The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

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First Americans Museum, The Flower Shop Winery, Sizzle N Spice – September 2021 Episode of Uncovering Oklahoma

In the September episode of Uncovering Oklahoma, we start with a preview tour of the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City, which we got to see before the museum opened to the public. Then I traveled to Yukon to visit The Flower Ship Winery, a winery that’s also a pizzeria along Route 66. Finally, I visited the Halal Pakistani Restaurant, Sizzle N Spice Kebab Grill in Oklahoma City.

I edited this episode differently, mixing tours with the interview. Early feedback has been positive, saying the editing style made the video more dynamic. I’ll be sure to do this style again in the future when possible.

Thank you for watching this month’s episode of Uncovering Oklahoma! If you want to support me and get a cool t-shirt too, check out the Uncovering Oklahoma Store for unique Oklahoma-themed merch. 

Thanks to my superstar supporters, Revolve Productions, and the Keller Kenton family, as well as all of my supporters on Patreon. If you love what I’m doing, please join me on Patreon for bonus content, early access to new episodes.

Happy Adventures!

Cover Reveal: The 16th Phoenix Universe Vol 1

I’m excited to reveal the cover for my next book, The 16th Phoenix Universe, Volume 1. With over 30 short stories, this collection follows the lives and mysteries of various people on Earth and other planets. A huge thanks to Janine De Guzman for bringing the cover to life! Inside the phoenix are four major characters seen throughout the collection, Detective Psychon, Gia, Loki, and Raven.

I wrote these works of speculative fiction during 2020 as a personal goal to write a new short story every week. I’m in the process of doing another pass at my stories as I feel I’ve gotten better throughout the year and I’m also correcting details as I’ve fleshed out my fictional universe. My goal is to release the book in print in October/November.

Thank you for all your support! I’ll keep you posted on the release date as I get closer to finalizing everything.

I’ll never walk Sutton Wilderness in the dark again - art by Mikey Marchan at Design Pickle

I’ll Never Walk Sutton Wilderness in the Dark Again

This is the story of why I’ll never walk Sutton Wilderness in the dark again.



The sun wouldn’t rise for another hour when I leashed up my dog for our walk. You see, my wife and I started going to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Last week, our trainer wanted us to add cardio to our routine, so Tuesdays and Thursdays became our cardio days. Our gym was small, and with only one treadmill working at the moment, I opted to get my exercise later in the day via a hike through the nearby urban wilderness. I figured this would also be an excellent opportunity to walk our dog, Penny. 

Fall showed no signs of coming early to Oklahoma as we stepped outside to the 75-degree heat. With all of the lakes and the Gulf Stream, Oklahoma can get unbearably humid. On Tuesday, when I did the walk at 10 am, I felt sweaty enough to want to take a second shower from a 40-minute hike, so this was much better. Today, I opted to start at 6 am before I’d shower and match my wife’s time at the gym.

Despite the dark, there were several cars parked in the lot for Sutton Wilderness. 

“Goes to show that the Sutton Goatman isn’t real,” I joked.

I had heard of the urban legend about a Goatman stalking the woods at night, but that was the extent of my knowledge until I listened to a local podcast that went more in-depth. The host described the story as one that echoed other Goatman stories across the nation. His research compared the sightings of woodland monsters, like bigfoot, through a cultural lens, with people from British backgrounds familiar with apemen, werewolves from Germanic history, and the goatmen from the Dutch. Similar to other Goatman stories, this creature existed near a hospital, or in the case of Sutton Wilderness, a psychiatric ward.

The urban wilderness was once grounds for the Griffon Memorial Hospital, an old central state mental hospital. As the hospital shrunk, the state turned the landscape into the park people enjoy today. According to urban legends, the hospital found a baby deformed with horns to the point they thought the child was a goat at first. The hospital cared for the baby, and as the child grew up and the landscape changed, the child decided to stay here.

The podcast host noted that this would put the Goatman well over 70 years old and said that some people believe the spirit of the Goatman is what haunts the woods. Regardless of the form, the legend warns that people will hear footsteps made by hooves coming from behind them. If a person walked faster or slower, the steps would match their pace until one would feel hot breath on their neck, by which time, you were too late. If you turned around, the Goatman would grab you and drag you deep into the woods–never to be seen again.

The main trail for the park was about a mile and a half long, with the two main entrances looping back at a wooden pavilion. We took the path to our right. Although it was dark, and I could barely see with all of the tree coverage, I was more concerned about my dog eating something she shouldn’t than anything else. The city had widened the trails a couple of years ago to give people more space when crossing each other and reduce the tick population.

My dog stopped. Her ears perked up and turned to the south toward the rhythmic beat of drums off in the distance. 

I tugged on her leash and assured her, “It’s just the high school band practicing, Penny.”

I was over a third of the way on the trail before I encountered my first person. They appeared to be an older gentleman–hard to say with the blue disposable face mask, long sleeve shirt, pants, and fisher hat they wore. I nodded my head hello, and they walked past without saying a word.

When we got to the long straight path near the pond, something behind us caught my dog’s attention. I turned around, and there was a white light floating through the bushes, moving fast along the trail and getting closer. I’m ashamed to admit that my brain took a long moment before realizing this was a headlight from a bike. In my defense, bicycles were not allowed on the trails. I pulled Penny closer to me as we moved to the side and let them pass.

Penny and I came to the final stretch of the woods, which had the thickest tree coverage. Penny’s tail curled inward as she got closer to my side. An educational sign about life in the woods highlighted the various animals one could find, such as bark beetles, ornate box turtles, cedar waxwings, bobcats, eastern wood rats, and downy woodpeckers. Back away from the sign was a hut made out of fallen tree branches. I always viewed this “fairy house” as something fun for kids to explore, but not today.

There were pieces of the bike I saw earlier scattered on the ground. The bike looked like it had been mangled by some machine as no person or creature could do that kind of damage. I turned on my phone’s flashlight. While I stayed put on the paved trail, I used the light to follow the bike pieces to the hut.

Something moved inside. I cut away the shadows with my light and revealed a pair of green eyes reflecting at me.

I ran, and so did Penny. I was struggling to keep up with her, but I had her on the leash still. Behind us, I heard what sounded like hooves matching my pace on the paved trail. I dared not to look back.

The sun was rising as we made our escape out of the woods and back to the gazebo. With the sound of hooves gone and no warm breath on my neck, I stopped to catch my breath. Staying behind in the trees was someone about my height. I thought I saw horns like a goat, but as I tried to get a good look at them, they faded into the shadows.


I’ll never walk Sutton Wilderness in the dark again - art by Mikey Marchan at Design Pickle

This short story was inspired by an actual walk I had through Sutton Wilderness one morning. My muse spoke to me along the walk and I recorded several voice-to-text memos of the scenes for this story as I walked my dog. Bits like the drums, the person in the mask walking, and the cyclist happened to me, adding to the realism of the story.

The podcast referenced in the story was from the Tales Unveiled episode, The Wilderness of Sutton. (I also produce this show and voice Sam.) The goatman legend is one of the urban legends about the area, so if you want to know more about this myth and others, give the episode a listen.

While I first published the story to my supporters on Patreon, I did share this on r/NoSleep where the work got some great feedback and traction. I had a few people reach out to me asking if they could read the story on their channel, so I’m excited about that experience. I’ll update this page with those links as I get them. (Find them at the top.)

Thank you to Mikey Marchan at Design Pickle for creating the story art based on my photo. Love the woods scene? You can get Spooky Sutton Wilderness design in my store.

Thank you for reading!

Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge Merch

For September’s design at my store, we travel to the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge. Found in Oklahoma City, Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful place for kayaking. You can rent a kayak at the Lake Overholser Boathouse to see for yourself. Head over to TeePublic to buy this as a t-shirt, hoodie, mug, sticker, and more!

Thank you to Janine De Guzman at Design Pickle for bringing this design to life based on my photos.

The Winged Letter - art by Mikey Marchan at Design Pickle

The Winged Letter

With a pounding headache, Samantha wakes up in her New York City apartment unable to recall yesterday. As she tries to piece her memory together, a paper airplane flies into her studio apartment on the 15th-floor. Written on the wings in red capital letters were the words “open me.”


Beat. Beat. Beat. My head pounded with rage and ominous warnings, like The Master beating on a drum as he taunted The Doctor of his pending demise. I’ve never experienced a hangover before, but what I felt was what I imagined a hangover would feel. My brain took a few moments before reminding me that I don’t drink, and I didn’t go anywhere wild last night.

“What did I do last night?” I grumbled as I tossed off my white comforter. “And why am I in a purple dress? I don’t own a purple dress.”

Surely my phone would have answers. I climbed down the ladder of my twin-sized bed. My New York City apartment was only 342 square feet big, so wherever I left my phone, I wouldn’t have to look long. Fortunately, my iPhone was where it belonged on the charger on my desk under the bed.

I opened my messages—nothing from yesterday. I checked my calendar as I couldn’t remember anything about yesterday, but the calendar was blank. I checked my Instagram. No one tagged in any photos, nor did I post anything. Running out of apps to inspect, I opened my photos. One image unfamiliar to me was a woman standing behind a microphone, holding a book as she read aloud a passage. She reminded me of Gal Gadot, but with silver hair and the same purple dress on me. She even had leather arm bracers that matched her dress, further adding to my Wonder Woman comparison. 

A cold breeze brushed on my skin. My only window was open. As I walked over to end the chill, a paper airplane flew into my 15th-floor apartment. The plane landed perfectly on my desk like someone used telekinesis for precise placement. I looked out the window to see who could’ve sent it, but there were just brick walls. 

Written on the plane’s wings in red capital letters were the words, “OPEN ME.” The Scully voice of my brain told me this all had to be a hoax, while the Mulder’s voice told me to embrace this mystery.

Inside, the letter read, “Sorry I had to erase your memory. You caught me reading an excerpt from your future novel you hadn’t conceived yet, and the universe can’t have that now. Happy writing! Love, Brigit.”

I read the letter two more times. All I could muster as a response was a, “What?”

My mind drifted back to that photo I took last night. With the letter still in hand, I reopened the picture. I zoomed in on the book, seeing the title and author.

“The Winged Letter by Samantha Vincent.”

“No way,” I uttered. “No. Freakin’. Way.”

I pulled up the GPS information on the picture, which tagged a new coffee shop I hadn’t heard of before. As tempted as I was to leave right then and there, race to the coffee shop, show the staff the photo, and demand answers, my adult voice reminded me of my obligations. With a heavy sigh, I checked my email to see if my clients had any notes for me about the stories and articles I had written for them. I cracked open my laptop—no new mail. I hit refresh, and still, no new mail, which meant…

I’m going on an adventure, my inner Bilbo Baggins screamed.

I flipped out the dress, trading it out for white jeans and a red sweater. I then went to the bathroom and got myself ready for an epic quest as I listened to my favorite movie soundtracks. I had to know what happened last night, who this woman was, and how she got a book I hadn’t written yet. Before I left, I folded the mystery dress and put it in my messenger bag. I figured if I crossed paths with her, she might want the dress back.

“Let’s solve the mystery of my night,” I said, my voice shaking more than I would admit as I opened my apartment door to the real world.

On the subway ride to The Violet Raven, I rummaged through my messenger bag. I was hoping to find a business card, a phone number written down on a napkin, or a hotel matchbook like in those black and white detective noir movies to give me another clue. While I didn’t find any of those exact items, I did find a postcard flyer for a themed open mic session at The Violet Raven with yesterday’s date. The topic was “the future,” which I assumed caught my attention and explained why I went to this coffee shop for the first time.

As I returned the flyer, the subway car became wrapped in darkness. There were no emergency lights – not even a glow from people’s cellphones. I could hear the subway rolling along on the tracks, but nothing else. I fumbled through my pockets, trying to find my phone, when the light swept back, but the people did not return.

A ghostly figure with no legs and a skeleton body floated on the far end of the car. Their black-feathered robe moved to a wind that didn’t exist. The skull stared at me while my jaw dropped, unable to speak. Fear and intrigue paralyzed me as the apparition raised all four of their hands to point at me.

“Answer the call,” a voice whispered into my head.

Darkness swept over the car again, but this time the void only lasted for a brief moment and returned all the passengers. Everyone was passing the time with their books or cellphones with no expressions of panic or any indication they knew of their disappearance.

The subway train came to a stop. Although I was a few stops away from my destination, I bolted out and up to the surface. What the hell was that? I thought as the cool, October air calmed me down.

A colorful banner promoting a technicolor quilt exhibition provided a happy distraction until the phone booth ringed. I pulled up walking directions to The Violet Raven and continued my journey on foot. As I walked down the street, another phone booth ringed. I ignored the rings and went on. When the fifth one rang, I decided to answer.

I held the phone to my ear, listening for a moment before I said, “Hello?”

“Mocha with a triple shot of pepperoni,” the crackling voice on the other end spoke.

“Excuse me?”

“Mocha with a triple shot of pepperoni,” the voice repeated.

I hung up the phone. The click on the receiver triggered the skyscraper business complex to shimmer away, like a holographic façade hiding the real identity of a dilapidated three-story brick house. I looked at the people on the street. No one was paying any attention to the creepy house that suddenly appeared. I felt like I was the only one who could see the monstrosity.

“Why is this happening to me?” I asked the universe.

The universe did not respond.

I ran down the street, looking back from time to time as the business complex returned as I got further away. I turned the corner and realized I was almost to my destination.

Upon entering the boutique coffee shop, scents of lavender and fresh ground coffee greeted me, while the first thing that caught my eyes was the balcony. I felt like I stepped into a mini-opera house. I’d never seen a coffee shop or any business for that matter with that kind of layers of seating.

I pulled out my cellphone and brought up the photo. In the back center was a raised platform for a stage, and the flora wallpaper matched the one in my picture. The only difference now was a table and chairs on the stage instead of a microphone.

“Welcome to The Violet Raven! My name is Don. What’s yours?”

I was taken a bit back by his cheerful demeanor. Most places I visited were more straightforward. 

“My name is Samantha.”

“Nice to meet you, Samantha. What can I get started for you?”

“I’m actually trying to find somebody from last night’s open mic.”

“You’re in luck. I happened to work last night.”

Yes! I thought as I performed a quick lucky dance in my head, and then I showed him the photo. “Do you know this person?”

“I’m afraid I can’t say,” he replied with slight hesitation. “Perhaps you would like to order something while you’re here?”

I sighed, but then I started to feel like Don was in on whatever was happening to me. I decided to put my theory to the test.

“I would like a mocha with a triple shot of pepperoni,” I said with confidence.

“Right this way,” Don said, leaving the counter. “Brigit is waiting for you.”

Don led the way to a door with “Staff Only” written in red lettering like my paper plane. Inside, the office walls consisted of shelves of books from the floor to the ceiling. As valuable as each square foot of real estate was here, the massive office felt like a show of power as a private room. Behind a standing desk stood the woman from my photo, dressed in the same iconic outfit. Don closed the door, leaving me alone with the stranger and her library of books and a single, tiny aloe vera on the desk.

I pulled out and placed the purple dress I presumed she loaned me on her desk. She looked at the outfit and then at me.

“You found me rather fast,” Brigit said as she crossed her arms and glared at me as if I cheated on a test. “I take it you didn’t go inside the haunted house?”

“Wait. You knew about that?” I accused her. “How? What is going on?”

“We met last night at the open mic. You confided in me that you wanted to write an urban fantasy novel, but you lacked inspiration. I had you take my photo, made you forget about last night, and set up this whole adventure for you.”

“Then what about the book from the future?” I asked.

Brigit grabbed the book from her shelf and spread open the empty pages. “Just a prop.”

While I thought of my next question, Don knocked twice and opened the door. “Hey, boss. Something bizarre just happened.”

Brigit waved him in. “What happened?”

“I was about to clean table 14 when this purple crack appeared on the table and sucked away the dishes,” Don said with a tremble like he wasn’t sure his boss would believe him.

Brigit pulled on a bookshelf, revealing several TVs and a state-of-the-art security system. She tapped the rewind button, and we watched as a porcelain skin woman with long black hair finished her meal. The customer left a cash tip and walked away. Shortly after she was out of frame, a purple, glowing crack sprouted on the table and sucked away all of the dishes as Don described. The crack closed, leaving no trace. Brigit returned the camera feed to the present time.

“Is this part of your inspiration for me?” I inquired.

“No, this is something else,” Brigit replied, and I believed her.

“Look!” Don shouted, pointing at the screen. “The crack is back.”

The crack reappeared, but this time a red left plant crawled out of the portal. The crack disappeared while the plant remained. I thought the plant looked like a cross between a dog and a Venus flytrap. I wasn’t too keen on petting this creature. 

“What is that?” Don asked, fascinated and disgusted.

“That’s a Lunar Iamx,” Brigit spoke with a slow dread. “They’re a sentient plant species from another planet, which means they’ll be here soon.”

“Who will be here?” I asked.

On the TV showing the entrance, a team of three people in white and yellow uniforms stepped inside. Their uniforms didn’t look like they belonged to any organization I knew, but Brigit waved her finger at the screen as if she knew.

“That was too fast,” Brigit said. “They must’ve already been in the area. Don, grab the plant and do whatever they tell you to do. Samantha, come with me.”

Don did as Brigit told him while I jogged behind Brigit. Even though the people who just entered were dressed in bright, easily identifiable uniforms, Brigit ushered me away as if they belonged to some sort of top-secret Men In Black government agency. She stopped when we got to a free-standing golden door in the back hallway with the bathrooms.

“I can’t have them erasing your memory too,” Brigit said as she opened the door. “Not after all the work I went through to inspire you. Go write your book!”

Before I could respond, she shoved me through. I stumbled into my apartment. The door slammed shut. I turned around, not seeing the door I came through. I collapsed on my computer chair, trying to process everything that happened to me this morning.

Was any of this real? I thought.

Then I saw the winged letter I left on my desk.


The Winged Letter was inspired by the following writing prompt: “Head splitting and unable to recall the night before, Samantha awoke to something unusual. Somehow, a paper airplane drifted through the open window of her New York apartment on the 15th floor. It gently landed on her bed. Written on the wings in red capital letters were the words ‘open me.'”

A few universe notes. This is the second story to feature the end-timer, Brigit. Brigit’s first appearance was in A Question for the Writers. The ghostly figure in the subway was Brigit’s sibling, Slayer, and the haunted house was a project by Modva, which will be seen again in another story. The woman who was sitting at the table where the purple crack appeared is the main character in my book, Intertwined by Cracks. The three people seen entering the coffee shop were the same ones from my last short story, Key-Changed. Lots of connections in this story, but written so one wouldn’t have to know all of this while still enjoying the story as Samantha didn’t know this either.

I had different second half for The Winged Letter where Samantha didn’t experience anything weird along the way to the coffee shop, but there was a fun bit of conversation she had with the barista that got cut. I do believe in cryogenically freezing my darlings, so I saved that chat and may use it for another story.

I would like to thank Mikey Marchan for bringing the cover art scene to life.

By the way, I have a store where you can buy t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, and more featuring characters and art from my fictional universe. Check it out and you can also support me via Patreon too.

Thank you for reading and happy adventures!

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