Many cultures tell stories of a mysterious double that hovers close to a person. English speakers have appropriated the German ‘doppelganger’ to describe the strange apparition who lingers in peripheral vision to warn of danger. Most of the time, only the person can see his or her own doppelganger. To see a flash of yourself when no mirror is present is a sign of bad luck or danger close by. On the rare occasion when a person’s friends or family see the double this is a sign that death is immanent.
Doppelgangers occasionally set off to seek their own fortunes. When doubles are spotted miles, or even continents away from the person they belong to, they are called ‘wraiths.’ Wraiths are far more dangerous than an ordinary doppelganger. Some believe they materialize in the world because they want to displace the original person.
Many famous people throughout history have reported seeing doppelgangers.
- Guy de Maupassant, the French novelist and short story writer, was haunted by his doppelganger near the end of his life. He reported that his double entered his room, took a seat opposite him and began to dictate what he should write. The short story “Lui.” describes his experience.
- John Donne, the 16th century English poet was visited by his wife’s doppelganger while he was away from home on a trip to Paris. She appeared to him holding a newborn baby. When he returned home he discovered his pregnant wife had delivered a stillborn child.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley ran into his doppelganger in Italy. The vision pointed toward the Mediterranean Sea. Just before turning 30 Shelley died in a sailing accident in the Mediterranean Sea.
- Queen Elizabeth I of England was horrified to see her doppelganger laid out on her bed. The queen died within a short time of seeing the vision.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the 18th century German poet, saw his doppelganger while riding down a road. His double, travelling toward him, wore a gray suit trimmed in gold. Eight years later, Goethe was traveling the same road in the opposite direction. He was surprised to look down and realize he was wearing a gray suit with gold trim.
In the online world there’s a whole new kind of doppelganger. Every so often I like to Google my name and see what my Internet doppelgangers are up to. So far none of them have tried to take over my life. What have your doppelgangers been up to?
Adverb: A much maligned part of speech despised by editors of fiction.
I spend lots of time killing adverbs, striking out adverbs, underlining, circling and crossing out adverbs. I’d be much happier if there were no such thing as the adverb at all. But why?
When used incorrectly, or even when used as intended, adverbs tend to make sentences flabby. A strong verb is easily worth a puny verb with three modifiers.
But aren’t there any good adverbs? There must be some gems hiding among the ‘quickly’s and ‘carefully’s. There must be!
I found a few treasures of awkwardness and/or pure wordly beauty that I’d like to share. Please feel free to use these in a sentence.
via Adverbs List
When several rat’s tails become entangled and bound together by blood, fecal matter and filth, a rat king is the result. The number of rats in a rat king varies from three to more than thirty. Supposedly the rats continue about their daily lives, eating pooping and breeding until they are killed by a horrified human and carried away to a museum. Often one large rat, sometimes wearing a crown, rides the mass of squirming vermin like a palanquin. Documentation of an actual living rat king is hard to find. Because rat kings are harbingers of plague, humans it seems, are unable to look upon a them without beating them with a shovel. Some believe the rat king to be a myth.
The Zemu is a Moldavian spirit that appears to widows in the form of a flame before it transforms into a man.
Some believe the Zemu is an incubus that drains away the widow’s life force.
Others believe the Zemu is conjured by a murdered husband to exact revenge.
My story “The Arrangement” features a zemu. You can read it in the M is for Monster anthology available on Amazon
The busaw looks and behaves like an ordinary human being — until night falls. You’ll know you’ve found a busaw posing as a human if you see someone cocking their ear to listen for sounds of death as the sun goes down. Another give away is that the busaw likes to climb trees by cemeteries.
In his ghoulish demon form, the busaw has pointed teeth, hooked nails and a long tongue. He creeps around in the dark and steals corpses out of their coffins. He replaces the bodies with banana tree trunks. The busaw’s greatest talent is his ability to turn human corpses into pork. Once back in human form he often prepares feasts for his neighbors. If humans eat the busaw’s ‘pork’ they too become demons.
To keep the busaw away make sure that all corpses are washed thoroughly with vinegar and rubbed with strong-smelling herbs. A liberal application of salt will also deter the busaw.
Although, vinegar, herbs, salt… mmm.