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Monday, April 19, 2010

Memory from Carleton County Gaol

A few years ago when I was in high school, my history class went on a field trip to Ottawa. The purpose of the trip was to see the sites of Canada's capital city, including the Government buildings, the art gallery, and other national treasures.

We stayed in the HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel, formerly known as the Carleton County Gaol. This building is known for having a brutal past--many people were executed here--and as a result, has a reputation for being haunted with spirits.

I thought the hostel was a cool place, but also eerie. The rooms we slept in were converted cells--the bars were still in place. During daytime, our class toured the far corners of the old prison, including the upper floor where those accused of capital crimes were once located. This area also included the execution chamber, a frightening and chilly brick room.

The hostel staff told us about all the abuses that happened over a hundred years ago in the prison, especially on the upper floor. The guards were notorious for abuse, and suicides were common. They also said that visitors often complained about strange noises and other disturbances at night.

To be honest, I didn't believe any of this. I thought it was all an attempt to build the old gaol's reputation, bringing in more tourists. But as the nights went by, some of the students said weird things were happening. A couple girls, I believe, developed strange rashes--Naturally, I attributed this to poor sanitary conditions. Then the other girls started talking about hearing chattering at night, similar to metal. My sister, who also came along, said she felt the bed move at night.

I remained skeptical--as did the other males. For some reason, the ghosts only attacked the girls.

On the last day of our trip, prior to leaving for our train back to Toronto, a few of the students, including myself, took one last tour of the upper floors. The sun was brightly shining through the windows, so there was no fear for spooks. We looked at the hanging noose in the execution chamber and had a few laughs about ghosts--how silly.

Then our bus arrived. Everyone vacated the upper floor, travelling down the spiralling staircase. I stayed to take a few pictures. I didn't really believe there were ghosts, so there was nothing for me to be afraid of.

As I took pictures, I heard a sound. It was the sound of dry leaves rustling against the pavement. I didn't think much of it at first. Then I realized there were no dry leaves--or any leaves--outside the building. In fact, the outside of the hostel was covered in snow, the middle of January. The sound was clearly coming from inside!

Not only was it coming from inside, but the rustling sound was coming from a particular cell on the right side of the wall--just a couple yards ahead of my field of sight. My heart rate suddenly spiked! I was on high alert.

Feeling brave, I inched closer and closer to get a better view of the cell. The rustling sound grew louder! I curved my neck forward to see just a sliver of the notorious cell. It was definitely the source of the sound--the sound too loud and distinct to be that of a rodent.

I turned to look at the left wall. Bizarre! A barred window, the outside ledge lined with light pigeons--or were they doves? They are all staring into the cell, looking at what I'm hearing. The rustling continues to grow louder.

Suddenly, the birds fly away in a panic. As do I. In no time, I'm running for my life down the haunted staircase, trying desperately to escape whatever's lurking upstairs. I dart out of the hostel/jail's front door, into the bus. I'm breathing heavy. I want to talk, but I can't say anything. No one will believe me. Or worse, they will call me a girl!!!!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Pain by John Gilson

Jacob always grew sick at the sight of blood. Getting a blood test was never an easy ordeal. Just the thought of blood being pumped out of his body made him nauseous.
Near the end of his second year of university, Jacob entered a severe state of depression. He didn't know what brought it on, but it was bad and unlike anything he had ever experienced in the past. He felt empty like a machine with no soul. God no longer existed. Nothing mattered to him anymore. Jacob didn't know why he felt this way, but he wanted to get out of it. So, he locked himself away in his room and read intensely; searching for a way out. He didn't want to be seen in public. He thought of his current state as infectious. Anyone who came into contact with him may be inflicted with this hellish syndrome.
To make things worse, football spring training camp was just around the corner. Jacob didn't know what he was going to do. He though of quitting the football team to spare himself; however, Jacob knew deep inside that the sickness would soon come to and end.
But, it didn't improve. During his time at camp he kept alone. Jacob ate by himself and talked to no one. During the practices, he constantly saw spectators passing by. Their existence depressed him. They were laughing and having a good time, but he knew their lives, along with everyone else, were ultimately meaningless. We live mediocre and fruitless lives, he thought. The only thing that seems to matter is getting that God-forsaken house in the suburbs and having kids. It was real sad. And then what? They would all die and become nothing. There is no God and unfortunately no Devil either to at least entertain us; reminding us that there is something to live for. Jacob wasn't angry at them. He actually felt sorry for them. Everyone suffered the exact fate he did. The only difference was that he knew about it.
It was at this time that he found pain. In football practice, Jacob managed to block out the sadness of the world. Football became his only existence. Like the machine he was, Jacob mercilessly plunged his body into brutality. Long from fearing it, he now found himself a new companion in physical pain. The blood trickling down his broken body gave him warmth. The pain he experienced made him feel alive. It's as if Jacob took all the pain in the world and put it inside. He thought, as long as I'm suffering the world can be free from pain. But the depression didn't leave. It always came back as soon as practice would end; as soon as the pain stopped. Jacob would enter a near-catatonic state. Other people are starting to notice my strange behaviour, he feared.
At the last meeting, prior to the final scrimmage, the normally tough defensive coordinator approached Jacob and offered him words of support. "Are you sure you want to play?" he asked.
"What do you mean?" Jacob replied. But, at that moment Jacob knew the coach had finally caught on to his condition.
"You can barely walk", the coach said. "I know you're a tough player, but it's just a football practice.”
Jacob finally broke down. The tears started welling up in his eyes. Barely containing his emotions, he said, "It's the only thing that matters anymore."
Indeed, pain was the only thing that mattered to him. In this black hole of nothingness, it was the only thing that kept him going. Each crushing hit, every scrape and sprain in practice made him feel alive, even if it only lasted seconds. And he held on to it for dear life.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

An Unlikely Encounter by John Gilson

It was just another day at the cemetery. The weather was surprisingly pleasant for the middle of August. The humidity was lacking and I could feel a nice cool breeze brush against my body. In case you’re wondering, I wasn’t at the cemetery for the mere pleasure of it – That would make me a creep. The cemetery happens to be my place of work. So, as per usual, I spent the first hour of the morning trimming the grass around tombstones and the perimeter of the expansive Section 16.

The sound of the trimmer blocked out all surrounding noises. I felt at ease and at peace. It wasn’t until I started trimming one particular row of monuments that I noticed something strange.

About ten yards away at the base of one of the tall monuments I saw what appeared to be a long, thick snake. It was freakish. The thing just lay there dormant. It was a very dark green, and nearly black. Turning off the trimmer, I stood in silence, gazing at the strange animal. But then it started moving. It was at that moment that I realized that this thing wasn’t a snake at all, but something of a more immense size. It was a long tail!

Suddenly, the creature raised its body and head above the monument. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a Velociraptor!

These animals from the Cretaceous period are supposed to be extinct, but there it stood before my eyes—all six feet of it. It was real. I knew from my own personal research that Velociraptors are animals to be feared. They are voracious carnivores who use their long eight inch talons to shred apart prey. Usually the preferred method of killing is a swift slice of the talons through the abdomen, resulting in the spilling of guts, and an excruciating death. And apparently they know how to open doors. A scary thought indeed. Like many reptiles, the Velociraptor can only spot prey if the prey is foolish enough to be move—they are motion sensitive. So, I stood quietly, and slowly inched away from the scene as the fearsome reptile nibbled at the grass—for digestive purposes, I assume.

I tried to forget about the encounter, but as break came I felt a desperate urge to inform the others of the potential danger that lurked on Section 16. At the lunch table, the first person I met was one of the “Special Care” girls. For those of you who don’t know, the role of the Special Care girl is to look after the graves of customers, who pay extra money, so that their plot can look, well…Extra special. I was going to tell her about the Velociraptor on 16, but then I remembered that the grass the creature was eating just happened to be the grass of a Special Care grave. It’s the tastiest kind of grass in the cemetery. This girl took her job very seriously, and if she would find out that some animal, no matter what its size, was eating her Special Care, she would’ve confronted it without thinking. In essence, she would’ve been dinner. Out of the goodness of my heart, I couldn’t tell her about the raptor.

“Where’s Will Derry!” called out one of my fellow co-workers. “He was supposed to come in this morning, but I haven’t seen him. I wonder where he is.”

Upon hearing those words my mind was filled with dread. Will Derry was a friendly and talkative individual. He would befriend and talk to anyone. From what I understood, he was also into the comic book scene, and just the other day had attended a comic book conference where most of the people were dressed up in the costumes of their favourite superheroes. Perhaps, while on his way to work, Will Derry saw the Velociraptor and believed it to be one of his fellow comic book fans, dressed up as a dinosaur. The thing very well could’ve been a man. I mean, it was like six feet tall, the typical height of a large male. Seeing what he thought to be one of his fellow comrades, Will Derry probably decided to talk to the thing, and in the process was eaten. Maybe that would explain why the Velociraptor appeared a bit bloated when I saw it. Oh my God! Not Will Derry!

At the table I nervously ate the leftovers from the night before. I thought I had to warn everyone else. Everyone’s life could be in danger. But then it finally dawned on me. What the hell is a six feet tall Velociraptor doing roaming the open fields of the cemetery? They’re extinct—They don’t exist. I must’ve forgotten my pill that morning. Sigh!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Fading Green by John Gilson

The grass on the outside is green and tranquil. The sun slowly shows its face above the horizon causing the morning dew to sparkle. The most beautiful of settings. But it’s just a mirage. The inside contrasts sharply with the majestic wilds. It is cold and the walls are suffocating. Any moment I feel they will crush me, erasing every memory I have of the tranquil green grass. The poor souls inside are ignorant of the unseen horror that I am all too aware of. They laugh and play with no worries in sight. They think their futures are as green as the grass outside, but little do they know. Even the sight of my dull eyes doesn’t alert them at the slightest. The horror – that all encompassing void. It crushes my soul, but thank God I am the only one aware of it. No one else will suffer my knowledge. I beg God to let me taste that green grass, but I know it’s nothing but an illusion. Standing in the halls I am surrounded by many, but feel as if I’ve been sucked into a hole. Am I going insane? Has my brain finally snapped? The void is too powerful. I can’t take it anymore. All I can do is SCREAM (in silence)!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Bloody Matriarch by John Gilson


The BLACK QUEEN stands at her altar.
A beautiful and seductive figure
with ghostly white skin framed by long dark hair.

Her domain is an infernal womb.
A torrid forest teeming with potential dangers.
A land unpenetrable to outsiders.

Her throne is split in two by that most sacred river.
A river that runs red with the blood of her victims.
The blood of those men foolish enough to question her RULE.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Aral Sea tragedy

Check out this Huffington Post article about the Aral Sea in the former Soviet Union. The Aral Sea, once the 4th largest lake in the world, has shrunk by 90%! The aerial images are terrifying.