​​Reyna Favis


The Call of the Void
This is also referred to as high place phenomenon. It’s described as sudden thoughts about jumping when a person is just admiring the view from a height, or thoughts about driving into oncoming traffic while engaged in the mundane task of driving. Studies have shown about half of normal, non-suicidal people have these thoughts. Researchers hypothesize that the call of the void could be a “misinterpreted safety signal.” The brain is actually urging its owner to move away from danger, but the signal is misinterpreted. https://www.livescience.com/what-is-call-of-the-void

Hollow-face Illusion
From Crowley, Patrick R. “Roman Death Masks and the Metaphorics of the Negative.” Grey Room, 2016.

“Due to an effect known as the “hollow face illusion,”viewers of concave death masks will initially perceive their surfaces as convex sculptural forms. This visual instability—a constant shifting from concavity to convexity, depending on how the object is held and seen—makes these long-dead faces uncanny objects indeed, and means that their evasive surfaces are all but impossible to capture with still photography.”

10 Essentials
Consider this my public service announcement. To see what you should bring with you on hiking trips, visit the URL from the National Park Service below. You might thank me someday.

Inside the Crypt
The images of the crypt were inspired by the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo. When the brothers of the order outgrew their cemetery in the 16th century, they began to excavate and populate the crypts below it. The crypts are currently packed with many mummified remains dating from the time of their first efforts to the early 20th century, a veritable panoply of history preserved for study.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catacombe_dei_Cappuccini#Gallery Be sure to click through the gallery at the bottom of the page.

A tour of the catacombs can be found below. I wish I understood Italian. Fortunately, technology to the rescue. Right click on the page and select “Translate to English.”


Clothing in the Crypt
At this point, you can tell I went down a rabbit hole…

I was curious to find out how well preserved funeral clothing might be after many centuries. The answer is, it’s generally not. But I did discover The Medici Project, wherein a team of paleopathologists from several highly respected Italian universities is carrying out a study of 49 tombs from Medici family members who died between the 16th and 18th centuries.

The funeral attire from Cosimo I de' Medici and his wife, Eleonora di Toledo, was obtained from their tombs and conserved. (Note that you can also see the burial clothes for their son, Don Garzia de’ Medici, in the second link below.)



Ladies from Hell
Harry, the piper in the crypt, is based on Harry Lunan, the last of the World War I bagpipers, who spoke of his experiences in 1993 to the Sunday Express. Harry’s words in the story describing the war are taken from his interview.

Of the 2,500 pipers who served during the Great War, an estimated 500 were killed, while another 600 were wounded. The terrifying view of what it looked like as the piper leads the troops “over the top” of WWI trenches can be seen in the link below.

By WW2, the use of bagpipes on the frontlines was banned by the British, owing to high losses among the pipers during the Great War. Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat, commander of 1st Special Service Brigade for the Normandy landings on D-Day 6th June 1944, took exception to that order. Bringing with him his personal piper, 21-year-old Bill Millin, he ordered the lad to play as troops landed on Sword Beach. When the piper cited the regulations, Lord Lovat replied, “Ah, but that’s the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn’t apply.” Private Millin, dressed in kilt and armed only with his pipes and a traditional sgian dubh (small, ornamental knife), followed Lord Lovat’s orders. Miraculously, he survived. Captured German snipers claimed they did not shoot him because they thought he was mad.


Roderick Mackenzie
The story of Roderick Mackenzie’s terrible sacrifice for his Prince is true.

London Bridge, Temple Bar, and Traitors’ Heads
The information on displaying traitors’ heads at both London Bridge and Temple Bar is true. The discovery of the discarded heads during construction for the new London Bridge is also true.

Temple Bar, London. (2022, September 12). In Wikipedia.

For the side show stories Essie told about Temple Bar, see




If you still feel compelled to explore history through mudlarking after learning about the biohazards, here’s an article of interest.

The Prince’s Valet
Richard Morrison was both the Prince’s valet and wig maker. After Culloden, he was captured and imprisoned in Carlisle, where he was condemned to hang. For the story, I placed him in Tilbury Fort instead, where many Jacobite prisoners from Inverness were sent. The Duke of Cumberland did have Morrison delivered to London to identify the rotting head. At some point afterward, Morrison was pardoned and released. He made his way to France and was eventually taken into the service of Chevalier de St. George as a valet. The Scottish Antiquary, or, Northern Notes and Queries, 1890-1903 (Vol. 5, No. 17 - Vol. 17, No. 68); 1891 (Vol. 6, No. 21, pp. 27-30). Edinburgh University Press

It is likely the Valet would have known Roderick Mackenzie, since they were both close to the Prince. Morrison would also have known that Roderick would have served as a decoy to save the Prince’s life, since Roderick closely resembled the Prince and was a personal bodyguard to his Royal Highness, having frequently acted as a decoy during the campaign.

Hyperthymesia is real. I’m just not sure if it’s a blessing or a curse. It’s not just the good memories that come in with crystal clarity and in high definition.

Homemade Ballistic Gel
The recipe Lenora made was for ballistic gel. Knox gelatin is the recommended ingredient if you want to dish up a homemade batch of the stuff. Please note that in the videos below, they cite 10% as the proper concentration and their demos are a bit off when they measure this ingredient.

Homemade Ballistic Gel vs. Clear Ballistics Synthetic Gelatin
How to Make Ballistics Gel

Chevalier d’Éon
The Chevalier d’Éon was a real person. Their history is related as accurately as can be done for so complex a person.

Sieur d’Éon’s nemesis, the Comte de Guerchy was a real person, and he had a real interest in destroying our Chevalier. Their feud may have started while jockeying for position in France’s foreign embassy, or because they supported different powerful factions in the French court. But their enmity did appear to escalate to something more personal with every exchange. More about de Guerchy can be found in the Chevalier d’Éon’s Wikipedia entry than on his own page. I think that tells you something about the man.

For more on the Chevalier d’Éon:


To the best of my knowledge, the Chevalier d’ Éon did not interact with Bonnie Prince Charlie, although they were both in Paris after the ’45 Rising. The Chevalier did go on a spying mission to Russia with Alexander Peter Mackenzie Douglas, a known Jacobite who followed the Prince into exile.

The Chevalier d’Éon did meet and fence with the Chevalier de Saint-Georges. A painting depicting the fencing match was created by Abbé Alexandre-Auguste Robineau and can be seen by clicking the link below.


As described under an earlier entry, “The Prince’s Valet,” Bonnie Prince Charlie’s valet did end up in the service of the Chevalier de Saint-Georges, a truly fascinating person in his own right. A Creole born in the then French colony of Guadeloupe, he was the son of Georges de Bologne Saint-Georges, a wealthy married planter, and an enslaved African woman. The Chevalier de Saint-Georges became a virtuoso violinist, conductor of the leading symphony orchestra and classical composer in Paris. He hobnobbed with many famous composers of the time, including Salieri, Grétry, Mozart, and Gluck. He was also a soldier during the French Revolution, serving as a colonel of the Légion St.-Georges, the first all-black regiment in Europe, fighting on the side of the Republic.

In 2022, there were rumors of a movie soon to be released about the Chevalier de Saint-Georges. It’s probably out there somewhere.

For more on the Chevalier de Saint-Georges:

Peter Henry Treyssac de Vergy, the man who confessed on his deathbed to collaborating with de Guerchy and doing dirt to the Chevalier d’Éon, was a real person. His will is in the British Museum, and you can read it for yourself in the link below.

Two Spirit People
The concept of Two Spirit acknowledges gender fluidity. Not all tribes have traditions honoring and revering such people, but some did, e.g. the Northern Plains Indians.

To be honest, I don’t know for sure the Lenape view of the Two Spirited. I do know Ron and Lenora are kind and generous souls and would never condemn someone for being different. They’ve had enough of that in their own lives. Ron’s explanation of Two Spirit people came largely from the article below.

The gender and sex of an individual are not always straightforward. It can be biologically complex. I offer the information in the link below to help explain why. The post was written by Dr. Joe McCreight, Adjunct Clinical Professor, Texas A&M College of Medicine at Round Rock.

See also the Scientific American article “Sex Redefined: The Idea of 2 Sexes Is Overly Simplistic.”

Liquid Latex
Here’s a video from the Spy Museum discussing five second masks created from liquid latex.

This is the video Lucas found that showed how to pour and prep the mold from the death mask.

Essie’s Murder
Essie’s death in 1964 was based on the murder of Kitty Genovese. That poor woman should never have died like that. She was not expendable. Her life was precious.

Joan and the Dumfries Witches
Fia’s previous life as Joan was styled after the Fighting Fairy Woman of Bodmin, Joan Wytte. Joan was a woman from Cornwall and reputedly, a witch. She had a reputation as a healer and a clairvoyant, yet she was ultimately incarcerated for public brawling. Despite her small stature, she apparently gave as good as she got in a fight. She died in 1813 at the age of 38 in Bodmin jail. Her cause of death was bronchial pneumonia. The gaol’s governor, William Hicks, kept her bones for amusement, sometimes bringing them out for dinner parties. The bones ended up in the Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle. In 1998, a new museum curator claimed to be plagued by poltergeist activity and the remedy for this was a proper burial of the bones. Joan was finally laid to rest in Minster Woods. Her gravestone reads: “Joan Wytte. Born 1775. Died 1813 in Bodmin Jail. Buried 1998. No longer abused.”

For more on Joan Wytte:


In 1659, nine women accused of witchcraft were strangled and their bodies burned at the stake on the Whitesands of Dumfries. I write the names of these innocent women here so that the atrocities committed against them are not forgotten: Agnes Comenes, Janet McGowane, Jean Tomson, Margaret Clerk, Janet McKendrig, Agnes Clerk, Janet Corsane, Helen Moorhead and Janet Callon.

Posthumous Sperm Retrieval
This part of the story was inspired by the story of Peter Zhu, a 21-year-old cadet at West Point Military Academy who died after a ski accident.

The first live birth resulting from a post-mortem extraction occurred in 1999.


Interestingly, this child was denied social security survivorship benefits because she had been born four years after the death of her father and therefore, was not a dependent at the time of his death as defined by Social Security regulations and by California law on the establishment of paternity.

Jumping Genes
Jumping genes, a.k.a. transposable elements or retrotransposons, are real. They are just as Lucas described. Below are some articles he cited as he rambled. The last two are written for a scientific audience, but by all means, have at it.

Police got called to an overcrowded presentation on “rejuvenation” technology


Cells and their genes continue to function after death, study proves


Stress-induced transposon reactivation: a mediator or an estimator of allostatic load?


A Novel Mechanism of Transposon-Mediated Gene Activation


Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
It’s bad. Really bad. The National Crime Information Center reports that, in 2016, there were 5,712 reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls, though the US Department of Justice’s federal missing person database, NamUs, only logged 116 cases.

Saint Pancras Old Church
The story about the disinterred graves is real. The collection of headstones around the base of a tree is also real and was done under the supervision of Thomas Hardy. He had the unfortunate job of exhuming the bodies for the railroad before he became a renowned poet, novelist, and dramatist. The ash tree cradling the gravestones sadly came down in December 2022 after a series of storms.

The Chevalier d’Éon’s name can be found on the south face of the Burdett-Coutts Memorial Sundial. The obelisk acts as a memorial to people buried near the church whose graves were disturbed.

Pineapple Wealth
Strange but true. I’ll never look at a pineapple the same way again.

Tilbury Fort
Seven ships were used to transport 564 Jacobite prisoners of war from Inverness to Tilbury. A gunpowder magazine built into the southeast corner of the fort was used to house 268 Jacobite prisoners of war, 45 of them died of typhus before they were sent to London for trial. The remainder were left in the ships holds that anchored near the fort under similarly unsanitary conditions. Many more died on those ships.

In 1998, a granite stone from Culloden Moor was transported to the fort and inscribed to the memory of these prisoners. A list of their names and fates is displayed inside the fort.

Lucas’s list of possible ghosts in the fort were found in this article:

The CCTV cameras at the fort appear to be not nearly so numerous as Fia and friends encountered. Perhaps, as Jimmy mentioned, there are budgetary constraints.

Fia and Zackie took the hard way up to the southeast bastion. In reality, their route is fenced off. And there is an easier way up. Every mounted gun has stairs leading up to it. I’d recommend this route if you visit the fort.

SARTopo is a real app. You can download it here:

As my PSA for hikers and backpackers, I highly recommend to NEVER use Google maps on your outings to find your way. Rely on SAR Topo or old-fashioned map and compass to find your way. While writing this book, I read a news story about a lost hiker who needed to be rescued by helicopter after following a fake trail on Google maps. This convinced me to add this PSA.

Disclaimer: As with all things, GPS technology will change over the years. Depending on when you read this Zackie Story, it might be wise to check with NPS or your local park ranger for their recommendations on what to use for navigation.

Hey Lopa
The Lenape rowing song Ron and Lenora sang to the docents:

The Mattaponi tribe’s oral history of Pocahontas’s story can be found in the link below. Her birth name was Amonute. She was also called Matoaka, meaning “flower between two streams.” Pocahontas was a nickname that translated to “playful one” or “naughty one.”

Historic Jamestown juxtaposed the story of her life written by colonists and a less inflammatory version of the Mattaponi story. You can read these in the link below.


Both oral and written histories are subject to bias and change (in content and in interpretation) over time. We will never know the true story of what happened to Pocahontas. I lean toward the Mattaponi version being closer to the truth. In fact, I felt a gut punch of truth when I read it. But because there were so many foreign diseases to which indigenous people had no immunity, I sit on the fence about how she died. I should note Argall seemed a bit of a bastard to me. He had no qualms about abducting a 16-year-old girl. She died after eating a meal with him. Did he poison her? I guess it coulda happened.

It is a pity Pocahontas did not write and leave a record in her own words. The best we have from Captain John Smith (recognized by historians for being self-aggrandizing in his writing). Pocahontas’s words as told through the medium of Smith is included below. This meeting occurred in Brentford, England shortly before her death. From John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virgniia, New England & the Summer Isles (1624)

“Being about this time preparing to set saile for New-England, I could nor stay to doe her that seruice I desired, and she well deserued; but hearing shee was at Branford with diuers of my friends, I went to see her: After a modest salutation, without any word, she turned about, obscured her face, as not seeming well contented; and in that humour her husband, with diuers others, we all left her two or three houres, repenting my selfe to haue writ she could speake English. But not long after, she began to talke, and remembred mee well what courtesies shee had done: saying, You did promise Powhatan what was yours should bee his, and he the like to you; you called him father being in his land a stranger, and by the same reason so must I doe you: which though I would haue excused, I durst not allow of that title, because she was a Kings daughter; with a well set countenance she said, Were you not afraid to come into my fathers Countrie, and caused feare in him and all his people (but mee) and feare you here I should call you father; I tell you then I will, and you shall call mee childe, and so I will bee for euer and euer your Countrieman. They did tell vs alwaies you were dead, and I knew no other till I came to Plimoth; you Powhatan did command Vttamatomakkin to seeke you, and know the truth, because your Countriemen will lie much.” (p. 123)

For a closer look at the face on the Pocahontas statue, see the link below.


The history of Saint George’s Church was taken from the church’s website.


The 1923 hunt for Pocahontas’s bones was every bit the disaster described in the story.



A more recent attempt to obtain her remains was spearheaded by entertainer Wayne Newton and forensic scientist Henry Lee. This part of the story is surprisingly true. And I bet when y’all read it, you thought this author was jumping the shark…


If you would like to hear some excellent Surf-Goth, click on the link below. Music by Desmond Doom.


What Harry Played
What did Harry play on his bagpipes as he marched forward into the great unknown? You can take your pick from the selection found on the link below. 

“The Hellish Bagpipes - Full Album - Scottish War Music.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TeaZg_C7Jk

The Skye Boat Song
The link below will bring you to the version by the Corries. The lyrics in this version were written by Sir Harold Boulton, 2nd Baronet in the 1870s and preceded Stevenson’s version (1885). Stevenson had decided to improve upon Boulton’s version, claiming the lyrics were unworthy.

The link below uses Robert Louis Stevenson’s lyrics, which were used in the story. Many of you may be familiar with this version if you watch Outlander, but the lyrics are slightly modified, adapted for that story (lass instead of lad).


More details on the history of the song can be found here:


Bonnie Prince Charlie
An excellent biography by Arran Johnston was used to paint the story of Roderick Mackenzie’s role in the ’45 Rising.

Valour Does Not Wait: The Rise and Fall of Charles Edward Stuart

The dress coat in the Inverness Museum & Art Gallery can be seen here:


Molds created from the death mask of Charles Edward Stuart can be seen using the links below.

Inverness Museum:

The Hunterian:

Barbora Veselá of the University of Dundee in Scotland created a likeness of the Prince using hundreds of images of his death masks that she age-regressed with software to show him at 24, when he led the 1745 Rising. She aimed to humanize the Prince, depicting him with sunken eyes and acne. In my opinion, the result was not kind.

I used her depiction and online software to make him smile, which was a big improvement. With that smile he became the Bonnie Prince. Using the same software, I aged the Prince to around 30 and also to his mid-60s. Comparing that image to his death mask (he died of a stroke at 67), the online software did a decent job.

Felicity the Puma
The story of the puma can be found here.


Art Students Sneaking Work Into Museums
A general how-to video of how to accomplish sneaking your artwork into museums can be found below:

Here is one article among many that describes an incident of this reverse art heist: