Sunday, October 18, 2015

A True Dog Day Afternoon

I woke up with a ravenous appetite, for what reason, I have no idea whatsoever. What made the hunger pangs even more pronounced is that I had a super craving for pancakes. Why? I have no idea. I tried fighting it off but it was a losing battle, I just had to have them.
Looking at the clock, I realized there was no time for me to whip up a batch of pancakes so I opted for stopping somewhere along the way. It was one of those days that I’d be doing a lot of traveling so I wasn’t worried about finding a place to get breakfast.
After an hour and a half, I couldn’t prolong the agony and had to stop to eat. Besides, I hadn’t had a coffee and that was one thing I knew I wasn’t going to go without, not if I wanted to continue being a civilized person. It’s not that I have intentions of being grumpy when I don’t have morning coffee, it just seems to develop and grow within until someone looks at me in a way I perceive to be the “evil eye” or says something that my brain deciphers as being hostile and the monster rips out of me with a vengeance. I’m getting better but I do recall one morning that I went into such a rage that I had to run into the bathroom to make sure I wasn’t foaming at the mouth.
I pulled into the parking lot of the “Homestyle Diner”. The lot was pretty full so I reasoned the food was good. After I was seated I hurriedly looked for the pancake selections and ordered the “Hungry Stack”.  The pancakes were delicious but needless to say, my eyes were way bigger than my stomach because I only managed to finish two of them and still had a quite a stack to finish. I felt so guilty for wasting all that food I left a large tip, hoping to divert attention away from my wastefulness.
I arrived at the Luray Caverns in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia around three o’clock in the afternoon. The Caverns are a geological wonder just east of the Allegheny Range of the Appalachian Mountains. I had been called in to see if I could identify something that had been found by one of the workers while exploring a new opening discovered in the caverns. I’m a professor of Paleontology at the University of Maryland and although I consider myself to be quite knowledgeable in my field, I’m not one of the renowned experts.
I love the caverns because they have a wonderful and exciting archaic feel to them. They reach into the ancient world that modernization can’t measure up to no matter how hard the attempts. We reached the location deep in a recess in one of the caverns that is off limits to tourists. The passage was very narrow but quite passable.
Once through, we were greeted with a vast opening lit up with soft lighting so as not to destroy some of the natural inhabitants. I was led to a rock outcrop and when I glanced up saw two large eyes staring down at me. Truth be told, it was quite eerie. I have seen many things in my experiences but this was unsettling at first.
I slowly looked around and noticed a mirror pool just below the outcrop and staring at it, I saw the eyes, like that of a ghost staring back and had to fight off a shiver. Just then, I was asked to get up on the staging that had been erected to make a closer examination of the creature. The shape of the eyes and the surrounding head looked to be that of a marsupial, perhaps a relative of the Australian species.
The rock around the animal was gritty and I could see that it wouldn’t take much to extract the animal from its captivity. An hour later, we were all standing around gazing at the small specimen before us. Because I believe that honor stems from truth, I informed everyone that I could not expound or identify what we were observing.
Three months later, I had the answers. I returned the specimen to the Caverns Museum with a positive identification. The animal was very rare and had originated in Mexico. It was an early relative of the Chihuahua. At first, it seemed that no one believed what I was telling them as they were all astounded by my findings. But after careful study of my documentation and the animal itself, they all settled down with acceptance.
However, one question still remains that I have not had the opportunity to research, and that is, “How did this tiny dog get from Mexico to Virginia and end up in a hunk of rock in the Luray Caverns?”
   The End
   Chelle Munroe©
    October 17, 2015

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Chapter Thirteen and a Half

Part Four

 The phone rang and a scream erupted from my throat.  At the same time, I jumped and spilled the tea on the book, the table and myself.  With great trepidation, I reached out, picked it up and placed my right hand over my heart when I saw Gina’s name flashing on the screen.
“Oh my God! Gina, where are you.  Are you okay?”
“Yes! Yes! Chelle, how did you know?”
“Never mind that right now.  What happened?”
“Chelle, you’re not going to believe this.  I had gone to the store to get milk and bread and for whatever reason, I forgot to buy the bread and went home.  So I went back to the store and the shelf was empty whereas it had been full just minutes before.  When I asked the clerk, he acted like I was crazy.  Aggravated, I left and decided to go to the Cumberland Farms down the road.
“Just as I was getting closer to Benjamin’s Curve, the car started speeding up and I had no control.  I stepped on the brakes and tried to turn but nothing was working. I started screaming for help and then all of a sudden the car slowed down and I was able to steer it back into my lane.  I don’t know what happened.  I’ve been sitting in Cumberland’s parking lot trying to calm down because I was shaking so much, I couldn’t even call you.”
I heard Gina take a deep breath and sigh before asking, “How did you know?”
I told her everything that had happened and when I finished, we were both silent for some time.  Gina was the first to speak. 
“I know the cause.”
“You do?” I said the shock in my voice evident.
“Yes.  Well, I think I do.”
“What do you mean?”
“I was in New York a couple days ago with some friends and we were going in and out of all the little shops that you don’t normally see around here.  Somewhere along the way, I got separated from the others and wandered into a shop that was filled with voodoo kinds of stuff.  There was a strange woman there and she asked if I wanted to buy something and I told her ‘no’ that I don’t believe in that crap.
“She kept trying to get me to try different things until I lost my temper and told her to buzz off and then she said that I would learn the power of the spirits.”
Gina and I talked for a long time and agreed that the next day we would go to Zenda’s to try and get some information about how she knew I would be coming to the store and how she even knew how to reach me to warn me about the curse on Gina.
We never did get the information we wanted because a number of things happened that were just as strange as everything else that had occurred. The next morning after I had showered and got dressed, I looked on the table for the book and it was gone.  I spun around to see the Ouija Board had disappeared as well and when I checked my computer, there was no history of my activities regarding Zenda’s.
I snatched up my notebook and flipped through the pages only to find them blank.  The only thing that hadn’t been wiped clean was my memory.  I drove to Gina’s and we went in search of Zenda’s.  The shop was still there but the name above the door had been changed to:
Chapter Thirteen And A Half

To this very day, we have never been able to figure it out except to say that it did happen and that whatever it was, for whatever reason it happened, we are thankful.
   The End
   Chelle Munroe©
    June 21, 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Chapter Thirteen and a Half

Part Three

My first instinct was to yank my hands away and quit but, somehow, I managed to resist the temptation to do so and wrote down the letter and placed my hand over the planchette again. These actions continued until the planchette finally moved to the center of the board and stopped.  I picked up my small pad and read the message:

“Your sister Gina has had a curse placed on her and the only way you can lift the curse and save her is to follow the directions in Chapter Thirteen and a Half”

I stood up and carried the notepad with me and set it down on the table.  I automatically picked up my cup and drank a mouthful of tea wondering: “Could this be the point where I learn the joke?  Why would the board instruct me to read chapter thirteen and a half when I had read the entire contents with no mention about a curse or how to end it?”
Without thinking about it any longer, I picked up the book and opened to chapter thirteen and a half.  The first message was gone.  In its place, a whole new set of instructions filled the page. I fanned the pages before and after the chapter to see if I had opened the book to the wrong page but all I saw were blank pages and had to fight to ignore the flurry of questions invading my mind.

“You must return to the Ouija Board and turn the planchette over three times from right to left.  Then repeat the process from left to right. Next you must turn it over again three times from right to left while repeating “knock do--my to–sis--can miss— it will go through—bypass who—find my bliss—give a kiss—knock do—my to.” 

The lines didn’t make any sense no matter how many times I read them.  My only thoughts at that moment were that the person who had conjured this whole thing up was insane and I was just as insane for going along with it.  If it weren’t for the fact that I have a sister Gina, I would have followed through with my thoughts and ended everything right there.
I called Gina to check on her and got no answer.  In fact, I didn’t get directed to her voicemail as was normal when she didn’t answer.  That gave me a really sick feeling in my stomach.  I picked up my cup of tea and noticed my hands shaking quite a bit. Tears welled in my eyes while fear’s tentacles slowly wrapped around me.  I had to take action.  I had to know Gina was safe.  Even though I kept reminding myself to remain calm and not to panic because it could all be nothing, I had all I could to keep from running from the house to go find her.  My eyes shifted to the words in the pad.  If the prediction was true, it was all I had to go on and I had to follow the instructions if I were to stand any chance of helping her.
I positioned myself in front of the Ouija Board once again, took a deep breath and picked up the planchette.  It slipped from my fingers and I heard a loud gasp escape my mouth.  With trembling hands, I gripped the planchette firmly, hoping beyond all hope that I hadn’t destroyed my chances of saving Gina.  When I felt ready, I slowly turned the piece over in my hands repeating the incantation:
“knock do--my to–sis--can miss— it will go through—bypass who—find my bliss—give a kiss—knock do—my to.” 
 The last word no sooner left my lips and the planchette flew from my hands and crashed against the kitchen cabinets; the board began vibrating so violently its ends lifted from the floor and scared me.  Then, as quickly as it had started, it stopped and I felt a sudden blast of cold air rush by me and I shivered.
For reasons I can’t explain, I sat there for some time before moving.  It was as though I were fixed there in a trance because I don’t remember having any thoughts at all.  I don’t recall feeling anything or hearing anything.  Yet, as unnerving as that was, I casually stood up and nonchalantly moved to the table and sat down.  It never even fazed me that I wasn’t doing anything but letting myself bask in the quietness.
  Chelle Munroe©
  June 21, 2015

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Chapter Thirteen and a Half

Part Two

The phrase, “curiosity killed the cat” kept prancing in and out of my thoughts while I pondered my next action and I tried my best to not let it unnerve me and must admit that I was losing the battle quickly.  I hurriedly, as if unwillingly, clicked on the name and another page popped up with just the directions to Zenda’s.  At that point, I kept telling myself it was just an advertising gimmick to get people into the shop and that there was nothing to worry about.  That worked to calm me down except for the hairs standing up on the back of my neck and the goose bumps springing up along my arms.
I was about to close the page when this sentence, as if rising out of a cloud, slowly appeared:  “DO NOT HESITATE”.  I glanced down at the bill to see the same words in the message.  Coincidence or mystery?  I had no idea which and no idea what to do because I was beginning to feel this was real and way out of my league.  Yet, for unknown reasons, I felt compelled to do something.
It was still early so I printed out the directions, grabbed my jacket and pocketbook and headed off to Zenda’s; wondering all the way if there was going to be some practical joke awaiting me when I arrived.  Imagine the look on my face when I discovered that the shop was real.  It didn’t occur to me until some time later that when I parked alongside the curb, there was no one else around or, for that matter, any other traffic.  I was so caught up in my thoughts I hadn’t paid attention to my surroundings; a danger in and of itself.
I don’t know what I had expected when I opened the door and entered the shop, but no matter what it would have been, I definitely would not have envisioned it the way it was.  To the left was an old book shelf with one book and an Ouija board on it; in the center was a two-foot long counter and to the right, nothing at all.  The book, of course, was “How To Overcome Mysterious Powers and Improve Your Life”.
As soon as I picked the book up, an older lady came from ………now that I think of it, I’m not sure at all where she came from.  She reached out and lifted the items from my hands and said, “I’ve been expecting you.  That will be $5.00.”
Robotically, I reached into my pocketbook, took out the money and paid her.  As I was leaving the store, I could have sworn I heard her cackling but when I turned, she was gone.  My first reaction was to drop the bag and run to the car in the hopes of getting as far away as I could as fast as I could.  Instead, with great restraint and will power, I calmly walked away and got into my car and drove home.
Back at home, I set the Ouija Board on the coffee table and the book on my kitchen table and made a cup of strong tea.  Part of me still wanted to believe it was some elaborate prank, but somewhere inside, I had the sinking feeling that it was real and true.  Those thoughts didn’t help to quell my nerves any and, as much as I knew I was going to look up the chapter the message had instructed,  I had to give myself more time to muster the courage to do it.
Feeling confident I was ready, I opened the cover on the book and looked at the index. All the chapters appeared normal with the exception of chapter thirteen and a half.  Nothing else was listed on the page.  I found chapter thirteen and a half and proceeded to read the instructions:

“Set the Ouija Board in the middle of the floor and place the planchette (the heart-shaped piece) in the center space.  You will need a pen and paper to record the words you will receive.  Put your two hands together with thumbs overlapped and index fingers touching at the tips; while keeping them no less than six inches above the board move them over the planchette.  If they are positioned correctly, the board will begin to spell out each word, pausing after each word to allow you to write them down.  When the message is complete, the planchette will move to the center and stop.”

At this point, my curiosity was surely piqued and I had to find out what was going to happen if I followed the directions.  I set about moving the coffee table and made sure I had everything out of the way so I could set the board in the middle of the room.  That accomplished, I placed the planchette with the glass eye in the center space and took a deep breath.  The moment of truth had arrived.
In Native American or yoga style fashion, I sat in front of the board and took a deep breath.  Putting my hands together as had been described, I held them approximately six inches over the planchette.  At first, I thought I had them wrong because nothing happened, but then the planchette began to move until it hovered over the “Y”.
   Chelle Munroe©
   June 21, 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Chapter Thirteen and a Half

Computers can be a blessing, but they can also be a curse.  Well, it seems that way especially when you want them to do something special and they freeze-up; can’t find what you’re looking for:; or just plain refuse to cooperate.  That happened to me recently.  I was trying to find the cheapest place to buy a mid-heel sandal and the search engine I was using seemed to take me on a thousand mile trek to nowhere and when I tried to refine my search, it froze up and then took me right back to the beginning.
Of course, the ironic part to this is that while I was calling the computer stupid, I was the stupid one for sitting there stubbornly persistent that I could get this machine to circumvent all the problems and get me to what I wanted.  Naturally, the computer was more successful at being stubborn than myself and I had to resign myself to shutting it down.
Not one to be daunted by disappointment, I headed off to find local stores I may have overlooked in hopes they would have the shoes I wanted.  Six or seven stores later, I’m not sure which having lost track of the number, I found a pair of beige sandals that were nice enough to wear for dress, yet equally nice to wear with casual outfits.  What made it even better was that they were marked down from $45 to $13.  An offer I easily could not refuse.
An odd thing happened at the register.  I paid with a twenty dollar bill and when I received the change, I noticed some writing on one of the bills and because I didn’t want to hold up the customers behind me, I stuck the bill with the writing into my coat pocket, separate from the other bills. I stated this was odd because, normally, I would have paid no attention to the writing on the bill as many bills have notes written on them and it is usually a laundry list of things, or a phone number or something entirely meaningless to the reader.  This writing on this bill, however, was different in that it almost looked to be some form of ancient writing like you would see in a movie or book concerning the 4th or 5th century. 
Inside the car, I pulled the bill from my pocket and read the following note:

 “You must go to Zenda’s House of Time and purchase an Ouija Board. It cannot be from any other place as someone will meet dire consequences if you deviate from this. To find Zenda’s you will need to Google it. Google is the only search engine that will lead you to Zenda’s.  Once at Zenda’s, you will also purchase the book:   “How To Overcome Mysterious Powers and Improve Your Life”.   Read chapter thirteen and one half for your next instructions.  Time is of the essence, so do not hesitate once you have read this message.  Remember, a life is in serious danger if you don’t.”

I practically laughed out loud and shoved the bill into my pocketbook thinking that someone had a wild imagination or it was a game that some kids play online or something. The rest of my day was spent out running errands and stopping for a bite to eat.  I was about to pay for my lunch when I realized one of the bills was the one with the writing and hurriedly exchanged it for another from my wallet.  At the table, I re-read the message and again I laughed out loud, which brought about some strange looks from the patrons nearby as I was by myself and not on the phone with anyone.
At home, I put my purchases away except for the sandals.   Like most women, I had to put them on and walk around the house to get an idea how they were going to feel when off the store carpeting.  When I was finished parading back and forth like a super-model, I sat at the computer and retrieved the bill with the writing from my wallet. A little over fifteen minutes passed before I decided to Google Zenda’s, genuinely believing it didn’t exist.
While Google was searching, I made a cup of tea and was astonished when I sat back down to see “Zenda’s House of Time”, in bold letters on my screen.  Amazingly, there was nothing else on the page --- nothing at all.  So, I did what anyone else would do—I closed the page and did it again and again it came up with the one listing and the rest of the page blank.  I sipped my tea and must honestly say that it kind of spooked me to see those large bold words seemingly staring back at me.  I can’t say they were ominous, but they sure as heck were eerie.
Chelle Munroe©
June 21, 2015

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Having Style

Part Eight

Casey paused before opening his eyes. He glanced around but Jeannette wasn’t there. Sadness overwhelmed him and his shoulders slumped. Emotionally exhausted, he slowly walked back to the cottage, every couple feet checking over his shoulder to see if she was there. At the doorway to the studio, he gave once last look, sighed and went into the house where he flopped down on the couch and fell asleep.
At some point during the night, Casey awoke and knew what he had to do. He made his way to the studio. A few minutes later, he had the painting of his original house on the easel. It was time to go home. He began putting in some bushes he had purposefully left out the first time because of not knowing what was going to work. It didn’t take long to make the changes and when he finished, he turned off the lights and went back into the house.
 In an attempt to relax and possibly think of something he might have missed doing, Casey lowered his head on his arms. Before long, he drifted off to sleep and didn’t wake up until the sunlight beaming through the kitchen window woke him up. He sat up and slowly worked the kinks out of his neck.
At daylight, with coffee cup in hand, Casey went into the studio. Waves of mixed emotions washed over him. On the one hand, he wanted to walk out into the yard and be home in his own place and time; while on the other hand, he knew that once he did, he would never see Jeannette again.
He drank some coffee, took a deep breath and walked into the yard to the fence.
There was no one on the street and he thought he had failed until he turned and saw his own house looking as it always had. He opened the gate and stepped outside the yard. He had succeeded. Casey glanced up and down the street, then turned and went back into the house feeling numb to all emotion. There were no feelings of jubilance or sadness. He was completely spent.
The next seven months kept Casey quite busy with creating more pieces and doing the art galleries. As expected, his paintings sold for a good price and he became semi famous and rich. Needing a break from the whirlwind activities, Casey decided to take a week off. The first two days he devoted to relaxing and lounging around the house and puttering around in his yard. On the third day, he went into the studio and began the arduous task of cleaning and organizing; a job he actually dreaded doing but one he knew had to be done.
About midway through his labors, he came across the paintings of his house and the one of the cottage. A flood of memories filled his thoughts, so much so, that he had to leave them and go into the house. He made another coffee and while looking at the paintings decided the best way to get rid of the memories was to sell them.
Determined on his course of action, he finished his coffee, went into the studio and set the paintings aside. As he was doing so, he noticed they weren’t signed. The one of his house was not worth anything so he only signed the one of the cottage.  Once signed, he felt a sense of relief ease its way into his mind and heart. He worked for a couple more hours and called it a day.
The next morning, as was usual, Casey stepped out into his yard with cup of coffee in hand. The sun was already shining bright and it looked to be another glorious day. He bent down to pull some weeds from his garden and heard a voice saying, “You’ve come back.”
Casey spun on his heels and looked up into Jeannette’s smiling face. He stood up and faced her. “How did you get here? I’ve waited for you all this time.”
Jeannette shook her head. “I don’t know what you mean. When you left, my Casey never returned. I’ve been waiting for you to come to me.”
Casey frowned. “So how did you get here?”
Jeannette touched his shoulders and turned him around and pointed. “I’ve been here. It’s you who has come to me.”
Casey’s mouth opened but no words escaped as he set his eyes on the cottage. Finally he said, “But how? I didn’t do anything but sign the painting.” He turned back to her. “I didn’t change anything.”
They remained silent for a few minutes before Jeannette said, “Maybe by signing it you finalized your being here.”
It was his turn to be puzzled. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t think you can go back. As long as the painting wasn’t signed you could change it and make it however you wanted. But now that you’ve signed it without any changes, it brought you here to finalize your desires. Did you desire to be here?”
“Yes. Yes, I did,” he said and his face lit up with happiness. Casey stepped closer to her, leaned down and kissed her. 
Tears of joy streamed down Jeannette’s cheeks as she squeezed him tightly.
“I don’t want to go back,” he whispered into her ear and held her close to his heart as a tear trickled down his own cheek.
  The End
  Chelle Munroe©
  April 9, 2015


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Having Style

Part Seven

He glanced down the street and as he did, he thought of Jeannette and wondered if her Casey had been returned to her. After a moment, he settled in his mind that everything must have been returned to the way they were before the painting. He remained at the fence for a few more minutes then made his way back into the house.
Every day for the next five weeks, Casey worked feverishly with a renewed enthusiasm producing painting after painting. He was like a man possessed but knew without any doubt that he would create beauty as never having been witnessed before.
As the days rolled by, Casey also thought about Jeannette. He admired the way she loved the other him and craved to have that kind of deep love in his own life. The more he pondered it, the more he wondered where the Jeannette was from this time and why she had not revealed herself. The whole ordeal was totally surreal, yet, there was something about it that kept drawing him back to it and, try as he might, he couldn’t put his finger on it.
It was during the eighth week since his return home that things took a big turn for Casey. He finished the last painting that completed his work for the gallery. There was no doubt in his mind that the paintings would not only command an excellent price, but that they would sell quickly as well
As he watched the workers crate the paintings for shipment to the gallery, Casey felt a mild sense of relief wash over him. He was proud of his accomplishment. When one of the men inquired about the painting with the cottage, Casey instructed them to leave it. Inasmuch as he believed it to be the best, he couldn’t bring himself to part with it.
That night, when all the workers were gone and he was alone with his thoughts, Casey went into the studio and stared at the painting. The longer he gazed at it, the more convinced he became that he had to return. He had to find Jeannette. The question was: How? He contemplated the problem for over three hours before he reasoned that he would have to add something to the painting to bring it to life again.
He decided that it would be best to change something in the yard for fear that if he changed the cottage, it would ruin his chances of ever getting back to her. As he painted in some flowers, he couldn’t help wonder if he was going crazy or somewhere had a breakdown. He even wondered if the event with Jeannette actually happened or if he just imagined it. One thing he did know was that he would be transported back to her or that nothing would happen; a thought he truthfully didn’t want to bring into the equation.
Casey finished his work and had all he could do to keep from going outside to look. Based upon his memory of how things happened previously, he felt it best to go to bed and see what developed in the morning. He tossed and turned for an hour or two then finally drifted into a peaceful deep sleep.
Early next morning, with coffee mug in hand, he stepped into the studio, glanced at the painting, and then made his way into the yard. He was excited to see that things looked exactly like the painting. He turned to see the cottage and his heart beat harder in his chest. He walked over to the fence and looked around. No one was there so he waited. When nothing happened, he made up his mind to go look for Jeannette.
Casey opened the gate but when he went to step through, he couldn’t. He tried and tried but each time he was stopped by an invisible wall. Beads of sweat appeared on his forehead and a sinking feeling engulfed him as he realized he was trapped. He was free to move around the house and yard but for whatever reason, he wasn’t allowed beyond.
Momentarily stunned by this new discovery, Casey remained by the fence for quite some time. Once the initial shock wore off, he hurried back into the studio and tried painting the street as he remembered it, hoping that if he did he would be able to venture out and look for Jeannette.
After trying a half dozen times with no success, Casey walked out to the fence and looked around to see if anything at all had changed. To his dismay, everything was at it was with no sign of Jeannette anywhere. He was about to resign himself to the fact that she was gone forever when he recalled having looked up into the sky and venting his anger just before she appeared. That had to be it.
He paced back and forth wishing his memory would serve him right and let him remember what he had said. Was it even possible that it didn’t matter what he said as long as he duplicated the moment as best he could? He had to try. So looking up, he shouted, “I don’t know what to do. You have to help me. Please help me.”
   Chelle Munroe©
   April 9, 2015