Posts Tagged ‘Horror’

Part 17-A


Hidden Meanings Continued…
The Norinko Hanasaki Investigation
By Martin Reaves




I contacted Anthony Servante about my suspicions regarding the poetry analysis in Part 16. This happened early Saturday, and I have to be honest: after laying out my misgivings for Anthony, I froze up. Saying those things out loud made them real—and I’m not sure I can handle that much reality. Obviously I changed my mind and here I am. Sorry for the delay, but the more you read, the more you may begin to understand my reluctance to continue. Anthony is handling the search for Norinko’s journal with Part 17-B at Servante of Darkness. Everything in me wants to simply tell you to go to his blog, stay there. He started this, and maybe he should finish…

Screw it. We’re here, right? And once you read 17-A below, you really should read 17-B.

Now, before I hem and haw my way out of posting this, I should tell you what I deciphered. Or maybe I’m still guessing. I don’t know, but I can’t deny what seems to be reaching up off the page.

The poems follow a pattern.

Here’s how I see it:

There are three segments to the poetry. Even though the individual poems don’t show this triad, the groupings echo the same pattern, like Morse Code signaling an SOS. On the one hand, they’re a cry for help; on a much more sinister hand, they appear to be some kind of instructions.

I will explain this at length to Anthony later, assuming our brief chat yesterday wasn’t sufficiently disturbing. I just need to get this shit out of my head and onto the page.

The first segment of the poetry describes an entrance, the second a location, and the third an exit. The three parts are certainly vague but not so much that they’re not obvious. It’s the repetition of the three that provides the pattern. When grouped together, the first and last segments read “exit entrance location.”

The exit and entrance are the same location. The tunnel.

The McClure Tunnel. The Santa-Frickin-Monica Freeway tunnel. I wish I’d never heard of that cursed LaLa Land hole in the earth. I’m serious.

But that’s the location. What’s missing is the “how.” The “where” doesn’t help without the “how.”

I’ll let Anthony pick it up from there. He’s already working on finding the journal of Norinko. I want to say I’m done, but I’ve committed to help with the investigation, and I’ll admit I still want to help those involved. Norinko’s friends and family—they deserve answers.

I’ll chalk this up to a cautionary tell as to what I offer in the future.



Part 16 


Hidden Meanings in Fables & Poetry
A Norinko Hanasaki Investigative Case
By Martin Reaves


(Shout, by LOKI)



Okay, folks, things are getting interesting.

In case you’re just joining me on this, I have picked up the ongoing investigation surrounding the disappearance of Norinko Hanasaki from a moving bus passing through the infamous McClure Tunnel in Los Angeles, June of last year. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I highly recommend you catch up with Parts 1–10 on Anthony Servante’s blog HERE, and then continue with Parts 11, 12, 13, and 14. Lastly, pick up Part 15 HERE on Mott’s Ruminations. It will help clarify—if that’s even possible—what’s to follow.

Do it now. Read the other posts. Skim if you must. I’ll wait.

Got it? Everyone back and accounted for?

Okay. I wanted to share some emails I’ve received since taking over this investigation. Maybe some of you will have better luck than I separating fact from fiction. Or maybe it’s all fact and our barometers need to be adjusted. I honestly don’t know at this point. (I feel your pain, Anthony.)

And—though it may seem random at first blush—I’d also like to throw out a literary net of Ambrose Bierce’s works to see what we might catch. There’s a method to my madness, I promise.

But first the emails, unedited, in all their weird glory.


Email #1

I know where Norinko is. She’s in the Black Hills Forest with the Blair Witch and Bigfoot.


Email #2

I am Marie Mayakowski. I understand you’ve taken over the investigation of Norinko Hanasaki from the Servante of Darkness Blog. I guess I’ll just come out and say it. I saw the bird. The one Norinko drew. It was behind Dubois when he contacted me by Skype. Then the screen just faded. I thought the computer crashed, but the green power light was still blinking. It was as if something were blocking the screen. When the screen cleared up, Chris was gone. I’m not making this up. And if I am, then where’s W. Chris Dubois?  Chris was my friend. I don’t know why, but I think time is running out. I can feel it. The bird. It wasn’t a drawing like I thought. It was flesh and blood. It moved just before the screen went blank. And I’m sure it looked right at me. I need your help.


Email #3

I hope you follow the path left to you by Anthony Servante. Anthony told us to help you. And we will.

Your friends,

Suzie and Bridget


Email #4

You better watch your back, Mr. Reaves. You’re on very thin ice. Some things are best left alone. You’ll end up with Mr. Servante soon. You know the Servant of Darkness is the Devil, right!! Don’t you forget it!! Heathen!!

~     ~     ~


Still with me, friends and neighbors? While you let those emails digest, I’d like to pay a visit to Ambrose Bierce. Google Mr. Bierce if you want to know more about him. In particular, you may find his piece “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” of interest. For now, just read on. We’re looking at the potential for hidden meaning here, and I’m hardly the first to do so. Stay with me…


Fantastic Fables by Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce was a fierce critic of the Railroad Barons who brought pain, suffering, and death to the Chinese, Japanese, and other Ethnic groups who were paid slave wages to lay the railroad track for the Southern Pacific and Central Pacific Railroad companies, companies led by the powerful quartet known as the Big Four (Leland Stanford 1824-1893, Collis Potter Huntington 1821-1900, Mark Hopkins 1813-1878, and Charles Crocker 1822-1888), aka, The Associates. Bierce used two manner of criticisms to deride the Barons: One, satirical fables as published in his political work, Fantastic Fables; two, in poetic form, in books and poems that challenged the meaning of commonly accepted beliefs.


One: The Fables


The Massacre

SOME Holy Missionaries in China having been deprived of life by the

Bigoted Heathens, the Christian Press made a note of it, and was

greatly pained to point out the contrast between the Bigoted

Heathens and the law-abiding countrymen of the Holy Missionaries

who had wickedly been sent to eternal bliss.


“Yes,” assented a Miserable Sinner, as he finished reading the

articles, “the Heathens of Ying Shing are deceitful above all

things and desperately wicked.  By the way,” he added, turning over

the paper to read the entertaining and instructive Fables, “I know

the Heathenese lingo.  Ying Shing means Rock Creek; it is in the

Province of Wyo Ming.”

“The Massacre” in question here is the Rock Springs killings in Wyoming (note the final play on words “Wyo Ming”) where 28 Chinese workers were killed. Bierce paints the “law-abiding” murderers as bound for “eternal bliss,” while the “Heathens of Ying Shing” are “deceitful” and “wicked.” He mocks the newspaper’s coverage of the massacre as “entertaining and instructive,” an ironic reference to the “Christian Press” coverage of the Missionaries who were massacred by “Bigoted Heathens” in China. When the massacre involves white missionaries, it is a crime against heaven, but when it happens to the Chinese it is a just reward. Bierce is mocking the injustice of the press in its coverage of killings of color.


The Kite, the Pigeons, and the Hawk

SOME Pigeons exposed to the attacks of a Kite asked a Hawk to defend them.  He consented, and being admitted into the cote waited for the Kite, whom he fell upon and devoured.  When he was so surfeited that he could scarcely move, the grateful Pigeons scratched out his eyes.

Here, Ambrose Bierce depicts the Barons as pigeons seeking the help of the Chinese workers (the hawk) to build the railroad, but once the work was done, the Barons disabled the workers from providing support for themselves or their families. Using the “fable” form to mock the railroad tycoons, Bierce teaches us a lesson about the rich taking advantage of the poor. In reality, it is the hawk that feeds on the pigeon, so when the pigeons blind the hawk, Bierce is telling us that the masses outnumber the rich few, and an organized workforce (like the pigeons in the fable) can disable the power of the wealthy to their advantage.

(Fables courtesy of Fantastic Fables by Ambrose Bierce Dover Edition 1970.)


Two: The Poems

In contact, lo! the flint and steel,
By sharp and flame, the thought reveal
That he the metal, she the stone,
Had cherished secretly alone.

A traveler observed one day
A loaded fruit-tree by the way.
And reining in his horse exclaimed:
‘The man is greatly to be blamed
Who, careless of good morals, leaves
Temptation in the way of thieves.
Now lest some villain pass this way
And by this fruit be led astray
To bag it, I will kindly pack
It snugly in my saddle-sack.’
He did so; then that Salt o’ the Earth
Rode on, rejoicing in his worth.

As in his fables, Ambrose Bierce continues to mock the rich and corrupt in his poetry. The traveler steals the fruit as an act of kindness in order to prevent other passers-by from being tempted to pilfer from the same tree. He prevents the corruption of a future villain by removing the fruit. He is sarcastically called “Salt o’ the Earth” for his benevolent deed. The intent of the poem is to depict the truth inside a lie: The thief is a saint for his misdeed—just as the railroad barons are saints for sending the Chinese to their deaths in the tunnels with nitro.

A is defrauded of his land by B,
Who’s driven from the premises by C.
D buys the place with coin of plundered E.
‘That A’s an Anarchist!’ says F to G.

The intent of this poem by Ambrose Bierce similarly elevates the status of the criminal and turns the victim into an “Anarchist.” This poem is a perfect summation of the events in the Mussel Slough Massacre, where A was the settlers, B was the Barons, C was the hired gun Crow, who killed the settlers, and D and E are the railroad company. F is the newspaper media, while G is the gullible reader of the biased articles of the newspapers owned by friends of the rich barons. Bierce loved to use bloody events of the era to support his satiric depiction of the corrupt, from the railroad companies to the newspapers.


A Second Look at the Norinko Poetry

Using the Bierce technique, I wanted to look at the poetry that we have seen so far in the investigation. Remember, these poems were gathered under mysterious circumstances. The people who found Norinko’s journal felt an uncontrollable compulsion to write poetry—everywhere: on the windows of the bus, apartment walls, police cars, locker rooms, wherever they were when they found the notebook of Norinko. Let’s keep that in mind as we look at the following poetry.


Buzzkill liked to sleep 

He slept in class

He slept in deep

He slept in the tunnel pass.

Buzzkill liked to party

She joined the hunger fast

Always first to arrive

Always leaving last.

Here we have two poems about Buzzkill. We can trace these poems back to Norinko who wrote them the day she disappeared. Or did she? There has been speculation that the notebook was empty the day she went missing and that the poems appeared afterward, as if by magic.  The reference to “tunnel pass” is clearly the Santa Monica Freeway Tunnel where Norinko disappeared. But the pronoun “he” is not Norinko herself, a girl, so who is it? Whoever or whatever “it” is, it followed Norinko from school to the tunnel. The first reference to herself is “She joined the hunger fast,” a reference to some corrupt presence denoting that she would be first and last in this “party” of the “it” in question.

~     ~     ~

Three corners wide 

The brink of darkness hovers

Angels hear my tears.

The second person to disappear was the bus driver, Miriam Hernandez. Based on the description of her apartment by police and Dubois, she was a religious person. She references the tunnel where “angels” spoke to her, as she reported to the deputies and to Suzie and Bridget. The “brink of darkness” echoes Norinko’s “tunnel pass,” an entrance in the tunnel perhaps, but definitely not the tunnel itself. Something in the tunnel.

~     ~     ~

Adrift, I walk within a space

Destined to stay in this place

Here, I will defy what they say

Never to defer to their ways

I will fight with every breath in me

I will never bow to their ascendancy

I wish I could see

Where it is that I am

But I feel if I did

I’d be deaf and damned.

~     ~     ~

I found a friend in common 

With life and death 

Here in the marrow 

Of my final breath.

~     ~     ~ 

There is no going home

My badge, my gun, my files

Swallowed by the creature

In the tunnel’s last miles

Under the veil of night

I hear whispered words in my mind

They speak of utter annihilation

~     ~     ~

I am not lost 

Continue to look 

There in the dark

Here in the book.

We shall rise again like birds

From the ashes of your words.


I’m going to stop here. I just noticed the order of the poems. Do you see it? There’s something there. When I last spoke with Anthony Servante, he suggested that I take a closer look at the poetry in Parts 1 – 15 and find clues to the location of the Norinko journal. I figured the missing people out there are somehow associated with the journal of Norinko. There’s Norinko herself, the bus driver, the two deputies, detective Wu, and Dubois (aka Tom Thumb). Dubois met with Wu at the school. That’s the last known location of the journal.

From what I could gather from Marie’s email (see above) and her confessions about impersonating Dubois as Tom Thumb, the notebook was not found at his home before he went missing. That leaves the school. It’s still there, or someone found it. The message in the order of the poetry holds the answers.

I have to stop looking at the poetry as poetry.

They’re not poems…they’re instructions.

I did not sign up for this. Each poem seems to correspond to each missing person. There’s a piece of a message in each poem. It is not complete.

Wait, I think I get it. These poems—these messages…dear God, they’re a cry for help.

I’m sorry to end this without resolution, but I’m not sure the satisfaction of my curiosity is worth the risk.

I need to contact Anthony. I may or may not be back with Part 17.






Part 15
The Wandering Corpse
A Norinko Hanasaki Research Case
By Anthony Servante


Sponsored by Martin Reaves




Welcome, Servante of Darkness readers, newcomers—and, of course, my faithful followers—to the real-time unfolding of events surrounding the disappearance of Norinko Hanasaki from a moving bus passing through the infamous Santa Monica Freeway (McClure) Tunnel.

Because the Norinko investigation has spilled into the personal life of Anthony Servante, the Norinko cases will continue here indefinitely. Part 15 was in the works when Anthony contacted me. I present it to you as is.

Part 16 will resume anon from my perspective. Stay tuned.

Without further ado, I hand the mic to Mr. Servante.


The Wandering Corpse


Elmer McCurdy (January 1, 1880 – October 7, 1911)

When I visited the temple last week, I learned of a man named Elmer McCurdy. I would like to share his story.

Elmer McCurdy robbed trains in the late 1800s to early 1900s. As such, he was a villain to the railroad barons and a hero to the rail workers. While working alongside the Chinese on the railroad, Elmer learned about the dangers of nitroglycerin demolitions building tunnels. He found stealing from the trains was less risky than blowing up mountains for the track. He was wrong. He was shot dead in a failed robbery attempt.
And that’s where Elmer s story begins.

McCurdy’s remains were mummified with arsenic, an early form of embalming for penniless corpses. And since there was no money for a coffin, Elmer’s body was placed outside the funeral home in Oklahoma to showcase the fine work of the mortician.
The body was stolen and made its way to several sideshows before ending up in a California carnival called Nu Pike Long Beach, where it was discovered by a TV crew filming an episode of the Million Dollar Man. Along the way, Elmer received three burials, and, each time, managed to escape from the grave. He was dubbed “The Wandering Corpse”.

When the Chinese learned that it was McCurdy’s body in the carnival, they raised money to give their former hero a proper burial. However, Oklahoma claimed rights to the enigmatic Elmer to be buried alongside other gunmen of renown. To prevent any further escapes from the grave, he was placed in a coffin and covered with concrete to prevent him from wandering off again.

The Chinese fans of McCurdy were dismayed. This sacrilegious burial could mean only one thing for the former train robber–he was doomed to wander Diyu forever. Even to this day, many Buddhist temples keep a candle lit for Elmer McCurdy to find his way home.




In many ways 2015 was one of the darkest years of my life; in many other ways it wasn’t. I suppose that’s what we call balance.

Toward the end of the year, as my personal life began to brighten, I repaid the Universe by seeing the publication of one of the darkest books I’ve ever written (or read). In December of 2015, Black Rose Writing published A Fractured Conjuring.

A Fractured Conjuring - Concept 2 Variant - Large

For reasons not entirely clear to me, it has been called a “brilliant, disturbing, and important work.” Well… “disturbing” I understand. This book has been disturbing me for years; disturbing my sleep, my peace of mind.

But how does a thing like this come to be?

I can’t help but wonder what people will think when they read the book, if they will think me depraved or simply mean-spirited. Some will ask questions as to why I thought it important to write such a thing.

And I will be at a loss for an answer. Because I truly don’t know.

I’ve maintained for years that this writing game is somewhat beyond my ken; an idea comes out of nowhere and then…grows. Characters supply their own dialogue; unforeseen people and events spring out of the ether and onto the page. When I explain this, the average person (the normal person who maybe does not lie awake listening to voices telling them there’s really no point in trying to sleep) looks at me askance, cocks an eyebrow, making it clear they don’t believe me. I can only shrug.

To the nightmare at hand; to A Fractured Conjuring. How did this particular nastiness happen?

A simple road sign:

Kimberlina Road

On a road trip to (of all places) Disneyland, my eyes spotted this sign. I’ve been on this trek countless times over the past twenty years, and have likely seen this sign on every one of those trips. But this time…that sweet name got stuck in my head and began to fester. I had no history with the name, no connection to my past, no sense at all why it grabbed hold. But I couldn’t shake it loose. I somehow knew this was going to be the name of a character in a book, and that this character would have important things to say, or maybe to teach me. I had zero sense of the story itself, only that it would be dark. And maybe big.

As the days and weeks passed I began to feel that the story could possibly span millennia, covering massive ground both temporally and geographically. I have no idea why I thought this—I didn’t have a story, only a feeling.

It’s hard to adequately describe what it’s like to have a story growing inside you, but somehow doing so outside your influence. It’s…well, disturbing.

More than a year went by before I set a single word to paper. I did so only then because I thought I might have an idea what the opening pages looked like. I got 6,000 or so words in before I stopped and laid it aside. I was scared. Not of what I was writing, but that I would mess it up. The feeling for this story had been infesting my brain for better than a year—how could I possibly do it justice? So I ran from it. I did other things. But Kimberlina stayed with me, a grimy child’s ghost fingers tugging at the hem of my shirt, telling me I had work to do, her story to tell. Didn’t matter that I didn’t know what that story was.

Eventually I got back to it. I barely remember my first efforts at conjuring this child, but I know that those early efforts never made it into the final book.

This is the part where I get around to telling you how the final book came to be, right?

Wrong. Because I still can’t tell you that. I still don’t know. When I wrote The End, I couldn’t help but ask myself: “Is it really? The end of what? Where did it begin?”

One of the main characters in A Fractured Conjuring is writing a book she knows nothing about—not too hard to figure out how that came to be—and as I was proofing the final copy, I came across a line I hardly remembered writing:

Still, she couldn’t keep away from it, and she didn’t feel so much like she was writing the story as it was somehow writing her.

And this:

What Chloe knew for certain was that she couldn’t leave this new project alone. It unnerved her; it wouldn’t leave her alone.

And that’s as close as I can come to explaining how this particular book came to be.

Oh, and then this happened:

FC Best of 2015

A book one reviewer called an “important” book.

Another reader, so unnerved by the story that she read it multiple times in an effort to understand, wrote this in an afterword she penned for the book:

“Martin Reaves…had the temerity to tackle an ugly, horrible subject, and he treated it with kindness and cleanliness. Yes, cleanliness.”

The same reviewer who it called it an important work ended his review with this:

“If you have never felt like your soul has been taken away from you at some point in your life, I wouldn’t recommend reading it.”

How does one create something so volatile that it can be recommended, then un-recommended in the same review?

How does one write a story he has almost no memory of plotting and have it hit a target he didn’t even know was there?

I have no answers.

And Kimberlina has only begun to speak.


A Fractured Conjuring is available now from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.