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THE EDUCATION OF ELOISE

THE EDUCATION OF ELOISE
By E.C. McMullen Jr.
Copyright 2016

leo-paulrobert

It was directly because of Eloise spider phobia that she threw herself into education and study of the brain.

Was it all psychological? A mere veneer of electrical static over the cerebral cortex? Eloise pursued the idea that phobias, like her arachnophobia, were physical in nature and a physical change to the brain could alleviate the suffering of people like her.

Even better, in late 19th century, the constantly scrubbed, sterile environment required of medical research assured virtually no spiders: Certainly not on the scale of the farm where she grew up.

At the age of 14, while her brothers and sisters were busy outside, Eloise told her parents of her plans.

“What is science for a young lady?” her father’s tone was dismissive. “Marry wisely and you could share your own farm.”

“And give us plenty of grandchildren,” her Mother added.

Eloise brought out her diary and firmly (though respectfully) let the leather slap upon the table. She read through page after page of how, through the years and with her learned and innate cleverness, solved insurmountable problems on the farm thanks to her ingenuity and her knowledge of science. She knew that university would be costly, but she would repay her parents many times over for this opportunity.

Then Eloise froze. Sunlight through the windows fell upon a discreet spiderweb in the high corner where two walls met the ceiling. She did not see the effect her words had upon her Mother and Father, and how they glanced at each other in a silent shared pride. This moment was expected, as they long knew their daughter before she’d known herself.

With the fragile interruption of, “Excuse me,” Eloise hurried outside to wet a mop and remove the web.

The spider was small, no bigger than a dot with legs. ‘Oh my God. It is small enough to get in our hair, nose, ears, anywhere while we sleep.’ Which reminded her: she needed to scrub her room down today and bleach her sheets and pillow cases. Her Mother drew the line at washing her already clean clothes, though Eloise always gave them a vigorous shaking, turned them inside out and gave them a second shaking, then back to propers and one final shaking, before getting dressed.

Her phobia consumed her immediate attention on the tiny spider and its home, so that she didn’t hear her parents give her their blessing or busily figure out the coming four years of work and savings to make their daughter’s dream come true.

It was easy for young women to enter college in 1894. Less easy for their studies to be any more serious than servile: legal secretary, nurse, housekeeper. Yet Eloise was determined and her dogged pursuit relentless. After all, in 1847 American Astronomer, Maria Mitchell, discovered a comet and was the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts. That was nearly half a century ago. Moreover, if Maria S. Sklodowska could graduate as Top Student at the great science university, Sorbonne in Paris, and Maria did do it, then Eloise could do it too.

This despite the sacrifices: Eloise was not accepted into anywhere near so prestigious a University as the Sorbonne. The lab equipment was bland even by Eloise’ inexperience (she was aware of better, as she read with a voluminous hunger). Of what there was,  the men always got first crack at everything. Having access to only basic microscopes and other mundane lab equipment, Eloise was limited to doing brain lobe research. Ah, but such research!

With persistence and politics – for one gets nowhere without allegiances – Eloise achieved her research Ph.D with the highest honors in 1899.

There of course, had been stark episodes during that time. Her secret phobia nearly outed her fears on more than a few occasions. Fortunately her male peers merely considered her frights a “Woman’s Weakness” and not a deeper, nearly uncontrolled psychological disorder.

Eloise constant cleaning would also have been a bit much under normal circumstances, but it was tolerated and even slightly appreciated among her fellow researchers. She was admired for her “immaculate meticulousness”, though the coined phrase was also an affectionate but knowing joke among her peers.

In 1900, the esteemed brain researcher, Santiago Ramón y Cajal, came to America and Eloise’ place of intern residency to lead a symposium. Years of studious use of the most powerful microscopes in the world, of which there were only three, allowed the famed Cajal to use one at his leisure, so that he might see and visually record, with his detailed drawings, the structure of a brain cell.

His presentation included acetate projections of his latest drawings. On the wall in the dark of the theater, they towered over the audience. Doctor Cajal compared the structure of brain cell dendrites to the branches and root systems of trees.

Only Eloise didn’t see trees.

There in the dark, lit only by the projection and its contents, screamed an uncontrolled Eloise embraced in an overwhelming horror that would never release her.

As the oppressively massive projection of giant dendrites loomed over her, Eloise saw the true physical nature of her arachnophobia.

Living within her head, festering inside her skull, every single one of her billions of tormented brain cells… were spiders!

END

Copyright 2016 by E.C. McMullen Jr.
Art: Arachnophobe’s Nightmare by Leo-Paul Robert


pb300Can’t get enough Science Fiction? Buy my book
PERPETUAL BULLET: A Science Fiction Collection
It’s a critically acclaimed trove of previously published Science Fiction Horror Thriller – plus bonus stories
Featuring: True Love, Weird Sex, Monsters and Mayhem!
Now on sale for $9.00 in Trade Paperback and in eBook for $1.99 and available for your Android Tablet, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and every other “E”!
Find it at (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, !ndigo, iTunes, KoboBooks, Smashwords, WHSmith, and more).
Buy the paperback from Amazon and get the kindle free!

Burning for more?

Look for my second collection, WILLOW BLUE and Other Stories
Five critically acclaimed tales featuring my literary twist on Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem! $8.00 for the paperback, $1.99 for the kindle reader or app. As always, buy the paperback from Amazon and get the kindle free!

Look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt. Available from Crystal Lake Publishing and available in Print for $12.99 or eBook for $2.99.

Also available from Crystal Lake Publishing, the film making guidebook, HORROR 201: The Silver Scream. Reap the rewards of movie making experience from the likes of Myself as well as Ray Bradbury, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Tom Holland, Jeffrey Reddick, George A. Romero, Keith Arem, Richard Gray, and many more. $19.99 in Print or $3.99 in eBook.

CAT WATCH

catCAT WATCH
Copyright 2016 by E.C. McMullen Jr.

I don’t believe in magic, so what happened to us after the fire I can only chalk up to a reality I’ve never experienced, that can be rationally explained by science beyond my understanding.

The night before the fire our little house was rumbled by thunderstorms – lightening storms to be accurate I guess. It was all more electric than rain. Living in a farm house about 3o miles from our nearest neighbor and around 100 from the nearest town, we thought it was safest to stay indoors and not attempt driving to a safer place.

The next day we awoke to smoke.

Connie bounced off of the bed, her feet already moving, in air, before she touched floor. She ran to the window, throwing the curtains aside.

“Our farm’s on fire!”

Fearing the worst, we got on the roof. Everywhere we looked our fields of sorghum were ablaze. We were surrounded by fire.

Thinking fast I ran to the tractor to hitch the furrow while Connie got to the water pump and brought it to full pressure.

The fire closed the circle around us, but at a safe distance I followed the closing circumference of the ring, digging a shallow trench of dry moat around our house. Connie tossed the water hoses into the ditch. Then, all we could do was wait as the water slowly filled the moat.

Our house was the axis pin of the approaching fire, our livestock were getting fidgety, and I didn’t want them running into the fire to escape. it. Animals make weird choices in a panic so, except for the chickens, we tied all the livestock to the posts closest to the house.

Firebug embers floated overhead.

“We should have watered down the house,” Connie said.
“I know,” I answered. “One thing at a time.”

I ran to the wheelhouse where we kept all of our fire extinguisher canisters. Though a fire this large was unheard of, crop fire isn’t an unknown quantity on the farm.

The heat created a smoke typhoon, choking us, so back to the inside we went. Either the moat was going to work or it wasn’t. Whatever was going to happen now was out of our hands.

We opened our front door and the cat ran out.

I should correct myself.

At that time in our lives, “a” cat ran out, as we didn’t own a cat.

She ran out of our house, tail in the air like a question, and toward the moat and fire. Not knowing what was going on, but instinctive to me as a man born and raised on a farm, I immediately ran after it to bring her back to the relative safety of the house. You gotta save the livestock.

She ran through a still dry part of the moat and right to the fire’s edge. Where she approached – and this is what knocked me for a loop so hard I could only stop dead and stand there, jaw agape – the fire stopped, then retreated.

She slowed to a walk and instead of running toward one part of it, she walked along the edge of the ring. The fire backed away, the circle began widening. She walked the large ring around our house and the fire not only retreated, it shrank. That part makes sense to me. It already consumed the fuel of our fields behind it. It had nowhere else to go.

In an hour the fire was out. In two hours the smoke stopped. In the distance, we could make out the rest of the fireline still burning as it moved in the opposite direction away from us and into adjacent farms. The circle widened as far as the eye could see. We became an oasis.

The cat that had saved us, now our cat, sat on her haunches near one side of the burnt rim. And there she stays to this day.

She never moves away from that rim, even when it rains. And when it does rain, there’s no more lightning.

Year after year our circle grows as the crops on our land extend a little further out into the char, and they grow well. That’s good because, for whatever reason, neither Connie or me can step beyond the circle of plant life and into the burnt area. It’s not like we bump against a wall. More like we try to move into the burnt ash and our bodies just won’t obey.

It’s the same with our livestock. Nothing that can walk or fly moves into the ash. Hopefully in time, the ring of plants will extend enough that the burnt circle isn’t there any more. Connie and I would love to see our friends and family again.

In the meantime, at least we’re alive.

Electricity works, but not the phones, the Internet, no communication at all. I’m glad we have so many books.

Another weird thing is our kitchen. All of our food in the cupboard never runs out. Not the flour, the rice, the coffee, nothing. It’s always full.

As for the cat, she never seems to eat. If I go out to her, she appreciates a kindly pet on the head or scratching her back a bit. She purrs, but remains at her post. She stays there at the edge of the circle, staring at the charred rim as if defying whatever is on the burnt side to confront her.

One more thing I should write down here is, we never named her. To us she’s The Cat. The Cat who came into our lives at just the right moment. Considering the circumstances, we feel we belong to her as much as she belongs to us.

Fact of the matter is, she’s the one who chose to come into our lives and she’ll be the one who chooses when to leave.

END

Story by E.C. McMullen Jr.

Art & Artist: Unknown. If you can prove you are the artist, please contact me and I’ll credit you.


pb300Make sure you have enough books for any emergency! Buy my book
PERPETUAL BULLET: A Science Fiction Collection
A trove of previously published Science Fiction Horror Thriller – plus bonus stories
Featuring: True Love, Weird Sex, Monsters and Mayhem!
Now on sale for $9.00 in Trade Paperback and in eBook for $1.99 and available for your Android Tablet, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and every other “E”!
Find it at (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, !ndigo, iTunes, KoboBooks, Smashwords, WHSmith, and more).
Buy the paperback from Amazon and get the kindle free!

Burning for more?

Look for my second collection, WILLOW BLUE and Other Stories
Five critically acclaimed tales featuring my literary twist on Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem! $8.00 for the paperback, $1.99 for the kindle reader or app. As always, buy the paperback from Amazon and get the kindle free!

Look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt. Available from Crystal Lake Publishing and available in Print for $12.99 or eBook for $2.99.

Also available from Crystal Lake Publishing, the film making guidebook, HORROR 201: The Silver Scream. Reap the rewards of movie making experience from the likes of Myself as well as Ray Bradbury, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Tom Holland, Jeffrey Reddick, George A. Romero, Keith Arem, Richard Gray, and many more. $19.99 in Print or $3.99 in eBook.

That’s Vita!

THAT’S VITA!
by E.C. McMullen Jr.
Copyright 2016VirgilFinlay

Vita raised her open hands to her pet bat, Jasper.

On the palm of Vita’s right hand was a magic marker drawing of an insect. Jasper loved eating insects. If he chose that hand, Vita would reward him with all of the delicious insects he could eat in one night.

On the open palm of her left hand was a drawing of a grape. Jasper was not a fruit bat and, even if he was, Vita only grew sour grapes.

All of this was academic, however, because Jasper’s eyesight was quite poor and he relied almost entirely on echolocation and his sense of smell.

Echolocation couldn’t differentiate between the two drawings and his sense of smell only told him that the ink used was alcohol based.

So the odds were 50-50 and Jasper, being a bat, was poor at odds-making. Still, while only able to think with his bat brain, a rudimentary suspicion was dawning on poor Jasper.

‘Vita è una cagna.’

END
Story, THAT’S VITA!, Copyright 2016 by E.C. McMullen Jr.
Inspired by the Artwork of  Virgil Finlay.


wb2016You’ll go bats for my book,
WILLOW BLUE.
It’s my second collection of critically acclaimed Supernatural and Drama Thriller short stories with all of the Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem, you’ve come to expect (or should by now). Available in paperback for $8.00 or in Kindle for only $1.99. Buy the paperback at Amazon and the Kindle eBook is free! The tales will last you longer than latte!

Want more? Buy

PERPETUAL BULLET: A Science Fiction Collection.
It’s a veritable trove of previously published Science Fiction Horror Thriller tales – plus bonus stories
Featuring: Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem!
Now on sale for $9.00 in Trade Paperback and in eBook for $1.99 and available for your Android Tablet, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and every other “E”!
Find it at (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, !ndigo, iTunes, KoboBooks, Smashwords, WHSmith, and more).
Buy the paperback at Amazon and the Kindle eBook is free!

Crave still more?

Look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt. Available from Crystal Lake Publishing and available in Print for $12.99 or eBook for $2.99.

Also available from Crystal Lake Publishing, the film making guidebook, HORROR 201: The Silver Scream. Reap the rewards of movie making experience from the likes of Myself, as well as  John Carpenter, Tom Holland, Jeffrey Reddick, George A. Romero, Keith Arem, Richard Gray, also the late  Ray Bradbury, Wes Craven, plus many more. $19.99 in Print or $3.99 in eBook.

THE NIGHTMARE YOU WANT

PATRICK STEWART
IS
FREDDY KRUEGER

IN

A NIGHTMARE AT ELM STREET STATION Patrick Krueger


WillowBlueCoverNeed some new Nightmares? Buy my book
WILLOW BLUE and Other Stories
A collection of Five critically acclaimed tales featuring Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem!

Now on sale for $1.99 and available for your Kindle reader and App!

ALSO –

PERPETUAL BULLET: A Science Fiction Collection
A trove of previously published Science Fiction Horror Thriller – plus bonus stories
Featuring: Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem!
Available in print for $9.00 or in eBook for $1.99 at online retailers everywhere for your Android Tablet, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and every other “E”!

Also look for my short story, “Cedo Looked Like People”, in the anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt and available in Paperback and eBook.

Reap the rewards of movie making experience from the likes of Ray Bradbury, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Tom Holland, Jeffrey Reddick, George A. Romero, E.C. McMullen Jr. and many more, in the film making guidebook, HORROR 201: The Silver Scream.

my Rick and Morty meme

There are many Rick and Morty memes, but this one is mine.

Actually, Rick and Morty don’t belong to me and this image may not ever become a meme in the strictest Dawkinian sense of the word.

So just take it for what it is. Use it for whatever bureaucratic waste of life, time, and money applies.

Rick-Morty-BoondoggleAnd yeah, it’s pretty chatty for a meme, but Rick’s a chatty guy.

On This Day In 1975

Summers at the beach would never be the same after Steven Spielberg brought Peter Benchley’s massively influential best seller, JAWS, to life.
http://feoamante.com/Movies/JKL/jaws.html

JAWS, 1975

JAWS, 1975

IF YOU HAD DEATH’S SCYTHE

Well, since you asked…

Scythe

You’ve been given complete control over the Grim Reaper’s Scythe

Rules

It’s pointless to wield Death’s Scythe unless you have Death’s abilities. So let’s take into account that, like Death, I can be anywhere at any time and many different places at once. I’ll be like a Terry Pratchett DEATH, where every form of life has their own version of Death (The Death of Mice. The Death of Elephants, and so on).

I’m the Grim Reaper of Humanity.

What Would I Do?

Bring peace to the world.

I’d start by going into the United Nations during a Peace Summit, first thing Monday morning. I’d just walk right in, unimpeded right past security (because, seriously, who is going to stop me?)

Then I’d walk right up to the podium, regardless of who was already there (because, seriously…), and I’d say (in the dulcet tones of Death’s sepultural,Christopher Lee, voice),

“SO, WE’RE GOING TO HAVE A RECORD BREAKING, GENUINELY PRODUCTIVE PEACE SUMMIT, AREN’T WE? WE’RE NOT GOING TO HAVE ANY CHILDISH NONSENSE, ARE WE? NO, WE ARE ALL ADULTS.

NOW I KNOW THERE ARE A LOT OF COUNTRIES REPRESENTED HERE AND IT WILL TAKE TIME FOR EVERYONE TO MEET WITH EVERYONE. YOU KNOW, TO HAMMER OUT ALL OF THE DETAILS TO BEST REPRESENT THE WELFARE OF YOUR NATION’S CITIZENRY. YOU HAVE UNTIL FRIDAY AT 5:00PM.”

There would be silence from the assembled august body, as you’d expect from such a momentous occasion and announcement. Yet, inevitably as there always is, there would be that one person.

Voice in the auditorium:
“What happens if we haven’t resolved our differences by 5pm Friday?”

“THANK YOU FOR VOLUNTEERING TO BE AN EXAMPLE.”

I’d step off the podium and walk with an intent and uninterrupted straight line for that person (because, seriously…).

At some point the soon-to-be-deceased would realize I was serious as a literal heart attack and run screaming from the room. I’d follow at a walk, go through the double doors, then turn around and (to be heard) bellow to everyone else,

Me: “REMEMBER! 5PM THIS FRIDAY! DON’T BE LATE!”
Then I’d close the double doors behind me.

– E.C. McMullen Jr.


pb300Don’t wait to buy my book
PERPETUAL BULLET: A Science Fiction Collection
A trove of previously published Science Fiction Horror Thriller – plus bonus stories
Featuring: True Love, Weird Sex, Monsters and Mayhem!
Now on sale for $9.00 in Trade Paperback and in eBook for $1.99 and available for your Android Tablet, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and every other “E”!
Find it at (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, !ndigo, iTunes, KoboBooks, Smashwords, WHSmith, and more).
Buy the paperback from Amazon and get the kindle free!

Burning for more?

Look for my second collection, WILLOW BLUE and Other Stories
Five critically acclaimed tales featuring my literary twist on Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem! $8.00 for the paperback, $1.99 for the kindle reader or app. As always, buy the paperback from Amazon and get the kindle free!

Look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt. Available from Crystal Lake Publishing and available in Print for $12.99 or eBook for $2.99.

Also available from Crystal Lake Publishing, the film making guidebook, HORROR 201: The Silver Scream. Reap the rewards of movie making experience from the likes of Myself as well as Ray Bradbury, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Tom Holland, Jeffrey Reddick, George A. Romero, Keith Arem, Richard Gray, and many more. $19.99 in Print or $3.99 in eBook.

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