The Tale of the Carpet Gerbil

Hello, Dearies,


How are you? How’s life? Working on anything neat? Write any really awesome lines lately? Draw a cool picture? Show me. My brain needs some inspiration. I haven’t written in weeks. So my apologies if this post is smeared in coppered flakes of rust.

We’ve been discussing Urban Legends round the MS campfire. I’ve been digging into my city’s online vaults for a tale or two, but there aren’t any good ones. So this little tale comes from none other than the handsome, the fancy dancy, Mr. Jenna.

“We’re doing Urban Legends this month on the blog,” I said to my husband as he walked in the door from yet another day at work. “Know any?”

“Everyone has heard the story about the carpet gerbil,” Mr. Jenna said as he scratched at the scruff decorating his chin.

“The what?” I asked. “The rug hamster?”

Mr. Jenna rolled his sky-blue eyes so hard they nearly disappeared into his skull. He cracked a cold one and leaned against the counter. “My boss told me about the story. It happened a while ago out east. Toronto, I think. Any ways, so this guy is kicking carpet in this big old house. The family is home and the kids are everywhere and the Mom is stressed and the whole job is taking forever The little girl keeps crawling into the room as buddy is stapling carpet. She’s got one of those rodent balls with a fat little gerbil in it and the little bugger kept rolling into the room. So the installer keeps gently asking the little girl to leave so he can get the f…can you swear on the blog?”

I nodded. Vigurously. 

“So buddy wants to get the fuck out of there. He’s got tickets to hockey game and it’s the weekend. The little girl finally scampers off with her pet. The guy runs out to the car for one last box of staples, comes back in, pops off a few more staples for good measure, and calls it a day. He’s giving it a once over when he sees a little lump in the carpet. He nudges it with his foot and it smoothes out until it’s a hardly noticeable ridge. He should fix it properly but he doesn’t have the time. He spots another one, this one a little bigger. He loads up his tool bag on the way over. The little girl starts yelling for her mom and the dad comes home and the dog is barking and the installer capitalizes on the chaos and quickly thumps the lump wit his rubber mallet.”

Mr. Jenna took a sip of his beer.

“As soon as the mallet hit the lump, he heard a squeak. Then a dozen tiny cracks, and then a squelchy, sticky squish.”

My eyes bulged. I instantly regretted choosing marinara as the sauce for supper.

“Like I said though, he was late for the game. It was Friday. So he whacked it again – bang! bang! bang!- until it flattened out. For once grateful that a homeowner chose dark brown shag for their living room.”

I grilled Matt on whether or not it was true for the rest of the night. His boss swears it is. He heard it from a friend of a friend of his.


Urban Legend: The Vanishing Hitchhiker

The legend of the vanishing hitchhiker varies; however, a few parts remain the same no matter who tells it–a hitchhiker is trying to catch a ride while on a dark back road. Once picked up, he/she disappears without explanation. Many TV shows have created their own versions of this legend, but I have found 2 favorites: Constantine and Supernatural.

Constantine- Season 1, Episode 5: Dance Vaudou

**I love this episode. There are two urban legends in one wonderful plot twist. And if you still haven’t watched Constantine…I don’t know what you’re waiting for!

A teenage boy, hitches a ride with an older man 40 miles outside of New Orleans. The boy disappears from the passenger seat and reappears bloody and in the middle of the road in front of the driver, causing him to crash to his death.

Zed and Corrigan bide Constantine time, by driving that very road and pick up teen ghost boy. They chat him up, discovering that his name is Phillip. All he wants is to get into the city.

Eventually Constantine and Papa Midnight join forces to extinguish the ghosts created by a very heavy-duty spell.


Supernatural- Season 2, Episode 16: Roadkill

Molly and her husband, David are driving down a deserted road. Of course, they are arguing about stopping for directions when they see someone standing in the middle of the road. When she swerves, Molly crashes the car at the bottom of a hill. David disappears. Sam and Dean arrive on the scene and attempt to help Molly, who won’t leave without her husband.

I won’t tell you what happens next, but it is an awesome episode!


Urban Legend: Murder at the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

In my last blog post, I shared a local urban legend that I’d heard while growing up in suburbia about the old Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital.

But that isn’t the only urban legend to haunt Toronto’s city streets.

When I started to do a little poking around online, a number of familiar stories came up pretty quickly. The one I’m going to share today has it all – murder, mystery and purported ghosts!

By I, Padraic Ryan, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Murder at the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

People unfamiliar with Toronto may not know that we do, indeed, have a series of small islands just offshore from the mainland. While there is an entire community who lives there year-round, there is also a ghostly legend that lingers to this day.

The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse was built in the early 1800’s but after only 7 years, the supposed grisly murder of it’s original keeper is how the legend was born.

John Paul Radelmüller was the keeper at the time. As the story goes, a number of soldiers from the garrison at Fort York (in downtown Toronto) went in search of a cache of beer Radelmüller was said to have in his possession. A fight supposedly broke out between the men, resulting in Radelmüller’s death. It has been said the soldiers then chopped up the body and bury the remains to conceal their crime.

Almost 80 years later, another lighthouse keeper by the name of George Durnan went in search of Radelmüller’s body. He purportedly found part of a jawbone and fragments of a coffin. Two soldiers were later charged with his murder but later acquitted. Further investigation could not prove the more salacious details of the original lighthouse keeper’s death.

But Is it Haunted?

As for the rumors of the lighthouse being haunted, various local groups have undertaken their own investigations with varying results. Tales of eerie moaning, lights burning at the long-defunct beacon; darting shadows; even glimpses of Radelmüller’s ghost have all been reported over the years.  A park employee also reported discovering a leg bone while doing repairs, which he found had disappeared when he showed up the next day with the police.

Maybe it’s the fact that the lighthouse now stands dark, like a sentry standing guard in the shadows. Perhaps it’s the belief that murdered souls continue to wander the earth seeking justice. Or at the very least to be seen or felt by the living.

Whichever you believe, it couldn’t hurt to take the ferry to Hanlon’s Point and see the historic structure for yourself. One of the oldest buildings in Toronto, and the oldest standing lighthouse in the Great Lakes, it may very well inspire something in you.






As I’ve mentioned here previously, I’ve been playing through Resident Evil 7, and I’m constantly impressed by the nods to old horror stories and movies this game has. One of my recent sessions involved giant insects, and as someone who really hates bugs, it added a whole extra layer of terror for me. You can watch me freak out here:

Anyway, those giant insects reminded me of a 1976 movie that scarred me for life–Food of the Gods. Loosely based on an H.G. Wells story, Food of the Gods was about a strange substance that is found bubbling up from the ground by a couple one day. They feed it to their chickens and the chickens grow to the size of a truck. Other creatures consume the substance, and soon the area is overrun with giant wasps, rats and more.

I saw that movie when I was like 6 or 7 years old, and it completely exacerbated my budding fear of insects. And now thanks to Resident Evil 7, I got to relive those memories in a whole new way.

Urban Legend: The Lights of Bruick Road

Since it’s urban legend month here at the Midnight Society, I decided to hit up dear old Google to see what it knew. If you have never searched the Internet for  “Urban legends in (insert your state, city, town)”, I suggest you do it. I typed in… urban legends in Indiana, thinking maybe…HOPEFULLY…I would find something. ANYTHING!

What I stumbled across took me on a little adventure…one I’m not quite done with, but TIME, PEOPLE, TIME!

I came across several blurbs about ‘The Lights of Bruick Road’…

Wait…Bruick Road?

I know a Bruick Road. IT IS VERY CLOSE (I’M TALKING A FEW MILES) FROM ME BRUICK ROAD. A bit more investigation and, why yes, it is that very Bruick Road.

Whoa. An urban legend right down the street…

Here are a few of the things I found:

In Great Memories and History of Fort Wayne, Indiana’s FB page…this post

In Inside IPFW: 6 Fort Wayne Urban Legends to Keep You Up At Night… Check out number 3

In 12 Most Haunted Places in Fort Wayne, IN… Check out number 9

In 10 Haunted Places in Fort Wayne… Check out number 5

They all basically say the same thing. Bruick Road is a strange little road that goes nowhere. People have reported seeing lights, like headlights, in the distance, but if you go after them, they back away. They change colors, move, and get bigger. Some talk of a bridge…others of being out after midnight…but I need specifics, people.

Do I need to travel in a certain direction?

Do I need to stop on the bridge or just drive?

Do they appear at a certain time of year?


Well, I plan on going out at night, but today, I did a bit of recon. *puts on stalker clothes* *grabs knife and chainsaw to be safe*

First…a map. Bruick Road is a few miles from my house and is about four to five miles long. I drive past it all the time. I don’t ever have the need to drive on it, and that’s probably because it really goes nowhere.

Bruick Road is circled in red. It begins at the bottom of the map at an S-curve, where one road becomes another. It ends at US 37. The yellow circle is Schlink Bridge, where it crosses the Maumee River, near US 24.

The S-curve, the beginning of Bruick Road.


The overpass for US 24.


Schlink Bridge.


The Maumee River.


Bruick Road…not very creepy…maybe it would be better at night…


…not very interesting…

A normal country road, lined with houses, farms, horses, and crop fields. I passed quite a few Amish buggies, which I have to tell you are known to have extremely bright lights (I’m talking purple and red LED lights that blink and flash!).

With farms, you have tractors, which do sometimes run at night.

Traffic…sure, but not much.

Horse poo? Everywhere, but not very bright.

Lights on houses…on barns…street lights (well, we don’t have many of those out here), but some people have motion lights on their houses.

Can any of these explain what some people have reported seeing? I don’t know. But moving backwards if you keep following them? Changing colors? Changing sizes? Moving above the tree line?

Ghosts? Aliens? Monsters? Faeries? (Definitely faeries…)

I have no idea. After dark one night, I’ll take a spin down little, lost Bruick Road. See if I can spot anything odd. After all it is right next door…

Where Bruick crosses my street a few miles West of my house. Who knew? Be sure to Google your state or town…never know what scary goodness you’ll find.


*All pics taken by me on my phone…out my car window as I tried to NOT look like a creepy stalker.

Currently Reading: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

So, I checked out These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly at my local library, and holy crow, it is SO GOOD that I am completely obsessed with it. I don’t want to eat or go to work or really do anything at all except read this book!

I’m not even done yet but I’ve already bought my own copy to keep and the first book in her Waterfire saga YA series Deep Blue to start when I’m done with this.

These Shallow Graves has everything I was looking for: a murder mystery, romance, high stakes, more murder, more romance, mystery mystery mystery, girls doing what they shouldn’t, girls leaping over societal boundaries, forbidden love, more than one cemetery scene, well-researched realistic history, more murder, more romance, amazing secondary and main characters, friends risking it all for each other, coming of age growing pains, hilarious and witty dialogue, more murder, and well, more romance. And like I said, I’M NOT EVEN FLIPPING DONE AND THERE BETTER BE A SEQUEL IN THE WORKS IN THE SAME WORLD OR I WILL DIE.




I’ve made a collage below for inspiration and also a Pinterest board for my reading adventure. Follow it for more fun!

Collage inspired by These Shallow Graves


Here’s a little about These Shallow Graves (isn’t the cover gorgeous, of course it is because this book is perfect, duh).

Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

Or if you just want to do yourself a favor, the hardcover of These Shallow Graves is gorgeous and I already bought a copy, and you can do that here (and at the time of writing this, it’s on sale!).

Buy it on Amazon



I don’t know the author and I wasn’t asked to promote this or anything, I just love love love finding great books and this book IS FLIPPING GREAT. That is coming from someone who doesn’t normally read historical fiction. But this is AMAZING. And if they are all like this, then I will read them all forever.

I can’t wait to report back when I’m done and I can nurse my book hangover and be really dramatic about the fact that I’m done and now my life means nothing outside Jo’s (the main character of the book) world in New York.

I hope you all had a nice mother’s day!


The Urban Legend of Bloody Mary

When I was a teen, there were two things you did at a sleep over.

  1. Chant “light as a feather, thick as a board” while trying to pick your friend up using only your index fingers.
  2. Say Bloody Mary into the bathroom mirror. 3 times.

One, was lighthearted and fun. The whole Bloody Mary thing though…terrifying. There are so many different versions of this out there. Who Mary was before this game even came into being. I remember telling the story of a girl named Mary, who was so beautiful that she couldn’t tear her eyes from the mirror. One day, she’s in a terrible car accident and is disfigured. No longer beautiful and hating the image she saw in the mirror, Mary committed suicide.

No matter if you believe this tale, or the legend telling about the witch Mary Worth who was excecuted during the Salem Witch Trials. Bloody Mary is probably one of the most recognized urban legend. Emphasizing this are the multitude of movies and TV shows depicting the horror chanting this name over and over again can bring.

In an episode of Supernatural, Mary comes through the mirror to gouge out the eyes of her prey.


Another is the movie, Urban Legends. Soooo many amazing actors in this one!
From IMBD:
On Homecoming night, Samantha, Gina, and Mindy are having a slumber party at Sam’s house due to being black-listed by the sexy football players. Since the dance and game are out of the question, the trio stays up and entertains themselves with Urban Legends..all leading up to BLOODY MARY. With nothing better to do and a whole night to waste, Sam chants “Bloody Mary.” Her friends laugh… “Bloody Mary.” More laughter. On the third and final “Bloody Mary,” the friends are kidnapped by three jocks and return soon thereafter, shaken but well. Sam begins having hallucinations and soon bodies turn up – is it all a high school prank taken to grisly extremes or is it Bloody Mary, who’s youth was taken far too early?


And then there’s the movie…Bloody Mary.

From IMBD:
When a group of psychiatric hospital nurses invoke the spirit of Bloody Mary-a supposed urban myth-the slaughter begins. First, a young nursing assistant disappears, her body never found. Now, patients are turning up dead-battered beyond recognition, soaked in blood, their eyes ripped out. Mary’s wrath has begun. Freed from her eternal prison behind the mirror’s reflection, she unleashes a murderous, maniacal fury upon the asylum. Moving at will through mirrors, she strikes when her victims are unsuspecting, defenseless, and alone. Bloody Mary’s legend is real, her vengeance is fatal, and to free her, all you have to do is say her name.


And how about this one from Paranormal Activity 3?!


So many versions. Which one is your favorite?

Urban Legends: Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital

I’d bet that everyone has, at some point or another in their lives, heard various urban legends. Maybe you heard it in a nursery school rhyme while playing hopscotch on the playground.  Maybe it was something whispered to you at a sleepover when you were a pre-teen.

Maybe it was something that made the rounds in the hall at school that you heard from your best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend who heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with some girl.


When I was a kid living in the suburbs of Toronto, we moved down the street from the former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital. By the time we lived in the neighborhood, the hospital was long closed. But that doesn’t mean the legends behind the imposing buildings didn’t still linger.

An early photo of the hospital. From Agatha Barc/

Whispers of bodies buried on-site, sinister things going on behind closed doors, secret passageways running underground – all these urban legends and more made the rounds in local lore.

But before we delve into these tales, let’s find out where it all began.


The original hospital was opened in 1889 as a series of Gothic and Romanesque-syle cottages that were built as an alternative to housing its patients in one sprawling building.

From farming, laundry, gardening and even constructing the buildings themselves, patients had a big hand in forming the foundation of the facilities and running the day-to-day activities.

Wards watching over patients. Photo by Agatha Barc/

Patients also constructed coffins for their fellow patients in the carpentry shop and buried a few kilometers north. Sadly after the hospital closed, the cemetery, and its 1,511 forgotten people, were abandoned. However, in 2005, a group of volunteers took over a restoration project. Volunteers continue to visit the cemetery regularly for a memorial and clean up in the spring and fall.


Unfortunately, over-crowding, forced labor and violence hung with a dark pall over the hospital. In the late ’50’s, a new superintendent took over and began to overhaul the Hospital. His first task was to reduce patient population through outpatient programs and to put an end to forced patient labor.

Gargoyle detail. Photo by Agatha Barc/

The hospital continued operations until 1979, when former patients were either moved to other facilities or attended to through out-patient programs in the area.

The buildings stood empty for a number of years. That, coupled with the fact that while still in operation, the grounds were mostly only accessible to those who lived and worked there, rumors, speculation and those whispered legends, lingered long after it closed.


Walking past the grounds as the new kid in the neighborhood took on an entirely new feeling after hearing hushed stories of the abandoned buildings lurking in the shadows along the lake shore.

Cottage 3. From Agatha Barc/

Since our house was down a street on the block, my mom or one of my siblings often took me there to play. The grounds are massive, with tree-lined pathways and a view of Lake Ontario that is breathtaking, lending itself to the mystery and intrigue of the grounds.

Overlooking the lake. Photo by Agatha Barc/

The Gatehouse stood on the main street, Lakeshore Boulevard, and I would see it every day when I walked to school. Most of the other buildings were set far back on the grounds, often only seen when you were deep inside the park. It was then, when the wind came rolling in off the lake, that those little nagging tidbits of whatever my schoolmates thought went on behind closed doors would come to the forefront of my mind.

The Gatehouse. Photo by Agatha Barc/

We would often ride our bikes or go for a walk through the park to the lake, and being an impressionable kid with an active imagination, it wasn’t easy to push aside those ghost stories. I remember one time, walking past one of the abandoned cottages and i swear, I saw a shadowy figure peering out at us. Was it a ghost of an unfortunate patient lingering to look forlornly out time-frosted windows? Was it some person trapped inside all this time, wandering the underground tunnels, unable to escape?

Assembly Hall. From Agatha Barc/

The hospital did, in fact, have tunnels that were used by staff to get to and from the various buildings. This is Canada, after all. Walking those icy paths in the winter would have been a nightmare. But, of course, there were whispers of the sinister goings-on (what were they doing? What were they trying to hide?). Local ghost hunters even got in on the storytelling.

There was also a smokestack (the Powerhouse) on the grounds, with rumors it was used to burn the bodies of deceased patients. More lore conjured up by active minds.


Although it might be fun to imagine a ghostly past, and the image of the creepy abandoned hospital is great fodder for scary stories, it does take away from the lives of those who were patients and died there.

The good news is the creepy reputation was, for the most part, put to rest when Humber College took over many of the old buildings in 1991 and renovated them for their Lakeshore Campus. The old cottages have all been utilized and repurposed for various areas of study.

Prior to that, the grounds were used for a number of notable films, including Strange Brew (which, since we lived down the street, I actually saw them filming when I was a kid!), and the Police Academy films.


It’s always interesting to dig into local lore and find out where stories of hauntings first start. But going beyond the tales and discovering something about your own neighborhood can open up new doors, and maybe even inspire new stories to tell.


The Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital has a fascinating history. If you want to learn more about its past, and celebrate the gorgeous architecture, you should absolutely head over to the Asylum By The Lake website.

Compiled by Agatha Barc with research from former staff, archivists and other individuals, it offers a detailed glimpse at the history of the staff and former patients of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital.










Going Back to My Roots–Clive Barker’s BOOKS OF BLOOD

Clive Barker is my favorite modern horror author, and he’s had a tremendous influence on my own horror writing. My Parted Veil series is heavily inspired by Barker, in particular by his ability to weave dark fantasy with horror to create worlds that both ignite your imagination and terrify you at the same time. But while I love Barker’s longer works like Weaveworld, The Great and Secret Show and Everville, it’s his short stories that first made me fall in love with him. And my first introduction to them was the Books of Blood.

Like many kids in the ’80s, my first foray into modern horror was Stephen King’s short stories, in collections like Night Shift and Skeleton Crew. I started consuming anything of King’s I could get my eyes on. And then around 1986, I came across this:
Look at that cover.  And look at the quote on the top. “I have seen the future of horror…and it is named Clive Barker.”

For me at least, Stephen King was 100% right. Because I bought the first volume of the Books of Blood, and it changed everything. After tearing through the six volumes of the Books of Blood, I searched out everything else with Barker’s name on it. By the time I saw the Hellraiser film sometime in 1988, it just cemented Barker as my favorite horror creator, and he has never been knocked from that perch.

There are times where I feel like I’ve lost my horror mojo, that my own horror writing is feeling flat or uninspired. Or sometimes I just want to remember why I fell in love with Barker in the first place. So, I’ll go back and read through some of the Books of Blood again. And they never fail to both impress and inspire me.

I gave away my original copies of the Books of Blood years ago (I give away books and comics like candy when I find out someone hasn’t read something). I’ve had them digitally for years, but I recently decided that I need all of Barker’s books sitting on my shelf again. So, I picked up the two omnibus versions of the Books of Blood, each of which contains three volumes.

I’m rereading all of them again, and I’ll be posting about some of my favorite stories over the next several weeks. If you haven’t read Barker before, I cannot recommend him highly enough.


Let’s Watch a #Horror Movie…1408

Every month I get together with my horror-loving friends and live-tweet a scary movie. Because it’s more fun with friends. This month I will be watching the 2007 psychological horror movie 1408, based on the Stephen King story of the same title.

If you haven’t read the story…do. I love it! Super creepy and weird and mind warping fun! You can find it in one of his anthologies.

The cover of Everything’s Eventual: 14 Dark Tales, published in 2002 by Scribner.


The movie is pretty different than the written version. The main story is the same, just amped up a bit. When making a short story, rather than a full novel, into a movie there’s a bit of  room to play, to expand the story, to add depth to the main character. Not to make it better, just bigger.

1408, directed by Mikael Hafstrom, screenplay by Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander, and Larry Karaszewski welcomes us to The Dolphin Hotel in New York City.

2007 movie poster

Meet Mike Enslin. Author. He investigates haunted locations and writes about them. Mike Enslin. Cynic. Skeptic. He’s writing to pay the bills, but doesn’t believe in the supernatural.

Played by John Cusack, Mike Enslin with his handy recorder, getting settled in his room. From the 2007 movie 1408.


Welcome, Mike…to room 1408.

Scene from the 2007 movie 1408.


He received a postcard holding an image of The Dolphin Hotel and the words “Don’t enter 1408.” written on it. A challenge. So he booked the room. Though the hotel manager Gerald Olin worked hard to talk him out of it… the room isn’t haunted, it’s evil.

Samuel L. Jackson as the hotel manager Gerald Olin in the 2007 film 1408


56 people have died there, beginning with a wealthy businessman jumping from the window.

Scene from the 2007 movie 1408


No one has stayed in the room longer than an hour.

Scene from the 2007 movie 1408


The room soon takes over.

Scene from the 2007 movie 1408


The walls. The phone. The artwork. The room temperature. Mike begins to lose his mind.

Scene from 2007 film 1408


He begins to question his life. And we learn that he lost his child, Katie.

Scene from 2007 movie 1408 Mike Enslin played by John Cusack and Katie played by Jasmine Jessica Anthony

What the movie gives us that the written story did not was this tale of grief, of letting go. The room is evil, haunting him with the fear that his child still needs him, that she isn’t okay.

Join me on Twitter for the live-tweet of 1408 on Friday, May 19th at 9 EST. Use #1408Movie and add your thoughts and reactions.