Who is Raven James?

Raven James is a fictional character created by me, writer/director Ben Wydeven and played by Daniel Harris in my short film "A Hot Summer Chill." He is also the main character in my upcoming novel "Drowning Demons," as well as other short stories.

Exclusive to this blog, you'll find short Raven James stories, as well as updates and news regarding the novel's progress to publication.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

My debut novel: Drowning Demons: A Raven James Novel is available for pre-order

Shooting Cinema 13 in 2006
Eight years ago, Two life changing events occurred: I moved to Madison, Wisconsin and I began writing my most ambitious full length novel to date: A novelized reworking the failed film attempt of what was previously know as "Cinema 13." Off and on, I would tweak it carefully... I intentionally took my time. I found through writing the novel, there was something profoundly personal about this particular story. Over the years, I got A LOT of constructive feedback and made an endless amount of revisions. At times, the novel collected dust for more than a year at a time.

But I did not quit.

In 2010, inspired by a personal experience told to me over a campfire by Corey Eckes, I wrote A HOT SUMMER CHILL as a short story set in the same world as the novel. This was followed by a total of seven short stories with smaller tales taking place a few months before the novel. It allowed me to explore the main novel characters without the fatigue of revising a 200 page novel.

Four years later, I would adapt A Hot Summer Chill into a short film. It was quickly followed by Reflections (an adaption of the Drowning Demons' prologue), The Waiting Room & Demon in the Waiting Room - both originally short stories - followed the film adaptation trend.

In 2016, we will follow suit with MOURNING IN THE CEMETERY, the last chapter in The Raven James Chronicles Volume One.

This will of course be followed by Volume Two, which will feature contributing writers to the series.
Also in 2016, my journey of writing my phoenix novel (the novel emerged from the ashes of an unfinished film) will end.

Drowning Demons, my debut novel, will be released on March 15th 2016, nearly 9 long years after I began writing it, and a FULL DECADE after our initial attempt to make Cinema 13.

For those of you who have been with me on this journey (in both the films and the novel), I am eternally grateful.

I am especially proud of these stories because they span over two different mediums (no pun intended). It is a dream come true to tell a story through both novel and film.

I'm just getting started.

Friday, March 21, 2014

A HOT SUMMER CHILL film adaptation to be release date announced!

March 21st, 2014 -  Makeshift Media Group is pleased to announce that the film adaptation of The Raven James Chronicles: A Hot Summer Chill will be released on Saturday May 3rd, 2014 in Madison, Wisconsin.

The world premiere will take place in the Badger Bowl cabin room and will include live musical performances by featured artists Stereo Side Effect, Joey Broyles and Karen Wheelock.

Cover is $10 at the door and includes snacks and beer. Members of the cast and crew will also be in attendance.

The original story, which was written in 2010 can be read on the Raven's Annex blog. A Hot Summer Chill is a short story which introduces the main characters of the novel Drowning Demons.

The film stars Daniel Harris as alcoholic spiritual medium Raven James and follows his struggles with the trauma that the spiritual world endures. Nathan Lowe, Tim Towne, Katrina King, Bennett Schneider & Erica Washa round out the supporting cast.DVD's of the film will be on sale, as well as the soundtrack featuring an original score by Justin Bright & Tony Larson, as well as original songs by artists such as Joey Broyles and Karen Wheelock will also be available for purchase.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Film Adaptation of "A Hot Summer Chill" is in the works

I am pleased to announce that after nearly 6 years since I began writing Drowning Demons, we have adapted the short story A Hot Summer Chill  into a film.

We have cast Daniel Harris as the alcoholic spiritual medium Raven James, and Nathan Lowe as the sober bartender and aspiring ghost hunter.
(from left to right ) Daniel Harris as Raven James, Tim Towne as John McWalters and Nathan Lowe as Benny Cavoto
Principal photography began August 18th, 2013, nearly 3 years to the day that I released the short story here on Raven's Annex.

We've come a long way to get to this point, and I am very excited to see the characters from my novel come to life! It is very unique experience to be doing a short film involving characters with such a deep history. While it makes telling a small slice of a big story challenging at times, I hope to leave our audience wanting to know more about these characters.

To help cover the cost of food and props, we have set up a Kickstarter fund. If you enjoy the stories of Raven James and would like to support our small production, please consider donating. Every little big helps.

As a backer, in addition to the rewards listed, you will also receive updates and news, exclusive to our backers.

We plan to release A Hot Summer Chill  in the spring of 2014.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


From The Raven James Chronicles by B.H. Wydeven
(Continued from "Salt")
Raven gasped, a cold sweat covering his face and back. He fidgeted uncomfortably on Benny's living room couch, where he had been sleeping for the last week. Things had stayed quiet since he had begun crashing on the couch. After last week's encounter with the entity in the guest bedroom, Raven and Benny had surrounded the entire house with salt, which, as Raven had explained to him, worked modestly as protection from wandering spirits.

As Raven opened his eyes, he heard a gentle scratching and thumping sound against Benny’s big picture window. But it was the heavy breathing that had torn him out of a sound sleep.
The living room was dark and full of moving shadows. It was early morning and the slightest touches of dawn were illuminating the room. The furniture in the room was reduced to mere shapes with no dimensions. Raven sat up, tense with the feeling of a second unseen presence.
Raven absolutely hated waking up this way. He had built that waiting room in his subconscious for a reason, but the metal gate didn’t always hold up.
He was still pretty drunk. Having been on a steady diet of whiskey and teenage scotch the night before, Raven felt his stomach gurgle. His muscles ached and his back was itchy from meshing with the rough texture of the couch cushions. He blinked until his eyes witnessed solid shapes, albeit spinning and blurry shapes.

Suddenly something rapped against the window with a rapid knocking pace. Raven quickly sat up on the couch. Next to the living room window of Benny’s house was a tall fir that enjoyed slapping the glass pane like scratchy brush stroking along a pallet. It’s eerie rapping filled the otherwise peaceful living room. Raven closed his eyes again and listened to the wind dance with the trees, creating a hiss through the branches and the fine fabrics of the needles. Soon, a steady but gentle rain began pattering on the brick sill, building into a steady hiss.
Springtime was tuning up its instruments.
Inside, the living room was cold and the air was still, as if waiting for a more violent storm. The house creaked as the wind picked up its pace.
Then he caught sight of the woman in the room.

She appeared to be middle aged, dark brown hair with strands of silver. She stood at the far end of the living room near the door; her figure was very faint and she appeared to float into the room without legs. Her eyes sockets were empty, nothing but two holes in her head.

She didn’t pose a threat, but her heart beat was loud in Raven’s ears as if her heart was lodge somewhere in his brain. Her breath seemed sporadic and panicky; suddenly she began panting like a dog, building up into a rapid rhythm parallel to the thunderous beating inside Raven's skull, until finally she let out a loud gasping scream, as if being tortured.
Raven shuddered and cupped his ears but the noises had already given him a horrible headache. He opened his eyes to relieve his most focused senses from the terror.
            The woman approached Raven, gliding up to him as he sat upright and reluctantly wide awake on the couch. She stopped just before the coffee table and looked down at him. The overcast sunlight glowed through the two round holes in her head.
            She whispered something softly but Raven couldn't understand her. As she hovered over him, Raven slowly reached under the couch and pulled out a container of salt and hastily poured a thin line across the coffee table. Pursing her lips, the woman turned and faded away.
            Raven took a deep breath. Not when I'm sleeping, bitch. He said to himself.

            His mind searched the room for the possibility of more lost souls who had managed to intrude the house, but in his groggy haze, Raven seemed to be alone.
            He had gotten lucky.

Supporting himself on the arm of the couch, Raven stood up and stumbled his way to the front door. Outside, the air was cool and the rain came down in steady drifts of thick drops. The angled siding tossed the cold rain into Raven’s face, stinging his cheeks and tickling his neck. He lifted the welcome mat and found a scattered array of white salt. On the ground trailing the edge of the house, the white minerals were thinly scattered. Much of the line had submerged by a shallow moat where the rainwater was pouring off the house.
His protective salt from the supernatural had been defeated by nature.

Raven looked up at the sky. The clouds were gloomy swirls of gray and white; no sign of clearing up.
                                                               † † †

“Raven, what happened to the salt?" Benny said. “I was going to make pancakes this morning. All I need is a teaspoon of salt, but I’m completely tapped out!”
             Raven reached under the coffee table. "Here," he said, tossing Benny the carton of salt. "The spring rain washed my salt away."
            It had only been a week since Raven had told Benny about his ability to see ghosts and every since then, Raven had been expecting some kind of normal reaction from Benny; a dirty look, a "you're insane," or even the inevitable "get the hell out of my house." Even a question or two from Benny would seem reasonable for a normal person to ask.
            "How many pancakes do you want?" Benny shouted from the kitchen. Not the question he expected from a normal person.
            Then again, what the hell did he know about being normal?
            "I'll just have a Bloody Mary."
            "That's it? You sure?"
            "Fine. I'll take two."

            Benny was so preoccupied with making pancakes that he didn't notice Raven pass through the kitchen and into the garage. There, on the shelf as he had left them, were two gallon jugs of holy water.
            Raven hoped he had enough salt.

            The sizzle of pancake batter on the hot skittle filled the warm, buttermilk smelling air as Raven set the jugs on the kitchen table.
            "What'd you do with that carton of salt?"
            "Right here," Benny said, barely glancing away from the stove. He did a double take when he saw the jugs. "What do you have those out for?"
            Raven removed the cap from the first jug and poured in a generous amount of salt.
            "I'm making salt water," Raven explained, watching the salt disperse into the water. "Hopefully, with the salt fully dissolved into the holy water, no force of nature will be able to get through."
            Raven recapped the jug and shook. "I should have thought of this a week ago," he said, holding the top and bottom of the jug and jostling it back and forth. Slowly, the salt dissolved, leaving the water looking cloudy. "There."
            "Cool," Benny said carelessly. Raven looked back at him and tried to read the expression on his face, but he seemed unpretentious to what Raven was doing or the potential dangers. Normally, Raven hated it when people asked him questions about his abilities or the actions he took because of them. But in this case, he was almost zealous to answer some questions.
            With the skillet sizzling on the stove, Raven silently continued with the second jug, then quietly went outside in the rain and carefully distributed the fully dissolved salt water around Benny's house.
            He returned inside about fifteen minutes later, soaking wet. Benny poked his head out of the kitchen when he heard the door open. "Where've you been? Pancakes are sitting in the oven."
            Raven frowned. Ringing his long wet hair with a hand, Raven followed Benny - and the smell of pancakes - into the kitchen.
            "You want some orange juice?"
            "Orange juice and vodka?"
            "Coming right up. Have a seat."
            Benny opened the oven and placed 2 pancakes on a plate for Raven, and 2 for himself, then prepared 2 orange juices - one with vodka, and sat across from Raven. The whole chivalrous thing made Raven a little uncomfortable.
            "Thank you," Raven said as Benny set the plates and glasses onto the table.
            "You're welcome," Benny said, sitting down. Raven awkwardly reached out for the glass of orange juice and took a sip.
            "There's no vodka in this."
            "Opps!" Benny said with a chuckle as he swapped the glasses. "I haven't had any alcohol since the accident. The booze almost killed me that night." Benny smiled at Raven. Then silence.
            For one hundred and twenty awkward and seemingly endless seconds, only the sound of chewing occupied the room, broken only once by a single question from Benny.           "How are they?"
            This continued until Raven had bottomed out his orange juice and vodka.  Immediately Benny grabbed his crutches and pushed himself out of his chair.
            "It's okay, I got it," Raven said.
            "No, I insist," Benny said, wincing as he slowly pulled himself up.

            "It's ok, that leg isn't going to heal with you waiting on me all the time," Raven said, scooping up the glass and darting out of his seat as Benny conceded. As Raven poured vodka into his glass, the ice cubes crackled and slowly rose with the liquid. As he returned to the table, Benny's eyes followed Raven's yellowish orange beverage. He finished swallowing the last of his pancake, nodded to clear his throat then said: "Can you teach me how to see ghosts?" There was a nervous tingle in his voice, as if the question had been hanging from his tonsils for a week.
            Raven took in a refreshing sip of his orange juice and vodka - triple the potency as Benny's mix - and shrugged.
            "Well, everybody already has the ability to do it; they just have to be open to the idea. But I don’t recommend it.”
            "I believe in ghosts."
            "It's more than just believing. You have to be an antenna. You have to unlock a part of your body and your soul and your mind and allow that energy to reach you at a level that most people can not accept exists."
            "Have there been any ghosts here, in the house, since last week?"
Raven look a long look at Benny before he answered.
            "Yes," Raven said. "There was a woman. She approached me as I woke up. That's how I knew the salt around the house wasn't working."
            "Oh," Benny said. "Do you talk to the ghosts when they come to you?"
            Raven took a deep breath. "I try not to unless I have to. There are so many of them, I have to turn most of them away."
            "Do you like helping them?" Benny asked quickly.
            Raven hesitated before shrugging. "Sometimes. If I can bring them peace, yeah. Actually, the only time I ever feel truly alive is when I've helped a spirit find it's way. It's a very emotional process though."
            "Could we help them together?" Benny said, with a serious look on his face. It was the look of a man who held the world on his shoulders, but still wanted to carry another planet in his arms.
"Possibly, if you’re careful. Communicating with ghosts is not something I chose to do. I do it because they’re always there if I’m not drunk. And sometimes drinking doesn’t even keep them away. The attention whores are the worst. They’re the ones who try to fuck with my head and sometimes even try to convince me that they’re demons.

“It sounds a lot like bartending. Sometimes I get the chill customers who keep to themselves, but then I get the assholes that come in and are rude to other customers and make everyone in the bar feel awkward.”
“Attention whores.”
“Exactly. So, what can I do to …hunt ghosts?”
“Start by never calling it that,” Raven said, taking another long swig from his drink. “There are some devices you could use to detect ghosts, if you want to equip yourself. Also, I don't really like people knowing that I seeing ghosts, so you do need to be very discreet. Don’t advertise it."
            "Of course."
            Benny took a sip of his orange juice. Raven waited for the next question.

"Thank you."

† † †

Monday, August 15, 2011


From The Raven James Chronicles by B.H. Wydeven

When Raven drifted through the door of Mickey’s Place for the first time, Benny was hobbling behind the bar on crutches, a white dishtowel slung over his shoulder. He smiled with delight as soon as he recognized Raven.
            “Mr. Raven, good to see you again,” Benny replied as Raven approached the bar.
            “I’m impressed that you remember my name after that accident. How’re the legs feeling?”
            “Well I’m still here, a thanks to you. The legs will heal and so will the memories.” Benny dropped a coaster onto the bar. “What can I get you?”
Raven shook his head.
“Please. It’s on me. You saved my life. Let me at least buy you a drink.”
            Raven shrugged. “I’m feeling like a brew.”
            “How about a dark ale?”
            “I’d prefer something light. I don’t like to chew my beer."
            Benny chuckled. “So what brings you back to Lafayette?”
            “I never left.”
“I thought you were traveling the countryside.”
“I was. But I was traveling the countryside looking for a job and I decided to stick here in town for a while. I’m kind of broke.”
            “I can get you a job.”
            “You can?”
“Yeah. Ever been a bartender?”
            “No,” Raven said. “But I know my way around the bottle.”
            “Where are you staying?”
            “Nowhere yet.”
            “Stay at my place. I got a whole house to myself," Benny said with a smile. "It’s quiet and peaceful.”
            “Somehow I doubt it,” Raven mumbled, taking a seat at the bar. Benny placed a glass of light yellow beer in front of him.
            "There you go. Domestic light. After a few they taste like water."
            Raven lifted the glass with no reserve and took a long drink, as if it were the first drink he had taken in weeks.
            "So, where are you from?" Benny asked. Raven continued downing his beer until two-thirds of it was gone. He waited a moment for a response but never got one.

            A group of four twenty something's entered the bar and Benny spent the rest of the night keeping up with orders. Raven spent the rest of the evening people watching and drinking light beer. Periodically, Benny would refill Raven's glass without so much as a pause to see if he wanted more. Benny could tell by the tired look in Raven's eyes, he needed to forget something that happened somewhere.
            Most everyone who entered his bar had that look.
            But Raven had saved Benny's life.
            By about 12:30 a.m. the crowd began to dwindle and Raven seemed well acquainted with the light beer he had been drinking all night, downing a glass every fifteen minutes or so. By 1 a.m. Raven was leaning over the bar like a top heavy palm tree about to collapse. Occasionally, his head slumped over, the tips of his long hair dancing on the bar top. Once or twice, a few strands dipped into his glass, although he didn't seem to notice or care. As Benny refreshed Raven's glass, he managed to get in a question.
            "How did you save my life?" Benny asked. Raven hesitated at the question for a moment. There were still a lot of people in the bar, and he didn't particularly want anyone to know he could communicate with ghosts so well it had driven him to a strange bout of  alcohol dependency. He leaned into the bar towards Benny.
            "Can you keep a secret?"
            Benny leaned back as Raven leaned in, the smell of light beer on Raven's breath. "Sure."
            "I can see ghosts," he slurred, letting the S drift through his teeth into a hiss, "It's why I drink."
            "Drowning your literal demons. How poetic."
            "Not demonssss." Raven squatted the idea of out the air. "Ghosts. Restlesss Sspirtss who want my help."
            "So I was a spirit?"
            "Not quite," Raven said, then slumped face down onto the bar.

            By the time 2 a.m. rolled around, Raven was still slumped over the bar, one arm extended over the bar and his long dark hair piled in a heap. Benny shook him awake and he slowly opened his eyes to the bright ceiling lights.
            "You alive?"
            "Eeh," came the response from under the hair pile.
            "Ready to see the house?" Raven slowly lifted his head, his hair lifting up like strands on a mop.

† † †

To Raven, the taxi ride back to Benny's house was a blur. When they got to the house, Benny, whose right leg was in a cast, mostly hopped up to the door, while Raven lurched toward the house on two staggering feet.
The ranch style house looked small from the outside, it's convex picture window in the middle reflecting the lights of the taxi, giving it the appearance of a Cyclops with one glowing eye. Benny reached the front steps before Raven did.
The living room was plainly decorated. White walls, an old reddish brown recliner and a long gray couch. Raven's first impression was that the house was cozy, and not haunted.
"Most of the furniture was my dad's," Benny explained. "I got the house when he died, I just kind of moved in."
Benny went to the back of the house and switched on the light in a small hallway.             
"In here is the guest bedroom. Might be a little dusty, but it's all yours. The bathroom is right next door." He switched on the bathroom light. Raven meandered into the guest room and collapsed diagonally onto the bed, face down.
"I'll leave the bathroom light on in case you..." Benny stopped short when Raven began snoring.

† † †

Raven awoke several hours later to a cold breeze on the back of his neck. It felt like someone had walked past him quickly and distilled his hair. Having forgotten where he was, Raven rolled onto his back and looked around.
The room was dark and chilly and he was laying diagonally on the lower half of the bed, his feet dangling off the edge and his shoes anchoring his legs down so much he couldn't feel his feet. He could barely see the outline of the door, but he knew where it was. The window on the other side of the room was a distorted square of light which projected shadows on the walls.
But that's not what gave him the Goosebumps.
At first, Raven thought he was seeing a bizarre design of shadows against the wall between the door and the window. But when the entity moved away from the wall and he saw its scarlet eyes, he knew.
The entity was 10 feet tall with arms that stretched down to the floor. Its head was oblong, roughly the shape of a balloon. Its eyes were a harsh glare of red, they had no depth or pupils.

Raven froze as he lay sprawled on the bed, staring at the entity, wondering what it wanted or even what it was. It made no sounds, but it’s presence alone created an intensely hopeless sensation that made Raven feel strangely depressed, merely out of suggestion.
But he knew better.
            Looking around the room, Raven attempted to repress the entity’s persistent influence. To his left, the single window let in stray streaks of moonlight, yet the entity’s figure was not illuminated.

Suddenly, the entity raised its arm, a long stiff limb with three pointy fingers which reached out and completely covered the window, turning the room almost completely dark. Before he could jump out of bed and vacate the room, Raven felt an intense pressure on both his arms and chest. His entire body was paralyzed. He couldn’t even move his jaw. His tonsils pulsed silently as he tried to shout. He felt a cold breeze drift over his body as the presence dominated him and the door gently clicked shut, pinching out the last sliver of light the room had left. The only thing Raven could do was close his eyes.
Raven was safer in his subconscious than he was with his eyes open. He was running through the waiting room to the hallway. As he rushed through, dozens of entities began shouting and whispering, the residuals meandered around him like inmates in an asylum. Raven didn’t make eye contact with any of them as he ran through the open gate, slammed it shut, wrapped the chains and locked the padlock.
He hurried down the hall, past the doctor’s office to the third door on the right. The door opened to an empty room with white walls covered with phrases. He moved around the room looking for a specific phrase; he read it out loud, in latin: Whoso dwelleth under the defense of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say unto the LORD, thou art my hope, and my stronghold; my God, in him will I trust.
Nothing happened. He repeated the phrase louder this time.

The feeling of hopelessness was the first thing to leave him, then eventually the pressure on his chest. He let in a long gasping breath of air. Suddenly, his entire body shook and someone was shouting his name.
Raven opened his eyes to a bright light and an unfocused face peering over him. He heard his name muffled in his ears as if from a distance. Slowly his senses came back into focus and the blurry image of a man standing over him took shape. The bright, blurry shape became Benny's husky frame back lit by the ceiling light. He was holding onto a crutch with one hand and shaking Raven's shoulder with the other.
“Raven! Raven wake up! You’re having a nightmare!” Benny was screaming. 
Raven took in the white walls and brown closet doors in the room for the first time. The bedspread he was laying on was waves of light blue with round swirling streaks of dark blue. To Raven it looked like the ocean.
The corner where the entity had stood was empty.

“You were screaming something in a foreign language. ” Benny explained. “You were so loud, I was afraid the neighbors might call and complain. Are you okay? You're freezing man! Do you want some blankets?”
Raven rubbed his eyes. His face was cold.
“I’m not sleeping in here anymore.”
“Why not? What happened? Is it a ghost?”
“Do you have any salt?”
Benny crinkled his nose. “Salt?”
“Yes, salt. Regular good old table salt.”
“Let me go and check.” As Benny disappeared into the kitchen, Raven ripped the sheets off the bed, grabbed a pillow and retreated to the living room couch. In the kitchen, a cupboard slammed.
“Looks like I got about half a container,” Benny said, shaking a carton of salt. Raven got up quickly and without a word, grabbed the carton, walked up to the entrance of the guest room and without hesitating or explaining, he poured a generous amount of salt in a line at the doorway of the bedroom.
"What the-" Benny stammered.
Raven looked at the corner of the room where the entity had stood. He could still feel an intense energy coming from that spot. Glancing down at his feet, Raven watched his salt line gently scatter in the cold draft.
“Do you have any packaging tape?”
“Raven, buddy, it’s 3 o’clock in the morning. Why the hell are you pouring salt onto my carpet?”
“There’s an entity inside that room,” Raven explained. "Relax, I can get rid of it. But no one goes in until I say it’s clear, okay?”
Benny closed his eyes, trying to find his words. He swayed a bit, feeling the comforting invitation of sleepiness numb his body. With his mouth gaped open, Benny watched Raven kneel on the floor, scrapping up strands of salt out of the carpet and create a solid white line across the doorway of the guest bedroom.
"Where's that packaging tape?" Raven said, frantically glancing up at Benny.

In that moment, Benny wanted to just call Raven crazy outright. But the look in Raven's eyes was not of a crazy person's. He was wide awake, his eyes large and alert, and yet only hours ago, Benny had seen this guy barely walk to the front door. Something had scared him sober in a hurry.
“You really do see ghosts don't you?”
"They're fucking assholes. But Benny." Raven grabbed a hold of Benny's crutch. "Right now, I need some tape to keep the salt on the floor. It keeps the entity in the room and away from attacking us.” Raven spoke with such convention and sincerity that Benny immediately went back into the kitchen and rummaged through the drawers until he found some clear packaging tape.
“What were you saying in your sleep?” Benny asked. “Do you even remember?”
“It was Latin. I was shunning the entity from this house.”
“Will it work?”
“I hope so,” Raven explained. He didn’t want Benny to know just how dangerous this negative entity could be. He wasn't sure if he could trust Benny with his most coveted secret yet.
The spirit that had been dwelling in the corner was most likely there because of Raven. He had found out a long time ago that earthbound spirits are drawn to him, a curse he shared with his late mother.

As far as he could tell, the entity was powerless; Raven had shunned it into the waiting room of his subconscious. But if he wasn’t careful, it could escape or worse, invite more of its kind.
Raven needed more salt.
“Tomorrow we need to go to the grocery store and buy more of this stuff.”
“We need to surround your entire house with it. Spirits will find me. But with the salt, they won’t be able to enter this house without our permission.”

† † †

The next day, as planned Raven and Benny went to the grocery store. Just before they left, Raven cleaned out two gallon milk jugs and brought them along.
“What are those for?”
“Just in case,” Raven said.

He picked the church because of its giant angular front doors and tall steeple.
            He entered the church with the two empty milk cartons, a bible and a cross. Father Peter came out to greet him, glancing over Raven curiously.
            “You are not here for mass, are you?”
            “Sorry, no,” Raven said. “I need two gallons of holy water.”
            Father Peter raised an eyebrow.
            “What is this for?”
            “Just in case,” Raven said solemnly.
† † †

Friday, September 10, 2010


From The Raven James Chronicles by B.H. Wydeven
(reader discretion is advised)

No more than 15 minutes after Benny had locked up his bar for the night, Raven was on the bathroom floor, curled over the toilet, squeezing out an evening’s worth of stomach burning whiskey shots and a handful of sugar coated mixed drinks.

Since they had met nearly two months ago, Benny had seen this self-destructive routine nearly every night, but this time something was wrong. Normally, Raven would come home, pass out, wake up an hour or so later and puke with ease and go back to bed.
But there was no routine tonight, just painful purging.

At each extraction, Raven’s entire body convulsed like a centipede, purging, gagging and heaving, followed by a rumbling cough that ignited into spitting; more coughing and more heaving until his throat was raw.
Raven’s shirtless body resembled a tube of toothpaste being squeezed until it was almost flat in the middle. As Benny watched this horrendous act, he became suspicious that there were other forces at work.
When it was all over, Benny, terrified for his friend’s health, rushed to Raven’s side to help him to bed, the living room couch. As Benny struggled to transfer him to the far side of the living room, Raven’s head slumped and his legs dropped like lead. Benny readjusted the leverage on his crippled legs and strained to keep his friend upright and forward moving. As a bartender and owner, he had seen countless shades of drunkenness, but Raven’s was particularly unique, the only one he was reluctant to cut off. The alcohol, Benny had learned shortly after taking Raven in, keeps the literal demons away.

Eyes shut and tuned to a spinning bliss, Raven’s subconscious returned to that comfy couch in the doctor’s office just down the hall from his protective steel gate. But when he opened his eyes, Raven was overcome by a single level of darkness. The room had no dimensions; not even a window for the moon nor a thin glow creeping under the door from the hall. Nothing.
Something was not right.
The room should have been bright and warm and peaceful, just as Raven’s subconscious had designed it. But instead it was cold and dark and full of hate. There should have been no sounds, just peaceful room tone. Instead, a gurgly hiss gave the darkness its only depth.

As the hissing got louder, Raven quickly sat up straight and touched his face; his hands were clammy and his face was cold. The room was getting colder. Raven tried to calm himself and attempted to map out the perspective of the room, but it was the red eyes that came from the hiss that made his heart pound.

The eyes only appeared briefly from behind the doctor’s desk, and quickly they were gone. The hiss was rhythmic, fading in and out like a heavy breath. This was followed by a rapid tapping which sounded like long finger nails on the surface of a wooden desk.

The scratching and tapping was followed by a deep growl, one that suggested whatever was making the noise was creeping closer. Raven stilled his shudder breath and resisted against the terrifying images his mind’s eye created in the inky blackness. His imagination painted a crude silhouette of a demon-like creature with wide red eyes and yellow drool dripping from its teeth as it crawled over the wooden desk. Raven felt his heart beat pound in the side of his neck. The demon’s claws were similar to a hawk’s sharp talons and its skin resembled blackish brown bark. It crawled with its legs and arms spread far apart like a beetle with long jagged limbs. Its nails continued to click against the wooden desk’s smooth surface and it hissed like an angry cat.






Instinctively, Raven leaned as far back as he could, but he could still feel the creature’s cold energy closing in on him. Suddenly, three feet from his face, Raven saw a pair of red eyes.

He could barely see them in the complete darkness, but the hissing told him they belonged to the same creature. As the creature’s red eyes glided within a foot of Raven’s face, he began to wonder who this bastard was.

“Who the fuck are you?” Raven shouted, his voice slurred, but his tone was harsh to maintain his dominance over the entity. Few spirits got past the metal gate, and when they did, it meant they were especially pissed off and neglected.

“I am Sonneillon, the demon of hate!” The creature growled in a deep, hoarse voice. “I feed on the flesh of the living! Cower before me and feed me your soul!”

Raven froze. The cold air made his body shiver, but he did not let his breath crack the air with the sound of fear. The darkness lingered. Even though his mind drew up the image of a nasty creature and the adrenaline in his blood made him tremble, he refused to believe there was a demon lurking before him.

“Demons don’t exist,” Raven reminded himself as his jaw trembled. He gritted his teeth and leaned forward.

“NO!” Raven screamed. The red eyes widened and blinked. “You are no demon! You are just a coward hiding in the darkness! I am not afraid of a coward! SHOW YOURSELF!!”

Suddenly, Raven felt his chest become heavy. His lungs seized and stopped taking in air. The red eyes were directly in his face. The creature Raven’s mind had drawn was now perched on his chest, claws digging into his soft belly.

Still, Raven had the strength for a single retort.


The creature froze. The fingernails loosened their grasp on Raven’s soft skin and he felt the weight ease off his chest cavity. With a loud, more human-like growl, the creature cowered away.
Suddenly, the bright white lights returned and illuminated the room the way it should have been, a dull doctor’s office with a wooden desk, a chair and a couch. Raven could hear the creature hiding under the desk, its breath reduced to heavy panting. Looking over the desk, Raven found a pair of painful red eyes, which belonged to a boy of about 17, but his unusual fashion caused Raven to do a double take.
The boy’s hair black dyed hair was wet and dripped over his eyes. Some of the dye was even fading out, disclosing patches of dark brown. All his clothes were black and soaking wet. He had a lip ring, two earrings in one ear and a studded nose ring. Even his pants had nickel-plated rings down each side. His long fingernails were painted black, although some of the paint was scratched and worn. Rings of black eyeliner seeped out of his eye sockets and past his bloodshot hazel eyes.

“That’s what I thought,” Raven said, glaring at the kid. “Who are you and why are you trying to fuck with my head?”

“I thought I could scare you.”

Raven laughed. “By telling me you’re a demon? Kid, I don’t believe in demons, no matter how many times you pissed off dead people try to convince me with your manipulation of energy. Now what do you need? Because I need to sleep.”

“I just need your help. My name’s Jason.”

“Well why the fuck should I help you, Jason? You’ve been fucking with me all night. Do you know what it feels like to cough up vomit until your throat is dry? I expect to throw up almost every night, but not like that!”

Standing vulnerable without the shadows to deceit, Jason looked like a typical, shy kid experimenting with fashion. He lowered his head as Raven screamed at him; his long hair concealed the shame in his eyes.
“I’m sorry I hurt you,” Jason said. “But I’ve been waiting in that room for a long time for someone to help me. I never made it to 18, and I don’t remember ever drinking alcohol. I just need your help.” Raven hated dealing with attention whores and Jason was no exception, but the boy’s sympathy was sincere. Still, the makeup dripping down the kid’s face and the many many piercings made Jason appear macabre.

“Are you a Satanist?”



“I’m Goth, but I believe in God and shit like that.”

“Right. What do you need help with?”

“I want to tell my family I’m sorry.”

“How did you die?”

Jason lowered his head. “A few months before it happened, I sliced open my wrists.” He rolled up his sleeves and held up his arms, so Raven could see the crisscross of long scars up and down his forearms where he had hesitated. One large cut near his wrist was laced with stitches and dark red with infection. “One time I cut myself so bad, that I passed out right away. My mom found me and rushed me to the hospital. The first time, they thought I had done it by accident. But this time,” he pointed to the stitching. “They made sure I never cut myself again.
“All my life, I had always been angry at everyone around me and the world. I hated my parents, my teachers, authority. I hated my father for going to prison. I blamed everybody for the way I felt and the way I was. But now that I’m dead and I had to see my mom look down at my casket, I can only be mad at myself. I thought being alive was so lonely, but being dead and seeing all of the people I once knew live on…”

“…it’s hell,” Raven said.

“There are no demons or devils, but it’s the worst hell you can possibly imagine,” Jason explained. “I didn’t die by cutting my wrists. My mom and my therapist made certain of that. I spent a month in a mental ward and another three weeks out of school so my mom could watch me, and my therapist could ask me a million questions. But I had to find another way. One that couldn’t be stopped by them. So I jumped off the Thomas Street Bridge. I did it at night, when I could sneak out of the house and no one could stop me.
“But it worked so well, that they never found my body. The casket my mom mourned over, was empty. She had them bury an empty casket so she’d be at peace. But she’s not.”

Jason looked up at Raven with his greenish red eyes. In those eyes, Raven saw an intensity of sadness, but he also felt a fury of anger. It rose off Jason’s body like hot steam.

“They’ll never find your body,” Raven said. “Even if they dredge the river, you’ve been gone too long. The Thomas Street Bridge was torn down 10 years ago. Even if they went looking for your bones, they’d be scattered-.”
“I know. My body’s long gone. I just want you to do one thing for me.”
“What’s that?”
“Tell my mom what happened.” Jason said. “And make sure she gets into heaven.”
Raven’s stomach churned. “I’ll do that.” As Raven laid back onto the couch, Jason smiled a painful but relieved smile and showed himself out the door. As he drifted to sleep, Raven heard the metal gate open and close, the chains jingling against the bars. The last thing he heard was the fat padlock clicking securely into place.

† † †

Friday, August 27, 2010


From The Raven James Chronicles by B.H. Wydeven

Raven awoke on a small couch in a doctor’s office. He felt dizzy, like he had just gotten off a roller coaster. As he slowly sat up, his weary eyes failed to focus. The white lights in the room were so bright, he was practically blind, but his auditory senses seemed significantly heightened. He could hear chains gently rattling in the distance. Using the walls for support, he worked his way to the door and carefully opened it a crack.

Outside the room was a long hallway with barren white walls. The overhead florescent lights flickered and several were dead, leaving sinister blotches of gray shadows along the walls, and deep black voids on the floor. At the end of the hall, about 20 feet from the office where Raven awoke, was a steel gate with large metal chains and a fat padlock sealing the hallway from the room behind it.
As Raven slowly made his way down the hallway toward the gate, the big round padlock knocked gently against the bars and echoed its steady tone down the hallway like heavy wind chimes.




The other side of the gate, a waiting room, was ridden with obscure shadows and dim light over an array of chairs and tables. There was just enough light to see that no one was there.
When Raven reached the gate, he pulled on the padlock. The round heavy metal felt like a ball of ice in his bare hands. He let it drop and collide against its ringing chains and bars. A fine layer of frost shivered away as the dead metal clashed with the bars. Raven shivered and backed away from the gate.

A steady murmur came from the waiting room.

“Excuse me, sir?” Came a man’s raspy voice in a desperate tone. He wheezed and coughed in between pleas. “Sir? Can you help me? I really need your help!
Suddenly a human form cloaked in a white sheet appeared on the other side of the gate. A hand quickly pulled away the sheet and disclosed a disheveled man with short grayish black hair and dressed in a crude hospital gown. His face was pale as if he had just bled to death and his eyes were sunken in and lifeless. Raven took an instinctive step back as the man took a step forward and grabbed the gate’s bars, causing the lock and chains to jangle and swing wildly.
“Please!” He pleaded. “My name is David Fenton. I have a wife and two kids and I need them to know what happened to me!”
David was a burly man, about six feet tall with linebacker shoulders and a beer gut that tightened against the cheap hospital gown. As David stepped forward, Raven was able to see into the man’s soft light brown eyes and his soul; kind and frantically lost.
Suddenly David’s brown eyes widened and he let out a scream, but for some reason he was unable to make a sound. Looking painfully to Raven for help, he grasped the bars harder.
Something made him stop and look down at his chest.

A dark red stain had seeped through the gown. David watched in horror as the stain grew and grew until suddenly a large pool of blood had flooded to the floor, creeping towards Raven. David looked up at Raven with wide, reddened eyes, his lower jaw shivered under his gaping mouth.
 “How did it happen?” Raven said finally, keeping his voice subtle.
“I was supposed to have heart surgery,” David explained. “I have a condition, and I needed a triple bypass. They told me with my health as it was, there would be a risk of complications.”
Raven closed his eyes as the man spoke, and when he opened them again, the blood on the floor was gone and so was the stain on the gown.
“What does your family need to know?”
The man shrugged. “Everything! I wasn’t supposed to die. I have a will but-.” The man stopped to let his lungs catch up. “Why am I still like this? I thought when you die, your body goes back to being perfect?”
“Not if you have loose ends,” Raven said.
“Loose ends?”
“Do you have unfinished business with someone?”
            The man’s face wrinkled with sadness as everything that he ever wanted to accomplish and all the people he left behind rushed to the tip of his tongue. “I was supposed to give away my youngest daughter in three months.” Instead of turning red, David’s face instead turned pale and the bloodstain reappeared at his chest. He grabbed the bars on the gate to catch his fall, gasping in a single labored breath for a lungful of air that never kept its course.

Raven leaned into the gate, glancing over the rest of the waiting room, but all he saw was darkness. To David, he said quietly, “Listen, I can help you, I just need you to do me a favor.”
            “What’s that?”
            “Guard the gate while I finish sleeping.”

            The blood stopped erupting from David’s chest. “You’re asleep?” Raven shushed him and nodded.
            “That’s what the gate is for. But you’re turning my dream into a nightmare. You see, every night, I get myself good and drunk so I can fall asleep. Because while I’m asleep, ghosts like you won’t hesitate bother me and pester me. When I’m drunk, this gate is solid steel and protects me. But I didn’t drink enough last night so I have this.”
            Raven grasped one of the steel chains with both hands and it gently bent with ease with his effortless force. It made a crackling sound like Styrofoam.
            “I’m sobering up too quickly,” Raven whispered through the bars. “Tell me something, who else is in that waiting room with you?”
            David looked around. “Just a few folks here. I actually thought I was alone until I looked around just now. Everyone in here is just being quiet, keeping to themselves.”
            “That’s because they think I’m drunk. They see this gate and this lock and chains and they know I can’t be bothered. Some of the bastards in there have been waiting on me for months. But I don’t help the attention whores. They can fuck with someone else’s subconscious.”
            “You do this a lot?” David asked.
            “Just about every morning,” Raven said with a tired smile. He could see the understanding in David’s eyes. Raven could sense that David was in a lot of pain and that his family was going through a terrible shock over his sudden death. David’s pain hung heavily on Raven’s shoulders, but as long as they interacted within his self conscious, so did fatigue. The longer they talked, the weaker Raven got.
But despite his pain and desperation, Raven saw a kindness in David too. He looked forward to helping the man do whatever he needed to heal the wound in his heart and bypass the plane between the living world and the waking dead.
            He just needed David’s protection until he woke up in the morning.

            “I’m sorry I bothered you,” David said. “I just didn’t know what to do. I thought you were an angel or something.”
            “Not even close,” Raven said. “But I do help people who have died. But this time, I need your help.”
            “All I need you to do, is watch the gate for me. Just hang by it and don’t let anyone near it. If you have problems, shout for me. Hopefully I’ll wake up.”
            David stood up straight. “I can do that.”
            “Thanks,” Raven said, turning back to the office down the hall. “Look me up in the morning and we’ll find your find your family.”
            David smiled and took a deep breath, then exhaled smoothly.

† † †