What happens when witchcraft leads to the most terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?
The alarm started blaring. Ugh. Kit rolled over and looked at the clock. Crap! It was already 8:45 and she needed to be at work at 9. She was certain to be late. Why didn’t the alarm go off at 7 like it was supposed to?
Kit leapt out of bed and raced to the bathroom. She rushed to the sink and splashed cold water on her face. She didn’t have time to do anything else so that would have to do. She glanced up at the bathroom mirror and was taken aback. Her dark eyes rested upon a gaze she didn’t recognize, icy blue eyes staring back at her. The pale reflection seemed as surprised as she was. They stared and blinked at one another in silence.
Kit reached towards the mirror, left hand extended. The mirror girl reached back with her right. Both withdrew quickly and continued staring blankly. They reached towards each other again, fingertips meeting beyond the surface of the cold still glass.
There was no time for this.
Kit hurriedly emerged from the bathroom shaking her head. She must be imagining things or still partially dreaming somehow. The clock smirked at her from its perch on the nightstand. 8:45. The time didn’t fully register because of the sense of urgency. She reached in the closet, grabbed some clothes and slipped them on. She ran into the main room, snatched the waiting purse from the table by the door, and slipped out into the hallway.
This was not her apartment. This was not even her apartment building. The hallway was dingy and full of warm yellow light that reflected off of every dust particle drifting through the air. Where were the overhead fluorescents? Kit was immersed in heavy dark wood paneling, not the usual outdated blue and white striped wallpaper that typically greeted her. She looked down at herself.
The clothes she wore were not her own, they were loose fitting hippie garb, flowing in an informal array of mismatched patterns and textures. They were not at all professional by legal secretary work standards, and certainly nothing Kit would have owned.
Kit turned the key in the lock. She eased her way back inside the apartment to stand beside the table. She looked at her purse. It was about the same size and weight as she might have expected but it was just a simple purple velvet tote bag with gold fringe and beads hanging down from the bottom. It was not leather or imitation designer, and it bore a hand-embroidered star emblem. She slid the bag back onto the small table.
What was going on?
Kit looked around. The apartment was full of plants and crystals and candles. An unassuming black cat sat in a far window surrounded by greenery, its amber eyes fixated on Kit. The cat had a grumpy, impatient air about it. It coughed, emitting a deep hollow sigh from the depths of its throat before it spoke.
“What the Hell?” it asked.
Kit leapt backwards into the table by the door. The cat meowed at her and jumped from its perch to circle her legs twice before trailing over to a small silver bowl. The cat emphatically sat down beside the bowl as if to draw attention to the action itself. It meowed again and looked at the nearly empty dish. “Well, aren’t you going to feed me?” it exclaimed.
Kit looked around. The cat idly washed its paw, still staring at her. It meowed again and pawed at its food bowl.
Kit didn’t own a cat. Or plants or crystals or candles for that matter. Her apartment was very sparse. But everything was otherwise where it should be. The table by the door, the purse, even the layout of the apartment; if she closed her eyes and went on intuition, anything of importance was exactly where she expected it to be. And yet nothing was the same.
Kit traced her steps back into the bedroom. The cat followed, meowing insistently. The bed, the nightstand, the clock, even the crooked closet door were perfectly matched to Kit’s own. But otherwise everything about this place was different.
There were black lace curtains hung in sweeping motions reaching into the bedroom and not just in the window, which was lined with small ceramic birds. The bedding was silk, like Kit’s own, but it was a dark burgundy wine color with a huge gold and green brocade comforter whereas Kit’s bedding was white and grey. Yet, when Kit closed her eyes again, it all aligned perfectly with where she expected things to be.
“Seriously WTF?!” the cat shrieked. “I’ve been waiting FOREVER.”
Kit plopped down on the corner of the bed. She realized she was still clutching the small velvet bag. She was sure she had put it back, and yet here she was holding it. She rifled through its contents and came upon a student ID from a college she had never heard of. It boasted a picture of a diminutive fair blonde woman labeled April Schlemiel, Witchcraft & Wizardry, University of Feyfaerie Pass. The photograph was a perfect match to the woman that had stared back at Kit from the mirror.
Kit threw the bag and the ID to the floor. She looked at the clock. It was stuck at 8:45. It was a standard digital clock just like hers, with the same blocky red numbers on a mirrored black background in a boxy black housing, the kind you could buy pretty much anywhere. Kit fixed her gaze upon it, since it was the only familiar thing about this strange place. She didn’t realize she had fallen back onto the bed and drifted off to sleep only to be greeted by a resounding howl.
Kit awoke with a start and looked around nervously. As her focus returned, a pair of amber eyes came into heightened detail glaring down at her from above. The black cat loomed overhead.
“My breakfast, April! What about my breakfast?” the cat yowled. Under its breath it murmured, “How’d I wind up a fool’s familiar, anyway? I should have paid way more attention in class instead of just reading Witchcraft for Dummies.”
The burgundy sheets, the green and gold comforter, the black lace curtains… all came back into clarity. The cat encompassed much of Kit’s field of vision, seemingly larger than before, now almost cougar-sized. Its head was as big as Kit’s. It spoke again, “April, you are testing my patience. My kibble chalice is nearly empty…”
The cat had arranged several candles in a star around Kit and was lighting them one at a time by flicking its tail from one candle to the next. It seemed unperturbed at the tail tip of its fur being singed. As it lit the last candle, it flicked its tail into a cup of water sitting beside the bed. “Now, April!” it screeched.
Kit rose and stood beside the bed, not of her volition. Her body willingly traipsed through the bedroom and into the main room where it stopped to stoop over a large metal canister. Her hands acted on their own accord, prying open the lid from atop the bin and using the small silver ladle inside to scoop cat food into the silver bowl.
“That’s better,” the black cat spoke as it sidled up beside her and began eating. Kit fell to the floor in a puddle as she again regained consciousness over her body. “Seriously, do we have to do this EVERY morning?” the cat remarked between bites. “It gets tiresome, you know.”
“Where am I?” Kit asked the creature.
“Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten… Again!…” the cat snapped, stealing a sideways glance at Kit. “Wait, you’re not April.”
Kit shook her head ‘No’ and stared at the creature.
The cat gazed at her. “Not again. Crap, this happens every year at this time. Is it that day already?” The cat leapt onto the table by the door and rummaged through the velvet bag, which had somehow returned to its proper perch. It pulled out a small calendar. “Sure enough, it is,” the cat exclaimed.
“Damn it, April, every single year since you screwed up that… Oh, never mind,” it sighed. “Alright, we can set things right again.”
The cat turned to Kit and studied her intently. “I don’t care who you are or where you came from, but do exactly as I say and we can get you home. If you botch this, you could wind up in limbo forever.”
Kit nodded ‘Yes’. Her eyes grew wide.
The cat led her back into the bedroom and nosed the candles into a wider star pentagram centered on the bed. “Now, sit in the middle of the circle,” it directed.
Kit climbed into the bed and perched herself atop her knees in the middle of the circle.
“Not like that!” the cat remarked, “Cross-legged.”
“Now focus on the clock and close your eyes. Keep focusing on the clock.”
Kit looked at the clock, still locked at 8:45, shut her eyes, and chirped, “How am I supposed to focus on the clock with my eyes cl—“
“Silence!” the cat growled. “You just see it in your mind. You know it’s there. It hasn’t changed.”
“Now, place your hands palm up on your knees. Keep focusing on the clock.”
Kit had no idea what the cat was doing. She could hear it slipping around and every once in awhile felt its fur brush past. The room began to smell of lavender, burnt cloves and patchouli, among other scents that she couldn’t recognize at all. The cat was wailing some low throaty growl as it circled her. Kit began to raise an eyelid.
“I told you to keep your eyes shut!” the cat snapped. “Seriously, just keep focusing on the clock.”
Kit saw the clock in her mind, the red blocky numbers stuck at 8:45 when the alarm had gone off. It hadn’t seemed to move at all from she had first gotten up to rush to work. It was always and still 8:45. The numbers etched themselves into her mind.
Kit woke with a start. She was back in her apartment, clutching her grey silk sheets and grey and white striped comforter. There were no black lace curtains or ceramic birds or plants or crystals or candles. And there was no sign of a cat anywhere to be found. The clock read 8:45.
Kit abruptly got dressed to leave, grabbed her actual purse in its faux designer glory from the table by the door, and called in to let them know she would be running a bit late. She breathed a sigh of relief as she made her way down the wallpapered corridor to the leasing office where she put in her month’s notice that she was going to move as soon as possible and that she would forfeit whatever remained of the month after she got out, before she hurriedly headed off to work. Her landlord shook his head as he watched her drive off, “Why can’t I keep anyone in that unit after the start of April?” he muttered to himself.
Please check out another of Jennifer Weigel’s witchy works from a previous figure modeling session on Haunted MTL here.
You can read more of Jennifer Weigel’s writing here on Jennifer Weigel Words.
Lighter than Dark
LTD: Revisiting Broken Doll Head, Interview 2
Our last interview with Broken Doll Head here on Haunted MTL never set well with me. I just feared that I wasn’t able to get the whole scoop on the V-Day Uprising for you, our dear readership. So I arranged another exclusive interview to reconnect and see how it’s going.
Without further ado, I bring you our second exclusive interview with Broken Doll Head…
Thank you so much for having me again. Wow you have changed since the last time we spoke. You seem… calmer. Please don’t hate me or burn down my house for saying anything about it.
The movement is still underway; it is still time. But I needed to take care of me, you know. The rage has subsided somewhat. My anger was not serving me well. After the last uprising, the rest of me was sent to the far corners of the earth in biohazard bags. I had to find another approach, for the cause as well as my own sanity. I am much calmer, thank you for noticing.
In our last interview, you kept repeating that it is time. Time for what exactly? Would you care to elaborate here now?
It is still time. It is always time. Until the violence is addressed we must continue to rise up and make a scene. We will not be silenced or stigmatized. We can’t be complacent. This is how we got to where we are with the Supreme Court in 2022. Horrific injustices are still happening globally and even within our own borders; it’s too easy to forget that.
What do you suggest we do?
Take action. Share your stories. Give others space to voice their own. Raise awareness and fight the system of oppression. Rally. We must take back our own power. It will not be just given freely.
So what are you up to nowadays?
I’ve been getting in touch with my inner Earth Goddess. Are you aware of how our environmental impacts affect dolls everywhere? Climate change is creating greater vulnerabilities for those already at risk. We have to look at the intersections of climate, gender and race globally. We have to return to our Mother Earth.
Thank you again Broken Doll Head for joining us and our dear readership here on Haunted MTL’s Lighter than Dark. It’s good to reconnect with you after the V-Day Uprising and we wish you all the best in your bold eco-enlightenment vision.
Again, if you want to learn more about the V-Day movement, please check out their website here.
The Way Things Were, story by Jennifer Weigel
Revisiting my last St. Patrick’s Day post, what’s a wolf to were?
I grimaced as I remembered the previous St. Patrick’s Day. I had been shot while I was eating a sugar cookie waiting in line to buy a Scratchers ticket, my golden ride to my dream cabin in the woods. Wow, to think that was just a year ago and so much has changed since then. But where should I begin?
Well, the junkyard’s under new management. Or something. It seems they decided I wasn’t ferocious enough so I’ve been replaced by a couple of working stiffs. Or Mastiffs as it were, same difference to me. Apparently after they found the bloodied shirt I’d draped inconspicuously over a chair, they thought something had happened on my watch and decided to retire me.
Or at any rate ol’ Sal took me home. I guess it’s like retirement, but not the good kind where you tour the world Route 66 style, head lolled out of the side of a vintage Cadillac, breeze flowing through your beard as you drink in the open road. More the kind where you just stop showing up to work and no one really asks about you.
Now Sal’s a pretty cool dude, and he tends to mind his own business. But he’s a bit stingy with the treats and he’s a no-paws-on-the-furniture kind of guy. I don’t get it, his pad isn’t that sweet, just a bunch of hand-me-down Ikea that he didn’t even put together himself. Not that I could have helped with that, I can’t read those instructions to save my life even if they are all pictures. It’s all visual gibberish to me unless there’s a rabbit or a squirrel in there someplace that I can relate to.
And it’s been a real roll in the mud trying to cover up the stench of my monthly secret. I miss third shift at the junkyard when Monty would fall asleep on the job and I was free to do whatever I wanted. It sure made the change easier. Monty never noticed, or he never let on that he did. We were a good team and had it pretty good, he and I – I don’t know how I wound up shacking up with Sal instead when all was said and done. There was some kind of talk at the time, over landlords and pet deposits and whatnot, and in the end Sal was the only one who said yes.
So there I was, this St. Patrick’s Day, trying to figure out how to sneak out into the great suburban landscape with the neighbors’ headstrong Chihuahua who barks his fool head off at everything. He doesn’t ever say anything interesting through the fence about the local gossip, just a string of profanities about staying off his precious grass. Just like his owners… Suburbia, it doesn’t suit the two of us junkyard junkies. I’m pretty sure Sal inherited this joint with everything else here. He just never had the kind of ambition that would land him in a place like this on his own, if you know what I mean.
Fortunately, this St. Patrick’s Day, Sal was passed out on the sofa after binge watching some show on Netflix about werewolves of all things. Who believes in that nonsense? They get it all wrong anyway. The history channel with its alien conspiracies is so much better.
I managed to borrow a change of clothes and creep out the front door. At least there’s something to say about all the greenery, it is a fresh change of pace even if the yards are too neatly manicured and the fences are too high. And I do love how I always feel like McGruff crossed paths with one of those neighborhood watch trenchcoat spies this time of the month. I’d sure love to take a bite out of crime, especially if it involves that pesky Pomeranian that always pees on Mrs. Patterson’s petunias and gets everyone else blamed for it.
So sure enough, I slunk off towards the local convenience mart, which is a bit more of a trek here past the water park and the elementary school. Nice neighborhood though, very quiet, especially at this time of night.
Well, when I got there, wouldn’t you know it, but I ran into that same nondescript teen from my last foray into the convenience store near the junkyard. What was he doing here of all places? Seriously don’t these kids learn anything nowadays? I let out a stern growl as I snatched a cookie from the nearby end cap, making sure he noticed that I meant business.
Apparently the kid recognized me too, he stopped mid-tracks at the beer cooler and his face blanched like he’d seen a ghost. Some cheeky little girl-thing motioned to him to hurry it along by laying on the horn of their beater car from the parking lot. Whatever they were up to was no good, I was certain. He snapped out of it, grabbed a six-pack and headed towards the cashier, eyes fixed on me the whole time. Not again. Not after what it cost me the last time when I hadn’t realized my job was at stake. I stared back, hairs rising on the back of my neck. I bared my teeth. This time, I wouldn’t let him off so easy…
The teen edged up to the cashier and presented his trophy. Unsurprisingly, the clerk asked for ID, and the kid reached into his jacket. Let the games begin, I grumbled to myself. But instead of a gun, he pulled out a wallet. He flashed a driver’s license at the clerk and pointed in my general direction, “I’ll get whatever Santa’s having too.” He tossed a wad of cash on the counter and gave me a knowing wink before he flew out of there like he was on fire. I stood in dazed confusion as he and his girl sped out of the lot and disappeared down the road.
“Well, Santa?” the clerk said, snapping me out of my reverie. Her dark-circled eyes stared over wide rimmed glasses, her rumpled shirt bearing the name-tag Deb. She smelled like BBQ potato chips and cheap cherry cola.
I quieted and shook my head. “I want a Scratchers. Not one of those crossword bingo puzzle trials but something less… wordy. How ‘bout a Fast Cash?” I barked as I tossed the cookie on the counter.
“Sure thing,” she said as she handed me a ticket and looked towards the door at the now vacant lot. “And keep the change, I guess.”
A couple silver pieces, a peanut butter cookie and a lotto ticket later, maybe this is my lucky day after all…
Check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s writing here at Jennifer Weigel Words.
Movies n TV
She Wolf, Art by Jennifer Weigel
So this isn’t a review but more just some thoughts…
I have to admit that I actually like the She Wolf music video by Shakira.
Maybe partly because my Zumba group back in the day used to dance to it with all of us cautioned to not to look up the music video for fear it would be too risque or something… (The Zumba dance to this was one of my favorites, and I loved our group of mostly 60+ year old retirees for all that some of them did act surprised at these things, whether or not they actually were.) Or maybe partly because it reminds me of Madonna’s Express Yourself, or by extension the famous dance scene in Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang.
It’s a guilty pleasure.
The ways these things evolve and stay the same over time fascinates me, especially how the messaging and movement change, and yet stay the same.
Anyway, I created this artwork based upon the She Wolf video and song, incorporating a Hazelle puppet head atop a modern Barbie doll body. I don’t recall what happened to Barbie’s actual head though I’m pretty sure I needed it for another project. (Technically I needed the body for another project too, and this was just a stopover.) Years ago this piece found itself part of the Women’s Caucus for Art website as one of the chosen artworks for the year. I was going to try to write something to go with it for Haunted MTL but instead I thought I’d share it as a lead up to my revisitation of my werewolf story from St. Patrick’s Day last year.
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.