Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Wizard King

The Wizard King
Description:
The Pirate Kingdom had fallen, foiling Gault’s plan to use it to establish his Wizard Kingdom. Never mind, the evil wizard developed a new plan to impose his Magic Kingdom.  

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Sample Chapter - Parke County Covered Bridge Auto Trails - McAllister Covered Bridge

McAllister Covered Bridge

McAllister Covered Bridge - Parke County, Indiana
McAllister Covered Bridge - Parke County, Indiana
Located on County Road 400S a little over a half mile from Bridgeton Road.
Constructed by Joseph Albert Britton in 1914, this 125 foot long Burr arch-truss bridge spans Little Raccoon Creek. The National Register of Historic Places listed the bridge on December 22, 1978. The bridge was restored in 1977.
Parke County Covered Bridge Auto Trails
Parke County Covered Bridge Auto Trails
Joseph Albert Britton (June 9, 1838 – Jan. 18, 1929)
The son of Charlton and Julia Britton, Joseph was native to Rockville, Indiana. He spent his boyhood in a log cabin while his father taught him the carpenter trade. Known locally as J.A. Britton, Joseph constructed over 40 covered bridges in Parke, Putnam, and Vermillion counties during a 33-year period.
Civil War Prisoner of War
After the outbreak of the Civil War, Brittan enlisted in the Eighty-fifth Indiana Infantry, Company A. The Confederates surrounded his company during their first engagement on March 5, 1863 and captured them. The Confederates held them until March 31 at Libbey Prison. On that day, they took part in a prisoner exchange and returned to combat. The Company returned to action and mustered out June 12, 1865. After leaving the army, Britton read law and gained admittance to the Indiana and Kansas bars. He practiced in Kansas, but decided he did not like law practice. Thus, he returned to Rockville and took up carpentry, building houses until around 1879. He started building covered bridges in that year, and would continue building for another 33 years. His first contract for a bridge came in 1882. This was the Narrow's Bridge that is now in Turkey Run State park. He preferred the short, Burr Arch Trussone span bridges. Many of his bridges are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Britton would marry twice, the first time to Mary E. Jones on Sep 25, 1862. Mary died in 1884 and he married Bertha Hirshbruner on September 13, 1888. He would have eight sons and four daughters. Several of his sons entered the bridge building business.
Joseph Albert Britton died in 1929 and is interred in Rockville Cemetery.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Sample Chapter - Gardener's Guide to Growing Onions in the Vegetable Garden - Onion Garden Culture:

Onion Garden Culture:

Onion Garden Culture:
Onion Garden Culture:
Gardener's Guide to Growing Onions in the Vegetable Garden
Gardener's Guide to Growing 
Onions in the Vegetable Garden
Plant onion sets shallow, with the tops exposed. Onion plants should be no more than one inch deep. As the onions grow, the bulb exposes itself about the soil. It is best to allow this, as it will help keep the onion from rotting as it matures. Use well rotted compost or a slow release fertilizer at planting. Onions will deplete the fertilizer as they grow. Onions that mature in the less fertile soil should be sweeter than onions that still have fertilizer available to them. Use organic mulch like shredded leaves or grass clippings to reduce weeds and conserve soil moisture. Keep the onions watered well, as they have shallow roots and cannot delve deep for water. Do not allow the soil to become soggy, as that will induce rot. Pencil size onion plants will produce the best onions. Larger ones may go to seed while smaller ones will stay small. Plant both the larger and smaller seedlings close together and harvest in a few weeks as green onions.

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Monday, March 12, 2018

Sample Chapter - Driving the Canals and Rivers Auto Trail - Duck Creek Aqueduct - Franklin County Historical Marker

Duck Creek Aqueduct - Franklin County Historical Marker

Duck Creek Aqueduct - Franklin County Historical Marker
Duck Creek Aqueduct - Franklin County Historical Marker
Erected by:
National Historical Civil Engineering Landmark 1992
Located: 
South of Canal, East End of Main Street, Metamora, Indiana (#11 on Metamora Map)
Text and History:   
Duck Creek Aqueduct is the only aqueduct that remains of over a hundred that once existed in the U.S.  The poplar trusses rest on limestone abutments, the siding is also poplar and the roof would originally have been shingled.  The aqueduct was built in 1843, destroyed by flood and rebuilt in 1847.  The floor now has a metal sheathing over the planked bed.   The two openings on each side release water into Duck Creek and help control the water level of the canal.

Driving the Canals and Rivers  Auto Trail
Driving the Canals and Rivers  Auto Trail
Brief History by the Author
The Duck Creek Aqueduct is the oldest covered bridge style aqueduct remaining in the United States. Constructed by the Whitewater Canal Company, the structure replaced the original open trough aqueduct that washed out in a flood in 1847. The builder of the bridge used a covered bridge that was under construction and adapted it to the current design. The aqueduct carries the waters of the Whitewater Canal over Duck Creek before it empties into the Whitewater River.  It measures approximately ninety feet long, twenty-five feet wide, and twenty-five feet deep. The aqueduct deteriorated through disuse and abandonment. The state of Indiana restored it to the present condition in 1949, a project begun in 1946. The National Register of Historic Places listed it in 2014.
Whitewater Canal Company
Authorized by the Internal Improvements Act of 1836, the State of Indiana authorized the company to build the Whitewater Canal. The company formed because of a meeting from representatives from Dearborn, Fayette, Franklin, Randolph, Union, and Wayne counties in 1822. They appointed seven commissioners to oversee the company. The company sold 40,000 shares of stock at $25 per share. The State of Indiana granted the Company 1.4 million dollars in the budget of the Internal Improvements Act of 1836.

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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Sample Chapter - Ten Fantastic Fantasy Tales - Benny, Benny, Short as a Penny

Benny, Benny, Short as a Penny

From:
Ten Fantastic Fantasy Tales
Ten Fantastic Fantasy Tales
Ten Fantastic Fantasy Tales

Modern technology be damned. Benny first shook the machine and then pounded on the side of it with his fist. What was taking so long? Did that dratted contraption have to mint the coins first?
He bent over and peered in the coin slot of the dollar changer in the seedy little Laundromat at the edge of town. In the dim light inside the machine, he saw, no that was impossible. He straightened up, closed his eyes and rubbed them. Blinking to clear his sight, he bent to peer in the coin slot again.
He really had seen it.
There was a small table with four little men seated around it, playing cards in the confined space of the interior. A little whiskey bottle, half-empty, occupied the center of the table. The men were all dressed in green and sported long beards. Two were smoking little black cigars.
Benny stood up and glanced over his shoulder. He could see his car idling by the curb outside. He needed that change for the condom machine in the restroom. He finally had Billy Rae in the mood, and now this blamed change machine was messing with him. He bent over again, pounded on the side of the machine again and shouted, “I want my change. You bunch of little creeps are gumming up the works. Get out of the way and let it give me my change.”
At this, one of the little men stood up, put down his cards, stuck his cigar in his mouth and stomped over to the hole.  He peered out at Benny's eyeball.
“We are on break, crap wad. You have to wait until break time is over. Then you will get your stinking change.”
“I want my change now, you little toads.”
“We are leprechauns, for your information, not toads. You will get your change when we are darn good and ready to give it to you, ding head.” The leprechaun blew a puff of smoke out through the coin slot into Benny’s eye.
Benny drew back cursing, his eye watering in pain.
“That does it,” he said, kicking the machine and pounding on it harder. “I want my change. Since when do I have to wait on a bunch of little toilet paper tubes to get my change? Who left you mouse turds in charge?”
“Yeah, we are in charge of dispensing the change. Everyone thinks these machines are marvels of technology, but it is us leprechauns who make it all work. We also handle vending machines, and the hand dryers in restrooms. We control those supposedly automatic urinals, too.” At this, the little guy stopped talking and looked at Benny through the slot in the hole.
“Hey, I know you. My cousin Vince operates the urinal in your office. I know all about you.”
“What do you mean you know all about me?”
“Hey guys,” shouted the leprechaun. “This is the fellow Vince was telling us about. Remember, ‘Benny, Benny, short as a penny.’ This is the guy.”
The other leprechauns roared with laughter. One of them held up his thumb and forefinger about a half-inch apart and yelled, “Benny, Benny, short as a penny.”
The other leprechauns guffawed, slapping their knees, tears streaming from their eyes.
Angered by the sassy leprechauns, Benny started pounding on the machine and swearing at it. A policeman happened to walk by the door and watched the display for a few minutes. He opened the door and walked over to Benny.
“Are you having a problem, sir?”
Benny turned around and saw the policeman.
“The leprechauns in there won’t give me my change. They are a bunch of thieves. They took my dollar and won’t give me my change.” Benny stomped his foot in anger.
The police officer looked at Benny. Then he looked at the changer.
“Leprechauns? Thieves? No change?”
The policeman inched closer and sniffed Benny's breath. His suspicious eye fastened on Benny. “Have you been drinking?”
Benny backed away. “I have had one or two beers. But I am not drunk.”
“H’mm, I think you had better come downtown with me.”
The policeman cuffed Benny and led him from the Laundromat.
The leprechauns returned to their card game, still laughing with glee. The officer led Benny past Billy Rae. She watched with widened eyes from Benny’s car as the policeman put him in the police cruiser.
Benny’s cheeks burned in shame. Leprechauns had humiliated him. Before his girlfriend's watchful gaze the policemen handcuffed him and led him away. And those little mouse turd leprechauns had kept his dollar. He hoped that they wouldn't mention his deficiency to Billie Rae.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Sample Chapter - Gardener's Guide to Growing Sweet Potatoes - Sweet Potato Propagation:Sweet Potato Propagation:

Sweet Potato Propagation:
Sweet Potato Propagation:
Sweet Potato Propagation:
Gardener's Guide to Growing Sweet Potatoes
Gardener's Guide to Growing Sweet Potatoes
The most common way to propagate sweet potatoes is by cuttings. Gardeners can purchase rooted cuttings in the spring from a nursery. They can also half submerge a sweet potato tuber in a glass of water by sticking three toothpicks in the side and suspending the root half in and half out of the water. In a few weeks sprouts will emerge which can be removed and rooted in moist potting medium or in water. Plant the rooted cuttings after all danger of frost has passed in the spring. Gardeners can also take cuttings from established plants in the garden in early fall. Root these and plant in a pot in a sunroom or sunny window. To root, cut the stem into sections with a leaf in each section. Submerge the leaf axil in moist potting soil and keep moist. In a couple of weeks, these should be rooted. Plant them in a pot, grow these all winter indoors, and pinch back in late winter. The plants should do well in a sunroom or south facing window. Do not allow them to freeze. New shoots will appear. Root these shoots in moist potting soil when they are two to three inches long and plant in the garden. Gardeners can also take whole potatoes that have sprouted in the spring and plant them directly in the garden. Cut the roots into sections, with each section containing at least one sprout. The sweet potato will sometimes flower and produce seed. Plant hybridizers use the seed to develop new varieties. Be careful if handling sweet potato seed as it is quite toxic.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Sample Chapter - A Year of Colonial American History - Book – 1 - January 7, 1698 - Fire Destroys Jamestown Virginia

A Year of Colonial American History - Book – 1
A Year of Colonial American History - Book – 1

January 7, 1698 - Fire Destroys Jamestown Virginia 
After its establishment in May of 1607, the colonists in Jamestown faced a harrowing existence. Salt poisoning from the briny river water they drank, dysentery and typhoid ravaged the men of the colony. The relationship with the surrounding native tribes ranged from hostility to reluctant friendship. There was the constant threat of attack by the Spanish, who often explored the area. Their arrival coincided with the beginning of a seven-year drought, thus adding to their difficulties.
A Commercial Venture
Since the settlement was primarily a commercial venture, the men had not expected to hunt or grow food. They expected provisions from England or trade for supplies with the local native tribes. These men did not wish to spend time hunting or growing crops. Additionally, the directive from the King that the first five years be an experiment in communal living had failed. They depended upon the exploration and scavenging ability of Captain John Smith, whom a few months earlier, they had condemned to death for accused insurrection. Only the intervention of Bartholomew Gosnold saved his life, but they kept him in shackles. They only released him upon discovery that his name was on a list of seven names, handpicked in England and placed in a sealed box. This list named him a member of the seven-member council that would lead the colony.
Progress
In spite of the difficulties, by January 1608 the men managed to build a storehouse, church, and several houses. They surrounded this settlement with a log palisade for protection from the Spanish and the native tribes.
Capture
Captain John Smith engaged in frequent explorations of the area surrounding them. He usually returned with corn and other foodstuffs acquired by trade or theft from the Algonquin tribes. It was on one of these missions that a party of Powhatan captured Smith after killing his two companions. The Powhatan chief threatened to kill Smith also. This was the fabled encounter with Pocahontas. Smith later claimed the eleven-year-old girl saved his life.
Return
They allowed him to return after agreeing to give the colonists food in exchange for iron hatchets and copper trinkets.
Condemned Again
When he returned, what remained of the population accused him of causing his companions death. The Council condemned him to death.
Supply Ship Returns
Captain Christopher Newport, after leaving the previous summer to gather supplies, returned. Captain Newport found a colony in collapse. Of the original 104 men, only 38 survived and of these, only ten were able to work. Disease and hunger had so weakened the rest that they could not walk. One of the leaders, John Smith, was under sentence of death and food was in short supply. His ship’s arrival with fresh supplies and a new contingent of colonists revived the colony.
Disaster
Then, on January 7, a few days after the ship arrived, disaster struck. A spark somewhere in the colony started a fire. It took little time for the fire to spread and consume the buildings, the new supplies and the fort.
Captain Smith again saved the colony by returning to the Powhatans and negotiating for food and supplies.
Perseverance
The colony persevered, rebuilding the buildings and the fort by spring. The colonists eventually elected Smith leader of the colony and it was his leadership that saved the colony.

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Monday, March 5, 2018

Sample Chapter - January 3, 1838 - Indiana Pottery Company Petitions Legislature for Land in Troy - A Year of Indiana History - Book 1

A Year of Indiana History - Book 1
A Year of Indiana History - Book 1
January 3, 1838 - Indiana Pottery Company Petitions Legislature for Land in Troy
The towns along the Ohio River became the first important commercial centers during the early part of the Nineteenth Century. Troy, Indiana was one of these towns and in 1838, Reuben Bates’ Indiana Pottery Company promised more economic development for the growing town.
Troy, Indiana
The first white settlers landed at the confluence of the Anderson and Ohio Rivers in 1800. The early settlers found a good landing spot for the boats, ample wood for fires and plenty of water and game in the hills. A man named Captain Tarascon probably gave the new settlement its name, Troy. Legend says that this was because there was an attractive Indian maiden there that reminded him of Helen of Troy. Surveyor Samuel Moore surveyed the town of Troy on 120 acres on August 15, 1815. The town became the seat of newly formed Perry County in 1815. The town included about twenty houses by 1818, Mr. Reuben Bates being one of the first inhabitants. Another local legend is that Troy is where the Lincoln family came across from Kentucky in 1816. According to local lore, Thomas Lincoln stayed in the town awhile, tending the ferryboat that crossed over to Kentucky. The Lincolns departed for Spencer County in the fall of 1817. This lore also indicates that young Abraham Lincoln departed from Troy on a flatboat for New Orleans in 1828. It was that flatboat journey in which Lincoln first saw a slave auction and vowed to end the practice. Many other Ohio River communities claim to be where the Lincoln’s came in, however, so whether this is true or not, no one can tell.
Reuben Bates
Mr. Bates opened the first store around 1818. He packed pork into barrels and shipped the meat, along with corn and other grains by flatboat to New Orleans. From New Orleans, he purchased sugar and other goods for his store. By the 1830's he was one of the leading businessmen of Troy.
Indiana Pottery Company
The area around Troy contains coal deposits. Many felt that the clay that under laid the coal seam was suitable to make white queens ware pottery. Interest rose in pottery making and Bates petitioned for land for a pottery company and received his charter in 1838. Bates brought potters from Europe make the pottery. After about a year it was determined that this clay was not suitable for the queensware pottery. It was suitable for making yellow clay ware. Samuel Cassidy of Louisville, Kentucky took over and ran the company until 1851, making the yellow clay ware that became known as Troy Ware. The company did not succeed and in 1851, Samuel Wilson and John Sanders bought it out. They continued making pottery until around 1863 when another pottery company opened. This one lasted until the 1870's when it failed.

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Sunday, March 4, 2018

Garden Journal - Week 1

Sunday, March 04, 2018
Seed Flats Under Plant Lights
Seed Flats Under Plant Lights

Ready to Plant
The winter weather is largely behind us and it is time to start scratching around in the dirt and getting some things planted. Today's garden chores included cleaning out the plant light unit and installing new lights to replace some bad ones. A few small repair jobs needed doing, so after about a half hours work, it was time to plant the first seeds. The planting schedule is about two to three weeks behind the normal time here, but it is still early in the season and those delays caused by other tasks are easily caught up.
Planting Inside Under the Lights
The first seeds planted this year included:
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Broccoli
Green Pepper
Kohlrabi
Chili Peppers

Gardener's Guide to Growing Your Vegetable Garden
Gardener's Guide to Growing Your Vegetable Garden
These were planted in bedding packs filled with potting soil and given a light covering of soil. After a thorough wetting down, a clear plastic propagation dome went over the flats to keep increase the humidity, warmth and keep mice out of the germinating seeds. Mice love newly sprouted seeds and will quickly ruin a seed flat. Since the plant light unit is in the garage located next to dense woods, mice are a continual problem that must be dealt with. The seeds should germinate in a week to ten days.
In the Garden
Last week's task was to build a frame for to cover a raised bed with spun bond fabric. This fabric transmits light and water as well as helping keep spring frosts at bay. This early in the season, it is safe to plant:
Lettuce
Radish
Spinach
Beets
Carrots
Peas
Mescaline Mix
Spun Bond
Raised Garden Bed Covered with Spun Bond Fabric
Raised Garden Bed Covered with Spun Bond Fabric

The peas are not under the spun bond, as they do not need to be. The others will tolerate some light frosts once they are up and growing, but the spun bond will protect the bed from cold winds and keep the soil warmer and moister. We like to plant about twelve varieties of lettuce with varying dates of maturity, ensuring a long harvest. Another crop will go in in about two weeks. The carrots and beets will have two-week plantings from now until mid to late July. After planting the seeds and giving them a good watering, the spun bond was placed and secured with bricks. It is easy to check these frequently to see how the crop is progressing.

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Saturday, March 3, 2018

Southeast Indiana Court Houses

Southeast Indiana Court Houses
Southeast Indiana Court Houses


Description:
The county form of government dates back to England. The colonists brought the local government organization with them when they began settling in North America. Indiana has ninety-two counties and each has its own county seat and courthouse. The Guide to Indiana County Seats and Courthouses Series tells the story of Indiana’s counties. This edition covers the southeastern part of the state and includes:
Clark
Dearborn
Decatur
Franklin
Jefferson
Jennings
Ohio
Ripley
Scott
Switzerland
The included auto tour takes travelers through the pretty Indiana countryside to all four county court houses.

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The Bookshelf
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Batesville, IN 47006
http://www.bookshelfbatesville.com/
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Thursday, March 1, 2018

Sample Chapter - Ten Tales for the Campfire - The Skull Garden

The Skull Garden
Paul R. Wonning

Ten Tales for the Campfire
Ten Tales for the Campfire
Her garden was beginning to grow, the tips of the skulls just emerging from the forest mould. The Skull Tender glided, soundless, over the dried leaves, waiting. The forest was quiet and she was impatient. The time of harvest was nearing. Her eyes and ears scanned the forest in the gathering evening gloom. There was no sound or movement to gladden her senses. There was still time. She would wait.

Craig Nunn shouted to his mother, "I am going to hunt puff-balls, mom."
"Okay, Craig. Just make sure you are home before it gets dark," his mother said.
"I will Mom," Craig said as he darted out the door.
Craig loved his mom's fried puffballs. The shortening days of autumn signaled that soon the puffballs would be emerging from the forest soil. Recent rains ensured that there would be a good crop this year and Craig knew the places to hunt them. He entered the forest and went straight to his favorite spot. His eyes roved the ground in disappointment. There were puffballs here but they were still too small. It would be a couple of days before he could harvest them.
He continued his search to a couple of more spots that had always provided some. The story was the same in both those spots. He glanced at the creek that flowed through the woods. The damp bottoms provided the best habitat for the puffballs. Downstream led into a part of the forest he had not visited before. He paused, undecided. The sun lay low on the horizon, casting long shadows across the leaf-carpeted floor. Clumps of white snakeroot and zigzag goldenrod glowed in the evening light.
He plunged ahead. He wouldn't go far and maybe he would at least find a new patch of puffballs. A clump of green briar blocked his path, so he climbed higher up the hill that bordered the small creek. At the top, he paused. It was a high bluff that afforded a wonderful view of the valley of the small creek. Just a bit further along he could see a small glade along the creek. It looked like a promising spot, so he skirted a sinkhole and began a slipping, sliding descent down the steep hill. Once more on the creek bank, he followed it until he came to the glade.
Craig's heart skipped a beat. He could see the white tips of the puffballs beginning to emerge from the soil. He moved among them. This was a big patch, bigger than any he had ever seen. They were also different. Most of the puffballs started as small, white globes, their white tips pushing their ways out of the rich forest soil. These were bigger. Much bigger. He stooped to examine one closer. These were not ready yet, but in a few days they would be. His mouth watered. These would be much nicer than what he usually found. The darkening shroud of night warned him that it was time to go home. Once he had been on the woods after dark and he did not care to repeat the experience.
The distant bark of coyotes broke the forest's silence and it sped his steps along. In a couple of days, he would return for a bumper crop of puffballs.

Rains overnight awakened all the fragrances of the forest. Craig grasped the pillowcase in his hand as he traipsed into the woods. He was eager for the puffballs. The pungent smell of them as they fried in the pan wafted across his memory. Only once a year was this treat available, in the early fall when the delectable fungi emerged from the forest floor. He found his favorite bed. They were now ready, spurred into growth by the cool autumn rain and the warm sunshine.
He knelt and began picking them, dropping them one by one into the pillowcase. When he had picked as many as he needed for a meal, he stopped. Craig remembered the new bed of big ones that lay further into the woods. He followed the creek, now gurgling with the merry song of its rain freshened flow.
A few minutes of scampering up and down the forested hills brought him to the place. He stopped. These puffballs were huge. They looked just like a field of skulls. He decided, since these appeared different from the others, to try just one. He pulled a second pillowcase from his pocket and walked to the middle of the puffball patch. One nice one nestled in the leaves at his feet. He bent to inspect it. There were no holes or gashes to indicate insect activity. That was odd. He straightened up and looked over the patch. Puffballs were a favorite food of box turtles and other denizens of the forest. It was strange that a bounty of food of this size remained untouched by any animals, insects or birds.
He knelt again and put his hands on the puffball. As he touched it, the puffball moved. Craig fell back in surprise. It was a skull. Two hollow black eyes stared at him. The blackness of the eyes was as a limitless void. Craig tried to stand. His knees, weak with fear, betrayed him. The eyes disappeared. A puffball remained. Was it an illusion?
"He has seen you," a voice from behind him said in a voice that grated like fingernails on a blackboard.
Craig jumped to his feet and turned. A figure, cloaked in black, stood peering at him. The sun, breaking through a gap in the tree leaves, broke with radiance across the figure, hiding its face. If the figure had a face. Craig could not discern one.
"He has seen you," the figure repeated. "He will not forget you."
Craig dropped his sack of puffballs and ran. The voice followed him as he fled.
"He has seen you and he will come for you. On the night of the spirits, he will seek you. Be ready."
The figure filled the forest with its shrieking laughter that added further fuel to Craig's feet. Once he tripped over a fallen tree branch and he tumbled head over heels down a hill. After picking himself up, he continued his flight through the puffball patches. He ignored them as his fear propelled him on. A sharp stitch in his side did not slow him. He finally emerged from the forest into his yard. He collapsed on the cool green grass. His breath returned after many minutes.
After he rested, Craig sat up. He felt foolish. That couldn't have occurred. It was the product of an overzealous imagination. He considered going back into the woods for the puffballs he had discarded. Then he remembered where he had dropped them. He quailed inside. He would not return. He could not return. He would tell his mother that he dropped them accidentally into the creek, ruining them.
The words of the creature haunted him. That thing would not forget him. He would seek him out on the night of spirits. What did that mean?
Craig went into the house. He had never been afraid of the woods. Now he was.

The Skull Tender watched as the boy fled. Let him run. He could not get away. Not now that the Skull Master had peered into his soul. There was no escape. There would be a bountiful harvest for the garden this year.

In the days of this tale, it was common for the children to form small groups in costume on Halloween. These groups dispersed into the streets at night to spread their own brand of terror across the town. Going from house to house, they would ring the doorbells and make spooky sounds as the residents of the house opened the door. Properly terrified, inhabitants dispensed candy, apples and other small treats into the proffered bags. The little goblins, ghosts and other brigands laughed and squealed outside their door as the bags filled.
Craig and his parents lived in the country. Each Halloween Craig's parents would take Craig into town to his friend Todd's house. Todd and Craig would then, in costume, join other vagabonds of their band and rush into the streets to spread terror far and wide. Craig's parents were friends with Todd's parents. They spent the evening partying and dispensing booty to the bands of ghouls that called on their house. This year was no different from any other. Halloween evening found Craig at his friend Todd's house accompanied by his mother and father.
Craig's mother, as Craig and Todd ran from the doorstep said, "Have fun, Craig. Remember, the porch lights go off at ten. Be back here by ten thirty."
"Okay, Mom," said Craig as he and Todd walked off into the gathering gloom.
Craig's mother watched, remembering the Halloween's of her childhood and the fond memories she had of it. Craig was getting older. How many more of these nights would he enjoy? At his age, every one of them could be the last. She sighed. This remembrance would join many others on the shelves of her memory, a larder that grew larger with each passing year.

Humans love to change things to suit their own needs. They dam rivers, level hills and erect great structures to serve their needs. Humans even try to exert their mastery over time itself. They changed the clocks that mastered them from the time dictated by nature to times that suited human desires. Humans worshiped at the alter of Daylight Savings Time. The forces of nature, however, operate at the times dictated by nature. The birds and animals adjust their schedules to the changing fortunes of the sun, rising when it rises and bedding down as it sets. The nocturnal creatures, not bound by the artificial clock, arise after night invades the land. The spirits are no different. Their schedule is different from man's, bound by the natural forces of the cosmos. The natural clock is off by two hours at the site of our tale. Thus, the Witching Hour of midnight arrives almost two hours before the time indicated on the human clock.
As the sun went down and shadows advanced over the forest the Skull Tender walked in the Skull Garden. The full moon arose in the east, a huge, silver globe that sent its soft light down into the forested lands. Owls hooted in the gathering darkness and in the sky, bats wove and twisted as they feasted on the last insects of the season. The eerie cry of the coyotes echoed across the hills. The Skull Tender stood over the Skull master and extended its hands over it.
"Arise, Skull Master. It is your time. You have seen your quarry. It is time to arise, call your legions and hunt. You have until the witching hour to complete your quest."
The skull began to glow. It rose, revealing the skeletal body beneath it. Upon arising, the Skull Master turned, uttered an incantation in an ancient, forgotten language. He raised his bony arms. All around the other skulls came to life and the glow of dead life fluoresced, casting an eerie glow on the fallen leaves and trunks of trees. A low howl arose, causing the owls, coyotes and other denizens of the forest to fall silent. The silver moon cast its rays upon the bony skeletons that reflected it back, creating an even brighter glow. The forest had become a place of fear.
The Skull Master turned to face the distant town.
"Go, go and hunt your quarry, Skull Master. Bring back fresh skulls for my Skull Garden," said the Skull Tender.
The troupe moved off towards the town. The sound of the clittering and clattering of their bone bodies groped across the forest. Through forest, thicket and field they swept, always with one target in mind. In less than an hour’s time, the horrible legion stood at the outskirts of the town. Groups of children filled the streets, moving from house to house. The Skull Master gazed at each group and as he did, he sent part of his legion off to follow different groups of children. The Skull Master's teeth sparkled. There would be many additions to the Skull Garden this year.
It all depended upon his locating his quarry. He moved down the street, followed by many of his legion. As they penetrated the town, children saw them and shrieked in terror. His minions surrounded and isolated many of these groups of children. Still, the Skull Master had not located his prey and the witching hour was drawing close.
They stood at the edge of a vacant lot. A group of costumed children came into view. The Skull Master's teeth again glittered. He had found him.

Craig, Todd and the group of boys moved from house to house, spreading their childish terror. Their bags of treasure grew with each stop. One kindly old man, upon answering his door, stepped back in mock terror. Each of the boys dutifully said his name.
"Lo and behold," said the old man, "Spooks really do have names. I do, I think, recognize a couple of the voices."
He pulled a basket from the table by the door and dispensed his booty, skull necklaces filled with candy.
"Cool," said Craig as he took the necklace. Instead of putting it in his bag, he placed it around his neck.
"You look like a dork," said Todd as they walked down the sidewalk towards the street, after thanking the old man.
"I think it looks cool," said Craig.
"Shoot," said one of the other boys. "The lights are starting to go out."
Craig glanced at his watch. "It is almost ten o'clock. Let’s hurry over to Mrs. Dewson's house. She always has the best stuff and she always keeps her lights on later than the rest."
The troupe of boys headed out, crossing a vacant lot as a shortcut.
Craig glanced ahead into the shadows and stopped short.
Todd also stopped, his eyes fastened on something just visible in the darkness ahead of them. "What is that?"
"I don't know," said Craig.
The shadowy figures stepped forward into the street lamp's illumination. The Skull Masters face came into view. The black, soulless eyes stared into Craig's eyes. He knew where he had seen those eyes before.
In a moment, the tall, skeletal creatures surrounded Craig and his friends. Their hollow eyes bound them into fearful silence. The Skull Master advanced. In a moment, he towered over the boy. His hand extended. Its eye fell on the skull necklace and its hand hesitated. Craig saw what happened and understood.
"Put on those skull necklaces," he said.
Trembling hands searched the bounty-filled bags. Each boy withdrew a necklace and a moment later, all the boys wore the glowing necklaces.
"Stand in a circle," said Craig. The boys formed up, each looking outward at their antagonists like musk oxen facing down a pack of wolves. In the distance, the church clock began its mournful tolling.
Bong, bong, bong, bong, bong, bong, bong, bong, bong. At the last bong, the Skull Master looked towards the sky. His feet darkened, and then vanished. The rest of the skeletal structure melted away into nothingness. Only the black, soulless eyes remained. Darker than darkness they glared at Craig. Then they were gone.
As he disappeared, so did his companions, leaving Craig and his friends alone in the vacant lot.
Todd, his voice quivering in fear, asked, "Are they gone?"
"I think so," said Craig.
Indeed they were. All over town, the skeletons vanished.

Craig never ate the candy in that horrid plastic skull. Nor did he ever throw it away. Each year on Halloween, he put it on at dusk and kept it on until ten o'clock. He didn't know if the Skull Master would come again to seek him out.
If he did, Craig would be ready.

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