One Archives Item â€¢ One Creative Product
One Great Night 2019
Archives After Dark 2019
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2019 Unleashed Creativity
Eastern Kentucky University
Archives After Dark ÂŠ 2019 Eastern Kentucky University No reproduction of any material within is allowed without the written consent of Archives After Dark and the author/artist. All rights revert to the author/ artist following publication.
Table of Contents • Preface................................................................................................................................................. vi Acknowledgments ............................................................................................................................. vii Handbill Advertisement for “Douglas,” undated | Major Family Papers The Thespians | Darian Bianco................................................................................................... 1 Passenger Train Crash, undated | Virginia N. Parrish Papers The Witching Hour | Jessica Brandenburg............................................................................... 26 Madison County Coroner’s Report, September 19, 1936 | Madison County, Kentucky Court Records Ten Percent Human | Maja Bursac........................................................................................... 40 Letter from Robert Walkup to Samuel Walkup, February 23, 1823 | Samuel Walkup Letters The Emperor | Abigail Byrd......................................................................................................... 44 Engine 2 of the Southern Railroad Company, undated | Kunkel Family Papers Southern Engine No. 2 | Makenzie Davis.................................................................................. 47 Mozart’s Collar, circa 1960 | Dorris Museum Collection The Jingle That Brought Joy | Emily Faith . .............................................................................. 52 Letter from Archibald & Latitia Moor to Alexander Fife, June 5, 1841 | Green/Fife/White Family Papers The Sickness Letters | Paige Freeman..................................................................................... 57 Letter from E.J. Broaddus to French Tipton, July 4, 1892 | French Tipton Papers Journal of Edward T. Gilroy | J. Thomas Hudson . ................................................................... 62 Knife Throwing Performers Posing, circa 1920 | Shropshire Circus Collection Cut-Throat Theater | Eden Lewis . ............................................................................................ 67 Jim Pellegrinon Leading a Protest on Main Street, May 7, 1970 | EKU Photographs De Libertate et Licentia | Arthur Martin . ................................................................................. 78 Eastern Alma Mater in Chinese, 1950 | Richards Family Papers Attitudes Toward Diversity at EKU: 1950 to 2019 | Meghan McKinney............................... 86 Student Playing his Guitar in a Snowstorm, 1970 | EKU Photographs Snow Can’t Stop Me | Anastasia Pierce.................................................................................... 89 Katie’s Tea Party, circa 1900 | Kunkel Family Papers Little Triumphs | Caitlyn Rahschulte ......................................................................................... 91 Eastern Marching Band Overlay, undated | EKU Memorabilia Reflections from a Band Uniform | Ciara Sandefur................................................................ 100 German Stahlhelm, 1916 | Owen W. Hisle Collection Mit Gott für Köenig und Vaterland | H. Michael Shultz Jr. . .................................................. 103
Imagine fifteen Eastern Kentucky University students with the opportunity to spend a night in the library to develop and polish their own creative work based on historical items housed in Special Collections & Archives. Combine that with the fabulous space of the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity, and youâ€™ve got Archives After Dark, a celebration of archival collections and the creative process of telling the stories inspired by archives items. Archives After Dark 2019: Unleashed Creativity is the culmination of a competitive application process, a special preview night after which each participant selected an inspirational artifact, several weeks of research and preparation, and the night of creativity in the John Grant Crabbe Main Library on January 25. Representing a variety of time periods between 1823 and 1970, the historical items chosen include photographs, correspondence, documents, objects, and ephemeral materials. By the end of the night, every student had unleashed their creativity to develop unique pieces that reflect their own personal style. The resulting products included short stories, poetry, a diary entry, a dialectic, a series of letters, a painting, and a piece of embroidery.
Archives After Dark 2019 Participants Clockwise Front to Back: Caitlyn Rahschulte, Paige Freeman, Darian Bianco, Meghan McKinney, Maja Bursac, Anastasia Pierce, Jessica Brandenburg, Ciara Sandefur, Makenzie Davis, J. Thomas Hudson, H. Michael Shultz Jr., Arthur Martin, Eden Lewis, Emily Faith, Abigail Byrd Archives After Dark vi
We are extremely grateful to all those who helped and supported Archives After Dark this year. Each of you are an invaluable part of the event and this publication. To Dean Betina Gardner, whose continued support of Archives After Dark made everything possible. To Krista Rhodus, we simply cannot do without your consistent marketing of all our events and your solid advice. Much thanks to Pennie Centers who is always great to work with, whether ordering t-shirts or purchasing other necessities. We truly appreciate Melissa Abney for photographing the artworks and the Eastern marching band overlay, as well as university photographer Amanda Cain for providing her picture of Mozart’s collar. And another shout-out to Melissa Abney for her ever fabulous graphic design and the beautiful layout of this publication. We would certainly be remiss if we did not recognize the work of Trenia Napier, who served as the lead editor of the Archives After Dark publication this year. It is a tremendous undertaking, and we are so grateful to have her as a colleague. We are appreciative of the student consultants of the Noel Studio who worked with Trenia in the editing process: Jordan Connelly, Abigail Gardner, James McClure, Meghan McKinney, and Ryan Sergent-Payne. And to Dr. Joshua Lynn of the History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies Department, whose comments and recommendations resulted in student works with greater historical accuracy. A special thank you to the rest of the Archives After Dark committee members for your ideas, feedback, and willingness to go the extra mile: Jenny Holly, Neil Kasiak, Trenia Napier, and Ashley Thacker. To our enthusiastic student employees: Katy Davis, who reported on the event via Instagram, and Sarah Hill, who took on Facebook in addition to setup and takedown. Also thanks to our volunteers: Gabi Zdrojowy for setup help and a contagious smile, and Jimmie Mayfield for the group photograph of the participants. And to this year’s Archives After Dark participants, your creativity and dedication made this such an amazing event. Jackie Couture Team Leader, Special Collections & Archives Eastern Kentucky University Libraries
Debbie Whalen Special Collections Librarian Eastern Kentucky University Libraries
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Darian Bianco, EKU Undergraduate Student
Handbill Advertisement for “Douglas,” undated | Major Family Papers
Author Statement From the moment I first looked at my Archives item, my brain immediately went “Southern Gothic.” Granted, I have no great experience with the Southern Gothic genre outside of Flannery O’Connor, but my mind was pulled back to that idea again and again. I was intrigued by the prospect of not in-your-face horror, but a general feeling that something wasn’t right. Finally, a boring little town called Peach Hollow Grove and a peculiar acting troupe formed in my head, and once they were there, “The Thespians” had to happen. Being able to participate in Archives After Dark for a second year is a fantastic opportunity—this environment is so perfect for letting out the dark, creepy corners of the brain, not unlike the dark aisles of library books all around.
Archives After Dark
The Thespians The flyer hung on the cork board outside of Tackett’s General Store. The cork board was where all of Peach Hollow Grove went for news, and since it was normally empty, the flyer was bound to draw quite a crowd before the day was over. The flyer was a yellowed brown color, the parchment wrinkled and shredded in some places. Maybe at some point in time it had been a perfect square, but now it was an odd lump that vaguely resembled the shape of South Dakota. It flapped listlessly in the wind, and Susan had to reach out and press the bottom of the page down against the cork. She squinted, trying to read the faded ink. The flyer read:
The public are respectfully informed that the THESPIANS will make their second appearance on this Wednesday evening, August 5, on which occasion will be played the celebrated tragedy of
DOUGLAS! Lord Randolph . . . . . . . . . . . . R. Hardy Glenalvon . . . . . . . . . . . . F.L. McChesney Young Norval . . . . . . . . . . . . E.L. Samuel Old Norval . . . . . . . . . . . . . . E.L. Samuel Lady Randolph . . . . . . . . . . Hallam Anna . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Thespians,” Susan whispered, the word rolling and hissing off her tongue. She liked the shape of it, the way the word was so different from her normal vocabulary. She had no reason to say thespians in her daily life. The wood behind her creaked and she turned, seeing Old Man Tackett himself standing behind her. He was a sun-withered man, like a piece of old leather brought to life. A hat was perched on his head, white puffs of hair sticking out haphazardly on either side. His dark eyes 2 Archives After Dark
squinted at the flyer, his wrinkled lips pulled in—she couldn’t tell if it was from disapproval or because he didn’t have his dentures in. His hands were shoved deeply in his pockets, and he looked as if he could’ve been standing in that spot for the past hundred years. “Look, Tackett,” Susan began, smoothing the flyer down with a reverential hand. “We’re havin’ Thespians come to town!” She announced, hearing the word “thespians” take on a special tone in her voice. “Ain’t that somethin’? We ain’t never had Thespians here before!” Tackett frowned deeper, a furrow forming between his bushy brows. He shook his head and reached out, placing a blunt, dirty finger against the flyer. “That ain’t right, girl. Lookit here—this is their second performance. Can’t you read?” Susan turned back to the flyer and read it again, carefully. She realized he was right—the flyer did say that it was the Thespians’ second appearance. How did she miss that? She frowned, turning back to Old Man Tackett as she wrestled the problem over in her mind. “But… Tackett, I don’t ‘member them ever comin’ here before.” “Well clearly they has been here before—it says so right there on the flyer!” Tackett announced, jabbing his finger powerfully at the flyer again. “Oh…” Susan looked down, desperately trying to think back. Faint images of a hastily constructed stage, a row of fancy carriages drawn by beautiful horses… They flashed in and out of her mind, barely solid, but she was still able to grasp at them like strands of silk. She supposed that the Thespians had been here before. “You’re right, Tackett,” Susan admitted glumly. As a girl of fourteen, she hated admitting that an old man could be right about anything. She looked up at him, arching a quizzical brow. “When was the last time they was here?” “Why it was—” Tackett’s face suddenly clouded. Susan imagined that was what her own face had looked like moments ago, when she had been trying to remember the last time the Thespians had come to Peach Hollow Grove. After a moment of introspection, Tackett spat into the dirt on the side of the wooden porch. “I don’t quite recall, young’un. But it was many years ago. Or maybe…” He reached up and scratched his ear under his hat, a dry rasping sound that made Susan wrinkle up her nose. “Or maybe it was just last week.” Susan nodded. Somehow, both of those answers felt right to her. She turned back to the flyer, reading it again and again, ravishing it with her eyes. She was aware of Tackett leaving, of various other people walking up behind her to look at the flyer as well. She didn’t turn and talk to any of them, and none of them tried to bother her. Everyone who approached Archives After Dark
saw a lovely, dirty young girl in a deep trance, lips moving over the words of the flyer, always coming back to one word. Thespians.
That night, Susan lay on her bed, staring at the cracked white ceiling. Supper had been eaten hours ago, and as usual, she and her family had sat on the porch for hours afterwards, talking about everything and nothing at all. She had brought up the flyer and the Thespians, hoping that her parents would be able to shed more light on the subject. However, they were just as ill-informed as Old Man Tackett had been. They both agreed that the Thespians had, indeed, been to Peach Hollow Grove before, but they also hadn’t been able to nail down quite when that time had been. John Matthew came over at eight-sharp, like he always did. Tonight, he brought a slightly withered bouquet of geraniums, tied together with a green piece of yarn. As always, he tipped his hat to her parents, and then stared at her in a way that made her dress feel too tight. She smiled perfunctorily and took the flowers, holding them in her lap until he had drunk his cup of lemonade and left. After he left, she escaped upstairs, and tossed the geraniums under the bed with the rest of her bouquets. The geraniums joined wild roses, daisies, daffodils, lilies, poppies, and even a pretty assortment of weeds. They were all in various states of decay, and her room reeked of dying flowers. Susan enjoyed the smell and preferred the flowers under her bed as opposed to in a vase. When she married John Matthew, she would put his flowers in a vase—though she doubted he would bother to bring flowers once he owned her. Until that day, though, his flowers would go under the bed. With the smell of flowers in her nose, Susan thought of the flyer. It had taken her in, heart and soul, and she had every word memorized. The more she thought of the flyer, the more she was attracted and mystified in equal measure. Questions and queries flitted through her brain like lightning bugs too fast for her to catch, but there just long enough for her to get a good look. The flyer had to have been put up that day—she was almost sure it hadn’t been there yesterday. Yet the flyer had been so old and tattered, like it had been hanging there all year, enduring the dreary rain and tormenting snow that came with the change of seasons. Hell, sections of it were even ripped. She could not call to mind an image of what the flyer would’ve looked like if it was intact, so it must’ve been put up in its current condition. 4 Archives After Dark
Maybe Old Man Tackett had been ill to it. Then again, Tackett had seemed just as surprised by its appearance on the cork board as she had been; he remembered the Thespians, but he hadn’t seemed to know about the flyer’s existence on the cork board. If he hadn’t put it up, who had? Then there was that last name; the actress who was playing Anna, whose name wasn’t printed on the flyer like the rest. Her name was written in cursive, bleeding and faded across the page. After reading the flyer countless times, Susan had finally figured out exactly what the ancient cursive said—“G.L. Major.” It was an authoritative name, and she wondered why it was the only name that hadn’t been printed on the flyer originally. It even looked older than the rest of the flyer, though that couldn’t be possible. Maybe there had been some kind of a printing error… But who had written her name in? It certainly hadn’t been Old Man Tackett, because Susan knew that Tackett couldn’t write in cursive, and that he wouldn’t have cared. Had the actress herself written down her name? But if so… When? All Susan had was a head full of questions, and no answers to be found. She turned the questions over and over until she had a headache so bad it hurt her upper molars. She finally squirmed under the covers, reaching out to turn off her lamp. She knew that the quicker she fell asleep, the quicker tomorrow would come. Before she fell asleep, she tasted one word over and over on her tongue. Thespians.
Susan woke early, before the sun had even begun to rise on the horizon. She woke feeling tremendously anxious and excited, like her heart was trying to lift out of her body with newfound wings. She scrambled out of bed and into the bathroom, taking a shower as hot as she could make it. She even used some of her mother’s rose-scented soap, scrubbing her skin almost painfully until it felt fresh and soft, like the skin of a baby. She wrangled her dark curls back with a blue ribbon and put on her prettiest dress—a faded blue with cap sleeves and a scooped neckline that hugged her hips and thighs comfortably. She looked in the mirror, searching for what she liked. The blue of the dress made her eyes look bluer, and her freckled cheeks had flushed a sweet pink. Even her lips looked darker, her skin creamier. Was this what excitement could do for a complexion? She grinned, the smile lighting her face. She grabbed a white pair of slippers from her closet but paused, knowing the dirt of the roads would ruin them in minutes. Archives After Dark
She despaired for a moment—black shoes just wouldn’t be right with this outfit, and they were the only other pair of shoes that she had. In the end, she decided to go barefoot. It was only fitting with who she was, and it fit with her whole ensemble. Slipping a quarter into the bodice of her dress, she was out of the house before her parents were ever awake.
Susan hurried up the front steps of Tackett’s General Store. The store hadn’t yet opened, but she could hear Old Man Tackett moving around inside, slowly shuffling up and down the aisles. She paused to brush the dirt from the bottom of her feet as best she could, before taking a dainty seat on the steps. She looked over her shoulder, scrutinizing the date on the flyer even though she had it memorized. Wednesday, August 5. Her gaze shifted to the calendar Tackett always had pinned up at the edge of the cork board—at the end of each day, he would draw a big black X through the day that had just passed. An X had been drawn through Tuesday, August 4, and Wednesday, August 5 remained unblemished. Today was the day. Susan waited anxiously on the steps, doing any manner of things to amuse herself. She twirled her curls around her fingers, picked dirt out from under her nails, brushed lint (real and imagined) from the skirt of her dress, and even practiced crossing her big toe over the toe next to it. She glanced at the flyer over her shoulder numerous times, to confirm that it was there, and that she hadn’t imagined its existence. Finally, she heard the jingle of metal, the crack of leather, and the creaking of wooden wheels. The Thespians were early. The Thespians were right on time. The Thespians were late. They were all these things, and Susan’s heart went gliding up into her throat.
6 Archives After Dark
The three carriages arrived in a row, each one almost identical to the other. The horses were strong, shining, and black. The harnesses and ropes were black with gleaming silver buckles. The carriages themselves were black wood and silver glittering appliques, and black curtains were drawn shut over the windows. The last carriage also had an assortment of wood tied to the back—pieces that Susan could immediately identify as the eventual set for the play. The men driving the carriages were each different in appearance and stature. The first man was oldest, but he was vigorous looking, no more than forty or so. He wore a black silk hat, the same kind that Old Man Tackett wore—but his was much more sophisticated. He was tanned, and a beautifully thick and well-groomed mustache took up a good portion of his strong face. Even from here, Susan could see his eyes were penetrating, dark. His arms, exposed from his rolled-up shirtsleeves, were dark and strong, fine hairs gleaming in the sun. The second man was younger, maybe ten years or so older than Susan herself. He bore a resemblance to the first man—Susan guessed them to be father and son. His brown hair was slicked back and perfectly styled, not a strand out of place despite the jolting of the carriage. He had the same dark, healthy complexion, and the same eyes. He was sporting the start of a beard, enough to accentuate his high cheekbones. A scar snaked through one of his eyebrows; he looked rakish. The third man was the same age as the second, and he looked much different from the other two men. His hair was the lightest shade of blonde that Susan could imagine—it was practically white. His hair was a wildly curly pelt on his head, thick and luxurious. He was well-tanned, but not as dark as the first two men. His face was clean-shaven, and she could see the sharp cut of his jaw. She imagined that one could cut a diamond with the underside of his chin. But again, his eyes… His eyes were the same dark, depthless color. Susan thought perhaps the color ran in the family. She had no proof that these men were all related, but the thought felt immediately right, and she trusted it. The carriages rolled into the town square and stopped, forming a half moon. The oldest man stood and stretched his arms over his head before clapping his hands together. He looked at the two other men over his shoulder. “I’d say we made good time, eh boys?” His voice was deep and rolling—if rivers could speak, they would sound like him. The dark-haired boy jumped down from his carriage, wincing as he straightened his back. “We did, Pa,” he called back, looking around the town. “Maybe too good of time. Is anyone even awake yet?” “Someone is,” the blond called, jumping down from his carriage as well. Suddenly he was looking right at Susan, and she felt her face, neck, Archives After Dark
and chest darken from the sheer sensation of being seen by these people. He smiled at her, tipping her a wave. She ducked her head, physically unable to wave back. She heard him laugh, but there was nothing malicious in the laugh. The sound made her warm, and the tips of her ears tingled pleasantly. The sound was like bells ringing on a day covered in snow. The oldest man climbed down and knocked twice on the door of his carriage. After a pause, the door swung open, and Susan had to keep her jaw from dropping. One of the most beautiful women she had ever seen emerged onto the step, looking around the sleepy town. She was the same age as the oldest man, and Susan immediately placed them as husband and wife. Again, she couldn’t say how or why she made this distinction, but it yet again felt undeniably right. The woman had hair the color of a fresh pot of coffee, threaded through with streaks of pure gold. It was piled on top of her head in a curly updo, elegantly exposing the curve of a pale neck. Her nose was a perfect slope, with a point that gave her whole face a strange, enchanting character. Her lips were pale, the color of baby’s breath. Her figure was shapely under her dark red dress—a full swell at the bosom, a dangerous incline inward at her waist, and then a generous outward reach at the hips. Her eyes were the same color as the men’s, too. This fact struck Susan oddly for a moment—suddenly she felt very sick to her stomach, like she needed to look away from those dark gazes. But what a silly feeling, to be unnerved by the woman’s eye color. Susan shook her head, chastising herself silently. The husband took his wife’s hand and helped her down to the ground. She turned to the man and smiled, instantly becoming a different kind of beautiful. Without a smile, she was like a statue. With a smile, she was the queen of a faraway land. “Roland, my sweet, I don’t believe this little town is quite ready for us at this hour.” Roland seemed to accept this idea more readily from his wife than from his son. He frowned and looked around, not letting go of his wife’s hand. He placed his other hand on his hip, and Susan imagined that his hands were callused and worn, but comfortable, like a favorite shirt. “Well, that just seems—” As if on cue, the door to Dolly’s Bar swung open. Dolly herself stood there, faded gold hair pulled back in a sensible ponytail. Her wrinkled face was kind and warm, her eyes a pale blue. She was already smiling, her hands folded demurely in front of her stained apron. She cleared her throat, her gentle voice drifting out on the breeze. “I reckon y’all are those actors I read about on Tackett’s flyer.” “Why, yes ma’am,” Roland said, taking a step towards her with a warm smile. He cocked his head to the side. “Don’t you remember us? 8 Archives After Dark
From the last time we were here?” “No, I don’t quite recollect…” Dolly’s face grew clouded, murky. It took her a moment to speak again, and a moment more to come back entirely to the present. “Well, yes, I s’pose I do, now that you mention it. It was a year or so ago, wasn’t it? Or… Or a week…” She trailed off uncertainly. Roland only smiled and nodded. “Is there any chance you are open for breakfast, ma’am? We’re quite famished from the road.” Dolly’s certainty returned at the mention of food—if there was anything she knew, it was food. She smiled and nodded, placing her hands on her hips. “Absolutely I am! I felt for some reason this mornin’ that I needed to open early. Now I know why… Good ol’ instinct, I guess. Y’all come right in when you’re good and ready. I’ll have eggs and bacon and sausage and hotcakes at the ready.” “Any chance of coffee, ma’am?” The dark-haired boy asked, stroking his horse’s nose absentmindedly. Dolly nodded again, turning to go inside. She called to the boy over her shoulder. “Best coffee in Peach Hollow Grove, lad.” The dark-haired boy smiled after her. It wasn’t quite the same warm smile as his father and mother—there was something crooked in it, but not crooked in a bad way. It was a charming smile, a feline smile. “Should we let Grace Leanne know we’re eating?” The blond called, looking briefly to the second carriage. The dark-haired boy waved a dismissive hand. “You know she always stays in until the sun’s higher in the air. She can get dinner when she’s ready, but I need a cup of coffee now,” he said, before moving quickly into Dolly’s, taking the front steps two at a time. The blond nodded his agreement, looking to the second carriage again before following the dark-haired man in. Roland and his wife followed. Susan scrutinized the second carriage, focusing her attention on the small, curtained window. Briefly, a white hand flickered out, brushing the curtain aside so quickly Susan almost missed it—the action could’ve been an illusion. That one movement, the sight of that one pale hand, was heart-stopping in a way that Susan couldn’t have explained even if she had wanted to. She stared desperately at the window, hoping against hope that she would get a glimpse of that hand again, or perhaps the full face of the person the hand was attached to. But after ten minutes, then twenty, then half an hour of fruitless staring, the hand did not return. Susan suddenly felt very silly, her face flushing red again. Here she was, staring at these poor Thespians as if they didn’t have to deal with being stared at every single day. Well, she would give them their privacy for a while. She stood, brushing the wrinkles out of the front of her dress Archives After Dark
and the dust off the back. Then, she turned on her heel and strode into Tackett’s General Store, determined not to think of the Thespians for the next few hours. And yet, when she had seen that white hand, she swore it had been beckoning to her with one long, pale finger.
She didn’t succeed in not thinking about the Thespians, but she did keep herself relatively busy. She had surveyed Tackett’s General Store hundreds of times in her fourteen years in Peach Hollow, but this time she took special care. She examined the color of packaging on every brand of flour. She tested the ripeness of every single tomato and apple in the fruit and vegetable section, much to the chagrin of Old Man Tackett. “You’re gonna give ‘em all bruises!” He whined, but he made no move to come out from around the counter and stop her. She lingered extra long in the beauty section. She had never been one to really spend time spoiling over her looks. It had never much mattered to her, and she knew she was well-admired by those around town; that had always been enough. The arrival of the Thespians, however, had thrown her off balance. She was not jealous of them—she bore them no ill will. She was just in awe of how perfect each of them was, and wondering about the perfection of the hidden girl, Grace Leanne, left Susan feeling dizzy. She sniffed each bottle of shampoo, rubbed her hands with several lotions, and spritzed the hollow of her neck with various perfumes. She smelled overwhelmingly sweet, the mixture of scents giving her a fresh headache. She searched the beauty magazines on the rack, trying to find a face that came close to being as lovely as the faces of the Thespians. No one even compared. Finally, after enough stalling and listening to Old Man Tackett grumble, she decided it was time to buy something and go back outside. She selected a small bag of kettle chips and a glass bottle of Coca-Cola. She approached the front counter and set them out, before realizing she didn’t have any money to pay for them with—she only had money for the play. “That’s sixty cents,” Tackett said gruffly, only briefly looking at the items she had set on the counter. “Could you put it on my family’s tab? You know we’re good for it, Tackett, I swear,” Susan said, doing her best to widen her eyes and look sincere. Tackett only looked at her skeptically. “You’re usin’ your tab for kettle chips and a Coke?” “I only have twenty-five cents on me,” Susan said, trying to be 10 Archives After Dark
patient—but she could feel herself getting frustrated, nonetheless. “I’ll take that,” Tackett said immediately, eyes glimmering at the simple mention of more cash in the register. “Tackett, that’s for the show later. Y’know, the Thespians? I’m not gonna give you my admission,” Susan said stubbornly, resisting the urge to lift a hand and cover the place where the quarter sat in her top. “Why don’t you just pay me the quarter now and then go home and get another quarter?” Tackett asked, earnestly puzzled. For a moment Susan was at a loss for an answer—or at least, an answer that didn’t sound undeniably silly. How could she say to Tackett, because if I leave now, I may miss seeing the Thespians walking around and I must see them, watch them! He would either stare at her like she had grown a second head, or he would laugh. Perhaps both. Suddenly a long arm extended over her shoulder, setting down two quarters and a dime. “Here, Tackett. I’ll cover her.” Despite the now free food and drink, Susan’s nose wrinkled, especially at the sight of Tackett’s smug smirk. The old man simply scraped the money away into his register, without a word. Susan turned around, only to find John Matthew standing far too close. There was only an inch of space between her nose and his broad chest. He was beaming, a piece of straw sticking out from between his teeth. Susan supposed that he was handsome, at least compared to the rest of the population of Peach Hollow Grove. He had nothing on the Thespians, but he wasn’t necessarily bad to look at. He had a long face, with a very long chin, a strong jaw, and high cheekbones. His eyes were deep-set in his head and brown, the color of dirt after a fresh rain. He was tanned from all the time he spent in the sun, working on his father’s farm—land that he would one day inherit. His hair was blond and long, falling like corn silk down past his chin. He was barrel-chested and tall, with long legs. Yet something about him just made her skin crawl. “Ain’t you gonna thank me, Sue?” He asked, still grinning jovially. She resisted every urge she had to flinch, smiling instead. “Right, thank you John Matthew,” she said quickly, turning around to grab the bag of kettle chips and the Coca-Cola bottle. She slipped out from between the counter and John Matthew, skipping out the door. The scene outside had changed. The three men of the Thespians were working to build their set. They moved in a fluid, natural way, picking up heavy boards with no strain. Susan wouldn’t have been surprised if one Archives After Dark
of them had just up and lifted Dolly’s Bar right over his head. Roland’s wife was perched on the steps of one of the carriages, shielding her eyes with a hand and watching the progress of the men. Every once and a while she would call something out, and one of the men would reply in kind. Susan still saw no sign of the last Thespian who remained inside the carriage. She sighed a content, deep breath and then sat back down on the steps of Tackett’s. She pried the top off the Coca-Cola using the edge of the steps, enjoying the fizzy smell that came from the bottle. She took a long swig, relishing the chill of the drink on the hot day. The Thespians had to be sweating—but they didn’t look uncomfortable in the slightest. A sheen of sweat had come over all of them, but it was light and healthy. She debated going back into Tackett’s and buying all of them drinks, but with what money? Besides, that was too forward—she blushed just at the thought of trying to approach them. She was just about to tear her bag of chips open when John Matthew suddenly plopped down onto the step next to her. She jolted, tearing the chip bag wide open and spraying chips everywhere. She had completely forgotten about him. John Matthew’s eyes widened briefly as he watched a chip bounce off his shoe before landing in the dirt. “Well, that’s a waste of food,” he mused quietly. “Well, you startled me. What’re you doin’, just sittin’ down and scarin’ a girl with no warnin’,” Susan scolded, tilting her bag carefully to save the rest of the chips. John Matthew reached out and shoved his hand into the destroyed bag. He emerged with a handful of the remaining chips, tossing them into his mouth. “Hey, I paid for ‘em, didn’t I?” He asked through a full mouth. “Yes, and what a saint you are,” Susan snapped, looking sullenly down at the few chips remaining in her bag. She picked up a kettle chip and bit it in half, pointedly not looking at John Matthew. There was a moment of silence before John Matthew spoke up, sounding like a pouting child. “I can just buy you a new bag of chips, Sue,” he muttered. “I don’t want a new bag of chips, thank you,” she said pertly, tossing the rest of the chip in her mouth. Her eyes were trained on the Thespians—they were much more interesting anyway. At least, they were until John Matthew’s hand was suddenly on her leg, and not just her leg; her thigh. Far too high up on her thigh. She looked down at his hand quickly, and then to his face, only to find he had leaned in very close. His breath reeked of tobacco. “So, I’m thinkin’ we should speed this process along a little quicker, 12 Archives After Dark
Sue. What d’you think?” He murmured huskily, and the sound of his voice sent chills down her spine for all the wrong reasons. “Speed what process along, John Matthew?” She asked, moving to shove his hand off her leg. But when she pushed, he didn’t budge. Instead, he held on tighter. “Our marriage, Sue. Makin’ you Missus John Matthew Charter,” he said. She would have felt better if he smiled, but he wasn’t smiling. Susan swallowed around a suddenly formed lump in her throat, pushing feebly against his hand again. “John Matthew, I’m fourteen. That’s far too young to—” “It doesn’t have to be. Your parents know it’s gonna happen. My folks do, too. If I get everyone together, sit ‘em down, explain all patientlike that I want you now—” His hand squeezed convulsively on her leg. It hurt. “I think they’ll say yes. In fact, I know they will.” Susan was beginning to feel frightened, as if she had been shut in a dark room filled with ledges and she had no idea where any of the ledges were. She was reaching out blindly, desperately trying to find something to grasp onto. “I have to say yes, too, y’know.” But she knew that wasn’t true. She wouldn’t really have a say in whether she was going to marry John Matthew. He was the only man her age in town, and he was the most welloff one, too. From the day he had first come to the doorstep with flowers two years ago, it had been a done deal. John Matthew knew it, too. He simply smiled at her, his hand squeezing and releasing, squeezing and releasing on her leg. His hand began to drift upwards and inwards— “Excuse me.” Susan and John Matthew looked up sharply, John Matthew’s hand quickly retracting back to his own lap. Standing before them was the blond Thespian. His hands were in his pockets, and his posture maintained a message that he was calm. However, something much more like flint was in his dark eyes. “I apologize for interrupting you all, but we could use a hand building our set.” He extended a hand to Susan. The palm looked wellworn, for someone who was so young. “Could you lend us some help, ma’am? If you don’t mind, of course.” His gaze was so warm and sympathetic. Susan blushed, but she also did not hesitate to reach out and take his hand. As the Thespian pulled her to her feet, John Matthew sprang to his feet as well. “Well, I’ll lend a hand, too,” he stated, puffing out his chest like a proud rooster. Archives After Dark
The blond Thespian paused, leveling John Matthew with a look that instantly made the farmer’s son look smaller, despite the few inches height he had on the Thespian. “I believe that I asked for the young lady’s help, not yours, sir. Please do not intrude where you are not needed or wanted.” He turned his attention to Susan and smiled, a smile that made her chest feel warm again. “Shall we, miss…?” “Susan. And yes, we shall.” Susan took the remnants of her chip bag and tossed it against John Matthew’s chest. He didn’t try to catch it, and it fell to his feet. He was too busy staring at Susan and the Thespian with a slack jaw, impotent with shock and rage. “Take the rest of the chips, John Matthew. After all, you paid.” The blond turned and led Susan towards the set and the carriages. As they got closer, he spoke to her in a low voice. “I sensed that you may have been in a situation you were not comfortable with. I apologize if I was wrong.” Susan shook her head, offering the male a half-hearted smile. “No, no… You read the situation right. Thank you, mister…?” “Edwin Samuel. But please, just Ed. No mister needed,” he said, a smile warming his expression again. It felt far too personal to call him Ed, but it also felt just right, and she didn’t think he would accept anything else. She nodded. “All right, Ed. Thank you.” “Of course.” Ed led her into the half-moon of carriages, and closer to the other Thespians. Susan’s heart was beating so hard, she swore it was about to burst right out of her chest. “Everyone, this is Susan. Susan, this is my family, and consequently my acting troupe,” he said with a faint smile. “Your fellow Thespians,” Susan blurted, the words flying out of her mouth like a wild bird. She wouldn’t have been able to contain the words regardless—somehow no word but Thespians seemed right for these people. Ed appraised her for a moment, and she worried that he might think she was crazy. However, he finally smiled, clearly amused. “Yes, my fellow Thespians,” he replied, turning to the others. “This is Roland Hardy, my uncle.” The mustached older man rose from his act of hammering a wooden plank to a leg that would eventually support the stage. Roland smiled, wiping sweat from his brow and extending his free hand to Susan. “A pleasure to meet you, Susan. I recall seeing you in the audience at our last show.” For a moment Susan hesitated. She still couldn’t recall their last show herself, but she didn’t want to be rude. She reached out to shake his hand, smiling nervously. “Really? I, uh, hope it wasn’t ‘cause I was rude or anythin’.” Roland shook her hand and his head in the same emphatic motion. “No, no, not at all. You just… Have an air about you,” he said, gesturing vaguely in the air. 14 Archives After Dark
Susan turned to Ed with a questioning expression, but he only smiled and shrugged. “It’s a compliment, dear heart,” Roland’s wife called out from her seat on the step. “Oh, this is my aunt Rosaline Hallam-Hardy,” Ed said, turning slightly to direct Susan’s attention. “Oh—you’re Hallam, from the flyer,” Susan said stupidly, brushing a stray lock of hair away from her forehead. “I thought—I mean, I figured you’d be a woman, since you’re playin’ Lady Randolph, but Hallam’s such a short name.” “It’s simpler for printing dear, that’s all. It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Rosaline said with a sweet smile. “And this is my cousin, Laurence McChesney Hardy,” Ed finished, directing her to the dark-haired young man with the feline smile. Laurence wiped the dust off his hands and extended his hand for a shake as well. “A pleasure, Susan.” Susan shook his hand, unable to help her question. “On the flyer you’re F.L. McChesney.” Well, that wasn’t really a question. Laurence smiled, amused in a way that could only be described as bitter. “F.L. stands for Franklin Laurence. Laurence is a middle name that runs in the family—it’s Ed’s middle name too. I just prefer Laurence to Franklin. My name is long if you take it as is; Franklin Laurence McChesney Hardy. F.L. McChesney is easier, like Mom says,” he explained patiently. Susan nodded distractedly, glancing around and thinking of the white hand in the window. “Is… Is there one more of you?” “Ah, yes, Grace Leanne. She sleeps a good bit later than the rest of us—she’s probably still in the carriage getting her beauty sleep. She’ll join us in a while,” Ed explained, before moving to start helping Roland and Laurence again. “Come, dear, sit by me,” Rosaline called, patting the empty space of the carriage steps next to her. Shyly, Susan came over and sat down. “Would you like something to eat, dear? I didn’t eat all of my food from earlier, and I’d hate for a good hash brown to go to waste. That Dolly is a wonderful cook,” she said, gesturing to the small wrapped bag resting on the ground by her feet. Susan’s stomach growled and she realized she had only gotten to eat one of her kettle chips—she was starving. “Are you sure?” She asked nervously. “I don’t want to eat y’all’s food.” Rosaline smiled and waved a hand dismissively, reaching down to pick up the hash brown. “Nonsense, dear. It would go to waste otherwise,” she said, handing it over to Susan. Archives After Dark
Susan smiled gratefully, beginning to unwrap the hash-brown. “Well, thank you so much,” she said, revealing the top half of the hash brown. She took a dainty bite, and realized that even though it was lukewarm, it was delicious. From then on out she ate voraciously, only occasionally worried that she was being too indelicate for the Thespians. None of them seemed to mind, though. The men continued to work, and Rosaline simply sat beside her and watched them work. Only after Susan had finished the hash brown did Rosaline speak. She kept her eyes on the men as she did so, and she spoke quietly. “I saw a little bit of what was happening on the general store steps. Was that young man harassing you?” Susan sobered, feeling the hash brown roil in her stomach at the memory. She debated just biting her tongue and shrugging the incident off—after all, this woman was a stranger. But it also felt wrong to even think of lying. “Yes and no. I’m s’posed to be marryin’ him when I’m older, but apparently, he thinks I’m older now. And… And he ain’t very nice,” Susan replied quietly, hands moving fretfully in her lap, like two restless animals in a fight. There was a silence that was not uncomfortable. A breeze blew by and cooled the summer day, ruffling the shirts of the men. They all paused for a moment, enjoying the brief reprieve before setting back to work. “Do you ever want to leave this little town?” Rosaline asked. Her expression was grave and sad, and it made Susan want to comfort her, but she didn’t know how to do it. She only knew to answer the question. “I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about it before, but…” Susan worried her lower lip between her teeth. Her next words would be blasphemy to every resident of Peach Hollow Grove, but they were true words that she didn’t feel right holding back. “Bein’ somewhere else sounds mighty fine to me right now.” To that Rosaline had no reply, and even if she had made a reply, Susan wouldn’t have heard it, because the door of the second carriage swung open and Susan forgot how to breathe. Grace Leanne was a vision. Her hair was a rich auburn, a fire of barely kept coals, flowing in a smooth wave just past her shoulders, framing her face. She was even paler than Rosaline, but not in an unhealthy way—she was simply pure, untainted. Her cheeks had spots of ruddy color under a light sprinkling of freckles, like stars dotting her skin. Her lips were red, red like roses, red like lips in a painting. She was dressed in white lace, a high-necked, long-sleeved dress that looked like it would be stifling in the heat. But Grace Leanne did not look the least 16 Archives After Dark
bit uncomfortable. She was a will-o-wisp, a white breeze, the leaves of a cedar tree. Her eyes were darker than everyone else’s, and even more captivating. It was rather difficult to distinguish her irises from her pupils. Grace Leanne looked around briefly before her gaze settled on Susan. Immediately her gaze seemed to lock on, to focus entirely on Susan and Susan alone. Grace Leanne stepped lightly down from her carriage, shutting the door behind her. She crossed over to Susan and Rosaline, seeming to glide instead of walk. She stopped just in front of the two, and her peaceful expression became downright angelic when she smiled. “I’m so sorry—I would’ve come out sooner if I’d known we had such lovely company. I’m Grace Leanne Major. Everyone calls me Grace Leanne.” For a moment Susan was too stunned and confused to speak. She was stunned because Grace Leanne had the most beautiful voice that Susan had ever heard. It was the sound of wind chimes, of ice melting, and of flowers whispering secrets to one another. Susan was confused, however, because she felt something stir deep within the pit of her stomach, and lower than that, too. She had always been told about womanly feelings by her mother, and her mother constantly reassured her that once she was married, her husband would awaken those womanly feelings within her. It seemed Grace Leanne had beaten John Matthew in that regard. Hell, Grace Leanne had John Matthew beat in every regard. “I’m… Susan,” she finally managed to stammer, her own name dripping off her lips like a heavy drop of dew. “Susan. What a beautiful name for a beautiful girl.” Grace Leanne smiled, brushing a sheath of thick hair behind her ear. “Were you at our last show, Susan?” Before Susan could speak up, Roland called over. “Yes, she was. I don’t know how you missed her, Grace Leanne—she was right in the third row.” “I don’t know how I missed her either—but I’m certainly not missing her right now. Thank goodness,” Grace Leanne said warmly “Are you attending our show tonight, Susan?” Susan nodded immediately, head jerking up and down as if on a string. “Yes. I already have my admission money ready.” Grace Leanne’s smile grew. “Excellent. Why don’t you go home and rest before the show? It won’t be until after dark when we perform, after all. Plenty of time for some shut-eye.” Susan immediately felt uncomfortable. “Oh, I don’t know about that. I’d be worried about…” She trailed off, not sure that she could bear to tell Grace Leanne what she was worried about. Archives After Dark
First, she did not want to miss any opportunity to continue admiring the Thespians, especially when she knew now how perfect they were inside and out. Kind and beautiful—how often did that happen? Second, an insistent and unpleasant image came unbidden into her mind, and despite all her efforts she could not force it to go away. She was lying in her bed, sleeping blissfully and dreaming of Grace Leanne’s depthless eyes. Downstairs, John Matthew appeared at the door. He came into the house, plodded up the stairs, and came into her bedroom. He watched her sleep for a moment, and then he touched her again. But it wasn’t her thigh he went for. A deep shudder rolled through her body. Grace Leanne’s hand gently landed on Susan’s shoulder, providing a comforting squeeze. Unlike the squeeze of John Matthew’s hand, there was nothing unpleasant about Grace Leanne’s touch. Susan counted herself blessed that Grace Leanne had even deemed her worthy of touching. Her breath caught in her chest, and Susan suddenly felt she was floating as she turned her gaze up to Grace Leanne. Grace Leanne’s eyes were dark and fathomless. Susan felt like she was falling into them as Grace Leanne spoke. “We will still be here when you wake, my sweet. Do not worry about sleeping past our performance—that will not happen. But it will be better for us if you have all your energy for the performance. We will feel it more. And do not worry about John Matthew. He will not bother you again tonight, nor ever again.” Susan jerked, startled and half-dazed. “What?” Grace Leanne only smiled, and Susan forgot most of what Grace Leanne had said. “You know… You know, I think you’re right. I will go back home and nap. I was up rather early this morning,” Susan explained, rising to stand and brushing her dress off. Suddenly she wanted nothing more than to lay down on her soft bed and sleep. Grace Leanne smiled and stepped forward, wrapping her arms around Susan in a hug. Once again Susan forgot how to breathe, not even able to raise her arms to return the embrace. Grace Leanne didn’t seem to mind. Her voice was a whisper, right next to Susan’s ear. “Sit in the front, Susan. Close, where I can see you.” Susan managed to nod, and Grace Leanne pressed a kiss to Susan’s cheek. Susan’s cheek tingled pleasantly where the kiss had been, and the spot also pleasantly warm. The kiss seemed to make Susan feel sleepier. Grace Leanne’s eyes looked darker. 18 Archives After Dark
⚘ Susan did not remember saying goodbye to the other Thespians, though she was sure that she had—she wouldn’t be so rude as to leave without saying goodbye. She also did not remember the walk home, nor walking upstairs and falling onto her made bed. She fell asleep on top of her sheets, cushioned by the warm summer air and the stench of rotting flowers. She dreamed of sweet voices, strong arms, and more than anything else, dark eyes—Grace Leanne’s dark eyes. She dreamed of falling into those two inky pools, head over heels, delirious with joy and madness. She was almost disappointed when she woke, before realizing that she was not truly separated from her Thespians—she was only moments away from seeing them again. She sat up and stretched, feeling better rested than she had ever felt in her life. The sun was just beginning to set, meaning she had woken up at the perfect time. She rolled out of bed and checked her reflection in the mirror. She paused only to tuck away a few stray hairs and adjust her dress, making sure her quarter admission was still in place in her bodice. Then, she raced out of the house and back towards town square. The square was much transformed from the way it had looked that afternoon. The carriages still formed a half moon, but the set had been built in front of them. The set was not much more than a raised wooden platform and a few crudely cut fake trees, but somehow the set looked very impressive and imposing. Several chairs had been set up in crooked rows in front of the stage. People milled about, mostly standing in front of Tackett’s General Store and Dolly’s Bar—no one seemed to want to be the first one to sit down. But Susan did not feel that way. Set up at the edge of the back row of seats was a glass jar. No one was watching it—it was simply a glass jar with a piece of paper stuck under it. The paper read “Admissions Jar,” written in cursive that Susan could immediately place as Grace Leanne’s handwriting. Susan had forgotten to ask why Grace Leanne’s was the only name that had been written on the flyer manually—she had been too in awe of Grace Leanne’s simple presence. She would try to remember to ask if she got the chance to after the show, but she doubted she would remember even then. Grace Leanne tongue-tied her. Susan reached into her bodice and withdrew the warm quarter. She dropped it into the admissions jar and walked down the aisle between the rows of chairs. At Grace Leanne’s request, she walked straight to the front row. Instinct would have told Susan to sit in the third or fourth row in order to be unobtrusive, but she would rather walk on needles than Archives After Dark
disappoint Grace Leanne. She sat right in the middle of the first row, as close as she could be to the stage. The sun continued to lower, and more and more of the residents of Peach Hollow Grove began to pay admissions and sit down. Susan saw her own parents take a seat in the third row, and Old Man Tackett took a seat in the second row. Even John Matthew showed up, sitting sullenly in the back row. Every time Susan turned around, she could feel John Matthew glaring a hole in the back of her head. As the play was about to begin, Susan realized that she had ended up being the only person in the first row. She was embarrassed, blushing and thanking her lucky stars that no one could tell she was blushing from behind. She half debated escaping to a secondrow seat, but that wasn’t what Grace Leanne had wanted. The play began, and Susan had no idea what it was about. Sure, the Thespians were speaking and playing their roles well, incredibly so with real emotions, but Susan could not focus on the exact words coming out of their mouths. She could only look at them, as they appeared before her. She found even more positive qualities now, when given time to examine them so closely. She saw that Roland did have a wonderful head of dark brown hair underneath his hat. It was beautifully combed back in an aristocratic fashion, and it gleamed under the bright glow of the full moon. Rosaline had a beautiful mouth, and that mouth formed the most pleasing shapes. At one point her mouth formed a perfect O, and Susan was bewitched by the awe that Rosaline was pretending to portray. Laurence, she realized, did not have a feline smile. He more so had the smile of a fox, if foxes could smile. It was not an unfriendly smile, but the warmth of it was lessened by the natural cunning that came through. Ed was gold. It was the only adjective that Susan kept circling back to every time she looked at him—his hair, his skin, his smile, and the way he spoke were all perfect personifications of gold. But all the other Thespians melted away when Grace Leanne stepped onto the stage. Her auburn hair was swept thickly over one shoulder, and Susan wondered what it would be like to run her fingers through that fiery hair. Grace Leanne was an angel on Earth, a superior being. She strode to the front of the stage, addressing the audience in her musically compelling voice. “I want to thank you all for being such a dedicated audience. We struggled for a long time with finding an audience that was consistent, that could always be trusted—and we found that audience in you, Peach Hollow Grove. Our play is a tragedy, but you all…” Grace Leanne smiled. It was not the smile that Susan had seen earlier that day. This 20 Archives After Dark
smile was beautiful in the way ice was beautiful. The smile was sharp and lupine. It howled. “You all have made our lives the performance of a lifetime.” From there, everything happened so fast. The Thespians moved from the stage to the audience, and they changed. Their hair became gray and thin. Wrinkles spread across their skin, so deeply entrenched that the wrinkles were more like canyons cutting through rock formations. Their strong hands curled inwards and sharpened, becoming claws. Their spines curved, hunched inwards as if the Thespians were attempting to disappear into themselves. The residents of Peach Hollow Grove sat transfixed—waiting. Susan had thought she was the only one being hypnotized, but the whole town had been pulled under the Thespians’ spell. One by one, the Thespians went to every audience member. Susan turned in her chair to watch—she was capable of that much. Otherwise she felt numbed, as if she had been left in a snowdrift for so long, she was no longer cold. Roland grabbed Old Man Tackett by his jaw, sharply, and clucked his tongue. “This seems to be your last show, old timer. Thank you, for all that you’ve given to us.” Roland tilted Tackett’s head back, moving the old man’s head to look as if he were staring at the stars. Roland pried open Tackett’s mouth, opening it wide, like Roland was planning to inspect the state of Tackett’s dentures. Roland then opened his own mouth, and his jaw unhinged. It lowered, and lowered, and lowered, until his jaw hung down to his midchest in a ghastly expression. Susan couldn’t decide if he looked more like he was laughing or screaming. Something dark began to emerge from Tackett’s mouth. It was thick and black, undulating out slowly. It had a sheen like oil, like glimmering rainbow scales in the night. Susan had never seen an octopus before— she had only seen pictures of them in magazines—but she imagined this darkness moved rather like an octopus’s tentacle. The tentacle, for lack of a better term, moved up until it began to enter Roland’s mouth. Roland hollowed his gaping mouth to the shape of an enormous O, and he began sucking like he was slurping a milkshake through a straw. The tentacle began to flow more quickly then, and in moments, the flow stopped. Old Man Tackett slumped out of his chair, falling to the dirt. It was clear he was dead—but he looked peaceful. As if he had died in his sleep. Susan saw Rosaline pull open her father’s mouth, and she saw Archives After Dark
Laurence pull open her mother’s. As the tentacles began to unspool from her parents’ mouths, she realized she could see more gray coming into her father’s hair, and she saw the wrinkles in her mother’s neck deepen. They looked ten years older in a moment. Rosaline and Laurence both abruptly snapped their jaws shut, cutting off the tentacles mid-stream. Rosaline and Laurence did not want to take all her parents’ lives right now, and Susan dimly felt grateful. She saw Ed yank John Matthew’s mouth open maliciously. Ed seemed to take pleasure in draining John Matthew, and he waited a little longer before snapping off John Matthew’s tentacle. John Matthew went from a robust eighteen-year-old to a more withered thirty-year-old. Susan felt pleasure, too, as much as she could feel things, and if it were possible for Ed to smile with his gaping jaw, he seemed to smile right at her. When Grace Leanne appeared in front of Susan, Susan was again entranced but in an entirely different way. Grace Leanne by far looked the most ancient. Her hair was sparse and all but gone, and her skin looked so wrinkled and worn that Susan feared it would crumble away if she tried to touch it—not that she had the presence of mind to lift her arm, or the courage to touch Grace Leanne without the other being’s permission. Susan wasn’t sure when Grace Leanne had gone from being a woman to a being in her mind, but it must’ve been around the same time Susan noticed that Grace Leanne’s jaw hung lower than all the rest. Her eyes were unchangingly dark. Grace Leanne reached out with her gnarled hand and stroked Susan’s chin. The hand felt like parchment that had been crumpled and stomped on, but Susan still felt that electric thrill of being touched by Grace Leanne. Even with her changed appearance, Grace Leanne sounded the same when she spoke. “This is the last time, my love. After this, you will be ready.” Grace Leanne began to slowly, implacably, tilt Susan’s head back. Susan’s view slowly shifted from Grace Leanne’s gaping jaw, to her paralyzing gaze, to the night sky. If it weren’t for the stars glittering among the black, Susan could’ve believed she was still looking into Grace Leanne’s eyes. She was afraid, but the fear was dwarfed by acceptance— this was for Grace Leanne. It was all for Grace Leanne. The most ancient being leaned over Susan and began to inhale. As Susan started to feel something thick and viscous worm its way up her throat, everything in her world went dark. The color of Grace Leanne’s eyes.
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Susan awoke the next morning to strong sunlight streaming through her window, cutting through her flimsy white curtains. Her room was already quite warm, and she was made warmer by her two sheets pulled over top of her, all the way up to her chin. The room still smelled of rotting flowers, but the smell was not as invasive—it floated unassumingly, making its presence known without being loud. Susan slowly sat up and looked around dully, trying to place herself. She was in her room, yes, of course—but she felt exhausted. She had never felt more drained in all her life. When had she gone to bed the night before? It must have been late, but she could not for the life of her remember when she had gotten home. In fact, she could not even remember what had kept her out so late. She could only remember a night sky without stars, a night sky that had swallowed her whole. She swung herself out of bed and looked down, noting she was dressed in a flimsy white lace nightgown. It didn’t seem to fit her as well as she remembered; it was shorter and tighter. She stumbled to the mirror and took in her appearance. Her hair was no longer tied up with blue ribbon—her black curls writhed wildly around her face, almost seeming to float. She was pale, so pale her freckles stood out in stark relief with the rest of her skin. Her eyes were bluer than usual, and bloodshot. Her body curved more, somehow, than she remembered. Where her figure had once been a straight line, it now appeared to move in and out like the shape of a winding path or an hourglass. She looked like a beautiful and downtrodden wraith, sentenced to haunt her own home. She faintly smelled bacon, and stumbled downstairs, wanting nothing more than to stuff herself with food. Perhaps there had been a storm in the night that had kept everyone else up—her mother and father looked haggard, too. But looking out at the grass, there was no dew, no sign of mud or rainfall anywhere. Susan shook her head and slid into her chair, watching anxiously as her mother continued to slide the bacon around in the frying pan. “Ma, Pa, what day is it?” Susan asked. It became imperative to know what day it was, if only because she couldn’t seem to remember. “It’s….” Pa trailed off, looking at her questioningly. “You know, I can’t quite recall right now. Funny the things that slip your mind.” “Oh. Well, I s’pose I can check when I go to Tackett’s today.” Her mother paused briefly while getting the plates down, and her father frowned, clearing his throat. “Actually, honey, Old Man Tackett passed on last night, so Tackett’s General Store will be closed today.” “Oh.” Susan was sure she was meant to be surprised, but she Archives After Dark
wasn’t. “Maybe… I think I might’ve dreamed that last night. That he died. How… How did he die?” “In his sleep, apparently. He looked peaceful, or so said Dolly anyway.” Susan nodded. “I think that’s how he went in my dream, too.” Her mother turned to serve the bacon, when there was a knock on the front door. The three family members looked at one another, startled. Visitors were common in Peach Hollow Grove—the town basically lived on an open-door policy—but most folks knew to at least wait until after breakfast to make visits. “It’s open!” Her father called gruffly, glaring at the entryway, already prepared to give whoever it was a good scolding. Those scolds died on his tongue, however, when Roland Hardy stepped through the entryway, with Rosaline and Grace Leanne in tow. They were even more enchanting than Susan seemed to remember, and even then, her past pictures of them were fuzzy. When had she last seen them? How had she ever forgotten them? Especially Grace Leanne. “Good morning, you all. I’m so sorry about the early hour, but we have to be on the road sooner rather than later, and it will take a little longer than usual since we’re picking up Susan and her things and all.” “Whoa, whoa—picking up Susan? Her things? What in the hell are you talking about?” Susan’s father growled, launching up from his chair to stand. Roland did not appear at all concerned at the aggressive behavior—his brow furrowed only slightly. “Why, sir, what we discussed the last time the Thespians and I were in Peach Hollow Grove. That we would love for Susan to have the chance to become a Thespian, travel with our group? That next time we came to town, we would retrieve her and her things? Surely, sir, you remember? You’re a smart man, after all.” Roland and Susan’s father held eye contact for a moment before Susan’s father looked down, appearing bewildered. He scratched at the gray stubble on his jaw and muttered, “Well… Yes, I guess I do recall somethin’ like that last time y’all came to town… But that was years ago! Or… Only a few weeks…” Susan’s father looked at Roland uncertainly. Roland just smiled. Susan’s father finally grunted and sank back down into his chair. “Well. My apologies for… Gettin’ upset. The day must’ve slipped my mind.” “Oh, goodness, and I don’t have Susan at all packed!” Susan’s mother wailed, setting down the plate of bacon. “I am so sorry; the day must’ve slipped my mind, too—” “Dear, dear, don’t fret!” Rosaline soothed, stepping forward to grab 24 Archives After Dark
both of Susan’s mother’s hands in her own. “We have time. Roland and your husband will talk, I will help you gather Susan’s things, and Grace Leanne will take Susan out to the carriage. You three already said your goodbyes, after all, only moments ago.” Rosaline and Susan’s mother held gazes for another interminable minute before Susan’s mother, also seeming bewildered, replied, “Yes… Why yes, we did. Thank you so much for helping me, really, you are so kind…” And she continued to babble in that fashion as Rosaline shooed her up the stairs. Susan hardly had time to process before Grace Leanne took her hand. They were halfway down the hall when Susan dug in her heels, bringing Grace Leanne to a halt. “W-Wait,” she stuttered. She felt rude in doing anything against Grace Leanne’s will, especially since Grace Leanne was holding her hand, but Susan was overwhelmed. “When were you last here—years ago or a week? When did I agree to come with you all? I haven’t said goodbye to my parents and… My dreams from last night, I…” Susan swallowed around a lump in her throat. “Were my dreams just dreams?” Grace Leanne smiled, tugging Susan close until their lips met. The kiss was sweet, warm, and left Susan’s lips tingling. As they pulled apart, Susan felt a fresh rush of energy, enough that her eyelids no longer felt heavy. “My love, there is so much for you to learn. But there is time. Plenty of time. Come, we must leave now, if we are to have the full week to teach you.” Grace Leanne turned to tug Susan down the hall, but once again Susan dug in her heels. “Wait, I’m—I’m still in my pajamas,” Susan protested. Grace Leanne turned around and smiled an ever-patient smile. It was the smile of a mother teaching a toddler to walk. There was no anger, only joy in being able to watch the child learn. “My sweet, you will sleep the whole way home. It will be the last time you ever need sleep again.” There was a moment where Susan and Grace Leanne looked into each other’s eyes, and if Susan had not been in love with Grace Leanne before that moment, she fell in love with Grace Leanne right then. Susan smiled and nodded and followed Grace Leanne out the door. As Susan walked out the door, her eyes noticeably became a shade darker.
Archives After Dark
The Witching Hour
Jessica Brandenburg, EKU Undergraduate Student
Passenger Train Crash, undated | Virginia N. Parrish Papers
Author Statement I am an English major with double minors in Anthropology and Broadcasting/ Electronic Media from Waco, Kentucky. I mostly read and write fantasy, science fiction, or supernatural stories. Iâ€™m that person who absolutely loves anything out of the ordinary, because the idea of the fantastical really intrigues me. For my Archives After Dark work, which was inspired by an image of a passenger train crash, I was influenced by authors like Cassandra Clare and V.E. Schwab, and the book How to Hang a Witch. While writing this story, I learned that researching can take a bit longer, especially if youâ€™re searching for specifics, such as whether steam engine trains are still used or what a dead body smells like.
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The Witching Hour Penelope Stewart—Penn to her friends—sat unclothed with her legs crossed in a circle of lit candles, calling on the Goddess. “Goddess,” she said in a slow whisper, “I call on you now in this circle of light, as the sun slopes low along the horizon and brings you forth. I call on you to ask you for a favor of peace from this ailment that controls my mind and heart every waking day.” A tear rolled down Penn’s face as she thought of her parents and their brutal passing just two years ago. When she was sixteen, she had just begun to delve into the world of Wicca, and was practicing one night when her mother nearly walked in and caught her. At her mother’s tap on her door, Penn quickly blew out the candles, jumped up and threw on her robe, and rushed to squeeze around the door, telling her mother her room was “a wreck,” and begging her “don’t tell Dad, or he’ll never let me go to tonight’s homecoming game.” Penn still remembers how her mother giggled, and, with a quick wink, said, “well, I can’t tell him it’s a wreck if I don’t see that it’s a wreck, can I?” That was the last conversation she would have with her mom. Penn returned to her room and got ready for the homecoming game without ever realizing that she’d accidentally knocked over three candles, which were not fully extinguished and promptly rolled under her bed—exactly where the fire investigators would place the nexus of the fire that took her parents’ lives. Penn stopped practicing for a year due to the pain and guilt it brought her, but returned to her practice after being hospitalized for dehydration and malnourishment—she’d stopped eating or drinking for a period following her parents’ deaths. Penn’s prognosis was not good when she was admitted, and, during the first days of her stay in the hospital, Penn felt like she was going to die. She made what she feared was one last call to the Goddess to help her, and the Goddess had mercy and spared her. When she returned to Wicca, Penn found that practicing naked felt comfortable. In a way, she was offering herself as raw and real to her Goddess. This made her feel as if the Goddess could simply reach into her soul and take the pain away. Little by little, Penn began to accept the Goddess into her soul and the hurt was slowly dissipating. She was awakened from her thoughts by a knocking at the front door upstairs. “Thank thee, Goddess, for sparing me. You are great.” Penn blew out the candles around her and put on her robe. ———————————————————————————— At Southridge High School in Carson City, Nevada, another young witch sat in the back of the library with a large book titled A History of Spellwork and Archives After Dark
Witchcraft. An exchange student from Spain, Veronica Torres stayed with a host family that was never home and didn’t pay attention to her, anyway. She had only started practicing witchcraft after she met Penelope and Suzan at the start of her second semester at Southridge last year, but Wicca soon became an obsession. Penelope, who was in the same year as Veronica, introduced her to Suzan, who was two grades below them. Penelope and Veronica were seniors, but they quickly became inseparable from Suzan. “Witchcraft? That’s a new one.” Veronica jumped a bit before she looked up and realized the voice only came from Lewis Campbell, one of her closest friends. “Oh, my goodness, you scared me! You must not sneak up on me like that, dear Lewis,” Veronica’s Spanish accent was clear, but her English had been slowly getting better since the start of last year. She was thankful for her teachers in Spain, who had been teaching their students English. Lewis smiled and sat down next to Veronica. His black hair fell in front of his face, and he was doing his best to sweep it out of the way so he could look at her and the book. “Mind if I take a look?” he held out his hand expectantly. Veronica sighed and reluctantly handed the book over. Lewis flipped through, interest showing on his face. “Why the sudden interest in witchcraft? It seems super cool, but why?” Veronica shrugged. “I am doing research for a project in my World Religions class.” She hated having to lie, but it was hard to tell Lewis about her hobby. “Ah, I see. You’re secretly wondering if all those people who were burned at the stake during the Salem Witch Trials could actually do some witchy shit, huh?” Veronica’s mouth dropped and she slapped him on the shoulder. “Lewis! No cursing! You know I dislike it very much.” “Sorry,” he smirked, “I forget.” Veronica stood up and grabbed her backpack. “I think I am going to head home. I will see you tomorrow, Lewis.” Lewis waved to Veronica without looking her way because he was too busy reading the book. As soon as Veronica left, he got up and took the book to the circulation desk. The librarian looked at the title and frowned, but scanned the book anyway. “Witchcraft? Really, Lewis?” Lewis shrugged. “It’s for a research project in my World Religions class.” He took the book and walked home. ———————————————————————————— Suzan Hughes went by Suz to most of her friends. She was sixteen, two years younger than her best friend Penn, but that didn’t bother her too 28 Archives After Dark
much. Mostly, she was frustrated that she didn’t really know how to drive yet and only had her learner’s permit. Suz hated taking the bus to school, so Penn usually drove her, sometimes even giving her driving lessons, but it was agony being the only one out of your closest friends who couldn’t drive. She felt like trying to drive today, and since it was 4:00 p.m., it would be the perfect time—before it turned to rush hour and traffic got horrible. Suz made the short walk to Penn’s grandparent’s house a few houses down and knocked. She knew to wait a few minutes in case Penn was in the basement like she was nearly every day around this time. Suz remembered the first time she had witnessed Penn performing her daily ritual. Suz was in her room doing homework and got up to get a snack when she noticed an odd amount of light coming from the house next door. From her second-floor bedroom, Suz had an unobstructed view of a girl sitting naked in the middle of a circle of candles. The girl must have felt Suz’s stare, because her own gaze shifted suddenly to the window. This was two years ago, when Suz was only fourteen and before Penn’s parents had died. Penn came over to Suz’s house the very next day and implored Suz not to tell anyone about what she had seen, but Suz hadn’t planned on telling anyone anyway. She was, however, curious what Penn was doing. So, Penn taught Suz a little bit of what she knew, but after Penn’s parents died, Suz hadn’t really thought about it again. A little over a year later, after she got out of the hospital, Penn told Suz that she had started practicing again; soon, Suz began joining Penn. Oftentimes their rituals don’t call for anything serious. The only remotely awful thing that happened was that Penn cut off a lock of Suz’s blonde hair and a lock of her own dark brown hair as an offering to the Goddess. Penn emerged from the basement and opened the door, wearing her usual fuzzy dark blue robe, cigarette in hand. “Well, well,” Penn said. “Come on in, fam.” Suz walked into Penn’s house and coughed a bit from the smoke, but it wasn’t anything she wasn’t used to from the occasional fire pits they made in Penn’s backyard to burn small tokens, usually just trash, as offerings to the Goddess. Penn stopped at the door for a second and peered outside. “Suz, come here.” “What is it?” Suz asked while making her way to the door. Penn pointed across the street to Veronica’s friend Lewis’s house. “Is he staring at us? What is he doing?” “I’m not sure. Ow!” Suz clutched her hand as she felt a shock of pain move through it. It burned like fire for a moment and then dissipated quickly. Penn grabbed her hand and checked it. Archives After Dark
“Are you okay? What happened?” She looked out the door across the street at Lewis, but he was no longer at his window. “I think it was Lewis. I saw him holding a book and it looked like he was chanting something. I always knew he was weird. Do you think he’s a warlock?” “I’m not sure, but we should tell Veronica.” “Oh no, she’ll be devastated. Let’s just wait till tomorrow to tell her at school so she can go talk to him. Plus, I wanna drive. Can you take me for a driving lesson?” “Ugh, right now?” Penn sighed. “Fine, let me go get changed.” ———————————————————————————— The girls planned to talk to Veronica the next day. Once they made it to school, they met up with Veronica at Penn’s locker as they did every morning. “Hey, ‘Ron, we have something to tell you, and you probably won’t like it. It’s about Lewis.” Thankfully, Suz started the conversation so Penn didn’t have to. “All right,” she raised an eyebrow. “What about him? Penn and Suz looked at each other. “Is he a warlock and you didn’t tell us?” “What?” Veronica gasped. “Why on earth would you think that? If he were a warlock and I knew, I would have mentioned it to the two of you and you know this.” She furrowed her brows. “We know, ‘Ron,” started Suz. “Don’t call me that,” said Veronica. “You know I hate it.” Penn rolled her eyes. “Yeah, yeah. Anyway, we saw him staring at us through his window yesterday, and Suz said it looked like he was chanting or something. It was just creepy...that is until Suz had pain shoot through her hand all of a sudden. Then, when I looked back, Lewis was gone.” Veronica crossed her arms and tilted her head back in annoyance. “Lewis would not do such a thing. You must have had some sort of muscle spasm. It was not Lewis, I would know.” “Are you sure?” Suz asked. “Yes,” she spun on her heel. “Veronica,” Penn yelled. “I know he was there for you, but we were, too, you know, when you tried to-” Veronica stormed back towards them. “That is nobody’s business! I do not care if everyone here already knows about what happened. This is not something to share.” 30 Archives After Dark
“Don’t pretend like it didn’t happen. When you were about to walk in front of that truck, we saved you. We’ve tried to help you as much as we can ever since, because you deserve so much more than what you’ve had at your host family’s house.” “And Lewis has been a great friend, as well, who was there for me well before you girls were. If you will excuse me,” she pushed past them to go see Lewis. ———————————————————————————— Veronica made her way to the library to find Lewis and talk to him about what the girls had said. She was very upset and could not believe they would accuse him of such things, but she also had doubts. Her friend was odd, this was true, but when she first came to America, things were not so great. She had been bullied immensely by those who believed she should “go back to where she belonged,” as they said. Veronica had always been the type to hide inside herself due to her anxiety. Lewis was anxious like her, but he fidgeted much more and had an even harder time talking to people than she did. Veronica had no reason to suspect Lewis was a warlock, but...his taste did tend toward dark oddities, like that “death metal” music that was always blaring through his headphones. His oddities made him a frequent target of the very same bullies as Veronica. It was this bullying that had influenced Veronica to sit with Lewis after the lunch table he chose one day emptied as soon as he sat down. They’d been friends ever since. Penn and Suz thought Lewis was “into her,” and that he was too clingy sometimes, but Veronica was sure it was just because he was lonely like she was before she met Penn and Suz. Lewis was at a table at the back of the library, reading the book Veronica had been reading the day before. That was definitely odd. “Hello, Lewis,” she said as she sat down across from him on the other side of the table. “Doing a bit of light reading, I see, and with the same book I was reading for my class.” “I know, it was just so intriguing. I wanted to read more.” Lewis closed the book. “You can check it out, though, if you still need it. You didn’t take it with you yesterday so I wasn’t sure.” “It’s fine, Lewis. I actually needed to talk to you about something.” Lewis came around the table to sit next to Veronica. “I’m all ears. What’s up?” Veronica sighed. “You Americans and your expressions that do not make sense. Well, Suzan and Penelope-” Lewis did the unthinkable. He leaned over and kissed Veronica. Archives After Dark
She hadn’t expected that at all, and she immediately pushed him away and raised her eyebrows. Veronica loved her friend, but not in a romantic way. She definitely wasn’t very attracted to him. Veronica loved Lewis as if he were a brother because of the way he seemed to want to protect and take care of her. “Lewis,” she breathed, “please do not do that. I do not feel the way that you do.” Lewis curled his lip in anger. “Are you serious? You flirt with me, you hang out with me nearly every day, you sit with me at lunch, and are there for me when no one else is, and you’re telling me you don’t love me or have feelings for me at all?” “Oh, Lewis,” tears began to stream down Veronica’s face. “I do love you, you know that better than I, but I do not feel romantic love towards you. You are incredibly kind to me, but I am just not right for you.” “Liar! You don’t love me,” he stormed out. Veronica cried, and as people began to stare at her in the aftermath of what Lewis had yelled, she ran to find her friends. Suz and Penn were outside on the front steps of Penn’s house, and they looked down the street when they heard the sound of Veronica’s footfalls on the pavement. Both girls assumed Veronica was just going to walk by them, as they thought she was still angry about their earlier argument about Lewis. When she came to stand in front of them, they saw her tears. “I need you, my friends. I have had a terrible day and request some sort of ice cream for comfort.” Penn and Suz stood up, wrapped their arms around Veronica’s shoulders, and walked her inside Penn’s house. “And I’ve got just the right one.” Veronica half laughed. “Oh, dear. Please tell me it is cookie dough.” “It is.” After a few hours of watching movies and filling their stomachs with ice cream, an emergency news alert came on the TV. There had been a train crash near Carson City. ———————————————————————————— When Lewis got home, he slammed his bedroom door shut and slung his backpack across the room, knocking over his metal CDs, as he cried out in rage and agony over not being able to be with the girl he loved. Lewis didn’t think he had ever been in so much pain. He sat on his bed crying and clutching his forehead with his elbow on his knee. As he agonized, Lewis looked over and saw the contents of his backpack strewn across his bedroom floor. One book caught his eye—the book on witchcraft. Lewis picked up the book, then let it fall open into his lap, landing on random 32 Archives After Dark
page. The book opened on a short biography of a suspected witch named Jenalyn Doyle. She was an Irish immigrant who moved to Gold Hill in hopes of starting a better life, but was ultimately tortured by men who disagreed with a foreigner being in America. In the course of torturing Jenalyn Doyle, the men found her Grimoire—her book of spells. Disturbed by the strange and powerful spells they found inside, the men killed Jenalyn and buried her in an unmarked grave in Gold Oak Cemetery with her Grimoire, in hopes that nobody would find it and try to use it. Lewis admired this woman he was reading about very much, and flipped through the book in an attempt to find more about her. Not finding anything, he decided to grab a train ticket on the V&T to Gold Hill and search for her grave. Once he made it to Gold Hill, Lewis had difficulty finding Gold Oak cemetery. He hadn’t been in this city before, despite it being a short distance and, thus, a quick train ride, but he didn’t actively make trips out of his home other than school. But this was a special occasion. After a couple hours of frantic searching, Lewis finally found the cemetery, but since it was during the day there were people around. He realized he would have to wait until dark for what he planned to do. At around 9:30 p.m., the cemetery gates were closed and to the public. There didn’t seem to be any security, so Lewis made his way over to the gate and threw his backpack over. A shovel handle stuck out slightly. As he climbed up and over the gate and landed on the ground, Lewis looked around. Nobody. He was all alone in a graveyard full of dead bodies. He shivered, but felt an adrenaline rush at the same time. Lewis spent the next half hour in the dark, searching for that unmarked grave. He finally found a spot of soil that seemed to give slightly when he pushed his foot against it. Someone had taken the liberty to put a rock there and nothing more, and he believed he had the right spot. He took a heavy, shaky breath and nodded his head to himself. “You can do this.” He took the shovel from his backpack and began digging. ———————————————————————————— After about two hours of digging, Lewis felt like giving up, but then the shovel hit something hard and made a bit of a thudding noise. Lewis used the shovel to scrape away dirt, revealing a dirty wooden coffin. He almost wanted to yell “Yes!” but remembered he was trespassing in a graveyard, and yelling might not be a great idea. Lewis felt a sudden and overwhelming anxiety come over him at the thought of seeing a dead body, even one that had been dead for over two and a half centuries. He pushed out his chest and whispered, “You can do this. It’s just a skeleton.” He bent down and felt for the edges of the lid and lifted up. Archives After Dark
The smell was the first thing he noticed. It was horrible. It smelled like someone had passed a lot of gas as well as dumped a dirty litter box into the mess. It smelled like old people and rotting wood. It wasn’t a very good smell. Then he saw the dead body. He was right, it was just a skeleton, but her hair was still there. He didn’t really expect her hair to still be there. In her hands was a book. The Grimoire. Now he’d just have to figure out how to get it out of her hands. He reached down and, while trying not to gag from the odor, he carefully began to pry her skeletal fingers away from the Grimoire. It was working. Until a finger broke off. “Oh no,” he groaned aloud. Lewis laid the skeletal finger on the dead woman’s stomach area and continued prying. Thankfully, Lewis managed to only break off three fingers. He felt pretty proud of himself. Now holding the Grimoire, Lewis flipped through it. It was full of such intricate and interesting spells, but much of it seemed like very dark spellwork. This lady was no joke. Lewis nearly gave up on finding the spell he was hoping for when he happened upon the Necromancy spell. He grinned. He stepped out of the grave and began chanting the spell. Nothing happened. He chanted again. Nothing. He tried one more time, and then he heard what sounded like bones cracking. Lewis peered down into the grave. The skeleton of Jenalyn Doyle was slowly beginning to move, her bones cracking as a hand reached up. Lewis stumbled back, falling onto the ground. The hand dug its fingers into the ground, even though it was missing one, and pulled its owner up and out of the grave, sitting shock still for a brief moment before grabbing for the Grimoire still clutched in Lewis’s hands. He wouldn’t let it go, and the skeleton fell backwards. The skeleton held up its hand and beckoned with one crooked, skeletal finger. Lewis tentatively crawled near and the finger pointed at the Grimoire. Lewis looked down at the book and back at the skeleton. He reached out to give the book back to the skeleton, who snatched it from his outstretched hands. The skeletal hand flew through the pages and stopped at one, then turned the book toward Lewis, pointing to a page that said “Beauty.” “You need me to say this spell?” he asked. The skeleton nodded and pointed again. Lewis began chanting the spell, and as he was doing so, the skeleton rose to its full height and began to change. The bones began to grow muscles, then skin, then the hair and clothes fixed themselves. Once he was done, there was a fully formed woman in front of Lewis. This. This was Jenalyn Doyle. “Aye,” she announced, “it’s been a long time since I’ve been in this body and looked like myself. Tell me, boy, how do I look?” she asked.
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“You look beautiful, my lady.” “Of course I do, lad. I don’t need a boy to tell me that. Now, tell me, why did you summon me?” He gulped. “I want revenge.” “Ah, yes, don’t we all, dearie? And whom do you seek revenge against?” “My friend Veronica. I’m in love with her and I kissed her, but she rejected me.” Jenalyn put her hands on her hips. “Of course, you boys don’t know when to take no for an answer. Let’s go to her, then, shall we?” ———————————————————————————— Jenalyn and Lewis sat on the V&T train on the way back to Carson City. Lewis’s blood was pumping; he was excited to get back at Veronica. “She’s going to wish she never met me. I want her to suffer for daring to say no to me.” Jenalyn raised an eyebrow and looked his way. “Excuse me, boy, but I don’t think anyone has to say yes to you.” “If they don’t want my wrath, then they do.” Jenalyn rolled her eyes. “Oh, please.” With a flick of her wrist, the train jerked and started to turn. The other passengers began to panic and scream. Soon, the train started tilting and Lewis could see that it was going to flip over. “What are you doing?” he demanded. “Stop this!” “Why, because of your wrath?” Jenalyn laid her fingers at Lewis’s neck and snapped it with a quick turn. As the train tilted further, shifting dangerously close to an oncoming train, Jenalyn jumped out the window. As she walked away the train righted itself, narrowly avoiding a head-on collision with the other train. “Oh, dear.” Jenalyn flicked her wrist and both trains flipped. A wicked grin fell across her face. “What wrath?” ———————————————————————————— That night, as the names of the dead began to be released on the news, the girls held Veronica in their arms while she cried, distraught and desperate to breathe. Lewis had died on that train, and Veronica wasn’t even sure why on earth he was on that train in the first place. Lewis never went anywhere; he was an introvert like her. She didn’t understand. The trio skipped school the next day; Penn and Suz sat in the living room watching That 70s Show, while Veronica laid in the floor of her room after asking to be left alone. “Do you think she’s gonna be okay, Penn?” asked Suz. Archives After Dark
“I don’t really know. She just lost a friend. She’s going to be pretty messed up for a while.” “Yeah. I’m not entirely sure why he got on that train either. And the way it crashed is so weird, it’s almost like-” The front door burst open with a loud bang. A woman in a faded beige dress stepped through. “Was someone about to say witchcraft?” Suz screamed and Penn heard running footsteps. Veronica was coming. “Veronica, stay back in your room! Don’t come out here!” “Oh, Veronica, eh?” mused the woman. “Dear Veronica, come out darling. Your lad Lewis had much to say about you, and none of it good. I actually came to admire you. You stood your ground in front of him. But can you stand your ground in front of someone like me?” The woman began to walk back into the hall to find Veronica. Penn yelled, “Who are you?” The woman replied, “I’m Jenalyn Doyle, dearie. You must have heard of me.” Penn started chanting a spell to release towards this Doyle woman, but her words were cut short by Jenalyn’s hand on her throat. “Nice try, wench.” Jenalyn’s grip squeezed tighter but then she stopped all of a sudden. She furrowed her brows. “Why do you look a tad like me?” Suz used this moment of weakness to chant a quick sleeping spell and the witch let go of Penn’s neck and slumped to the ground. Penn fell to her knees and coughed, breathing heavily to get some air into her lungs. Suz grabbed a bottle of water, lifted it to Penn’s mouth, and watched her drink. Veronica came around the corner slowly. “Is the coast clear?” She saw Jenalyn’s sleeping figure on the ground. “Oh.” ———————————————————————————— Jenalyn’s arms and legs were bound behind her with rope. Penn, Suz, and Veronica were dragging her out into the woods, Penn with her Grimoire in one hand. She planned to do a spell to reverse necromancy, and it required burying the reanimated person alive. If the person crawls out, they must be burned. If they don’t crawl out, they’re back to being dead forever. Penn’s favorite spot in the woods was a little clearing where she buried her cat Fluffy when she was thirteen, and where she now planned to bury one of the most powerful witches, according to the Internet sources about her and the fact that she crashed a train and killed Veronica’s friend. When they finally made it to the clearing, the girls began digging a hole. Penn said another sleeping spell to make sure Jenalyn Doyle would be asleep long enough for Penn to cast the necessary spell. The spell called for a six-foot grave, but the girls decided that four feet would have to 36 Archives After Dark
suffice, because...well, if you need to get rid of someone quickly, you can’t waste time. The girls rolled Jenalyn Doyle’s bound, sleeping body into her new grave, and Penn opened the Grimoire to the spell she planned to use. “Are we ready?” she asked her friends. “Ready,” they responded. As soon as Penn shouted the first three words, a burst of light shot out from the freshly dug grave. Jenalyn rose up, sloughing off her bindings. “You really thought a sleeping spell would hold me for very long?” She shook her index finger. “No, no. Even two or three wouldn’t be able to hold me as long as one should.” She saw Veronica and smiled. “It’s a shame your boy wanted revenge on you for saying no, but you’ll definitely make a good sacrifice to the Goddess.” Jenalyn wiggled her fingers and Veronica fell to the ground. Jenalyn scooped Veronica up and began to walk away, carrying the girl in her arms. Penn and Suz tried to get to Veronica, but Jenalyn simply shook her head and both witch and girl disappeared. ———————————————————————————— Back at Gold Oak Cemetery, Veronica was propped up against a tree with her head down, asleep. Jenalyn dragged Veronica’s limp body to an open space a few feet from the tree, and then sliced Veronica’s wrists with the knife she’d swiped from the boy Lewis. Jenalyn lifted Veronica up, spread the girl’s arms, and began walking in a circle so that Veronica’s blood created a circle on the ground. Once the blood circle was finished, Jenalyn laid Veronica down in the middle of the circle. “O, Goddess,” she begins, “I call to thee. I am here alive on earth once again, here to offer you a token of my gratitude for allowing me to return to this world. Hear me!” She makes a cut in her own wrist and makes another smaller circle inside the one surrounding Veronica. “Stop!” A familiar voice rang out from behind her. “You can’t sacrifice our friend!” Jenalyn bit her lip and smirked as she turned around to face them. “You’re too late, dearies. I only have one step left to complete. You can’t stop me now.” She began to turn back to Veronica. “Oh, yes we can,” said Suz. “Hey, Jenalyn, remember how you said we look alike? Well, turns out my mother’s maiden name was Doyle. Crazy, right? Anyways, so I kinda found out something. According to your Grimoire, which I read earlier when you were under the sleeping spell, I am just as powerful as you—I’m a Doyle descendant, therefore your blood runs through my veins. And with my friend here,” she nodded to Suz, “I’m even more powerful. Now, Suz!” The girls began chanting a spell together and held out their hands as blue Archives After Dark
beams of light shot out towards Jenalyn. She screamed in agony. “No!” A red beam burst from Jenalyn’s chest and hit both of the girls, knocking them backwards. “You’ve made me very angry, and you will not stop me!” She grabbed the knife from the ground and quickly cut Veronica’s throat. The girls cried out. “Veronica, no!” It was too late. The blood ran from Veronica’s throat and she gurgled in her sleep. Behind her, as the girls were screaming for their friend, Jenalyn stood facing the circle and looked up to the sky. “Goddess, hear me now! Accept my sacrifice!” A loud rumbling came from the ground. An angry voice rained down from above. “YOU. KILLED. ONE. OF. MY. CHILDREN.” The voice of the Goddess boomed. “Yes, Goddess, as an offering for you! I am also your child!” “YOU. ARE. NOTHING.” A blue beam pierced the sky, shooting through Penn—she felt her blood boiling and screamed as the power being sent to her from the Goddess ran through her, reverberating intensely through her veins. Suz stood back, far away from Penn in fear of being hit with the light. It shot out of Penn’s body and hit Jenalyn, who immediately pulverized into dust. As soon as Jenalyn died, the power immediately ran out and Penn slumped to the ground. Suz dropped to her knees next to Penn and shook her, trying to wake her up. “Come on, Penn,” she cried. “I just lost Veronica, I can’t lose you, too.” Penn slowly came to and Suz hugged her tightly. “Please don’t leave me.” “You officially just took the default spot as my best friend,” Penn whispered hoarsely. “Leaving isn’t an option.” Suz looked at Penn with glossy eyes, then to her dead friend in the charred blood circle. “We need to give her a proper burial. She shouldn’t have died this way.” “Lewis shouldn’t have, either. But at least we can give her a burial.” The girls took their friend to the clearing in the forest, placed her in the grave originally dug for Jenalyn, and covered her over with dirt. Penn took Suz’s hand. “Let’s call to the Goddess for Veronica.” Suz nodded. “Can I do it?” “Of course,” Penn closed her eyes and lifted her head. “I call to you Goddess for the loss of our dear friend, Veronica Torres. I ask you to take care of her, and watch over her as she walks with 38 Archives After Dark
you. You are all mighty and all powerful. Please keep her safe. Thank you for your kindness and all that you provide for us.” The friends opened their eyes. They felt a weight lifted, and a new light come upon the day. “She is safe,” said Penn, “she is with the Goddess now.”
Archives After Dark
Ten Percent Human
Maja Bursac, EKU Undergraduate Student
Madison County Coronerâ€™s Report, September 19, 1936 | Madison County, Kentucky Court Records 40 Archives After Dark
Author Statement I’m an English major with a knack for writing poetry. For this piece, however, I felt a letter would be more appropriate and hard-hitting because I wanted my final product to reflect a personal relationship between the murdered woman and her attacker. I love writing dark, twisted stories because they always leave me with something to think about. There’s just something that intrigues me about reading or writing something that leaves me cold or sad. I remember feeling those emotions more than I do happiness, so the impact is greater. While I may not always understand those ideas or emotions, writing helps me explore those them in hopes of understanding. While poetry will always be my first love, it is not always the format an idea asks for—I need to consider that when I write. I also quite enjoyed writing prose, so I will force myself out of my comfort zone of poetry and see what I can accomplish if I write a short story or play. Perhaps I’ll discover loving a medium I never thought I’d enjoy.
Ten Percent Human DEAR EX-LOVER: You were a word connoisseur. Smooth. Charming. Sweet. I think that’s why we started dating. It was like the perfect word was always on the tip of your tongue. You used to tell me I was effervescent, otherworldly, your asylum, like you could come home from a bad day and seeing me would make your day better. I especially loved it when you’d hold me close, like it was all you wanted to do. Slow dancing to the rhythm of the rain falling would always make us feel ten years younger—in those moments time felt the most precious and well-spent, even as I would stumble and lose my balance or accidentally step on your toes. You used to say my clumsiness was cute and chuckle like you’d never seen anything more endearing. You liked my grumpiness in the mornings, and even when I’d whine and say all I wanted to do was stay in bed all day, you’d give me a soft kiss on the forehead and whisper, “Come on, babe, we have a world to see.” You’d convince me to come out of bed while you made a warm cup of Earl Grey tea—a splash of milk, two sugars—for me and a black coffee for yourself. The nights when your index finger ran delicate, comforting circles on my mid-back while you whispered sweet nothings into my ear were my favorite. We said we’d be together till the end of time. I couldn’t be happier. I finally felt understood. You were the love of my life, as the poets say.
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Now I see it was just Petrarchan nonsense. You were making me out to be what I was not, and I you. It didn’t last long, though. I woke up abruptly and harshly, like waking from an intense, unimaginable nightmare. It was never going to work. I get that now. I do. You were simply playing a role in the beginning, were you not? I wanted my independence and you wanted someone you could control. You got obsessive and aggressive, limiting my phone conversations to minutes and seconds, using fear as an instrument to get whatever the hell you wanted, telling me what I could and couldn’t eat, criticizing my choice of clothing, demanding certain foods for dinner, insulting the aspects of me you once complimented, disregarding my opinions, pulling my hair, decorating my body with purple bruises and red scars, spraining my wrists, breaking bones, manipulating others’ perspectives of you with perfect words, using my body as a thing for your pleasure, never mind my discomfort and rejection or my cries of pain. You see, I was not mine anymore. I didn’t exist. I felt dead. So, I ran away. Then you found me five months, six days, and three hours later and taught me a lesson. You left me for dead. Actually dead. Abandoned my body. Killed me. Cut off my damn head. Whatever. I feel… weird now. It’s unsettling not having a body with my head. I feel off, incomplete, tainted. I want my body back. I miss moving my arms. I miss walking. I miss dressing myself. I miss talking. I miss sleeping. God forbid, I miss blinking. I want my life back, but I know I’ll never get that, so I’m going to haunt you. I want you to understand this, so I’m going to say it again: I am going to haunt you. I’m going to make you feel cold, bare. I’m going to make you hate me. I’m going to make you hate yourself. I want you to feel unsafe, watched, uncomfortable. I want my revenge. I want you to feel uneasy at the slightest things. I want you to grow paranoid. I want you to lose your cool. I want you to slip on ice and (literally) break your leg or fracture your skull or burn in a house fire and suffocate from the toxic fumes. I want you to hurt. I want your mind to play tricks on you. I want you to feel manipulated, even when I’m not there. I want you to feel tortured. I want you to feel cursed. I want your space to feel violated. I want your body to feel violated. I want your mind to go insane. I want you to pray to God for mercy. I want you to beg me for mercy. After all, that’s what you did to me, isn’t it? Fair is only fair. Admittedly, I know I can’t kill you. I’m only a ghost now, only ten percent human, but I’m going to make you wish you were dead. I promise. Trust me on this. Take my word for it. I know I don’t have a way with words, but I always keep my promises. No one remembers me. The coroner’s report says they don’t know who I am, but they know what you did to me. They said:
42 Archives After Dark
A woman between twenty and forty years of age. Found on the side of the road. Approximately 150 pounds. Body mutilated. Two fractures in her skull. Caused by heavy tool or hammer. Head found 400 yards away from the body. Unknown. (Forgotten.) I know I can’t kill you, but I can’t live with what you did to me, so I’m going to make sure you’re going to wish you were dead. SINCERELY, I’M RIGHT BEHIND YOU
Archives After Dark
Abigail Byrd, EKU Undergraduate Student
Letter from Robert Walkup to Samuel Walkup, February 23, 1823 Samuel Walkup Letters 44 Archives After Dark
Author Statement: I am an English major and a returning participant for Archives After Dark. Unlike last year, when I had research and sources piled nose-high, this year I walked into the project with only a handful of names, a location, and a summary of a terrible event. In the days leading up to the overnight stay, I found myself spending all of my free time downstairs in Special Collections & Archives, poring over the letter, trying to figure out who these people were. The letter seemed to exist in a vacuum—no hint of the upcoming tragedy in the letters before, no mention of it in the letters afterwards. Even so, it was rich with information about the event, and the way Robert talked about the tragedy gave plenty of insight into the aftermath. At the start of the night, I had my sights set on a short story, but as the hours passed, I could see that the amount I was capable of producing in a mere twelve hours wasn’t enough to do the story justice. With two hours remaining in the night, I chose to change paths and produce a poem instead, funneling the sensation of “southern royalty” into the work on a much more condensed scale. Whereas last year’s project was an experiment in pre-planning, this year’s was a test against perfectionism and expectation, and I felt the experience as a whole helped me better understand my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. One of the vital events that I wanted to reflect in the poem was that the owner of the house, Robert Walkup, went back into the house in an attempt to wake his children. He found it futile, however, and left out the window once more. As he was leaping, he wrote, he thought he heard one of his children cry after him, but it was too late. He wrote to his brother, Samuel, describing the horror of leaving his children to burn. Another vital piece of the poem was that two men who were working for the Walkups at the time—a man and his apprentice—shared quarters with some of the children and, when they awoke to smoke and flame, fled the house without attempting to wake the children at all. One of the biggest challenges of shifting from short story to poem was the amount of information that needed to be condensed. The history of the Walkup family, the success of the plantation, the rich lives of the children, all needed to be encapsulated before the tragedy of the loss could really hit home. In my mind’s eye, Robert Walkup was a king of the south—a Heirophant, a mystic in his ways of bending the fertile earth to his will.
Archives After Dark
The Emperor Brave king, Hierophant, master of cards, the fields bend their will and sprout sweet barley just for you— You, king, Command empires of riches and conquer nature herself— Demand the nectar of the earth come flow to your cup, lord of the fruit flies, lord of the grains, Tell me, Do you hear them still? Brave king, Master of soil and dust, Master of hammer and nail, Why were you sleeping when your empire caught fire? Your dominion stood patient in the field, begging with hands clasped, throats raw, bloodied from soot and prayer. You, King, went back for more, always craving more, and the fools you employ, Let skin wither and die— You, hollow fiend, you and your cowardice Costing young blood on royal earth, Yet brother’s forgiveness is the nectar you seek with ink and quill in hand. Truth be told, you had the chance— Saw the figure and heard the cry and abandoned the ghastly apparitions that came through the smoke. The door never shut, the windows never blackened, the flames that ate your daughter’s flesh crave the richer skin, still, You and your kin, your surviving kin, the mirrors of death in their sunken grey eyes, Glowing coals await your spirit on the other side, Brave king, tell me, Do you hear them still? 46 Archives After Dark
Southern Engine No. 2
Mackenzie Davis, EKU Undergraduate Student
Engine 2 of the Southern Railroad Company, undated | Kunkel Family Papers
Author Statement I am a Music Education major, but I’ve always loved creative writing and have participated in numerous competitive writing activities during my years in school. I love the challenge of basing my work off of a given piece because I really have to stretch to find—or create—all the details to pull my story together. This photograph of a train has so many opportunities for great stories, so it was hard for me to nail down a particular plot! When I considered my love of music as well, I thought it would be unique to create something that has the detail and quick, immersive quality of a short story but the emotional charge and allure of metered poetry. This was a great way to test my writing skills against a clock, and the longer I poured into the story, the easier it was for the rhythmic nature of the piece to take hold.
Archives After Dark
Southern Engine No. 2 A haunting tale, some call it true Is that of a man and Southern Engine No. 2 A massive train, black gold, and a watch All arrive for our story in the town of Pine Knot This little town, Virginia as home Nestled in the woods where it was alone Houses worn down, barns were newer Residents few, and visitors fewer But Pine Knot stirred for the day was coming When a train would appear, its engine a-humming Alive with black smoke pouring out of its pipe The breath of a being, the mechanical type Now there were six men riding at the start of the day Who had made a long journey to this town far away For black gold mined kept this little town alive But this train home would seat only five The engineer, of course, with his greased hands and a cap His equal, a man with a neat derby hat An old stock owner who loved the money game And a miner who could barely sign his own name Another coal miner named Joseph McKee Had a black mustache and one bad knee An ambitious young man rode the train into town Wealthy by the looks of his pocket-watch round You must understand, there was no harm intended For the poor soul whose life would be so abruptly ended Perhaps ‘tis why he haunts, as ghosts tend to do These men who climbed aboard Southern Engine No. 2 It began at dawn, Lynchburg the place Where six men would finally meet face-to-face They called ‘All-aboard!’ and set off for Pine Knot Each without fear of death in their thoughts
48 Archives After Dark
The buyers had plans to sell toward the coast To whomever would buy precious coal for the most The miners had come to escort the buyers And protect their little town against rich, greedy liars The engineers prodded the being along Fueling the furnace, they kept the flames strong To keep up speed all through the night So Pine Knot would appear at the break of light The men all arrived to the sleepy little town That now was alive as all gathered â€˜round A train had never ventured through here before Smoking and creaking with a shining allure For what a sight this black being was! Massive, imposing, intimidation it caused Yet still the town marveled at Southern Engine No. 2 Unthinkable: a train in Pine Knot, year 1902 Later that day, the car needed filled Down a long shoot the coal would be spilled The engineers were there taking care of the train The miners there to supervise in their own domain They insisted they operate this heavy machine But the younger buyer was not so keen To be robbed of his chance at glory and fame For bringing wealth and life to the little townâ€™s name He grabbed hold of the switch, flicked up so fast The miners shouted, alarmed and aghast Clinking and grinding, the chain pulled taut And this chain is what will develop our plot That knotted chain caught Joseph McKee Dragged him by his bad knee He could not break free Swallowed quickly by a hard, black sea Only a pocket-watch tick could be heard
Archives After Dark
By the time it switched off, the railcar was filled Brimming with coal, the five men chilled To their very bones at the thought of what lay Under those rocks, it had breathed just that day “Not a word,” said the young buyer, a fierce light in his eye For his greed had made a Pine Knot man die “If anyone speaks,” he threatened the men “I can assure you now that you never will again.” A moment of quiet as they weighed their next acts But it seemed true grit was what they all lacked The old man turned his head, the engineers, too The miner wept softly with no will to push through They pulled back into town, at the station stood a man Who waved them down with a camera in hand “One photograph to mark the occasion,” he said He did not know of the one man dead They posed, mixed of smiles and long faces They all wished to race on toward other places The flames burned strong, the black smoke grew And away chugged Southern Engine No. 2 But our story isn’t over, for those five men Would live their lives while knowing their sin Every day passed with the vision of McKee Hanging, falling, swallowed by the black sea The engineers—derby hat, greasy cap— Parted their own ways after the mishap The other buyer, so rich and so old, Wanted no more to do with the world of black gold The miner left Pine Knot, wretched and ashamed His will to live left fragile and strained For the inaction, the silence, the injustice he served To the man he once knew who died undeserved And the rich young man, ambitious for fame Did all he could to cast out the blame A knotted chain, a man half lame But it made no difference to be rid of the shame 50 Archives After Dark
All the riches, the status, the glory, the power Could change not the events of that terrible hour It haunted each day and prolonged every night A ghost with blackened face and coal eyes just to spite And one day he saw that photographerâ€™s take An image, enough to unmake The guilty mind of the rich young buyer Who saw six men in the photo, where five had been prior One dry click, a second, a loud pop on the third Then only a pocket-watch tick could be heard
Archives After Dark
The Jingle That Brought Joy
Emily Faith, EKU Undergraduate Student
Mozart’s Collar, circa 1960 | Dorris Museum Collection
Author Statement I am a freshman pre-nursing major from Bullitt County, Kentucky, and my current career goals are to eventually become a nurse practitioner. Though my major is based in the sciences, I have always loved reading and writing. I primarily write fictional works, usually in the form of short stories or long free-style poems. Typically, my work is inspired by my favorite stories from either books or movies, or by the lives of those around me. I especially enjoy writing about the histories or backstories of items, people, or places, both non-fictional and fictional. When I saw this collar, I knew immediately that I wanted to write about the story surrounding the “life” of the collar and how it changed as the life of Mozart (the dog companion of the collar) changed. I thought it would be an interesting challenge to write artistically about how people are trained to react to the sound of a dog collar with joy or happiness. I know from experience that college students especially find this sound to be joyful, and thus the idea of “The Jingle That Brought Joy” was born.
52 Archives After Dark
The Jingle That Brought Joy A faint, bell-like clamor signals my arrival as my engraved plates jostle with every movement, as my clasp rattles joyously with every step I swish from side to side as the creature whom I ride prances around our world Itâ€™s a world of smiles of joy and happiness That was once a world of uncertainty and fear As I was once as discarded as the mount I now ride. For he once wandered the world Unknown to intelligent life Unwanted by those he passed. He was an orphan. Discarded. Alone. Unnamed. I was much like him. No purpose. No companion. Nameless. Left to sit and wait, Discarded and forgotten, on the imprisoning shelf that acted as my home
Archives After Dark
Until the day when some nameless beast Would become a significant member of the world When this beast is named It gives me a purpose When I became named When I met my vivacious companion I found our world Our home. What a place our home was Because it was not only ours. Our brothers and sisters in this place Comprised of young and old on a mission looking, Looking for something. They searched searched for some undefinable hope for imperceptible purpose searched for knowledge for love and companions searched for ambitionâ€™s sake for their own sake. And we accompanied them in their search for purpose and in return they gave my companion purpose Gave me purpose They gave my companion A name A home. And to me they gave the crucial duty Of proclaiming my companionâ€™s identity Of proclaiming his meaningfulness Of proclaiming his worth. 54 Archives After Dark
And I proclaimed it, not just with my engraved plates But with the song my jingling that arose from each step. As we accompanied them, our siblings in this world, We repaid them the gift of happiness The gift of joy We listened as they spoke sang to their outpourings of melody received their affection brightened their days, their lives, With joy It did not start as joy, no it started with a jingle. And from this jingle came joy. For when they heard, they looked when they looked, they smiled From the smiles came laughs, came pats, and rubs came love and from love came joy. My dear friend is now gone I am back on the shelf It no longer feels like a prison It is my resting place The symbol of my new purpose. Not that of my descendants who continue to mount their rides Declaring names and homes Declaring an identity ringing joy. Archives After Dark
No. That is no longer my purpose. My purpose is to Proclaim Shout Tell sometimes they Listen. They listen to the story of my companion. They listen to the story of my life. They listen to the story of joy. Yes. Not all understand, but all hear, About the smiles the laughter and the affection the barks and shakes and kisses About the joy. They hear my jingle The origins of joy The precursor of smiles The forerunner of love And know that there was joy.
56 Archives After Dark
The Sickness Letters
Paige Freeman, EKU Undergraduate Student
Letter from Archibald & Latitia Moor to Alexander Fife, June 5, 1841 | Green/ Fife/White Family Papers Archives After Dark
Author Statement My journey as a writer is just that: a journey. Although I am an Exercise Science major, I have had a deep appreciation for writing since I was very young. I grew up in a disadvantaged home in Corbin, KY, but I flourished in my studies regardless, and often turned to writing for self-expression and, sometimes, as a crutch. Over the years, my writing evolved, shifting from fairy tale princesses to morbid stories where everyone dies in the end. Needless to say, I have learned that my style is on the darker side! In my first semester at EKU, I learned of Archives After Dark and was thrilled by the opportunity to do what I love…for twelve hours! After I was accepted as
a participant and reviewed the artifact options, I chose a letter about the death of someone’s nephew in hopes that I could hone my usual style; however, I can say that this piece is starkly different from my prior pieces, which tend toward long free-verse poems and short stories. Because this piece is a first-person narrative from the same time period as the letter I chose, I decided to mimic the spelling and grammar of that letter.
The Sickness Letters June 7 Dear Sir, I write this letter in response to your inquiries regarding Alexr’s passing, and I am more than willing to oblige your request. Firstly, I wanted to emphasize my condolences regarding your family’s loss, and we, too, Latitia and I, lament greatly. I only hope that my mere explanation will release you of th grief that holds your heart captive. Just three-weeks prior, Alexr sent word of his visit at my residence in Phil which struck me with its sudden nature, but my hospitable Latitia wanted to house her nephfew. His residence was quite inconvenient, however, based on my demanding occupation. As you may understand, I oversee th colored employees as th construction of th rail system progresses across th State, and at th day of his arrival, my employees fully dismantled th iron. Th outrage! I removed 20 cent of thir pay! Damn loafers! Upon my return to my dwelling, I anticipated th hot meal and th swell of my wif’s hip, but I was only greeted with Alexr and a stale cabbage broth. Your nephfew and his acquaintances had already laid claim to th spare bed and eaten almost every morsel of my supper. Th expanse of my night had grown exponentially worse. Therefore, I wiped my fingers in th washing basin and 58 Archives After Dark
placed myself in my upholstered chair. As always, th wif hastily delivered my meal and disappeared back into th kitchen to tidy. I ate in stark silence as th party clamored small tidings of nerves and expectation, but I just fancied them incessantly bothersome. After spooning th last bit of cool liquid into my mouth, I swallowed with disdain and grunted as an indication for Latitia to gather my china. Alexr was th first to disrupt th mute atmosphere. “Th trip was most successful Archibald. Th railway was smooth as a whistle.” I swallowed. “I am most pleased to hear of such things, but she is th most sophisticated of technology. None could predict that th use of steam would deem so effective.” “Quite, quite.” “I understand that you intend to journey west.” “Yes sir. I have heard many a tale about th riches that lie within California.” “I think you are a fool.” “Pardon?” “Only fools blindly scoure th land for lost jewels and riches beneath th soil. Only a true fool would place his value in th unknown.” “I actually intended for you to accompany me.” “Accompany you? We share no blood, no kin, and you expect me to assist you? If you were an intelligent man, you would invest in th railway. Th true riches lie there. Not within th earth.” There was a slight interlude of prolonged silence until Alexr finally removed a blackened box of fat, Spanish cigars from his satchel. “Would you like a smoke? These are constructed with far superior tobacco compared to th Americas.” “I would.” In th past, Latitia had repeatedly expressed that tobacco was my vice, but no woman could fully understand its necessity. Therefore, Alexr and I enjoyed his naked cigars in more extended silence. Th remaining twilight was finished with more groaning and a restless few hours. I did not sleep that night. I did not sleep.
Archives After Dark
June 25 Dear Mister Fife, I recived my pay today and was able to purchase more parchment to continue my explanation. I pray you good tidings as I extend your knowledge of Alexrâ€™s untimely death. After that troublesome night, my disdain towards your nephfew only intensified. Many an afternoon, Alexr and his party entertained themselves with silly games that benefited th household none. Sitting by th cool window, I watched them sprint across th field in spurts, chasing th trivial little canary, dove, bird with netted sticks. Often times, each and every one of th aliens would come into my house for lunch or for my supper with their calves caked in thick, viscous mud leaving a trail behind them. Oh, th cleanliness! Oh, th sickness! Their excursions only left my home a kaleidoscope of disheveled slop. Be patient th wif said. Theyâ€™re still young th wif said. Not even her tender voice could cool my temper. I apologize for my interruption, but I am sure that you recollect th memory of my five childen and how I lost th last of them. Latita has even begun to believe that we are cursed, and I am not sure if I believe in a Hell, but I can only stress th pain that we feel. Therefore, I accurately empathize with you on th basis of death. My first born, Archibald, only succeeded th age of eleven before th sickness took him. Our hearts were severed that night. Oh, th sickness! My second was taken by th sickness at six. Th third at ten. Th fourth. Th fifth. Th sickness took everything from me, and it seems He has robbed you as well. Cleanse your home, your wif, yourself because th Sickness comes in th twilight while you sleep. It infects without mercy. Please cleanse yourself. After numerous day hours spent outdoors, Alexr began complaining of nausea, pain in th head. It was th Sickness. It had gotten him. Even then, I wondered if it would get me too. Or Latitia. Oh, Latitia. Since thir arrival, she has spent so much time carin for them and tidying their slop that I can only kiss her when th night is dead. I should be able to kiss my wif when I please. Oh, th sickness!
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August 5 Alexander, I lov th warm of th sumer. Th Sickness cannot get us here. I will never be Sick. It is sumer. After your nephfew was infeted with th Sickness, I had to verify it was true, so th wif tol me to call a doctor. Th first one said that he was consumtive. I did not believe him. How could th Sickness be in my home? Mine? Th second doctor said it was th Sickness Th Sickness is Death cloaked in blank night that pays special attention to th living. It seeks out th weak, th young, th old, me. It snuffs out any light. It destroys any hope for a better life. It was my Egypt plague. Th Lord must have cursed us. He must have. Dear friend, pleas understand, pleas understand. We did everythin we could. My Latitia and old Mrs. Fife stayed with him, nursed him, but their care did not help. Th duty was to me. It is always to me. Th Sickness took my childen. I could not let it take him too. Th last domino could not fall. I had to overthro Him, so I had to do it. I made sure Alexr was comfortable after his last meal. He did not suffer, and he lies next to five of my own children. Pleas understan, pleas understan. Th Sickness is gon. He was th last link. Th chain is broke. But you will have justise. In this letter, I write my last lines and hope you forgive me. To my Latitia, honey, I have loved you and will love you into my eternity. To th family, I hope you understan that I had to do it. As I depart from th world, just know that my heart will be with you To Alexander Fife, may my soul be damned to pay for your death. Sickness I have become, and Sickness I will end. mors vincit omnia -Archibald Moor
Archives After Dark
Journal of Edward T. Gilroy
J. Thomas Hudson, EKU Undergraduate Student
Letter from E.J. Broaddus to French Tipton, July 4, 1892 | French Tipton Papers 62 Archives After Dark
Author Statement I’m a senior history major in the Honors program, the eldest of a set of twins, and a newlywed. I am also a returning Archives After Dark artist and am excited and privileged to share my creative work in this medium again. I enjoy creating works of historical fiction, while preserving the nature of historical accuracy (within the realm of speculation); however, this work is slightly different from my other creative projects, as the artifact I chose challenged me and forced me to shift from my usual approach. Since the event I wanted to be at the center of my own fictional account, an injury that traveling trader Mr. Broaddus incurred while on the Santa Fe Trail, had already been written about in great detail in my artifact, I decided to create a journal of a fellow trader who might have accompanied Mr. Broaddus on his trip on the Santa Fe Trail. Unfortunately, this journal was found among wreckage along the more dangerous portions of the Santa Fe Trail; therefore, it is not a complete insight into the trip, and we can only speculate as to what might have happened to the individuals discussed in the journal. The journal is almost entirely fiction, with the exception of the entry dated April 20, which describes the event mentioned in my artifact, although there was no date associated with the original event and the artifact does not mention the characters I’ve included.
Journal of Edward T. Gilroy April 8, 1821 My name is Edward Gilroy and I am a merchant who recently moved with my family to Saint Louis in hopes to make a better life out west. In order to procure more valuable items and begin a successful trading post, I have decided to join what many are beginning to call the Santa Fe Trail and find foreign goods from Mexico and other southern regions along the way. I hope to document the trip as a memento of how my trading post began, in case my future children follow in my footsteps. This morning began our journey from Old Franklin, MO, to Mexico along the Santa Fe Trail. This is the first trip that Mr. William Becknell has taken using this path, and only the second journey he has led. We are unsure of what exactly lies before us, but reportedly last year on this trail the last third of the trip was quite rough. Mr. Becknell speculates that his new proposed path will be faster—says we should make it round trip in one and a half months’ time as opposed to two, so we should need fewer supplies
Archives After Dark
April 13, 1821 We began this trip less than a week ago, but it has already been worth the investment. Already on this trip we have encountered another group of traders, as well as a couple of groups heading westward to settle. We lost a member of our group named John, a blacksmith and dentist who decided to head westward with the third group that we met. There was a young lady in the midst of the group and John was smitten, so he joined their group in hopes to get to know the lady. One man that we met was in a wagon with several women—he claimed to have been heading to a religious site of some sort. We thought this was a little odd, but kept pressing toward Mexico and the promise of newly traded goods. April 16, 1821 Today we encountered our first tribe of Indians. Mr. Becknell speculated that this new path could contain many more tribes than the last, but he was unsure where and when. The tribe was friendly; we were able to trade some goods and meat, and they also showed us a clean source of drinking water to refill our supplies. We were running low on salt and other goods, so we are quite grateful to have stumbled upon them. They seemed eager to trade with us on our way back home from Mexico with our new goods, even hosted us this afternoon for a meal. I told the rest of the group that we need to remember this camp and repay them for their kindness on our return trip. April 20, 1821 Today we suffered a casualty of the trail. A man known only by his last name of Broaddus saw the animal that has been invading our camp and eating our rations. In the haste to grab his gun, it discharged and shattered his right arm. Unfortunately, the only individual that had any form of medical training was John, who left our group shortly after we began this trip. That left Broaddus in the hands of Thomas Talbott, who was neither qualified nor confident in his skill to patch Broaddus’ shoulder. I was unable to watch the operation, but through word-of-mouth I heard that they used a butcher’s knife to perform the actual procedure; they then used a heated king bolt off one of the wagons in order to stop the bleeding. We were forced to this barbaric procedure because Mr. Becknell let us know that the company did not stop for “small matters.” Apparently, Broaddus’ near-death wound was not enough to convince Mr. Becknell to delay our trip even one day in order to search for a small town with a cleaner work environment. Fortunately, Broaddus seems to be willing and able to continue our journey to Mexico.
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April 26, 1821 Last night we suffered another tragedy of being on the trail—one that might have been avoided if we were not traveling an unfamiliar path. Shortly before bedtime, Walter, our first-shift watchman, heard noises in the distance that turned out to be a less-than-friendly Indian tribe. Thankfully, he was able to alert us in time to fend off the attack with only minor damage and loss. We decided to keep a number of watchmen per shift rather than the usual one or two for the next few nights until we feel that we are a safe distance away. Mr. Becknell said that, due to the Indian attack, we would not be revisiting the previous Indian village on our return trip, even though the majority of the group wish to still revisit them. Not all tribes are violent—we’ve been hearing stories from other groups that there are many other friendly tribes along the trail. May 3, 1821 We have been without fresh water for several days, since the morning after the Indian attack. We thought we heard a stream that afternoon, but were unable to locate it. We had been rationing water, but just this afternoon finished off the last of our supply. We did not expect such a desert environment along this trail, although Mr. Becknell said we must be getting close to our destination because of the dry climate. Without finding water soon, some members of the group feel that it is going to be impossible to reach our destination no matter how short of a trip it may be. Morale is at an all-time low because of the rampant exhaustion and the lack of proper supplies. We still have a lot of trade goods to complete our goal, although an unexpectedly large portion will be used to restock necessities for our return trip. May 4, 1821 We found a water source this afternoon and decided to make camp near it. We sent out a small group to see what the trail ahead had in store for us. This group returned in a couple of hours stating that we had in fact reached our destination. After this news there was great joy within our group! We decided to stay camped here for the evening with the intent to press onward in the morning to resupply and begin our trading as planned. It seems as if all this hard traveling has paid off. Mr. Becknell mentioned that he wanted to nickname this path the “Cimarron Route,” and that it had, in fact, been a better trip than the mountain route that preceded it. May 6, 1821 We spent two days in the Mexico area trading for a great number of goods that we cannot get back home. I trust that the items I found will be in high demand at the trading post. Hopefully I am able to make enough profit to make a return trip soon, as it would be nice to make this an annual trip and eventually bring my family. After restocking our supplies and finishing Archives After Dark
our trading, we came back to the place where we made camp a couple of nights ago. This area was peaceful and serene, so the majority of the group decided to come back one last time. We are all exhausted and ready to head home, but we are also enjoying the views before us. We plan to get an early start in the morning in hopes of getting back home earlier than expected. This desert climate gets much colder at night than back home, and I wish I still had the plentiful number of furs to keep myself warm. Soon we will be out of the desert climate and back to normal. May 9, 1821 We are back into the area where our water shortage began. Hopefully we planned better this time, purchasing extra water containers in order to help our rations last longer. Another issue being mumbled around the group is the possibility of Indian raids. We were fortunate last time that we were able to fend them off. If they strike again, we might not be so lucky. From here on out, we decided to double the number of watchmen overnight and to sleep with our guns loaded and at the ready. Broaddus had a clear and understandable concern with this policy, and he was excused from the rule. He is doing much better after his injury, although his entire right arm had to be amputated. May 14, 1821 We found a trusty spring this morning, and thus no longer need to worry about water shortages. The return trip has been so much easier than the initial trip. Mr. Becknell says that we are making good time and should be home a few days before schedule. I hope that he is right, as I miss my family and am excited to show them the goods I obtained in Mexico. Tomorrow we will be passing through the area where we were attacked by the Indians, so we are still on guard for the next few days. We plan to keep our brisk pace in order to shorten our exposure to these aggressive tribes. May 15, 1821 Last night was the worst night that we have had on the trail. Shortly after the camp settled down, we were attacked by Indians again. Our watchmen dozed off and the Indians were able to sneak up on us and took a large amount of our newly traded goods. We were fortunate they left us with any goods or supplies at all. In their haste, they forgot to check in the wagon which held our water canisters, cured meat, and other vital necessities. We should be able to ration our remaining supplies until we reach the friendly Indians in a little more than a week. We spent today regrouping and assessing our next steps. I hope this does not leave us vulnerable to anothâˆ’âˆ’ 66 Archives After Dark
Eden Lewis, EKU Graduate Student
Knife Throwing Performers Posing, circa 1920 | Shropshire Circus Collection Archives After Dark
Author Statement When I heard about Archives After Dark, I was immediately inspired to create a historical fiction piece. As a graduate student in history, I don’t often get an opportunity to be creative with the past. Of all the fabulous pieces to choose from, I was mostly drawn to the picture of a man and woman performing a knife-throwing act from the Shropshine Circus Collection, circa 1920. I was curious as to what their lives might have been like before joining the circus, and the Roaring 20s is also one of my favorite periods in American history. I had a blast working on this project, even in staying up all night to complete it. I definitely recommend that others explore the collections in EKU’s Archives to further discover stories about the past, and maybe create some stories of their own.
Cut-Throat Theater The air in Manhattan was cleaner than it had been in England’s Birmingham, but the streets had a familiar rhythm that felt like home. There were people everywhere, bustling and trotting about, spouting news and gossip while on their daily commute to and fro. Automobiles could be heard roaring up and down the streets, peppered with occasional irritated sounding honks and tire screaks. Anna and Elliot were sitting on the steps of Broadway’s Central Theater whiles reading over a handwritten script. The two made an odd pair on the steps of one of the world’s most famous theaters. Elliot had been growing his hair out since the war ended and it was now a mess of tangled curls cascading over his shoulders. Meanwhile, Anna’s stockings were mismatched and her dress had some dirt on it from her travels in the back of train cars. “Just remember, Sis, focus on your breath and listen to the music. You always get pitchy when you rush the tempo,” Elliot informed. “At least I’ll have all the words memorized. Shouldn’t you be studying your lines and choreography?” Anna replied. “No need. ‘The music of the Gypsies belongs in the sphere of improvisation,’” Elliot stated, leaning casually against the step behind him. “Oh please, Franz Liszt could’ve gotten away with that, but we are amateurs. Amateurs with natural talent who are about to be discovered, that is. Just think, one day some famous playwright of the future will create an award-winning piece about our lives. Maybe it’ll get turned into a motion picture,” Anna mused. “They’ll cast a stunning and delicate prima donna to portray me, and it will be magical, but also tragic, because everyone will know that there will never be a suitable substitute for the great Anna Boswell. Oh, but many will try, the poor dears.” 68 Archives After Dark
“Mhmm. Sure,” Elliot replied as his gaze began to drift across the busy street, studying the architecture of the buildings in the distance. When the clock tower struck eleven o’clock, Anna and Elliot gathered their belongings, consisting of two small, leather totes, and made their way into the theater. Other stage actors auditioning for the theater’s production of Green Backed Chair were starting to gather in the lobby, where a group of workers in charge of registration were waiting. They recorded Anna and Elliot’s information before giving them directions and a ticket number. After a few more minutes, the lobby became flooded with aspiring actors and musicians “Oh, hello! How do you do? It’ll be such fun working together, I just can’t wait!” Anna announced every time a new performer came within earshot. The performers were directed up a long stairwell with granite steps and golden banisters. Flanked on either side of the staircase loomed two bronze statues of Greek goddesses cloaked in drapery and crowned with laurel wreaths made of a shiny copper material. Anna and Elliot walked up the stairs in the middle of the aisle before coming onto a landing that split into two smaller staircases leading to the left and right sides of the auditorium. The two paused here on the landing to admire the electric light fixtures, which reminded them of the old English lamp posts outside of their childhood home in Birmingham. The Boswells remembered how, particularly on cold, snowy nights after a long day of playing, they used to sit on the windowsill of their apartment and watch the single street lamp come on. They enjoyed the way it illuminated the snow falling and piling up all around it. It was a source of light, heat, and wonder. And now, standing in one of the world’s most accomplished theaters and basking in that reminiscent light, the two imagined an even more enchanting view of the future. Upon reaching the top of the second, smaller staircase, the actors entered into the auditorium where performances were soon to begin. The space was vast and luxurious, with red velvet seats and golden arches along the walls. The Greek statues were now smaller and danced across the bannister of the upper tiers. A string of small, electric light bulbs stretched across the arena in a wide semi-circle that seemed to reach up toward the grand chandelier that hung from the middle of the ceiling. In the orchestra pit, the judges sat upon a platform with a heavy, wooden table. The judges greeted the performers and introduced themselves as the casting directors; there were five of them in total, three women and two men. They were all quite stylish in dress and carried themselves with poise and elegance. The women were cloaked in pearls and feathered headbands. They were slender, but with athletic builds; clearly, they were dancers or had been at some point. Meanwhile, the men Archives After Dark
wore expensive looking suits, and frequently checked the pocket watches that hung from their jackets by long, golden chains. The judges appraised the candidates before them with critical and curious eyes. When the introductions were finished, the gentleman seated at the edge of the table raised his hand in the air and announced, “Let the audition begin!” As if in sync with his words, the red curtains were suddenly pulled back to reveal the stage upon which the artists were soon to showcase their talents. The audience exploded in excited applause. Anna was practically about to jump from her seat in exhilaration. The stage had been stripped bare from the previous show and was simply set before them, with only a piano located to stage left. The red curtains and the wooden flooring seemed to beam with the optimistic hope of hundreds of talented young artists. Anna exclaimed, “This is unbelievable! We are about to perform on the same stage as Marilyn Miller!” “Where do you think those guys get their fancy pocket watches?” Elliot asked curiously. The auditions kicked off with a bobbed actress singing a rendition of “My Man” by Fanny Brice. This was followed by a clogging routine, a barbershop quartet, a monologue from Hamlet, and another clogging routine. Elliot could hear Anna mumbling the lyrics she was about to sing quietly to herself, while the heel of her shoe clicked incessantly against the floor of the aisle – a routine ritual before every performance. Elliot had learned to tune it out while he coped with his own jitters. The thought of standing on an open stage, under bright lights and on display for all to see made him feel uncomfortably vulnerable. His natural instinct was to drift near an exit where it was he who could see everyone else. After coming home from the Battle of the Somme, he didn’t know who he was anymore. Patriot? Prey? Murderer? Soldier? He had wanted to disconnect from the world completely and fade away from the planet. He certainly would have done so, if it didn’t involve leaving his twin sister behind. To do so would have been an unforgivable betrayal and a loss of what he felt was his last redeeming quality. For as long as he could remember, the two of them had stood away from the rest of their family and relied on one another for support. Anna had always been so confident, even as a child. So confident that she tended to also be annoyingly arrogant, but it was infectious. Every time she spoke of the wealth of possibilities that awaited them in America, confidence would shine from her and produce small rays of hope that Elliot could latch onto. Hope of a different life. After months of attending plays and working with Anna, Elliot found performing to be a rewarding experience. It made him feel that he 70 Archives After Dark
could at least pretend to be a normal man living in a much happier world full of songs and slapstick comedy. It was a fresh outlet that offered Elliot a way to reconnect with those around him and feel human—albeit it with only premeditated, aesthetically-pleasing emotions. As he and his sister viewed the twenty-two acts taking the stage before them, Elliot began to daydream of the man he was going to create for the audience and wondered if there would ever come a day when he would no longer have to pretend. “Ticket 23. Boswell, Anna and Elliot,” announces a voice from the stage. Anna looks to her brother and smiles, “This is it. Let’s show them how it’s done.” The two march up to the stage, arm-in-arm, stopping once they reach the chalk-marked X at center stage. For the first time, the siblings can see the judges clearly. Up close they look older, but still refined with a sharp eye for detail. Behind them, the rest of the audience watches on with eyes glazed over, thinking of their own upcoming performance. “And what will we be seeing from you two today, mm?” asks the tall and slender judge seated in the middle of the table. In perfect synchronization, Elliot and Ann sink low to the ground in a deep bow. They remain motionless for several moments before abruptly jerking themselves upright. “We have prepared a song and dance,” Anna declares with pride. “Do you have sheet music for our maestro, or do you wish to perform acapella?” asks the middle judge. From her dress pocket Anna produces the perfectly handwritten music notes she had transferred earlier in the day and hands them to the musician seated behind the piano at stage left. As the upbeat music begins, Anna sings, They always say that you better watch out for the quiet ones. Anna struts to stage left while continuing the song: They’re the ones who stand tall while all others fall. Elliot smiles painfully and begins snapping his fingers while doing a standard step-touch step formation at center stage. They say it’s always the quiet ones, Anna begins a Celtic inspired jig and sings faster: Archives After Dark
Who are bright and cunning, The pianist speeds up the tempo to keep Anna’s pace. Who do the most unexpected things, Anna sings faster. The piano gets faster, And live the darkest lives. Elliot jogs over to stage right while still snapping. You better watch out for the quiet ones, Anna stops the Celtic jig and transitions to the Can-Can. That uncover all your secrets and all your lies. Elliot is smiling painfully and jogging in place. You better watch out for the quiet ones, Anna and Elliot both perform double cartwheels meeting back in center stage. You never know what they will doooo! The performers pose. The pianist slumps behind his instrument. The judges write short notes. *** The sun has set by the time Anna and Elliot exit the theater, and all of Broadway is completely illuminated with hundreds of tall, slender lamp posts shining with electric lights. “I think that went well. Hungry?” Elliot asks. “Starving. Talent is exhausting,” Anna moans. The siblings duck into an Irish themed pub known as the Dubliner, three blocks west of the Broadway strip. After being seated at a booth against the wall, Anna pulls out her notebook and begins her habit of jotting down her thoughts on possible improvements to their performance to make it bigger and better. “Question,” Elliot starts. “We’ve done six auditions this past week, and with each we’ve left a phone number at which we can be reached...” “Yes?” Anna responds without looking up from her scribbles. “...but we don’t have a phone. How are we to know if we end up getting a call back?” 72 Archives After Dark
“Ah! That’s exactly the point!” Anna exclaims. “If they can’t reach us then they will have to assume that we are in high demand. Soon enough we’ll be well-known figures in this town and employers will have to put in extra effort if they want to find us. Shows that they’re dedicated. It’s psychology. Wait and see.” “Oh, right. Of course,” Elliot replies as he begins to fiddle with his steak knife. Suddenly there is a loud crack as a mug of beer is thrown against the wall above the Boswell’s table. The two are covered in ceramic glass and liquid as laughing emerges from all around them. “My notes!” Anna exclaims as she tries frantically to wipe her notebook with a napkin. From across the room, a voice barks, “Pikeys aren’t welcome here! You’ll get no free food or handouts from us. This is a wholesome and respectable establishment.” A squat middle-aged man wearing a brown tweed suit with a matching Stetson hat appears. He’s leaning against the opposite wall while puffing on his wooden pipe; his other hand is in his pocket. “Aren’t you quite the pompous git who has the gall to assault a woman and a veteran?” Anna spits out in rage. “How is it that you are welcomed into this establishment? If we were in Birmingham—” “Well, you’re not,” the pompous git interrupts, “but why don’t you go back there? The Brits can keep all you lot.” “Sir,” Elliot interjects calmly, “my sister and I are just trying to have a nice meal in peace. And yes, we do intend to pay. There won’t be any issues.” The man in tweed taps out his pipe and takes a half step forward. “I’m not going to repeat myself. Your kind are not welcome in this—” The man in tweed pauses as the steak knife once in Elliot’s hand is suddenly less than an inch from his right ear, stuck in the drywall behind him. “I don’t like repeating myself either,” Elliot declares calmly. All eyes in the room are now transfixed on the situation unfolding, “Now let’s all just go back to—” The tweed man releases an enraged bellow and turns around to grab the handle of the steak knife, attempting to pull it out of the wall. “Elliot!” Anna exclaims, throwing her brother another steak knife, followed by two forks and the pen from her notebook. Elliot jumps to his feet and the second steak knife lands in the tweed man’s left pant leg, a fork goes into his right jacket sleeve, and another fork pierces the Stetson hat before pinning it to the wall. Elliot looks perplexed at his sister’s pen before handing it back to her. The tweed git drops his pipe and looks to his Archives After Dark
friends for help, but the room is silent as pub patrons stare at the pair in disbelief. Elliot and Anna grab their totes and quickly head to the exit. The pub wait staff stare in disbelief as they walk past. “Sorry about the wall. We left the culprit at fault pinned to it for you,” Anna whispers. With heads down, the two-speed walk down the street and away from the pub. “Ugh,” Elliot groans, “one inch. One inch and I could have nicked his throat! He would have bled out in minutes.” “Yeah, I know, and I’m very proud that you didn’t commit murder,” Anna replies, “I really am. Because you don’t do that anymore. Our lives are for the theater now. When we’re famous, we’ll own that pub and—” “Hey, wait up!” Elliot and Anna look behind them and follow the voice to an unbelievable sight. Sprinting to catch up to them is a giant easily over eight feet tall with enormous clomping feet. Once the giant notices he has their attention, he waves his hand in the air; it looks to be the size of a small child. The giant smiles. “Hey!” “Bollocks!” Anna exclaims. “Should we run? I feel like we should run.” “Ummm…,” Elliot mutters in disbelief as the giant gets closer and closer. “Oh, it’s too late. We are so dead. Deceased. Goodbye,” Anna mutters quietly. “Whew!” exhales the giant as he catches up to them. “That was quite a spectacle y’all made back there! I was sitting in the back of the pub and saw the whole thing. Say, how’d you learn to do that, boy?” Elliot and Anna have to crane their necks to make eye contact with the man towering over them. The two of them come up only to the middle of the man’s chest. The giant looks back and forth between the two of them before noticing their bewildered expressions. “Ok,” he says, “let’s start with something easy. My name is Paul Herold. What’s yours?” “Ummm…,” Elliot mutters again. “Anna and Elliot Boswell,” Anna blurts out, clumsily extending her hand. Paul grins and gently grasps her forearm before giving it a small shake. “Nice to meet you, Boswells! Are you hungry? I know a great spot right around the corner.” ****
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“So, Broadway, huh? Man, that’s impressive stuff. No wonder you’ve been in Manhattan for a week and I haven’t laid eyes on you yet. I didn’t know they had a play with knife throwing in it,” Paul wonders aloud. The restaurant was mostly empty and dark. Paul had asked the hostess to seat them somewhere in the back. “Oh, no,” Anna replies, “We’re stage actors. What you saw in the pub was just a party trick. Right, El?” Elliot nods. “Mmm, I see,” Paul says, “Well you sure are good at it. And I was quite impressed with you, missy! You were so quick with the ammunition. You two make a great team.” “Thank you!” Anna beams at the compliment. “Like they say, ‘The music of the Gypsies belongs in the sphere of improvisation.’” “I’ll say!” Paul responds. “It’s clear to me that y’all are dedicated to performing. How is it looking in Broadway?” “Well,” Anna replies, “it’s challenging and we have come across many inspiring acts. We get better and better every time. Constantly striving to improve.” Anna taps her notebook. “We’ve got big plans, but are always open to new opportunities.” Paul nods, “That’s good. What about you, Elliot? You’ve been awfully quiet all evening.” “Oh, yes, we’ve really learned a lot over the past few months. Performing is something that has taken me quite some time to get used to, but it’s good.” Elliot pauses. “I don’t know. Like I said, it’s been great, but there’s something that just doesn’t feel quite right about it.” “What do you mean?” Anna inquires, turning to face her brother. “Well, ever since we got here we’ve really only auditioned for these big theaters and neither of us have ever even seen a Broadway show before. I liked the smaller, more intimate theaters we went to back home. I’ve been thinking that we might want to consider branching out.” “Mmm.” Anna thinks for a moment. “I understand that. It’s logical, I suppose.” Paul leans forward across the table, looking back and forth between the twins. “You both have got a lot of potential. If you’re willing to give it a try, I believe I know the perfect stage for you.”
Archives After Dark
**** The Boswells did not know much about job prospects in the state of Kentucky, but they certainly were not expecting the opportunity Paul had presented them with. “Ok, we’re in tent nine, right?” Anna asks. “Nine, yes,” Elliot replies. “Are you sure it isn’t six?” Anna asks more anxiously. “Positive,” Elliot responds. The two performers enter in the back of a red and white striped tent marked, Blades of Boswell. “They’ll be here any minute,” Anna remarks. “Do you have everything you need? How are you feeling? We don’t have to do this if you don’t feel comfortable.” “Yes,” Elliot responds, “I have everything I need and I feel fine, just like when you asked five minutes ago. Do you feel comfortable?” “I feel like a cat in a room full of rockin’ chairs,” Anna exclaims, mimicking Paul Herold’s accent. “Oh, El, please don’t stab me. That is not what I want to be famous for.” The circus hand, Ralph, pulls back the curtain to the main entrance of the tent and peeks inside. “All set?” he asks. The Boswells glance at one another before nodding in unison. In five minutes, the tent quickly fills with a crowd of thirty, half of which are under the age of eight. Anna starts the performance by introducing her brother before explaining to the audience the story of how he had spent many years alone traveling across the African safari. She talks of how he had to hunt wild game to protect himself—“Like lions, and tigers, and bears,” —and, as if on cue, the children in the audience all shout, “Oh, my!” “And today, he is an excellent marksman with any weapon, especially knives. Now, guests, what we are about to do is very dangerous and should not be tried at home. I have to ask that all of you please stay as quiet as possible so that we can focus. If either one of use makes one wrong move, the consequences could be deadly,” Anna says seriously. Anna then walks across the platform to stand against a thick, wooden door. The audience leans in closer and a buzz of nervous excitement can be felt rippling throughout the room. Elliot quickly throws six knives within an inch of either side of her legs, shoulders, and head. The crowd “oos” and “ahhs” and “eeks” with every throw. Anna once again reminds them to remain quiet and calm while Elliot dramatically re-sharpens his knives. 76 Archives After Dark
To up the ante on the second round, Anna changes positions so that her body is now leaning diagonally against the door. Just like the first round, Elliot throws six knives in quick succession, lining them up in a diagonal line from the tip of Anna’s left foot to the top of her head, parallel with her torso. Women in the crowd cover their mouths and screech with every thump of the blade into the wood. For their last throw, Anna comes to the center of the platform and once again reminds the audience that for the safety of the performers, they need absolute silence, especially for this final act. Anna walks back to the door but this time she remains facing the door with her back to Elliot. The performers pause for dramatic effect; once the crowd realizes what is about to happen, they beg Anna to turn around and stop the show before it’s too late. Anna turns her head to the side and shushes the audience. Then, in perfect synchronization, Elliot throws his first blade to the right side of the door as Anna quickly slides her body to the left. Then, he immediately throws the second blade to the left side of the door and Anna simultaneously moves to the right. Lastly, before the crowd has time to react, Elliot throws his final blade to the top of the door as Anna ducks into a squat and swivels on her heels to face the audience--just as the knife fixes itself into the wood. The crowd cheers, some faint, and half of them turn back to the ticket booth to pay seventy-five cents to get back in line for another round. After the tent clears, Elliot turns to Anna. “You were incredible! Our first performance and they loved it! What did you think?” “You mean of almost getting my head chopped off in front of small children? It was amazing! How many Broadway stars have done that before, mm? I’m going to go throw up before the next round. Be right back,” Anna says as she walks out of the tent. Elliot sits down on the edge of the platform to re-sharpen his knives. He and Anna have been honing that routine for weeks and he now felt as if the knives were an extension of his own limbs. Practicing and performing this routine felt different than it had when they were on Broadway. It was still an act, of course, but he didn’t feel as if he had to try so hard to fake his emotions. There was something that he put into the act that was uniquely himself—his old self, from before the war. Tonight, he showed pride in his work, and it was no longer a feeling he had to pretend.
Archives After Dark
De Libertate et Licentia (About Liberty and Licentiousness) Arthur Martin, EKU Undergraduate Student
Jim Pellegrinon Leading a Protest on Main Street, May 7, 1970 | EKU Photographs
Author Statement I am a Junior philosophy major and consider myself to be a committed Platonist. As such, I am thankful Archives After Dark offered me the opportunity to write a dialectic. My inspiration for the work was a picture of a student protest from 1970. The dialogue serves as a critique of the counterculture of 1960’s and 1970’s America. I feel the counterculture movement misunderstands both human persons and the nature of freedom. The title of my work is in Latin as an homage to other philosophical works and translates to “About Liberty and Licentiousness.” I believe the counterculture movement and its contemporary supporters confuse true liberty and mere license. My inspirations are the ancients and the medieval, who often understood the world better than the moderns and the postmoderns. I give thanks to all my teachers and friends who have taught me that philosophy is not only an intellectual enterprise, but also a style of life one must live. 78 Archives After Dark
De Libertate et Licentia (About Liberty and Licentiousness) Persons of the Dialogue: Jim Jane Scene: In a university library, sitting at a study table Jim: What brings you to the library today? Jane: I’m working on my term paper about ancient conceptions of freedom. What about you? Jim: Actually, I’m also doing research for a paper about something similar to your topic. I’m writing about the anti-war protests of the 1960’s. Those hippies were so cool. I wish I could have lived back then or maybe that something like that would go on today. I’m sympathetic to the counterculture. I’d be out there with them in streets, holding signs, singing Bob Dylan’s and The Beatles’ songs. Can we have another summer of love? Jane: I should hope not. Jim: What do you mean? Jane: I mean, I don’t want another summer of love. I disagree with the counterculture movement. I think it got a lot of important philosophical ideas wrong. Jim: What are you talking about? The counterculture movement was great. The old needed to go. It still needs to go. Everyone is free to create themselves. That’s the life, the free life. The one where no one’s telling me what to do. I choose what matters to me, and I live doing what I love. To me, that’s all the hippies wanted. Peace and brotherhood. We learn to accept one another, and we support one another. I might not want to live my life the way you want to live your life, but hey, that’s cool. You do what you want, and I’ll do what I want. Jane: That is precisely the problem. The counterculture movement went too far with freedom. There is such a thing as too much freedom. Jim: Nonsense. How can one have too much freedom? That’s the great thing about the counterculture movement of the 60’s. They did away with tradition and the old oppressive social norms that held us back from being who we want to be. Nothing constrains me unless I willingly enter into a relationship where I let something constrain me. Like here and now: I am at college, and Archives After Dark
in one sense, I am not free. I have deadlines to meet and classes that require my attendance, but I want those things. I am choosing who I want to be, and I want to be someone who does well in school. Jane: I understand what you’re saying, but I disagree with you. I like tradition. I think it is a wonderful and necessary thing, and we would be wise to listen to our parents and our grandparents. They have great wisdom, and it should not be immediately discounted because we fancy it to be oppressive. Jim: But it so often is oppressive. Slavery and Jim Crow legislation were traditions in the South. Certainly, you do not want to keep that. Jane: No, I don’t. And, sure, tradition is not always correct because, ultimately, it comes from humans. You and I both know history well enough to know that humans are violent creatures. We kill and oppress others, sometimes with a sickening glee. We, the human race, have committed unspeakable evils. You and I could certainly speak for many hours about the evils that were committed in the past, and we would not even begin to scratch the surface. Jim: Precisely my point. History is a long ledger of mistakes. We would do best if we were to learn from those mistakes. And, what do we find is the cause of many of the great evils of history? Intolerance and blind adherence to tradition. So, let us do away with them both. We shall create for ourselves and accept others, and then, we shall bring forth peace on earth. Jane: I never advocated blind adherence to tradition, and I agree with you that adherence to tradition for tradition’s sake is foolish and shall certainly be the cause of many great evils. You, however, did not let me finish my point from earlier. Human beings are capable of committing great acts of evil, but we are also capable of doing excellent things. Human beings can be wrong, sometimes very wrong, but we also can be right. We can know Truth and Goodness; I believe that firmly. Jim: I’m willing to admit that some things in history are correct and moved us in the right direction, but I don’t see why you love tradition. We can come to Truth on our own. And, certainly, we can seek Truth even better than those before us, for we know so much more about the world around us. Jane: But, even the knowledge we have now could not have been gained without the help of the past. You and I both know that life is a game of questions. In some terrifying yet humorous way, Being is like Socrates. He asks us questions, and they are not easy questions. They are hard and terrifying because we realize that, often times, we do not know what we once thought we knew so certainly. It is tempting to become like Euthyphro and just run away and go about our business - distract ourselves from distraction by distraction. It is tempting to make ourselves so busy so that we never have to question why we are doing what we are doing. But, we know we have to give 80 Archives After Dark
answers. We cannot force this Socrates to drink hemlock. The problem is that once I realize that I’m not smart enough on my own to answer all the questions of Being, then what shall I do? The past offers a great help. Tradition is the collective answer of an entire people to certain questions asked by Being. Certainly, they have given some bad answers, but they have given some good ones as well. I’m not really willing to throw the baby out with the bath water. Jim: Fair enough. I will believe that certainly the past has some true things. I adore the counterculture, which is now the past, as being correct. Nevertheless, I can still be skeptical of tradition. I still believe that the bulk of history is wrong and that most people have missed out on Truth. Jane: Even there I would disagree with you, but that is another argument for another time. You and I cannot discourse about the whole of history in one sitting. Jim: Perhaps, one day, we will try. I am still curious why you believe that the counterculture advocated for too much freedom. “Too much freedom” seems to me nonsense. What I want is for everyone to be able to live their own life as they see fit and to not be condemned by others for their choices. Jane: You, of course, know the immediate counterpoint to that argument. Jim: I do. How do I advocate that position and still be able to condemn people like Hitler? I admit that it is a difficult problem to solve. One could accuse me of relativism here, but I need not believe in relativism to assert my position. There is right and wrong; good and evil. What Hitler did was evil. I can say that with confidence and certainty. I am not a relativist, just merely a pluralist. There are a few things that are evil and untrue, such as killing others based on race, or murder, or rape, or any other morally reprehensible things. I believe that there are many things you should not do, but there are few things you should do. We know certainly the things that are wrong, but we know very little about the things that are good. So, let every man and woman choose for themselves as long as they do not choose what is evil. Jane: What exactly would you say evil is then? Jim: Evil is intolerance and the violation of another’s freedom of choice. There is not a hierarchy of goods as people suppose. They are all equal. Jane: But, you have a hierarchy of goods in your view. It is a simple hierarchy, but a hierarchy, nevertheless. Freedom is the highest good and then below it is all other good things, which are equal. Jim: I suppose that is correct, but that is okay. Let there be one supreme good, freedom, and below it all other goods. The best life is one where you do use your freedom as you see fit, as long as you do not encroach upon the freedom of others. When we realize this truth and accept others’ exercises of freedom, we will all then live peacefully with one another. Archives After Dark
Jane: I must once again disagree with you. There can be too much freedom, and, in fact, if we accept your thesis, I believe we will not be any closer to the peace and brotherhood of all mankind, but, rather, far from it. Jim: Please explain. I am interested to hear why you disagree with me Jane: Let’s assume that your thesis is correct. The highest good is freedom and one ought to live their life exercising their freedom in so far as their exercise of freedom does not hamper another’s exercise of their freedom. Jim: Correct. Jane: And the only true evil is intolerance towards another’s exercise of freedom? Jim: Yes. Jane: If this is true, let’s examine two different lives. The first is the life of a nun, let us call her Alice. Alice, when she was a young girl, became inspired by Mother Teresa and decided she wanted to spend her life caring for the poor and the sick. So, when she was old enough, she decided to join an order of nuns, move to a third world country, and care for the sick. She spends her life washing the wounds of lepers, and she does it all happily. She can think of no other way she would want to live her life. Now, let us consider another person; let us call him Steve. Steve is a quiet fellow. He goes to work every day, shows up on time, works hard, and all his coworkers think highly of him. But every day, when everyone is getting off work, Steve’s coworkers invite him to come out to dinner with them, and every day, he politely declines. After a while, his coworkers get curious. “What is Steve up to? Why does he never come out with us?” they think. So, one day, they decide to follow him home and figure out what he is really up to. Steve, when he gets home, changes into overalls, and dresses like he is about to go and work in his garden, but his coworkers notice he has no garden in his yard. In fact, Steve’s yard is very odd. It is divided up into a grid. Steve then opens up a small notebook; he reads something, and then closes the notebook and puts it in his pocket. Steve goes to a square in the grid, gets down on his hands and knees, and starts counting the blades of grass. Soon, it grows too dark so Steve gets up, writes down how many blades of grass he counted today, goes inside, and goes to sleep. Well, the next day Steve’s coworkers decide they have to ask him about what is going on. You know, it kind of hurts being turned down for blades of grass. So, they confess they followed him home and kind of stalked him, but they ask him what he is doing. Steve unabashedly tells them that he was counting blades of grass. He really enjoys it. It is his life goal to one day be able to say exactly how many blades of grass he has in his yard. They then ask him what he will do when he finally reaches that goal, and Steve says he will simply move to a house with a bigger yard and begin the grass-counting process all over again. Which life is the better life? Sister Alice’s or Steve’s? Under your thesis, we cannot judge. 82 Archives After Dark
Neither of them violates the freedom of others, and both of them choose their lives freely. They are not coerced by anyone. In fact, under your thesis, we must say that their lives are equally good. Is not such a conclusion absurd? Do we not want to say that Sister Alice lives the better life? Do we not want to say that Steve is wasting his life? Jim: Yes, we want to say that Sister Alice lives the better life, but the conclusion that both lives are equally good, in this case, is absurd because your example is so absurd. No one would actually count blades of grass. Jane: Actuality does not matter here, only potentiality. Jim: It still is a cheap point and not a fair representation of my position. Jane: Okay. I will find another example. What of suicide? Jim: What of it? Jane: Can you condemn suicide under your thesis? I do not think you can. What if some person truly believes that death is better than life? Under your thesis, as long as they do it under their own volition, they are then free to kill themselves. All that matters is the exercise of freedom. Even scarier and darker, under your thesis, I would be morally wrong from preventing this person from killing themselves. I would be infringing upon their freedom if I did not allow themselves to terminate their own existence. Jim: Again, this is nonsense! Life is better than death. We all know this. Jane: If you believe that, then you do not believe what you say you believe. You are saying there is a good so good that it gives us right to deny certain exercises of human freedom. And, I think this is certainly correct. Life is better than death. We should do everything in our power to prevent suicide. Those contemplating suicide need help; they need love and compassion. Jim: So, I shall have to amend one part of my thesis. Suicide and self-harm shall now be morally wrong. Freedom is still important, and no one should be oppressed. No one should be ordered around. Everyone must take responsibility for their own being and live life as best as they think they can. Jane: Everyone must take responsibility for their own being; you are correct, but no man is an island unto himself. Man is a relational being, and there are duties that one must fulfill when one is in a relationship. You mentioned it earlier in the example of being a student. You have deadlines to meet and classes to attend. It is your duty to do so; you are obligated to keep your word. Jim: Yes, that is true, but let everyone choose the relationships into which they enter. Let each person choose their own relational duties. I am a student of my own volition, and I would not force one to be a student. Archives After Dark
Jane: But, not all relationships are contractual like that. Did you ask to be born? When your mother and father decided they wanted a child, did they consult you about bringing you into existence? Surely, you were there! You did not choose your family, but you have duties to those people. You owe your mother and father some deal of respect, if for nothing other than your life. You said yourself, earlier, life is better than death. Surely, being alive is better than never coming into being. How much more do you owe them if they were good parents? We do not live apart from one another. I have never met anyone who wasnâ€™t born. We must realize that what we do impacts others, and that we have duties to them. We can harm them or help them. We do not exist independently from one another, but we are all unique. Just like in a good family, no one child is the same as another. Each is unique and completely irreplaceable, but their actions affect one another and the running of the household. If they love one another, and want to live life loving one another, they must act in love. And, is that not what you want: for all men to love one another? Once we all love one another, honestly and purely, then will there not be brotherhood of all men? Jim: That is fine. Do unto others as you would have them do unto to you, a child in Sunday school could tell you as much, but what of ourselves? How should we live? Are we to be ordered around by our friends and family? Or, even worse, by a tyrant? Jane: We are to be ordered by the Good, and, in so far as our neighbors and family speak truly about the Good, we ought to listen. We do not determine the Good for ourselves. It exists as it is regardless of our personal tastes. That is, ultimately, the danger I see in the counterculture movement. In talk of freedom, they actually talk of the relativism of the Good, but that cannot be. Any conception of the Good cannot be relative; it is self-defeating. I understand the desire for a relative Good. I would not be guilty of anything; all my opinions would be correct merely because they are my opinions. I would not have to conform myself to Being, rather, I could conform Being to me. But, I cannot. So, indeed, it is not so. It is not oppression to be ruled by the Philosopher-King, but we must be philosopher-kings and philosopher-queens of ourselves. We must rule ourselves our encounter with the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. To let yourself be ruled by that is not oppression but true freedom. There are two types of freedom. Freedom to do as one pleases, and the higher freedom, which is freedom to live to the Good. The first type of freedom, the one you mistakenly value as the end, is merely a means to the higher type of freedom. I want to be free to do whatever I want so I can be free to do as I ought. The first type of freedom without the second type is merely another type of slavery. But, it is a scarier, more terrifying slavery; it is a slavery to the self and to the passions of the self. Most of the time, this ends in us being self-deceived hedonists. The person committed to the exercise of choice as the ultimate goal will not long believe that thesis. They will claim it with their tongue, but they will not actually believe it. For their actions will show they value other things, 84 Archives After Dark
and the things they choose to value will all have a common feature: the things they choose make them feel good. If it was truly choice they believed to be the best, they would have no preference either way. They would flip a coin to make choices because it does not matter what they choose, just merely that they choose. Pleasure-seeking will rule them. When pleasure becomes worshiped as a god, it becomes one of the most powerful demons. So, let us seek the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. Let us use our reason well. Our souls shall be ruled by the True Reason: we shall discipline our passions. We shall not try to eradicate them nor shall we allow them to rule over us, but, rather, we shall exercise them in moderation. We will not let ourselves do whatever we want, but this shall not be slavery, but freedom, true freedom. Aristotle was correct. Human happiness is the activity of the soul in accordance with virtue, but Plato was also correct. Justice of the Soul is when the rational part, perceiving the Good, rules over our souls. Jim: Do you believe that? Jane: I do. I think itâ€™s the truth. Jim: What is Truth?
Archives After Dark
Attitudes Toward Diversity at EKU: 1950 to 2019 Meghan McKinney, EKU Graduate Student
Eastern Alma Mater in Chinese, 1950 | Richards Family Papers
86 Archives After Dark
Artist Statement I am an English graduate student, but also obtained my B.A. in English from EKU. In 1950, a Chinese student graduating from EKU felt so much pride and recognition at his university that he transcribed the school’s alma mater into his native tongue. His version is beautifully constructed and handmade with obvious care, demonstrating his school pride. Yet almost 70 years later in 2018, President Donald Trump spoke on the same campus, a president who espouses racist, xenophobic, and discriminatory language against many groups, very often including China and its people. On today’s EKU campus, in the wake of Trump’s visit, signs are posted by student organizations that remind students of all ethnicities, genders, sexualities, and abilities that they are loved. The very fact that students must be reminded that they are welcome at EKU shows such a drastic shift in morale from the 1950 alma mater, which I aim to represent in this piece. Trump embodies his discriminatory viewpoint in a golf course conversation in which he claims “almost all” students who come to study in the U.S. from China “are spies.” I translated this quotation into traditional Chinese and embroidered it with similar care to the calligraphy of the Chinese alma mater, carrying over the colors in light watercolor strokes on the background fabric to evoke ancient Chinese art. By juxtaposing Trump’s own words about Chinese students with those pride-filled, loving words carefully transcribed by the Chinese students of which he speaks, I hope to underscore and make evident the social climate of EKU’s campus so many years later.
Archives After Dark
Attitudes Toward Diversity at EKU: 1950 to 2019 Mixed Media Including Embroidery Thread, Cloth, Embroidery Hoop, and Watercolor 9â€? Diameter Meghan McKinney, EKU Graduate Student
88 Archives After Dark
Snow Can’t Stop Me
Anastasia Pierce, EKU Undergraduate Student
Student Playing his Guitar in a Snowstorm, 1970 | EKU Photographs
Artist Statement I am an English Education major who was introduced to painting at a young age. At age ten, I was given my first real canvas and paints, and I fell in love. I have been using art, especially painting, as a form of expression ever since. I chose the item “Student Playing his Guitar in a Snowstorm,” because it looked fun and unique! I loved the calm and carefree feeling the photo expressed and tried to capture that in this painting. I call this painting “Snow Can’t Stop Me.” Though I don’t know the story behind it, it seems likely to me that the student felt compelled to go outside and play music, and even the snow couldn’t stop him! Archives After Dark
Snow Can’t Stop Me Acrylics on a Wood Slice 11”x16” Anastasia Pierce, EKU Undergraduate Student
90 Archives After Dark
Caitlyn Rahschulte, EKU Undergraduate Student
Katie’s Tea Party, circa 1900 | Kunkel Family Papers
Author Statement I am a journalism major from Verona, Kentucky, and one of the reasons I chose the photo “Katie’s Tea Party” is because of my love for tea. Seeing a group of young friends at a table, enjoying what I’m sure was a very dignified tea time, instantly caught my interest. Usually, I’m prone to writing gloomy poetry, full of your typical yearning and despair. I thought I would do something different for Archives After Dark. While “Little Triumphs” does have its moments of yearning, I hope it comes off more as a longing for freedom and autonomy than anything else. I was greatly inspired by the Netflix Original Anne with an E. It portrays children of all ages as complex characters, with different goals and needs. I hope I have achieved something similar with my own work, though I know the scope of my work is much smaller. Two fun facts about this piece: it’s set in the same year my great-grandmother was born, and, in honor of my great-grandmother, I named the protagonist after her...Gladys Jones. Archives After Dark
Little Triumphs That summer in 1909 could not be surpassed by any other. The weather was so fine, even on rainy days. Those days were my favorite, though I could’ve never admitted it. I think my mother was afraid that even at the mention of a damp afternoon, I would come down with some terrible fever and die before dinner. Still, even now, and until my last day, I will go to an open window on a rainy day and breathe deep. The cleanliness of a summer rain touches deep and colors the soul. It makes me feel young again. Though what I remember now did not happen on a rainy day. No, it was as dry as any other summer day! This particular afternoon, I was visiting my friends at Janet Garfield’s house. We were at a little table underneath an oak, having what Janet insisted was a very dignified tea time. It should be noted—or else Janet, should she read this, will break down my door with a pen in hand to put this in herself—that the Garfield house was beautiful. The Garfield family was quite happy to live in such a grand house, which was accentuated by how pretty the Garfields were themselves. Janet, the little rosebud then, now, and forever, was darling… until she opened her mouth and showed her thorns. We were all between the ages of seven and twelve. Ruby was the youngest at seven, and May was eight. I regret to say I don’t remember much of them. They were the children of the Garfields’ neighbors, invited over for sake of being polite, rather than true friendship. Frederika, who insisted on being called Freddie, and so I will respect her wishes, even though it’s been some time since we’ve last seen one another, was closer to my age of twelve. She was always combative, it seemed—at what—at anything! But I think she liked to be; we laughed at her outbursts and her anger was always swept away by a grin. Her cheeks went red at the drop of a hat, and they were always a lovely pinkish hue to begin with. Then, there was Georgina. Never before, nor do I think after, would a little girl have such a stern expression. She impressed us all at every tea time, when she took tea with no cream and no sugar. She ate in silence, she skipped rocks “as well as a boy” (Janet’s words) and had wonderful yellow hair. For these reasons, she was a secret love of Jimmy Carmichael, who was just as stoic, but could not skip rocks to save his life. Suppose it’s easy for me to say that I was a good child. I was simpering. I liked to please. Certainly, I was polite to my elders, in ways that made them turn to one another and twitter in admiration of my manners. Of course, I don’t wish to go back and make myself a more rebellious child. I had my moments. 92 Archives After Dark
I remember the Garfield garden well. Our arranged table was underneath a large oak tree, and it looked like it went up for miles. At the next house over, the Carmichael boys were causing a ruckus. They ran about, throwing their hats at each other, yelling. Despite this, I could hear my mother talking to the other girls’ mothers, as they met inside the house for their own grown-up tea time. “Look at them,” I heard Mrs. Garfield say, and I knew there was a prim, satisfied smile on her face as she surveyed us. “They’re like little women! How darling.” From deeper inside the parlor, where the summer sunlight did not quite reach, I knew my mother sat with her worried smile. I could see her face, swimming, grainy from the shadow. She got up and I did, too, thinking she would say something to me. “Frederika?” my mother called. “Would you switch places with my Gladys, so she isn’t in the sunlight?” “Yes, Mrs. Jones.” Freddie made a face at me as she moved. It wasn’t one that condemned me. I had to screw my face up to keep from laughing as Freddie crossed her eyes and dragged her lips down. With pursed lips and mirth, I switched spots with her. I looked to my mother again, but she was already backing away from the window, returning to her seat. Janet took a spoon and tapped it, so primly, against her teacup. We were, therefore, obligated to pay her heed. She smiled at us, and it was a terrifying copy of her mother’s prissy, smug smile. “I think,” she said, “that after this first tea, we should play a game. What game shall we play?” “Jacks,” was Freddie’s instant reply. “No,” was Janet’s instant retort, her blue eyes flashing in Freddie’s direction. “Pass the Slipper?” May suggested. “Perhaps!” Janet looked pleased. She turned to Georgina to her right. “Georgina?” “I’m going to go down to the pond,” she said. “And do what?” Georgina shrugged and drank her famously undressed tea. “I think I’ll just walk.” Janet seemed perturbed by this but gave no further comment. She turned to me. “Gladys?” I shrugged. It was easier not to argue with Janet. She had not yet given her idea of what game we should play, so I wasn’t about to go against a pre-set plan. But I had to comment. “I think—I think a walk around the pond would be nice,” I said. Archives After Dark
“Your mother would never allow it,” Janet said, coolly. Then, as if mocking my mother, she said, “The mosquitos could be carrying something.” Oh, that stung. I feel it even now, in my stomach. I don’t know if I was angrier at her sureness or her poking fun at my mother. Either way, she was right, but I wasn’t going to let her know. “If we all went, she wouldn’t mind,” I said. Janet smiled, primly, vexingly, said nothing and sipped her tea. I wanted to throw something at her, but the cups were too pretty to be hurled. I almost thought about stealing one, about stealing piece by piece her china set, because at that moment, Janet didn’t deserve such finery. I was not an eggshell teacup. “What about the kite?” Ruby asked. “What kite?” Freddie followed Ruby’s gaze up into the tree we were sitting under. “That kite? Yes!” She sprang up. “Whoever gets it down first wins!” “No—no!” Janet put a soft hand on Freddie’s elbow. “No, we are not allowed up in the tree. Father said he would get it for me.” “Well, when did you ask him to get it?” Freddie asked. “Tell him to get it down now—you know they do nothing all day in that house. They don’t even play games, they just sit and talk!” Janet’s cheeks flushed. “I won’t interrupt my father’s time with his friends. That would be rude.” Freddie rolled her eyes. “How?” “What—how would it be rude? Frederika, you know why!” Janet clutched her teacup and frowned, daring to crease the perfect skin on her brow. “Because they are having their adult time, and we are children.” “Dumb,” Freddie replied, plopping down in her seat, shaking her head. “Dumb, dumb, dumb. Just ask!” Just as Janet was about to go into a tirade about being called— indirectly or directly—dumb, Georgina pipped up. “I could probably get that kite.” She got up, smoothing down the front of her cotton dress. She went to the trunk. The closest branch was too high up for her to grab by herself. She turned, “Freddie, give me a leg-up.” “Alright!” Freddie sprang up again. “No!” Janet shrilled. All girls froze. For a moment, we heard our mothers lapse into silence, waiting to hear if Janet would continue to shriek. Janet held her rose petal lips tightly together, eyes wide, waiting for a mother to come to the window. But soon, the quiet, dignified murmuring picked up again. “No,” Janet repeated through clenched teeth. “Georgina, sit down.” Without a qualm—but I could see a glint in Georgina’s eye that could’ve melted steel—Georgina sat down at the table. Janet put her little hands in her lap and composed herself. “We will 94 Archives After Dark
play Pass the Slipper.” May grinned and clapped in delight. “I want to be in the middle first!” “You may,” Janet said indulgently, and took a sip of her tea. “Why don’t we ask them to help?” May pointed her little index finger at the Carmichaels. “Absolutely not,” Janet snapped. We could all see Jimmy Carmichael throwing looks at the back of Georgina’s head, as if willing for her to turn and bat an eye at him. She drank her tea and ate a scone, crumb by crumb. “How innapro—what impropriety—if we had them come over here!” Janet shook her head in disgust. “For one, May, they are boys. Automatically, they are not to be associated with.” “Why not?” she asked. “Because all they do is show off.” Janet scowled and looked over her shoulder at them. “Look at them, rolling around in the grass.” “What puts you above them?” I asked. Janet moved in a blur. She faced me, anger filling her in an instant. She looked a little like Freddie, her cheeks poppy-colored with contempt. “My existence, by itself, does,” she said. Freddie snorted. Then, she snickered. She laughed and slapped the table. Janet’s lips twitched and she smiled in spite of herself. I looked over at the Carmichaels. I liked how they dressed—how any boy dressed. Oh, it was lovely how we clothed ourselves in those times. I adored my dresses but wondered what it would be like to dress as a boy— and why I had never been given the option. It seems silly now; the time I live in now allows for more flexibility in clothing between the sexes. But why, I asked myself in my younger years, was there such division then? “Besides,” I heard Janet say, “there’s no good breeze for kiteflying…I’ll get father to take it down. Some other day, maybe.” Janet’s air of frustration buzzed about the table again. I can’t quite recall what Mr. Garfield’s profession was, but I do know this much: he couldn’t have been too busy to ask one of their servants to get the kite down. Or bring it down himself. For an adult, it would’ve taken no time. I sipped my tea. It was none of my business. Still, I thought it. And I imagined Janet was thinking of the same thing, as well; running it over and over in her head, like a carousel running wild. The colors flash and they blind, instead of tantalize. “So then, what do we do?” Freddie asked, restless. “I swear, if we just waste the day at this table, I’ll never come to your house again!” “Oh, Freddie.” Janet rolled her eyes hard enough to make her wince. “I mean it!” “Pass the Slipper…” May reminded everyone quietly. Archives After Dark
I don’t quite know what compelled me to do my first rebellious act. Maybe the summer sky was too inviting, too beautiful, for me to hide from it beneath the tree. Maybe Janet was giving me a headache, and I had only just arrived thirty minutes before the skirmish. I wanted a change. I hadn’t realized it consciously, but how many other times had we spent a tea doing what Janet wanted? I turned to Georgina and said, “I think it’d be nice to walk around the pond, if you still want to?” Georgina smiled and nodded. “Do you want to go now?” I did and said so. We left, ignoring Janet’s gawking. I’d like to imagine the other girls didn’t mind so much. In fact, I think Freddie wrangled May and Ruby into a game of jacks after all. Janet pouted, but watched from her seat at the head of the table, I’m sure. I have to laugh now, because I thought I was being very rebellious, indeed! How small a triumph it was, but all the dearer to me! Georgina and I weren’t very close. As much as I admired her solitary nature, her quiet confidence, and her rock-skipping abilities, I didn’t know much more about her. My mother told me that her father owned a shop, and I knew Georgina’s mother always had wonderful hats. “Your mother’s hat is lovely,” was all I could say to break the ice. “I guess so,” Georgina said. “I don’t like hats.” “Why not?” I asked. “I like feeling the sun on the top of my head,” she said, stooping to pick up a rock. She skipped it across the pond. Remembering the easy flick of her wrist still makes me smile and wish I had such power. She was quiet for a while, and I thought to myself, even at the time, that she wasn’t stoic in a blank-faced manner. It was more like she was always lost in thought, always drawing inward. She was going to be fourteen at the end of autumn, and I suppose that must’ve weighed heavy on her mind. The years go so quickly anyhow. Across the gulf of twelve, thirteen, fourteen, I believe we become all the more aware of it. It throws some of us into a philosophic gloom. I truly hoped that gloom wouldn’t come over Georgina. She turned and looked me right in the eye. “Don’t listen to what Janet says. I know we’re all friends, but what she said was mean. I don’t think you’re any different from us, just because your mother says you are. And I don’t think it was kind of her to make fun of your mother, either. Some people can’t help being nervous.” Quietly, I heard myself say, “I know.” We walked a lap around the pond. The idea attacked me that I stood where I stood with my mother 96 Archives After Dark
because I was her only child. If I could tell you how I came to that conclusion that day, I would. But the thread of that thought slipped away, like a snake gliding through water. The realization was, simply, suddenly, there. I could not be a precious piece of crystal on the mantle above a fireplace. I was not an eggshell teacup. “I just don’t know,” I said. “I’m not a mother—so I wouldn’t know. But I wish I could tell my mother to not worry about me so much.” “Everyone’s got to have someone to worry about, Gladys,” she said. “Maybe your mom got tired of worrying about your dad.” I turned, surprised, and saw her grin. She laughed and soon, I was laughing, too. Georgina threw an arm around my shoulder. “Don’t think too hard on it. It is what it is. Besides, you could have Janet’s mom, who pays attention in the wrong and annoying way.” “I guess so.” I smiled, but still felt a need to change, even if it were in a trivial way. “I guess I’d rather have my mother worry over me getting sick, than worry over how I’ll get my hair curled by morning.” We walked another lap in silence. Even from the pond, we could still hear the Carmichael boys, their rowdy voices carrying over the hill. We returned up the hill, to the table. I saw that kite again in the tree, more clearly now than ever. It looked almost pure white in contrast to the leaves. “I’m going to get that,” I said. Georgina followed my gaze. “I don’t know—there isn’t even a strong breeze. It’s not as if we could play with it today—like Janet said.” “Get it down today, play with it tomorrow!” I cried, breaking out into a run. In my adult years, in my here and now, I want to wax psychological and say that I was running away from the sad thoughts I left at the pond. But really, I wanted to run towards something, not away. I wanted that kite down, just to say that I had gotten it down myself. And, I had never climbed a tree before. It seemed the perfect day to try. “Will you give me a leg-up?” I asked Georgina. She was a few inches taller than me and gladly obliged. I don’t think I had ever wanted something so badly before! I clambered up, Georgina giving me a leg-up. Janet, hearing the ruckus of me climbing up, stood by the table, wide-eyed. When I had the chance to look back down, I saw that she looked frightened. She ran up to the tree, her hands clasped in front of her. Frederika and the other girls followed, shouting encouragement. I can only assume the mothers thought we were playing a game. What small miracle it was that they did not catch me in the tree! The bark scraped up my hands, which I realized had never Archives After Dark
truly touched a tree before. There were some parts of the branches that were smooth—dangerously so. I could see ants crawling along them sometimes, scraps of leaves in their jaws. A beetle crawled up the gnarled trunk. The leaves which were closer to the trunk felt cool against my skin as I passed them. Among the emerald, I saw the white of the kite. I wanted to leap out! I wanted to run to it! If a strong enough wind had kicked up, I might’ve been able to glide the rest of the way. I could feel my face was on fire, as if I were standing next to the stove after coming in from the snow. Sweat was starting to trickle through my hair, down my scalp and to my neck. I shimmied out. The ribbon was there, the kite. Tantalizingly yellow from this angle, where the sunlight filtered through canvas. I reached out and took it, tugging. The branch wobbled. “Be careful!” Janet cried. “I always am!” I assured her. My mouth was dry and I wet my lips. “Quit your shouting, I can get it!” I reached out with both hands, my legs the only thing keeping me attached to the tree as I had my legs wrapped tight around the branch. I never thought before of how strong my legs were—but why wouldn’t they be? They carried me down the street every day! I started to pull the kite in to be with me, among the branches and leaves, but the canvas began to rip. So, simply, I pushed it out. Still, it ripped, but it fell—free! Freddie, Ruby, May, and even reserved Georgina, cheered. Janet squealed, first in fright, then in delight. I saw her dart to grab up the kite as if it would get sucked back into the tree if she didn’t. Small triumph! I know—goodness—I know, looking back now, that this is insignificant to the large crowd! But, for a moment, I simply stood at the branch and looked out at the Garfield backyard. Sunlight danced on the surface of the pond, and I could see cattails bobbing gently with a slight wind. A whisper of the breeze passed through the leaves to where I was, and it felt so cool, so right, like a blessing or a prize for climbing so high. And beyond? Trees of other kinds, taller than the one I was in. There were a few other houses, their shingled roofs grey and black against a sea of green. Clouds lulled overhead, white as Janet’s dress. I held it all in, stowed it where I would keep that sight forever. Then, I climbed down. I didn’t hear my stocking tear as I went, but Ruby’s gasp alerted me to it. “Oh no!” she cried. “You’ll get in trouble for that! A ripped stocking! 98 Archives After Dark
My mama would hit the roof!” Janet flew inside, abandoning the kite at the table. Georgina tried to pull the hem of my dress down in an attempt to hide the tear, but it was from ankle to knee. “Just stand with that side away from your mother,” Frederika suggested. “She’d ask why I was side-stepping,” I said. I was disappointed! Not entirely surprised; this was why you shouldn’t climb trees in stockings, I could hear my mother say. And what if you had gotten a scrape? And what if you had gotten a cut? And what if it got infected? I wouldn’t change my ascent or regret that view I got while in the tree. Never. I made a solemn, stubborn vow. It brought tears to my eyes and I started to hang my head, turning away from the others. Georgina put her arm around me again and told me not to worry. Janet came back out. I saw the tips of her shiny leather shoes in my vision, even as my eyes burned with tears. “You can have these,” she said. I looked up and saw stockings in her hands, ones to match mine.“Really?” “Well, it’s payment for getting the kite out of the tree.” She said it as if stockings were the currency. I laughed! I took them and thanked her in some blubbering way. The Carmichael boys had quieted, and we saw them watching us with concerned interest. Jimmy, the most considerate and wanting to impress Georgina no doubt, took a step forward. “Quick!” Janet hissed. “Circle around Gladys.” They did so, and I changed stockings. The Carmichaels drifted away, throwing bemused glances at us from over their shoulders. I’m sure we were as strange to them as they were to Janet. I could see my dress wasn’t too terribly mussed, but I knew the wet patches around the collar and at the underarms would draw some concern from mother. That could be more easily explained away; even the shade had grown uncomfortably warm. Mother did give me grief about the sweat stains. She warned me about the dangers of dehydration. She was appalled by my color. I took these chidings and concerns quietly, as I had before, giving a docile nod at the end of a statement. It was a thrill to know where I had gone. It was exhilarating to know where I could go. To put a toe outside the line was as rewarding as chocolate cake or springtime chasing the snow away. To defy, to try, to give and receive, to attempt to know, all in one day. Little triumphs, I know. But they were, and always will be, mine.
Archives After Dark
Reflections from a Band Uniform Ciara Sandefur, EKU Undergraduate Student
Eastern Marching Band Overlay, undated | EKU Memorabilia
Author Statement I am a Biomedical Science major and Chemistry minor, but I was initially drawn to the EKU marching band overlay because of my strong ties with music. I have been involved with band since high school, and even participated in one of EKUâ€™s ensembles during my time at Eastern. With that said, I was initially timid to participate in Archives After Dark because of my STEM background. I often donâ€™t have the opportunity to engage in creative works, so Archives After Dark gave me the perfect chance to do so while challenging me to break out of my comfort zone. With these three poems, I want to capture three different phases of marching band: band camp, homecoming, and the postseason. The poems present the perspective of the marching band overlay on a jacket, providing a unique glimpse into the life of an ensemble member who experiences a variety of emotions throughout the season as they promote EKU spirit at football games. I hope these poems allow others to appreciate the marching band and the pivotal role it plays in cultivating EKU spirit for our campus community. 100 Archives After Dark
Reflections from a Band Uniform Band Camp Out from the back of the closet and into the scorching sun, the thrill of the new season almost makes me vomit. I am drenched with sweat as Iâ€™m pressed against a shiny, wooden clarinet. The band is at attention and I certainly feel the tension. Shoulders back, Feet together, Limbs trembling, and Eyes glowing with pride as the band takes the first step, unified. I feel the shallow first breath, the heart begins to race, the clarinet quickly pops up and dislodges one of my buttons. Amidst the hesitant, squeaky first note produced, I have recollections of the overwhelming sense of Eastern pride from the season prior. Itâ€™s another summer of rehearsals, with drills and music to uncover, but the Colonel pride always seems to hover among the chaos.
Homecoming One of the most exciting times of the year, Football, tailgates, and homecoming are finally here! Freshly pressed jacket, Polished silver buttons, and a bright embroidered maroon E as I anticipate a thousand eyes will be looking at me.
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Sounds of rat-a-tat-tat echo from behind and the glimmer of silver instruments nearly makes me blind. Daniel Boone is the penultimate stop for this parade while EKU fans line up with great praise. The edge of my sleeve glides across the gold as I partake in the tradition that EKU upholds. The show is set to begin as I experience a familiar sensation as the band walks in. All the enthusiasm and yelling from the crowd, makes me think how my parents would be proud! I want everyone to see my maroon letter that is stitched impressively on the jacket worn by the player. That maroon E exemplifies such pride that I’m sure the alumni will cry. “Yea, Eastern” blasts across the field and the fans sing and shout with glee. My work here is done because our alma mater has won.
Postseason Smelly and stained are the conditions I sustained. Another season is finished, but my value is not diminished. I cried when the Colonels lost and cheered when they won. The same emotions filled me as everyone. Another season is finished, but my value is not diminished. I may be smelly and stained but it’s something I wouldn’t change. I’ve shown great pride for Eastern Kentucky as I’m shoved into a bag in a hurry. I’m crammed to the back of the closet, where I’ll spend most of my days, patiently waiting for summertime. 102 Archives After Dark
Mit Gott für Köenig und Vaterland (With God for King and Fatherland) H. Michael Shultz Jr., EKU Undergraduate Student
German Stahlhelm, 1916 | Owen W. Hisle Collection
Author Statement I am a Junior History major at Eastern Kentucky University and intend to pursue a career in Post-Secondary education. I am married to my best friend and greatest supporter, Storm. When I saw the German Pickelhaube, I thought of the saying, “Oh, to have been a fly on the wall of that room.” I wondered what I would have seen if I could have witnessed what that helmet saw. In a way, the work that the helmet inspired is one of a new product becoming an antique, except this process is experienced by a human being. The German man in this story tells of his progression throughout the 20th Century, and his struggle to engage the new trends of postmodernism as culture changed around him. He is familiar with the philosophies and Archives After Dark
literary pieces that are foundational to Western Civilization, and laments their evident passing away. Like any such “human antique,” he has his own ideas, which are not always taken from an objective point of view and may occasionally confuse the known timeline. He is inherently flawed, and may be the kind of antique that you’d never put in the storefront window. But this is his tale, told from his perspective as a fly on the wall.
Mit Gott für Köenig und Vaterland (With God for King and Fatherland) When I was born, Germany had only recently been unified. Nearly ninety years ago my grandfather fought for Francis II against Napoleon and his French nationalists when this was known as the Holy Roman Empire. Soon after, my father fought the French again under Wilhelm I and the indomitable Bismarck in the name of the unified German Empire. We won that war and took our place on the throne of Europe. Only a few months after my birth, Bismarck resigned from his post, and left us in the hands of a child in men’s clothing. Wilhelm II was a brat, and the only thing worse than a brat is a brat who gets everything he wants. I remember watching the military parades as a boy. The army had adopted the Prussian Pickelhaube, as it should have. Berlin has always been the center of civilization in the Germanic lands, and Prussia was the product thereof. Prussia was the greatest military power the world had seen since Rome, but stronger. Tiberius Caesar tried to take Germany as he had taken France and quickly found the difference between the two. Nineteen hundred years later, nothing had changed. The German army was the strongest the world could possibly produce. Our soldiers were fierce, quick, deadly, and smart. Our navy was growing so quickly that the British tried to make deals with us to stop building. But it was Achilles that brought the manner to a point: “There are no covenants between men and lions. Wolves and lambs can never be of the same mind, but hate each other out and out and through. Therefore there can be no understanding between you and me, nor may there be any covenants between us, till one or other shall fall.” And thus it was, one or the other would fall. Yet, even the mighty the Royal Navy never dreamt of attacking us alone. In all their strength and all their pomp, they stayed across the channel hoping that we would never come to their shores. We were the enemy that no man sought, and only the foolish man found. 104 Archives After Dark
I remember receiving this helmet. Across the front it reads, “Mit Gott für Köenig und Vaterland,” which means “With God for King and Fatherland.” I was a young man and I knew that war was coming, and this creed represented exactly what I was fighting for. Bismarck had warned us for years that the Balkan powder keg was going to explode, and I knew that when it did, Germany would be there. We had almost no interest in colonizing Africa. We traded with those freed slaves in Liberia and settled in a few areas of East Africa, but our eye was ever on Europe. While the French and Belgians massacred their millions to conquer sand and water throughout that continent, we kept an eye on the great beasts to the east – Russia and the Ottoman Empire. I could scarcely imagine how I might contribute to this great conquest that was sure to come. This helmet was all I had. The day that Franz Ferdinand was killed, I didn’t think much would come of it. Why should I care that a group of gloved Slavs killed an Austro-Hungarian heir? But within only a few days the entire world was ablaze with alliances, both public and private. The Slavs in Serbia had appealed to their Slavic brethren in Russia for protection from AustriaHungary, knowing that they could not handle a proper army alone. Even the massive ogre was hesitant to agree, knowing that a war with AustriaHungary meant a war with Germany – as we had agreed to protect our Germanic brethren from such an attack by the Russians. The Russians, being the fools that they are, called upon the only hope that they had in defeating us – the French. The French had been sulking ever since we took their precious Alsace-Lorraine. They even made a dramatic event of covering the Strasbourg statue in Paris with a black shawl to “remember” the lost cities. Their weakness made me sick. Nevertheless, they were an enemy to be dispelled, and I found no lack of motivation to fight the same men that my father and grandfather had fought. My only insecurity on the day of our declaration of war was that I was not able to give enough. After all, this helmet was all that I had. General von Schlieffen had devised a plan to invade and conquer France before the ogre to the east could ever send troops to German soil. We weren’t particularly concerned about Russia anyway. Japan – possibly the only empire on Earth with less modern technology, weaponry, and general sophistication than the Russians – had recently defeated the Russians in East Asia. The Americans had only introduced the Japanese to modern weapons fifty years prior, so how venomous could the Russo’s bite possibly be? The single greatest problem with Schlieffen’s plan was the man left to execute it. Moltke had taken over. That fat turtle of a man feared the Slav like he feared the frontlines. He spent barely one month at war Archives After Dark
before leaving his men following the horrific Battle of the Marne. I had been transported to the East, to guard against the Russians who took forever to show up. I heard of the failure of the plan because of Moltke’s cowardice and lack of discipline. I even heard from one soldier that he reported to Kaiser Wilhelm saying, “We have lost the war.” We were sent into a war that we could have won by men who never committed. The average soldier was left in hell on those frontlines. Shells fell constantly from overhead. My Pickelhaube was quickly diagnosed as insufficient for battlefield usage. It was to be polished to a shine – this shine made me a quick target for snipers. It was to be worn with the spike prominently displayed – this showed my position within the trenches. It was made of leather – this stopped absolutely no shrapnel from tearing into my head when launched from enemy lines. I watched as my comrades fired shot after shot into the Russian menace, and they seemed to just keep coming. Months went on like that, and new recruits appeared with the new German Stahlhelm. It noticeably did not bear the creed “Mit Gott für Köenig und Vaterland” as it was an adapted version of my helmet meant to better protect them with fewer remnants of pride in God, king, or nation. It made me feel as though I was outdated, but this helmet was all that I had. My family back home was starving because of the embargo placed on our ports by the British. The British had communicated to us at the outset of the war that they would not get involved. It was only upon our invasion of “neutral” Belgium that they announced their entry. Neutral... That’s hardly the right word for the nation that committed a genocide in the Congo. But the rest of the world didn’t hear that part of the story. They heard the false tales of Germans raping and pillaging, burning and murdering innocent Belgians on their way to do the same to the poor French. We were vilified around the world from the outset. Even our allies in Switzerland found themselves unable to speak on our behalf. Ulrich Wille, the commanding officer of the Swiss army, had married a member of Bismarck’s family, and although he pled to enter the war on our behalf, the Swiss were afraid to betray their debtors and lose all of their trade partners. The result was the abandonment of their German trade partners. We soon ran out of valuable resources – most noticeably, we ran out of food. It was upon this point that the entire war was ultimately lost. Had we produced the food that we needed, even the introduction of the United States could never have resulted in our defeat. Had Moltke executed the plan as it was intended, the United States would never have had a port to land in without our permission. Had Belgium allowed us to pass through their borders peacefully, none of their men or women would have been harmed. England would never have needed to join the war. France would 106 Archives After Dark
have fallen before the leaves of autumn, and Russia would have been forced to sue for peace. But these things were not to be. What did happen was the total decimation of all things German. Our people were massacred. After the war the Russians claimed such a state as to make people believe they lost more men than anyone else. Germany lost as many men as Russia, but there was no pity. Our intellect was blamed for the rise of an even larger menace – communism. The Germans were blamed for the Communist Revolution in Russia, having supposedly sent Vladimir Lenin to St. Petersburg to try to get Russia out of the war. But Churchill himself is the one that claimed that the Germans “transported Lenin in a sealed train like a plague bacillus from Switzerland to Russia.” How could we have done such a thing? Transporting someone we didn’t want in our country, from a neutral country, to a belligerent country – the very assertion is ridiculous, yet we bore the blame for it. Our industries were destroyed. We were no longer allowed to harvest metals, coal, or anything of any real value from the Rhine. We were no longer allowed to produce any machinery that could be used for making war – which is almost anything solid or metallic. Our pride was destroyed. We were no longer allowed to hold a standing army of over 100,000 men (this after having lost 2,000,000 in the war). We were no longer allowed to have a navy. Our borders were shrunken. They took our cities and proclaimed them now free. Alsace-Lorraine was gone, and Danzig would be known officially as “the free city of Danzig,” having now been freed from us. Half of our nation was taken and given to the Poles. The Sudetenland was given to a new nation called Czechoslovakia. The Hohenzollern dynasty was deposed and replaced with a Weimar Coalition that signed the worst treaty to ever be signed in human history. Having been thoroughly humiliated in every possible way, the German people had no real bargaining points. The leaders of the Weimar Coalition took the deal that they were offered. They were not allowed to negotiate for the peace because those ravenous beasts knew they could force whatever they wanted. The citizens of Carthage never dreamt of being so mistreated by someone claiming to offer a “treaty.” All of the above was agreed to, along with a demand to repay war reparations totaling 132 billion marks. Walther Rathenau convinced us that this could be paid, but we all inwardly knew this could not possibly be done. In short, the British and French took everything from us. The soldiers did not return to their homes with even their dignity. Bismarck had established the first welfare state in human history, but when I returned home, my helmet was all that I had.
Archives After Dark
Our economy was never capable of carrying that weight. We asked for three years to recover from the war before making payments. The British were willing to allow it. The French denied it and took possession of the Ruhr industrial area in response to our request. We asked for breathing room. The French poured oil down our throats. In order to make the payments, our governors began printing money that was worthless, mailing it to the French and British. This debased our currency so quickly that within the span of a single year, the government owed the national bank 190 quintillion marks. Hjalmar Schacht took over our economy and quickly turned things around. He led one of the largest parties in the Reichstag during the Weimar Republic era, and we believed in him. Some people utilized this time to buy grand pianos. Throughout that time of want, however, my helmet was all that I had. The Weimar Republic was something entirely different. There was a jettisoning of reason. The young people began to embrace new types of philosophy. Nietzsche became popular and we began to see the results of his findings within our culture. Where we had previously been a moral and thoughtful nation, basic understandings were now questioned. It seems that people believed in sex before, during, outside of, and after marriage. Sexuality was open. Men slept with men and women with women, as if it were the norm. Bodily functions were mocked and minimalized, nothing was sacred or private anymore. Children witnessed nude beaches. Many religious adherents espoused situation ethics rather than objective moral truths. Theologians espoused a new orthodoxy. The arts espoused abstract art and the theatre of the absurd. Everything had become trivialized. I found myself playing a different part in this new Nietzschean world. I was the madman in the marketplace searching for God, being laughed at for looking. I was the madman proclaiming that we had all killed God. It was our fingerprints to be found on the knife that had stabbed God to death. He was dead, and we had killed Him. And in the smoke of the crash that was the German mind rose the figure of an Austrian who spoke with such fervency that we said, like the Jews before Christ, “no man ever spoke like this man.” Schacht told us that these Nazis were harmless men, that they were poor economists, and that Hitler specifically was poor at grammar. Despite all of this, Schacht endorsed Hitler for the Chancellorship and Hindenburg obliged. To his credit, Hitler did many things that people liked. He made life good for the average German. We started getting time for vacation that we had not previously received. He established the manufacture of the Volkswagon, or “the people’s car.” He established roadways and school systems that were accessible to everyone. He brought the Olympics to 108 Archives After Dark
Berlin only a decade after a total economic collapse. For these reasons, I am convinced that if Hitler had been hit by a beer truck while crossing the street in 1936, there would be statues of him all across Europe today as a revolutionary thinker. Hitler soon announced, just as countless Caesars, Khans, Shahs, and Chiefs before him had, that the rule that he established would last one thousand years. We had no reason to doubt him. He claimed that he would move his troops into the Rhineland. His military advisors told him that this was a breach of the Treaty of Versailles and would set off a war with France. He moved our troops in anyway. The French did nothing. Hitler claimed that the Sudetenland was German’s rightful territory. He proclaimed a desire to see it returned to German ownership. Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of Britain, came to negotiate a peaceful transition in which Hitler received everything that he desired in exchange for promising to do things that he was already committed to do. Chamberlain returned to England and declared that he “had secured peace in our time!” That old fool trusted Hitler to keep his word. Within a year we were at war. The shrapnel was now not only proceeding out of gunbarrels and mortar tubes, but was falling directly out of the sky. Zeppelins were a tool of the past. Planes buzzed overhead as the tanks rolled on below. Hitler attacked France in much the same way that we intended to in the Great War, only with much more success. To be fair, he was assisted by those cowards in Vichy France that simply gave up at the first threat. The Nazis were also assisted by the fact that the primary form of defense established by the French was a line of guns pointing in one direction. Brilliant lot, the French. They claimed they were exhausted from the previous war, yet blamed the Germans afterwards for not fighting against Nazi rule. We had lost more in the Great War than they had and had paid in every way possible for that war during the interim. All the while I listened to my radio from my bomb shelter, having nothing to protect myself save my Pickelhaube. My helmet was all that I had. When I finally emerged from my shelter after those long years, I found my home in a very different place. All of my neighbors were gone. Mr. and Mrs. Erlichman had been sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Their children were now orphaned. The Fineburgs had been sent to Sachsenhausen. None of them returned. There was nothing I could have done, nor was there anything that I could now do, but weep. In this brief period of silence, I truly believe that Germany found itself in the same state as its beloved philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. In his last days, Nietzsche could be found in an absolute trance, incapable of producing any words save those of the scriptures that his mother had taught him. Having spent his life Archives After Dark
denouncing God, everything he once had to be proud of was gone, and all he had now was God. The British once had a song, “May the God who made us mighty make us mightier yet.” The German was now forced to alter this song, “May the God who made us, make us again.” Unfortunately, God was not who showed up. The first on the scene were the Russians, who were led by another man who once loved God. Joseph Stalin was once a student at a seminary where he was training to be a minister. He renounced his belief in God, and chose to be a god instead. When his people arrived in Berlin, having lived up to his command of “not one step back,” they continued taking and taking until there was nothing left to take. They came to our homes looking for German soldiers whom they were to throw into the same concentration camps that the Jews had been in. Sachsenhausen was one of their favorites because of its organizational structure. When they searched my house for reason to believe I was a Nazi soldier they were forced to report only one piece of paraphernalia. My helmet was all that I had. I watched as they built the wall down the center of our city. One man was shot while trying to ride his bike across in the last moment. I suppose I should be thankful that my children were on the west side of the wall, but I am left in this lonesome, gray, dreary place that once was my home. The nation that I once knew is entirely gone, having been exported elsewhere for other uses. We looked out into space and developed theories of general relativity. We looked inwardly and developed technology that allowed humans to track brain waves. We looked out and developed technology to scientifically manage the environment around us in a responsible way. We looked at each other and developed the most efficient way to kill one another. Ironically, it was German scientists that ended the Second World War. We developed the bomb that destroyed Japan altogether, beyond recognition. We developed the rockets that allowed mankind to exit our own atmosphere. We created the coffee maker that every man used to stay awake while doing these things. From the top to the bottom, we dominated every thing in every field. This is the most baffling aspect of the whole matter. The Holocaust was not committed by madmen. We were not unintelligent. We were not without understandings of philosophy. We were rational. We were the most educated people of our time. But we were living without God. I could hear the voice from over the wall. Such an American accent on those words, “Lass’ sie nach Berlin kommen.” What was he talking about? I stepped outside and got closer to the wall. Of course, not too close, so as to not be shot, but as close as my heart allowed. “When one man is enslaved, all are not free.” I knew enough English to understand that 110 Archives After Dark
sentence. He simply must have been speaking about us. We were trapped behind this wall. We were slaves behind this wall. He must have been talking about us. And then, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Oh the joy! Who was this man? It must have been a German, taken to America after the war, returned to see us freed. One of our own, could it really be? I asked everyone that I thought might know. Finally, someone whispered in excitement, “It is Kennedy! It is Kennedy! He has come from America to see us freed!” Although that wasn’t the day on which we were to be freed, and another two decades would pass before that day would come, I felt the presence of God come back to this desolate land in the spirit of that Christian man. In the meantime, I grew to be an old man. I look back across my years, taking in all that I have seen. Oddly enough, it was a British man named Malcolm Muggeridge who wrote about my lifetime better than I could ever hope to when he penned: “We look back across history and what do we see? Empires rising and falling. Revolutions and counter-revolutions. Wealth accumulated, and wealth dispersed. Shakespeare has spoken of the rise and fall of great ones that ebb and flow with the moon. I have heard a crazed, cracked Austrian, announce to the world the establishment of a German Reich that would last a thousand years. I have seen an Italian clown, saying he was going to stop and restart the calendar with his own ascension to power. I have seen America wealthier, and in terms of military weaponry, more powerful than the rest of the world put together, so that had the American people so desired, they could have outdone a Caesar or an Alexander in the range and scale of their conquest. Now, Hitler and Mussolini are dead remembered only in infamy. Stalin is a forbidden name in the regime that he helped found and dominate for some three decades. America is haunted by fears of running out of the precious fluids that keep her motorways roaring, and the smog settling. All in one lifetime! All in one lifetime! All gone with the wind. Behind the debris of the fallings of our solemn supermen and imperial diplomatists, lies the gigantic figure of one person, because of whom, by whom, in whom, and through whom, mankind may still survive. The person of Jesus Christ.” They will now lay me in my grave. In my casket will go my body, but not myself. My poor body, left behind in this land of want and woe. Perhaps just once more I say, my helmet is all that I have.
Archives After Dark
Contributors: Darian Bianco Jessica Brandenburg Maja Bursac Abigail Byrd Makenzie Davis
Emily Faith Paige Freeman J. Thomas Hudson Eden Lewis Arthur Martin
Meghan McKinney Anastasia Pierce Caitlyn Rahschulte Ciara Sandefur H. Michael Shultz Jr.
“Archives After Dark left me tired, exhausted, but in utter excitement for what was to come. I couldn't wait to see what everyone else had done! To me, Archives After Dark was a great achievement, because I finally sat down, committed, and finished a full story. I almost never have time to do something like that, but for this event, I made time!” - Caitlyn Rahschulte, Archives After Dark Participant
"Archives After Dark was one of those experiences that will come up anytime I talk about my time in college. I believe the best and brightest of EKU’s students were represented that night, and the work that we all produced is a testament to our love for literature, history, and EKU." - H. Michael Shultz Jr., Archives After Dark Participant