Friday, April 28, 2017

Bridget's Email: 4-25-17 
The Bus Ride Through the Tunnel

A Norinko Hanasaki Research Case

Part Six


The McClure Tunnel Closed Once Again




Introduction:

I held up this email for obvious reasons. I mean, I just came from seeing "Phoenix Forgotten", which is basically "Blair Witch" with UFOs. Surprised to see it was produced by Ridley Scott, whose latest version of Alien meets Prometheus looked pretty generic in the new trailer (especially after that awesome extended "trailer" with actors Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace--can adults still say 'awesome'; it was our word first). 

Anyway, after arguments and disagreements with my editor and continuity expert, Coralie Rowe, we've decided to blog this email as is, unedited (except for the name of the sender whose name has been changed because of her age). All I can say is I confirmed it is from the Catholic school in question, but the subject matter is anything if not interesting. Just for comparison, we've got articles on the Tongs of the Wild West, the true story of the corpse that wouldn't lie still, and other strange subjects that relate to the focus of our attention--the McClure Tunnel and all its mysteries since the mid-1800s. Even today there are still new odd phenomena and tragic accidents occurring inside the tunnel. Closures have become commonplace.

Still, there's always the more topical side that relates to a blog called the Servante of Darkness. So here is Bridget's email, I hope the first of many.


The Email:


Dear Mr. Servante,
I’m sorry for Suzie. She was kind of mad about ur folklore blog. She’s more religious than me. For the last ten months since Norie went missing, our parents have been meeting a lot and going to Temple. Suzie goes with them a lot. She prays and lights candles and incense for Bodhisattva at the Prajnaparamita. There are so many things, I don’t know what to tell u. I guess I should tell u first about the bus ride that day.

Suzie always sits by the window with Norie. I sit behind them. I like to look over Norie’s shoulder to see what she’s drawing in her notebook. She has a Tokidoki notebook. She loves that stuff, but Suzie can tell you about that. Norie likes to write poems too, some with the drawings, some just for the poems. It was Monday, June 6 last year. She was drawing a bird with a girl’s face or like a girl wearing a bird costume. I couldn’t tell.

The bus driver already let off most the students at their stops so there were only around six or seven of us still on the bus when it got on the freeway. It’s the same route all the time. First the kids on the north side of the tunnel then the kids on the south side of the tunnel. It’s the Catholic school rules that we ride the bus. We could catch the regular Big Blue bus home or the south side kids most of them can walk home but we have to ride the school bus.

And I don’t get why we have to go to Catholic school if our parents are Buddha heads. It’s like kind of the school’s fault, I think. The Nuns don’t even seem to care. I tell them our parents are Buddhas and they say, “Buddhists”. Like it matters. Buddha heads. Christian heads.

But it was that bird, the one Norie called “Buzzkill” and then she wrote two poems about Buzzkill right there on the bus. I guess it was a buzzard. Like a vulture, I guess. Norie turned around at looked at me. I was leaning against the back of her seat looking over her shoulder. “Don’t be a Buzzkill,” she told me.

Someone must have opened a window cuz Norie’s notebook closed shut like a slap. That’s when the bus went in the tunnel. The lights in the tunnel are always on. Always. This time they weren’t. No lights in the bus either. No lights from our cellphones. The bus driver turned on the speaker. I thought she was making an announcement, but she started crying. And some of the girls started screaming.

I was holding on to the back of Norie’s seat. Suzie was hiding her face in her palms. She was saying Bodhisattva over and over. Someone was laughing. I remember that. But it was too dark to see who it was. My eyes were already used to the dark, like at the movies, but I couldn’t see through the middle of the darkness.

Someone was saying “Stop the bus.” It was me. “Don’t be a Buzzkill.” It wasn’t Norie. I thought we were going to crash. Then we left the tunnel. The sunlight lit up the inside of the bus. We were all turning our heads looking at each other. Wondering who was laughing, who was screaming, who was crying. I saw Suzie look up. “Where’s Norie?” she asked me. No Norie in her seat. But her notebook was there.

That wind blew again and it blew the cover open. I saw the two Buzzkill poems. I reached over to pick up the notebook, but Suzie yelled at me not to. She scared me. She left her seat and walked down the aisle looking at every seat on both sides to the back of the bus, then she walked to the front of the bus and did the same thing. When she got to the front, she looked back at me and shook her head.

I saw her talk to the bus driver. Then she came back and sat next to me. She told me that the bus driver said ‘ang-hell’. She said that Miriam, our driver, pointed to the speaker system to show Suzie it was turned off. “Ang-hell” she kept saying. Suzie said that 'ang-hell' means 'angel' in Spanish. Then she told me that the driver is going to stop at the next gas station.

I’m going to stop here. Can you tell me if you’re going to put this on your blog, please? Thank you. If you use it, next time I’ll tell you what happened at the gas station.

Your friend, Bridget
April 25, 2017
  

Thursday, April 27, 2017



A Visit from Poet Michael H. Hanson





Photograph: poet Robert Frost and author Stephen King



The Great Debate 
by Michael H. Hanson 

I find your horror offsetting, 
pressing on New Hampshire’s borders 
with all its rough, itchy bedding 
daunting sleep in my mind’s boarders. 

Well I find your poetry, sir, 
with elegant economy 
a weak, musky tea to deter 
my dark, thirsty Maine alchemy. 

I think you mean to mine men’s sin, 
unearthing vile atrocity; 
While you pen praising earth’s raw skin, 
imbuing dishonest beauty. 

Long sundered by both space and time 
fate’s walls can’t mend or e’er portend 
a New England house paradigm 
each gentleman has not condemned.

***********


The Truth is Coming


Coming in May, from Pumpkin Hill Press (an imprint of Copper Dog Publishing LLC)...
 
JAC AND HER BEANSTALK by CJ Henderson

For 8-12 year olds, JAC gives the real dirt on an age-old story, one that lets everyone know just how important one girl really is... 

Stay tuned for further announcements!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


An Email from Suzie
A Norinko Hanasaki Research Case

Part Five





Suzie Email 4-25-17
Thank you for writing about my friend Norinko. I think you should write more about her and not about fairy stories. I think you're being unrespectful. You need to talk to the policeman that came to our school last summer. Here's his name and phone number [deleted]. He gave a card to all the students and teachers he talked to. I hope you'll keep writing about Norinko. But more about her. Not about fairies.
Suzie [last name deleted].



My response: 4-25-17
Hey, Suzie,
I'd like to apologize for being disrespectful to your friend. It wasn't my intention. But I have to write about everything about the case, not just what the police are doing. Police information is not so easy to get so I write about subjects that will keep the name of Norinko Hanasaki of interest to my readers. As you can see, I have written three articles about Norinko and a lot of people are reading them. And your schoolmate Bridget also appeared on my blog and offered to help. But I do promise I will call the number you sent me. And I promise I'll write about it. But you can help me too. Can you tell me about Norinko? It would also help if you reminded Bridget to send me that information I asked her for. Again I apologize for seeming insensitive, but that's far from the truth. I do care. That's why I'll keep writing until we learn more about what happened. Please extend my apologies to Norinko's family as well.
Anthony Servante

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Folklore of Missing Children
By Anthony Servante
A Norinko Hanasaki Research Case

Part Four




Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

From "The Stolen Child"
By William Butler Yeats.




Introduction: 
The disappearance of children throughout history around the world has been depicted in folklore as magically manipulated events. Whether parents use these tales of lost children to scare their own sons and daughters to stay close to home or to manufacture accounts to explain the mysterious disappearance of a child in the community, the folk stories have come to capture both a child's and a parent's basic fear: Leaving familiar surroundings and entering unfamiliar places. For the parent who wakes to find their child missing, it's a fear of loss and helplessness, a lack of control over the child; for the youngster, it's a fear of waking in a strange land with no means to return home, no mother and father to care for them. In either case, there are forces at work that religious folk can only explain with supernatural culpability. It wasn't a kidnapper who took my child; it was fairy or troll. 

Let’s consider a few folklore legends as examples. We’ll begin with Yeats. 

In Irish tradition, the Changeling is blamed for missing children and problem kids as well. The typical version has the Twileth Teg replace an infant in the crib with a fairy in baby form. When the child cries day and night and eats incessantly, the husband suspects the creature in the crib behaves like a fairy; however, the wife still believes the child to be her own and continues to feed it. When the pantry begins to dwindle to nothing, the wife seeks counsel from the wise old woman of the village, who teaches her to trick the fairy into revealing itself. The deception works and the infant speaks like a grisly old man. The wife tosses the child into the fireplace, and the changeling turns to smoke and flies out the chimney. The real child returns to the crib. Though, during the years, the story has changed with the child never being returned, even after the changeling is discovered and expelled.


The infant transforms into the Changling


The two ways we can discern the evolution of the tale is that originally parents who provide discipline to a troublesome child will be rewarded with a obedient youngster. This disciplinary method would reward parents who follow the rule of "spare the rod, spoil the child". It wasn't so much a changeling in the crib, but a spoiled child who needed "tough love". In this sense, the "devil" was beaten out of the child, leaving only his "good" side. The second way concerns events that were closer to fact. When parents lost a child to kidnappers, to plague, or to the labyrinths of the forest, in most cases the youngster was murdered, died, or was never heard from again. The evolution of the tale stretched from religious hope to the cruel reality of the era.

In a variation of the Irish Changeling, fairies do not switch babies for one of their own; instead, they wait at the edge of a forest for passing or wandering children and tempt them to accompany them into the woods. It is unclear what the fairies want with the youngsters, but there are a few possibilities. For one, they may seek to adopt the kids and raise them as their own. On the other hand, they may seek to wreak worry on irresponsible parents. In extreme cases, the children may be eaten. It was easy to blame "the forest" and its inhabitants on the disappearance of the youngsters since many people did not venture into the woods  for fear of getting lost or falling prey to predatory creatures that found smaller visitors, such as kids, easy to kill. Rather than admit that they were not taking care of their children, negligent mothers and fathers were quick to blame "fairies", bears, or child abductors.


Merrow take the children to sea.


“'In 'The Vanishing People', author and fairy expert Katharine Briggs said God cast these angels from heaven. Those that landed on Earth became woodland fairies; those that landed in the water became mermaids and other sea creatures. These fairies remained trapped between heaven and Earth until Judgment Day.” The existence of the fairy creatures represented the notion of a religious Purgatory, a waiting room between Heaven and Hell. It was the job of the fairies and Merrows to select their victims for Hades, or allow the victims to escape or to return the children to their parents for their form of heaven.

Note: We often think of supernatural creatures like demons ("The Exorcist", for one, namely Pazuzu) to come from Hell. The priest acts an a conduit between the powers of God and the magnetic pull of Satan's power. In this sense, the "Church" is Purgatory; neither heaven or hell. But just as the fairy's role is like a pagan guide between heaven and hell, according to Briggs, so, too, is the role of the religion a pagan choice between good and evil. And not just demons. Consider the vampire as a metaphor for eternal Purgatory, where one is neither in heaven or hell.



Typical headline for its time.


In England, the child abductors were the "gypsies". “Generations of British parents have warned their kids about Gypsy bogeymen lurking in the shadows, waiting to snatch incautious children. The idea even crept into lullabies:”

‘Hush nae, hush nae, dinna fret ye
The black Tinkler (Gypsy) winna get ye.’


Still, gypsies were convenient villains to blame by mothers and fathers with poor parenting skills. As fairies became less believable in the new age, the dark bohemians made for good suspects as kidnappers, child molesters, and ransomers. One only has to think of Laurel & Hardy's film, "Bohemian Girl", where gypsies kidnap the daughter of the king. The two old bachelors raise the girl until one day she comes to the castle where she grew up to find her true father. From the king's point of view, however, the story is not so Romantic. He lost his child, who disappeared from the castle grounds and was thought dead. The happy ending is just a band-aid for the loss of his daughter; he missed her childhood years. She returns to him as a young lady. What thoughts crossed the king's mind all those years?! Gypsy kidnappers? Fairies? Someone or something must be blamed.



Yama-Uba taking a baby.


In Japanese folklore, the Yama-Uba tells the story of the "Mountain Nurse." "Legend says she catches little children and nurses them for awhile, and then devours them. The Yama-Uba did not clutch at us, because her hands were occupied with a nice little boy, whom she was just going to eat. The child had been made wonderfully pretty to heighten the effect. The spectre, hovering in the air above a tomb at some distance ... had no eyes; its long hair hung loose; its white robe floated light as smoke. I thought of a statement in a composition by one of my pupils about ghosts: "'Their greatest peculiarity is that they have no feet.'" Then I jumped again, for the thing, quite soundlessly, but very swiftly, made through the air at me."
Source: Steve Berman's short story, “A Troll on a Mountain with a Girl”.

The Yama-Uba represents the cruel side of life for the family. As we saw with the Changeling, the fairy represented a problem child or unmasked the shortcomings of bad parents. Here the Japanese spinster is the abomination of motherhood. She nurses the young that she abducts and fattens them for consumption in three days. This interpretation, however, comes from the Western influence of witches in the forest who consume children. Traditionally, the Yama-Uba is a mountain witch who the Japanese believe brings wealth to the homes she haunts. She is protective of the places she inhabits. In Berman's description (Westernized version), the witch's ghostly features are exaggerated (no eyes, no feet); in Japanese Noh Drama, "Yamauba is the fairy of the mountains, which have been under her care since the world began. She decks them with snow in winter, with blossoms in spring ... She has grown very old. Wild white hair hangs down her shoulders; her face is very thin" (Yamauba, Dame of the Mountain, Konparu Zenchiku). She exemplifies the Winter, its harsh climate, but also its beauty of Nature. The Westerners turned her into a figure with which to scare children from disobeying their parents. 


In German folklore, the Pied Piper of Hamlin tale is perhaps its most well known. It not only contains the elements of a traditional folk story, but also the remnants of historical events throughout the generations of its telling. The story most familiar to Western readers concerns the town of Hamlin that is overrun by rats. The Mayor and the townsfolk agree to hire the "Pied Piper" to rid the streets of the vermin for a fee. The Piper lures the rats from the town with the alluring music from his pipe. Hamlin is free of the beady-eyed creatures. But then the Mayor reneges on his promise to pay the piper. The musical exterminator thus uses the charms of his pipe to lure the children out of the town while the citizens are in church. Three children, deaf, blind, and disabled, cannot keep up with the rest of the children following the Pied Piper out of town and tell the church-goers about the piper's misdeed. The children are never found and never heard from again. A later version has the children being returned once his payment is received. The former telling coincides with the Westernized version used to warn kids away from strangers. But there are other versions that researchers say may be closer to the truth behind the fantastic event.



Pied Piper by Jiri Barta


"William Manchester's 'A World Lit Only by Fire' places the events in 1484, 100 years after the written mention in the town chronicles that 'It is 100 years since our children left', and further proposes that the Pied Piper was a psychopathic pedophile" (1992 Printing). The American historian surmises that that a child molester murderer was killing children and that over time the number of kids killed was embellished as modern influences added to the story. One such influence was the outbreak of plague that killed mostly children. In this case, the Pied Piper plays the role of the "angel of death", the guide in Purgatory who decides who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell. "In her essay 'Pied Piper Revisited', Sheila Harty states that surnames from the region settled are similar to those from Hamlin and that selling off illegitimate children, orphans or other children the town could not support is the more likely explanation: (Wiki). Both Manchester and Harty fail to account for the sheer number of children who disappear in the story. If the Piper tale were a condensed version of decades of history, perhaps the historical views would bear a ring of truth, but our folktale here is presented over a few days and the disappearance of 134 youngsters would not stand up to closer scrutiny. It is more likely that our Pied Piper simply evolved into another bogeyman to scare the kids into being obedient little children.

Alaskan folklore has the "Qalupalik, a creature of Inuit legend described as being human-like and having green skin with long hair and very long fingernails. She lives in the sea, hums to entice children to come closer to the water and wears an amautik; she takes the children and raises them as her own under the sea" (Wiki). In Irish folklore, the Merrow lurked along the coastline to lure youngsters into the sea to raise as their own; fairies of the woods waited on the edge of the forest to trick the kids into following them into the deep darkness of the trees. This creature follows the tradition of Westernized thinking: Obedient children do not disappear into the unknown (whether forest, ocean, mountain, or big city). It is not difficult to imagine parents warning children not to play by the seaside for fear the Qalupalik would take them into the water.


The Qalupalik


In Carribean folklore, the Douen are creatures with large blue circles around their eyes, razor sharp talons for feet, that are backwards, and hands with sharp nails, and needle-like fangs; they appear and re-appear in different locations like a will-o-the-wisp that flickers in one spot, goes off, and lights up in another. They are believed to be the spirits of children who were victims of previous Douen. They lure children from their homes with a siren-like call that is both song and laughter; the kids venture into the forest or jungle, abandoning their real families. "Douen are masters of deception and can steal away 'even the most protected child.' They are particularly good at misleading search parties and their victims are never found" (Wiki).



Douen enchanting a child from home.



Douen spirits (note the backward feet).



Note the commonalities of the Douen, Qalupalik (and to some extent, the Pied Piper), and woodland fairy, who live in areas usually forbidden to children ("don't go too deep in the ocean water", "don't wander too far into the forest", and "don't go into the jungle"). While some folktales revolve around the activities of the folk creature, others depend on the habitat of the mythical beast or sprite. Some creatures steal the kids outright, but the enchanters lure the young victims to their lair for various reasons (to raise them as their own, to kill them, or to eat them). For the parents, this allows them to use the legend to scare the child not only to be obedient (or the monster will take you) or not to wander too far from home (or the monster will take you away forever). Although some folktales tell of the child being returned, the Westernization versions always have the children becoming victims or captives or food.


In Mexico, La Llorona (aka The Weeping Woman or literally, The Weeper) also steals children who wander too far from home. She is a spirit caught between Heaven and Hell, doomed to wander the Purgatory of Earth for her crime of prolicide, the killing of one's own children; she drowns her kids to punish her unfaithful husband, then wanders the streets at night weeping and searching for her children. As the tale goes, Maria, a beautiful woman of pride and self-confidence, marries a handsome man; they have three children. Her husband turns out to be a womanizer and a drunk, a side that materializes as Maria takes on the role of mother and housewife. When she discovers that her husband is cheating on her with a younger woman, her proud and confident spirit is broken. She falls into a deep depression and devises a means of vengeance. The only weakness she can find to attack her unfaithful spouse is his love for the children. Maria takes the three kids to the river and drowns them. When she realizes what evil jealousy has driven her to, she drowns herself as well. She is neither welcome in Heaven or Hell and wanders the Earth seeking her children, who, in her madness, yet live. Whenever she comes upon any youngsters playing on their own far from home, she mistakes them for her own children and steals them away to the nearby hills. Only after she realizes that these are not her children does she leave them to starvation or for the coyotes to feed on and returns to her search for her own kids.


La Llorona (as envisioned for Halloween Nights)


All the elements of our Westernization of the modern telling of folktales are evident here: La Llorona will take you if you stay out late at night or wander too far from home. Even your humble author here grew up with this warning night after night and spent many a late night looking over his shoulder. The new element that I wasn't aware of till my research on The Weeper was this rejection by Heaven AND Hell, and her exile to wander Earth. Perhaps her stealing and killing of children was beneficial to the Devil, so they refused her entrance, but why would Heaven refuse her without any means of redemption? In the version I grew up with, La Llorona didn't kill herself; she went mad when she saw her drowned kids flowing down the river. She tried to follow them, but the current was too fast, and she soon lost sight of their little bodies. From then on, she wanders up and down the river and searches towns by rivers, looking for her children. Even for the pathetic concrete riverbed that the Los Angeles River makes, it was still the stuff for parents to use to scare their kids to stay close to home.


In Scandinavia, the Trolls were much like Changelings but also used enchantment to lure children into the mountains to hold captive for years or for food (as evidenced in the pre-Westernization of the troll tales). As such, these folktale creatures parallel the creatures we've described earlier. But there is a darker side to these tales I want to cover. The Scandinavian folktales are perhaps the most cruel in their history. Children were sacrificed to thwart off famine, plague, and bad luck. The Scandinavians also believed in Trolls (Changelings). If they believed that a such a creature had been exchanged for their baby, they had no problem with killing the Changeling by putting it in the oven and burning it to death for the return of their child. Often, though, it was their child that they were killing simply because the child would not stop crying or because the child was very sick, but these were the signs, they believed, of Troll behavior. They also practiced the torture of the Changeling until their child was returned to them. In extreme cases, the child was buried alive in order to prolong its death, giving the Trolls more than enough time to bring back the real baby.



Troll Changeling


But these are the extremes of the oldest form of the tales, when fact and fiction were seamless. To the modern world, especially the Western world, we see a primitive community killing its own children. In reality, however, for its time and place, these parents were wisely dealing with trickster trolls who had stolen their child and left behind a Changeling disguised as a baby. Still, it is difficult not to feel some aversion to the entire practice of child sacrifice, no matter the age or time.


Lastly, we look at the folklore of the Chinese. When we discuss the disappearance of children, one must be aware of the likely place the child will be taken to, and not just the child, but all humans, both dead and alive. This place is called Diyu. It would be naive to call it Hell, for it is more than that; it is more a waiting room, a Purgatory between life and death, death and reincarnation, not Heaven and Hell. Let's look at the three main reasons for Diyu. One, it serves as a place to decide the length of time a person will serve there before being reincarnated; the length of time is important because that is the amount of time it will require to wash away the sins of this person. Two, it serves as a place of torture; the degree of torture will depend of the nature of the sinner (was he a murderer, a thief, etc). Three, it serves as a place for the two types of person who do not fit One or Two: For instance, there is a place for "innocents" called Huhuva, where sinless spirits still must wait for reincarnation, but live in relative comfort during their stay; and there is a place called Avici, where the sins of the person are so great that he can never leave and will be subject to torture forever.



Diyu: the level of torture by fire.


Diyu: the level of torture by dismemberment.


Diyu has eighteen levels of torture. Each level unique to the length and degree of the punishment to be inflicted in the name of cleansing for a proper return to Earth via reincarnation. Each level is called a Naraka, which consists of Ice or Fire (except in the case of Avici, which utilizes all forms of torture for eternity, and Huhuva, where the Innocents await return to Earth).

Note: There are two types of person in Huhuva: One, the Innocent who died sinless; he will be held till there is an opening (the birth of a newborn baby) who fits his profile; and two, the Innocent who yet lives (on an operating table, buried alive, etc) and must await return to Earth either in their own body once it is repaired on Earth or reincarnated in a new body to begin life anew. This last position is tricky because if the person goes into a coma on Earth, he is basically trapped in Diyu, snacking on grape leaves and hummus till he awakes; he cannot be sent back as a baby because he is not dead. Should he wake from the coma, he is returned to his body with a healing spirit that will help his injured body heal all the more quickly. However, the memory of Diyu remains until the body is completely healed and returns to normal. Keep in mind, even in Huhuva, the Innocents can still see the other levels of torture. In a strange way, I guess, it's their reality TV.



One of the Narakas


Each Naraka is overseen by one of the Ten Yama Kings of the Ten Courts, each court responsible for the length and degree of torture. These kings supervise the Demons of Diyu. Each demon has a specialty of torture. Note in the drawings of Diyu above the demons appear as blue figures, some with spears, others with instruments of their craft in hand. When "wandering spirits" enter Diyu, they are not placed in any one Naraka and allowed to roam between Narakas for eternity. They are even allowed in Avici and Huhuva. A wandering spirit is one who did not receive a proper burial (a Chinese fear that we have discussed in the previous parts of the Norinko Research cases). With a proper burial, the spirits qualify for reincarnation and a room with a view in Huhuva.

For our purposes here in this article, I'd like to end with the folklore of missing children connection. For the Chinese, there is no bogeyman, there is no threat by strange creatures who will steal you away; they believe that missing children are in Diyu, looked after for their innocence. It is a rare child who is sinful. Even curiosity is not a sin. Should one of the Yama Kings appear to collect a spirit for the Narakas, sometimes the doorway to Diyu opens for a second. And sometimes a child may wander in to see what all the fire and ice is about, to find the source of the cries and screams. Then it is the Yama King's duty to place the child in Huhuva and perhaps to scold the child politely as a Shaolin Priest would scold a student. Only in the Chinese Diyu can such extremes exist together: Heaven and Hell, redemption and torture.

In each of the countries we have visited, we have found their folklore of missing children both familiar and strange. There were many commonalities among them, especially the plight of parenting and the mischief of children (and its consequences). We found that each country has developed sinister creatures and monsters to stand as representatives for the fears of both parent and child, but also the common fear of the community when dealing with threats such as plague or hardships such as crop failure and drought. Except for the Chinese folklore, I found very little hope in the tales. In olden times, the folktales told of the return of the child, but as Westernization influenced the stories and perhaps the Puritanical elements crept into the folklore, the children in the tales were doomed never to return, condemned to be eaten for wandering too far from home or being disobedient to their mothers and fathers. So I end the article with a little hope that lost children may find their way to Huhuva and avoid the trolls, the douen, the fairies, and La Llorona. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Contact with Witnesses
Disappearance in the Tunnel

A Norinko Hanasaki Research Case

Part Three


Santa Monica Freeway Tunnel
View from Pacific Coast Highway


School bus returning from drop-offs


Introduction:
This is Part Three to the Norinko Hanasaki investigation initiated by the Servante of Darkness Blog earlier this year. Hanasaki, a fourteen year old (now fifteen), disappeared from the school bus while it drove through the infamous McClure Tunnel last June 2016. I have received emails regarding this subject, but they have proven to be jokes or attempts at fiction. 

I received this email last week. It took me about that time to confirm it was not a prank. After speaking with the students' parents, I decided to post it today. Deletions are at the parents' request. Norinko Hanasaki was the name provided by the local newspaper when this story first broke. There have been several deaths and accidents that have occurred in the McClure Tunnel (aka, the Santa Monica Freeway Tunnel) over the years, in addition to disappearances and missing people, but local news media has shifted its focus to current events (sadly) away from the Hanasaki investigation. 

Thus I continue this investigation with the help of assistant editor Coralie Rowe. Emails with more information are most welcome and will be published here upon a cursory investigation into their authenticity. Thank you. 


Follow these links to view the history of violence in the tunnel.  With apologies to the friends and family of any of the victims. 





************


[Start of email]

Dear Mr. Servante,

My name is Bridget (last name deleted by me). I go to the (school name deleted by me) Catholic Middle School in (my deletion). I read ur articles on Norinko Hanasaki and the Santa Monica Tunnel and I wanted to see if u have any more news about Norinko. It’s almost ten months and we don’t know anything about what’s going on. The teachers don’t talk about it. The parents don’t talk. Nobody talks. Even the students stopped asking about it. But my friend Suzie (not her real name) and me, we still want to know what happened. Can u tell us if u heard anymore information? If we can help u, let me know.


[End of email]


Note: I contacted Bridget (not her real name) and asked if I could post her email on the blog. She said yes, and I edited the email because she is in middle school and under 18 years of age, as I was reminded by her parents and the parents of "Suzie". I asked Bridget questions about her friendship with Norinko, what she remembers about the day Norinko disappeared, and any information about the police investigation at the school. She said that she would send me this information as soon as she could. I await her reply and will post it (after edits) once I confirm the information. More to come.

Sunday, March 19, 2017





Dommin
The Best Band You've Never Heard


by Anthony Servante



On January 21, 2012, I saw Nightwish in concert at the Gibson Amphitheater. Opening the show was a band called Dommin. It was love at first hear. The group had a sound that echoed the Rock and Roll purity of the 50s mixed with the Progressive Rock drive of the 70s. The fact that this was a Millennial band blew my mind. The songs soared. The melodies were edgy and catchy, a pleasant contradiction. The vocals chewed on the tough lyrics and spat them out with the swagger of a broken-hearted hit man. The guitar work thundered and lightninged. There was unity in the music. The band played as one. The music and the musicians were inseparable. I was on my feet for every song. I knew this band was on the cusp of leading Rock and Roll into a new century. 


Dommin at the Gibson Amphitheater 2012


Dommin at the Viper Room in Los Angeles



At home, I purchased "Love is Gone", Dommin's first LP. The songs were perfect renditions of the live music (or vice versa, if you like). The selection played out like an extended piece of songwriting. Like classic LPs Supertramp's "Crime of the Century" or King Crimson's "In the Court of the Crimson King", "Love is Gone" could be listened to from beginning to end as if it were one song with classical transitions. It's hard to imagine this LP without any one song omitted. It is whole as is.





"My Heart, Your Hands" (The band's recommendation).


"New" (My personal favorite).


Needless to say, I couldn't wait for their second LP. Man, it was a long wait. Three years later, Dommin released "Rise". The 50s innocence of the band's sound evolved into a more driving beat with a stronger sense of urgency. Whereas the first LP brought love's cruelty and kindness to the surface, the second LP strove for redemption at the cost of love. These songs do not present a unified whole; each song presents its own message as a standalone anthem. Listeners may be tempted to rearrange the order of the songs to greater effect, but I strongly suggest you listen to the LP as is a few times. There is a subtle momentum not found in the first LP, but it's there and the crescendo builds from each of these songs to maximum effect. Although the urgency may seem overblown, the totality of the experience attained from the group of songs as a whole still packs power that seems more explosive with each listening. 





"The Girls" (The band's recommendation).


"Rise" (My personal favorite).


By Dommin's third LP, "Beautiful Crutch", the band seems to have found their voice. Bringing together the best of both the first and second LPs, the timeless Rock and Roll beat and the relentless drive of immediacy, Dommin has nailed the direction of their sound's evolution. They owned it on the first LP and searched for it in the second LP; now they have found the right combination that keeps the Rock and Roll sharp, whether it's in the 50's or the new Millennium. It's both a return to the greatness of simplicity while amplifying the beat that maintained a subtle momentum that roared louder with each listening. In "Beautiful Crutch", does not come full circle. Forget that. It incorporates the first two great LPs into a new and evolving sound. Each song stands alone in its own rich music, while the total group of songs create a complex unit that, once again, sounds like one long song with a thematic unification that grows richer with each listening. 




"Desire" (The band's recommendation).


"Madly" (My personal favorite).


Note: With the passing of Lemmy, Motorhead's manager continues to represent the interests of the two remaining members of Motorhead in addition to one other band. The manager and I talked about his seeking new talent since he knew I was always writing and following new bands on the Rock scene. Needless to say, I have forwarded Dommin's contact information to him and expect some news any day now. I will keep my readers up to date on any developments. I believe that Dommin's desire to tour their new LP and my manager friend's desire to feel the void left by the great Lemmy might lead to some great Rock and Roll shows in the near future. 


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Women in Horror 
March 2017
Profile: Jaime Johnesee


    

1. Your biography?

JJ: I’m just a regular ol’ author beating out stories on the keyboard like the rest of the writing monkeys on this planet. I’m probably known best for my horror comedy series featuring Bob the Zombie. I prefer to write short fiction and I am currently working on several short stories for various anthologies I’m excited about. I am also working on the third novel in my Samantha Reece Mystery series and the first in a new series that is attached to Bob.

2. What are the challenges/rewards you face writing horror?

JJ: Well, there have been so many amazing things about working in this genre that I’m having a difficult time narrowing it to just a few, but I did it anyway.

Here are the rewards that stick out the most; the friends I have made and how much it helps me personally. Firstly, the people in the horror genre are some of the friendliest and most compassionate people I’ve ever met and the friends I have made here are ones that I hope last my lifetime.

As for helping me personally, it serves to exorcise (or occasionally exercise) my demons. Horror allows me to come face to face with my dark side and decide where to go with it. That is also where the challenge in writing horror lies for me, how deep do I go? Do I let everyone see that darkness that is so personal?

3. What does the future look like for women writers in general?

JJ: I think the future is bright for women in all manner of career. I think that as time goes on society at large continues to equalize and grow. What we all need to keep in mind is that equality is good for everyone.

4. Your work?

JJ: Well, I have my Bob the Zombie series. (I recommend The Misadventures of Bob the Zombie if you’re just getting started.) There is also my Samantha Reece Mystery series.






(Shifters is the first book in the series, Risk is the second.) I also coauthored a series that I adore with Lisa Lane and Christine Sutton titled Revelations.




The Misadventures of Bob the Zombie




"Bob is an ordinary guy. He likes classic rock, a good party, and tacos. It's too bad that he is dead. Well, technically speaking, Bob is undead. After an accident claimed his life his mother couldn't bear to bury him. A quick call to a necromancer fixed that problem and, voila…he was reborn!

Armed with a quick wit, a sharp intellect, some good friends, and his trusty stapler, Bob embarks on some crazy adventures that will make you laugh, make you cringe, and --most importantly-- make you cheer for Bob to have a happy ending."

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Misadventures-Bob-Zombie-Jaime-Johnesee-ebook/dp/B00PDDRI6I/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Misadventures-Bob-Zombie-Jaime-Johnesee-ebook/dp/B00PDDRI6I/

Shifters:

"When a serial killer begins leaving remains of victims in hotel bathtubs all over town FBI Agent Samantha Reece makes it her business to stop him.

This detective's got an ace up her sleeve in the form of her ability to shift into the guise of a were panther. As she tracks down the cold-hearted murderer she also has to contend with an anti-shifter group determined to destroy her.

Not to mention the black jaguar who turned her decides to come sauntering back into her life."

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Shifters-Samantha-Reece-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B01B3KW9AE/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shifters-Samantha-Reece-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B01B3KW9AE/

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shifters-jaime-johnesee/1123510599?ean=2940152914788

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/621426

Risk:

"Neck-deep in the hunt for members of Americans for a Were-Free America, Sam discovers she's not the only one on the prowl.

The horrific crime scenes the FBI stumble across tell Sam that whatever is pursuing her enemy is more vicious and cold than even this most extreme of hate groups.

Forced to protect the very people responsible for training murderers, like the infamous Grisly, Sam uncovers a nefarious plot wherein AWFA has been trafficking shifters and vamps into the sex-slave trade.

Can she save the very people crying out for her blood?

It's a risk she's willing to take."

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Risk-Samantha-Reece-Mystery-Shifters-ebook/dp/B01LWRD3NJ/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Risk-Samantha-Reece-Mystery-Shifters-ebook/dp/B01LWRD3NJ/

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/risk-jaime-johnesee/1124805567?ean=2940153770925

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/669605

Revelations Series Books 1-3:

"Book 1: Cast In Blood: An unknown force threatens Heaven and Hell, along with every soul on Earth. Three unlikely heroes join together to restore universal balance. Will their shared adversary initiate an Apocalypse before they're able to uncover the truth, or will they rise to a calling that has, from the beginning of time, been Cast in Blood?

Book 2: Cast In Fire: Chaos has taken over, wreaking havoc not only across the globe but also throughout Heaven and Hell. The next apocalyptic seals have been breached, and the leaders of the ethereal realms are paying the price. With tensions high and defenses at an all-time low, Polly, Lenny, and Drew continue to hunt down the evil behind it all. Millennia-old secrets rise to the surface, testing friendships and pushing loyalties to their breaking points. With the clock ticking and uncertainty in the air, will enough time remain to unravel a curse that the darkest of forces have Cast in Fire?

Book 3: Cast In Shadow: The final seals of the apocalypse are within the enemy’s grasp. Our trio—the demon, the shapeshifter, and the succubus—continue to battle the djinn hell-bent on world domination. With God and Lucifer missing, Heaven and Hell are more vulnerable than ever, while Earth has been reduced to a battleground of famine and despair. Will Lenny, Drew and Polly be able to unmask the Master and stop their evil plan? Or will the djinn succeed and our heroes find that their world has been forever Cast in Shadow?"

Revelations Box Set (Books 1-3 Available on Amazon only)

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Revelations-Books-1-3-Box-Set-ebook/dp/B01D9C1DEW/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Revelations-Books-1-3-Box-Set-ebook/dp/B01D9C1DEW/

Single books:

Cast in Blood (Revelations Book 1)

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Cast-Blood-Revelations-Book-1-ebook/dp/B0117VK5JQ/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cast-Blood-Revelations-Book-1-ebook/dp/B0117VK5JQ/

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/revelations-christine-sutton/1122370602?ean=9781515379577

Cast in Fire (Revelations Book 2)

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Cast-fire-Revelations-Book-2-ebook/dp/B013F9P0HK/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cast-fire-Revelations-Book-2-ebook/dp/B013F9P0HK/

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/revelations-jaime-johnesee/1122841789?ean=9781518684586

Cast in Shadow (Revelations Book 3)

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Cast-Shadow-Revelations-Book-3-ebook/dp/B01B3JOSV8/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cast-Shadow-Revelations-Book-3-ebook/dp/B01B3JOSV8/

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/revelations-lisa-lane/1123541499?ean=9781530384839

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Women in Horror
February 2017
Profile: Coralie Rowe




I am a rambler of dark verse, I have been writing for the past 3 years in which time I have had 20 poems published in several different anthologies through JWK Publishing including Bones III, Cellar Door III : Animals, Hell II : Citizens and Toys in the Attic A collection of evil playthings.. And through JEA Press I have poems in Doorway to Death : an anthology from the other side and Suburban Secrets 2 : Ghosts and Graveyards. I have also done an interview including some poetry in Autoeroticasphyxium zine with Dave Wolffe.

I had no aspirations to become a writer as a younger person. I am in fact a baker by trade and spent most of my time doing physical work, including washing dishes and working in a hot atmosphere (which I detest). It wasn't until I had my daughter and started reading nursery rhymes to her, that the bug for verse really took hold of my mind (Dr. Seuss being the main culprit). I started to think in verse and would find certain phrases getting stuck in my head. So I decided to try my hand at poetry, figuring if I at least wrote the ideas down they would leave my brain alone. I played around with different styles and forms but always came back to the darker side of verse. I have had a few people ask why I write on the subject matter that I do, honestly I don't know; (I tend to just write what pops into my head). My only response is the words, I love the sound of the more morbid words. They have such a beautiful flow, each word has it's own lyrical feel to it.

A friend encouraged me to submit some of my poems to some anthologies that he knew of. I really didn't expect to have any success but figured it can't hurt to try. I received a few rejections and a few acceptances. Some rejections did seem to be more based on the publishers personal preferences, but after a while you learn what certain publishers are after and the types of poetry that they prefer. When I was invited to submit poetry for the chance of an opening poem in a couple anthologies I realised maybe I do have a talent for this.

I have yet to create my own book, though I do have a Facebook page where I post my poems, and regularly contribute to Anthony's blog here.

I must admit that I do feel like somewhat of an impostor being included in WiHM. I don't have any great literary knowledge of horror greats; I'm not a huge fan of horror movies either. I just write dark verse, and I do so more for my own sanity than for any other reason. It's something fun and challenging to do, and much more stimulating for the brain than Candy Crush.

As for women in horror and general, we are often underestimated in what we can and do accomplish in all aspects of life. I think a lot of women have so much else going on in their lives that they forget to take the time for themselves and their secret talents. Allow your creativity to go to new levels, allow your demons to surface and do what you want to do. If you feel the urge to write, paint, compose music, even just draw. Do it, you may surprise yourself. I know I did. Don't accept what the world says what we can't or shouldn't do. Do and be whatever you want to be

***Link for my page…

https://www.facebook.com/CRowes-Manifestations-227361550805522/

***Link for Aeazine interview….

http://aeafanzine.blogspot.com.au/2015/12/poet-interview-coralie-rowe.html?m=1

Wednesday, February 22, 2017



LOSTNESS by Billie Sue Mosiman


Reviewed by Anthony Servante




Summary: 
Angelique, the rogue fallen angel from BANISHED, made a mistake by taking over the dead body of a child. Locked on earth in this manner, she needed help and sent for Nisroc, her most trusted being in the void. He turned against her and in the end fled her presence. In LOSTNESS Angelique is back, hunting Nisroc, but there are complications. Three more angels align with him, along with a dwarf friend, a teen, and a woman who travels beyond her body to spy on Angelique's evil life. There will be a reckoning backed by a world war and it all hangs in the balance. She who must be defeated might have met her match [Amazon].


Review:
It is tempting for me to discuss "Lostness" as one of my examples of History and Horror, or even my Religion and Horror series, but let's try to tread the middle-ground. The sequel to "Angelique" and "Banished" is a tale of fallen angels, redemption, and the evils of mankind. Some background. There was a great war in Heaven, led by Lucifer and the angels who sided with him to dethrone God. God won. He condemned the rebel angels to Hell. Angelique has found a loophole for escaping eternal damnation: she possesses the body of a dead girl who is revived by a witch doctor. She walks Earth and seeks vengeance or retribution, depending on your view of her situation. She finds another dead body for Nisroc, another fallen angel, who on Earth can act as her father since she inhabits the body of that ten year old little girl, but possesses the brain of a eternal and immortal being. Nisroc, now known as "Nick", finds love, however, with a human and betrays Angelique. An epic battle ensues. Nick wins and believes he has vanquished his former co-conspirator, little realizing that she is not "dead" or as dead as an angel can be. 




Fastforward to the brink of World War Two. Nick and his friend, Jody, the "little person", are escaping the blitzkrieging Germans and picking up companions along the way, including another angel who is older than he, that is, alive longer on Earth than either he or Angelique have been on this soil. Meanwhile, Angelique has moved Southern California because it is too weird for her and picks up her own companion, Henry, in her move to the home of Voodoo and witchcraft. Naturally, Nick and Angelique are on a collision course. But Mosiman doesn't make the journey that simple. Mankind, at its most evil, in the form of the Nazi Spring to conquer the world, is also on a collision course with our heroes and villains. 




Which brings us to the conflicts and contradictions inherent in this series. Fallen angels are demons. They are not good; they are evil. Nick, in the human form of Caesar, experienced human cruelty and betrayal. So Nick is not all good. He is still basically a demon, but in the guise of the human Nick, he chooses to act good. His free will is still intact. He chose to betray God, but so, too, he chose to betray Angelique (as we saw in Banished). With the friendship he develops with the new angel companion, Monty, what will he choose now? That's the question the reader will ask, and it will be answered. Angelique, on the other hand, is still a demon and has no problem choosing evil and choosing companions who also choose evil (though she does have the power to manipulate their decisions). However, she knows what betrayal feels like, just as God experienced betrayal by her hand, and though God passed judgment on these rebels, Angelique's judgment is to choose vengeance on Nick. She is incapable or forgiveness, but her feelings for Nick are not evil. Her revenge stems from a broken heart, not an act of evil. Little does she realize she is becoming all too human, which the reader can parallel with the Nazi rise in power. These conflicts are not what they seem, and these new experiences for our heroes and villains are what drives the story along and keeps the reader guessing which evil will triumph--the evil of man or the evil of angels? Or the good of heroes and redeemers? 

As such, this is a story of second chances, War, with its capacity for destruction and heroism, and the corruption of angels inhabiting the fragile human forms. It is important to point out that the "little person" would be considered an abomination of nature by the Nazis, so Mosiman draws him as pure and sympathetic and brave, whereas the "perfect Aryan" person is the real abomination in this war to eradicate the imperfect humans from the Earth. Angelique's other companion, Henry, is a shapeshifter, a demonic being who is hideous in appearance but loyal to his young master, just as the Nazi youth are loyal to their insane fuehrer. Both Nick's and Angelique's companions are but reflections of the human evil spreading across Europe with intents to continue their domination over the rest of the continents. And let's not forget that in second chances one can find redemption. This is the true test for our two groups. What choices will be made?   


Billie Sue Mosiman crafts 
another great supernatural drama.


Billie Sue Mosiman has crafted a tense balance of history, religion, and horror. LOSTNESS is a perfect follow-up to "Banished". "Lostness", for this reviewer, is the superior read. Where "Banished" was epic in scope, especially that final battle, "Lostness" brings the drama down to the human level. The evil of the supernatural beings contrasts well with the good of the natural human spirit. This sequel is epic in its portrayal of the human heart and the hard choices it must make when evil threatens the good for which man fights. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017







Women of Horror
by Michael H. Hanson 

They are the women of horror, 
the girls of ghosts and ghouls 
with their extra special aura 
they are nobody’s fools. 

They’re the chicks of Chupacabra, 
the babes of bogeymen 
lit by crimson candelabra, 
terrors pour from their pen. 

They are mistresses of evil, 
maidens of creeping dread, 
sensibilities medieval 
with penchants for the dead. 

Tortures, torments, and sweet nightmares 
what they conceive 
on full moon’s eve 
and all that creeps midnight downstairs.

******************************

When a box of chocolates just won't do, 
We call on Michael H. Hanson to come through.
Thanks, Mike,
Anthony Servante