Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Aghast / Mascot / Miasma – Wordplay Wednesday™ 10/31/18

When My Eyes Beheld an Eerie Sight … 

The clouds played a spooky peek-a-boo with the harvest full moon as an enveloping miasma rose over the graveyard, threatening to obliterate the golden moonlight. Despite the clouds, it was an oppressively warm night.

Her nose twitched at the smell and she pulled the cloak closer to her body, lifting the red hood over her long black hair. Glancing shakily over her shoulder, she stepped briskly around the gravestones. Her long dress swept decades of dust from the markers. She shook off the thought that bony hands were grasping at her. An involuntary shudder trickled down her spine.

The wary woman’s annual pilgrimage to Great Grandma C’s grave isn’t just a labor of love. Her life depends upon it. Without GG’s cleansing of her soul, she literally couldn’t make it through another year. Cradling her mascot in her left hand, her fingers caressed it for comfort. She never left home without him.

The miniscule midnight-black cat purred contentedly but peeked cautiously through her fingers. He liked being small enough for her to carry. Although, panther-sized has its intimidatingly regal advantages.

Oh! She jumped at a peculiar sound coming from behind one of the stones. Cautiously, she walked toward the noise. Her heart pounded as if beating on an anvil. Minx stirred in her hand. He felt the need to guard her. She opened her fingers and he bounded out to walk beside her, waist-high.

Reassured by Minx’s bulky body brushing against her leg, they walked in vigilant unison past the last row of gravestones, to face the mausoleum. Candlelight flickered under its heavy wooden door.

In response to Minx’s push the door moved slowly, with a squeal that pierced the clouds above. The door swung fully open and they took a timid step forward, their shadows looming on the wall. No way! She covered her mouth, aghast at the ghostly sight!

There was GG swinging her broom raucously to and fro, dancing with Wolfman Jack! They did the mashthey did the Monster Mashthe scene was rockin’ … and the turntable bopping with the Crypt-Kicker Five! Aoooowwwooooo! We're gonna boog-a-loo, baby!

GG pointed a crooked, long-nailed finger at the cauldron and called to her, “Don’t be afraid, my pretty. Join in the fun. The party’s just begun!”

You bet it has! Welcome to Spooky Wordplay Wednesday on Halloween! Hope you enjoyed our mini-story to get your creepy creative juices flowing.

Did you catch the bold/italicized words above? We have a triple-whammy set of words this week. Two are very familiar—but are they really? The third may be a tad obscure in the general English vocabulary. Here they are “for real”:

AGHAST (ɘ gastʹ) adj. – feeling great horror or dismay, terrified, horrified. [SPOOKY triple-word-whammy / WW #188] 

That’s all well and good in dictionary speak, but in literal terms from its origins, aghast is defined as “frightened by a ghost.” According to the Collins Dictionary, aghast is a mashup of the Old English word, “gæsten,” translating to “to frighten,” and “gast”—ghost.

MASCOT (masʹkätʹ) n. – 1) any person, animal, or thing supposed to bring good luck; 2) any person, animal, or thing adopted by a group, esp. by a sports teams as a symbol or for good luck … [SPOOKY triple-word-whammy / WW #188] 

Again, the dictionary tends to give words a more modern context. However, if you think about it, it makes sense that mascot may have first described a talisman or charm, intended to protect us from harm. Thought to derive from the old Provençal French word,mascotte,”it translated to "sorcerer's charm, 'faerie friend,' good luck piece"— and thus, a protective familiar. Think Minx. Oooooooh.

MIASMA (mī azʹmɘ) n. – 1) a vapor rising as from marshes or decomposing animal or vegetable matter, formerly supposed to poison and infect the air, causing malaria, etc.; 2) an unwholesome or befogging atmosphere, influence, etc. (miasmal; miasmatic) [SPOOKY triple-word-whammy / WW #188] 

This one is a little more obscure than the other two, which lends mystery to many a graveyard scene—or any tale with a foul smell and a foggy chill.

Word Challenge: AGHAST / MASCOT / MIASMA. Three great words for your Halloween writing or your spooky mysteries and horror works. Have eerie fun as you fit aghast / mascot / miasma into your week of supernatural writings.

Learning knows no prejudices or boundaries, and it isn’t fattening! Expanding your mind is a no-cost, simple joy. Do you feel that way too? What’s your inspiration? Share your creative genius and Wordplay Wednesday comments below.

Write first for yourself … only then can you write for others. (L.Rochelle) 


LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and an author by way of Rock & Roll. She has published two books (of three) in her Blast from Your Past series, available on Amazon (eBook and print): Book 1Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years 1954-1959; and Book 2Rock & Roll Radio DJs: TheSwinging Sixties. Coming soon, … The Psychedelic Seventies!


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