cadenti porrigo demolotio: I reach out my hand to the man who’s pulling.
Harry’s beauty was whispered through the valleys of Greece, attracting females and males to the island of Mykonos in hopes of hearing the green eyed siren’s song. Myths and legends told of heroes such as Odysseus and Heracles swayed by his beauty, even the goddess Aphrodite smitten by him and his son. He was no god of any sort; instead a nymph, if you will. An Oceanide.
Harry had skin kissed by the Greek sun. He had eyes that matched the wine colored sea he dwelled in and hair the color of whiskey. He knew he was beautiful too; people were willing to die to catch a glimpse of him, how could he not?
His voice was just as beautiful as he was. In the dead of night you could hear the distinct tune of his irresistibly sweet melody against the lapping waves on the sand. Though deemed as suicides, many had traveled to the island only to jump in the water in search of him only to be met with their fate under the sea. It wasn’t until Harry’s own fateful day where he meet his own siren of his dreams. Although she wasn’t a siren like he was.
She was human, and the most god damn beautiful human Harry had ever seen too. She was a sort of understated beauty, one that in a crowded marketplace in the famous city of Athens, Harry would be able to pick her out in a millisecond. She had lips the color of pomegranates and smudges of coal lined around her eyes to make them bigger than already possible. A soft, sweet gentle voice that Harry could hear when she was out that made his heart swell two sizes bigger.
How could he ever love another?
(Y/N) had traveled by boat to her birthplace of Mykonos. Every summer she would return to her childhood home and spend the season aiding her elderly parents around the house and the town. Living in a small cottage just on the coast of the island, her favorite thing to do was to garden and to sing, preferably at the same time. In the late evenings she would tend to the roses and watch the rhythmic percussion of the waves on the sand.
It wasn’t until one night the girl had wondered on the dark beach, wrapping her silk dress tighter around against her body. Her hair blew in tresses around her, momentarily restricting her vision until it was whipped away back behind her.
(Y/N) squinted, eyeing a blurry form in the distance with a look of confusion. Something had washed up; something big. A …shark? A seal? Coming closer, her jaw dropped open; it was a man. A man with a long, slender torso that turned from skin to scales into a long fish tail. He lay unmoving, twitching from time when a particularly strong gust of wind blew.
(Y/N) sunk down to her knees, observing him. She had only ever heard of nymphs in stories but undoubtedly knew from his appearance that he must of been one. His long hair lay strewn around his head in a disheveled mess and bits of sand covered his face all the way down to his torso. Clearly, he had been washed up. But how could such a strong creature, one so close to a human, allow itself to become so vulnerable?
(Y/N) reached out and dusted flecks of sand away from his forehead and eyes, noting that his skin, though a blue tint, was warm and he was in fact still breathing. She noted how long his eyelashes were and how they touched the apples of his cheeks, his lips a shade of a pink hibiscus. She felt herself becoming smitten with the man.
Harry jumped, startling the girl’s hand off of him with a gasp. From his view on the sandy beach, all he could see was the swirl of dark storm clouds above him and a frightened girl looking down on him. His girl.
“I’m sorry for startling you. What’s your name?” He whispered, lifting a hand up onto the girl’s jaw and cupping it sweetly. She followed his hand with hers and gave a slight eyebrow scrunch. He talked with an unusual accent, one that reveled he was not where she was from.
“Lovely.” He coughed. “Can you help me back into the sea? I’m having trouble breathing.”
(Y/N) jumped up but the thought came to her mind; how was she suppose to drag a siren back into the ocean?
Harry held his arms out, encouraging her to take his hands. She did so with hesitation and lifted him off the ground only to find he weighed basically nothing. She felt like she was lifting a child up but he stood towering over her, wrapping his arms around her dainty neck to keep balance. (Y/N) stood shocked.
“Please.” He encouraged her, feeling her body rigid with hesitation.
She complied, using one arm to hoist his body up and carry him bridal style down to the water. She pushed her embarrassment to the side, as this was probably really damn strange looking. She wandered into the ocean waist deep, occasionally losing her footing against the waves that didn’t seem so gentle.
She loosened her hold on the siren, allowing him to slide into the sea. He did so quickly, diving under before coming back up with a refreshing laugh. Harry leaned over and took her hands, encouraging her to follow him deeper in the sea.
(Y/N) shook her head, pulling against his hold. “I can’t swim. I’ll drown.“
Harry had this funny look on his face, an odd smile matched with eyes that visibly shined even in the dead of night. He smoothly pulled her forward, her feet sliding off the sand and automatically kicking her weight above her. (Y/N) gasped, latching her grip onto the siren and wrapping her legs around his waist in a haste.
“I can’t swim!” She cried but a mistake it was, as now the siren floated the two of them deeper into the black ocean. The water was cold, surprising for a Greek summer and it had (Y/N)’s hair standing up on end. Her wet dress was weighing her down even harder onto Harry who had his strong arms wrapped around waist.
“Focus on me.” Harry spoke but it was difficult to hear him over the water spinning in waves around them. He had the same dreamy look on his face, seeming to appear unaware of (Y/N)’s horrified state.
Harry leaned in and kissed her lightly on the mouth, her body going in shock before melting into his as she reciprocated the kiss. Their noses bumped into each other as he worked his lips over hers, as he had never before kissied anybody. She clung to him as a child, momentarily forgetting the fact that she was freely floating in the sea.
The siren’s kiss made her feel warm inside but not warm enough to stop the fact that she was shivering. Harry tangled his hand in her hair, enjoying the sound of their lips against each other but her iron like grip on his shoulders made him pull away.
“I’m scared.” (Y/N) spoke. “Please take me back to shore.”
Harry frowned, not wanting their time to be up just yet.
“Tell me,” Harry sounded, his hand in her hair detaching and resting on the base of her neck. “Do you believe you can breathe underwater?”
“Would I be this scared in the middle of the ocean if I knew I could breathe underwater?”
Harry laughed, flicking his tail to keep them afloat. “What if I told you you could?”
(Y/N) shook her head. “I want to go home, I’m very tired. Please.”
“Okay, I’ll take you home. Hold onto me.”
And so, the siren trod the waters back to shore. (Y/N) let out a sigh of relief when her toes touched the sandy bottom of the floor. Without much of a goodbye or a look back, the girl ran back to dry land and up the path back to her tiny cottage.
Harry watched her, rising with anger. He took her on an adventure that no other had experienced and she repays him by running away? Here he was in love with her, so enamored but there she was trying to get away from him. He slapped the water surface angerly.
Harry took a breath and started to sing a song of sorrow and heavy heart. Singing always calmed Harry down, making him feel like the calm after the storm. Most of the time, Harry didn’t even know he had started singing because he would fall into a state of semi-consciousness, one that would make him feel one with nature, one with the gods on Mount Olympus and one with Earth.
Unknowingly, Harry’s melody had drifted into the wind and on to (Y/N)’s ears. She stopped her hurried walk and fell in love with the siren all over again. It only took her a millisecond to decide her fate and she was running back, holding her dress up from her legs and sprinting back down to the beach she had just been running from minutes before. It felt like an invisible string was pulling her, yanking her back in the water and to the siren’s arms. She didn’t care anymore though.
Harry saw her running, letting the last note of his song curl slowly from his lips. She stumbled through the water, doing her best attempt of trying to swim towards him before meeting being enclosed in his embrace and planting her lips onto his.
“Take me away.” She breathed heavily. “I never want to be without you, please, take me away.”
It didn’t take Harry any more convincing than that to turn around swim deeper into the sea. Though awkward, (Y/N) clung to the side of him, completely hypnotized by the voice of a siren she didn’t even know the name of.
When the island of Mykonos was only a dot in the horizon, Harry turned to (Y/N) and with a dazzling smile, breathed, “Are you ready?”
(Y/N) nodded, struggling to keep herself a float. “I’m yours, I’ll go wherever you go.”
With that, Harry took her hand and dived down. Immediately the water burned (Y/N)’s lungs, paradoxically making them feel like a growing flame. She coughed and sputtered violently but continued to follow the siren blindly deeper into the darkness. Her eyes refused to adjust, only seeing a blur of Harry’s tail and red and black blotches. Her head pounded, every cell in her body screaming for oxygen but she didn’t care to fight. (Y/N)’s love for the man dragging her deeper only heightened with each second and soon, she began to fall.
It hurt so bad that… it didn’t anymore. Her body didn’t struggle and became in tune with the wishes of her heart. She was peacefully numb. Nothing except her love mattered.
All movement stopped and before she knew it she was just floating in the empty ocean. Harry’s hand had disconnected from hers and suddenly, she had never felt more lonelier. (Y/N)’s last memory before she died was the siren’s lips on hers, kissing the last bits of her life away. He held the water in her chest with his kiss and watched her diminish.
I was so tired of getting the pieces left of my heart ripped apart like it’s some form of art. So I became the monster that made me who I am, cause he never said sorry and when I asked why he said, “because I can.”
Don’t become who hurt you, they said. What if who hurt me made me keep these demons fed? Kind hearts are blind and so easy to eat alive, it’s not my fault he believed all of my lies.
I love you, we said back and forth like it’s nothing. I made him believe our nothing was a something. It never was anything. We were nothing.
He passes me everyday and puts his hand on my shoulder. He has freckles and he’s two years older. I have brown eyes with a face he begs to see all the time, but lately when he asks how I’m doing I just say I’m fine.
Do you still like me, he asks. I love you forever, he says. I want you in my arms forever, he says. Ignore. Make it bleed.
We started talking when I used bad things to feel in control, my smile a pale pink and eyes lined with coal. I don’t stay. I don’t care who you are. I don’t stay.
Hello friends and welcome to another
edition of Wacky WWII Hijinks! Get hype, today we’re gonna learn
about rad spy shit
okay, first some
background: the OSS, or Office of Strategic Services, was an American
intelligence agency during WWII that was in charge of clandestine
shit like espionage, propaganda, and counter-intelligence. It was run
by a dude called “Wild Bill” Donovan, because that’s the kind of
name people had back then somehow
the SOE, or Special Operations Executive, was a British organization
in charge of espionage, sabotage, and assisting local resistance
groups in Europe. It didn’t have a director with a weird nickname,
but it was sometimes called the Baker Street Irregulars, which
honestly I think is even better
as you can imagine,
these two organizations came up with a lot of weird shit to help
their agents infiltrate into occupied Europe, so let’s get to it
this one comes to us courtesy of the SOE and were intended for use in
boiler rooms, because the british figured that anyone finding a gross
dead rat while stoking a boiler would probably just chuck the corpse
into the fire and be done with it. Except this time the boiler would
Rat asses, as you can see from the pencil fuse in the image, could
also be rigged for timed explosions instead, for those occasions when
you’re on a tight schedule about raining down petrified rat entrails
in your enemy’s basement
unfortunately (???), the RATS, EXPLOSIVE, never saw actual combat
use, as the first box the SOE dropped into Europe was intercepted by
the Nazis, who probably had a read good “what the FUCK”
moment when they opened it
along similar lines but far less fucking weird were coal
bombs, which were essentially the same thing as the rat bombs but
with hollowed out coal instead. Both the SOE and OSS actually used
Poop bombs (lol)
they then went a bizarre step further and developed mule dung bombs
for use in Africa- “specially sculpted” replicas of mule poop
that were packed with explosives. These weren’t meant to be chucked
into boilers, but rather left around for enemy forces to drive over.
Here is an actual American soldier talking about collecting mule shit
for war purposes, from O'Donnell’s book Operatives, Spies, and
Mule turds were to be found in great abundance…we added a few
samples of local mule dung, and this was carefully packed and sent to
London. We took care to explain that the full, rich horse dung of the
British countryside would not do in Morocco; it was the more watery,
smaller mule type that would pass there without suspicion. Also, it
was important to have it a deep sepia color, sometimes with greenish
shades, the product of straw and grass, not of oats and hay. In due
course of time the British London office made up explosive turds from
these samples, and we used them to good effect later in Tunisia.
You do you, mule-poop-connoisseur-OSS-agent.
this is not an actual picture of a bat bomb, but I found it while
googling for images to use and I love it okay thanks
anyway are you sensing a theme here?
This one was, surprisingly, not the product of OSS or SOE, but of an
American dentist named Lytle S Adams. Everyone needs a hobby I guess.
The idea behind bat bombs was that you take a bunch of bats
(specifically Mexican free-tailed bats), tie some little bombs to
them, and stuff them into a plane. Then the plane flies over Japan
(because Japan has a lot of wooden buildings and therefore is
particularly susceptible to incendiary use), and drops the bats. The
bats fall down to building-level, then start flying around looking
for somewhere to hide because they are having a seriously bad bat
day. In theory, the bats would fly up into the eaves and roofs of the
buildings, at which point the timers on their little bombs would go
off, sending both bats and buildings up in flames.
This idea actually, somehow, made it into the testing phase, but was
never used because honestly what the fuck
guess what it’s another bomb! In this case, a plastic explosive that
looked like flour (hence the name) and could even be baked into
something resembling food products, although just a tad more
poisonous than most food you find outside of school cafeterias. Aunt
Jemima was easy to smuggle through enemy lines due to its innocuous
appearance, and the OSS sent a bunch of it to Chinese resistance
fighters against the Japanese
“wait what?”, I’m sure you’re saying. “finally something that
doesn’t explode and it’s…just a totally normal thing?”
yeah. Here’s the thing: if you sent an agent or resistance fighter
into occupied territory, there was a pretty good chance they were
gonna get frisked at some point, because that was a pretty routine
occurrence in places like occupied France. If said agent/resistance
member were carrying, say, a map showing escape routes or a code
sheet for them to use to send information, and they got searched,
either that paper is gonna be found with their other papers or, if
hidden on their person, make a pretty distinct crinkling noise when
the Gestapo agent gets friendly with that area. Plus, you know, paper
doesn’t do great when wet
the solution to this was printing stuff on silk, like this:
this is Leo Marks, the creator of the silk code keys and one time
pads that SOE used for their agents, holding a one time code pad that has
been printed on silk
these silk documents could be sewn into an agent’s clothing while
still being totally undetectable to a pat-down, or even hidden
somewhere like rolled up in a thin tube and then stuck inside a
shoelace. If you went a step further and printed the document using
invisible ink, agents could carry maps around in plain view as
handkerchiefs or have their codebook printed directly onto their
underwear, because hey why not
I know it sounds boring after all this exploding wildlife, but
silk-printed documents were hugely important to covert
operations during WWII
should not be guns but are, in fact, guns
tbh I’m just gonna let the pictures speak for themselves on this one
apparently there was an umbrella one too but I couldn’t find a picture of that one
you’re dropping people into enemy territory to gather intelligence,
you need some way to communicate with them. This was a problem, since
cell phones hadn’t been invented yet and radios at the time were
like, fucking huge, which
is not great when you’re trying to hide them from the Gestapo
got around this problem by creating the suitcase radio, which is
exactly what it sounds like- a big old radio disguised as a suitcase.
Obviously they weren’t gonna stand up to any examination more
rigorous than “yes that is suitcase shaped”, but it allowed
agents to at least walk around in public with it without attracting
too much attention
keeping with the “problems with radios” theme, we have the OSS’
Joan-Eleanor system. See, normal radio frequencies were monitored by
both sides in the war, which was Not Great. It meant both that radio
transmissions could be intercepted by the enemy (and subsequently
decoded, like Germany’s Enigma messages), and also that you could use
radio direction finders to pinpoint the location of a broadcasting
radio. Every time a covert agent turned on their radio to report
something, they ran the risk of being located and hella murdered
the Joan-Eleanor (or J-E) system, in contrast, was a Very High
Frequency (VHF) system. VHF bands couldn’t be easily monitored,
unlike the frequency bands used by other radios.
Why? I actually have no idea. Listen I just read things and ramble
about them on the internet, I don’t know jack shit about radios
anyway, as a result the system was hard to detect but very short
range, so it worked by giving the agent on the ground a hand-held
transmitter (the Joan), that talked to a bigger transceiver (the
Eleanor) that was in a plane. At prearranged times the plane would
fly over wherever the agent was and they could have an undetectable
it’s a compass! It’s a button! It’s a compass hidden inside a button!
okay this one isn’t technically equipment, but it’s cool and
was used by spies so you can deal with it
it turns out that during the war pretty much everyone listened to the
BBC, even at risk of arrest in occupied territories. The SOE used
this to their advantage by working with the BBC to broadcast
seemingly meaningless words or phrases at certain times, which were
actually pre-arranged coded messages or orders to agents or
if an agent had to win over the resistance’s trust or prove they were
actually spies and not just random dudes, they could ask the person
whose trust they were trying to win to provide them with a personal
word or phrase. Then the agent could radio the SOE, give them the
word/phrase and ask it to be broadcast at a certain time, which the
other person would hear, and bam best friends
is there anything more quintessentially spy? agents were often supplied with a little vial of invisible ink before being dropped into occupied territory, for communications outside radio broadcasts. the ink could be developed (made visible) by means of chemicals or exposure to ultraviolet light (some invisible inks are developed by heat, but the SOE at least avoided those because of the worryingly high risk of accidental exposure. “whoops I sat to close to the fire and now everyone can see I actually drew little devil horns on this poster of Hitler you gave me”)
REAL COOL FACT: Josephine Baker, the famous Black singer, was actually a spy for the French Resistance during the war, and smuggled information during her concert tours of Europe by writing it in invisible ink on her sheet music! wow!
okay I’m gonna stop now because I keep thinking of more shit to add
and if I do this will literally never end (sorry). For further
reading I recommend the O'Donnell book mentioned above and Leo Marks’
Between Silk and Cyanide. Also apparently H. Keith Melton’s
OSS Special Weapons & Equipment is really good, but I
haven’t read it personally (though I totally stole the pictures of
the OSS guns from there, hooray the internet)
sorry this is long, but I’ve a story to tell. It starts not too long
ago, with something that honestly not out of the ordinary. My father
took a trip. He was a traveler, not usually for pleasure, but because
his work sent him to conferences all over the world. Because he was
always traveling, we were never very close. I loved him, but knew very
little about him, personally. By the time I was eleven, the same travels
that had stolen a dad from me had taken him to six continents. It was
on the trip that he made it to his sixth, his first time on the
continent of Africa, he would make a decision that changed our lives: he
bought a painting.
Now, there’s nothing particularly spectacular about the event itself,
at least that he remembers. He was in a poorer part of Ghana, and
bought it off of a street vendor. The only thing strange about it was
that he wasn’t usually a fan of modern art, and this one was abstract to
say the least. The background was done with some kind of thick paint,
layered on to almost an inch in thickness in vivid shades of red,
oranges, and yellows, looking like flames melted down to the consistency
of plaster. Then, with surprising precision, it was divided into four
boxes by lines of coal black paint, forming dents in the thick
vermillion. Inside the boxes were very simple images, done in the same
black paint. The first was simply a stick figure. The next held two of
them, side by side. The third, what seemed to be some kind of insect,
and in the fourth, three check-mark birds flying through the air.
Even he wasn’t exactly sure why he decided to buy it. The thing was
massive, maybe six feet wide and four feet tall, and the images didn’t
even have rudimentary detail. Whatever his reasoning was, when he came
home from his trip to Africa, it was rolled up next to his suitcase, not
seeming even slightly ominous in the rosy sunshine filtering through
the trees and onto our porch.
He had my mom frame it as soon as possible, and wanted it hung in
their bedroom. It, surprisingly, didn’t clash with their sage colored
walls, and made the otherwise sparsely furnished room seem a little more
complete. We had just moved into the big house, and finally having some
decorations up was really comforting, at first.
Until it wasn’t.
I can’t say when it really began. At first, the feeling was so faint
it was easy to dismiss, especially as a child with an overactive
imagination. If you walked alone in the house, you’d start to get this
feeling that started in the center of your back, between your shoulder
blades. It reminded me of the feeling you’d get when an adult was
watching you try and do something you honestly had no idea how to do,
like any moment they’d speak up and yell at you for doing something
The worst part of it wasn’t the feeling, however. It made me
uncomfortable and jumpy, but not exactly threatened. No, the worst part
was the staircase that led upstairs to my siblings and I’s bedroom.
Around the same time that the feeling started, I noticed something had
changed about them. The whole area just had this feeling of wrongness
that I don’t really know how to describe. No matter how fast you went up
or down them, you would just know that someone was watching you,
someone who wanted very, very badly to watch you tumble down those
stairs and hear your neck snap halfway down.
I tried speaking up about it to my mom, but she was always a skeptic
despite being religious. Anytime I brought it up, she would go up and
down the stairs a few times to show me that there was nothing wrong with
them, and that I was just being childish. She blamed it on me watching
one too many ghost movies with my friends, or on staying up too late the
night before. In all honesty, I wanted to believe her: it was a much
nicer explanation than that there was actually someone standing at the
top of the stairs. I couldn’t make the feeling fade, though, no matter
how hard I tried, nor could I avoid the staircase. For one, my bedroom
was on the second story, and for another, our front door was at the
bottom of the stairs, so even if I slept on the downstairs couch I’d
still have to pass by them every day.
I comforted myself by the fact that, even if there was something there,
it wasn’t physical and couldn’t do anything to me even if it wanted to. I
didn’t believe in ghosts, and thought that demons were just biblical
creatures that couldn’t leave the confines of hell. I simply resigned
myself to running up the stairs and locking my bedroom door, and
pretending everything was fine.
One day, my mom let me have a few of my friends over. Elaine, Gwen,
and Lizzy were my three closest, and the prospect of having them over
all but made me forget about the staircase and the odd feeling in the
house. After school we all went up to my bedroom, giggling about our
favorite books and falling all over ourselves to talk about the latest
gossip. Elaine was a diabetic, so having to get her a snack late at
night wasn’t uncommon, and when she asked, I obediently trotted down the
stairs to get her something to eat.
In the kitchen, the clock read 3:08, the fridge-light bathing our
kitchen in a comforting glow as I poured milk and cereal to bring back
upstairs for my friend. The feeling was back, but I had gotten good at
ignoring it as I moved through the house. I had to walk back up the
stairs slowly as I carried the bowl, the first time I had done so since
the feeling started. That’s when I heard it. Voices.
I mean, I could hear my friends talking upstairs, but these voices
were different. They were grown up, and were very quiet like they were
whispering, except their tone was conversational. It sounded sort of
like someone had turned down the volume on a TV show to the point I
could only catch a few words: house, girl, run, and laugh. I thought for
a moment that someone might have left the TV on, but you would have
been able to see the glow from the staircase if someone had. It was
pitch dark, aside from the light of my bedroom down the hall. I wasn’t
an idiot, I only listened for a second before continuing to walk up the
stairs, still slow due to the milk and cereal. It was easy enough to
just ignore the voices, until someone laughed.
It was a bit louder than the voices, and it wasn’t exactly sinister
at first. Just a laugh that continued for a long time. Again, it could
have been my friends, except it was a grown man’s laugh. I kept climbing
the stairs, but something was off; it was taking a lot longer to keep
going than it usually did, even at a slow pace. The laugh just kept
going and going, the whispering voices growing louder in volume, but I
still couldn’t quite make out words. At this point, I was thoroughly
frightened, trying to hold on to the cereal bowl and walk a little
faster up the stairs, jaw trembling with fear, wondering how the voices
and laughter weren’t waking up anyone else in the house. My friends
hadn’t come to see what was going on, and they didn’t come, not even
when the man’s laugh grew to be booming, hurting my ears, drowning out
the voices. I was nauseated, giving up on trying to preserve the milk in
the bowl and just sprinting up the stairs, nearly tripping as I went up
them and running down the hall into my bedroom, slamming the door shut
Lizzy and Gwen were still talking and laughing on the same subject,
as though not much time had gone by, barely even noticing as I burst
into the room. Elaine, however, sat on my bed, staring right at me as I
entered the room. Her face was pale, knuckles white on my bedsheets as
our eyes met. I opened my mouth and shut it, the question coming out of
her mouth before I could ask it.
“You heard it, too?”
They left the next day, Lizzy and Gwen confused as Elaine and I both
refused to talk about what we had just heard. It wasn’t that we didn’t
trust them, but Lizzy was easily scared and Gwen was somewhat obsessed
with psychology and would probably have tried to label us both with a
mental illness that was somehow connected to each others thoughts. It
was the validation that I wasn’t the only person to hear it is the only
thing that kept me from trying to tell my mother: if it wasn’t just me
hearing it, I wasn’t going crazy, which meant all she would do was
dismiss it as both of us having odd imaginations. Maybe I should have
tried, but at age eleven, the last thing I wanted was to get in trouble
Nothing happened to that degree again for quite a while. I let myself
be lulled into a sense of false-security, dismissing what I had heard
and felt as the TV and paranoia from the feeling that still lingered in
the house. I comforted myself by saying that, even if it had been
something, it couldn’t physically do anything to me. Life went on.
One summer morning, I was sitting on the bench on our front-porch,
thoroughly immersed in a good book. There was a light breeze going,
blowing my frizzy hair into a halo around my face, pages turning rapidly
as I got caught up in the plot. When I heard footsteps on the stairs
inside, just beyond the front door, I didn’t pay much attention, nor
when the door opened halfway. I only looked up when no one stepped
outside, eyebrows furrowing.
“Lark?” I said the name of my sister, assuming she had come to find
me and tell me lunch was ready. Instead of getting a response, the door
simply shut slowly. I stared a moment before returning to my book, the
fact that she had changed her mind about coming inside not particularly
concerning. A moment later, however, the door slowly opened again, just a
crack, this time. I couldn’t see inside, the bench on the same side of
the door as the hinges. As it shut again, I decided just to dismiss it
as the breeze, pulling it all the way shut so it wouldn’t creak open
again. When it did, this time a good deal faster, I looked up irritably.
This time, the door slammed shut, hard enough to make me jump. I blinked
in surprise, watching as it re-opened halfway once more. “Luke,” I
tried again, guessing at my brother. If it was him, he didn’t answer,
the door shutting and opening faster, now. “Cut it out.” No response.
“Dude, it isn’t funny…” The door was opening and closing without
pause, now, hitting its frame harder each time, like someone was just
swinging it on it’s hinges to get a rise out of me.
Tired of having my reading interrupted, I stood with all the fury of an
older sister, grabbing the door and yanking it all the way open.
There was no one there.
It took a moment for the fact to register, my eyes going wide in
surprise as I tried to understand what I was seeing, or, rather, the
lack of it. No one stood inside the doorway, or in the TV room, and no
one was running up the stairs. It was as though the door had simply been
slamming itself open and shut on its own accord. I felt my stomach
drop, calling out in a trembling voice in a vague hope it had been one
of my siblings playing some stupid prank.
“Lark…? Luke? Maggie?” I called, stepping inside tensely. No one
responded, so I swallowed, moving into the house and down the hall to
stick my head in my dad’s office. He was seated at his desk, headphones
on as he played a video game on his computer, oblivious to the outside
world. I blinked, stepping out of the office and moving into the
kitchen, where my mom was on the phone with our grandmother, chatting as
she made dinner. She looked up, raising an eyebrow.
“Where are Luke and Maggie?” I asked, my mom’s reply being a nod
towards the backdoor. I walked across the kitchen and dining room to
stick my head outside. They were all up in the climbing tree, thoroughly
immersed in their game, Lark on the highest branch. There was no one
else in the house, and no way they could have made it from the door all
the way through the house and up the tree at the back of our expansive
yard in the micro-second it had taken for me to open the door. I did
what any normal eleven year old would do: I burst into tears.
My mother came into the room, offering anxious consolation and
confusion as I blubbered out my story, letting out a little laugh as it
finished. She offered forehead kisses and a hug, telling me it was just
the wind and that I shouldn’t let things like that scare me so badly. I
was too frightened to be angry or to explain there was no physical way
the wind could have slammed and opened the door so quickly and only
opened it halfway, and just went limp in her arms. I wanted nothing more
than to get out of the house. It wasn’t the fact that a door had opened
and shut so quickly that scared me. It was the fact that, whatever was
watching me in our house, it could affect the physical world.
I started avoiding being near the stairs at all from then on, and avoided sitting near the front door.
Things only got weirder from there. It began as just seeing something
moving in the corner of your eye, typically in the doorway or out the
window, a little blur of black as if someone had passed by. I didn’t say
anything about it, knowing that, no matter what I said, no one would
believe me. Despite everyone claiming they didn’t notice anything, there
was something tense in the air around the house. My mom began looking a
little paler, a little thinner. My dad started coming home a bit late
from work and just staying in his office. My siblings didn’t like going
upstairs alone at night. We stopped inviting people over. But we didn’t
talk about it, didn’t acknowledge that there was something wrong in our
Whatever was moving in our doorways and windows was gaining presence.
As weeks wore on it went from simply seeing it in the corner of my eye
to looking directly at it as it walked by. It was a black man, and I
don’t mean African American, I mean a pitch-black silhouette of a man
walking through our hallways. One night, I looked up to see him standing
in the doorway of my bedroom, just watching. Most often, he would be
standing at the top of the stairs. As long as you didn’t look at him, he
would just stand still, just observe things you were doing. If you did
take the chance to glance up, he would turn, slowly, and just start
walking. If he rounded a corner, by the time you rounded it yourself, he
would be gone.
It sounds like something that would scare the crap out of an eleven
year old, but as time wore on, it just became normal. I stopped looking
when I saw movement in the corner of my eye. It never did anything but
watch, and soon just became part of the scenery in the house. I thought I
was the only person that could see him, but once, as I played with my
brother in his bedroom, he tapped my shoulder to bring my attention to
the doorway, where the man stood. As I looked, the silhouette man turned
and walked away, my brother and I sharing a glance. His expression was
relieved that he wasn’t the only person seeing it. Mine was simply
exhausted. I had realized a long time ago that whatever was watching us
was very real.
A few weeks later, I heard my parents arguing about it. It was the
first time I had heard either one of them acknowledge that there was
something going on, but from the sound of it, my dad had been trying to
talk to my mom about it for some time. It went something like this.
“I’m telling you, it’s real.”
“That’s impossible, maybe you’re tired, maybe you imagined it!”
“I didn’t imagine it, you don’t just imagine things more than once!”
“You’re paranoid! There’s nothing in this house! Even if there was, what would you want me to do about it!”
“I don’t know, I don’t know! I just want you to stop acting like I’m crazy!”
“Do you realize how crazy this sounds?!”
“I’ve seen something!”
It was the first time I had considered trying to talk to my dad about
it instead of my mom. She couldn’t let herself believe in something
that wasn’t physical or strictly from our religion. It was just too hard
to let go. My father, however, had always been more open minded. A man
of science, yes, but also willing to trust what his gut was telling him.
I couldn’t quite make up my mind until, one day, I looked out the
widow and the silhouette was standing just outside of the glass. Instead
of walking away, it just stood there, staring at me. I stared back,
heart pounding, holding my breath. Now that we were looking at each
other, a feeling like ice shot through my body. It radiated the same
exact feeling that had been lurking in our house for months, mixed with
the same mocking hate that was concentrated on our staircase. What
seemed like hours later, it turned, and simply passed through our fence.
It didn’t open the gate or go over it, just walked through. I felt sick
to my stomach at the contact, fleeing to sit in my dad’s office until
he got home, making my brother come with me.
I honestly don’t remember exactly what I said. I think I let my
little brother do most of the talking, though I doubt a nine year old
was very convincing as he rambled about a shadow-man upstairs. My dad
didn’t say he believed us, but, unlike my mother, he didn’t try and just
explain it away. His face got very serious, and eventually he let us
leave the office. I don’t think I ever regretted telling someone
something as much as I regretted telling my dad about seeing whatever
was in our house, because from that day on, things got much, much worse.
At least before there was some semblance of normalcy in our house. I
was terrified to be alone, now. Sometimes you’d go upstairs only to have
every door in the hallway slam shut, leaving you feeling trapped and
claustrophobic. I didn’t dare walk room to room in the house- instead, I
got places by running full speed, curling up on a chair and holding as
still as possible when I entered a room, unsure the heavy breathing was
my own. Nightmares of rotting bodies and bloodstained rooms I didn’t
recognize often woke me with anxious tears. My mom began finding broken
glass in places where nothing had shattered, cabinet doors flung open,
clothes dragged out of drawers and strewn across the house. You’d be
surprised how many signs of something terribly wrong can be dismissed as
One morning, I came down to find my dad enraged and yelling at my
sisters. He whipped around when I came downstairs, getting in my face
and grabbing me by my shoulders.
“What were you doing downstairs last night?” He demanded, breath hot
on my face. I blinked, both started and puzzled. I hadn’t woken up last
night, which was odd, considering the nightmares.
“I-I didn’t-…” I tried to explain, silenced by his furious look.
“I saw you!” He spat. “Dancing in the living room! What in god’s name
were you doing up in the middle of the night? What the hell were you
I tried to get something out, too scared to form words, my mom taking
her turn to snap at my dad. “You said whoever you saw was wearing
green. Look, her pajamas are red, it was just a bad dream!”
He couldn’t explain it.
He swore, though, that either me or my sister had been standing in
the living room, hands raised to the ceiling as we swayed and sang
something he couldn’t understand under our breath. He had the look of a
man who was convinced beyond doubt, and the fact that he was dead-set on
it being the truth is what scared me the most. I didn’t remember waking
up or going downstairs, but something told me he wasn’t just going
Two nights later I had a nightmare and decided to sleep in my
parent’s bedroom, on the floor. There wasn’t room in the bed itself, so I
just brought my blankets downstairs and huddled on their floor to go to
sleep. By now, their bedroom was the least scary thing about the house,
and I fell asleep pretty easily. It wasn’t until I woke up in the
middle of the night that something would go wrong.
When I opened my eyes, it felt sluggish. My whole body felt like it
was moving too slowly as I rolled over, like it didn’t quite want to
obey my commands. I blinked in the darkness, noticing something strange:
I wasn’t in the room I had fallen asleep in. I say it nonchalantly
because, honestly, nothing seemed out of the ordinary to me as I woke up
in the wrong place. There was this strange feeling of calm as I looked
around the unfamiliar room, and up at the strange bed, before closing my
eyes and falling back asleep. I would have just dismissed it as a
dream, aside from the fact that, in the morning, the bed I had set up
for myself was outside of my parent’s closed bedroom door. No one had an
explanation for how my little set-up had been moved, looking just the
way it had last night, outside of the room. No one tried to explain. I
don’t think any of us really wanted to know.
That phrase they always use on paranormal TV shows, that people just
try to explain away occurrences they don’t understand and if they can’t,
just try to forget them, is true.
This sort of thing became normal. Whenever my dad would go to sleep
in his bedroom, he would either wake up to the sound of someone in the
living room, or worse wake up to feeling someone’s hand on his own.
Sometimes, we’d be sitting at the dinner table and hear like someone was
running full speed up and down the upstairs hall, except on four
appendages instead of two, as though they were crawling. Our dog,
Athena, stayed close to one of us at all time, tail between her legs,
whining loudly whenever we went upstairs. One day, we woke up to find
our cat shaken to death. We thought it might have been a neighborhood
dog, aside from the fact that there were no teeth marks or blood drawn.
It looked as though someone had grabbed him, shaken him around until he
stopped moving, and set him neatly on our porch. I thought things
couldn’t get any more traumatic after finding the cat like that, but I
I was trying to fall asleep in my bedroom at the end of the hallway. I
had gotten used to hearing voices, to ignoring footsteps or a passing
shadow. Just after the nightmares had started, my dad had hung a cross
by my door as a strange form of a night-light, and looking at it usually
brought enough comfort to doze. Right as I was about to fall asleep,
however, a shadow ran across my room. It wasn’t unusual, seeing as my
window faced the street and driver’s headlights usually cast odd lights
through the shade, but it moved the wrong direction. I blinked sleepily
awake, bringing the blanket closer around my shoulders. I didn’t want to
move, knowing something felt wrong. Then, it crossed the room again. My
eyes watched it carefully as I half-sat up, heart beginning to pound.
My bedroom was usually a safe haven from strange things happening,
despite it being connected to the hallway and staircase where things
were worst. The shadow darted across my room again, before slipping
underneath my bed. I held very, very still before moving to lie down
again. When you’re a kid, the safest thing always seems to be just to
hide under your blankets and pray nothing happened.
Then, the bed moved.
Just a few inches to the left, it was enough to stop my breath for a
moment, childishly shutting my eyes. I remember the thought ‘it’s only a
dream’ running through my head again and again, knuckles white as I
held onto the sheets. The bed jolted an inch or two to the right, this
time, before back into its position.
I felt like I was going to be sick. It was one of those times when
you just know that, if you don’t do something, things are going to end
very, very badly for you. I opened one eye as the bed began shifting
again, a little bit faster. Something was pushing up underneath my
mattress, like someone was lying under the bed and pushing it back and
forth. On my nightstand was the little flip phone my parents had bought
for when they left me alone with my siblings, hardly visible in the
darkness of the bedroom. I thought briefly about screaming for help, but
the bed’s movement, getting faster, made me too afraid that any noise
would just send this thing, whatever the hell it was, into a rage. So,
little by little, I stuck my hand out from underneath the blanket,
trying to stifle a whimper as the bed slid back and forth, back and
forth, shaking slightly as it drug scratches into the paint on my
It felt like forever, but my hand closed around the phone.
I pulled it underneath the blanket with me, trying to shield the
light from the rest of the room, whimpering and trying to hold back
terrified tears as it drug back and forth faster. It took eons to type
four letters into the box, ‘HELP’, and to hit send to both of my
parents. I shut the phone, clinging onto the sheets as I let out a
little sob of both relief and terror. As soon as I let it out, I felt
something grab my leg through the sheets. Even through the fleece, it
was cold, hand tight around my leg. I screamed, this time. There wasn’t
any point in trying not to, anymore.
It brought my mother running, and as soon as I heard her footsteps on
the stairs, the thing let go. Everything returned to the still of
nighttime, except for an odd, metallic scent on the air as my mom pushed
open my bedroom door, rushing over to me. I couldn’t stop crying,
terrified out of my wits, the bed still pushed too far over to one side.
She wrapped me up in a hug, tried to calm me down, but I refused to be
consoled. I ended up curling up on the couch downstairs, still sobbing
softly, numb after that kind of intense fear.
If I were writing this to be entertaining, I would say we flew into a
rage the next day, calling priests and paranormal experts alike. We
didn’t, though. I think that, even before this straw that broke the
camel’s back, he knew what was causing all of this. It was the same
thing that he slept underneath at night, the place where vivid dreams of
violence were dreampt and young girls dancing were seen. His face was
deadpan and strained the next day as he opened the door to his bedroom
and moved to the wall, lifting the massive painting down from the place
it had rested for the past year. The paint on the wall behind it looked
faded, as though it had drawn even the color from what it touched. He
didn’t even take it out of the frame, just carrying the hulking work of
art out of our house and down to the road. I was terrified something
would lash out at us when he did so, but nothing did: the most that
changed was the feeling in the house. It felt like something had gone
out of the house with them, something that had filled our home to the
brim before until there was room for nothing else.
He set it by the road, looking like he had just carried a mountain with him, and went back inside.
I decided to watch from my bedroom window until the garbage men came,
but they never got the chance. Someone pulled up, looked at the
painting for a few moments, put it in their car and drove away. Maybe I
should have stopped them, but I wasn’t even sure it was the source of
the problem. Besides, I didn’t think they’d believe a kid rambling about
ghosts and demons anyways.
Our problem stopped, for the most part. The feeling lingered in our
house for a while before feeling, for the first time in months, normal.
Things still are strange, sometimes. The stairs still make me nervous,
and sometimes, at night, it feels like someone might be watching from
the bedroom. The danger, though, was gone.
I can’t explain what happened those couple of years ago, I really
wish I could. I used to theorize that whoever had painted the picture
had also dabbled in witchcraft or demonology, or that it had been owned
by a possessed man. Part of me wonders, though, if there’s another
anwser. Perhaps part of who we are is caught in the things we create,
bits and pieces of our souls caught on paintbrushes and plastered to a
canvas. I honestly think that idea scares me more, because the thought
of a man being so wholly evil as to want nothing more than to watch a
child tumble down stairs and hear it’s neck snap is terrifying. The
thought that he could on long after death, preserved brushstrokes is
There is one scene I really want/wish to happen in ToG6.
It is when all the girls are getting ready to go out to the Harvest Moon Festival.
Aelin wearing pure gold with gems like stars in her hair twinkling with light.
Elide wearing soft white chiffon and pearl earrings bringing out the lovely radiance of her eyes.
Lysandra wearing lilac lace ever so sultry and elegant showing wonders of her toned back.
Manon wearing velvet blood red revealing more of her cleavage than most women dared. To hell she was a witch.
Nesryn wearing royal blue, stark against her coal lined eyes. Accented with luscious maroon lips.
Ansel wearing saffron in a fine two piece that fitted and hugged every curve of her body. Going great with that glorious red hair of hers in loose waves.
Asterin wearing flowing sky blue, she even dared to go bare feet. Her dress glided in the breeze spilling at her feet like a wave. With a slit on the side exposing her naked legs.
Evangeline wearing pastel pink where many tones of blush interwoven to look like dreamy, sweet clouds with flowers in her hair. In fact they all have flowers in their hair after Evangeline pestered them to, saying she spent all afternoon making flower crowns and had been stung by a bee. Even Fleefoot was sitting wearing a wreath of flowers. Perhaps Abraxos was a little too happy as Evangeline placed a large crown on his head
The girls all walk down stairs. Where the guys - sorry ‘males’- await looking incredibly handsome -gods help us all- they all stop as they stare mouths slightly open, as the girls walk down one at a time their breathing hitched at the alluring and divine beauty of the women. Each male gaping and smiling as the women fell in place next to them.
Ansel and Ilias-
I: It’s different seeing you in a…dress instead of battle gear. I like it.
A: It’s also different hearing you speak I like it… much more. *blushes*
I: You’re much more than the girl I used to know at the Red Dessert. I think she will be very proud of who stands here
Nesryn and Chaol-
*Death stares at each other*
* until Nesryn breaks and smiles*
C: That was the most beautiful and scary thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Please tell me you were thinking nice thoughts.
N: Shut it Chaol.
C: It’s so rare it only comes once every 5 years.
N: Chaol don’t be ridiculous. *tries to hide her grin with her hair*
Asterin and Fenrys-
A: I can’t believe they set us up together.
F: I know, it’s weird seeing all that love practically spilling out of their eyes, it looks like they’re hypnotised. I mean even Lorcan…
Elide and Lorcan-
E: Lorcan stop starting it’s just a dress.
L: *takes deep breaths*
E: If you don’t stop looking like the heavens opened up and shined rays of glory on me. I’m going to go with Asterin.
Manon and Dorian-
M: Cleaned up well, Princeling
D: Likewise, Witchling *holds gaze with sapphire eyes thinking about what will go down after the festival*
Lysandra and Aedion-
A: If you’re going to change forms now. I suggest that it is either something too small or too big for that dress. So that it would either come slipping off or be torn to pieces.
L: Here I thought you wanted to do the honours yourself.
Aelin and Rowan-
A: Don’t get to comfortable with this dress. Thanks to you I can hardly breath with all that Chocolate you gave me.
R: You ate all of it? Fireheart we were supposed to share it and I brought extra cookies for me, by the way you look too beautiful.
A: I wonder if the teenage Buzzard would have preferred this dress over the dragon one.
R: The teenage Buzzard’s heart would have stopped beating.
A: Such a shame he misses out on what else I’ll have for tonight.
R: *eyebrows lift*
Evangeline/ Abraxos/ Fleefoot
E: Come on guys! Stop standing there lets go. We’re going to miss the festival.
F and A: *barks and growls agreement*
Tessa Gray -
She was a warrior of words, books in dusty libraries and blood as black as ink, an angel with wings of desire and a heart beating desperate hope. Eyes wide with curiosity, a child’s happy laugh, four-leaved clovers pressed between the pages of a notebook, a summer morning filled with light.
James Carstairs -
He was the stars at night when the whole world is asleep, the gentle hum of a violin playing a song of despair, long nights of demons playing chase in your head. Music in your veins like a second heartbeat, a happy smile and a broken laugh.
Will Herondale -
He was a dark soul with a darker mind, a heart of coal with a silver lining, a trembling hope for disaster, “maybe it’s easier to not be alive”. A warrior with eyes like fire, wielding knives of blood and starlight, a lone wolf howling at a moon that refuses to listen.
Charlotte Fairchild -
She was the queen of an empire she had built on her own, with towers of broken bones and broken hearts, a little girl with wings of fire, the sound of water beating rocks. A mind like a universe of its own, a million constellations in the pattern of her thoughts, a soldier’s hand and the set of her shoulders that shows losing is not part of her plan.
Henry Branwell -
He was the pattern of galaxies in the sky, laughter shared in the dark, a fire glowing silver. A field of yellow flowers, a smile winning wars, the smell of leather and hot chocolate, a heart in love with life. A little kid with a crazy smile and the wish to change the world. An old man with a crazy smile and the knowledge that he has.
Jessamine Lovelace -
She was a princess living in a castle of lies, torn dresses dark with blood, the flicker of a smile of another life. A warrior fighting against themselves, a pretty face hiding a mask of despair. Head held high and shaking knees, “I deserve better, this is not all there is”.
Sophie Collins -
She was trees bending under the pressure of the wind, hair in high ponytails and cheeks red with blush, a soul of a fighter masked under a trembling heart. A fire ablaze in her bones, the songs of the birds midday, the first peek of sunlight after a lifetime of winter days.
Gabriel Lightwood -
He was dark nights of chasing demons, and mouthfuls of shaky lies, a heart of gold in a rib-cage of hatred, a bed with crumpled sheets. Hands holding a gun loaded with despair, loud laughter and the sound of applause, the feel of victory and triumph, snarky replies and hiding grins in the dark.
Gideon Lightwood -
He was shy smiles and the sound of the wind, murmurs of “I love you” in every single language of the world, shaking hands gripping a blade bleeding rage, a warrior fighting for freedom. Waking up with the sun in your eyes, the smell of freshly baked bread, eyes clouded with the dream of a future better than the past.
Cecily Herondale -
She was crossed hearts and hope-to-dies and war in her blood like a call of the wild, racing thoughts and racing heart, a sweet smile hiding a tongue spitting poison. Flowers with petals of diamonds, the feel of finally coming home, witty jokes and laughter that sounds like a song.
The Shadowhunters of the London Institute /// TID AESTHETICS
Located in Columbia County, Pennsylvania, is the (near) abandoned city named Centralia. Known for providing inspiration for the Silent Hill film, Centralia was condemned by the state of Pennsylvania after a coal mine fire in 1962. Although no one knows for sure how the fire broke out, most accounts have something to do with fire being set to a landfill, which was planned carelessly close to an open mine pit. This fire then ignited a coal line. The fire quickly spread, and dangerous gases and vents of steam began to rise up throughout the town. Eventually people had to leave their homes as the fire spread underneath, causing danger of asphyxiation or poison by the toxic gases being emitted. The fire still burns today. In fact, it is estimated that it will still be burning for another 250 years.
Although the city was condemned, there are still around 10 residents living there today. In 2013, the state agreed to let them stay there for the rest of their lives, at which point their properties will be claimed and condemned by the state. While a few stragglers are allowed to remain, the state stresses the fact that Centralia is a dangerous place to visit.
These dangers include harmful gases being emitted from cracks in the road, and the tendency for the ground to suddenly give way, allowing the release of toxic fumes and thousand degree heat.
Despite the dangers, Centralia still remains a popular tourist attraction. People often come to view the abandoned PA Route 61 highway, which has since decayed and become taken over by nature. They also enjoy seeing the steam rise from the roads and random patches of land.
If you do decide to visit this place, proceed with Caution!
In the spring I was a soft golden girl with daisy petals crushed between my toes and a close mouthed rosebud smile. I was my mother’s daughter and I was the sky’s sister, a slip of an unchristened idea. When the ground opened up underneath my feet to take me, I fell in silence, with the air murmuring my old name all around me.
I hit the ground and broke all my teeth in, I was spitting out broken bits of enamel and he had hands that were cracked and lined with coal and he gave me a mouthful of diamonds to wear in the absence of incisors.
Mother I was so cold and I spent months sweating out the memory of sunlight, he was patient with me and hand fed me berries and seeds that I would spit out when he wasn’t looking, mother, I wasted away to mirror the skeletons around me.
Mother he was patient, but I was even more so.
I found a sliver of life to hang onto, I gave my emptiness reason, and I gorged myself on seeds and fattened myself up to a sleekness that could no longer be called girlish. I smile now, with my teeth, a mouth full of diamonds, and when he asks me if I miss the sun, I gently kiss his coal dust fingertips. Behind his back, I still eat pomegranates, and I do not linger on an outside world I can no longer remember.
Private and public buildings across Peckham will welcome visitors for Open House weekend in September.
A must-see property is 15½ Consort Road (pictured above), which featured on Channel 4 programme Grand Designs. Presenter Kevin McCloud joined owner Monty Ravenscroft and his partner Claire as they transformed a sliver of disused land into a family home.
The small-but-perfectly-formed property, which was built on an “unusable” brownfield site with a tight budget, features ingenious space-saving ideas including a sliding roof and a bathtub hidden under a bed.
Open House visitors can also discover more about the Peckham Coal Line project, which aims to create a new urban park along the disused railway sidings between Queen’s Road Peckham station and Rye Lane.
On Saturday September 19th, a talk about the project at 12pm will be followed by guided tours of the route on the hour from 1-4pm (25 people max per tour). On Sunday September 20th, there will be tours at 10am and 11am and a talk at 12pm. The meeting point for talks and tours is the Bussey Building.
Other properties opening to visitors are the Raw House, a Victorian terraced home with an industrial interior at 28 Anstey Road, RIBA Stirling Prize-winner Peckham Library and Southwark Integrated Waste Management Facility at 43 Devon Street.
While the latter may not sound particularly appealing, it is well worth a visit. The building is said to be one of Europe’s most advanced recycling facilities, with many sustainable features including a grey water system, solar panels and a green roof.
Open House Weekend is on September 19-20. openhouselondon.org.uk.
Outside Susan Holmes’ house in southeastern Oklahoma, visitors are welcomed by an entryway lined with oxygen bottles and a machine that collects and concentrates oxygen from the air.
“I take two inhalers twice a day,” Holmes says. “And I have a nebulizer that I use four times a day, and I use oxygen at night.”
She says her asthma returned when she moved to Bokoshe, a decaying town of about 500 people that is flanked by old coal mines. The huge pits have now been filled with hundreds of thousands of tons of coal ash.
About 130 million tons of coal ash are produced every year. Power companies used to keep it in big, open holes called coal ash ponds. No lining was required to stop leakage, and no monitoring, to even know if it was leaking.
Then, in 2008, a ruptured dike spilled more than a billion gallons of coal ash slurry from a pond operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considered classifying coal ash as “hazardous waste.”
The utility industry lobbied hard — and successfully — to avoid the hazardous waste designation. So in 2014, EPA’s new rules said coal ash was not hazardous.
Now, power companies must recycle the ash, store it more securely on site, or send the ash to landfills.
But in the towns where that ash is ending up, nobody is quite happy with those options.