The Edge of the Sea in Pacific Grove – Starts Oct. 2


Graphic for The Edge of the Sea event in Pacific Grove.

Rachel Carson is a lot of things to a lot of people, though many remember her as a noted environmentalist and author of the book “Silent Spring,” which warned readers of the long term effects of mishandling pesticides.

While California’s Monterey Peninsula wasn’t necessarily Carson’s personal playground (she spent most of her time along the east coast), her concerns are mirrored here on the “left” coast.  If the lineup for The Edge of the Sea is any indication, Carson’s spirit is alive and well in Pacific Grove. Honoring Carson and her legacy, the Edge of the Sea is an event designed to instill a sense of wonder in the California coast.

And it’s going to be quite an event! Starting, and orbiting, an art show at the Pacific Grove Public Library, the event will also feature a wonderful lineup of lecturers such as Stephen Palumbi, Jim Covel, William Souder, Pacific Grove’s Passionfish restaurant co-owner Cynthia Walter, artists Sibyl Johnson, Tom Killion, Christine Crozier, and more. Three Asilomar nature walks will also be held throughout the three month affair. Lecture topics include California’s Wild Edge: Poetry of the Monterey Peninsula with Tom Killion, Pages of Inspiration: Rachel Carson and the Power of the Pen with Jim Covel, History of Hopkins Marine Station with Don Kohrs and much more. On Sunday, November 1st, a Dia De Los Muertos Memorial Paddle Out at Lover’s Point in honor of Rachel Carson and Julia Platt. Local artists Margie Anderson and Julie Heilman will also work on a mural at a local school as part of the event.

A number of volunteers became involved in this project and I was happy to be involved in this event as well, volunteering graphic design (let me know what you think of the banner images!), website production and population, news releases, and lots of time. Others are donated their time as well, be they artists, speakers, and even delivery couriers.

Take a moment to check out the site here and we will see you at The Edge of the Sea!


MANTULA Part Thirty-Seven: The Battle of the Cursed Part III: The Bell Tolls Death


Doug nearly loses his candle.

If there’s one thing I hate it’s making friends.

It’s a problem for a lot of guys, so being a bit revolted by the idea of getting to know people doesn’t make me weird. It just makes me a normal guy stuck in the body of a grotesquely enlarged tarantula. We’re lone wolves, as the cool kids say, and guys like me like their alone time. We like being with that special someone too, but crowds, social gatherings; that’s a whole ‘nother enchilada. It’s a bit icky.

That being said, thank God for friends.

One friend in particular, really my only friend; he’s the reason I’m still sucking in air. Were it not for Glenn and his fast moving wings and beak, I would be a glob of arachnid pudding. I felt close to turning into just that by the time he showed up like an angel sent from the Great Beyond.

“Not so damn cocky now, are you? You filthy spider, you sickening creepy bastard, you disgusting sack of…,” Mantipede had me right where he wanted me thanks to an intellect that jumped from reactive thinking to analytical thinking without the green light from me. It made me lose focus, which provided an easy opening for the giant centipede with the mind of a street thug to dive in and wrap his armored insect body around my hairy spider body.



So much for their crappy little apartment.Mant-Explosion-2

I fought the black spots forming around my vision and tried, with every ounce of energy I had left, extend my eight legs and repel the giant bug who was very nearly the victor in our battle. I couldn’t move him an inch. Bells began to sound in my head, gonging me from the show of life. I very nearly laughed about my predicament then, and had turned my thoughts to my son, when a blinding flash of hot light caused me to shrink back to reality.

ManQuail somehow managed to get between Mantipede and my limp form. He swung his beak between us, burning the tip of his incense into the giant centipede’s eyes. Mantipede howled in my head and his grip faltered, allowing me to break loose. With a flurry of wings and a good shove, I went sprawling toward the kitchen. The gawkers moved aside, letting me tumble to a stop near the burning black candle. The heat of the apartment fire, I discovered, helped things along. The black candle was very nearly burned out. Once snuffed, I had to bury the entire thing, water and all. At that point my task was done. Only, staring around at an apartment full of vengeful creatures and flames destroying all I held dear, I wondered how I would do that one simple task. It’s not like the Catholic saints Dymphna and Kolbe would come to my rescue. They were likely busy with their own tasks back at Diana’s place.

It was then I saw her. The wormy witch appeared in the middle of the living room, surrounded by heat and fire, and pointed her wretched talon-like fingers in my direction. “Kill the Mantula,” she screamed. “Kill him dead and end your pain!” The grotesque old woman turned her green, oily face to the centipede. Mantipede had barely managed to compose himself from his burns. “Up you!” She shouted to him. “Kill your enemy. Kill! Kill!”

At this point everyone seemed a little dazed and confused. I wasn’t dead, for one thing, which probably came as a shock to many of the creatures swarming in the room. They were all growing bigger as the Sturgis curse weakened and died for another thing. And the heat was getting to everyone. Some of the animals closest to the window and door were already making a beeline for safety. The rest, including me, were about to drop from smoke inhalation. No one seemed inclined to do what the witchy woman ordered. Mantipede might have made another attempt were it not for ManQuail.

Again, thank God for friends.

He leaped in front of me, panting and frantic, and gestured to me to get on his feathered back. “F#cking Sh#t,” he yelled in my head. “Sh#t! Sh#t!” I wrapped two of my furry legs around the bowl and candle, covering as much as I could with my own body, then scrambled atop my friend. He flopped and floundered, but managed to get enough air that we soared over most of the critters’ heads. I looked up, thinking we were about to crash into the wormy witch, but realized she had vanished. I felt a claw rake across my leg from somewhere below, but managed to hang onto my candle and bowl. Looking behind us, I realized we were getting out of my crappy little apartment at the right time.

Flames engulfed the old white stove in the corner of the kitchen and the whole room suddenly felt as if it were taking in a last, deep breath of air. Then it all went to hell. The room exploded in a fireball of lava and pain. ManQuail, with me holding on for dear life, burst through the window, flapping his wings like a madman, as a plume of fire shot over our heads. The next moment I felt cool air touch my singed body, then the impact as I hit the dirt outside of the apartment complex. I couldn’t believe we hadn’t died in there. Others had. There was no mistaking the room had been cleared of life by the explosion. A handful of cursed lives, Mantipede’s included, were now gone thanks to the ghost of Jackie Sturgis. And my crappy little apartment, and my memories of Charlie, were also gone.

I climbed groggily to my feet and realized I dropped the bowl and candle at some point during our fiery exit. It sat, unbroken and right-side up, a few feet away. Perhaps there’d been a little saintly intervention after all. It didn’t even look as though a single drop had been spilled. I grabbed the bowl and made my way into the shadows beyond the glow of the fire. ManQuail followed close behind me, keeping an eye out for other attackers with a mind to finish what Baldy began. We saw no one, except for gawkers staring into the flames of what was once their neighbors’ homes. Fire trucks, police cars and ambulances lined the street to the south of us, but so far we hadn’t been seen. If anything I’d be confused as a dog. With our growing bodies, we could no longer hide as easily as we could before this melee began.

I tore easily into the earth, ripping out huge chunks at a time, and made a neat little pile behind me. Glenn stood guard over the bowl and candle, then helped me heave both items into the pit. We both took turns burying the items. We’d no sooner patted the last bit of soil down than we could feel the beginnings of the change. My skin felt as though it were stretching. My eyes felt as if they were blurring and rotating in their sockets. And it was painful, but not as bad as you might think. Not sure why really, except that every part of my body had become gooey and malleable, which probably changed how my nerve endings reacted to things.

And ManQuail, who was beginning to look more like a man than a quail, finally got his speech back.

“It’s happening,” he said with a laugh. “It’s like I always said. You put your mind to something and you can accomplish anything.” It was the first time I heard Glenn’s real voice.

Staring past my friend, I noticed a figure running past the fire. He ducked beneath a wooden fence into a nearby alley, tossing a gasoline can as he fled. There was no doubt in my mind who that gasoline can belonged to, nor who was to blame for the fire that burned my crappy little apartment.

“Kip Mooney.” My voice sounded weird to my ears. I hadn’t heard it speak aloud in some time.

“Where do you think he’s off to in such a hurry?” Glenn asked.

I knew the answer to that question in a flash of course. There could only be one other location that he’d find as appealing as my place.

“He’s not finished yet, Glenn. That bastard plans to burn down Diana’s house just as he burned down these crappy apartments.”

MANTULA will return.

MANTULA Part Thirty-Six: The Battle of the Cursed Part II – Man to Man

Doug faces trouble.

There was no getting around this fight. I had to keep the candle burning, finish the strange ritual, but I had to fight Mantipede as well. I had no idea how in the hell I would accomplish both. Lucky for me, none of these creatures seemed to care one way or the other about the candle. They were too busy getting their asses handed to them by yours truly – with a little help from ManQuail of course.

I took advantage of their ignorance and shifted my feet toward the far side of the living room, hoping the cursed army would follow. Sure enough the mass of birds, bugs, reptiles and rodents surged in my direction like a lumpy, feathered tidal wave. They left my burning black candle alone.

Mantipede beat his way through his colleagues, not caring whether he hurt them or not, and bore down on me like a freight train. I realized he had to be two feet long. His creepy spiked legs, attached to individual segments that looked like they were made out of steel, moved with frantic flicks, as if they had no mind controlling them and were simply cogs in a machine. Two gnarly fangs, likely grotesquely enlarged forcipules, protruded from the end of (what I assumed to be) his mouth.

“Keep them coming this way,” I shouted, hoping Glenn would hear me. He was only a few feet away, but at our size, and with all the other crazy voices in the room, he might as well have been miles away. “All they want is me. Nothing else!”

“Damn right we want you,” someone called out.

My quail friend replied, “F#ck!” I had to hope he knew what I was talking about. But he had his hands full as well. For a quail whose strength didn’t match my own, he was doing a decent job on the attackers that managed to get in his line of fire. It helped that he had sticks of burning incense, which he held in his beak and swung around like a sword. He, too, seemed to be growing larger. He had to be about the size of a turkey at this point. Birds and large bugs flopped and fell around him. Glenn leaped to the kitchen counter, abandoning his post by the candle, and his attackers followed suit. I breathed a sigh of relief the candle was safe, at least for now.

“Main event time, my man. Main event time.”


Mantipede versus Mantula!

I turned to see Mantipede directly before me. A circle of rodents and birds ringed us, only none of them were trying to take me down any longer. It seemed they were all sticking around to watch, hoping this nasty, foul-mouthed centipede would be the ticket. None of them seemed to care about the fire licking the edges of the living room window, billowing thick smoke into the apartment.

“Time to end this. Time to get everything back to the way it was.” Mantipede’s gravelly voice sneered in my head.

I raised a leg in a futile attempt to calm the creature. “Listen to me. Killing me will not end your curse. It won’t change anything. You’ll never turn back to what you were before if you kill me!”

“You should hear yourself, you little wuss. Beating you probably won’t be much of an effort at all by the sounds of you. You’re nothing but a whiny little ass.”

I dropped my leg in defeat. There was no talking to this guy. There was no talking to any of them apparently. Even cursed, even stuck in weird bodies, they were just like every other person on the planet, only interested in their own hyper-sensitive opinions. I held my ground and faced Mantipede dead on.

“Give it your best, little goof,” I grumbled, hoping I sounded tougher than I felt. “Just be careful one of those cute little legs doesn’t snap off.”

With that, Mantipede flung himself against me. I felt the air blown from my spider body as we both flew backward into the crowd. Many of them scattered, but I found myself on top of a scrub jay and a large black butterfly of some sort. They were all growing much larger than they should be. For a split second I wondered if they would get as big as humans, but stuck in their cursed forms. Who knows how these things work? I felt a flurry of spiky jabs into my abdomen and could hear the shouting voice of my adversary as if he were right inside my head. Those cute little legs, it turns out, packed quite a wallop. I tried not to groan however, nor flinch, which I doubt I could even do in the body of a tarantula.

“You want to mouth off, dumb ass? Try a mouthful of this!”

He kept at it, but I managed to get a few of my legs under him during the attack, while the scrub jay struggled to get out from under my body, screeching frantically. With one solid heave, I tossed Mantipede against the far wall. But I wasn’t done with him. For everything that happened to me in the last year, including the final insult, that of being forced to fight an overgrown, gross monster of a centipede, I think I had every right to let my anger have it’s way with me. So my legs flew rapid fire. I slammed him again and again against the wall, enough to crack the plaster, and had no intention of letting up.

We both turned from men trapped in the hides of insects to an explosion of primal force. I remember only flashes of it. There was pain. There was anger. And there was the perfect blend of them both. It didn’t matter my crappy little apartment was likely burning around me and, forgive me for saying this; it didn’t matter whether anyone else lived or died in that moment. My son, ManQuail, Diana; none of them mattered to me at that moment. Baldy mattered, crushing Mantipede consumed me, and through my haze of red rage I hoped to do just that.

Only Baldy seemed just as pissed. His screams rained hate and anger in my brain. “Kill them! Kill them all! Get them off me! Get them off!” This blind rage, measured against the length of mine, had us evenly matched, if not a little more in his favor. As terrible and angry as I felt, I carried intelligence upstairs. It even managed to seep to the fore when I didn’t want it to.

Hearing Baldy’s insane tirade made me think along a more clinical tangent. I wondered about his irrational fear and questioned how that kind of a fear could affect someone of limited capacity. Having that thought seep into my active mind proved to be a big mistake. I’d no sooner had it than I felt Mantipede wrap his entire body around me. He began to squeeze. And Squeeze. And squeeze harder.

I suddenly felt as though I couldn’t breathe. All of my legs were pinned under his body and no amount of strength could save me. The monster wouldn’t budge. At that point, I started seeing black spots and I began to panic. He was killing me. Right there and then, with so many creatures watching, I would die.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

MANTULA will return.