I haven´t been on here much lately, and it seems I haven´t missed much, but, to go straight to the point of this thread, since Pawel vanished for a long time, and we haven´t got any update on the Hidden Mother´s Contest, I thought of sharing my entry with the few who actually care for what I do.
THE HIDDEN MOTHER By The Ghost Collector
One nice summer day, I decided to go to the local flea market, to see what old, antique, interesting objects the vendors brought to sell. I was perusing through used clothes, shoes, toys and faux jewellery, but nothing there was of any use to me. The next vendor had some old vinyl records and books which were of interest to me. Records by Glenn Miller, books by Agatha Christie, just my kind of thing. Then, by the corner of my eye, a picture caught my attention.
I have a particular interest in old photographs, and this one appeared to be quite unusual. The image depicted a very young child, no older than a year and a few months, in the style of the late Victorian period, but what at first looked like a couch, turned out to actually be a person covered in cloth, holding the baby in place for the photographer. I had read somewhere that in the Victorian era, mothers would sometimes resort to this kind of technique to have their child´s picture taken.
I had not, however, been able to find such a picture in person.
This one was in sepia tone, which seemed to give it a particular charm and warmth. I asked the vendor about it, a nice moustache wearing round man, in his late 50´s, but as amiable and helpful as he was, he had no information about it. I asked to see it in my hand, and he handed it to me. There was nothing that could be of any information on the front, but as I turned it around, I found a little inscription on the back, in nice longhand writing.
It read as follows: “José Augusto Costa, the 1st of September of 1893”. The name and date were some useful information, that I could start searching from, so, I asked the price to the vendor. “2 Euros” he said. Well, I liked the photograph so much, I would have paid more than double of that price, so I handed the money to him, thanked him and wished him a nice day. “Hey, mister!” the vendor called me as I was turning my back. “Here you have!” he said, as he handed me an envelope to put the photograph in. “it came in it, so it belongs to you now!” What a nice man! I thought to myself as I walked away. Usually, such vendors were only interested in making some quick Euros, but this one really took the extra mile to ensure a good business.
My interest was so high I didn´t even went home. Instead, I headed to the local library, where I knew someone. I entered and greeted my acquaintance, who greeted me back with a large smile. I had not come to the library for some time, so, it was nice to see a friendly face there. I asked to consult the news paper archive of the intended date, and I stayed there for 3 hours, until the library was about to close for lunch break.
I was getting up when I chanced to look up one last time. There, between 2 announcements of marriage, was the announcement of the christening of José Augusto Costa, aged 18 months, the son of António Bonifácio Costa and Maria Teresa Sabugueiro. Nice! That information was a great progress, so, I took notes and headed home.
After lunch, I went to my office, and started to analyze the photograph more minutely, with my magnifying lens. What looked like a smile on the child´s face, turned out to be a disturbing grin of terror, upon inspection. From under the cloth, a bony fingered hand with long darkened fingernails hanged. On the corner of the picture, what at first glance looked like a framed painting on the wall, turned out to be a mirror. I concentrated on the mirror and did my best to analyze it, but the magnifying lens was not enough. I called a friend who works in photography, who scanned it for me, and sent it to a flash drive.
I returned home and started to analyze the new scanned image. The difference was incredible. I could see every little detail. I was really happy with the resolution of the picture and the detail, but that happiness ended as soon as I looked at those disturbing details I had previously found. The grin of terror was a distortion of the mouth brought upon by the crying of the baby at the time the photograph was being taken. Tears were rolling down his cheeks. The person under the cloth whose hand hanged from underneath, was in such an awkward position, one would imagine her neck was broken. The mirror on the wall depicted a very disturbing image. I wish I could forget it, but the horror and gruesomeness of it still haunts me.
On top of the photographic camera was the severed head of a lady, who I assume was the child´s mother. That was, I have no doubt, the reason why the person under the cloth was in such an awkward position. I was so horrified I had to leave and I went to the park to try to calm myself down.
A few days later, I returned to the library, and I told my acquaintance what I had found. He was horrified, but not surprised. “I thought it was only an old urban legend. When I was young, my grandfather told me the story of the murderous photographer, who came to the house of his childhood´s sweetheart, murdered her husband, her, and then took a photograph of the poor child, on her dead mother´s lap. The police came and found the gruesome scene, but no sign of the child.
A man hunt started, with every possible source of clue being consulted. The child disappeared for a week, before finally being found by the police on the photographer´s apartment, next to his dead body. The photographer had a look of haunting horror on his face, which one would not expect from a murderer.
It is pure speculation, but some say the ribbon around the neck of the murderer which belonged to the child´s dead mother could not have been tied as much as it was by the photographer, because he would have lost conscience long before. Those people say still to this day that the ribbon was tied by the child´s mother, in revenge and in defense of her child”.
I don´t know what part of it is true and what part of it is a tale, but thinking of it gives me such a shiver, I can´t bear to think of it or look at the picture anymore. I locked it away, and there it stays, still to this day.
Thank you Pieaddict and Mikeg for your likes, and to Tireddave for the kind comment. I´m glad you enjoyed it. If any of you wants to incorporate the story into one of your pieces, I can share with you the second part of my entry, in which I talk about the story, and offer some ideas for possible performing pieces. You can expect it to be posted within the next days. All the best!
Here it is, the second part of my Hidden Mother´s Contest entry. I hope you enjoy!
Regarding the question “is this story real?” I prefer not to make any statement. I prefer those who read this to wonder and imagine. Some people will think of it as a story, and some people will think of it as real.
I will state however, that as I was writing this text, I had several shivers, and I believe those who read this will experience it too. In fact, the night following my writing of this text was particularly difficult for me to sleep, indeed, I was not able to, so much disturbed as I was.
The events described are so gruesome and dark that I am not sure the text will even be accepted, let alone be selected as a possible winner. I am from Portugal, and so, the names and currency are of course Portuguese names and currency terms. If any reader intends to adapt it to their own language, they are free to do so, and although it would warm my heart to be mentioned as a source for the story (for I am the central character), I don´t expect anyone to do it.
Most likely the performers in our little community will take my place in the story. I am quite aware that this story does not come with an effect, but I am sure the fine minds in our community will be quick to come up with their own ideas. I will supply however, some ideas for possible effects on a séance (or paranormal show) with this story as the theme (you will need to create such a photograph for your presentation, if you intend to show it).
1- You can show a bunch of different hidden mother type of photographs, tell the story, and as you do such, ask the participant\s to choose one. That photograph is then (at the appropriate moment) turned around and shown to be the photograph in the story, for the writing on the back matches exactly the one in the story. You then tell the revelation part of the story, about the murder and the events that followed.
2- You can use guided visualization to make the participant\s examine the scene in the photograph and shed some light into this dark mystery (perhaps what the participant saw matches what is written, for confirmation and a little extra spooky moment). You can alter the story or completely re-write it to suit your needs. I only ask you, in case you do so, to let me know. Who knows, maybe I can give you some suggestions about it.
3- You can use a pendulum to make contact with the “hidden mother”. (For more on this, please contact me, and I will gladly supply you with a little PDF of mine about pendulum use, which I wrote for free distribution among our little community).
4- This one may sound a bit too magicky to be of use to most séance performers, but here it is anyway. Instead of a card rising from the pack, inside the box, why not the selected hidden mother´s photograph? It may happen as a sign of the presence of the spirit (perhaps the mother, perhaps the murderer, for extra spookyness…). As you (and the participants) call the spirit, the photograph, which was put in a pack among the others, or in a box, or even in a pack in the box, slowly rises, or even better, jumps from the pack\box. Can you imagine the photograph jumping and landing on the lap of one of the sitters of a séance? Oh, my! Someone might have to change pants. A further idea is to have it jump, land on someone, and the person who it landed on will be the médium(as if chosen by the spirits), the one to communicate with the spirit (using the pendulum, or the guided visualization).
I hope this is of any use to you, either as a template or just as simple inspiration for your own ideas. Whatever you decide to do with it, if you ever need, please don´t hesitate to contact me for any help. All The best!
Thanks for the great read! Very creepy indeed. If one was fortunate (or patient) enough to have the actual photo reproduced, in a studio or at home, there could be made two versions of the photograph. One without all the "details" (not showing the finger, no reflection in the mirror, ...), and one with all of those things in it. When commencing the story, the first photograph could casually be shown or even passed about. Then it can be put in a switch box or any other means of switching. Afterwards, you know which photograph will be produced.
The "details" in the second picture should not be too obvious. It can make the spectator wonder whether she actually missed them, without you acknowledging any of it.
Thank you for your reply, kind words and for you thoughtful ideas. I absolutely agree with your points and ideas, I think they are great. In fact, looking back at the story, it reminds me a bit of The Mezzotint by M.R James. A picture which slowly changes. The story could be interpreted and presented in such a way, and that would be a very good way to do it. Both ways are very nice. One interpretation is more about the detective style stuff, and the other is more supernatural, in the style of M.R James. Thank you again! All the best!