Nicknamed Dead Children’s Playground, this eerie playground is situated right in the middle of Maple Hill Cemetery. Non-surprisingly, it’s claimed that this ghostly playground is haunted by the many children buried in the one-hundred-acre cemetery in which is it situated. People have often reported hearing disembodied laughs and chants of children as the swings randomly move; the playground is said to be most active with obscure occurrences between 10:00PM and 3:00AM. Legend says that a number of children were abducted in the 1960′s and their slain bodies were dumped in the area of Dead Children’s Playground.
He was supposed to take my memories when he brought me here, the seelie knight, who had been commanded to escort me home with a simple “take it away, it’s too old now and it bores me” from the noble who had kept me for the past while. I traded him my singing voice for them though, and now where once sweet music poured from my lips only hoarse and untuned notes fall out without any of the tempo or melody they had before. Now I think I made a bad trade. It might have been better, if I didn’t remember, or remembered something else entirely.
I stare at the boy next to me in the circle, I was asked to join this circle as a way to make me feel part of something, part of a circle. They call the circle a support group for abducted children. Children who were abducted and got away, that is, I don’t think there’s a support group for those currently abducted. Their abductors wouldn’t allow them to attend, I suppose. The boy is speaking about the man who touched him, speaking of the horrible way he loved that man, because he was a child, and he had to love someone. Are his memories true? Or is he like me? Did a faerie take him away, and replace the memories from Under the Hill with these tragedies? Why? Did he commit some crime? I cannot say.
I am fascinated by the girl who sits next to the girl directly across from me in the circle. She tells us to call her Angie. She wears ratty clothes, not the sort of poor chic that seems to be an underlying trend, with jackets made of patches and ribbed cloth sold at malls, but real grunge. The tears in her sleeves reveal razor scars, her hair is short, she wants to look tough, she wants people to cross the street to get away from her when they see her coming. She is not tough. She is nervous, always nervous, always afraid, though she hides it well. None of these things are too interesting to me, those things I can see anywhere, but I thought context would be important so that the fact that she’s a pathological liar would not be the only thing you knew about her.
She is a pathological liar.
Her lies fascinate me.
After group chat, I take her aside and we talk, sometimes just for a few minutes, sometimes for hours, and I watch her fabricate thousands of untruths, from tiny white ones to huge fantastical ones as bright and colorful as her life has never been. Some days, I believe everything she says and some days I question each word, trying to figure out her secret.
It’s a strange thing, I was taken before I really knew my name, and each faerie that’s kept me (I was a pet for them) called me something different. Do I even have a true name? I’ve been Jane Doe since I showed up, stumbling barefoot and confused into a police station moments after midnight (at least the knight knew to leave me near a place of authority), so I’ve been introducing myself as Roe, like the deer. They ran my DNA through the missing children’s database (I didn’t understand what that was at first, was shocked at how closely humans had approximated magic with computers), but there was no match. I told them I didn’t know how long ago I’d been abducted, and suggested that it might have been before the database was made. They laughed and said I was eighteen, and DNA technology had been around much longer than me. I tried to explain that time was different where I had been kept, but they simply patted me on my head and told me they were sure that it seemed that way to me at the time.
They stared at me worriedly when one of them brought me a McDonald’s Happy Meal, and I asked what she wanted for it. She told me nothing. No one here ever asks for anything besides courtesy in return for their food, but old habits are hard to break. Even now, in my foster home, I cannot help insisting that my hosts confirm that this food is a gift freely given. They asked me to help them cook and I broke down in tears because there was a cast iron skillet on the stove (“Please don’t make me, iron burns, iron burns, and it gets under your skin and makes you go grey and lifeless like a flower severed from its roots, plea-please, please don’t make me”). It took them an hour to convince me that they weren’t trying to force me to poison myself, and the food burned (“I said I would help you, you asked me to cook and I agreed, but, but please don’t make me, it burns, it’ll burn me!” “It’s alright darling, you don’t have to cook if you don’t want to.” “But I said I would! It was an oath!” “We’re sorry, we wouldn’t have asked if we’d known it would upset you, you can help some other way if you like.” “You… absolve me of my oath?” “Yes, of course we do darling!”).
I am more comfortable with iron now, I am not one of the Fair Folk, after all, it will not harm me. Correction, a blade of iron would harm me, but not because it was made of iron. It does, however, mess with my glamor.
It is a difficult thing, growing up bathed in magic and yet to have none of your own. A pixie once spoke of how she envied my hair, and I said, on impulse, “do you want it?” So a trade was made. She gave me the ability to change my appearance, and she walked away with my hair. I expected my hair to grow back after a time though… it did not. With my glamor I can have the appearance of having whatever hair I please, and sometimes I change it daily, but when I sleep or when iron is near my bare head is revealed. It is assumed by my hosts and everyone around me that I have many wigs, I have told them I do not, but they don’t believe in magic, so they insist on believing this instead.
I hide when I hear thunder, duck into a bathroom and put everything on backward and inside out if I’m in public, or simply sit quiet if I’m home. The first time I did this, it shook me to my core when someone told me “You know, your shirt is on backward.” I started to panic, until I realized that I could see myself too. It was a revelation, discovering that there was something humans could see that the Good Neighbors couldn’t.
It still boggles my mind how much people throw away, tears and menstrual blood caught on napkins, or gifts from that one aunt that they held onto for so long for the sentimental value but can’t keep now because they have to move into a smaller apartment, or the shirt they can’t wear anymore because it smells like their ex. They could trade these items to faeries for so many things, and yet they simply throw them away. What a waste.
My hosts insisted I should have a proper education, and after three years of homeschooling (to get me caught up) I applied to attend the local state college. There I found more people who fascinate me the way Angie does. There’s Lisa, who fights for animal rights, and Kyle, the leader of the Gay Straight Alliance group, and Riley, who’s going into the Peace Corps next year because they want to help the world. I ask them all the time why they do what they do, what they expect to get back, and they tell me that ideally they’ll make the world a better place, and that will pay them back eventually, but that they don’t do it for what they’ll get back, they do it because it’s right. I don’t understand. There’s Cheyenne, who always gets into intense political debates with other people over dinner in the cafeteria, and she believes so intensely about things that don’t even affect her, and she fights for them, and she tells me she does this because it’s right, and I don’t understand. I’ve never met anyone who cared about anything other than themselves Under the Hill. Faeries can’t lie, they can’t go back on their word, they honor their deals and make sure you honor them too, they repay debts and ensure they’re repaid in turn, they amuse themselves playing or squabbling over power, but they do not do things for free. They don’t care about things for free. They don’t defend the innocent, protect the weak, or forgive the ignorant. The culture shock coming here is bewildering.
If I could I’d honor my debts, leave a pile of gold at the doorstep of everyone who’s done me a kindness, but I have not the magic to do so. The drainage ponds hold no sirens, the falling snow has no frolicking pixies between its flakes, there is no magic for me to use here… or is there?
Perhaps I can’t call upon the magic Under the Hill, perhaps I can’t summon gold or make deals with darklings, but I can find magic here, I’ve seen others do it. I’ve seen a moon so beautiful it sends shivers down your spine captured by a little lense-box and put onto thick shiny paper. I’ve seen songs and stories written with such emotion that it moves those who hear them to tears, to laughter, to dancing, to life. I’ve seen kitchen witches cure colds with hot chicken soup, and I’ve seen holy men ward off tricksters they can’t even see with the power of their belief.
Perhaps I can find a way to create my own magic, and do what other people seem to strive to do to repay their debts. Perhaps I can make the world a better place, and learn the magic of humanity. And as for the places where magic does live? Where the boundary between worlds is thin and the drainage ponds and snowflakes carry faerie magic within? …I think I’ll be staying far away, for my part. I might still have a lot to learn, but I think I like it better here.
I imagine that at least once in your life you have been warned not to “take candy from strangers,” but did you know that this common admonition came from a real life kidnapping case? This same kidnapping case was the inspiration behind the name of The Charley Project.
4-year-old Charley Ross lived in a lavish house on Washington Lane in Germantown, Philadelphia. It was the 1st of July, 1874, and Charley and his 5-year-old brother, Walter, were playing in their front garden when they were approached by a horse-drawn carriage. The two men inside the carriage offered the young boys candy and fireworks for the upcoming Fourth of July celebrations. The keen brothers hopped into the cart. They drove to a store in Kensington where the two men gave Walter some money and send him inside to purchase the goods. When he came back out, the carriage carrying his brother and the two men was gone.
Kidnapping was virtually unheard of during this time period and police assumed that he had been abducted by “drunks” who would return him once sober. It would soon become apparent that this wasn’t the case and Charley’s life was in grave danger. Three days after the abduction, Charley’s father, Christian Ross, received the first of several ransom notes. It demanded $20,000 for the safe return of his son. A hefty sum at the time, he couldn’t afford it. Moreover, he didn’t want to pay the random because he didn’t want to negotiate with terrorists, he said, and worried about the outcome. Would this inspire other criminals to abduct children in return for ransom? This unleashed a cloud of suspicion over Christian among the townsfolk who circulated a rumour that Charley wasn’t even his. He was the product of an affair, people jibed. It wasn’t true, however.
Five months later, Bill Mosher and Joe Douglas were caught robbing a house. Mosher was shot dead while Douglas died hours later from wounds sustained in gunfire. As he clung to life, he relayed how he and Mosher had abducted Charley. His speech was slurred and several witnesses believed he said that Charley was still alive and would be home shortly while others heard him say they had killed him. Walter viewed the bodies in the mortuary and was adamant that these were the two men who had lured him and his brother into their carriage before disappearing.
Over the forthcoming years, numerous people came forward to relay the belief that they were Charley, all of which turned out to be false. Christian Ross and his wife continued to search for Charley until the day they died. They followed each and every lead they uncovered and interviewed hundreds of people. They spent their entire fortune on trying to uncover what happened to their son. No leads ever panned out and what became of Charley remains a mystery.
On February 17th, 1984, Renee Aitken (5) was abducted from the family home in Narooma, New South Wales, whilst her brother Brad (aged 8 at the time) slept peacefully across from her. Aitkens was last seen in her bed at 11:15pm and was uncovered to be missing at 4:45am by her mother after Brad woke up feeling cold. The abduction of Aitkens’ consists of two ‘prime’ suspects: Brian Fitzpatrick and Michael Guider.
In 1987, Batemans Bay Detective, Sergeant Ted Freeman, told a coronial inquest that interviews with convicted sex offender, Brian Fitzpatrick left police in no doubt he was involved in the child’s disappearance. Police re-opened Aitken’s case in 1998 with Fitzpatrick refusing to be re-interviewed. Unfortunately for police, Fitzpatrick died in a car accident prior to the commencement of this inquest.
Sometime in 2013, former inmate known only as ‘Witness O’ entered a police station near his Amsterdam home stating how Michael Guider (Incarcerated for the murder of Samantha Knight in 1986) would repeatedly draw sketches of a young blonde hair child he named ‘Renee’ (pictured below)
Witness O went on to confess they assumed ‘Renee’ was a male and that, at that time, they didn’t comprehend the severity of Guider’s sketches. Witness O also claims that when they confronted Guider about his sketches, Guider replied:
“Ah well, it’s the innocence of a child in the eyes and it is always coming in my mind”before walking off only to return shortly to continue drawing.
Witness O’s claims are currently being “reviewed and assessed”.
It has been 32 years since Aitken first disappeared.
“No Free Candy! The money raised from the $0.25 per piece of candy sold goes to help us fund a charity that helps find missing/abducted children. Please, ‘NO’ FREE SAMPLES!”
Was typed on the bright colored sticker on the lucite clear box that had tabs on the very top to hold the charity organization’s card (rescuing missing/abducted kids, for ours), a lockable money hopper with a coin slot on top and “$0.25” on the lid with the slot (my boss even photocopied a quarter, cut out the image, and taped it next to the coin slot), and on the bottom was an open compartment stocked with Jolly Ranchers, Peppermint/Spearmint wheels, individually wrapped Starburst squares (taken from larger wrapper), individually wrapped Now & Laters, individually wrapped spherical candies that are either sour, very spicy hot, or change colors and shrink as you suck on them. We had Tootsie Rolls but nobody wanted those as much, so we quit stocking them.
I worked at a business and the candy box was up front, where I worked. I would politely remind anyone dipping into the candy for free that those cost $0.25 a piece, whenever I had the opportunity (i.e. not busy helping customers and other primary duties). My coworkers did the same thing, and so did my boss. Even a couple of customers called out these cheapskates, though they weren’t as polite about it, and made no bones about shaming these cheap thieving jerks.
But people still kept taking free candy from the honor box, without paying! How low can you get taking money away from an organization that helps kids!? My boss definitely gives the money from the sales to the organization (less the cost of candy). However, more and more people just took free candy or they underpaid by putting pennies, nickels, or dimes in there. One guy, God Bless him, put a $20 bill in there yet only took a couple of pieces of candy. But for every guy like him or even a person who put in $0.25 for a piece of candy, there were two dozen assholes who either took a freebie or simply underpaid.
The assholes who took freebies or underpaid drove really expensive cars, dressed really lavishly, didn’t spend much money in the business, were VERY rude and demanding, and yet take candy without paying from a charitable cause.
My boss had had enough and said “The 'Honors System’ doesn’t work when too many people have no honor!” So he paid, out of his own pocket, to replace the little “Honors System” candy box with a good quality gumball machine like, coin operated dispenser. He got it from a website from a company that has been making and selling these since the 1980s, in America.
The coin operated gumball machine is capable of being bolted down to the counter (my boss did that), it has barrel locking mechanisms on the top clear plexiglass compartment for the candy, a well designed hopper and dispense mechanism to effectively distribute one piece of candy per quarter (works brilliantly), and is set to take quarters only, and the money compartment is safely behind a locking metal door behind the coin drop and turn mechanism, easy to empty out. My boss taped the organization’s cars to the top part (square “globe” where the candy is filled), and the machine cannot be fooled by slugs, coins on strings, or lower denomination coins. You can’t even fool it with foreign currency (one jerk tried to use an Albanian coin to try to steal a piece of candy).
After that, the candy theft stopped, and my boss was able to properly raise the funds to aid this charity.
But seriously, fuck cheapskate customers who think it’s okay to take a piece of candy for free despite the fact it says you have to give $0.25 for each piece of candy in order to fund an organization meant to help kids (or anyone, for that matter), especially when they are driving high end cars and dressed to the nines. If you can afford fancy clothes and expensive cars you can spare $0.25 for a piece of candy.
Takashi Shimizu is baaaaack with ‘Little Nightmares’, aka 'こどもつかい’!
“A suburban town is shaken by a series of mysterious child disappearances, and suspicious adult deaths. A rumor begins to spread on the internet that any adult who suddenly encounters a returned “child” will die mysteriously three days later. Local newspaper reporter Shunya Ezaki refuses to believe that children are killing adults, and begins to investigate the truth behind the strange deaths. Who on earth is “Kodomo Tsukai”? And what kind of dark fate do the abducted children drag their adult victims toward?”
The 1990 TV-safe adaptation of Stephen King’s “It” is well regarded if only for Tim Curry’s strangely endearing performance as Pennywise The Dancing Clown. Even though Pennywise is a monster who abducts children to turn them into a hot lunch, Curry managed to steal the show and become an odd fan favorite with humor and charm.
The heavily R-rated 2017 version of “It” has no interest in making Pennywise a pleasant screen presence. In fact, director Andy Muschietti seems hell-bent on making your skin crawl for every single second that Bill Skarsgard’s terrifying painted face appears on screen. This damn clown and its many mind games are significant enough to keep your tank filled with nightmare fuel for the next decade.
Monkman captures many scenes in his more recent work of the stories behind the abduction of Indigenous children by the Canadian Government and Christian religious leaders across Canada during the over 100 years that Canadian Indian Residential Schools were functioning, as well as the decades that saw Indigenous children removed from their homes and placed into foster programmes against the will of their parents–titled the ‘sixties scoop’.
July 1st 2017 marks the 150th birthday of Canada. It is important to think on what 150 years actually mean in this context. What we are ‘celebrating’ and whose voices and experiences are still being denied a platform.
Canada 150 is a celebration of Indigenous Genocide, of Colonization, and of Broken Treaties and Promises.
I have decided, quite simply, that the really weird customers are drawn to me and this is why I get all the worst reviews. This one is not a review, but it is one of the events that made me just go… ‘what?’
A woman came up to me and started speaking in a low voice.
“There’s a man in a brown leather jacket and a baseball hat. He’s creeping me out. He walked by me, looked at me once, and then gave me the finger.”
So I tell my boss and we get a couple people to follow this guy and his friend, who are just now coming out of the t-shirt section. We don’t see them do anything weird. I’m called up to the register and the woman that came up to me starts talking about it again, her two kids sitting in the cart- pointing the men out and reiterating what she’d told me before.
The two men are on their way up, they don’t buy anything. They get into their van. They’re not really as clean-cut as our usual patrons, but landscaping/construction people come through our store sometimes because if they need high-visibility attire we have flourescent yellow shirts that work in a pinch. I kind of just assumed they left because we didn’t have them in their size.
The woman’s nanny comes up and starts asking questions.
“They left.” “Where did they go?” “They got in a van.” “They got in a VAN?!”
Like… at this point I’m like 90% certain that things did not happen the way she thinks they happened. Like… she’s making a big deal about it. I call my manager up to talk to her and she gets to tell her story again. I hear-
“What are two grown men doing in a CRAFT STORE?”
…. crafts don’t know age or gender, lady.
Manager gets her to believe that they were probably stealing something and she caught them in the act and that’s why they were acting so weird. Tells her not to call the cops because we’ll file a report.
… she called the cops anyway. We get a call from her saying that they told her that they couldn’t do anything because they didn’t steal anything and nothing… really… happened. So she begs my boss to look at the footage to send to the cops and my boss tells her that she will.
Boss looks at the footage.
Here. Is what. Happened.
She had her kids kind of playing around her cart and having a good time. These two guys walk by, the one in the jacket glances at her. The woman freezes, gathers up her kids and orders them to get in the cart, stares the man down.
Yeah, I would have flipped her the bird, too.
She then starts keeping an eye on him, staring him down whenever she sees him like he’s going to do something. She’s pointing at him to her nanny.
All but following him around the store.
Because he was a grown man in a craft store. Christ, lady- not every working dude with a beard is looking to abduct your children.
3rd anniversary of the Sinjar Massacre and start of the Êzidî Genocide. On August 3rd 2014 ISIS attacked the Êzidîs in their homeland the Sinjar region following the systematic killing of Êzidî men, enslavement of women, abduction of children and the destruction of graveyards, holy places and property.
As one of the most horrible tragedies of the 21st century that is taking place to this day in which about 10.000 civilians were killed and kidnapped, the Êzidîs were confronted with two options: to convert to Islam or to die. The barbarian execution of Êzidî men and boys includes the documented massacre of Kocho where 418 boys and men were beheaded, shot or burried alive. Hundreds of older physically and mentally disabled people were burried alive and 15 burned in an Êzidî temple in Sinjar. The massacre was made possible as 12.000 KDP peshmerga left the Êzidîs without any protection or weapons to fight with after vowing to „defend Sinjar down to the last drop of blood“.
Hundreds of Êzidîs, predominantly children, died on the run or in the Sinjar mountains waiting out for more than 7 days without food or water in the burning heat for a safe corridor. Countless Êzidî mass graves have been found since the liberation of ISIS held areas.
More than 3200 Êzidîs are still held captive, majority women and children as young as 5 years old who are sold and divided among ISIS members as sex slaves, concubines and „spoils of war“, traded like animals for 5-10 US-Dollars.
Êzidî children are radicalised in IS-training camps where Islamic teachings are forced on them under the threat and practice of violence with the aim to form future fighters. Stories of daily physical abuse and rape are being recount by those who could be liberated. Among the freed are young Êzidî girls as young as 9 years old who return to their families pregnant to be living in refugee camps under horrible conditions. Hundreds of Êzidî girls and women committed suicide either in IS-captivity or during their escape due to immense mental and physical abuse.
The massacre and on-going genocide leaves deep scars on the Êzidî collective with no proper recognition of the international community to this day. Efforts to provide physical and mental rehabilitation for the deeply traumatized are only made intra-community and going slowly. To this day Êzidîs struggle to make their voices heard, to deal with their traumas and to bring the responsible to justice.
The legend of the mysterious Black Volga was widespread in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Mongolia during the 1960′s and 1970′s. It was said that a black Volga was used to abduct people, mainly children, and was often associated with a number of disappearances. One theory said that the driver of the morbid vehicle was Satan himself, while another said that the government was behind the abductions for the purpose of organ harvesting.