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In 2020, Haunted MTL brought you the 13 Days of Krampus. Now we offer another exclusive series of holiday horror stories: The Twelve Nightmares of the Holidays. It’s day 8 of 12 Nightmares of the Holidays. If you missed it, check out the others so far: here for Jen’shere for Nicole’s and here for Phil’s. Enjoy.

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Once upon a time in a faraway land, there was a kingdom ruled by a king and a queen. There wasn’t a single person in their community that had a bad thing to say about the royal couple. There wasn’t a single person without a meal on their table or without a warm home. Their life ran like clockwork, everyone existing together in perfect harmony. 

Well, except for one thing. 

Every year, as the leaves fell and withered, followed by snow burying the ground underneath its embrace, without fail the queen would retreat inside the castle, assisted only by her most loyal servants. Only very few had witnessed her during those times and they had all said the same thing – that she looked like death itself wanted to wrap its arms around her and never let go. 

In what could only be described as the search for hope in dark times, the king would host a Winterfest ball. No expense was spared; the best quality meats, fruits, and custom baked cakes; the grandest decorations of sparkly garlands and wreaths made out of fresh pine branches. There were even presents for the townsfolk under a giant tree in the corner of the ballroom, the biggest ones for the children. Orchestra would play music for people to dance to through the night. For most, it would be the most looked-forward-to event of the year, despite the unfortunate circumstance. 

Yet for some, it would not turn out so great. 

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The king himself hosted a lottery during the ball for girls eighteen years of age and below with a grand prize of spending the night in the best suite in the palace. As one would expect, the girls of the kingdom were delighted to have a chance to feel like a princess, even if just for one night. To make it fair, the king settled for the simple method of writing all their names and putting them in a box. Whoever’s name was picked out would be the winner. The girl would be given a crown and a cape as well as the key to the suite. 

However, the girls would never return home. 

No one dared to say anything. After all, it would always be the depth of winter. The snow, the wind, the treacherous paths from the castle back to the town – it would be easy, even likely for the girls to get lost on the way home. No rulers would ever hurt their own loyal subjects, and if anyone ever dared to suggest such a thing, the punishment would be severe. 

In the darkest corners of their homes, whispers would still be shared. Things that should not have been possible, and yet it was right in front of their eyes. Shortly after every Winterfest, the queen would emerge from her chambers, looking more radiant than ever. At first, it had seemed like a miracle, and then each year it would only raise questions that there would not be an answer for. 

For how it seemed that despite the king’s face etching with wrinkles and his hair turning the color of ash, the queen remained untouched by the passage of time. Or one should say time would catch up with her at the first fall of snow and she would escape its grasp. 

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Or how a few have said they heard what sounded like screams coming from the castle on the night of Winterfest. But even they would shake their heads as if punishing themselves for the thought. It must have been the wind howling. 

No king would ever harm their loyal subject. 

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Jennifer Weigel

    December 22, 2022 at 12:32 pm

    Elizabeth Bathory would be the perfect Sow Queen, the warm blood provides such a beautiful and stark contrast to the cold white…

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Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Zombie Snails

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This time on Nightmarish Nature, we will look into zombie snails, because we were having so much with the Whore Snails recently. So this is a lot like the Freaky Fungus except that this time it’s a parasitic worm that is the cause of the horror… Leucochloridium paradoxum, the green-banded broodsac worm, forces snails to be a part of its nefarious plans to take over the world (well, really more just continue on keeping on in its strange and bizarre life cycle).

Hungry birds want nummins
Hungry birds want nummins

This Is What We Get for Eating Poop

The worm, which spends much of its life as a parasite in birds’ digestive systems, is part of a weird cycle that includes both birds and snails, though the snail end is much creepier. It starts when a snail ingests worm eggs in bird droppings. These eggs hatch into worm larvae that eventually turn the poor hosts into zombie snails! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Snails make questionable food choices, but I guess this comes from being where they are on the ecosystem clean up crew...
Snails make questionable food choices, but I guess this comes from being where they are on the ecosystem clean up crew…

The worm larvae work their way up into the snails’ brains and take over, hijacking them on suicide missions to continue their own life cycle. These worm larvae eventually grow large and worm their way into the poor snail’s eye stalks, pulsing and throbbing therein to resemble maggots or other tasty treats.

Zombie Snails
Zombie Snails

Mind-Control

The worms use the zombie snails to get into their bird hosts by mind-controlling them into climbing out of the shady undergrowth where they will be easily spotted by bird predators which will feed on them, ingesting the eye stalks and continuing the worm’s life cycle as it gets into the bird’s digestive tract. The huge, bulging eye stalks are irresistible to birds looking to snatch maggots and other delicious delicacies. Eventually, after the worms are well ensconced in its bird hosts, the bird poops out more worm eggs for unsuspecting snails to ingest, completing the cycle.

Birds love their grubs and maggots and other nummins, even if they are just zombie snails.
Birds love their grubs and maggots and other nummins, even if they are just zombie snails.

You can watch this in action on Nat Geo Wild: World’s Deadliest here, if you dare. Warning, it’s a little gross but not near so much as some of the other topics we’ve covered. If you enjoyed this slimy segment of Nightmarish Nature, please check out past segments:

Vampires Among Us

Perilous Parenting

Freaky Fungus

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Worrisome Wasps

Cannibalism

Terrifying Tardigrades

Reindeer Give Pause

Komodo Dragons

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Original Creations

Snails a Whorl Whirl Whore World…

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So a friend and I made some artsy snails awhile back. Essentially this was in response to her granddaughter proclaiming that her favorite animals are whorl snails. My friend heard “whore snails” and was a bit perturbed that the child would use such a word so nonchalantly, whether or not she knew what it meant. But then again toddler-speak is like that sometimes… Anyway, it stuck.

So we made some whore snails, all glammed up and ready to go. We started with these flat metal snails and then painted and decorated them, to whore them up a bit. I figured this would be apropos after my recent Valentine’s Day posts and that the end results were horrifying enough to appear here.

My friend's whore whorl snail
My friend’s whore whorl snail

This is my friend’s creation. I especially like the David Bowie star and cherry bling to match her cherry red lipstick. The purple shell is a great color on her too. I think my friend went back and decorated her shell more after the fact, but I didn’t see the snail after those changes.

My whore snail
My whore snail

And here’s my whore snail. She’s a bit more of an ice queen with her deceptively lovey-dovey eyes and mouth full of poison darts, like the underwater snails do. I believe I called her a Hoar Whore Whorl Snail as when the discussion first came up I heard “hoar” and thought of hoarfrost. Hence the ice queen take…

And another friend joined us via Zoom just to visit and have fun making art together.

Another whore snail, drawn by our friend over Zoom
Another whore snail, drawn by our friend over Zoom

This little Zoomed in snail is kinda cute, like she’s out on the beach in her bikini… Mixed media on paper.

So if that wasn’t disturbing enough, check out my inappropriate Shrinky Dinks posted here before, or maybe this Eye Candy Peeps Easter basket, both taking some innocuous thing(s) turning into something… else…

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Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

Feel free to check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites. Her friends will remain anonymous for now…

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Original Creations

Have a Dystopian Girls on Film Valentine’s Day

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So it’s finally actually Valentine’s Day, and thus marks the final segment of our dysfunctional dystopian romance. So far, we’ve survived both Gen X and Krampusnacht, what else could possibly be in store? Girls on Film…

Valentine's Day card Girls on Film
Girls on Film Valentine’s Day card from Jennifer Weigel

Image description: Video camera umbrella shower succubus stares through the lens at the viewer, surrounded by eerie Cthulhoid horror embellishments with text.

Text reads: Happy Valentine’s Day; lipstick cherry all over the lens as she’s falling; give me shudders in a whisper; take me up ’til I’m shooting a star; (she’s more than a lady)

OK so this Valentine’s Day dystopia ends in a Duran Duran video, because of course it does. If the video doesn’t load properly, you can find it by following this link. Girls on Film.

Duran Duran official video

Here’s the camera eye succubus all by itself, for your viewing pleasure. Actually this is the original original image from an Unselfie performance art piece in the shower before I decided to forego the umbrella. Girls on Film.

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Unselfie performance art video still
Video still

Feel free to check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites.

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

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