Old Mother Shudders

An essay by Old Mother Shudders, as provided by Tom McGee
Art by Leigh Legler


There was a time when everyone knew to come to me for advice … but then my hair began to grey, my back began to stoop, my hands, once so strong, so capable, became frail and wrinkled. I began to shake, to tremble as my joints seized up one-by-one. Needed my ancient cane to prop myself up.

In a word, I got old.

“Old Mother Shudders” they began to call me. The kids at first, then the adults … then even I accepted it. If you live as long as I have, you carry many names: daughter, mother, wife … you come to realize that perhaps names don’t mean as much as we think.

What does matter is what we do.

I tell you all this, because I want you to understand what happened the night the women and children stayed home.

The night the lycanthropes returned.

Art for "Old Mother Shudders"

The night is long,
The wolves are fierce,
Hands be strong,
Their hearts to pierce.


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2019 collection.


Once a feared and fearsome monster hunter, Old Mother Shudders now spends her times teaching the children of her village the important stories (which is, of course, to say the ones about monsters, genies, ghosts, and faeries), ensuring that whenever evil rears its head, her people will be ready. If you were to ask any of the monsters of the realm their thoughts, you’d hear all manner of fables about Old Mother Shudders as well … after all, even monsters have a boogeyman.


Tom McGee is a Toronto-based writer, playwright, producer, dramaturge, and puppeteer. If you enjoyed this story, check out Tom’s first novel, The Bloody Lullaby, on Wattpad! He is the co-founder of Theatre Brouhaha and Shakey-Shake and Friends Puppet Shakespeare Company in Toronto. He is also the show runner and Game Master for Dumb-Dumbs and Dragons and Star Trek: Redundancy, two narrative podcasts where comedians play RPGs for the first time with hilarious, disastrous, and occasionally heartbreaking results. Both podcasts are available at GarbageProductions.net and on iTunes. For more of Tom’s writing, go to WhaHappen.ca.


Leigh’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at http://leighlegler.carbonmade.com/.


“Old Mother Shudders” is © 2018 Tom McGee
Art accompanying story is © 2018 Leigh Legler

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