Haunted Nightmares

“Nightmares exist outside of logic, and there’s little fun to be had in explanations; they’re antithetical to the poetry of fear.”
-Stephen King

Productivity is low again as I awoke early in the morning to my own screams. With a tear stained face, shaking hands, and the nightmarish feeling I know all too well.  For the past 10 years or so, I have spent almost 1 night every two weeks in turmoil. In my mind, have the image of my mother’s face charred beyond recognition. Through my tears I can see her nose is gone leaving two gaping holes in the center of what was once the soft loving safety net I spent my life relying on. A fraying rope is wrapped around her thin long neck tangled with the necklace my sister and I bought her for Mother’s Day one year. She is one of many that hang from the rafters of a burnt barn. All of my loved ones hang from nooses and they loom above my head as their feet sway eerily.

Nightmares are a version of our own thoughts that were once based in rational thought. They become distorted monsters creeping out of the dark corners of our mind and feasting on what we see as reality. Being plagued by a reoccurring nightmare is what I imagine being haunted feels like. Many think that through trying to understand our nightmares, we are released from their grasp. I feel as though, like quicksand, the more I try to understand and loosen myself, the tighter the arms of my nightmares surround me.

In the earliest hours of the morning, I find myself stirred awake by the pounding of running feet and yells. I am in an old farm house resembling my maternal grandparents’ farm. On the third floor bedroom alone, I look out my window and see a flames reaching toward the night sky. The barn at the end of the property was on fire. Below to see my family and friends pouring out of the house we all live in together. They are running out the front door and along the sidewalk below my window. The fastest include my father and uncles. They lead the pack to the barn. From my window, I can smell the smoke and almost hear the crackling and crashing of support beams made of old American chestnut. The light from the fire illuminates my room and I join my family running down the stairs and out the door to help put out the blaze.

At first, I am in the middle of the pack and am gaining speed to the front, I am surrounded by my loved ones; my sister, Claire, and my mother are closest to me. All at once, I skip forward in time, and I’ve reached the barn. I slow to a stop, trying to catch my breath. All is quiet. I am completely alone and the barn that was burning brightly a moment ago, is now charred and abandoned. It looks as if years have passed in a single moment. Ivy climbs the side of the building and the moon is large and bright. In a panic, I call out to my parents, my sister, my grandmother, aunts, and uncles. The only answer is the sound of wind and crickets.

Perhaps they are in the barn, I think. I push the towering front doors open. I can feel the cold wet chill of the wooden door and my hand comes away blackened; covered in soot. There is the tell-tale moan of the hinges as the door slides along the dirt floor. The wind takes it open the rest of the way. In my nightgown and no shoes, I enter the barn. I can feel the hay below my feet give while I walk. There is a large hole in the ceiling where beams have fallen and caved in. The moon is pouring through the hole and I feel like a specimen under a microscope, like I’m being observed closely by something far greater than I am.

I have the image of my mother’s face charred beyond recognition. Through my tears I can see her nose is gone leaving two gaping holes in the center of what was once the soft loving safety net I spent my life relying on.

That’s when movement to my left, catches my peripheral vision. I see my mother, as described before. Charred and mouth agape, I can almost hear her screams. I crumble to the ground dirtying my knees. As her feet sway above my head, I look around. The moonlight illuminates the faces of everyone I hold near and dear. Each one strung by the neck like some macabre marionette.

I suddenly feel the presence of something even more sinister than the scene I am currently faced with. A deep guttural laugh emerges from the darkest corner of the barn. As a figure steps into the light, I can see it is shrouded in a dark cloak and the only discernable features are a gas mask affixed to it’s face and a swastika badge on its arm. A gloved hand appears from beneath the cloak’s folds and points at me. As this happens, my throat begins to tighten and sting. I start coughing uncontrollably and my eyes well up with tears. I can feel my tongue become numb and foam starts to pour from my mouth as I collapse. Then, the dream ends.

Each time I wake up from this nightmare, my eyes are wide open and I can feel my back soaked in sweat. Each time, I sit up, hugging my pillow and wiping my tears away on the corners of the pillow case. Each time, I yearn for morning light and a warm shower.

Sometimes I just get up from bed. I’ll sit in my living room and read or watch a show or play with the cat, anything to clear my mind. When I arrive to work 5 hours later, my eyes are bloodshot and no amount of concealer can cover the dark circles below them. Oftentimes, some young coworker asks if I was out drinking, while the older ones state that I might be coming down with something.

The feeling of dread can loom for days or weeks. Sometimes it fades only to pop up again when my mind is unoccupied. Once, it stopped for 2 months during my finals week as a senior in college. I guess I couldn’t handle both stressors at one time.

Nonetheless, the story returns and it stays the same.


Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/people/8997039@N03/



Word of the Day: Abyssopelagic

Oooh, let’s name the zones, the zones, the zones. Let’s name the zones of

the open sea: mesopolagic, bathyal, abyssopelagic. All the rest are too

deep for you and me to see.


If you don’t recognize this little ditty, try asking a child. Pixar’s ‘Finding Nemo’ was more than just a heartwarming story between a father clownfish, Marlin, and his son, Nemo. Along with being a visual spectacular, this animated film set under the sea was highly educational. This song called “Let’s Name the Zones” was sung by the character of Mr. Ray, a school teacher and stingray. This musical educator was only in the movie briefly, but his time onscreen taught young viewers all about the sea! Abyssopelagic, the third zone mentioned, can be used as an adjective. In this form it is defined, “of, like, or pertaining to the depths of the ocean.” Today we are going to “dive” into the construction of the word abyssopelagic, the third zone sung by our factual fish.

At depths between four-thousand and six-thousand meters deep, the abyssopelagic layer reaches pressures of up to 11,000 psi. It is identified as the waters directly above the continental rise. There is only one layer deeper, the hadalpelagic zone, which can only be found in deep trenches like the Mariana’s Trench, the lowest point on Earth.

As part of the midnight zone, the abyssopelagic layer doesn’t receive any sunlight. With temperatures around 36 degrees, and a lack of nutrients from sunlight, minimal life exists here. The organisms that do inhabit this area of the deep sea are known as benthos. The most famous creatures are those that produce bioluminescence, like the anglerfish—which is also featured in ‘Finding Nemo.’ Organisms here are primarily scavengers that lie at the ocean floor waiting for detritus to settle from above.

With that in mind, let’s look at the construction of the word ‘abyssopelagic.’ One may notice the first portion of this word is a word itself. The term ‘abyss’ comes from the Greek word ‘abussos’ without bottom, or depthless. The prefix ‘a’ means without and ‘bussos’ is possibly a derivative of either ‘byssos,’ Greek for bottom, or the Greek word ‘bathos’ meaning “depth.” ‘Pelagic’ (the second portion of ‘abyssopelagic’) comes from the word ‘pelagos.’ ‘Pelagos’ was the Greek term meaning the sea or the deep. As far as etymology goes, this construction stays specific. It literally means the deepest of the sea.

This abyss takes up 83% of the ocean’s area and at least 60% of the earth’s surface! With such a large mass that blanketed in darkness, the abyssopelagic layer holds some of the world’s most elusive creatures and little plant life. Most of these organisms, like the deep sea medusa, basket stars, and seapigs, look as though they came straight out of a Sci-Fi movie. These organisms can withstand immense pressure. When removed from the abyssopelagic layer, the inhabitants will die and generally not look like their undersea form. The internet sensation coined the “ugly fish,” or its real name–the blobfish, is known for its disturbing out-of-water form.  Most creatures here are blind and have large lower jaws for sifting through sand for food. One of the most popular residents of the abyssopelagic layer is that of the legendary giant squid. Of the small amount of giant squids found, the largest recorded was forty-three feet in length.

In order to study the abyssopelagic layer, scientists had to build special technology to withstand immense pressures and little oxygen. The deep sea 3-person submersible, “Alvin,” was able to reach a whopping 14,764 ft. deep. Without the advanced technology of our time, the abyssopelagic layer would have been perceived as a bottomless, unattainable abyss. Thus, it was named accordingly.

Alvin Submarine
This is a photograph of the Alvin Submarine









DISCLAIMER: I own this article.  I worked for a small publishing company as a content creator intern several years ago. I wanted to save some of my writing before it got deleted or phased out, so I am reposting it on my personal blog.


Vampires Aren’t Cute: Leptirica, the Movie

Vampires are known for several telling features: fang-like teeth, pale skin, nocturnal, and an aversion to garlic or silver. This is mostly a mainstream look at what was before, a true fear. Prior to Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula,” suspected vampires came in all shapes and sizes, depending on local stories and suspicions.

Being a big horror buff myself, I find creepy classics and new age horrors alike to be entertaining. I use the word “entertaining” because the fear doesn’t linger but rather provides a brief adrenaline rush. There is one horror film, however, that will continue to give me the willies long into my old age. Made for TV, a Serbian/Yugoslavic movie entitled “Leptirica” or “The She-Butterfly,” it was created by Croatian film director Đorđe Kadijević in 1973.

Serbia is a common thread throughout the legends of the vampire. The English word “vampire” is suspected to come from the German term “vampir,” which is believed to be derived from the Serbian term вампир/vampir when Northern Serbia was ruled by the Austrian Empire. In fact, one of the first and most well-known documented vampire stories is about a Serb named Arnold Paole. Seventeen years before “Dracula” was written, an author named Milovan Glišić created a compilation of stories based on Serbian folklore. His most famous tale was entitled “After Ninety Years.” Leptirica is based on Glišić’s story, and the eerie nature of the tale is translated perfectly to film by Kadijević.

In early folklore, suspected vampires were often exhumed from their graves by villagers. These tales described vampires as plump with rosy skin, thought to be the result of a recent feeding. Blood around the face and mouth was also a common sight—thus leading to the fear that there were people dying at the hands, or rather mouths, of these deceased. With long teeth, nails, and hair, many thought that these corpses were still living and absorbing power and life from the living.

We’ve seen images of gore, blood, and death before in other horror movies. What makes “Leptirica” disturbing is the absence of all of these features. Instead, the director uses music, a frame of the vampire’s eyes, or a close up of the creature’s hands to make viewers’ skin crawl.The terrifying elements of “Leptirica” are brilliantly their own.

In “Leptirica,” the story revolves around a small village that has experienced its fair share of recent deaths. Something is haunting the mill and whoever runs the mill at night is always found dead in the flour by morning. With no volunteers to work in such an environment, the village is struggling with famine and is at great risk. The elders of the village along with a clergyman are stumped until they see the young peasant named Strahinja walking by. The young man, ashamed, can’t provide for his love, Radojka. With his proposal denied by the Radojka’s father, Strahinja is leaving the village. Seeing an opportunity, the elders pounce. They suggest Strahinja run the mill to prove his strength, bravery, and to have a job. Hoping to earn Radojka’s hand, Strahinja accepts and immediately gets to work.

The elders expect Strahinja to be dead the next morning but instead find him alive and he explains what he saw, which helps the elders find out who the vampire was in life and where to seek out his resting place. They drive a stake through the coffin but, while distracted in their rejoicing, the elders miss seeing a single white butterfly emerge from the coffin. As they scramble to catch the butterfly, it flies away before it can be drenched in holy water.

With Strahinja a hero, he wins his bride. The night before their wedding, he deviously plans to visit his bride-to-be. He creeps in and begins to unbutton her nightgown when he sees a bloodied, gaping hole in her stomach. She rises with disembodied screams and large sharp teeth. Honestly, this scene may sound corny but, I kid you not, I almost peed myself. The story’s small but important details distract viewers and lull them into a false sense of safety. The crude and strange costuming for the monster makes it even more terrifying than some CGI films of today. It is even said that a man watching “Leptirica” on its TV release died of fear. Because of this, the then communist authorities declared the film terroristic in nature and it was banned.

Since then, this film hasn’t been officially released or shown aside from its original air date and a later airing in the eighties. If you manage to find a copy somewhere, I suggest you plan for a night of insomnia


DISCLAIMER: I own this article.  I worked for a small publishing company as a content creator intern several years ago. I wanted to save some of my writing before it got deleted or phased out, so I am reposting it on my personal blog.

I am an earthworm.

Picture it:   Sicily 1942


Just kidding. Try Pennsylvania circa 1997.

I am in kindergarten headed to Mrs. Gahagan’s class with a backpack the size of my torso. My little knobby legs guide me down the bus steps onto the sidewalk to the entrance of my elementary school. It is raining heavily and teachers are hurriedly helping students get inside.

As I’m walking, I notice that there has been an absolute MASSACRE of earthworms imbedded into the sidewalk. No doubt a hundred or so little light up Spider-Man & Disney Princess sneakers have caused a soggy smattering of earthworm guts. Horrified, I stopped dead in my tracks and began to search for survivors. I began picking up earthworms and placing them in the grass, much to the faculty’s dismay as they bend over me with an umbrella urging me to go inside. I couldn’t. I was saving lives.

At some point in my life, I learned that the reason these pea-brained annelids retreat to sidewalks and roads, is to avoid a watery grave in the flooded grasses they call home. Throughout my childhood, I probably sent a good 500 worms to their death by placing them back in the grasses they just spent an hour trying to leave. Now, in my mid 20’s, I feel that I can sympathize.

Most of my early adult life was spent working as a waitress. I was a pro. I kicked ass at small talk and snarky jokes, I hustled, I always remembered to put the light ranch on the side, and all around did a bang up job. My world came crashing down when, whilst working at a country club, I was put up for a major promotion. Somehow I became the membership director of a luxurious private country club.

Let me explain. I’m not ungrateful, in fact, I think I spend most of my time asking myself how the hell I pulled it off. That being said, I was thrusted into the sodden grasses. I was plucked from a spot where I was comfortable and safe, only to be placed into a life of constant self-doubt and utter chaos. Everything happened at once.  I went from scullery maid to full on adult in a matter of days.

I used to be able to walk into a room of my peers with confidence. Even though my job was less than exciting, I was well-educated, lived independently, managed my money well, and never had issues with shyness or social interaction. Now, I’m surrounded by white-collar businessmen drinking aged Glenlivet scotch while I try my best to stay conversationally afloat with my house cab sauv and a run in my tights.

Welcome to my blog. It’s bound to be a wreck.