Meth Man and the Serial Killer

Here’s the YouTude audio with Otis Jury narrating this story 

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned…

I’ve been doing meth so long, I forgot my real name. My street name is Meth Man, because I’m addicted to the stuff.

I’ve been in and out of jail all of my adult life. I’ve failed at all of the rehab centers that I was sent to by the courts. I’m not crazy. Just a hopeless addict with no motivation.

Thanks to my contacts on the street, I’m able to feed my habit and myself, by trading and selling things. Found things. Sometimes stolen things.

When I’m not locked up, I live in the streets. I know all of the back alleys and where your church and the mission for the poor is. I spend a lot of my time dumpster diving, and discovering treasures that were tossed into the trash.

You’d be surprised. People throw away the damnest things.

One day, while going through a row of dumpsters behind the strip mall on 5th Street, I found a human head! It was wrapped up in a black plastic bag that I just opened. Between smelling the rank thing and the horror (eyes were sewn open), I panicked and scrambled out of the dumpster like a cat with its tail on fire!

My heart was beating so fast I thought all of my bad living had caught up to me, and I was having a heart attack. I slumped down to the ground with my back to the dumpster feeling faint and dizzy.

An hour passed, and two street people I knew stopped by and talked for a little bit. When they saw I wasn’t going to get up and go with them to hunt for food they left. I pulled a plastic baggie out of my jacket pocket and poured some of the powdered meth into the flat silver case I always carry. It was once used as a cigarette holder.

Within five minutes of snorting it, I got a nice buzz. Crazy ideas darted around my head like birds in a cage. Was there a murderer stalking the streets that I called home? Maybe it was a one-time thing. An oddity.

Suddenly I got the urge to move, and stood up. Glancing at the dumpster, I resisted the urge to open the lid again. Then I went on with my day. That night there was no news about a head being discovered in a dumpster.

Three days later I’d almost forgotten about the bloody head when I came upon the dumpsters behind the strip mall again. In spite of myself, I opened the one that had the head in it. I don’t know what I was expecting.

There wasn’t a head in there this time. Instead there were two arms, with the hands cut off, in a see-through plastic wrap! I whimpered in fear. This horror was too much for my addled mind.

Reporting the grisly find to the police was not an option. I’d end up in jail again. Meth heads were easy targets and seldom believed. It almost felt like a home invasion. Some monster was killing and dismembering people in my neighborhood. On my turf.

The pickings were too good to just leave the area. So I snorted a line and waited for inspiration to hit me. I came up with a plan. There was a row of birch trees in the field separating the alley from a row of homes.

I climbed halfway up one of the trees, and situated myself to see the dumpsters clearly. I pulled out a pack of corn nuts and began munching. My high had long since worn off and I was thirsty soon after it became dark. Like an idiot, I didn’t plan very well.

I started carefully climbing down the tree when I heard a car pull up behind the alley. I stopped where I was and twisted around to get a better look. A black SUV was next to the dumpsters. The driver door opened. The hatchback automatically opened as the driver walked around to the rear of the vehicle.

He pulled out a long package wrapped in trash bags. The nearby street light cast an eerie glow onto the man’s face. I knew that face. It was the mission’s regular handyman! Panic gripped me, and I almost lost my hold on the tree.

I watched him toss the package into the dumpster and get back into the SUV. When I reached the ground my legs almost gave out on me. I’d never been so scared in all of my life.

That’s why I came to you Father. I knew you’d listen to me when I warned you about that handyman…

“His name is Alfred…”

Well, Alfred is a serial killer. He’s dumping his victim’s body parts into the dumpster behind the strip mall on 5th Street! Last night he tossed a couple of legs, without the feet attached, into the second dumpster to the left.

Just leave me out of the whole thing when you tell the cops okay?

“Don’t worry, my son. I won’t mention you at all.” 

Thank you father. I have to go now.

The priest waited until Meth Man went out the front door of the church. Sighing, he pulled out his cell phone. “Hello…I have more work for you tonight Alfred.”

As It Stands, no heroes here, just lost souls.

The Hobo and the Werewolf

Lewis “Doc” Shrivner became a hobo when the market crashed in 1929.

His descent into poverty was a reflection of what was happening to Americans everywhere. The rich suddenly became poor. The poor somehow got poorer. Hard times caused lifestyle changes.

Doc once rode in First-Class train cars and enjoyed the many amenities that came with it. The conversion from riding in luxury to empty boxcars was surprisingly smooth for him. He was always disillusioned with humanity in general.

His decision to “drop out” of society turned out to be a good one, and he found himself happy for the first time in his life. The months turned to years and he made a reputation for himself in the hobo universe.

After two years of riding the rails without being thrown off a train, he became a legend. His peers talked about his exploits with pride. He’d made many a fool of the security thugs that went after him.

Doc knew about, and was greeted at, every hobo camp from California to Maine. His stories were shared from coast-to-coast by admiring fans. Sometimes his peers suspected he was telling them a yarn, but still eagerly listened, enthralled by his mellow baritone and speaking skill.

One night in an Indiana hobo camp, Doc told a group of about twenty men and boys about a scary experience he once had.

“I was riding from Iowa to Idaho on the Central Railroad, when I met a strange man. Right after I jumped onto the car I looked around, as always, to see who else might be there.

“A big man wearing a knee-length fur coat was standing in a corner staring at me. His dark hair and long beard were scraggly and unkept. But it was his pale blue eyes that got my attention. They were souless. Like a sharks. 

“I said hello, and he nodded slowly. As I came closer his size surprised me. He was the biggest man I’d ever seen. And believe me, I’ve seen a lot of guys in my time. He was at least seven feet-tall and thick with bulging muscles.

“The bearskin coat he wore was greasy-looking and matted with dried mud and something else. He wasn’t wearing a shirt under his coat, and his dirty chest showed numerous scars. I wondered if he was a mountain man like I read about in dime novels?

“He still hadn’t said anything when I approached him and stuck out my arm to shake his hand. They call me Doc, I said conversationally, What’s yours?

I saw what looked like a flicker of a smile as he reached out his enormous hand (twice the size of mine) and engulfed mine…gently.

“I am Richard, Earl of Sandwich, late of England,” he said with a true limey accent. He sounded serious, so I didn’t laugh at what I thought was a silly pretense on his part.

“Suddenly he was serious, “Will you help me?” he asked.

“If I possibly can, I replied.

He stooped over and picked up a heavy-looking canvas bag.

“There were steel shackles for hands and feet inside. He dropped the bag and I heard the metal clank. Taking a key off a necklace he wore around his thick neck, he handed it to me. 

“It’ll be dark soon, so I don’t have much time, he continued. I’m a werewolf – I do hope you know what that is – and there’s going to be a full moon tonight. Before it comes up I need you to lock me up until daylight comes, and I’m in my man shape again.

Well, I can tell you boys, I was scared shitless. I couldn’t very well turn him down though. When I stopped gulping for air and calmed down, I assured the Earl I’d be glad to help. I’m pretty sure he smiled when I said that.

The hours went by fast and I locked him up as he requested. He told me he was tired of killing people, but he didn’t know how to rid himself of his curse. The padlock and chains, he reasoned, would contain him long enough until the curse withered in the daylight.

Just before the moon was totally full he said one more thing.

“I hope this works!”

The next thing I knew a snarling horror was struggling across from me, trying to rip itself loose from the chain wrapped around the two-by-fours lining the side of the car. It’s howls curdled my blood!

To my absolute horror, the thing broke loose and was working on the chains holding it’s hairy arms and legs together. I can still hear it’s howls of rage. Then it was free and looking at me!

“What happened next?” One of the listeners cried out.

“It killed me!” Doc howled with laughter.

The group slowly stood up stretched. Everyone was getting ready to settle down for the night when a huge man in a bearskin coat stepped into the light of their bonfire.

Could you help me?” he asked.

As It Stands, werewolves, or no werewolves? That is the question.

Destroy The Mirror

I’ll cut right to the heart of this warning. Time is precious.

Destroy the mirror.

The damn thing is sitting upright next to this letter, like a demon perched on the table. Don’t let that elaborate golden frame and stand dazzle you. The thing is cursed. It drove me to madness. Yes, I admit it. I’m crazy, but that’s just because of what I’ve seen in the mirror.

You would be too if you saw the horrible things that I did.

Time is of the essence. Still, I want someone to know my story. I’ve been unable to destroy this damn mirror, so all I can do is give fair warning while telling my tale. If you can, destroy the cursed thing!

My name is Dominic. I’m the only child of Caesar and Antoinette Debardi. I grew up in the family castle, DeBardi Hall, in the Lombardy (Lombardia) region of Italy. We had many servants, and I seldom got to see my parents who traveled a lot.

When I was seventeen, a small flat wooden box (15″ x 18″) and a letter arrived addressed to my parents. They were still traveling on the continent at the time so I signed for them. It was made of cherry wood and was quite handsome. The letter had the family crest imprinted on it.

I waited for my parents to come home. A year went by with no word. I sent out inquiries to all of their friends and business associates. I ran newspaper ads. I finally hired a detective, after the courts allowed me access to the family fortune.

Two years went by with no word. One day I noticed the cherry wood box, still sealed, laying on the bookshelf in the library. It was dusty. Half-hidden by a Jade Buda my mother brought back from Tibet.

I pulled it out. Moving a stack of papers on my desk to one side, I made room for the box. Sitting down, I examined it for a few moments, trying to see if there was a clever way of opening it. Like the trick beech wood boxes my father use to bring home from India.

As far as I could tell, it was sealed tightly with no way to open it. I was young and very inquisitive. In that way, a normal seventeen year-old. I tried breaking the seal with my pocketknife, but ended up breaking my knife instead.

Challenged now, I took it down to the basement where there was a workshop. It was filled with tools and workbenches cluttered with isometric drawings of cabinets, and draftsmen supplies like compasses, rulers, drafting squares, and pencils.

I put the box in a vice. Grabbing a hammer and a chisel that were hanging from a rack on the wall, I proceeded to whack away! I ended up splitting the wood to get at the contents.

Miraculously, it was a mirror, and had somehow survived my crude assault. A very expensive-looking mirror. I took it upstairs to the parlor, marveling at it’s weight. It was a solid gold frame and stand.

The mirror itself was cloudy-looking. Like it was very old. Created in the days before they made perfect mirrors. Upon closer examination I made out fantastic-looking creatures intertwined around the stand and base.

They appeared to be demons from an ancient culture. Greek? Roman? I wasn’t educated enough to know the answer of where it came from. When I stepped away from my examination I was surprised to see the clock strike midnight.

I’d been in the library for hours. Shaking my head tiredly, I went upstairs to my room and instantly fell asleep. When I woke up the next morning the first thing I saw was the mirror sitting on my chest of drawers!

My heart stopped. I’d given all of the servants the weekend off. I was alone. So how did the mirror appear in my bedroom? I threw the covers aside and scrambled into my clothes. It was still there.

There was no rational explanation. The damn thing should have stayed in the parlor. I briefly wondered if someone was playing a prank on me. Searching everywhere, I couldn’t turn up a jokester.

I carried the mirror back downstairs. It actually felt heavier than the first time I picked it up. That’s the first time I heard it call my name. In the following days the mirror stalked me! I would find myself staring into it and seeing terrible visions for hours.

I gave all the servants a month paid vacation, and sent them away.

One day, during a lucid moment away from the mirror, I remembered the letter that came with the box. I went into the library and searched throw my desk drawers. It was there, along with other letters I’d saved over the years. Unopened.

I’m not sure why I didn’t open the letter sooner. If I had, I could have saved myself a lot of suffering. The letter was from my father. He told me not to open the box. No matter what. He explained that the mirror inside had my mother’s soul trapped inside!

He was writing the letter with the last of his strength. With the help of a Turkish holy man his father had sealed the mirror in a box using ancient spells. He sent the box back for safekeeping while he sought a way to free her.

But his brief exposure to the demons inside wore down his frail body. He was dying and wanted me to find a way to free her. The mirror inside was from Crete, and was stolen from an ancient king’s grave. He admitted that they bought it on the black market. It was all he knew.

He ended with a final goodbye and wished me the best. You know the rest. I screwed up when I smashed the box open. The demons have been after me ever since. Wait a moment! I think I hear them in the hallway…

As It Stands, this is my warped take on Pandora’s Box.

Novel Ways To Prepare People For Dinner

Listen to this story narrated by Otis Jiry, Master Story Teller

2037 – Somewhere in what used to be the United States of America

It turned out to be the Mother of all Wars. The Last War to End all Wars. The Final Confrontation. The end of civilization.

The unlucky survivors were reduced to eating one another. There was no other food left on the planet. All the animals, right down to gophers, were gone. Killed, and eaten if possible. The oceans were polluted and no living things were left alive under the waves.

Human flesh, and organs, had been on mankind’s menu for ten years. Since the nukes struck. Nothing grew on the polluted soil of planet earth. There was no such thing as a vegetarian. Everyone still breathing had one food source – their fellow humans. The final taboo.

Wyatt waited. Hidden in the debris of a once multi-story building. He could hear his prey moving noisily on the other side of the street. When an old man stumbled into the center of the street Wyatt’s arrow struck him in the heart. A clean shot.

As Wyatt searched the body he found two pistols, but no ammunition for them. A buck knife (much like his own), some human jerky, and a canteen of potable water. His kill was older than he liked. The meat would be tough. He’d have to take it to Maude, which meant sharing some.

After “bucking up” the body and putting it in the burlap bag he brought along, Wyatt took his prize to his camp. He lived alone. It was easier that way. You could never be sure that whoever you lived with wouldn’t eat you.

At least, that’s the way Wyatt saw the world.

There were groups of people who banded together. Hunted together, sharing their kills. Some had names like, Patriots Who Love God, or The Freedom Freaks of Fifth Street. They lived by a set of rules that forbade eating anyone within the group.

The groups fought one another when single pickings were sparse. The resulting battles provided the victor with a feast.

A good chef was highly prized. The ability to come up with novel human recipes was a sure way of becoming popular with any group. But there were also independent cooks with culinary abilities that rivaled any group cook.

These independents could get anything they asked for. One of the most famous was a middle-aged woman named Maude. She lived in the massive thickets and vines in what use to be a community park.

If she was hungry, or bored, she’d come out of the prickly maze when called. Wyatt was lucky when he came by. It was one of those days and Maude responded to his calls for her.

When she stepped out from the dense growth Wyatt inhaled deeply. She was a good looking woman. Her tight-fitting human-leather britches and vest showed off her form to good advantage. He exhaled.

I need a recipe for tough meat. Not the usual boil until it comes off the bone method. It’s too bland,” Wyatt said.

Maude smiled and ran her hand through her short blond hair. He was a good-looking young man and she was in a good mood.

“I’ll be straightforward with you. I don’t give my recipes out to anyone. If you want a recipe, go find someone else. I will, however, cook your meat to order.”

“I’m okay with that. What’s your price?”

“Half the meat.”

“That seems kinda high. How about a third?”

“Don’t make me bargain, or the price will go up! It’s not easy turning tough old meat into a succulent repast. It’ll take a day. I’ll use the organs to make some of the tastiest side dishes you’ve ever had.”

“Okay. Here’s the kill. Less than 24-hours old. I’ll be back around this time tomorrow for my half.”

Maude hummed a strange tune whiled skillfully pulling the burlap bag behind her through the thickets. There was something she liked about the young man. Yes, indeed.

She had a special recipe for just this kind of meat. When she got to the overgrown shed she took the meat out, piece-by-piece, and laid it out on the butcher block table.

As she filleted the buttocks a scene went through her head. Thirty years ago. Before the bad times came. She was preparing a chicken to feed her family. It made her queasy when she had to cut off the legs and wings. She thought at the time, “Why didn’t I just go to KFC?”

When Wyatt came the next day she was waiting for him. “Follow me,” she said and plunged into the thicket. He fought his way through the mass of thorns and vines until they came to the overgrown shed.

Maude led him inside. A candle was burning in the center of the butcher block table. Silver trays and bowls were packed with food. Slices and chunks of strangely seasoned meat were surrounded with puddings, boiled eyeballs, kidneys on shicskabobs, and other unfamiliar dishes.

Maude pointed to a chair and urged him to sit. She took the chair across from him and handed him a platter of crispy liver bits.

“Help yourself.”

Wyatt filled his plate up with samples of everything before him. He made sure to use the white napkin she had provided and picked up a sliver fork and knife.

“Bon appetit!” Maude said.

Afterwards, Wyatt felt sleepy. He didn’t plan on staying overnight. He never did that. But he was so tired. When he couldn’t stand up a sense of panic arose.

Maude was still talking about plants that survived the bad times. How there were very few plants, and how she had found a special plant which she shared with him tonight.

“It’s called belladonna, or Deadly Nightshade,” Maude was explaining.

Wyatt was having trouble hearing her, and breathing. Mustering up the last of his strength, he asked her, “Why?”

Maude stopped rambling.

“Oh, that’s simple. I really like young men. They’re much tastier than tough old ones!”

As It Stands, this look at normalizing a taboo is a subject in itself.

Hot Tubs In Hell and Other Guilty Pleasures

“Those boobs up top sure got things wrong preaching about how bad hell would be,” Anton said between sips of Bushnell’s Irish whiskey.

“Goes to show you the power of propaganda,” Damon added.

The two lost souls, as they laughingly called themselves, got up from their table and left the waiter a big tip. As they strolled down the well-paved main street they decided it was time to take a hot tub and to smoke some killer Purple Kush.

Hot tubs in hell are huge. The two joined a group of ten people passing LSD tabs around and singing songs of freedom. The multi-colored lights in the hot tub danced off the faces of the happy revelers.

Anton passed a blunt to Damon, who took a big hit, and passed it on. Jim Morrison was singing the long version of The End while making suggestive sexual moves with his microphone.

Janis Joplin was explaining why hell always got such a bad rap to a group of eager-eyed rock and roll fans. In a nearby wading/walking-pool the size of New Jersey, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler kept looking over their shoulders in fear while paddling around the perimeter.

“I’m not sure I should be in the same room with those two murderous dictators,” Anton ventured. “I was no angel, but…”

“I get your point,” Damon replied. “We need to find someone who can explain this oddity. Neither of us are mass killers. A drunk, and a politician, but not killers.

An hour later, Anton and Damon entered through the bat-wing doors of the most popular bar around – The Hot Spot. Both bellied up to the bar and called for Scotch.

Billie Holiday, with Jelly Roll Morton on the piano, were performing Lady Sings The Blues on a small stage in the rear of the bar. The dance floor was expansive, providing room for fifty gyrating couples.

Damon noticed Friedrich Nietzsche sitting at the end of the bar and nudged Anton, “There’s the guy that might have the answer to our question,” he said. They got up and approached Nietzsche cautiously.

“Excuse us sir, but we could not help noticing you. We are both big fans of your work and have a question for you.” Nietzsche narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “Yes…”

“How is it great thinkers like yourself, or just common guys like us, are in the same place as mass murders like Hitler and Mussolini?”

Nietzsche did something he seldom did up above, he smiled.

“It’s my pleasure to tell you,” he said, and stood up facing them.

“First I must tell you there are many theories why everyone ended up in the same place. Mine, a well-thought out one, centers on the fact that I was right about there being no God, or Devil. 

“Second, there is no heaven (with harp-playing angels and golden gates), but there sure the heck is a hell. That’s why we’re down here together – regardless of what we did above. But there’s no devil directing activities. Just a lot of people who never learned to get along together when they were alive.”

“Finally, and this is the one that’ll rock your world, you fools were in heaven! That’s right. That time you had alive…that was it, my inquiring friends. You were in Heaven.”

As It Stands, just adding to the many ongoing conversations about what’ll happen when we die.

Earth Story

In the beginning there was one hell of a bang!

Multi-colored, mile-high, toxic clouds streaked the skies in a race to outer space. Deadly vapors settled upon the land, choking living things to death. When night fell like a mortally wounded warrior, the dark skies were stitched with lightning dancing across the heavens.

The earth was still breathing on the second day. Barely. Smoke and ash cut visibility down to a few feet. A hot wind swirled around the upper crust of continents, sucking the moisture out of the air.

On the third day, volcanos across the planet blew sky-high, sending plumes of  smoke and toxic gases into the atmosphere. Spontaneous fires broke out in ancient forests. Oceans boiled.

On the fourth day, the polar ice cap melted and the rising waters gobbled up islands like starving hogs let loose in a corn bin. Powerful winds lashed out angrily, carrying everything in their path forward to unknown destinations.

On the fifth day, fissures and tectonic plates shifted so rapidly the noise sounded like the whole earth was groaning. The shrill screams from the earth’s core and plates pierced the air like atmospheric arrows.

On the sixth day, darkness descended upon the earth. And silence.

On the seventh day, four space ships landed near the equator. Their inhabitants were colonists from another galaxy. One group went north, another went south, another went west, and the last went east.

The colonists called themselves humans. Men and women. Their numbers multiplied rapidly and great civilizations arose. But, after 10,000 years the earth became a battlefield.

The humans couldn’t get along. When their technology increased, their ability to kill one another grew. Then the world broke out in the last war. The result was inevitable. In the chaos, every man, women and child on the planet died.

The earth sighed. And waited.

As It Stands, this is my take on the Big Bang and creation theory thing.

Haunting Melodies

Peter started collecting musical instruments used by famous deceased musicians when he became rich on Wall Street.

His ongoing collection, not open to the public because some of it was stolen, was his pride and joy. Only people he trusted implicitly got to visit his Music Room, located in his 19-bedroom mansion, in upstate New York.

Peter was a mystery man with no known surviving family members. He was a self-made man, and a wizard. His ability to predict when stocks would go up, or down, or even the future, came from long years of training by the Coven that raised him.

When the witches sent him out on his own he was 21-years old and savvy in the ways of the world. Getting rich was easy. Entertaining himself was more difficult at first. Until he discovered a love of music.

It became all-consuming. He went to operas and rock concerts for years before developing a passion for musical instruments.

Then one day a Wall Street trader acquaintance asked him if he would be interested in buying a rare piano?

How rare?” Peter asked.

“It’s been hidden for seventy-five years, and it’s owner no longer wants it. It’s the last Grand Piano Sergei Rachmaninov played on Russia soil before the Leninist regime seized his estate near Tambov in 1917, ” his acquaintance explained.

“He moved with his wife and two daughters to Denmark before relocating to New York the following year. Left behind was this European-made Grand Piano hidden by a first cousin who later smuggled it into the United States, and a safe warehouse,” he added.

“It’s condition?”

“Excellent. An expert has kept it in tune.”

“Why sell it now?”

The owner is old, and perhaps getting a little senile according to his grandchildren. It seems he’s been visiting the warehouse for years “listening to Rachmaninov play,” and telling his grandson that the famous musician is the one playing the Grand Piano. 

Peter smiled. the biggest smile he had for decades and asked, “How do I get this piano? Money is no problem.”

To Peter’s delight, the story was true. It wasn’t long before he was striking up stimulating conversations with Sergei. It didn’t take him long to go in search of other famous musical instruments whose owners had died.

He worked with all of his financial and magical connections to hunt down the objects of his newly discovered hobby.

His next acquisition was Jimi Hendrix’s favorite black 1968 Fender Stratocaster with a maple neck. Despite playing many different guitars, including some Gibson Flying Vs and Les Paul Customs, the Stratocaster was his baby. He was buried with it in 1970 after dying from a drug overdose.

It took black magic to retrieve the guitar, and to entice Jimi to play it once again.

Keith Moon’s second drum kit – A Ludwick Black Oyster Super Classic – with 2 toms and a bass drum plus, the previously lost – but now found – original snare drum, cost Peter two million dollars.

Moon, who died in 1978, was another restless spirit recruited by Peter, to play his favorite instrument. Peter found that he had a particular fondness of drums and managed to buy Jon Bonham’s first drum set – a four-piece Trixon in Sparkling Red.

Bonham, who died in 1980, got along great with Moon, and the two played competing solos deep into the night.

The real score in drums came when Peter had to pay a thief to steal Buddy Rich’s original drum setup.  It included a 14×24 bass drum (with a moleskin patch and a wooden beater), a 9×13 rack tom, two 16×16 floor toms, and a 5×14 snare drum.

His Avedis Zildjian cymbals, which included a 20″ ride, two 18″ crashes, a pair of 14″ hi-hats, and a 6″ splash, shimmered as Peter looked at them. The set had his preferred wood-tip sticks—slightly heavier than a pair of 7As.

Buddy, who died of heart disease in 1987, completed the trio of drum-playing ghosts. To Peter, the cacophony of noise they all made was the music of the spheres.

All he needed was a brass trumpet. He found just the right one made by Henri Selmer of Paris for Louis Armstrong. Of course, he got Louis, who died in 1971, to play it.

Peter eventually decided to share his unearthly collection and invited special friends to spend the night and hear the poltergeists play their favorite instruments until the dawn.

As It Stands, this tale evolved from a conversation with a friend about haunting melodies from beyond the grave.