I was not dead: this must be understood. There is a little bit of doubt about whether I was awake or asleep though; I’m still not completely sure whether this was all a dream or reality, but the writing on the wall does not lie. The strangest thing occurred to me last night, which I will now recount to you.
It was New Year’s Eve, an hour before 2020 would dissipate and 2021 materialize, a moment as simple as a single digit changing, yet an immensely anticipated event for cynics all around the globe. 2020 was the year the COVID-19 virus launched its evil plan to take over the world, and its oppressive regime seemed to change the fate of all humanity. Multiple other tragedies compounded on top of this disaster, leading to a worldwide attitude of hatred towards the year 2020. Like many other intelligible citizens, Bryant and I were spending New Year’s Eve at home.
So you want to hear a scary story, do you? One that thrills your anxious nerves and excites the depths of your imagination? A mysterious tale set in the ambiguous climate of autumn? Coincidentally, this fine rainy evening has put me much in the mood for telling such a story, and I happen to know a very haunting tale of a skeleton named Ned Theodore Ed and the time whence he visited the Seven Levels of Hell, one unsettling October eve.
Last year, I participated in the month-long drawing challenge Inktober, which occurs every October and features daily prompts. I posted my drawings in part one and part two and much enjoyed participating in the artistic challenge.
This year, I decided to create my own drawing prompt for Inktober: I will be illustrating short stories from The October Country by Ray Bradbury! The book of Bradbury’s fiction contains nineteen stories, which roughly translates to one illustration every couple days–or a week of procrastinating and then cramming all the drawings into the last couple weeks of the month. You know how it goes.
Writers are writers out of spiritual necessity. Like a plant needs to be watered, writers’ musings must be written. Beyond that, some writers lavish in the limelight, while others prefer their privacy; some write rapidly and publish proudly, while others create with careful ease and seldom share stories.
It is the work of those so sensitive and raw maternal for their writing that intrigues me, personally, and so when my most endearing client, Ned Theodore Ed, presented me a copy of his travel sketches for publication, I felt more excited as a fan of his writing than as a publisher of a new business deal. His deliberate and graceful—yet never timid or dull—language is like a steady stream, fluid and fruitful. It’s as though rather than writing of the water at the water’s edge, he is one with the water himself.
Now with a tremendous honor, I would like to present to you the Travel Sketches of Ned Theodore Ed, a gentle soul who is my esteemed client and a writer whose work I absolutely admonish. This silent, poetic skeleton, ironically, is the voice of humanity’s spirit and what it means to have a soul among nature.
As cheery, holiday bells ring in the background, I welcome you into our story for today, dear reader! Happy winter solstice and the merriest of holidays to you, and I hope this sweet little tale will provide you with delight.
It was one holiday season not too long ago, when snow was gently tumbling in large, fluffy flakes upon the mountains that loomed above Spinesville, a winter flutter bestowed upon the densely forested pine trees which grew like fur from the rolling mountains—and upon one of those mountains, in his cabin, whose chimney steadily smoked, the smoke mingling with the snowfall, Ned Theodore Ed was rummaging around in his basement as the fireplace upstairs smoldered. The early evening sky was saturating into a deeper and deeper shade of blue, and N.T.’s dinner baked in the oven while he was moving armloads of cardboard boxes around.
A few weeks ago, I made a post featuring my Inktober drawings up to Day 11, and gave a brief explanation that Inktober is a month-long drawing challenge where artists draw each day and post it to share with others! (It’s a very informal event, and lots of people interpret it in different ways.) I’ve been posting all of my Inktober drawings to my Slanted Spines social media on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, but I know some of my readers exclusively visit me online or on WordPress, so I didn’t want you to miss out! (Although you should highly consider following Slanted Spines on social media. You won’t regret it!)
As legend has it, Inktober was created by an artist named Jake Parker in 2009. The sacred scrolls speak of how he desired to challenge himself to develop his artistry and self-discipline, and how over the years, it became a widespread event that many artists participate in as well. Tradition states that each day of October, an artist will draw something in ink and post it with the caption “#inktober,” although many practice this in alternative ways, such as drawing digitally, drawing every other day, drawing calligraphy, and any other way an artist desires to challenge their creativity. Today, this is a custom thousands of creatives partake in, and encourages communities of artists to enjoy their art together.
And this year, I said, What the heck. I’ll try it.
It was a night that existed after a week’s preparation, a night that was the result of several shopping excursions, hours of crafting and decorating, and outstanding social suavity, a night that culminated from a desire to give the seasonally affected a reason to celebrate this otherwise possibly depressing impending winter. Ned Theodore Ed and Margaret Hadfield worked diligently on this party, fashioning every detail with eager attentiveness. Continue reading “N.T. Ed and the Apple Cider Whodunnit?”→
N.T. Ed and Margaret Decide to Have an Autumn Party
Ned Theodore Ed, skull in the palm of his bony hand, looked out the window at the darkening early evening, and sighed.
Margaret noticed N.T. Ed’s shoulders silently heave and slump (for this was the way N.T. “sighed”) and paused her knitting. “What was that for?” Margaret asked, tilting her head and looking at N.T. over the top of her wire-rim reading glasses. They were sitting in Margaret’s living room, N.T. on the couch, and Margaret in her recliner; the lamps on her end tables produced an orangey, cozy hue as the light flickered off her hardwood interior.