Developing Characters and Story, Part 4

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My Psychic Abilities, by Vree Erickson

A girl with psychic abilities is sometimes called a witch or sorceress. I am neither. I do not practice witchcraft or sorcery, though I do have a book that contains magic spells … when the book reveals them to me. Lightning struck me & unlocked psychic abilities in me. I believe everyone has them, but some people are more “gifted” (or cursed) than others, the same way that some of us are naturally inclined towards music or mathematics, for example. The lightning changed me & has made me more aware of these abilities in me.

Psychic abilities are also known as extrasensory perception (ESP) & sixth sense. There are many kinds & I am slowly discovering & developing new ones. Below is a list of psychic abilities that I developed … or more accurately, psychic powers that appeared in me without me consciously making them happen.

Having psychic abilities can be fun & scary. The effects of psychic abilities are poorly understood, & mainstream science is not @ the point of accepting the validity of scientific studies performed in parapsychology & consciousness research. Even with the available documented information detailing proof of psychic functioning, most people remain unaware of these results, & many others, like my brother & sister, have a pseudo skeptic outlook.

Mediumship or Channeling — My first ability was being able to see & talk to my dead father’s spirit. This ability includes communicating with ghosts. The latter happened after I awoke from my coma & moved to Myers Ridge in Ridgewood.

When lightning struck me, it also struck my dad & our house. It killed my dad & burned down our house, leaving my family & me homeless. I was in a coma after lightning struck me & I had a weird dream about my dad. He told me he was dead. Some people close to me who are involved with studying psychic phenomena say that this was a precognitive dream. I disagree. My dad was already dead when he came to me. Another argument, which I feel may be true, is this was a telepathic experience with him. All the same, I saw & spoke to him then, & again during & after my family & I moved to Myers Ridge.

After I awoke, Daddy told me not to tell anyone that I could see him. I think he wanted to spare me from ridicule. Most people, including me, don’t take well to things they don’t understand.

Astral or Mental Projection — When Daddy came to me during my coma, he told me & showed me that I was in a coma. I believe I traveled out-of-body where my “astral body” separated itself from my physical body. It’s been the only time I’ve done this, so I have little evidence to back my theory. But my gut says I really stood @ my bedside & saw myself in bed @ the hospital.

Telepathy, Mind-Reading & Thought Transference — This is the ability to receive and send thoughts & emotions, like when my family first entered Ridgewood & I received the troubled thought of a Roualen—a traveler from another planet & galaxy that became marooned with its kind on Myers Ridge. Along with this came Empathy—the ability to sense their needs, drives, & emotions—though not right away.

Precognition or Premonition — This happened once: perceiving events in flashes of detailed insight before they happened. And I certainly received plenty of strange looks from my siblings when I warned our mom of an impending traffic disaster after I saw the Mayflower truck with our meager belongings in it pass through our SUV.

Clairvoyance or Second Sight — Lenny argues that because I could see past the cloaking devices that made the Roualens look invisible to the human eye, that I am able to perceive outside the known human senses. He says this ability includes being able to read Margga’s book of magic written in a language that he cannot understand.

Retrocognition or Post-Cognition — This is the ability to see past events. I can do this only when I touch people. It isn’t something that I do purposely … it just happens.

Energy Medicine — When Margga killed Lenny, I healed his wounds & brought him back to life by somehow channeling a form of energy into his body.

Psychometry or Psychoscopy — When I touched Lenny’s dead body, I received information about his wounds & an understanding of how to heal him. Also, when I touched the Roualen spacecraft inside Myers Ridge & concentrated on the object, I received information about its damaged engine & how to fix it.

Psychokinesis or Telekinesis — This is the ability to manipulate matter by the power of thought, which I did to heal Lenny & fix the Roualen ship.

Psychic Abilities I Don’t Have

The following abeyant psychic abilities (in alphabetical order) exist & may appear in me over time. If so, who knows what will happen. Scary!

  • Animal Telepathy—communicating with (but not command or influence) various kinds of creatures. Think “pet psychic.”
  • Apportation—materializing, vanishing or teleporting an object.
  • Aura Reading—seeing the energy fields that emanate from people, places & things.
  • Automatic Writing—producing written words without conscious thought, or through the guidance of an outside intelligence.
  • Bilocation or Multilocation—physically being in multiple places @ the same time.
  • Channeling—acting as a channel or vessel for an outside intelligence.
  • Clairaudience—hearing from a long distance any sound that would otherwise be inaudible.
  • Clairsentience—perceiving & understanding—“knowing”—of a hidden or forgotten fact.
  • Death-Warning—envisioning a living person before his or her death.
  • Dowsing—locating water or lost objects by using a rod, sticks, or pendulum. Also known as “water witching.”
  • Empathy—sensing the needs, drives, & emotions of another.
  • Intuition—attaining direct knowledge or cognition without rational thought or inference.
  • Levitation—bodily hovering above the ground.
  • Psychic Surgery—using one’s mind to remove diseased body tissue via an incision that heals immediately afterwards.
  • Psychometry or Object Reading—sensing psychic impressions (vibrations) left on an object by someone connected with it. Someone with this ability could use an unfamiliar object to reveal much about its owner.
  • Pyrokinesis—starting fires & manipulating them with one’s mind.
  • Remote Viewing—describing or giving details about a person, place or thing that is inaccessible to normal senses due to distance or time.
  • Scrying—looking into reflective, translucent, or luminescent substances such as crystals, stones, glass, mirrors, water, fire, or smoke, & seeing events @ a distance &/or in the future.

Developing Characters and Story, Part 3

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My Friends & Neighbors on Myers Ridge (So Far), by Vree Erickson

Leonard “Lenny” Stevens

Lenny is my age—15, born July 5, a day that was known as Margga’s Curse because of a witch’s spirit that tried to kill his family on that day every year. Lenny works helping my maternal grandfather Jack Lybrook fix up the old farmhouse that Grandpa bought from Lenny’s dad. The house used to belong to Margga when she was alive. Lenny’s paternal grandparents bought it after she was killed by the Council of Magic.

Lenny is handsome, with dreamy dark brown (chocolate) eyes, thick, burnt sienna hair, & is 5’ 7” tall & says he weighs 130 pounds. He lives up the road with his dad & 2 of his 3 sisters.

He has toys & childhood treasures hidden beneath the floorboards of the attic that is now the bedroom I share with Amy. Also hidden in the floor was a large book with a dusty black, hard leather cover & pages askew that I call Margga’s Book of Spells & Other Magic. It’s an old, oversized log book that has no title & is filled with numbers & strange figures, like secret code, which are predictions written as poems, spells written as songs, & some strange recipes that I’m sure no one would want to eat. I’m the only one who can read the book, when it reveals itself to me. When it doesn’t, the pages are blank.

Lenny knows a lot about the weird history here, like the white crow Enit Huw who can speak to us. Lenny’s paternal grandmother told him that Enit Huw is the soul of time—past, present, & future, & brings hope for healing & new beginnings in life. Lenny used one of Enit Huw’s tail feathers for its magic power to release me from Margga’s imprisonment spell when she tried to steal my psychic energy. He also wears around his neck a good luck pendant of a gold cross that his grandmother gave him. He believes in all kinds of good luck charms—he gave my family & me flint arrowheads as protection from evil spirits the day Margga tried to kill him.

Lenny & I are spiritually close to each other by a psychic connection. Once, he touched my forehead & connected to my dreams. When Margga killed him, I brought him back, which strengthened our connection & gave him some of my psychic abilities, albeit weaker than mine. The connection remains & allows him to psychically communicate with me—he often visits me in my dreams without physically touching me like he did before. Now, if we touch or we’re in close proximity for more than 5 minutes, our bodies glow with white light. The longer we’re together, the stronger the light becomes & we feel heat envelop us until it gets too hot to bear. We usually have to distance ourselves by 10 feet or more after 20 minutes.

Howard Stevens

Howard is Lenny’s 45-year-old widowed father. Howard is 5’ 10” tall, has dark brown hair graying around the temples, & brown, almost hazel eyes.

He is a wildlife artist & the high school art teacher @ Ridgewood High. His spouse Rebecca “Becca” Stevens née Crawford of New Cambridge is deceased. Besides Lenny, his children are Lynelle, 20; Lindsey, 9; & Leanne, 7. Lynelle owns & runs Becca’s Diner (once owned by Howard’s wife) located @ Alice Lake—his youngest daughters & Lenny bus tables & wash dishes there on weeknights & weekends; he & Lynelle prepare the food @ the restaurant.

Howard & his three youngest children live up the road from us @ the next house across the road. His parents once owned the house my maternal grandfather bought from him. Howard still owns his family’s property next door to us where I fought Margga & where she imprisoned my father’s spirit. That creepy property belonged to Howard’s maternal grandparents Reginald & Cathleen Myers & gives me the chills when I get near it, probably because of its bloody history. According to what I’ve been told, Howard’s grandfather accidentally shot & killed Margga’s father while hunting in the woods behind the house. Then she killed him & his wife & spellbound their spirits to Myers Ridge. She was sentenced by the Council of Magic @ Myers Ridge to a 1,000-year incarceration, but she escaped, stole a valuable spell book from the Council (the one I now have), & used a powerful spell from its pages to create a plague that drained 90% of magic from all creatures within a thousand-mile radius of Myers Ridge—including members of the Council. A protection spell she put on herself saved her from the plague. The Council called for & obtained enough magic to capture her. They stripped her of her protection spell & added to her incarceration, but were unable to lift the spell on Howard’s grandparents. She was killed during another escape attempt. Her spirit, under the powers of spirit law, was bound to serve imprisonment in Tartarus (an abyss reserved for evildoers below the underworld Hades where the Greek mythology Titans were imprisoned), & sentenced to return annually to the scene of her crime until forgiven by Howard’s grandparents. She refused & haunted Howard’s family for years. The Council never recovered the spell book hidden inside her house where a young Lenny Stevens found it after Howard’s mother bought the house. He relocated the book to another hiding place (beneath the attic floor) & later gave the book to me the day I moved in. Having it has been a blessing & a curse.

Rebecca “Becca” Stevens

Becca is Lenny’s deceased mother; she was 36 when she died 5 years ago. She owned & operated Becca’s, a restaurant located @ Alice Lake. Her oldest daughter Lynelle owns & runs the restaurant now. Besides a fondness for cooking & baking, Becca was an avid hunter who enjoyed the outdoors. Her parents own a hunting camp in the northeast woods of New Cambridge, not far from where she was born & raised.

From the photographs I have seen of her, she was a plump woman similar in size to my maternal grandmother Evelyn Lybrook. Becca had intense ice blue eyes & brown hair. In some pictures her hair is long & straight like mine, & in others it’s short like Grandma’s & Mom’s hair.

Although I’ve never told anyone, I think I met her ghost.

According to Lenny & his family, Becca was killed 5 years ago on July 5 (Margga’s curse & Lenny’s birthday) between 9 & 9:30pm, right @ sunset when a car struck her along the road she lived on while she changed a flat tire on her car. I had a psychic vision of the event. Becca heard dogs howling & saw a Rottweiler (probably one of Margga’s hell hounds) in the road before she died. In the vision, she wore a yellow blouse, navy blue skirt, & black hose & high heels for a birthday party planned for Lenny.

Not long after I had the vision, I met a woman like her who wore the same clothes. She was @ a pond I went to when I ran away from my grandparents’ place; she was extremely excited about finding a hunting knife on the ground there, & she warned me to stay away from Margga.

Lindsey & Leanne Stevens

Lindsey is 9 & Leanne is 7; they have straight & shoulder-length brown hair. Lindsey has brown eyes & likes to hunt & fish with Lenny; Leanne has bright blue eyes & likes drawing & painting, like her dad & Lenny … & me. That’s all I know so far.

Lynelle Stevens

Lynelle is 20; she has blue eyes, long auburn hair that is always tied in a ponytail when I see her, & is slim with a nice figure, & stands around 5’ 9” or 5’ 10” tall. Her boyfriend Henry James is adjunct history professor @ New Cambridge University who, according to Lenny, receives lower pay than tenured professors & no health benefits, which makes him attractive to Lynelle’s caring personality—“All her life, she has taken in unfortunate stray animals … & Henry is no exception.”

Lynelle owns & runs her mom’s restaurant called Becca’s, located @ 79 East Main Street, Alice Lake. Her brother Lenny & her two younger sisters Lindsey & Leanne often bus tables & wash dishes while she & their dad prepare the food. Months before her death, Becca turned the restaurant’s foyer into a gift shop where Howard Stevens sells some of his artwork, which are mostly wildlife & landscape paintings. Double doors behind the counter & cash register in the foyer/gift shop lead to the kitchen where Lynelle & Howard & a 40-year-old cook named Juanita Richards do a lot of the food preparation. During business hours of 6-9am, 11am-2pm, & 5-9pm, Lynelle greets customers in the foyer/gift shop & takes them to their tables in the dining room. An unmarked wooden door between the restrooms in the gift shop leads to oak stairs & Lynelle’s apartment upstairs. This is Lenny’s favorite place to go to, so we’ve spent plenty of time watching TV here. The first room inside the entrance is the living room where white shag carpet matches most of the furniture there, including a plush cream sofa. A glass coffee table sits in front of the sofa that faces a giant flat screen TV attached to the wall. A bookcase sits across the room next to the door that enters the kitchen; a clay urn made by Henry sits on the bookcase. A computer desk with Lynelle’s laptop sits in the corner. A cream-yellow kitchen sits off the living room (the entrance is next to the bookcase); lots of glassware & a glass table are in the kitchen—glass figurines sit atop a five-foot tall refrigerator. Plush cream carpets, plush furniture, cream-colored drapes, animal & pastoral prints & paintings on white walls make up the rest of the apartment’s décor. Lynelle’s 2 boxy bedrooms & narrow bathroom with bathtub & shower are behind the living room. The place is in a residential business community—small stores & shops, a tiny post office, a bank & a savings & loan, & a small fire station. Law enforcement is maintained by Ridgewood’s small police department. East Main Street is a quintessential picturesque street of small, independent, family-owned business & stores that still thrive in America. The long, wide street is lined with Hawthorne, Linden, & Flowering Cherry trees in plots along wide sidewalks on both sides of the street, which is near Alice Lake & runs north & south along the lake’s east side. I love visiting the lake & seeing the neighborhoods of quaint houses & cottages every chance I get. I think this would be a nice place to live at—much nicer than creepy Myers Ridge & its scary sinkholes.

Henry James

Henry is 30, an adjunct history professor @ New Cambridge University, & Lynelle Stevens’s on-again off-again potbellied (beer gut?) boyfriend who has a whiskered face—the beginnings of a goatee. He is shorter than Lynelle @ around 5’ 7” in bare feet, though he always wears cowboy boots with big heels. He has short, dark brown hair, brown eyes, & wears blue jeans & T-shirts a lot, & pointed-toe cowboy boots with heels that clomp on wood floors & stairs—heels that add nearly two inches of height but still keep him shorter than Lynelle. He drives a silver, turbocharged Ford F-150 full size pickup truck he calls Mama, & he knows a lot about Ridgewood’s history & folklore, especially supernatural stuff.

Developing Characters and Story, Part 2

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The Magic in Me, by Vree Erickson

My Family Tree, at a Glance

Joseph & Hendrika Groot (my maternal
great-great-great-great-great-grandparents); begat 2 children

Daughter Mina Groot (my
great-great-great-great-grandmother), married to Baltisar Andersson; begat 7 children

Daughter Ruth Andersson (my
great-great-great-grandmother), married to Jonathan Kaufmann; begat 2 children (sons)

Youngest son Joseph Kaufmann (my
great-great-grandfather), married Helen Baker; begat 5 children (daughters)

Daughter Adali Kaufmann (my
great-grandmother), married to James Doyle; begat 4 children

Evelyn Doyle (my grandmother) & Trevor Renfrew;
begat 1 child: son, Balen Renfrew

Evelyn Doyle, married to Jonathan “Jack” Lybrook;
begat 1 child: daughter, Karrie

Evelyn Doyle’s Siblings

Jack Lybrook’s Siblings

Vera,
married to Kurt Ziegler, Blooming Valley; 3 children: John Luke, Mary, & James

Matthew,
married Roxanne Stills, Brookside; no children

Sara,
married to Nathan Davies, Bakers View; 4 children: Jean, Carla, William, & Pamela

Paul,
married Elaine May, New Cambridge; 2 children: Erin & Kay

Janet,
married to Ronald Baker, New Cambridge; 2 children: Debra & Anne

Jerry,
married Diane Marrs, Albany NY; 3 children: Brianne, Donna, & Gail

Karrie Lybrook, (my mother), married
to Charles Erickson; begat 3 children (triplets)

Charles Erickson’s Parents

Charles Erickson’s Siblings

Reginald Erickson,
married Rachel McGuire, Wheeling WV, retired; winters St. Petersburg FL; 3 children: Leanne, Cincinnati OH; Alexis, Laramie WY; & Charles, deceased

Leanne,
married to Paul Watson, Cincinnati OH; 4 children: Sara, Joel, Thomas, & Holly

Alexis,
married to Justin Roth, Laramie WY; 5 children: Michelle, Nichole, Ryan, Jessica, & Crystal

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My Family Line of Psychics

(Relations with known psychic/magic abilities are listed in bold.)

Josef & Hendrika Groot had 2 children: Rutger Groot & Mina Groot;

Mina Groot, whom @ 13, married: Baltasar Andersson, 16, (139 years ago), had 7 children, of which daughter

Ruth Andersson, whom @ 17, married Jonathan Kaufmann (112 years ago), had 2 sons, of which son

Joseph Kaufmann, whom @ 23, married Helen Baker (87 years ago), had 5 daughters, of which daughter

Adali Kaufmann, whom @ 19, married James Doyle (68 years ago), had 4 children, of which daughter

Evelyn Doyle, whom @ 19, had 1 son with wizard Trevor Renfrew (45 years ago), of which son

Balen Renfrew is half mortal, half wizard & has limited magic;

Evelyn Doyle, whom @ 27, married Jonathan Lybrook (37 years ago), had 1 child, of which daughter

Karrie Lybrook, whom @ 21, married Charles Erickson (16 years ago), had 3 children, of which daughter

Verawenda Erickson, struck by lightning @ 15, has psychic/magic ability.

Mina Andersson & her husband Baltasar had seven children. They lived in Ridgewood & were influential members of the community before Baltasar killed a man & went to prison. After their youngest child was old enough, Mina left home for a nunnery. She stayed there until her death. Mina had telepathic powers. She foretold her husband’s act of murder, along with other prophesies, including the 1906 San Francisco earthquake & the sinking of the Titanic. Her daughter Ruth could also see future events. Ruth’s son Walter was a vaudeville magician who could move objects with his mind. His brother Joseph claimed to see & speak to spirits. Psychic abilities in my family stopped with Walter & Joseph until lightning triggered it in Grandma Evelyn.

 

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Timeline, From Josef Groot to Me

  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather Josef Groot, b. 173 years ago, deceased;
  • Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmother Mina Andersson née Groot, b. 152 years ago, deceased;
  • Great-Great-Great-Grandmother Ruth Kaufmann née Andersson, b. 129 years ago, deceased;
  • Great-Great-Grandfather Joseph Kaufmann, b. 110 years ago, deceased;
  • Great-Grandmother Adali Doyle née Kaufmann, b. 87 years ago, alive, lives @ Alice Lake’s Lakeview Living Center;
  • Grandmother Evelyn Lybrook née Doyle, b. 64 years ago, alive, lives @ weird farmhouse on Myers Ridge;
  • Mother Karrie Erickson née Lybrook, b. 37 years ago, alive, lives with Grandma on Myers Ridge;
  • Me, Vree Erickson, b. 15 years ago, still alive, I live with Mom @ Grandma’s weird farmhouse on Myers Ridge.

Developing Characters and Story, Part 1

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Sketches & Anecdotes about Me, by Vree Erickson

My Origins & Family

My name is Verawenda Renée Erickson. I have straight, shoulder length blonde hair that I usually part in the middle. Mom won’t let me get a pixie cut like hers, though I’d really like short hair so it’d be easier to dry when I’m in a hurry to be somewhere. Maybe some tease & curls added to the shortness … & dye it auburn like hers & Amy’s hair color. My eyes are listed on my birth announcement & student identification as green, but are actually blue-green & gray with amber flecks in them. Some days they are bluer, some days greener—the blue stands out if I wear white clothing, & the green stands out if I wear dark clothing. I am 5’ 4” tall & weigh around 95-100 pounds.

My nickname Vree comes from my initials VRE. My name is a combination of Vera & Wenda. I was named after my mother’s paternal grandmother Vera Lybrook & maternal grandmother Wenda Walsh. My middle name Renée is my maternal grandmother’s middle name.

According to my mom & 3 birth certificates, I’m the youngest of triplets born 15 years ago @ St. Clair Hospital by natural childbirth to Charles & Karrie Erickson. My brother David is the oldest & older than me by less than an hour, followed by my sister Amy. Dave & Amy were born before midnight, June 18; I was born 9 minutes after midnight, June 19. Though my parents always celebrated my birthday on June 18, Dave reminded me last year of my real birthdate, as if I were committing a crime celebrating my birthday early. So, to make peace with him, I chose to gain some independence by celebrating my birthday on its proper day this year. That proved disastrous when lightning struck me, my father, & our home in Upper St. Clair PA. I awoke from a coma to discover I had developed telepathic powers & that the lightning had killed my dad & burned down our home.

I sometimes have difficulty remembering past events, which started after I awoke from the coma. When I’m tired or really stressed, it’s difficult for me to know if I’m remembering real events, dreams, or plots from TV shows, movies, or books.

Another thing that began after waking from the coma is my body emits white light when I’m anxious or excited. The white crow Enit Huw calls me a Luminary. The book of magic that Lenny Stevens gave me over the summer mentions the word & uses it to describe powerful sorcerers/magicians whose bodies produce light.

Overall, 15 is an awkward age, especially when you feel like you’re responsible for your dad’s death and the loss of your home & most of your possessions. Then your mom moves you to her old childhood hometown & now you have to make new friends & go to a new school. And along with all that, you find out you can see & hear and do paranormal things that most other people cannot, while your body goes through physical changes that make you look less like a teenager & more like a woman. Too many boys—men too—look at you with lust in their eyes. And alcohol, drugs & sex are things to be afraid because they can really screw up your life. So you think about the past when you were innocent of the bad things in life, & dream of a future where everything turns out right.

Dad – My father, Charles Maxwell Erickson, was born 41 years ago on May 11 in Wheeling WV where he lived with his parents, attorney Reginald Keith Erickson (now 70, retired) & school teacher Rachel Louise (McGuire) Erickson (now 67, retired) & older siblings, Leanne Louise Erickson (now 45, graphic designer, married & lives in Cincinnati OH with husband Paul Watson & family) & Alexis Michelle Erickson (now 43, kindergarten teacher, married & lives in Laramie WY with husband Justin Roth & family).

Dad graduated from Wheeling Park High School @ age 18 & then from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (Pitt Law) @ age 22. He met my mom @ college & married her when he was 25. They lived in Upper St. Clair where he was a lawyer. He died June 19 this year (my 15th birthday) when lightning struck him while he put away his lawnmower that I left in the rain.

He was tall (6’ 3”) & had blonde hair & blue eyes.

Mom – Karrie Renee Lybrook was born 37 years ago on November 19 in Ridgewood PA, the only child [1] of her dairy farmer parents Jonathan “Jack” Edward Lybrook (now 66) & school bus driver/substitute teacher Evelyn “Evie” Renee (Doyle) Lybrook (now 64) on Myers Ridge. She lived a childhood of milking cows, baling hay & harvesting crops when she was home. At high school, she was a 4-year cheerleader for the football team.

[1] (See Balen Renfrew below.)

Mom graduated Ridgewood High School @ age 17 & moved to Pittsburgh where she attended & graduated @ age 21 from University of Pittsburgh School of Education, receiving her teaching degree in secondary education. She lived with her Aunt Helen (Pittsburgh school teacher) & Uncle Ken McCormick (news editor) while attending college, met my dad Charles Erickson while @ college, & married him in a July ceremony in Pittsburgh after a whirlwind relationship. They lived in Upper St. Clair where Mom taught school for 16 years until lightning killed Dad & burned down our home.

Mom is 5’ 4” tall, has thick auburn hair worn in a stylish pixie cut, & green eyes that never look blue like mine do. She drives a silver-colored Kia Sorento SUV that has a transmission that rattles & an AC that stops working during long drives. She was hired to be the seventh grade science teacher @ Ridgewood High School when the school year starts.

Brother – David Charles Erickson was born @ 11:46pm on June 18. He has hazel eyes, is 5’ 11” tall & lean like Dad was, & has blonde hair kept short in an Ivy League crew cut—a style worn by Dad most of his life, except that one time when he was a law student @ the University of Pittsburgh—an incident Mom refers to as The Lost Bet of Haircuts.

Dave is sports active, outdoorsy & loves playing football, basketball, & baseball. He enjoys bicycling & riding motorcycles & 4-wheelers. He is mechanically inclined & is handy @ fixing small engines, which has endeared him to Grandpa Jack Lybrook. Since he is the only boy in the family, he seeks out other boys with similar interests.

Sister – Amy Louise Erickson was born @ 11:57pm on June 18. She is 5’ 5” tall, has brown eyes, & straight, shoulder-length auburn hair. She is musically inclined & likes to write & play songs on Grandma Evelyn’s piano & on her own Gibson acoustic guitar. She sings with a beautiful soprano voice. She had a trio “rock band” in Upper St. Clair (Pittsburgh) called The Amys (all the girls were named Amy—she & Amy Schweitzer are best friends, but the move has changed their relationship to an online one when she can go somewhere that has a working internet/wi-fi service).

Maternal Grandfather – My grandfather Jonathan “Jack” Edward Lybrook is 66 years old, tall & thin @ 6’ 2”, has bushy but well-groomed gray hair, frowning brown eyebrows, serious looking brown eyes, & an upturned nose above a pinched mouth on a clean-shaven face.

Grandpa often wears brown coveralls & spends a lot of time mowing the yard & fixing things in the 2-car garage @ his newly purchased foursquare farmhouse on Myers Ridge @ 31619 Ridge Road, Ridgewood PA, built around 1890 by sheepherder & farmer Ludwik Dekownik, grandfather of Margga Dekownik, a witch who created havoc on Myers Ridge for too many years. The house is white trimmed in blue & has a long, stone paved driveway on the right that leads to the garage painted to match the house. Inside are 4 boxy rooms on the ground floor: the living & dining rooms have wall-to-wall plush cream carpets, plush furniture, velvety drapes, animal & pastoral prints & paintings on white walls, a glass chandelier in the dining room, & a large kitchen next to a laundry room & a small bathroom. Upstairs are 4 more boxy rooms: 3 bedrooms, including the master bedroom where Grandma & Grandpa sleep, & a large bathroom. The attic is now a bedroom where my sister Amy & I sleep. Downstairs in the basement, the low-ceiling with copper pipes everywhere make going there a headache for anyone who is taller than 5’ 10” & forgets to duck their head. Still, Grandma & Grandpa keep it clean, the lighting is adequate, & the cement floor has good drainage, so it’s good place for storage.

Grandpa grew up in nearby New Cambridge where his father & his brother Paul & sister Janet Baker live. His brother Jerry lives in Albany NY with his wife Alice & family. His mother is deceased & his 91-year-old father lives @ New Cambridge Retirement & Health Center, a senior care home.

Grandpa had to move from his dairy farm on the other end of Myers Ridge because the ground has collapsed, creating a large sinkhole in the cornfield next to the house. The sinkhole emits a strange buzzing sound that only Enit Huw (the white crow) & I can hear. I thought the sound came from generators pumping gas to keep alive the Roualens (travelers from another planet residing there), but they left with their machinery & the buzzing continues. The sinkhole also emits green light caused by crystals glowing underground. I think the buzzing & light are connected & needs to be investigated.

Overall, Myers Ridge is old farmland with few farms in operation—where farming is almost a vanished way of life. Second growth woods surround the house, and are quiet and peaceful now that the Roualens have left, flying back to their own planet, & Margga’s spirit isn’t around anymore. This is country life where lawnmowers are large, tractors are used to plow fields & harvest crops, barbeques & lemonade are part of backyard activity, as well as gardening small flower & vegetable plots, swimming in aboveground pools, camping, hiking in woods, & riding horses in summer. In winter, there is deer hunting, plowing & shoveling snow, sled riding, & snowmobiles.

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Backstory of Margga’s Curse

My last blog post dealt with changing the title of my e-novel Night of the Hellhounds to Margga’s Curse. As I said, the novel began forty-some years ago as a short story called “Ghost Dogs.” I was in high school and enjoyed writing fiction from the perspective of two teenage male protagonists, Lenny Stevens and Dave Evans until a creative writing teacher challenged me to write from the perspective of a teenage female protagonist. I did well on the assignment and ended up writing about a teen girl’s spooky encounter with some ghost dogs. The story began

My name is Nancy Louise Johnson. I’ll never forget the night I almost died. Vicious ghost dogs were snapping at my heels when I slipped on some gravel and fell over the steepest side of Myers Ridge.

The day began like most August days in Ridgewood, Pennsylvania: hot and humid. Every hour, the weatherman at our local radio station promised more of the same, and every hour since seven o’clock that morning my twelve-year-old sister Krissy groaned from her spot in Dad’s huge recliner. It was Friday and as usual, I was babysitting. Dad was at work and Mom and my big brother Ted were shopping in nearby New Cambridge for a new air conditioner.

Nancy is a tomboy and likes camping. Her two male friends visit and invite her to camp with them on Myers Ridge. There’s a bit of sexual tension between her and one of the boys whom she has developed a crush on, so she battles her internal voices until the ghost dogs arrive and give everyone a scare. The dogs cause Nancy to fall from the ridge. But she manages to catch herself and hold on.

For a moment, as I seemed to hang above the rocky ravine below, I knew I wanted to live. I shot out a reflexive hand and found Jerry’s sweaty shirt. I clutched shirt and skin while my legs swung wide and I hovered for a moment in midair. Behind Jerry, the swarm of will-o-wisps glowed and the pack of ghost dogs charged quick and hard at him.

“Save me,” I said before my lower body crashed against the side of the cliff. The force knocked loose my grip of Jerry. Gravity pulled me away, and I began my sudden descent to the rocky ground below.

In a flash, I thought about our lives: Dave’s and Jerry’s and mine. Death had robbed Dave and Jerry of their fathers. The accident had robbed me of the intelligent dad I once had. Although he was alive, he would never be the same. With his suffering, I didn’t want him to be without me. And I didn’t want my two best friends to be without me either. I loved them too much to die.Read More »

Help a Guy Out

Leonard Campbell Stevens Gouache and marker pen on canvas board Drawn by author, circa 1972
Leonard Campbell Stevens
Gouache and marker pen on canvas board
Drawn by author, circa 1972

Hi. My name is Lenny Stevens. I’m fifteen years old—although I was sixteen and seventeen a long time ago. But things changed in my life and I became fifteen again. Any fiction writers reading this will understand.

Okay, yes, I probably should have mentioned upfront that I’m a fictional character. But that doesn’t make me less real.

I was born in 1970 … I mean, I was created in 1970 by Steve Campbell, the author of this blog. I was thirteen then, lived in a big house with my mom and dad in Ridgewood, Pennsylvania, and was best friends with Dave Evans. Dave lived out of town on Myers Ridge with his parents and his twin sister, Amy. They no longer exist … I mean, they do exist, but not as the people I knew from 1970 to 1975. Now, Mr. and Mrs. Evans are characters with different names and married to other people, and Dave and Amy are brother and sister to a girl named Vree Erickson. Dave, Amy and Vree are triplets and Vree has psychic powers because lightning struck her.

Anyway, Dave and I were best friends in the 70s, went to Ridgewood High School back when miniskirts and bellbottom jeans were in fashion, and did practically everything together. If you want to, you can read some of our exploits in the section “A Place Called Ridgewood” of this blog.

Dave and I got as far as twelfth grade before Steve stopped writing about us. He saved our stories in some 3-ring binders and kept them in a box while he graduated high school, joined the Navy for six years, went off to college for four years, and married and became a dad. Now, his kids are grown up and he’s busy changing the stories in those binders. Personally, I’d rather he not change anything, but the damage is already done. I call it damage because Dave is Vree’s brother now and not very friendly. Read Steve’s book Night of the Hellhounds and you’ll see what I mean. I miss hanging with the old Dave.

I miss my old parents and my big brother and sister, too. My new mom is dead and my dad is the high school’s art teacher and an artist. I’m good at art too, though I never was before Steve published Night of the Hellhounds. I have a different big sister who runs the restaurant my new mom used to own, and I have two younger sisters whom I’m just now getting to know. So far, we’re not very close.

Steve isn’t the only writer who has changed my character. His friend Lola wrote me as a miscreant teenager when she and Steve collaborated on the Night of the Hellhounds book. They scrapped the collaboration when Lola moved to London Leeds with her husband and kids, and Steve deleted the scenes where I behaved like a degenerate before he published the book.

I’m a good guy. I truly believe that. And I believe that I can carry the lead in one of Steve’s novels. I know Vree is the main character in his planned books about Ridgewood and me, but I think I’ve been around long enough that I can vest the readers’ interest and carry a story from beginning to end easily. That’s why I’ve been interrupting Steve’s writing sessions and whispering at him while he’s drifting off to sleep. I’ve even haunted some of his dreams.

And that leads to why I’m writing this.

If you believe I could be the lead character in one of Steve’s forthcoming novels, leave a reply and let him know. If enough of his readers back me, then my dream could come true.

Whattaya say? Help a guy out before Steve does something crazy like having my family move away, or worse, killing me off like he did to my new mom.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep bugging him every chance I get.

Ridgewood Revisited, Part 4

The Quest

Around us in air, water, land and fire, there are realms that for the most part go unseen by many. These strange and fascinating worlds exist beyond the fabric of our periphery, dwelling within the wilds of every race and culture, and revealed by the greatest unknown, to them with minds utterly open.

Genesis

The Ridgewood stories began in 1970 when I was 13. Some were typed, others were handwritten, and all were compiled in several three-ring binders, then put away in storage after high school and forgotten until my mother telephoned one day in 2001, said she had cleared her attic and found a large box filled with items from my teenager years. Curious about its contents, I drove to her house and found a time capsule containing photographs, high school report cards, 45-rpm records, baseball cards, comic books, paperback novels, newspaper articles I’d written, pen and pencil drawings, and three-ring binders bulging with crudely composed stories from my high school years.

I spent weeks reading those stories, time traveling to make-believe worlds I’d forgotten about. My stories were episodes, almost a diary of events with my characters, told in sequence from day to day, month to month, and year to year. I grew with my characters and they grew with me through good and bad times, and everything between. My fictional world, which I named Ridgewood, became a second home until I graduated high school in 1975, quit writing, and concentrated on a career as a visual artist.

When I opened that box in 2001 and read again those once-upon-a-time tales, I knew I wanted to share them, which began a slow process of transferring thousands of pages to my personal computer and editing them to the books now called The Ridgewood Chronicles.

The day I created Leonard Campbell Stevens in 1970, I played no sports. I say this because I modeled him after myself and did not become active in sports until the following year. Until then, fishing and listening to Pittsburgh baseball games on my transistor radio were the only things close to being sports active for me. I fished to relax and have fun; so did Lenny, which is how we “met” in the first story I wrote.

Lenny’s first, middle and last names are a mix of my three names (although Leonard is a stretch of my middle one). His personality is mine as well as my two best friends at the time—the three of us buddies since fifth grade. We were outdoorsy and rugged, curious and adventurous. Where one liked to hunt, trap and fish, and the other liked trudging through fields and woods and collecting interesting looking bones and rocks, I observed and took mental notes for my stories.

Meeting Lenny, Dave and Amy … Again

I met Lenny on a pleasant sunny Sunday afternoon in September, sixty degrees and the blue sky mottled in places with clouds that looked like white cotton candy shreds. Church was over (for us both) and 13-year-old Lenny had just asked his parents for permission to go fishing at nearby East Myers Creek (now called Myers Creek). Like me, Lenny lived in a town of creeks and bridges, so he had his favorite fishing holes. I knew which one he planned going to, so I rode my bike and beat him there, then bobbed my fishing line beneath Cherry Street Bridge while I waited.

He gave me the once over after he slid down the embankment and entered the narrow strip of grassy underside below the steel bridge. I stood far enough away so I didn’t intrude on his favorite spot.

“Hey,” he said, friendly but with a note of suspicion.

I said it back, then left him alone until he had cast his hook and bait to the deep middle and a few cars had rumbled by overhead.

“Fish here often?” I asked when the disturbed dirt and dust had settled.

“Yeah.” He played his line. “Never seen you around before. Why’s that?”

I considered how to answer his question. “I’m visiting my grandparents,” I said after a moment. “They moved here recently from New Cambridge.” (New Cambridge is that city I mentioned before, twenty-nine miles north of Ridgewood, bigger than Ridgewood, and still under development inside my notebooks when Lenny and I met).

Lenny quickly caught three brook trout to my none (though I got a few nibbles), and he wrapped the fish in newspaper. Looking at the paper, I spotted an interesting news article on one of the pages. The parents of 16-year-old Laurie Burnett had received a ransom note earlier that week asking for $250,000 in exchange for the girl’s safe return. She had been last seen at a soccer game at New Cambridge High School and her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Timothy Burnett, became concerned when she did not return home after the game. The New Cambridge Police Department was notified and an investigation followed. No leads had been found.

“Wow,” I said, “wouldn’t it be cool if one of us found the kidnappers’ lair and foiled their plans? We would be heroes.”

“You watch too much TV,” Lenny said, handing me the other fish and picking up his pole and tackle box. We headed toward his house and made a stop at a Little League baseball field along the way. Lenny told me that his friend Dave Evans was playing first base for The New Gospel Church in a softball game sponsored by the Ridgewood Church Youth League. He pointed out Dave who waited to bat. He stood in the on-deck circle on the left side of the infield and swung a couple of bats. He wore a blue shirt and cap with NG sewn on them—white on the cap and solid blue on the shirt. The opposing team, The Nazarenes, wore red shirts and caps. And all the players wore blue jeans and tennis shoes.

I followed Lenny to the top row of the bleachers behind home plate and sat a few feet to the left of a very pretty girl. She had light brown hair tied up in ponies on either side of her full moon face, and she clapped her hands while she cheered for Dave’s team.

“Who’s winning?” I asked her kindly. There was no score on the scoreboard in center field.

She stopped cheering and addressed me with a cool look. Then, “Bottom of the seventh,” she said. “Nazarenes are up five to four.”

Lenny cleared his throat and introduced me to Dave’s twin sister Amy.

The pretty girl from my notebooks— Amy Elizabeth Evans—nodded at me but kept her look cool. Lenny began cheering for Dave’s team and I followed. I suspected New Gospel would come from behind and win. But stories have a way of writing themselves, so I sat back and watched with butterflies in my stomach.

Dave began the final half-inning by fouling a pitch from Nazarenes’ ace pitcher, Johnny Blake. According to Amy, Blake had thrown change-ups and heated fisticuff strikes all game long. I admired his determination to win, but it was Dave’s determination I admired more. Like most of his teammates that day, Dave had gone hitless against Blake’s fastball.

Dave fouled the second pitch, which cleared the backstop and practically landed in my lap. I gave the ball to Amy.

“For you, mademoiselle,” I said when I handed it to her.

She screwed up her nose, threw the ball back on the field, and then slid away from me, putting several feet of space between us.

I shrugged at Lenny and turned my attention back to the game. Dave’s team was animated inside the dugout at the third base side of the field, all calling for Dave to hit the ball. For a skinny guy, he had broad shoulders and muscular forearms. And if he had strong wrists, he had an excellent chance to clout a four-bagger and tie the game, which is what I hoped would happen.

But Johnny Blake’s next pitch dropped before it reached home plate. In his excitement to get a hit, Dave swung the kind of windmill swing that embarrasses even the professional ballplayers, and missed by the proverbial baseball mile. The ball scooted under the catcher and zipped straight toward the backstop. Dave, aware of his mistake, never hesitated. He raced to first base as the catcher caught up with the ball at the backstop and threw. The speedy Dave Evans beat the throw to first base by two strides.

I looked on surprised while at third base, Pastor Wilkins, who was coaching, yelled out a strategic plan to the next batter who headed toward home plate.

“Just make contact, Pauly,” Amy called out. To us, she said, “Pauly’s not very good, but he singled in a run in the fourth inning.”

“He should bunt,” I said, offering Amy and Lenny some of my baseball expertise gleaned from years of listening to baseball games on my transistor radio back home.

“Trying for the long ball,” Nazarenes’ third baseman yelled when Pauly stepped into the batter’s box. A few infielders snickered.

“Throw him the heat,” the shortstop said before he laughed and pounded at his glove.

Pauly hit the first pitch—wham, bam—into the third baseman’s poised and awaiting glove. In a matter of a second, he had lined out.

The next batter grounded into a quick double play: 6 to 4 to 3.

The teams met at home plate in a game ending ritual of slapping hands and saying “Good game.” Lenny stood and announced to Amy that he I had to go. “Tell Dave I’ll be out to see him in an hour.” Then he headed down the bleachers.

I looked over at Amy who had stood and was stretching the kinks out of her back.

“Nice meeting you,” I said, smiling.

She scowled at me and said, “Please go away.”

Despite her cutting dismissal, I kept smiling, even after she did a quick about-face and practically sprinted down the bleachers.

“Pleasure to meet you, anyway,” I said to her fleeing backside. Then, moments later, I, too, headed down the bleachers and caught up to Lenny.

We rode to his large Victorian house where he told me on his long, gabled front porch of his plan to ride his bike to Myers Ridge and look for gold dropped from Norman Myers’s mines years ago. Then, after we drank some freshly squeezed lemonade, he asked me to come along, to which I accepted eagerly.

So, with a sworn promise to Mrs. Stevens that we would stay out of the mines and return in two hours, we rode off in search of overlooked wealth.

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