Coffee and Contemplation: Studies in Supernatural Storytelling

As promised, I am changing up how I approach the weekly Coffee and Contemplation segments. Think of this as the introduction post. This will kind of be like reviews but focused on the spooky things. This may include films, television, and various other things. My main focus will be on books. As I want to be a writer of supernatural horror, speculative fiction, and magical realism, these are the kinds of books I’ve been reading for the past couple years. I plan to go through them one by one offering my opinion of the works, saying how spooky they are, and perhaps something I learned about writing in this genre.

I can tell you one thing I’ve learned already. The best supernatural horror stories have some real-life horrors included. I mean things that actually have or could happen such as genocide and rape. I will offer and overall rating of the work between one and five stars like so many other rating systems. I will also include a Spooky Spider Scale. I will rate the level of scariness in the book between one and ten spiders. I don’t scare easy. For example, a children’s book might have some scary bits for kids but not for adults. These might be one or two spiders. The average horror novel might get 5 or 6 spiders. It’s too scary for kids but teens and young adults won’t get too scared.

I may need to perfect this scale as I start writing about these different novels. I have read many and have many a book on my To-Read list. I try to keep my list updated on my Goodreads profile. Follow me or friend request me there to see what I’m reading now. And feel free to offer suggestions or comment on what you thought about whichever book I discussed on a certain week. These posts are intended to be a conversation and I want to hear from you all. I hope to have lots of fun with this new approach to my Sunday posts. I’m already excited. Will you join me on this journey into spookiness?

Yuletide Aviary – Part 5

Read Part 4

            “What do you say we have one more round, Eh?” Jacob says.

            “I’m good for one more.” Thomas says.

            “How do you drink that stuff. It tastes so awful.”

            “With rum.”

            “Lutin? Two more drinks for me and my friend here.”

            Lutin pours another rum eggnog and pops the top off another bottle. The two birds sip and sigh together.

            “Any plans after the end of the season?” Jacob says.

            “Nah, going back home for a bit. Nothing special. You?”

            “Thought I’d take a trip down to somewhere warmer.”

            “Where to?”

            “Haven’t decided. I thought about Florida, but I’m okay with never going to Florida, Eh?’

            “I ain’t going to Florida.”

            “Anyhoo, I’ll find someplace nice and fly down for a couple weeks.” 

            “Sounds nice. Unless you’re just going somewhere to steal eggs.”

            “For Pete’s sake, Tommy, I don’t eat fertilized eggs. It’s like less than one percent of Jays that do that and they’re, you know, coocoo or whatever, Eh?”

            “Damn cannibal.”

            “Well, at least I don’t go pickin’ fights with my reflection?”

            “What the hell does that mean?”

            “It means you’re coocoo for fighting the mirror, Eh. You’d be great at hockey if we put mirrors on the players’ helmets.”

            “I don’t fight mirrors. There was another guy who just happened to look like me givin’ me the eyes.”

            “What eyes?”

            “You know? The eyes. Like he wants to fight.”

            “You always look like you wanna fight.”
            “’Cause guys like that always give me the eyes.”

            The door to the shop bursts open.

            “Good evening…gentlemen.”

            “Ah, jeez.”

            “Welcome back, Ben.” Lutin says.

            “Was I…here before?” Benjamin says.


            “Is Ben givin’ me the eyes!? You better not be givin’ me the eyes!”

            “I should have left after my last drink.” Jacob says.

            “I’ll be passing soon…very soon.”

            “Ah, jeez.”

            And so, it continues every night during our delivery season. A few birds gather in one of our shops as many others deliver toys and presents. These birds and elves who do all the work are the backbone of this holiday season. Most humans give me all the credit, especially the children. But I’m here to tell you Santa has never done it alone. Until next year. Farewell.

Yuletide Aviary – Part 4

Read Part 3.

            “Did you know Lutin was that old?” Jacob says.

            “I don’t think I’ve ever heard him speak.” Thomas says.

            “Old Ben gets forgetful too. He’ll be in a couple more times and say the same thing.” Lutin says.

            They listen to a commercial for sugar plums and gingerbread. No one speaks for several minutes. Even the Hens are quiet. The night outside holds an eerie silence.

            “Hey there, Lutin. Can you switch it to the delivery coverage? Let’s see how everyone’s doing, Eh?” Jacob says.

            Lutin clicks through several channels then settles back into his chair. The Hens move to a closer table. The anchor sits at a desk wearing a red and green suit. He doesn’t wear a hat like most elves do. Behind him is a map with many blinking lights.

            “…and we’re getting reports of an accident North of Johannesburg. First Responder Emergency Elves are on the scene clearing debris and maintaining social distance from humans. Reporter Bella Tink is on the scene. Bella? How do things look down there?”

            Bella wears a green long sleeve dress and a matching green hat. Her brown hair covers her ears.

            “As you can see Stephen, the debris has mostly been collected. There were no serious injuries, but a couple of our birds won’t be finishing deliveries tonight. The remaining packages have already been divided around to other carriers nearby. So far everything is on schedule.”

            “This is our first accident this season which is an improvement over last year.”

            “That’s right Stephen. You may recall the six-bird pileup that occurred in Southern Argentina where we lost two of our carriers.”

            “Let’s hope this is our only accident this season. Thank you, Bella.”

            “Thank you, Stephen.”

            “We’ll return to local news after this short break. I’m Stephen Gumdrop.”

            Everyone in the shop lost interest and the Hens returned to their first table.

            “I remember that accident. One of my coworkers lost a cousin.” Thomas says.

            “Did you know him?”

            “The cousin? Nah, she worked the other side of the factory. She was one of their top carriers.”

            “Let’s have a toast then.”

            “For what?”

            “To good workers we lost.”

Read Part 5