time the royal highness curtsies with perfect aplomb and returns the most humble thank-you to her loyal subject. And as she makes her way toward the street she turns and calls back, “Thank-you, thank-you, ever so much! Happy Halloween!” And grabbing her brother, who has been waiting impatiently beneath the street lamp, runs off with him in the direction of the once-waved pixie-stick wand.

Behind them the old lady chuckles quietly, lovingly. As she stares in the parting direction of her trick-or-treat visitors, the porch light begins to flicker and breaks its coil. As if in sympathy, the street lamp promptly follows the same process. While sunflower heads sever and thump upon the ground, the weeds devour the previously welcoming path. And but for a dim reflection shining in her cataract eyes, all around the moonlight shuns this scene as darkness deepens in every nook of the landscape.
(to be continued...)

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Watrous & Valmora, as our trick-or-treat queen and the young werewolf head out into the night in search of the Pumpkinheart. 

Book of stories & poetry by Robert Aaron Wiley (aka Bindlegrim) for autumn & winter. Great for Halloween.

Tonight's story  was brought to you by Bindlegrim - maker of fine vintage-style arts for the autumn season.  We thank you for tuning in to this special presentation, celebrating the release of On Stranger Winds: Tall Tales for Shorter Days, (a book offering both light to dark writings of whimsy for autumn and winter), coming soon in both digital and print formats.

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