Local author captures award

Michelle Shores

Local Maine Author, Michelle E. Shores, of Waterville, whose recently published book The Gathering Room – A Tale of Nelly Butler, has been awarded a 2023 IPPY AWARD for Best Fiction in the Northeast Region, Bronze Medal.

The Independent Publisher Book Awards, commonly known as the IPPY Awards, are a prestigious set of awards that recognize excellence in independent publishing. They have been held annually since 1996 and aim to highlight the best independently published books in a variety of categories.

The Gathering Room – A Tale of Nelly Butler brings to life, in fiction, the dramatic account of the first documented ghost sighting in America which occurred in Maine in 1799. Based on a true story, Michelle’s work weaves an epic tale of what the lives of George and Nelly Butler might have been like as they faced the supernatural in the form of a young girl, Lydia Blaisdell. Set in Sullivan and Franklin in Downeast Maine this is a haunting story that captivates the reader from the start.

Since its release in September 2022, The Gathering Room – A Tale of Nelly Butler has been a top selling book for Maine Authors Publishing located, in Thomaston. The book has sold in every state in the U.S. as well as Canada and the United Kingdom. Highly rated on Amazon, it is available in paperback and Kindle. Until recently, Michelle was the advertising manager for the Maine Tourism Association but had to give up her full-time job to meet the demands of this best-selling book. Michelle is willing to discuss her book, her journey into self publishing and being a bronze medalist in the IPPY Awards for Best Fiction in the Northeast.

For more information, contact Michelle at writerinmaine@gmail.com or 207-944-8361 or check out her website https://www.mshoreswriter.com/ or on all social media @mshoreswriter.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Worries to colors

by Debbie Walker

Two women, Mary and Sue met on the sidewalk and started chatting. Mary is pretty well settled in her life; Sue is in the middle of a lot of life changes and is in fact, troubled. She decided to share some of her confusion with Mary. After talking for a while Mary told Sue, “I know just what you need to do, it’s helped me in the past”.

So Mary gives Sue an address of a woman she had met with on several occasions in the past. Mary explained that this lady lives on the corner of a well-established street and some of her neighbors are not very happy with her. They call her Mrs. Flowers because her landscaping is “over-run”, in their opinion, with flowers growing everywhere.

Mary said there was no need to call first, in fact, she didn’t know if Mrs. Flowers even had a phone. Just knock on her door with a plant in your hand and introduce yourself. She will welcome you inside with a wave of her hand.

She thought this was all rather strange. She was to go to this woman’s house, not even knowing her real name and just knock. Well, Mary did assure her she would be welcome.

The next day Sue went to a local nursery and bought a little flowering plant. She followed Mary’s directions to the house; she found it with no problem at all. The description of Mrs. Flowers was understated as Sue tried to take in all the different colors.

Sue took her time walking to the door, taking in all the sites and fragrances. She reached the door and tapped gently. In just a few seconds the door came open and she was greeted by Mrs. Flowers, a much older lady. She welcomed Sue into her home and put the flowers on the table. It was a smaller cottage type home and decorated with: you guessed it: Flowers.

As they walked to the living room Sue tried to take in all the sites inside this wonderful cozy home where she immediately felt at ease. Mrs. Flowers said, “Come on in, find a comfortable spot to sit and we’ll chat. Tell me what’s on your mind today”.

Sue described to Mrs. Flowers how she was going through all these changes in her life. She was recently divorced after a 40 yar marriage, her children were grown and scattered across the country, and she has just taken on a new job. She said , “I am feeling overwhelmed”.

They discussed her problems and at some point, Mrs. Flowers was referring to Sue’s problems, as opportunities. She explained that all of what Sue saw as problems, she saw them as opportunities to learn and grow with fewer limitations.

The divorce would allow her to concentrate on herself and things she might want to change. Sue had said she hated grocery shopping anymore. She found it difficult because she knew what her kids and husband would want for meals, but she had no idea what to buy for herself. It felt lonely. Mrs. Flowers explained that it was a wonderful opportunity to try new foods.

Her home felt lonely. Mrs. Flowers suggested Sue might try her hand at redecorating and please herself with her choices. At that point Sue looked around and realized she had already thought of a couple of things Mrs. Flowers had done here that she might like to try at her own home.

Sue’s new job was an opportunity to meet new people and to use her skills of running her home to operating a business. Some of the skills needed for this job were very similar to a schedule to run a business with.

Their chat had done wonders for Sue, she no longer felt overwhelmed and in fact she had things running through her mind that she was looking forward to doing with her new opportunities.

On their way to the door Mrs. Flower’s picked up the new plant Sue had brought, and her little shovel and they walked out into the yard. Mrs. Flowers dug the hole necessary for the plant. She told Sue, “Your flower represents the problems you came here with. Now they represent worries changed to colors.

As Sue looked over the yard, she realized at one time all these colors had been someone else’s worries. She walked out the driveway knowing that one thing she wanted to do was start her own flower garden.

Problems can be opportunities.
Worries can become colors
It’s all in how you look at things.

FICTION: The House, part 10: Visions of Christmas past (continued)

This story is completely fictional. Any resemblances to names of people and/or places is purely coincidental.

by Peg Pellerin

Click here for the previous installment.

Excitement started to show on the boy’s face. He seemed to always enjoy anything to do with his father, especially whatever his father would give or send him. He quickly unwrapped the package and found a toy replica of the train engine Tom Thumb. He immediately tried to push it across the floor and his mother reprimanded him to not scratch the flooring. You can tell that she, yet again, was displeased with her husband’s choice of gift. Actually she never seemed pleased with anything to do with her husband and did not hold back how she felt about her son. “Why your father gets you those types of gifts is beyond me.” Ian did his best to ignore her.

“Wow, what a grump!” commented Dave in a hushed tone, thinking that the people in the visions would hear him. He remembered sitting in the cramped spaces on the train ride that were pulled by the real Tom Thumb style engine.

The vision changed, once again, to another Christmas with Ian not looking much older, probably only another year. The tree was much smaller with less decorations but the star was still the major attraction of the room. There were less gifts under the tree. Another set of mittens and hat as well as stockings. There was no coat since Ian probably didn’t need another one. He hadn’t grown much if at all since the last coat his mother had made for him. He looked much weaker as he sat in his chair beside the table that held his cookie and cup of wassail, which looked to not have been touched. “Here’s a gift from your father. He apparently had it shipped from India, where he’s too busy hunting down tigers rather than being here with his family,” barked Mrs. Hodges.

As usual, Ian tried to ignore her but you could tell her demeanor wasn’t good for him at all. Ian quickly took the wrapping off the package. A thin dark leather box was before him. He carefully opened it and found the content to be a brass and leather spyglass. It took some time before he decided to take it out of the beautiful box. His eyes shone with cheer or were those tears he was trying to hold back. In a barely audible voice, he said, “I miss my father.” He picked up the object and started looking around the room through its lens. Tom happened to come in and the boy immediately called out to him to show what his father had sent him.

Tom showed happiness for the boy, “I bet you’ll be able to see a lot of things in the trees looking through that spyglass. It’s mighty pretty.” In the absence of his father, Tom came to pay Ian more attention feeling he needed to have some manly or father figure in the house and Mrs. Hodges didn’t seem to mind since while her son was occupied she could go about doing her business within the house.

“Well, this is the first time I think your father gave you something you can actually use. Tom is right, you’ll be able to look at many things outside in the distance without leaving the house, especially in these cold times.”

“Ahoy matey,” whispered Dave to the other three, all recalling the time on the cutter with a pirate ship not far away.

The last vision was a very somber one. There was no tree, no tea cake or tart and no wassail. Ian was probably around eleven years old. He was sitting in the chair with the star in his hands. Tears were rolling down his cheeks. “I miss you so much father,” he said to no one in particular.

The four weren’t sure if Ian was allowing them to see this next vision but they saw him when his father was brought home after being attacked by a tiger in India, he was placed in a bed in one of the upstairs rooms.

Ian was ordered by his mother to not visit his father because his father needed a lot of rest due to the injuries, which were severe. Every so often, the boy would sneak into the room to talk with his father. While his father still had any strength he would tell him about his adventures in hunting wild game. “Ian, I’m so sorry that I wasn’t always here for you, especially last Christmas. Please forgive me. I love you very much.” They both held hands and wept.

I told you to never come into this room to bother your father,” She yelled as she grabbed him by the arm and pulled him out of the room.That was the last time Ian saw his father. The vision returned to the boy sitting in the living room.

Tom walked by with what appeared to be a tubular object wrapped in heavy paper. “It isn’t much, but I came across this and I know you like horses.”

Ian carefully removed the paper and asked Tom to help him unroll the object. It was a poster of an Equestrian show that had occurred in New York the past summer. It showed a beautiful stallion with a rider in costume sitting on a saddle holding onto the reins as the stallion was vaulting. “I thought you could hang it in your room and look at the horse whenever you like,” explained Tom of the present.

“Thank you so much Tom. I love it and the horse is beautiful. Will you hang it in my room for me?”

“I would be glad to, Ian.”

“What have you there,?” cried out Mr. Hodges. She looked at the poster and asked Tom why he would give something like that to her son. He explained that he knew her son liked horses and when he happened to come across the poster, he thought of Ian and got it for him.

“I asked Tom to hang it in my room so I can look at the horse.”

I don’t care what you do with it, just don’t put it where I’ll see it, ” she demanded and walked out of the room.

Ian gave Tom an extra special hug and thanked him.

“Why is she so mean?” Asked Ian. I think she hates me. She has taken all of the things my father gave me and has hidden them. When I asked what she did with them she said she put them away for safekeeping. I think since I’m not strong enough to climb the stairs to go play in the rooms, she has hidden them up there. Ian looked around to make sure his mother wasn’t close enough to see or hear what he was about to do or say. “Tom, would you do me a large favor and hide this star somewhere in my old room upstairs? I’m afraid that she’ll take that away from me as well and I don’t want her to destroy it. I hope, someday, someone worthy of it will find it and put it on their tree.”

Tom replied, holding back tears for the boy, ” I don’t think she hates you, Ian. I think she hates how her life has turned upside down. When she and your father married, she was very spoiled. He bought her many things and brought her to many places. When he started becoming more involved with his business and venturing to meetings as well as game hunting, he left her alone often. She wasn’t getting things she wanted and started becoming resentful. I was hoping as time went on she would become accustomed to how things were, especially once you came into her life. She spent so much time with you, enjoying doing things for you. I thought she had turned a new leaf, but I saw she’d have to turn over a new tree. I’ll take care of the star for you,” Ian put the star back into the box and gave it to the kind man who had befriended him in his father’s absence and watched him go up the stairs.

The vision ended. There were no further Christmas visions.

The four found themselves in the large bedroom where they had found the star. All faces were wet with tears and felt for the spectral boy that had given them grief while unknowingly they had given him joy. “I wonder what would happen if we kept this star, maybe to put it on our Christmas tree,” said Jake.

Miri wiped her eyes and said matter of factly, “Ian wants us to keep it and there will be no further events.”


A new school year had begun. Jake greeted new students and staff as well as welcoming back the old ones to his high school. Miri received twenty new students to her third grade. It was a large class but she looked forward to getting to know every single one of them. It would be a welcome change after the harrowing events she, and the others, at the house went through during the summer. Meanwhile, Dave continued with the renovations of the individual bedrooms at the house to bring them up to par for a B & B guest room and Amy, his fiancee, continued with her photography business, and looking forward to helping Miri with the B&B once it was opened. She would still continue her photography business hoping that the B&B would bring her more business from weddings and reunions. Once the B&B renovations were completed, Dave hoped to get to the renovations of the carriage house, turning the second floor into a spacious apartment for he and Amy. All in good time.

All appeared to be getting back to a normal routine for the four, however, every so often, Miri would have dreams of Ian calling out to her stating that he was cold and wanted to be closer to his father. The dreams were confusing but she tried to put them out of her mind. There were no visions, only the child’s voice. This went on for about a month, and finally, on a Friday evening in October she finally broke down and told her husband. “I really thought after the last event we had that all of this would be behind us; behind me,” she said, appearing to be in a melancholy mood.

“Maybe it’s still bothering you because you were the first to be aware of the child, after reading those diaries,” Jake said trying to console his wife. “We need a diversion. I know what we can do! Since it’s a long weekend thanks to Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday We could go apple picking. I recently read in a local paper that a favorite fall activity in the Poconos, without a doubt, is apple picking with many varieties to choose from. It’s such a fun way to spend some quality time with friends and family while enjoying that fresh autumn air and hearing that crunch of leaves under your feet. So, why don’t we go spend some of that quality time at the local orchard. I bet Dave and Amy would love to join us. It’s supposed to be a beautiful weekend, why don’t we go tomorrow.”

“Sounds like a great idea and I hope it helps me put Ian to the very back of my mind; so far back that he never comes forward again.” said Miri hopefully.

The four visited a couple of nearby orchards, each with delicious varieties of apples. The two women could be heard talking about which apples would be best for pies and other pastries that they would love to make for the B&B once opened. “Hey, don’t forget we two love being your guinea pigs,” laughed Dave. “They would need some work, but I think you have some type of apple trees on your property in the back of the garden, which by the way, I’d love to start clearing once I get the renovations to the house completed.”

To be continued

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY: A Mother’s Day poem

by Roberta Barnes

Mom you are my rainbow,
even on those days when the sun is blocked from view.

Rainbows suddenly appearing on my wall
remind me that though mothers come both short and tall.

There is one thing they all share.
giving love and support to which nothing can compare.

In the middle of the rainbow between the yellow and blue
is the green of healing that to a mother’s nature is so true.

I can never give enough thanks for all the love
that has carried me above troubled waters as if on the wings of a strong dove.

The calendar marks but one day a year
yet it is every day that I remember how you have hushed all my fear.

Never can I in words say
how your strength and love has gotten me through the most distressed day.

Thank you for always helping me make my path clear
and in my heart I will always hold you dear.

FICTION: The House, part 10: Visions of Christmas Past

This story is completely fictional. Any resemblances to names of people and/or places is purely coincidental.

by Peg Pellerin

Click here for the previous installment.

They decided to call it a day and attempt to tackle the last room and ‘adventure’ the next day.

The following morning Jake said, “Wonder what we’ll find in our final room,” while the four were enjoying a waffle/egg sandwich, compliments of Miri and Amy’s creative cooking. They were still trying different things that they would hope to serve guests in the future and the guys didn’t mind testing them out.

“I don’t know,” replied Miri, “but I, for one, will be glad to have it over so we can get back to our normal lives.” Everyone nodded in agreement.

They stood in front of the sixth room, the final room to be searched for something that belonged to the young spectral boy. They took a deep breath, signaled each other that they were ready to enter and went in. For some reason this room seemed a tad larger than the others. It was filled with several pieces of furniture that could be considered child-sized. There was a dry sink, bureau, armoire, an adult-sized rocking chair next to a child-sized one, and a bed. Everything was in near perfect condition as if it was still being used except the dust on everything showed it hadn’t been for many years.

“Wow, this is amazing,” said Amy in wonderment. “Could this have been Ian’s bedroom?”

“I don’t think so,” replied Miri. “When we started moving in and preparing the two bedrooms, ours and Dave’s, the one Dave has was nearly identical to this one so we assumed it was the child’s bedroom being closeby to the parents’. Maybe this one was in anticipation of another child, which never happened. ”

As they walked around looking over everything, they nearly forgot why they were in the room in the first place. Dave was the first to ‘wake’ up and started searching. The others followed his lead. Jake opened the doors to the armoire, which appeared to be empty. As he was about to close the doors, something caught his eye. He bent down to peer into the back bottom left corner of the cabinet and found a square wooden box, which was about 7 inches by 7 inches. “I think I found it or at least something,” he called out to the others who immediately surrounded him. He wasn’t sure if he should open it but they did want to get whatever event was about to happen over with. Holding his breath, he slid the cover off the box. Within was a beautiful star.

“What a beautiful star,” said Amy.

“This isn’t just any star, it is a Moravian star, originating in Germany back in the late 1700s. I can fill you in on the history of that but this is gorgeous,” said Jake in awe.

“Why hasn’t anything happened yet?” wondered Miri. “Maybe you have to take it out of the box,” she answered her own query.

Jake carefully turned the box over to let the twenty-six pointed star slip out onto his hand. Then it all started. The four felt that they were in a slow moving eddy but when all cleared, they found themselves in the downstairs living room, but it wasn’t the current one. A fire was lit in the fireplace and the scent of baking and wassail wafted from the nearby kitchen. A slight rapping at the front door could be heard and a woman quickly walked out of the kitchen to open the door. Cold air rushed from the open door as a tall, robust looking man came in carrying a young boy on his shoulders. Behind him was another man carrying a fresh cut red spruce, which was common in the Poconos region.

“Before you bring that tree in here, please shake the snow off onto the porch,” demanded the woman who turned out to be Emma Hodges. The tall man must have been Jebediah and the young boy, about age three, was Ian. Unlike the events in the past, everything was vivid as if the four were actually in the living room with the residents of the house, but weren’t noticed.

“Thank you, Tom, for helping my boy and I to bring that tree from the back of our property to the house. Once you’ve placed it where the Mrs. wants it, please go into the kitchen and help yourself to whatever Emma has made and some Wassail. I can smell it all from here.”

“Thank you sir,” replied Tom Meuller, the handy man of the Hodges home. Once he placed the tree into the stand in the living room, he went off to the kitchen to dig into the goodies and drink.

“C’mon lad, let’s get those cold damp clothes off you and sit in front of the fire before you catch your death of cold,” said his mother in a stern voice, staring harshly at her husband. “You kept him out there too long. You know how delicate his health is.”

“He needs good fresh air once in a while. You coddle him too much, plus he needs a little fun once in a while.” replied Jebediah. “You did have fun didn’t you, Ian.”

Yes father, I did. I’m not cold mother,” said Ian as his mother hurriedly took off his wool coat, pants, hat and mittens, which she had knitted for him.

Jebediah had taken off his outer clothing and had rushed into the kitchen to grab he and Ian a cup of warm Wassail and a tea cake. After placing them down on the table, he went to the side room, returning with a square wooden box. “I’ve been holding on to this until I felt Ian was old enough to appreciate it.” He sat down next to the young boy and slowly opened the box. He carefully turned over the box in order to let the content slip out onto his large meaty palm.

Both mother and son exhaled in awe at the beautiful sight. Sitting in Jebediah’s large but gentle palm was the most beautiful sight the two had ever seen. It was a multi-pointed, twenty-six to be exact, silver and gold star. The light from the fireplace made it appear to sparkle. “Oh, Jeb, it’s beautiful! Where did you buy it?”

“I didn’t. It was given to me by my father when I was Ian’s age. Look see,” instructed Mr. Hodges as he removed one of the points, exposing a hole. He then gave the star to Ian, instructing him to carefully hold it so as not to drop it and he lifted the boy so he could reach the top of the six foot tree. Ian was able to place it on the top point of the tree. The first decoration of the Christmas tree.

The four quietly watched the three as if they were looking at a live Victorian image on a Christmas card. Jake looked down at the star in his hand knowing that it was the same star that had been placed on the tree. Amy remembered the wool coat she had removed from the armoire, which brought Dave and herself into a tundra facing a polar bear.

Suddenly their vision seemed to waver. When it cleared they were still in the living room but it was a different time. The tree was already decorated with the star at the top and the remainder of the tree covered with ropes of popcorn, berries and other handcrafted items. Mother, father and Ian at approximately seven years old were sitting nearby, unwrapping gifts. Laughter could be heard from the three until Ian untied the cloth ribbon that was holding a flat square cloth covering the present. It was a slate framed in wood. There was a clay pencil and the cloth was considered to be the ‘eraser’. “It’s time you start some academics, learning how to read, write, and to do sums,” explained Mrs. Hodges of the present that Ian didn’t seem too thrilled about receiving. The child thanked his mother and put the unwanted gift down to his side.To break the somber moment, Mr. Hodges picked up another gift, much larger than the one that the young boy had just unwrapped. “Let’s see if this will brighten up your spirit,” as he glared at his wife. Ian had a difficult time unwrapping the package which appeared to be too heavy for him to hold. His father went to his side and loosened the twine so the boy could unwrap the heavy brown paper that covered a box. Ian opened the box and whooped with delight. He lifted the object out of the box. It was a toy Blunderbuss Pistol.

Mrs. Hodges didn’t look pleased. She quietly said to Mr. Hodges, “Why did you get the boy something like that? Is it to try to make him feel like he’ll be a big game hunter like you? You know he’ll never be able to do these things.” The boy didn’t hear their conversation as he was too excited by the toy he held in his tiny hands.

Jake, Miri and Dave looked at each other as they recalled the event in the attic, the first of several they had experienced since finding items belonging to Ian.

The living room vision wavered once again. When it cleared another Christmas unfolded in front of the quartet. This time it appeared that Ian was a couple years older. He walked into the room with a piece of raspberry tart in one hand and a cup of wassail in the other. He set it down on the table. His mother was the only other person in the room. “I was hoping that your father would have made it back in time for Christmas, but it doesn’t look like he will. There is a heavy snowstorm going on in New York where he went for business,” explained Emma to her son of the absence of his father. “We can still enjoy the day. There are some gifts for you under the tree and supposedly a special one from your father. I wonder what he got for you this time,” she stated rolling her eyes. It was obvious that Mrs. Hodges did not approve of some of the things her husband had brought home for her son. He felt she coddled Ian too much and she felt that her husband didn’t see or didn’t want to see how feeble her son was.

The boy slowly went to a chair near the tree and sat down. He didn’t seem to have the spirit in him as he did in the past Christmases that Jake, Miri, Dave, and Amy had witnessed. There was a sad somber feeling in the air. The mother brought some small wrapped items to Ian for him to free from their wrappings. There were new mittens, hats, a coat, and a few other items she had made for him. He hugged her giving thanks. Emma finally came to a larger item that was under the tree, evidently something that Mr. Hodges had sent for Ian and that Tom had picked up at the post office.

To be continued

FICTION: The House, part 9: Ahoy, Matey – Continued

This story is completely fictional. Any resemblances to names of people and/or places is purely coincidental.

by Peg Pellerin

Click here for the previous installment.

Both vessels were built for speed and maneuverability. It appeared that the schooner was trying to head toward an estuary in order to hide, but the cutter was able to cut it off. Both vessels became close enough that the quartet could see blurred figures on the schooner as well as hearing loud voices. At one point it looked like the crew of the schooner was preparing to fire upon the cutter as well as the cutter readying to fire back.

“Oh, please don’t let this happen!” cried both Amy and Miri. Dave and Jake stood closer to the women having them stand closer to the bridge for protection in case something happened.

A boom was heard coming from the schooner and the water splashed close by. In turn the cutter fired their cannon, also missing the other vessel. A couple more volleys were sent from both vessels, both rounds getting closer and closer. A shot from the schooner grazed the side of the cutter as the cutter sent a shot to the schooner, hitting it broadside. Fire could be seen erupting onto the schooner.

“I don’t think I can take much more of this,” cried Miri who was crouched down and covering her ears from the loud noise of the cannons being fired. She no sooner said that then everything became a larger blur and suddenly everyone was back in the room of the house.

It took a few moments for the four to realize that they were back in their actual time and space. Miri was still crouching while leaning against the wall. Jake quickly lifted her into a standing position and was hugging her tightly. Dave and Amy were holding each other just as tightly. Tears were rolling down all their faces. “This was too real, Ian.” We didn’t like it at all.” Miri shouted out.

A very tiny voice was heard to say, “I’m sorry.”

As the four were slowly getting their land legs back, as well as their wits, Dave trying to quell the fear they had all experienced said, “Aaaargh!”

The three looked at him and yelled, “NOT FUNNY!” and Amy punched his arm.

Click here to read the next part of this story.

FICTION: The House, part 8: The Conclusion – part 2

This story is completely fictional. Any resemblances to names of people and/or places is purely coincidental.

by Peg Pellerin

Click here for the previous installment.

Another activity unfolded on the floor. Several clowns appeared performing antics to make the young and young at heart laugh. They were followed by jugglers passing what looked like bowling pins as well as swords and sticks on fire to each other. The four, or was it five, from the Stewart House, were enjoying themselves immensely. On stage others later came out doing acrobatics, performing tumbles and gymnastic routines. “I used to do those types of routines in the gym but we had mats on the floor,” remarked Miri.

When these performances were completed a huge cage was rolled out to the center of the ring. It contained a very large lion. The voice of the Ringmaster then announced, “Ladies and gentlemen. You may want to cover the eyes of your youngins for this next act. The keeper will now enter the cage of Sarabi, the largest lion in captivity.” Again, there was total silence.
Dave whispered to Amy, “Do you want me to cover your eyes? If not, could you cover mine?” She lovingly punched his arm.

The lion tamer, better known as a keeper, walked out into the ring. He was bare chested except for a red vest. He wore tight pants and tall boots. He carried a short whip. An assistant followed him to the cage, opened the cage door and quickly closed and latched it as the keeper entered the cage. The Ringmaster stated, “Watch as Gabriel attempts to allow Sarabi to lick his hand.”

As the keeper slowly brought his hand toward the lion’s mouth, Miri said, “I hope Sarabi doesn’t think that hand will be its snack,” as she partially covered her eyes.

The lion licked Gabriel’s hand in a very affectionate way. “Good boy, Sarabi,” said the keeper as he gave the lion what appeared to be a treat. The keeper then played around with the lion, pulling on its mane, rubbing its neck and then the enormous nose, all the while the audience watched, barely breathing. Then Gabriel did what would be considered an act asking for death. He opened Sarabi’s mouth, put his hand in his tremendous jaws, and pulled out the enormous cat’s tongue. He even wantonly whipped the poor cat, but it seemed as if the cat enjoyed the ‘play’ by his keeper. There were sounds of gasps of fear and astonishment of the performance then suddenly the unspeakable happened and the lion struck out with its ginormous paw and struck Gabriel’s chest, tearing the vest.

“Oh my God!” Called out Amy when she realized that she, as well as the others, were back in the bedroom. They found whatever they could to sit on and tried to catch their breath. “Did we just see Gabriel clawed to death?”

“I don’t know, but I bet Ian had enough of the circus at that point and ended the adventure,” replied Miri. I felt a small person standing near me during most of the circus acts and I think it was him. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve had enough of this for the day,” she said, looking at the time on her cell phone. “It’s about time we get some dinner going anyway. I’m heading downstairs to the kitchen.” All were in agreement and followed her down.

Click here for next installment.

FICTION: The House, part 8: The Conclusion – part 1

This story is completely fictional. Any resemblances to names of people and/or places is purely coincidental.

by Peg Pellerin

Click here for the previous installment.

A couple days went by to rest up from the ‘adventures’ as well as to go into town for some fun and grocery shopping. “Two more rooms to go through and hopefully we can be rid of Ian,” exclaimed Jake.

“If it wasn’t for these wild events we go through every time we find something of his, I wouldn’t mind him being around, but I don’t know how much more of this I can take,” agreed Miri.

“Not only that,” said Dave, “I’m behind in getting this place up to speed for the B&B.

“I’m not worried about that Dave,” stated Jake. “Miri and I talked about it and if we have to wait another six months to a year to get it running, so be it. I’ve been able to locate some folks who are interested in purchasing some of the antiques we have here and that should help with expenses for a little while, plus we’re both still working. But it would be nice to start having a somewhat normal life again. Are we ready for room number five?” All hesitantly nodded.

The item was found quickly. A thin dark leather box was found in one of the bureaus. It contained a spyglass made of brass and leather and it didn’t take long for the room to start spinning and all found themselves on a cutter out in the middle of the ocean. “Oh, boy! Exclaimed Dave who was holding the spyglass, what next pirates?”

“Dave,” shouted Amy, “Be careful what you’re thinking and saying! Remember, these events seem to go along with what we’re thinking.”

“I remember reading about these cutters. They were built back in the late 1700s when the Navy was disbanded. They were first used to intercept slave ships illegally importing slaves into the United States. Later they were used to board other vessels to make sure that the proper tax was paid on the cargo that was being exported. This didn’t always go well between the captains of the cutters or the vessels they boarded. In between, they also protected United States waters from pirates. Later on they became the Coast Guard and they still use the term cutter for their vessels. This two-masted one is a beauty,” said Jake as he admiringly looked around him.

“Thanks for the history lesson, Jake, but what is this one being used for?” asked Miri.

“Not sure yet because I don’t see anything to indicate what the time frame is,” Jake replied.

He no sooner said that when blurred figures moved about. Several were wearing dark blue jackets with five buttons. Under the jackets they wore white frocks and blue trousers. One individual was seen to apparently be giving orders. He was dressed in a dark gray cloth coat with nine buttons and sporting two epaulets. “This time period must be in the early 1830s. The gentleman with several buttons on his coat and the two epaulets would be the captain. The others are lower ranks, or seamen.”

They continued to watch the foggy vision before them wondering what was going to happen. One of the seamen pointed out toward the ocean. The captain pulled out a spyglass, stretching it to its fullest length to look at what the seamen was designating. The foursome turned toward the direction where the captain was looking. They saw another sailing vessel, more aptly called, a schooner, which appeared to attempt to keep a distance away from the cutter. The captain apparently ordered the cutter to head off the schooner, most likely boarded with pirates.

“I’m not liking the look of this. I hope we won’t be involved in a sea battle,” worried Dave. “Granted none of us have been injured other than us being scared out of our wits, but I don’t want anything serious going on here.” The trio agreed and huddled next to each other next to what would be considered the bulkhead to the bridge.

Continued next week

FICTION: The House, part 7: A couple more diaries

This story is completely fictional. Any resemblances to names of people and/or places is purely coincidental.

by Peg Pellerin

Click here for the previous installment.

Having gotten over his chilling experience, Dave went to the cellar to look for parts of items stored there that would make the renovated bedrooms unique. In the process, he opened a drawer to what appeared to be a woman’s vanity. He found a packet bound in cloth and closed with ribbon. “I wonder if this contains more of the diaries like Miri found in the antique desk a couple of months ago,” he said to himself. He did find some pieces of furniture that would add to a room or two. He went back to the main floor to find Jake to help him bring them up. He found Miri and handed her the packet, “I think I found more for you to read, maybe telling us more about our little spector. Where’s Jake?”

“Thanks, I think. He’s in the carriage house looking around for things we might be able to use in or outside the house.” She took the small bundle and immediately unwrapped the bundle, which held two more diaries. “Guess I’ll put my book aside for a little while and go through these while sitting on the porch,” she said to no one in particular, but she thought she heard a child’s voice say, “Thank you.”


“Hey Jake, finding anything interesting?” Dave said as he looked around. “This is a large and sound building. There’s plenty of room for tools, a tractor. Any idea of what you want to do with the rest of the place?

“We haven’t really talked about it since we’re spending more of our time trying to get the house ready for our business. Why? Do you have some ideas?” Asked Jake.

“It’s something I’d like to talk to the two of you about and see how you feel.” I’m planning on proposing to Amy on her birthday in September. I hope you don’t mind her staying here with us until I get a place of our own, which is where the carriage house comes in. If you guys aren’t planning on anything in particular, I’d like to buy it from you two and turn the larger part of the place into a home for us and a studio for Amy’s photography business. I’d make sure that part of it would still be able to be used for the storage of the tools and tractor.”

“Wow! Congratulations, Dave! Amy is great and I won’t say a thing until you propose to her. I truly believe she’ll say yes. It’s obvious that she is deeply in love with you. As far as turning the place into a home and studio, I think that we should get together with Miri and talk about it but personally I don’t have an issue with it. In fact I think it’s a great idea.” A big hug was shared.


The beginning of August had arrived and it became crunch time for Dave and Jake to try to get at least one more bedroom fitted for guests since Jake would need to go back into school to prepare for the new school year and Miri to prepare her classroom for probably what would be her last year teaching. It was a very warm first weekend of August when Jake, Miri, Dave and Amy walked around the room looking for whatever would cause the next ‘event’ since it seemed something of the little spectral Ian was left hidden throughout the upper floor of the house. “I wonder what we’ll find and where it will take us this time,” stated Miri.

“I shudder to think of it,” commented Amy remembering her memory of the frigid adventure she and Dave experienced. Maybe you guys thought about this already so forgive me for mentioning it but why haven’t you gone through all the rooms to find these items and get the ‘adventures’ over with so you can continue with the renovations?

The three looked at each other and with Jake slapping his forehead said, “Doh! We’ve been so focused on the renovations that we only looked for items in the room we were going to tackle. What do you say, guys; follow Amy’s lead in searching the rest of the house first?

“Are we up to multiple events not knowing what we’ll face?” replied Miri.

Dave gave his two cents worth, “We have been frightened out of our wits but we haven’t been injured. I vote to get it over with.”

“Whatever we decide,” interjected Miri, “We should be careful of what we are imagining when we find whatever was left behind. It appears we have had this wrong. When Ian died, his mother was quite distraught and decided to take items he enjoyed spending time with because his father would bring him gifts after most of his trips and hide them around areas where he spent many days, especially later in his shortened life. She strongly felt that her son’s spirit would remain in the house and these would make him happy. I think we’re correct in thinking he’s experiencing adventures through our imagination once we find these items, so let’s be very careful where our imagination might lead to.” After a few moments of thinking it over all were in agreement and continued with the search of the room they were currently in.

Jake was the one to find the item. It was hidden under the raised armoire. He barely had the time to show the others when everything within the room became fuzzy. In his hand he held a tin toy of an early train engine looking very much like what was called the Tom Thumb. However, what they saw in front of them was a real life Tom Thumb hauling passenger cars made of stagecoach bodies. It looked like people could sit either inside or on outdoor rumble seats.

“All aboard,” was heard and an apparition of a conductor could be seen pointing toward one of the carriages.

Four pairs of shoulders shrugged as Miri, Amy, Jake and Dave entered one of the cars. “What can go wrong?” questioned Jake. “These didn’t go very fast and only for short runs.”

As they sat down Amy wondered, “Are we still in the room and is this for real?”

“I have a theory about all of this,” replied Miri. After reading Emma’s diaries, which were mostly about her son, Ian, I believe that Ian is using us to fulfill fantasies of what he wished he could have experienced. We know more of what could have been so our imaginations are triggering the ‘adventures’ for him. We just have to make sure our imaginations don’t run wild. Once the ‘adventure’ is over we move on to the next and he’s happy. Why he never moved on to the ‘other side’ after his death, who knows, but this is probably the only way we’ll finally get him there and he’ll leave us alone, I hope.”

They climbed into one of the carriages and sat on the very hard seats that were made of wood, with very little padding. “I do hope this will be a short ride,” complained Dave who found that his tall frame felt cramped within the compartment.

At first the four were quiet while listening to the rumbling as the train left the station/room, and as it started to speed, up the chug, chug of the train was almost tranquilizing and would have been if it were not for the uncomfortable seating arrangement. “Wow, I think I could walk faster than this train is going,” remarked Jake, “I read that they went anywhere from twenty to thirty miles per hour but I feel like we’re crawling.”

“That’s OK by me,” said Dave showing how uncomfortable he was being confined to such a small area with his knees practically under his chin. “I just hope this is a short spur and we’ll be over this ride soon.”

Miri, glancing about, was able to see into the carriage behind them. She could have sworn she saw a little boy looking at her with the largest smile on his face. He definitely looked like he was having a good time. “I think Ian is happy,” she said and pointed to the other carriage. It was a quick glance and all agreed they thought they saw the face of a young boy but the ride was over and they were all standing in the bedroom of the house.

“Well, that wasn’t too bad,” said Jake, “Even though it was a bit uncomfortable. Nothing happened to scare us out of our wits. Do we have time to look in another room? This one took us a little over an hour.” Nods of approval went around. They left the room to go to the next room with Dave rubbing his rump and stretching his body to get over the cramped muscles.


The four immediately started their search ofthe next room. They looked within the furniture that was in the room, a chest of drawers, a wardrobe, under the wardrobe, and even under the bed all coming up empty. Scratching his head, Jake wondered if they would find anything at all but couldn’t understand why this room would be free of anything that Ian would have left behind. He thought of one last place to look, which was between the cotton-stuffed mattress and the weave of ropes that held the mattress up within the wooden frame. “I think I found something,” he said, holding up a large rolled up heavy paper. “Help me unroll this,” he said to Miri who came over and gently they unrolled what appeared to be a poster advertising an Equestrian Show at the Bowery Amphitheatre in New York City.

Just as all four came together, the room wavered and they found themselves in an amphitheater with a stage and circus ring. They could hear but only see blurred visions of what they assumed to be other attendants of the circus that was about to unfold in front of them. “I think we’re at the place we saw in the poster. I’m curious what we’ll see but hope it’s over soon and we’re back in the real room,” stated Jake.

They saw a group of horses come out with riders standing on their backs with both riders and horses doing all types of tricks. After what seemed to be fifteen to twenty minutes, a voice, most likely coming from a Ringmaster, spoke loud and clearly announced, “Ladies, gentlemen and youngsters. Raise your eyes upward and behold a large rope stretched across the way. Watch as you see a rope walker doing his death defying tricks walking across it without a net below.” Total silence filled the room until it appeared that the walker was about to fall and several sounds of gasps could be heard, but he was able to catch his balance and stay on the rope. He made it to one side and returned to the other. “Whew!” Said Dave as he was catching his breath. “I thought the guy was a goner.”

Another activity unfolded on the floor. Several clowns appeared performing antics to make the young and young at heart laugh. They were followed by jugglers passing what looked like bowling pins as well as swords and sticks on fire to each other. The four, or was it five, from the Stewart House, were enjoying themselves immensely. On stage others later came out doing acrobatics, performing tumbles and gymnastic routines. “I used to do those types of routines in the gym but we had mats on the floor,” remarked Miri.

When these performances were completed a huge cage was rolled out to the center of the ring. It contained a very large lion. The voice of the Ringmaster then announced, “Ladies and gentlemen. You may want to cover the eyes of your youngins for this next act. The keeper will now enter the cage of Sarabi, the largest lion in captivity.” Again, there was total silence.

Continued next week

FICTION: The House, part 6: There’s a chill in the air

This story is completely fictional. Any resemblances to names of people and/or places is purely coincidental.

by Peg Pellerin

Click here for the previous installment.

“Would either of you two mind if Amy comes over this weekend?” asked David about his girlfriend, Amy Cookson. “I’ve been telling her about the house and the weird things we’ve been experiencing and she’d love to see the place.”

Both Miri and Jake agreed to have her over, “Just tell her not to pick up any toys that she might find in the house. We’d hate to have her have to experience any of the ‘weird’ events we’ve been going through,” insisted Jake.

The first visitor to the Stewart home arrived Friday afternoon. Amy was quite excited at seeing the place even before she set foot through the door. “This place is lovely, Miri. I love the large porch and that octagonal window on the top floor is alluring. I’d love to take photographs of the place.” Amy is a professional photographer.

“I loved that window the first time I saw it,” replied Miri. “You’re welcome to take photographs of the place and who knows, we may ask to use some as advertisement once the place is a B & B. C’mon in and see the inside. It’s just as lovely. Dave and Jake have done a lot of work in getting the place set up.”

“Speaking of,” started Amy, “Are you planning on having anyone else to help you once the place is open?”

“Are you offering?” queried Miri with a sly smile. “I don’t know how much we’d be paying, but I know I could use the help in cooking, cleaning and laundering once we get going.”

“I think it would be charming to work in a B & B so yes. I could still keep my business, working it around the work to be done here,” answered Amy.

“As it gets closer to opening, we’ll look into it. How much did Dave tell you about the place?” asked Miri.

“If you mean the hauntings by a little boy, I guess a lot. At least no one has been injured only ‘inconvenienced’, replied Amy

“I guess you can call it that,” muttered Miri. “I hope Dave told you not to pick up any toys that you might see. That seems to start an occurrence.”

The four enjoyed a quiet evening of dinner, which both Miri and Amy prepared, and sitting out on the porch talking over several topics. “If you don’t mind,” Amy interjected into their conversations, “I’d love to see the rest of the house tomorrow and see what you guys have done with the place. I promise to not pick up any toys,” she laughed.

On Saturday morning, the guys were greeted with the scent of a wonderful breakfast waiting for them. Both Miri and Amy made omelets, french toast, bacon, and fresh squeezed OJ. “Wow, what did we do to deserve this?” asked Jake of the scrumptious site and smell.

“Miri and I decided to see what we might do in the future when this place opens up for business and you guys are our guinea pigs,” answered Amy.

“That’s right,” said Miri. “Amy and I were talking last night about the possibility of her coming onboard to help us out.”

“Sounds great,” Jake commented, but we won’t be able to pay you much at first.

“I’ll be continuing with my photography, which I do well, financially,” Amy pointed out. “After breakfast I’d love to look around the place if you don’t mind.”

“I’ll show you around,” Dave said with a wink to Jake and Miri, reaffirming everyone’s agreement that Amy would not pick up any toys.

Dave started out with showing Amy what he and Jake had completed in their renovations thus far. He told her about the events that happened in the attic and the small storage room for the linens, towels, and other sundry items. “This is a weird kind of haunting,” she commented. “It’s as if the little boy is using you folks to experience a fantasy that he wishes he had experienced while he was alive.”

“You might be right,” confirmed Dave. “Here is the next room we’ll be working on building an area for the bathroom and shower.” He noticed Amy walking toward the armoir in the room. “None of the rooms have closets,” he told her, explaining the whole thing about back in the day closets were taxed as rooms.

She admired how beautiful it was with some curved molding, not making it ornate but helping to take away the plainness of the piece of furniture. She opened the wardrobe and found it was occupied by a piece of clothing. A couple of moths flew out causing Amy to swat the air in hopes to push the pests away from her. “Someone left a coat in here.” Before Dave could tell her not to take it out, she had it in her hands. It was a child’s winter coat.

“I wish you hadn’t picked that up,” said Dave.

“You said not to pick up any toys. This is a little woolen coat,” she replied. She felt the room sway. Dave hurriedly came to her side, knowing something was about to happen. “Why am I feeling dizzy?” she asked.

“We’re about to experience something, that according to your words Ian, the little boy, wants us to fantasize for him,” he explained to her. They started hearing wind in the distance. He noticed that Amy looked like she was getting cold. “You’re shivering,” he said as he wrapped his arms around her shoulders. He started to see his own breath.

“How is this possible? It’s in the nineties outside and quite warm in the house. Why is it getting so cold?” asked Amy.

“My guess is that you touched Ian’s winter coat, triggering us to start undergoing something he would have liked to experience in the winter. Our luck is we don’t even have a sweater to wear to keep us warm. Hope this doesn’t last too long,” replied Dave.

The sound of the wind was becoming closer and along with the wind they thought they could hear a throaty rumbling and then a growl. Snow started to fall around the area which turned the bedroom into a tundra. “What was that?” asked Amy through chattering teeth.

“I think we’re about to find out,” said Dave pointing toward a shadow in the snow that appeared to be coming closer to them. The rumbling was heard again. Dave held Amy closer to him as they slowly backed away from the sizable figure coming their way. “Ian, this isn’t fun. Make it stop,” called out Dave to the haunting child. He and Amy continued to slowly back up and were stopped by the wall of the bedroom reminding them that this couldn’t possibly be real yet it felt and sounded real.

A small voice was heard to say, “A polar bear,” while the young person started to clap with glee. “Father hunted a polar bear,” the young apparition whispered.

“Make the polar bear go away Ian. We’re not having fun. We are scared and cold. Please make this all go away!” insisted Dave. Just as the white beast of a bear clearly appeared it disappeared. The sound of the wind also stopped as did the snow and cold and suddenly Dave and Amy found themselves back in the bedroom. They still felt quite chilled and hurriedly went downstairs to find Jake and Miri to tell them what had happened.

“I think he went too far this time,” said Dave as he and Amy were drinking cups of hot tea, which were helping them to take the chill away as well as calm their nerves.

“I don’t think he would have allowed the bear to harm you,” said Miri while she was sipping on her iced tea. “I guess we have to be careful of whatever we pick up that may have been his, but getting these items out of the rooms is probably the only way we will clear them of his hauntings and eventually clear the house. “Amy, I’m sorry you had to experience that.”

“We weren’t harmed, as you say, and we may not have been harmed, but I was scared out of my wits and pretty darned cold. But you might not think this is humorous, but I wish I had my camera. That would have been an awesome picture of the bear coming out of the swirling snow.”

Laughing, “I think you would have been too frightened to even think about picking up that camera,” said Jake.

Continued next week