Misery

rainy day

 

soul sucking dragons
I grip onto vanishing happiness,
my hands feel loose fibers,
they slip through my fingers,
I fall into a familiar place,
marked by shortness of space,
cramped legs,
the untidiness of a bed,
roaring television
below.

the dragons
pierce at my mind.
Delusions become my obsessions
Words becomes weapons,
swords stuck into the back
of my corpse,
like that tenth card.
I bleed,
pouring out red venom.

Confusion has its hold on me.
Shame of my mind takes possession
like conjured demons
I loosed onto myself.
And guilty thoughts
trick me into thinking
this as karma,
deserved fate.

Tears come out,
drain away my life force,
I think of ways to come out
of my shell,
like a ghost love score.
Returning to the hopes of the child,
I can recreate me.

Centralia, PA: What happened after the fire

mine fire route 61

The portion of Route 61 leading to Centralia, now cut off because of the mine fire.

In my previous post, I described the beginning of the mine fire that started underneath the small, blue-collar town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. In this post, I will continue Centralia’s story.

The fire started in 1962, but after several attempts to put out the fire, it still burned. It was in 1969 when the first three families started to move out of the town. It wasn’t until a decade later, however, in 1972, when residents first began to realize how bad the fire had gotten. A gas station owner and then mayor, John Coddington, inserted a dipstick into one of his underground tanks to check fuel level. It seemed abnormally hot, so he then lowered in a thermometer. The thermometer revealed that the gasoline in the tank was 172° F (77.8° C).

Centralia, PA past

Centralia before the fire

It wasn’t until the 1980s when things started to become even more dangerous, and when state attention to the issue began to increase. Todd Domboski, then 12 years old, fell into a sinkhole that opened right underneath him. The hole was 4 feet in diameter and about 150 feet deep. Luckily, he had managed to hold onto exposed tree roots until his cousin rescued him. If Todd had been a little bit deeper into the hole, the levels of heat and carbon monoxide would have been lethal.

By 1983, the government determined that the fire was growing in 3 or 4 directions. It was also determined that proposed trenching to stop the fire would cost as much as $660 million without a guarantee of success. The government instead offered a buy-out of the properties for $42 million. The homeowners of Centralia voted for the government buy-out, 345 to 200. Most of the residents moved to the nearby communities of Mount Carmel and Ashland. Still, a handful of people remained.

Centralia, PA

A ruined section of route 61 in Centralia.

In 1992, Pennsylvania governor Bob Casey invoked eminent domain on all properties in Centralia, and condemned all the buildings. A prompt legal effort by the residents to reverse the decision failed. In 2002, the zip code (17927) for the town was revoked, and in 2009 Governor Ed Rendell began the formal evictions of the remaining Centralia residents. John Comarnisky and John Lokitis, Jr. were both evicted.

Soon, there would be two more lawsuits, one in 2010 and the other in 2012. Both were, again, an effort by the Centralia inhabitants to not be evicted.

Centralia, Pennsylvania

Centralia after the fire

In 2012, the remaining residents claimed that the fire had moved and that the air quality was similar to that of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Eventually, in 2013, the eight remaining people settled their lawsuits with the state. In the settlement, it was agreed that they could stay in their homes for as long as they lived. They also received a payment of $349, 500.

To this day, many of Centralia’s remaining inhabitants think that there never was any underground fire, and that the government was simply trying to force them off their land to mine the coal for themselves. Even if this is true, it would not change the fact that Centralia, Pennsylvania is now more or less a ghost town. A once thriving small town is now reduced to a few houses and billowing smoke. The fire is estimated to burn for another 100 years.

Centralia, PA: The Beginning of the Fire

Centralia, PA smoke

Smoke from the underground fire

I’ve always had a certain interest in ghost towns. The abandonment of towns that were once heavily invested in by families, businesses, and governments is a rather intriguing topic, and one that is fertile for exploring many different ideas in fiction, including many dark ones.

This blog series will be focused on exploring the history and present day condition of the near ghost town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. I should point out that my current work-in-progress, my novella Black Blood, has a fictional town that is based, in

Mine Fire

A sign warning people of the dangers of the mine fire. It no longer stands.

part, on Centralia. Also, please note that this blog series will be most likely in three parts, so be sure not to miss the next in the series.

Before the beginning of the mine fire, Centralia was a very small, prosperous coal town, with its peak of about 2,761 people in 1890. In 1962, a fire started in a mine beneath the town. There is some disagreements about how the fire started, and a few theories:

  1.       David Dekok, the author of Unseen Danger and Fire Underground: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Centralia Mine Fire, argued that volunteer fire fighters had burned trash in a landfill in a strip-mine pit above the abandoned coal mines. The fire was not fully extinguished, and an unsealed opening in the pit allowed the fire to enter the complex system of Centralia’s underground mines. According to Dekok, this happened on May 27, 1962.
  2.       Joan Quigley, the author of The Day the Earth Caved In, argued that the fire had started the previous day, May 26, 1962. According to Quigley’s theory, a trash hauler dumped either hot ash or coal into the strip-mine pit, and that this ash or coal fell through the unsealed opening. She noted that the borough council notes from June 4, 1962 referred to two fires at the dump.
  3.       Also, there is the Bast Theory, which is mostly legend. The Bast Theory states that the Bast Colliery coal fire of 1932 was never fully extinguished, and in 1962, it reached the landfill area.

No matter how exactly the fire started, it soon led to many complications and to the eventual abandonment of Centralia. These complications are what I will talk about in my next post.

Devil’s Due Movie Review

Devil's Due

Devil’s Due Synopsis (from bloody-disgusting.com):

After a mysterious, lost night on their honeymoon, a newlywed couple finds themselves dealing with an earlier-than-planned pregnancy. While recording everything for posterity, the husband begins to notice odd behavior in his wife that they initially write off to nerves, but, as the months pass, it becomes evident that the dark changes to her body and mind have a much more sinister origin.

First things first— I tend to like it when filmmakers and other creative types try their best to be original. Innovative twists on old concepts earns my respect as well. There’s nothing like new variations and fresh perspectives, and when someone creates something, they ought to reach for that goal.

However, in my opinion, Devil’s Due doesn’t do that. Demonic pregnancies have already been done before, and done a lot better (Rosemary’s Baby). I wouldn’t have mind as much if Devil’s Due had a fresh take on the subject. But, to be honest, the movie seemed to be somewhat uninspired, and lacking very much in scares and originality.

For one thing, it’s another film trying to piggyback off of the “found footage” trend in horror films (think Paranormal Activity). Even though these type of shaky camera movies can be amazing (see my review of [REC] here, if you want to see their potential), in my experience they’re usually hit or miss. In Devil’s Due, it was a miss. Though the explanation for why the husband (Zach Gilford) was filming everything makes sense in the beginning, towards the end it’s unexplained and confusing. There were also several instances where things felt cut off and not developed fully, most likely due to the limited POV nature of found footage films.  There were several times while watching the movie where I felt as if it would have been a lot better if it had been traditionally filmed.

Then there’s the fact that Devil’s Due is bland and predictable. There are a few moments of genuine creepiness, but they are few and far between. The movie seems to rely on jump scares more so than on anything else. And right from the beginning, I had a good idea of what was going to happen. The first scene, (I mean, literally, the first damn scene), shows us the ending. This was a very bad move on the part of the directors, because it revealed (POSSIBLE MINOR SPOILER AHEAD) that one of the main characters survived. This is unacceptable, mainly because it severely undercuts suspense. If I already know who survives, how can I possibly be invested in the outcome of the movie?

Other than these issues, the overall movie was okayish enough. The acting was decent, and despite everything I did get a feel for the main characters. But these things were not enough to make up for general “blah” feeling I had once the credits had began to roll.

Rating: 2/5 stars

Poem- The Poppy Fields

file000896651328

She stood by herself in
the red poppy fields,
examining the feel of the
opium flower.

She touched her fingers onto the delicate petals,
feeling the silky softness that was like a newborn’s breath.

The center of the flower
was black lined with yellow vertical strips,
like her own shadow facing away from the
currently setting sun.
The stem
was lime green,
like her own silken dress against her skin.
The petals
were scarlet red,
like her own stilling blood.

She thought to herself:
“This too can be masked.”

She looked up at the setting sun,
wondering something distant and vague.

And then she laid down
in the poppy fields,
still holding her singular flower.

And there she slept.

Blæc Blōd Title Change Poll

information point this wayBlæc Blōd is the title of one of my current writing projects, a novella I have talked about somewhat on this blog. “Blæc blōd” is an Old English phrase, and a phrase I used a lot in my novella, with some other Old English words. In modern day English, “blæc blōd” would roughly mean “black blood”, though I’m not 100% sure since I’m no Old English expert, though plan to (eventually) talk to people who could double check my own research into this. Since I used “Blæc Blōd” exclusively in my story for plot purposes, I decided to also use it as the title for my novella.

However, it seems like I’ll have to change that for several reasons:

  1. Since my novella is set in modern times, it now seems counter-intuitive to name it using what is effectively a dead language (having been replaced by Modern English).
  2. “Blæc blōd” is easy to pronounce, however, because of the unusual spelling and the fact that most people are unfamiliar with Old English words may make it hard to roll of the tongue.
  3. Also, it might be harder for readers to really get meaning from the title, since they won’t know what it means until they open my book to see the translations (or go on to read the story to see what it would mean in context).

Because of these reasons, I think it’s best to change the title of Blæc Blōd to reflect what it is more clearly to the average reader: a modern day horror story dealing with modern issues like love, abuse, redemption, etc. If I use Modern English, people will be able to pick up on the book’s meaning more intuitively.

I’ve come up with several options for a new title:

 

Please pick which title you like best, just so I better understand which title speaks the most to potential reader. When choosing, please consider what the title really says to you on a gut level, and what it would say to you about a book with that title. Also, feel free to share these observations in the comments.

Voting in the poll and telling me your opinions about which title you like best will really help me make a final decision. Thanks! :-)