My Top 10 Haunted Locations

No Halloween event is complete without a trip to the local Haunted House. For this reason I’ve scoured the internet trying to find some of the most iconic, and most haunted locations around the world.

Even though the number of places I found was huge, I selected my top 10, and present it (in no real order) for your reading pleasure.

#1 – The Catacombs of Paris (France)

The Paris Catacombs are built in the remains tunnels that connect the old stone mines. The tunnels head south from the Barrière d’Enfer and they were converted into a series of ossuaries to help alleviate the overcrowding of the Parisian cemeteries.

Work began in 1774, and by 1786 remains were being transferred to the catacombs on an almost nightly basis. After a while, it became almost forgotten, before being rediscovered and becoming a venue for private events and concerts.

In 1874 the catacombs opened to the public, and now see over a million visitors a year. With all those visitors and guides walking around, surrounded by the dead, is it any wonder that there are reports of encounters with ghosts?

#2 – Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp (Poland)

There are few names that inspire as much horror and trepidation as those of the concentration and extermination camps built during the Nazi rise to power. Auschwitz-Birkenau was a complex of camps established to initially extend the prisoner holding capability of local prisons in Poland, and received it’s first prisoners in June 1940.

The main camp, Auschwitz I, held anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 prisoners at any one time, and was built on the grounds of a Polish barracks.

Construction on the second camp, Birkenau (aka. Auschwitz II), was started in 1941 on the site of the Brzezinka village. The villagers were all evicted to make way for the camp, and it was here that the greatest part of the extermination machine was enacted, with the majority of deaths occurring within it’s walls.

When the Soviet troops approached the walls in January 1945, most of the prisoner population was west on a death march. Even those who visit the camps today can’t imagine the horrors that must have occurred on these grounds, with estimates of the dead from 630,000 to 900,000. With so many prisoners going unregistered, it’s almost impossible to guess at how many souls still wander the grounds.

#3 – Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devon (England)

Berry Pomeroy is a Tudor-period mansion that was built within the walls of an older castle in Totness, England. It was built in the 15th century, on land owned by the Pomeroy family since the 11th century, before passing into the hands of the Seymore family in 1547.

There are two very famous ghosts that haunt these halls… However, there are often overlaps between the stories, and the truth behind them is often blurred by time and retelling.

The White Lady is said to be the spirit of Lady Margaret Pomeroy, who apparently starved to death while imprisoned by her jealous sister.

The Blue Lady apparently also walks the hall and grounds, luring people into following her to her tower. Those who follow her are said to plummet to their deaths from the tower.

#4 – Underground  Vaults, Edinburgh (Scotland)

Edinburgh Castle sits atop the remains of a volcanic plug, overlooking the city from it’s highest point. The current structures are built on a site that has been occupied by one form of settlement since the 2nd century.

Over the years it has grown from a small settlement to the imposing fortress we see today. It served as a formidable stronghold throughout it’s 1100 year history, including at least 26 sieges, the Wars of Scottish Independence and the Jacobite Revolution.

While few of the current structures pre-date the 16th century, there are underground vaults that were rediscovered during the 1980’s. These vaults had lain abandoned for almost 200 years beneath the South Bridge, and had once been used as cellars, workshops, and even residences for the businesses that operated on the bridge. Unfortunately flooding started almost as soon as construction began on these vaults, and now the South Bridge is said to be among the many sites where hauntings have occurred. Some visitors even report being attacked, or nausea and vomiting when passing over the vaults.

#5 – Coliseum, Rome (Italy)

The Coliseum (aka Colloseum) is one of the most impressive landmarks to dominate the skyline of Rome. It dominates an area 620 feet by 510 feet,  and rises almost 160 feet over the crowds that come to visit it every year.

Construction was started by Emperor Vespasian sometime around AD 70, and it was officially opened in AD 80 by his son Titus. The event was celebrated with 100 days of games, gladiatorial contests and wild animal fights. And that was just the start of the history that bathes the amphitheater in the blood of those who fought for the entertainment of 50,000-80,000 spectators at any one time.

The complex boasts a number of cells, tunnels where slaves, prisoners and animals would be housed between fights. And fights and other entertainments continued to be held here right through to the middle of the 6th century, until it fell into.

With so much blood being shed within it’s walls, over such an extended period of time, is it any wonder that some visitors report seeing ghosts, or feelings of disquiet while making their way through the grounds?

#6 – Whitechappel/Spittalfields, London (England)

The streets of Whitechapel and Spittalfields are part of the famous London East End, and among those that became associated with the classic Dickensian London.

During the 1800s they were an overcrowded warren of poverty-stricken streets, alleyways that saw a large population increase from immigrants in the 1880s and onward. Even today, the East End is considered one of the most ethnically diverse areas in the London area.

Having already been made famous in the stories of Charles Dickens, it became infamous in 1888 for a string of murders that have baffled even modern investigators. Five murders occurred over the space of four months before the killing stopped, and all within a few blocks of each other.

Why were these deaths so significant? Because the killer struck without warning, with apparent surgical precision, and was given a name that struck terror into people’s hearts… After the fifth, and most brutal killing, he never struck again, was never caught, and his real identity has become the subject of hundreds of theories.

Just who was Jack the Ripper? And why did he stop killing? Maybe we’ll never know.

#7 – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (USA)

In 1863, a tiny town in Pennsylvania played host to what has been described as the deadliest battle of the American Civil War. Over the course of three days, with the Union soldiers low on ammunition, and losing the fight against the Confederates, over 8,000 men died on the fields of this town.

However, the men weren’t the only ones to die during the fighting, 3,000 horses, and one woman were also killed, and it is said that the ghost of Jenny Wade haunts the apothecary at the center of town. But she’s not alone in haunting the town and fields. Visitors report seeing ghosts all over the battlefield, and some have even told tales of seeing parts of the battle replayed around them.

With such a huge loss of life, and the emotions that are stirred by the events of the battle, is it any wonder this is considered one of the most haunted places (acre-for-acre) in the USA.

#8 – Dominican Hill, Baguio City (Philippines)

Built the early 1900s, the Diplomat Hotel is one of several locations in the Philippines where refuges fled from the Japanese forces during World War II. That is until the location was bombed, causing severe damage to the building.

Over the years, the property has passed through several hands, starting life as a vacation house, seminary, and eventually a hotel.  A number of people are said to have died on the site, despite having come in the hopes of being cured of whatever terminal conditions they had.

The last known death was in 1987 when the owner of the property died of a heart attack. Ever since then the property has been off limits to the public.

Over the years, stories have circulated that the property was the site of a number of beheadings of priests and nuns, and that headless ghosts have been seen roaming the grounds. Considering the current dilapidated state of the property, it’s not hard to see why people experience periods of dead silence, when not a single sound can be heard.

#9 – Ancient Ram Inn, Gloucestershire (England)

This former pub is currently listed as one of the most haunted hotels in England. Built back in 1145, and said to have been owned by St Mary’s Church, this property is now under private ownership, having passed through a number of hands since it’s construction.

Over the years it has been investigated by a number of paranormal research groups, and featured on many shows centered around investigating hauntings and paranormal activities.

If local stories are to be believed, the inn is built on the intersection of two ley lines, and over an ancient burial ground from 5,000 years ago. It has apparently also been host to child sacrifice and devil worship. People who have stayed at the hotel have reported everything from a young ghostly girl (called Rosie), and objects being moved by unseen presences, to being physically pushed by forces they couldn’t identify.

Whatever is really going on here has been enough to terrify some guests into jumping out of windows to escape their experiences.

#10 – Highgate Cemetery, North London (England)

This is quite possibly one of the most famous cemetery in England, because of the size of the site, and the list of famous people who are buried here. It’s not just the people who have been buried here, but the architecture, and grave markers of the 170,000 people buried in 53,000 graves.

I’ve personally walked through sections of this cemetery in search of the graves of Karl Marx, Douglas Adams, and George Eliot. What struck me most is just how much architecture plays a part in the atmosphere of the site. Huge terraces at the top of the hill rest upon the catacombs beneath, Gothic architecture dominates large portions of the site, and there is even an area where Ancient Egypt seems to have taken root.

What I can’t easily describe is just how different this place feels and looks between daytime and night. But I was leaving the site just as the sun went down, and it’s easy for the mind and emotions to become ensnared by the creepy feeling that you’re not alone.

Discussion Topic:

Do you have a Top 10 of haunted places you’d like to share?

Have you had a personal ghost experience?

Comment below, and let everyone know they’re not alone in their experiences.

 

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“Asteroids In Film & Fiction” – by Timothy Bateson

If you’ve been watching the news over the last few days, you might have come across an event that is happening tonight. Asteroid 2012 TC4 will be giving us a stunning close-quarters flyby on October 12th 2017. In fact, there is a small chance that this city-block sized object will be passing inside the orbit of the geostationary satellites.

NASA and several other agencies are taking the opportunity to track and characterize the object, as a way to test our preparedness for potential Earth impacts.

Looking Back Over The Years

In light of this event, I thought I’d have a look at how asteroids and meteors have impacted film and fiction throughout the years. Given how many stories have been created over the years, I’m not even going to try and address every story that has featured asteroids and meteors. Instead, I’m going to try and bring attention to some of the stories that people might not have heard of, or underestimated.

Early Stories:

Jules & Michel Verne wrote “The Chase of the Golden Meteor” in 1908, and told the tale of two astronomers who discovered a new asteroid. Over the course of the story we discover that they have in fact discovered a solid gold object destined to crash to earth and potentially destabilize the international economy.

“Our Distant Cousins” (1929) by Lord Dunsany follows the story of an aviator attempting to fly to Mars, but ending up on Eros by mistake.

In 1939 Issac Asimov joined the list of people writing about the asteroids, when the survivors of a wreck are stranded in orbit around Vesta, in “Marooned off Vesta”.

In “The Little Prince” (1943) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the title character lives on an asteroid named “B-612”, and travels between other asteroids, with their own inhabitants.

What makes some of these stories interesting is the assumption that it is possible to travel to other planets, or even explore the asteroids, in a time when scientists were just figuring out how to shoot rockets over long distances.

More Recent Stories:

With the advent of rocketry, and the start of the space race, it’s no wonder that more and more stories about the asteroids came from the years after the Second World War.

In 1951, John Wyndham wrote “The Day of the Triffids”, where the light of a meteor shower blinds the entire population of Earth, except for a handful of lucky people. What makes this story so interesting is that it has a very emotional opening, but the creatures that we’re supposed to be terrified of somehow fail to create a viable threat. Yet it can’t be denied that elements of this story turn up in films like “28 Days Later” and “Maximum Overdrive”

“Explorers on the Moon” was a 1952 story in Herge’s “The Adventures of Tintin”, that took his characters into space. As they are approaching the moon they come perilously close to an asteroid and Captain Haddock has to be rescued during a spacewalk.

“Rendevous With Rama” (1972) by Arthur C Clarke tells about the aftereffects of an asteroid impact in northern Italy. The main characters are part of an asteroid defense force, an idea that keeps coming around despite the potential costs and logistics involved in creating such a defense.

“Meteor” (1979) is a precursor to “Armageddon”, which explores that happens when a collision with a comet knocks a chunk of asteroid “Orpheus” earthward. One thing that makes this movie interesting is that it was inspired by an MIT report called Project Icarus which presented a plan for preventing a potential catastrophic meteor impact. But it also explores some of the international politics that would be required to enable the necessary cooperation between nations.

In the movie “Deep Impact” (based on Arthur C Clarke’s “The Hammer of God”) the meteor is turned into a comet, and the attempt to deflect the incoming asteroid fails.

So, Where Does All This Leave Us?

Asteroids, meteors, meteorites and comets can all potentially wipe out civilization as we know it. But several steps have been outlined that could help us avoid an impact event.

  1. Detection – Discovering as many potential Earth impacting objects as possible. They key here is not just finding these threats, but doing as far ahead of the impact as possible. Even a very close miss can do severe damage if the object is large enough.
  2. Categorization – Besides being able to find and track incoming objects, we need as much information as possible about what they’re made of, and how they’re constructed. If we have any hope of being able to destroy, or deflect an Earth-bound object, we have to be able to model it’s range of potential behaviors.
  3. Impact Probablity Calculation – The better we are able to detect and track meteors, asteroids and other objects in space, the more chance there is that we can determine if it really represents an impact threat, or will by-pass us, just as 2012 TC4 will.
  4. Deflection – This is really only an option if an impact is predicted early enough. The process involves changing the trajectory of the incoming object away from Earth orbit. Options have included:
    1. Detonating a nuclear device in, or on the object risks destroying loosely held together objects, but potentially creates a large push through the vaporization of rock creating a rocket exhaust effect.
    2. Stand-off Detonation involves detonating multiple devices close to the asteroid surface providing a more gradual push and reducing the risk of fragmenting the object.
    3. Ramming the object with another object is known as the kinetic impact approach, but would require hitting the asteroid with sufficient mass and momentum to deflect it.
    4. Gravitational mass attraction involves moving a steerable object close enough to the asteroid to cause gravitational attraction between the two masses. While the smaller mass might be attracted toward the incoming object, the attraction works both ways. However, this is a very slow approach and would take longer than many other options.
  5. Destruction – Blowing the incoming object into as many pieces as possible. This option presents two possible outcomes, depending on the distance from Earth when the destruction of the object occurs:
    1. If the object is too close, the chances are that instead of creating a single large impact, the incoming object would now be fragmented in such a way as to create multiple smaller impacts. While this might avoid an extinction level event, it would still do significant damage.
    2. If the object is far enough away, it would just give us even more objects to track and characterize for future possible impacts.

In the end it is unlikely that we will ever be able to detect 100% of the potential threat. We might never see the rock that wipes us out. But then again, that time may be a long time off. I guess we’re going to have to take our chances…

So What Do You Think?

Are we going to be hit by ‘the big one’ any time soon?

Are there any films you think I should have included in my list?

Have I missed something on the science, or did I get something wrong with my limited understanding?

Comment below, and let’s make sure 2012 TC4 knows we’re thinking about it…

Related Links:

AstroWatch.Net

ScienceBlog.Com

NASA Jet Propulsion Lab

List of asteroid close approaches to Earth

Asteroids In Fiction (Revolvy.Com)

10 deadly comets, asteroids and meteorites in the movies (Den Of Geek.Com)

Asteroids in fiction (Wikipedia)

Asteroid Impact Avoidance

Black Cats On All Hallows Eve by Suzanna J. Linton

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, I’m not talking about Christmas. I’m referring to Halloween! I adore everything about this holiday, from the costumes to the food, from the horror movies to the crunch of brown leaves under the feet of trick-or-treating children.

In late September, while driving to a friend’s home, I passed a house already decked out with grinning pumpkins: fake, real, large wooden cutouts, and hanging signs. It reminded me of the other common theme in Halloween decorations—black cats.

In the States, black cats are often associated with darkness, evil, and witchcraft. In fact, so deeply ingrained is this stereotype that many people believe black cats adopted in October will be used for ritual sacrifice or abuse.

Shelters like the Kentucky Humane Society are inundated annually with well-meaning animal lovers begging the shelter not to adopt out these coal-colored felines for their own good. In reality, there is no statistical evidence to support this urban legend. Also, black cats take longer to be adopted. Humane societies often use the Halloween season to push any such cats they may have.

Black Cats as Disguise

Black cats didn’t receive suspicion until the Middle Ages, when people came to believe they were witch’s familiars. In 14th century France, a group of witches were accused of worshiping Satan in the form of a large, black cat. Two hundred years later, people believed witches changed themselves into black cats.

In one English folktale, a man and his son, while walking home one evening, saw a large black cat. The son feared it was a witch’s familiar and threw a rock at it. The stone struck the cat in the left leg. The cat screeched and ran under the stoop of a house belonging to a woman long thought to be a witch. The next day, the pair met the old woman at market. She limped on her left leg, confirming to the local villagers that she was, in fact, a witch.

This shape-shifting ability carried over to the New World. During the Salem Witch Trials, everyone believed in the superstition and it no doubt played a part in the proceedings. The belief traveled from puritanical New England to the South, where people spread folktales about both witches and demons disguising themselves as black cats. A funny but spooky folktale called “Wait Until Emmet Comes” is one such example.

Superstitions Today

In modern England and Scotland, black cats are good omens. Finding a strange black cat on your front porch indicates coming prosperity. In the midlands of England, a black cat is considered a good wedding gift to a new bride! On the coast of Yorkshire, the wives of fishermen believe that by keeping a black cat, their husbands will come home safely. A black cat walking toward you is a sign of good fortune while a cat walking away means fortune will leave you.

In the United States, it’s still considered unlucky for your path to be crossed by a black cat and there remains an association of black cats and witchcraft.

Your Pet and Halloween

Because I’m an animal lover, I feel like I should slip in a “public service announcement” regarding pets and Halloween. As cited above, there is no data to indicate black cats are more likely to be killed, mutilated, or abused over this holiday. However, that doesn’t mean owners of both cats and dogs shouldn’t be vigilant.

When trick-or-treaters come to the door and you’re busy giving away Snickers bars, it would be easy for a pet to slip out. Always be sure to keep your pet secured so that Mr. Fluffy doesn’t bolt for freedom.

Also, chocolate is toxic to dogs, so make sure Bruno doesn’t get too interested in the goody bowl. In fact, be sure that your pet doesn’t become interested in any of the candy or Halloween decorations. Your vet should be able to give you a list of foods and items that are a danger to your four-legged companion.

Have a happy Halloween! And if you see a black cat, wish for luck.

Introducing Suzanna J. Linton

Suzanna J. Linton is fantasy and urban fantasy writer. She grew up in the swamps of South Carolina, where she learned the love of books at her mother’s knee. From an early age, she enjoyed scribbling in anything and telling stories about her imaginary friends. Now grown up, Suzanna continues to love scribbling and telling stories. She lives in Florence with her husband and their pets. Her first novel, “Clara” was published in 2013. Learn more about her and her books at her website.

Where to find A.L. Mabry:

Website (Suzanna J Linton), Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Blog (Suzanna J Linton), Facebook

31 Days Of Halloween – Here’s What’s Coming Up

October is a month where I have a lot to celebrate. October 1st marks the anniversary of “Under A Hunter’s Moon” first appearing in print, and takes place on Halloween Eve itself.

This year the story turns three years old, so I decided to create a huge Halloween event, celebrating the work of my fellow indie authors. Everyone involved has submitted a Book Spotlight, Author Spotlight, Story, or Guest Post.

So What’s Happening? [updated @ 11:10 pm (AKST) 10.20.17]

Here is a full listing of posts and events that are happening throughout the month.
The links in the Author column will take you to the individual author’s websites.
The links in the Topic column will take you to the posts, once they are live. Please note that posts will not be live until around 8am EST on the date of release. (This post will be updated as more authors join the event).

Date Author Topic
10/01/17 Anita Stewart Book Spotlight – “Horror Haiku Pas De Deux
10/02/17 Assaph Mehr Storytime – “Shade’s Shadow”
10/03/17 Anaïs Chartschenko Book Spotlight – “Bright Needles”
10/04/17 Stephanie Ayers Author Spotlight
10/05/17 Suzanna J. Linton Guest Post – “Black Cats On All Hallows Eve”
10/06/17 Angela B. Chrysler Event Spotlight – 4th Annual Brain To Books CyCon
10/07/17 Angela B. Chrysler Book Spotlight – “Broken”
10/08/17 Marnie Cate Book Spotlight – “Envy”
10/09/17 Angela B. Chrysler Book Spotlight – “Zombies From Outer Space… and Vampires”
10/10/17 Joe Compton Book Spotlight – “Amongst The Killing”
10/11/17 Kayla Matt Book Spotlight – “Hell Bent Arc 1”
10/12/17 Timothy Bateson “Asteroids In Film & Fiction”
10/13/17 Mackenzie Flohr Book Spotlight – “The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove”
10/14/17 Renee Scattersgood Author Spotlight
10/15/17 Timothy Bateson Top 10 Scary Superheroes & Super Villains
10/16/17 Heidi Angell Book Spotlight – “Elements of a Broken Mind”
10/17/17 K.N. Johnson Book Spotlight – “A Haunting Of Words”
10/18/17 Ariel Marie Book Spotlight – “Mating Two Dragons”
10/19/17 Timothy Bateson Top 10 Haunted Locations
10/20/17 Toi Thomas Author Spotlight
10/21/17 Catterfly Publishing Book Spotlight – “Mirrors & Thorns”
10/22/17 Ed Ireland Storytime – “The Iconic Face”
10/23/17 Ani Manjikian Book Spotlight – “Do You Believe In Legend?”
10/24/17 A.L. Mabry Author Spotlight
10/25/17 A.L. Mabry Character Interview – “Miranda Spencer”
10/26/17 Tiffany Apan Book Spotlight – “Descent”
10/27/17 Timothy Bateson Book Spotlight – “Under A Hunter’s Moon”
10/28/17
10/29/17
10/30/17
10/31/17 Timothy Bateson “31 Days Of Halloween – Happy Halloween”
10/27/17 thru 10/31/17 Timothy Bateson “Under A Hunter’s Moon (Shadows Over Seattle: Prequels #1)” will be FREE over on Amazon

What is it you wish you had known before writing or publishing??? (An interview collection by Mercedes Prunty)

I’m going to open this post with an apology for being late getting this written. I actually forgot to create this post ahead of time. Then this morning, I found out that I was one of several authors who’d been quoted in a blog post by fellow author & blogger, Mercedes Prunty.

bty

A few days ago, Mercedes posted the following question to the Science fiction, fantasy and other genre’s : Learning to promote effectively Facebook group:

What is it you wish you had known before writing or publishing???

Check out what I, and several other authors responded over on her blog: Mercedes Prunty Author : The Walking Mumbie

If you’re a writer, feel free to add your thoughts to the comments in Mercedes’ post. I know that she’s looking to help as many people as possible, and we’ve all got things we wish we knew when we started our writer journeys.