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theres more to life than chasing ghosts

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To be an accomplished artist, especially one considered an " outsider artist ," is to be the master of one's own language. The self-taught painter Bill Traylor was clearly such a master, with his abstract depictions of his life experiences during the Reconstruction and Jim Crow America; memories articulated with long-limbed human figures, oval dogs, sketched out crowds, and squabbling couples, fondly described by an art expert here as "beautiful simplicity." It's entirely true with Traylor's case that one person can look at a painting and see a few shapes, colors, and maybe some faces, while others see a full text. 

Getting someone to understand that language can be a whole other deal. "Chasing Ghosts" has a great idea in showcasing as much of Traylor’s work as possible, and next to the creations of other Black artists, but its talking head presentation is fairly didactic. Traylor’s abstract paintings don’t so much come to life through this documentary but are lovingly promoted, and the filmmaking’s own artistic approach can contradict the verve that Traylor’s fans associate with his work.

Given Traylor's status as an artist whose work was more promoted after his death than during his life, his paintings requires the fullest picture possible, and a great deal of context. How else to best understand these rectangular torsos, the triangular teeth, or the one-dimensional locations? Wolf's interviewed experts provide some compelling insight, like how the color blue on a figure's legs referred to the emotional doldrums of the blues itself, or how the relationship dynamics to be found within how a woman and a man are shown clashing, pointing in different directions. But an airy description like "beautiful simplicity" echoes throughout, and Wolf's documentary favors bulky historical context more than it does analysis when it comes to making Traylor accessible. It can't decide if its main audience is a celebrated art gallery or a school trip, though both have their merits. 

Traylor created hundreds and hundreds paintings in his 80s, a type of final chapter after initially being born into a family of slaves that shared a long-time bond with the white family who owned them (which is where the last name Traylor came from). His paintings, many of which he drew on the back of cardboard or any paper scraps he could find, were completed in Montgomery, Alabama, a resting place after decades of being a sharecropper, and dancing, carousing, and taking care of his growing family as America supported and terrorized people just like Traylor. Taken as a whole (the documentary displays dozens and dozens of them, though countless were lost over time) the paintings are like fascinating journal entries from a perspective of Black America not as thoroughly documented, with some of Traylor's takes more mystical or playful than others. 

In bringing this story to light, Wolf is working with a small amount of specific archival material—an understandable part of this production, along with its budgetary constraints. There’s certainly not a lot of photos of Traylor or his upbringing, and his life events seem mostly charted by the few remaining written spreadsheets. But Wolf tends to create a larger American history background with flourishes that brings out its more History Channel-like inclinations: voiceover reenactments from the words of leaders and ex-slaves, slow scans over art of historical clashes, and generic B-roll footage. Paired with its talking head interviews which are already aesthetically rough-around-the-edges themselves, the presentation runs dry in spite of its valuable information.  

Wolf’s sharper choice is to emphasize this historical context by supplementing Traylor's creations with other Black artists; their expressions are like practical special effects that add more depth to this larger story of Black art, discovered and shared. Wolf gives time for the words of Zora Neale Hurston or Langston Hughes to wash over us in brief meditative passages, their observations reflecting the most recent discussed point in Traylor's life. Stoic monologues by actors Russell G. Jones and Sharon Washington dominate a minimal stage, sharing bits of Traylor’s saga to an unseen audience; the furious silhouette of tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith vividly accompanies a passage about how backwards limbs and curled legs represent dance in Traylor's work. It becomes clear that if the doc isn’t going to stretch itself too far with its own storytelling tactics, its vision of the past is at least chock-full of Black artistry. 

A sincere doc like this nonetheless has to be persuasive, to help us fully feel what the experts do as they speak with great reverence about its subject. “Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts” gets more stuck when it comes to its own expressions, and I would have appreciated more to take away regarding how Traylor's compositions themselves could stand on their own. But Wolf’s film captures what feels most important: it’s successful in getting one to understand the vitality of this artist’s language, and why it demands more visibility in history.  

Now playing in select theaters and via virtual cinemas.

Nick Allen

Nick Allen is the former Senior Editor at RogerEbert.com and a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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Review: ‘Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts’ brings to life a man who made his mark across time

Artist Bill Traylor in the documentary "Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts."

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If every picture tells a story, the body of work displayed in the hauntingly intriguing documentary “Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts” speaks volumes on the life and times of the artist in question.

Born into slavery in 1853, the rural Alabama sharecropper wouldn’t officially pick up a pencil and piece of scrap cardboard until he was 85, but he would nevertheless amass a portfolio of more than 1,000 drawings and paintings over the next several years.

Taken individually, the pieces may appear deceptively simple — primitive images of animals, structures and couples often arguing or carousing — but together, the compositions share a folkloric quality, with Traylor’s personal connections to slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation and the Great Migration filtered into an increasingly abstract canvas.

Drawing on that tradition of iconographic Black Southern storytelling, filmmaker Jeffrey Wolf incorporates spoken-word performances of passages by Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston as well as interpretive tap dance by Jason Samuels Smith to relate Traylor’s journey.

There’s also astute commentary from fellow artists, historians, critics and surviving family members who help to fill in the blanks between Traylor’s death in 1949 and the art world’s embrace of his work, starting in the late 1970s.

But it’s the pieces themselves, many of which were done on the backs of old cardboard signs, with Traylor incorporating the existing smudges, rips and even staples into his visual recollections, which lend those ghosts of his past a persistent, ethereal relevance.

‘Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts’

Not rated Running Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes Playing: Starts April 16, Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood; and in limited release where theaters are open; also Laemmle Virtual Cinema

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The Goori man is using his voice to highlight issues that modern day Australia is struggling to reckon with.

Among the topics he covers are PTSD suffered by war veterans, the hardships of parenting when young, Australia's treatment of Aboriginal people throughout history (including the current day), and the inequity still faced by First Nations people.

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' I'm not dead but I'm barely living ,' the protagonist says early on.

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' I never asked for this decision, to send two men to prison ' Kyle sings.

' I'm not the only life in my hands ,' he later adds.

The tale is so gripping that you won't want to miss a word. Kyle details the viciousness of the attack and the pain of reliving it, both in his head and via CCTV footage.

It's a powerful piece of prose and one that's incredibly well supported by the band that backs it up.

This distressing but ultimately redemptive story is packaged up in a hugely appealing pub rock/melodic punk arrangement. The chorus is as catchy as it is steely, as Kyle recounts the attack as well as the survival.

This is tricky stuff to write about, and will no doubt be hard for some to hear, but it's just one great example of how Chasing Ghosts are making music with great purpose.

Chasing Ghosts' new EP Homelands is out now.

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You say it to someone that doesn't move on and keep believing in somethings that aren't real or chasing after things that aren't reachable, and want that person to move on and live his life. It doesn't always mean it's really unreachable, only you think that way for example, a person that had and accident and don't have legs and the doctors say he will never be able to walk again fight against it and try everything he can, but the doctor say he have zero chances for that, so he could say this sentence, as a means to make him stop dwell on it and start thinking about important things like how to make his life easier from now on. another example is, if a person lost his wife and never stop thinking about her, and even started believe she really alive, so you want the person to move on so you can say the sentence. The main purpose of it is to make the person infront of you move on and stop chasing something that isn't real or can't happen or small chances it'll happen

theres more to life than chasing ghosts

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Chasing ghosts, common sense media reviewers.

theres more to life than chasing ghosts

Heavy but often funny movie about grief and afterlife.

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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Moving past grief; forgiveness; letting people gri

Lucas is curious, deep, and sensitive; parents are

A squirrel lies in the street, bloody after being

Eleven-year-old boy pretends to smoke by holding a

Parents need to know that Chasing Ghosts is a heavy-themed but often lighthearted movie about an 11-year-old boy grieving his older brother's death in a car accident (not shown) and his subsequent interest in the afterlife. He films funerals and jokes about and discusses death. There's morbid humor…

Positive Messages

Moving past grief; forgiveness; letting people grieve in their own way; living in the present.

Positive Role Models

Lucas is curious, deep, and sensitive; parents are engaged and present, though dealing with grief in their own way; friend Chris is a caring adult who helps Lucas find his way back to living his life.

Violence & Scariness

A squirrel lies in the street, bloody after being run over; morbid content, such as references to death in newspaper clippings, discussions of a boy who was killed in a car accident; a man collapses and is taken to the hospital, survives but has a terminal condition; a boy attends and films funerals.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Eleven-year-old boy pretends to smoke by holding a cigarette to his lips and flicking a lighter near it; adults drink glass of wine with dinner.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Chasing Ghosts is a heavy-themed but often lighthearted movie about an 11-year-old boy grieving his older brother's death in a car accident (not shown) and his subsequent interest in the afterlife. He films funerals and jokes about and discusses death. There's morbid humor and references, such a dead, bloody squirrel left in the street that he studies, big questions about what happens after we die and whether ghosts exist, and funerals and sad scenes of people dealing with and discussing loss. The boy also pretends to smoke by holding a cigarette to his lips and flicking a lighter near it. But there also are lighter, more uplifting jokes, moments, and friendships and positive messages about what it means to keep on living. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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What's the Story?

When 11-year-old filmmaker Lucas (Toby Nichols) loses his older brother in a car accident, he becomes obsessed with what happens after we die. He films funerals, thinks about death, and asks big questions about what it means to be alive. When one of his videos captures a ghost-like apparition at a funeral and subsequently goes viral, the attention leads him to a friendship with Chris ( Tim Meadows ), a writer who has had his own brush with death and helps Lucas understand the point of life.

Is It Any Good?

CHASING GHOSTS is a heavy film that won't be easy for any parents to watch, let alone those who have lost a child. Though the brother's death is not shown, his absence hangs over the movie, and some very difficult scenes demonstrate how hard it is to let go of family members we've lost.

But where Chasing Ghosts earns its keep is the way it blends a smart, big-picture sense of humor about being alive with the profound, everyday heaviness of the grieving process. Lucas is a bright, likable kid, and his questions and resilience and creativity in approaching the grieving process are a reminder that everyone must grieve in his own way and that death teaches us all something incredibly powerful about what we should do with our lives, however long they last. Best for kids and families who appreciate quirky humor, offbeat jokes, and existential dilemmas.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about how Chasing Ghosts show grieving. Do you think it's accurate?

Do you believe in ghosts or the afterlife? Why, or why not?

What can Chasing Ghosts help us understand about grieving and moving on from loss?

Movie Details

  • On DVD or streaming : April 21, 2015
  • Cast : Tim Meadows , Toby Nichols
  • Director : Josh Shreve
  • Inclusion Information : Black actors
  • Studio : New Kingdom Films
  • Genre : Drama
  • Topics : Friendship
  • Run time : 92 minutes
  • MPAA rating : NR
  • Last updated : June 19, 2023

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Rafa Euba

Authenticity

Are you wasting your life chasing (fantasy) ghosts, it may be better to chase ghosts than to be chased by them..

Posted June 29, 2023 | Reviewed by Ray Parker

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Ask yourself what is important and valuable in your life, and what is it that you want to protect, and you'll probably think of your health and well-being, as well as the well-being of your family. That's if you are middle-aged.

If you are younger, you are likely to attach a lot of importance to your future prospects, and to issues regarding relationships and self-esteem . It seems paradoxical therefore that we should invest so much energy and emotion in things that have little to do with these universal values, instead spending much of our lives chasing myriad, irrelevant ghosts that aren't based on reality and that will forever remain elusive.

There are several different varieties of ghosts that populate our lives. There is, first of all, the happiness ghost, which I have commented on in previous posts and extensively in my book. This is a big ghost because nature hasn't designed us to be happy, only to survive and reproduce.

But there are smaller ghosts that influence our behavior and how we plan our lives and spend our resources. For instance, many chase an ideal image of themselves, vaguely conceived and based on what they see in social media , films, and commercials. This is the "ideal me" ghost . There is also, of course, the "ideal partner" ghost , who has no annoying habits and is infinitely tolerant and charming.

Then we have even smaller, and yet potentially disruptive, little ghosts . I am referring here to the material fantasies that litter our lives: Some may, for instance, wish to acquire a rugged SUV equipped to cross the jungles of the Amazon, even though it will only be used to negotiate suburban roads; others will pine after the perfect house that will embody within its walls the very idea of family bliss.

Reality Trumps Fantasy

Reality is the counterpoint to all these fantasies: The real me is inevitably flawed, and so is the real partner, while any magic expected from material possessions will dissipate instantly on exposure to reality. More importantly, our mixed and messy emotions will never live up to the ideal of happiness.

To be fair, we are meant to dream and desire, so looking at the clouds is not necessarily unhealthy, as long as we keep our feet on the ground. Desire is, after all, an important drive in our lives, even when its ultimate goals are unattainable. Desire also looks forward, which is positive, rather than backward. It is better to chase ghosts than to be chased by them.

Rafa Euba

Rafa Euba is a retired seasoned consultant psychiatrist, based in London. He has lectured in several universities and written many articles in the general and academic press, as well as three books.

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Chasing Ghosts: A Tour of Our Fascination with Spirits and the Supernatural

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Chasing Ghosts: A Tour of Our Fascination with Spirits and the Supernatural Kindle Edition

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Editorial reviews, excerpt. © reprinted by permission. all rights reserved., about the author.

Marc Hartzman is "one of America's leading connoisseurs of the bizarre" (ABCNews.com) and is the author of several books, including The Big Book of Mars . Hartzman's work has appeared in Mental Floss , Bizarre , AllThatsInteresting.com, and HuffPost/AOL Weird News. He has discussed oddities on CNN, MSNBC, Ripley's Radio, and the Travel Channel's Mysteries at the Museum . More of his love for the unusual can be found on his website, WeirdHistorian.com. Hartzman works in advertising and lives in New Rochelle with his wife, Liz, and their two daughters.

Keith Szarabajka has appeared in many films, including The Dark Knight , Missing , and A Perfect World , and on such television shows as The Equalizer , Angel , Cold Case , Golden Years , and Profit . Szarabajka has also appeared in several episodes of Selected Shorts for National Public Radio. He won the 2001 Audie Award for Unabridged Fiction for his reading of Tom Robbins's Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates and has won several Earphones Awards.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08RJCTKVZ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Quirk Books (September 28, 2021)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ September 28, 2021
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 91745 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
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Marc hartzman.

ABCnews.com has called Marc Hartzman "one of America's leading connoisseurs of the bizarre" and George Noory from Coast to Coast AM said he's "as bizarre as Robert Ripley." Hartzman considers both high compliments since his passion for the unusual started with Ripley's Believe It Or Not and the annual Guinness World Records books during his youth.

In addition to his books about UFOs, ghosts, Mars, Oliver Cromwell's embalmed head, weird things on eBay, sideshow performers, and unorthodox messages from God, Hartzman has written for Mental Floss, HuffPost, AOL Weird News, AllThatsInteresting.com, The Morbid Anatomy Online Journal, and Bizarre magazine. He's discussed oddities on CNN, MSNBC, Ripley’s Radio, History Channel’s The UnXplained, the Travel Channel's Mysteries at the Museum, and dozens of podcasts.

More of his love for the unusual can be found on his site, WeirdHistorian.com. Outside of these projects, Hartzman earns a living as an award-winning advertising creative director.

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Into the Illusive World pp 263–269 Cite as

Chasing Ghosts

  • Paul A. Moore 2  
  • First Online: 13 July 2019

422 Accesses

When I was much younger, around my early teen years, I must confess that I had quite the fascination with ghosts. I had an unquenchable thirst for books, movies, and stories about these intriguing “beings.” The budding scientist in me wondered what was their material composition, what sort of properties did they exhibit, what caused their appearance and disappearance, and why couldn’t anyone capture good hard evidence of their existence? As I have written elsewhere in this book, I was also captivated by Jacque Cousteau and his ability to find and quantify the numerous organisms beneath the surface of the ocean. If he could dive to great depths and record previously unseen organisms, why couldn’t someone easily get hard evidence to the existence of ghosts? As I grew older, read more, and began my scientific training, the answers to many of my questions of ghosts became quite apparent. It is difficult to acquire hard evidence on something that doesn’t exist.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, USA

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Moore, P.A. (2019). Chasing Ghosts. In: Into the Illusive World. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-20202-6_38

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Chasing Ghosts

Chasing Ghosts

  • Lucas Simons, an 11 year-old filmmaker, is obsessed with death after the loss of his brother. When Lucas accidentally captures a mysterious presence in one of his films, he inadvertently becomes a YouTube phenomenon, and must learn to live life in the spotlight while also learning how to once again start living life to its fullest. — Josh Chesler
  • Lucas Simons, an 11-year-old boy mourning his brother's death, seeks answers by filming funerals. When he captures something extraordinary on camera that thrusts Lucas and his family into the spotlight, it leads him towards an unlikely friendship with a local author who survived a near-death experience and teaches Lucas how to embrace life again. — Anonymous
  • An 11-year-old filmmaker obsessed with death becomes an overnight YouTube sensation when he captures a mysterious presence on video.

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COMMENTS

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    Accept defeat Curse the cracks of empty streets And I don't wanna tell the same sad story Even if I did, you'd just ignore me I wear myself out Trying to find an ending And I'll work this out When I stop pretending That I could never let this go There's more to life than chasing ghosts But then hindsight's 20/20

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  9. Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts movie review (2021)

    Traylor created hundreds and hundreds paintings in his 80s, a type of final chapter after initially being born into a family of slaves that shared a long-time bond with the white family who owned them (which is where the last name Traylor came from).

  10. 'Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts' review: A legacy of relevance

    If every picture tells a story, the body of work displayed in the hauntingly intriguing documentary "Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts" speaks volumes on the life and times of the artist in ...

  11. Hear why Chasing Ghosts are one of 2021's most vital bands

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  13. Chasing Ghosts Movie Review

    Parents need to know that Chasing Ghosts is a heavy-themed but often lighthearted movie about an 11-year-old boy grieving his older brother's death in a car accident (not shown) and his subsequent interest in the afterlife. He films funerals and jokes about and discusses death. There's morbid humor… Videos and Photos Community Reviews See all

  14. Are You Wasting Your Life Chasing (Fantasy) Ghosts?

    Rafa Euba Fantasies Are You Wasting Your Life Chasing (Fantasy) Ghosts? It may be better to chase ghosts than to be chased by them. Posted June 29, 2023 | Reviewed by Ray Parker Source:...

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    Justin Bieber - Ghost (Lyrics) "I miss you more than life"🎤 Lyrics: Justin Bieber - Ghost [Verse 1]Youngblood thinks there's always tomorrowI miss your tou...

  16. Chasing Ghosts: A Tour of Our Fascination with Spirits and the

    "A fantastic book."—Ben Kissel, co-host of Last Podcast on the Left Take a spirited tour through the supernatural history of America—from haunted sites and famous ghosts to the paranormal investigations of The Conjuring 's real-life Ed and Lorraine Warren. Ghosts are everywhere—whether you believe in them or not. Every town has its local legends, and countless books, movies, and TV ...

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    Pencil Me In Lyrics: I'll take my chances / Take my chances with you / There's more to life than being blue / A change of pace, A clue in a maze / To turn this winter into June / But clever ...

  18. Chasing Ghosts

    Here, chasing the ghosts of organisms is a far more fruitful exercise than chasing fragments left behind by imaginary creatures. ... Life's connection to the earth in the terrestrial environment leaves behind obvious indicators of activity. ... there are numerous creatures, ranging from the microscopic algae to the enormous blue whale, that ...

  19. Chasing Ghosts (2014)

    Chasing Ghosts: Directed by Joshua Shreve. With Toby Nichols, Tim Meadows, Robyn Lively, W. Earl Brown. Lucas Simons, an 11 year-old filmmaker, is obsessed with death after the loss of his brother. When Lucas accidentally captures a mysterious presence in one of his films, he inadvertently becomes a YouTube phenomenon, and must learn to live life in the spotlight while also learning how to ...

  20. Chasing Ghosts (2014)

    Lucas Simons, an 11 year-old filmmaker, is obsessed with death after the loss of his brother. When Lucas accidentally captures a mysterious presence in one of his films, he inadvertently becomes a YouTube phenomenon, and must learn to live life in the spotlight while also learning how to once again start living life to its fullest. — Josh ...

  21. Chasing Ghosts

    Chasing Ghosts — BY MARC HARTZMAN. Ghosts are everywhere—whether you believe in them or not. Every town has its local legends, and countless books, movies, and TV shows are haunted by their presence. But our obsession with ghosts runs deeper than we know—and is embedded in the very fabric of American history. Writer and historian Marc ...

  22. Chasing Ghosts by Glenn Rolfe

    Police Chief Walt Henderson is about to discover that there's more going on out in the woods of his town than he ever imagined. Chasing ghosts is more than just some children's game. Genres Horror Novella Fiction. 123 pages, Kindle Edition ... just like us, all of them trying to make their way through life as best they can, even before they ...