“The Lost Boys” by Callum Pearce
Darkness draped itself over the city of Liverpool, a cold wind crept in behind it. Shoppers and workers rushed to catch buses or dive into one of the warm, well-lit bars scattered around the city. As the Liver birds lit up against the night sky and the streets emptied, the night shift began. The daytime tapestry of the city unpicked itself as the night time tapestry was woven around it. Prostitutes and rent boys put themselves out on display. Bar staff rushed to their night shifts, drag queens tottered down the road on spiked heels. Slowly, the gay bars filled with people. Some looking for love or just company for the night. Others were just happy with the alcohol and music, content to watch people enjoying their evenings, knowing they were not alone.
In the rainbow, one of the seedier gay bars. One man was out of place. He was sitting at a table glaring at the queens around him. Which one would be his victim? which of them would he get to empty all of his rage and frustration on? Damien hadn’t planned to be here tonight. Usually, he would be in bed early, ensuring that he was fresh for work the next day. A surprise meeting with his manager had cleared away any worries about that. Staff had to be let go and since he was new to the company, he was first on the list. He could work the rest of the month but his temporary contract would be up by then and wouldn’t be getting renewed. Putting his managers head through his office window had ensured that he would no longer be required to work that last month after all. He had expected to feel better after teaching his boss a lesson, he didn’t. Anger continued to build, his sense of the grotesque unfairness of the world chattered away in his mind.
The drag queens and rent boys that hung around outside the gay bars near his office had always disgusted him. The bars in these streets were mostly frequented by men, they were known as the seedier places in town. He saw them every day on the way home from work. He dreamed of driving his car right into a group of them. When he saw them tonight, those thoughts had filled his head again, but that would be too easy. There would be nothing more than a moment’s satisfaction, as they slid under the wheels of his car. He wanted to get hold of one, get him alone, and really do some damage. He imagined leaving the battered corpse outside one of their dens, teach them all a lesson. The flash of violence with his manager had done nothing to make him feel better. He needed something more satisfying.
Ginger, the drag queen behind the bar was watching him closely. When you work in a gay bar for a long time, you tend to be wary of any newcomers. You develop a sixth sense for those that are there to cause trouble. This one was tapping his feet and glaring at anybody who came into the Place. He had nursed the same pint of beer for an hour. Until he did something though, there wasn’t much she could do except keep an eye on him. The door staff stood at the entrance and Ginger had a baseball bat behind the bar. Still, she didn’t feel safe tonight. Something felt wrong. Even before Damien had arrived, the air felt heavy, her spine tingled. She would be glad when work was over and she was on her way home.
The hunter eyed his potential prey. Across the dance floor, leaning against the wall was a small built, pretty, young man. In the dark bar, Damien judged him to be probably in his twenties. Every so often, he would put down his drink and take a long look at Damien. Each time he looked over, he would stare for a bit longer. Damien was already picturing the young man’s battered body, left for the other queers to find on their doorstep. Holding down the disgust he felt, he smiled across the bar and tried to look slightly more relaxed. If he could get this one to leave with him, he could finally release the rage inside of him. He detested these people, they had always made him feel uncomfortable, made him want to turn away. Here in their nest he just wanted to kill every last one of them. Parading around together, flaunting their homosexuality. He felt as though they had been mocking him his whole life. As though their mere existence mocked him, his family, his beliefs.
The man across the bar started to walk slowly towards the exit. Stopping a few feet in front of Damien, he gestured for him to follow. This had been easier than Damien had expected. Grabbing his jacket from the chair, he finished his pint and stood to follow the stranger outside. Ginger rushed from behind the bar. She had no idea what she was going to say or do. She just wanted to stop the young man from leaving with the brooding stranger.
“Excuse me…” Ginger began.
The young man turned to face Ginger. She staggered back horrified as the light from the bar hit his face. His eyes were completely black, his skin chalk white. The smile bothered her even more. Beneath the dark eyes, his menacing smile reminded her of a hungry shark. The eyes seemed to tease something out of her. It was as though this creature was slowly pulling her soul into itself.
“I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else,” she managed, before rushing back behind the bar. She watched them leave, then she started to breathe again.
Damien followed his prospective victim out of the bar into the dark alleyway. The alley seemed to be stretching as he walked along it. It seemed to take forever to reach the end. Suddenly, the young man pulled him into the doorway at the back of a bar. Before Damien knew what was happening the man had pulled down his trousers and shorts and was kneeling in front of him. For a moment there was a flutter of excitement in his stomach at what was happening. This was quickly drowned by a wave of rage and disgust. Just as he was about to shove the man to the ground, the stranger looked up at him and smiled. Damien saw his face properly for the first time under the security light that hung above the doorway.
“What the fuck are you?”
The black-eyed creature stood up pushing a knife into Damien’s stomach. He stepped backward and Damien could see he was holding his wallet in his hand.
“A big risk down these dark alleyways,” the creature said calmly. “People will take your desire, your loneliness, and lust. They will use it against you. So many have been led to this place with the promise of a good time, only to be attacked and robbed.”
Damien was clutching the bleeding wound in his stomach whilst trying to pull up his trousers with one hand. He felt sick and more enraged than ever before. The creature watched him, amused. Just as he fastened his trousers, a sharp pain suddenly spread at the back of his knees and he fell to the floor. The cause of the pain became obvious as somebody dressed as an old fashioned policeman stepped out from behind him, raising his baton for another swing.
“We know what you queers do down here, pervert.” He swung the truncheon and hit Damien hard in the face. “It’s my job to keep filth off the streets.”
He hit Damien again on the forehead, breaking the skin and causing blood to pour down his face. Then he started hitting him hard in the ribs. The final assault was a hard kick in the stomach, this caused more blood to ooze from the stab wound. Content with his work, the policeman turned to walk away. He whistled a merry tune as he seemed to fade from existence.
“You hate us having these bars, you thought you might use my body to scare gay people away from these places.” The creature glared at Damien, eyes like black holes in a face filled with disgust. “These streets are ours, our blood, sweat, and tears have collected between these cobblestones. We are these streets.”
Damien was trying to stand, He wanted to fight back but didn’t dare take his hand from the wound in his stomach. He was barely aware of the severity of the wound on his head. All he felt was the blood pouring down his face and tightness where the wind dried it on his skin. He stumbled forward, hoping to escape from the alleyway and get help.
“Oi, Queer,” somebody shouted the words behind him. He turned to see a group of men approaching and knew exactly their intent. The same intent he had held earlier. “Fucking get him!”
The men started to run as he turned and tried to push himself forward. They were behind him in seconds. In his rush to escape, Damien tripped and fell again to the ground. They surrounded him, kicking and punching. They spat at him and screamed obscenities in his face. Then they ran away kicking a can down the alleyway in front of them. They faded from his reality as he wiped the blood from his eyes. Damien could see a couple passing on the other side of the path, they turned away from him and tried to pretend he wasn’t there.
“Sometimes they are the worst,” the creature spoke calmly. “Those that walk on by.” His sharp teeth shone as he grinned under the security light. “It’s just some queer, he was probably asking for it anyway. Nothing to do with us. Best to just look away and keep yourself to yourself.”
Damien could just about push himself up into a crawling position. He tried to crawl away from the creature, it walked slowly behind him. He was forced to stop as he noticed another of the black-eyed creatures was sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of him. It was shoving hand fulls of pills into its mouth and sobbing between mouthfuls. Further on, he could see one hanging from a doorway. It was staring straight at him with its black eyes and grinning. Now, these things were filling the alley around him. Some drinking some taking drugs others having sex against the walls.
“All of the boys that came here looking for a sort of home,” The creature sighed. “Each of them looking for nothing more than a safe space and an end to their loneliness. A place to be away from people like you. You would deny us even this. These dirty, seedy, bars, hidden down dark alleys or in cellars. These forgotten places filled with danger to the young and naive.”
“I’m sorry.” Damien managed to shout. “I’ll do whatever you want.”
“Did these boys get to bargain for another chance? Would my tears have stopped you carrying out your plan this evening? Look around you, victims of murder and suicide. Robberies that went too far. Beatings and abuse from so many directions. Some filling themselves with alcohol or drugs to kill the pain and eventually themselves. Could they bargain their way out of that? No, nor can you.”
The others faded from sight and Damien tried to crawl back the way they had come. His eyes were starting to close as his face swelled around them and blood poured from every wound. He was getting weaker with every second.
“This is just one of our streets. Just one of the places filled with our blood, shaped by our pain. We earned this place. You will not take it from us,” the creature continued to follow Damien as he tried to summon the strength to get away from it. “Then there are those in the bars, some of them are survivors of these incidents you have witnessed tonight. Those who haven’t joined us yet to haunt these streets. You sat with them earlier, still coming down here, knowing the danger. Trying to make it safer for those who come behind them.”
Damien kept crawling as the shadows of those whose lives had been lost here faded in and out of sight around him. He could feel their pain and confusion as it mixed with his.
“Why me?” they whispered as they passed him. He saw flashes of other people’s memories. People chased from their homes by those that were supposed to protect them. People trapped in abusive relationships because they had nowhere else to go, nobody to talk to. He saw others having a great night out laughing and joking with friends, unaware that their night would end here in the piss-stinking alleyway at the end of a blade.
“People like you created us, the lost boys that roam these streets and the girls trapped in their nightmares around the other bars in town.” as the creature spoke, Damien’s head was becoming cloudy. He could barely hear what the thing was saying anymore so it stopped talking and faded back into its nightmare.
Damien could hear a lot of noise around him, all of a sudden. The door staff at the bar he had just left were fussing around him as he bled to death on their doorstep.
“He just came from nowhere,” a bemused doorman said as Ginger appeared at the door.
“Just call the police, there’s nothing we can do,” Ginger insisted. “The lost boys got him.”
The door staff fell silent and stepped back from the dying man at their feet. Everybody on the gay scene had heard about the lost boys and lost girls that haunted these places. Creatures created by hate and cruelty.cursed to walk the streets that they had lived and died on. Thankfully few had ever seen them. Ginger shuddered thinking of the empty hungry eyes she had stared into earlier. She quickly returned to the bar to phone for the removal of the body.
-THE END –
Callum Pearce is a Dutch storyteller, originally from Liverpool. He is a fiction writer published multiple times across a variety of platforms. A Lover of the magical as well as the macabre. He lives in a foggy old fishing town in the Netherlands with his husband and a couple of cat shaped sprites. Popping up in lots of drabble collections and anthologies or online. He has also written factual articles for an LGBTQ+ lifestyle website.
Reanimating Dead Art with Monsters by Jennifer Weigel
Dead art… It’s a thing that happens, sadly. Typically found at thrift and antique stores or dumpster diving or by the side of the road. But art is never really dead, just resting… Here are some reanimated paintings I made by incorporating nail polish monsters into existing art.
Let’s face it – reworking old abandoned artworks with monsters kind of rocks. For awhile they were all over the internet. I admit, it took me a long time to muster up the courage to paint into someone else’s grandmother’s art, but once I started I just couldn’t stop. From top to bottom, left to right we have: Zombies, Unicorn, Siren, Krakken, Harpies, Sasquatch, Alien Invasion, Witch, and Serpent.
The dragon is probably my favorite. All of the shades of red are really vibrant and striking against the green. And dragons are always so classic and grandiose and terrifying, perfect for pairing with a mountain landscape. I love painting with nail polish for the sparkle, even if the fumes do get kind of noxious en masse. (The best subject to paint in this media is Rocky Horror style lips by the way, in case you were wondering.)
And what better way to complete the collection than with a portrait of a Fairy Queen, her icy stare drilling into your soul. She’s up to some sort of magical mischief, that’s for sure.
And speaking of magical mischief, this is the monster painting I made just for me. The original artwork is about 4 feet long and I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted to reanimate it in this exact way for all that this is the last in the series that I did. I even added extra shimmer factor. I’d initially considered adding a sea serpent or a dragon but no, she told me to stop.
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.
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.