All Stories, Fantasy, Short Fiction

Fiona and the Footfallfollower: A Feeble Fable of the Fantasmagorical by Leila Allison

But First, Noted Supernaturalist Miss Stoker-Belle, Unnecessarily and Inexplicably Evacuates the Contents of Her Mind 

Before I educate the readers on the ways of the Footfallfollower ghost, I’d like to introduce an innovation to the world of literature; an innovation of my invention (here, I will allow the suspense to build). Of course no stylistic innovation can spontaneously occur without inspiration. Hell, even Shakespeare played Hollingshead for a stooge–Right? In my case the Big Idea presented itself in the otherwise useless world of modern pop music–specifically that dodge-word creators of such use to obscure naked acts of plagiarism–namely, “sampling.”

Now to relieve the suspense: Behold “Literary Sampling”:

(And so we beat on…) Daisy says the only good thing about being married to me for twenty-seven years is that it will excuse her from hell on account of time served (…boats against the current…). I had to inform her if she hadn’t gotten pig fat and as sexy as a beer fart that maybe things would have been different. (…ceaselessly borne back into the past.)

“So we beat on, boats against the current, ceaselessly borne back into the past,” of course, closes The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. According to the stringent American copyright laws, what I had added to the previous paragraph could get me sued if not for the concept of Literary Sampling. Moreover, the careful reader will note the “And” not present in the sampled text. That changes everything–Right?

Who just bellowed “Horseshit!”?

All right, wiseass, here’s the evidence. I call it the “Van Winkle Clause,” which is simple because it was connived by that noted simpleton, Vanilla Ice. Ice Ice Baby opens with a bass line, which, at first blush, is obviously stolen from Under Pressure performed by Queen and David Bowie. In an ancient interview (found on YouTube) with the most awkward white guy since Prince Charles, Van Winkle (his real name; think “word from your father”) claims that there’s some kind of hiccup included in his riff not present in the original. Then he went on a ramble about sampling and how it changes everything. One might argue that since the sun still rises in the east and sets in the west, as it has done without alteration before, during and after Ice Ice Baby polluted the airwaves, it didn’t change everything–Right? But here one would fail to see the beauty in simply denying the truth and replacing it with something more pleasing. Therein beats the illogical heart of Literary Sampling.

Just found out that it was my Creator, Ms. Allison, who’d bellowed “Horseshit!” She has also informed me that I have strayed so far from the purpose of this Feeble Fable introduction that it’s going to take six robot bloodhounds enabled with GPS to find me.

All right. Fine. Whatever. See the love I get for sharing. Literary innovation is a lonesome mistress–Right?

Anyway, Footfallfollowers are often accused of being the laziest of all ghosts. They’re considered  “The Sleepy One Trick Pony of the Otherside,” by many of their peers. There’s plenty to that, really; unlike their brothers and sisters ”3-F’s” never leave the vicinity of their graves. No Spirit is required to remain where his or her bones lie, which causes some of the haughtier ghosts to compare the typical 3-F to a thirty-year-old manchild who lives in Mom’s basement awaiting his hip-hop career to blow up.

Buttinski Allison has just informed me that my introduction to her work is, “once again,” threatening to surpass the length of the Feeble Fable. I resisted the temptation to tell her that the day anything she writes is superior to what I compose will be the day that pigs fly and a genital lice infestation is considered a good thing. Holding back what would feel good to release, my friends, is called maturity–Right?

Still, I feel obliged to defend Footfallfollowers. So what if all they do is “add” an extra report to footsteps? I mean, they may be one trick ponies, but it’s an awfully good trick, if you ask me–and there’s no need to ask me anything since I’m telling you–Right? It’s like this: Imagine yourself walking alone on a cobblestone cemetery walkway and when you stop to look at a tombstone the sound of one more “step” hits your ears. Maaan I don’t care if you’re so hard inside that you found Zombie’s Devil’s Rejects a wholesome family picture, everybody has a built in negative reaction to being lurked. It keeps people from being eaten by raptors.

Goddam Allison says that at no time in Earth’s history have there been people and dinosaurs alive at the same time. I had to remind her that I am a Fictional Character. As such I live in a universe in which there are Klingons, Sith, vampires, Acts of Unconditional Love, people eating thunderlizards and Footfallfollowers. In a wise effort to avoid Allison’s retort to that, I leave you with another example of Literary Sampling; a “white whale” (that, my friends is a subtle clue for the illiterate designed not to offend persons who know Mellville) of a sample:

Poor me (“This lovely light, it lights not for me”); for I, Miss Renfield Stoker-Belle, am the Lonesome Literary Innovator (“all loveliness is anguish to me, since I can ne’er enjoy”). (“Gifted with high perception…”)  Right?  (“…I lack the low enjoying power…”) I don’t know about that part, Herman; but if it’s good for me I’ll accept it. (“…damned most subtly and malignantly!”) keep it coming, keep it coming; ( “Damned most [unawesomenistically] in the midst of Paradise!”). Right?

All Ahabishly Yours,

Miss Renfield Stoker-Belle


Fiona and the Footfallfollower


Fiona arrived at Newtown Cemetery with her sighting book in hand and a special Bluetooth device designed to pick the discrete sounds of ghosts firmly plugged in one ear. The lady was a card carrying member of the Torqwamni County Paranormal Society, and she had come to add a Footfallfollower to her confirmed sightings. Although Fiona had already logged rare Spirits such as a Pantrydraft, a Tintintinabulator, and even an elusive Wishingwellwraith in her sighting book, it was her shame that she had never encountered a Footfallfollower–the most common Spirit in all ghostdom. Fiona was like a birdwatcher who has seen flocks of yellow bellied sapsuckers, yet never a pigeon; thus there were many jocularities passed among Society members at Fiona’s expense. On that day she aimed to remedy that embarrassing situation. 

Fiona began to stroll the cobblestone pathway in a pair of wooden “clogs,” which made loud reports off the stones. Although the shoes were as uncomfortable as they were impractical for outdoor walking, Fiona knew that if there was a “Triple-F ” anywhere within earshot that he or she wouldn’t lay off such tasty bait. She would walk a few paces and stop and listen fruitlessly for one report too many.  For years Fiona had laid similar bait at other graveyards and had come up empty. It was like having a seagull say no to a French fry. But on that lucky day Finona’s dry spell finally came to an end. Upon her third stop, the device in her ear picked up a definite extra echo, which could only be caused by a Triple-F “skipping” a sound bubble. The noise had come from her left, and Fiona rushed over to the grave from hence it came, delighted (yet slightly surprised) that each and every clop of her clogs made two reports instead of one.  

Fiona’s slight feeling of surprise stemmed from her vast knowledge of the Footfallfollower Spirit class. Triple-F’s are notoriously lazy Spirits who “enter” footfalls (or, sound bubbles), then, by applying the second law of thermodynamics, mimic the last step. There are, however, sightings in which talented Triple-F’s  can create two or three echoes–and even some that can cause the sound of running. This rare talent, in the Supernaturalist idiom, is known as hyper-skipping; a talent comparable to how some people can gain several skips from a flat stone hurled toward the water while we mere mortals watch our throws lamely sink after one dismal little splash.

Fiona arrived at the grave of a man, which lay hard by the cobblestone path, and began to tap on the walk with one of her clogged feet. Fiona is a lady of many talents, and she happens to be fluent in Morse code, which is the language of the Footfallfollower (it is theorized that only persons who know Morse code are Footfallfollower timber).

Fiona dotted, ditted and dashed her name and why she had sought out the “famous” Footfallfollower. All ghosts have a healthy ego and to get anywhere with them you have pucker-up and fudge the truth, here and there.

The Triple-F Morse-coded an acknowledgement of Fiona’s message into her special earbud, which also recorded the ghost, thus would stand as the proof she needed to terminate the jocularities made at her expense by her colleagues. She also took the pen from her ghostwatcher book and proudly wrote down the time, date and location of what was her seventh career Spirit class. (She also got his name off the stone, but that is withheld because the author of this Feeble Fable couldn’t get the rat bastard’s consent.)

Flushed with the glory of success, Fiona decided to have a go at asking the Spirit for a little secret information, even though she knew better. Ghosts will reply extensively and even floridly to an act of fanny-smooching but make one feel that he or she is being interrogated (which doesn’t take much to cause) and you risk offending the Spirit. Pissed off Spirits usually refuse to communicate further; some of them, however, will do their damndest to offend you right back.

Still, this might have worked out anyway if Fiona, in her excitement, hadn’t forgotten herself and

had stepped off the cobblestone path on which she had been tapping and began to quiz the Spirit by smacking her clog off his headstone.

Fiona, pleasantly and obsequiously enough, had asked, via skilled taps of her errant foot: “Please, skilled sir, will you tell me just how it is that you can create multiple reports when most of your brethren can never best one?”

The Triple-F’s two word reply vaporized the thin mist of feigned awe from Fiona’s attitude. She was no fan of men, and it didn’t take much for any man, alive or otherwise, to push that circumstance to the forefront: “Necrophilia, babycakes,” said the Footfallfollower.

“Howzat, buster?” Fiona practically kicked out on the tombstone.

“C’mon, sweet cheeks, you gotta know that hot and juicy is attracted to cold and stiff. Or don’t they teach thermo-lay-namics in sex school anymore?”

Enraged, Fiona went on a ten minute Morse code Bristol Stomp atop the Triple-F’s grave, in which she made plenty of harsh observations, until someone saw her and threatened to call the cops.

Moral: Don’t Dance on Graves Like Nobody’s Watching


Leila Allison


2 thoughts on “Fiona and the Footfallfollower: A Feeble Fable of the Fantasmagorical by Leila Allison”

  1. I’ve known some ghost hunters, some get right into the technical aspect, with paranormal detection gizmos, but this is the first time I’ve heard Morse Code being a communication method with the other side. When the ghost hunters checked our house, they found a dog named “Rags.” His panting was detected on their technical instruments. Here, a ghost of a different kind, the life loving Triple F dead beat… ( insert literary sampling maybe from Jack Kerouac). There’s unlimited possibilities with a vast imagination. Quite the original universe, kind of a Terry Southern style.


  2. Hi Leila,
    Brilliantly inventive as usual.
    I think the world will turn itself inside out if your standard ever drops.
    I’ve mentioned before about my confusion to when Fan-Fiction becomes plagiarism. In the same token should a tribute band be banned? But that raises the question on classical music. Surely every orchestra is nothing more than a tribute act?
    Acceptability and accessibility both depend on the price of a ticket!


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