Super Weird Thing Outside My Bed Tent

Dennis!!

I thought I had a bat in my apartment last night, which was weird and exciting because I thought bats vanished during winter (do they hibernate or what?), but anyway here’s what really happened and it’s totally more exciting than a winter bat.

I’m in my bed tent, and it’s late, and I’m playing Carly Rae on my earbuds and reading Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft for the godzillionth time. And suddenly this thing lands on the outside of the tent and it’s all like, “Fluttery, flappity, look at my wings I’m super awkward.”

I unzip the tent and jump out of bed and it’s GONE. My apartment’s small. My roommate Katey’s room is up the hall and her door is shut (she had that boy over again) so whatever landed on my tent’s got to be in my room, the hallway, the bathroom, or the kitchen. I checked them all with a flashlight. Nothing! No sign of the thing.

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Common Demons, Common Lights

My Dear Strangers,

We have common demons, common lights.

I have loneliness, bafflement, doubt. Ghosts come and go. Bodies come and go. Days I’m hexed, nights I’m bewitched. I believe in unreasonable things. I’ve found the weirdest depths in other people, and sometimes in myself.

I hear from many of you, sometimes distantly, sometimes closely. Ouija-like. Fingers on a shared planchette.

This week I saw an Equinox sticker on a bumper, next to the sticker of a band that’s spoken to me for years. I received your email and snail mail. I had odd dreams and some of you were in them.

If feel I know you. Do I know you?

I heard from a stranger who wondered: If I’m really so lonely and haunted, why don’t I talk to her more? Can I tell her I have loneliness even in society? That I have work that’s saved me from depression, day after day, and that I’m terrified at times of unbalancing my balance? That I value her contact but, given the clamp of time, I cannot offer more than what I offer already?

I have loved ones. I have the Equinox Society. But what am I in all of this, and what am I to you?

A signal in the dark, maybe found, maybe not. I share art, thoughts, and stories from my friends—William, Claire, Amanda, Hank, and others—in the hope that we (including you, dear strangers) might find something rare and marvelous in common and discover that we’re not such strangers after all.

Yours,

Dennis
Equinox Society Secretary

Baby in a Beehive

I received the following letter via paper mail. I don’t know the sender, who identifies herself merely as “An Old Woman”. I’m giving the message special attention for reasons I can’t discuss in detail. Suffice it to say the envelope was marked with certain runes that very few people outside of the society would know and understand.

—————

Dear Mr. Mahoney,

I’m an old woman now. At least 94. My exact age is unknown because my birth parents abandoned me in infancy, and because I have no trustworthy memories of my childhood. I believe much of what I remember about pre-adolescence is imaginary. I have no memory of willfully imagining it all—only a deep-seated instinct that most of it is lies.

This morning my granddaughter, who is seven, asked me where I was born. This is what I told her.

I was found inside a hive hanging from a tree branch: a newborn baby covered in live bees.

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Reanimated Squirrel

A six-year-old boy, neglected by his mother, walked out the side door of his farmhouse and tried to resurrect a squirrel he’d seen crushed by a Subaru on Rural Rte. 21 in _________. (I’m withholding the boy’s name and location because he’s a minor.)

The squirrel had darted directly under the car’s front right tire, as if nature itself had forced its suicide. It flailed for a while, its upper half attempting to crawl away from its pancaked lower half.

The boy had the foresight to put on his father’s leather work gloves before he left the house, entered the road, and attempted to reshape the squirrel into its whole, living self.

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Ouija Trolling

Hey, it’s Claire. So last night I drank half a bottle of Citadel gin, painted my toenails black, and broke out the Ouija board.

I made a real scene of it, lighting candles and listening to Bathory on my phone. I drew that vile symbol on the floor (not the *really* vile one I learned from that maniac I dated last June; I mean the lesser vile symbol) and sat in the middle with the board.

I don’t remember what I asked to make contact but a malevolent entity showed up fast and laid it on thick. He said his name was James, and that he was all alone and “scared of the red sound”, and then he got slippery with answers and started twisting the questions back toward me.

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Snow Angel Attacks Teen

Fifteen-year-old Jarred Crew was injured in Barre, VT when a snow angel, or at least the snow delineating its form, violently held him to the ground for twenty minutes.

Crew and two friends, Julia Peters and Mary Walsh, were walking together through a neighborhood park at 8PM Saturday night when they came upon a man-sized snow angel with no surrounding footprints. The angel was missing a wing and, at the urging of his friends, Crew reclined in the form and spread his arms to finish the design.

The snowy outline contracted around his body, compressing his legs and torso and immobilizing his head.

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The Girl with the Polkadot Arm

Dennis!

Thanks for forwarding William’s answer to my “fingers sprouting from my arm” situation. I loved his idea of chopping the fingers off and healing the wounds with skinwort, especially b/c I had a Tinder date coming up on Friday night, and a dozen extra pinkies probably doesn’t make the average guy’s fetish list. The chopping fix was nice and quick.

But yeah no. Even with St. Madelia’s spirits to dull the pain, the fingers had roots. Like deep-set bones and tendons and stuff. Pruning shears wouldn’t have worked. I’d have really had to gouge the finger-roots out.

So I grabbed a vial out of a biology starter kit I ordered last week (coincidence or omg fate!?), transmogrified the specimens with a hybrid curse and my own special medley of herbs and spices, and wha-la: I had a Petri dish full of necrotizing amoebas.

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Finger Cure

Dear Amanda,

Good work healing your severed pinky with skinwort. I’m afraid I have no explanation for why the rest of your arm started growing fingers.

There’s one account in LOST CURES, REFOUND AND REIMAGINED (very entertaining book; I’ll loan it to you) of a German man who died in 1911 after drinking skinwort tea. The following spring, a “flesh tree” sprouted from his grave.

I’ll keep researching possible causes of your finger problem so we can all avoid similar trouble in the future.

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Fingers Sprouting from Arm

Hi, Dennis!

I accidentally chopped off my pinky finger. You should have seen the blood. It was like some crazy cartoon the way it spurted.

I thought I was cutting a chunk of grief-root. I know grief-root doesn’t look anything like a pinky finger, but I was making more solstice broth, and you know how the vapors get if you add too much almond after the wishbone, and I spaced out from the fumes and whacked my finger off without feeling it at all. I even smeared a picture on the wall with blood before I came to my senses. It looks like a cave painting, like a bison or something.

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Man Dissolved by Fog

A man named Harold Jens was dissolved by fog yesterday morning, shortly after dawn, in the suburbs of Montpelier, VT.

According to witnesses, Mr. Jens was taking his daily walk through the neighborhood when a bank of white fog moved toward him from the end of the cul de sac. Fog was widespread that morning, due to an influx of unseasonably warm air, but was described by locals as “plain old fog” or “thick but I don’t know, just fog”, etc.

Mr. Jens entered the fog wearing a black tracksuit and orange sneakers. Another walker, Debra Lakewood, was half a block away and watched him blur and fade entirely from sight. A minute later, Mr. Jens reemerged, staggering toward Ms. Lakewood and waving his arms as if surrounded by a swarm.

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