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Frank’s Hideaway by Bryan Fontenot

Last week I received word that Frank had died in a bar fight, his throat cut by another man.  Frank wasn’t a friend, not for a long time now, but when we were twelve years old, we had been best buddies.    I was overdue to visit a few relatives, so I came down for the funeral, and now, with the burial over, I decided to take a walk down here, to the little hideaway we used to visit. When we were middle school friends, this little patch had been a refuge, a place to play hooky, sneak a little chewing tobacco, and play cards.  But that was before Frank murdered his kid brother Joe.  It was this awful patch of ground that had changed Frank.

I’m not going any closer.  This is far enough.  It smells rotten here, the air heavy and putrid.  I’m convinced now this is truly an evil place.  It’s really just an ugly pimple of dirt and bushes, no bigger than the backyards I remember from childhood.  Frank’s death brought me back here.  I came because I needed to know if my memories were false memories, or the real thing.  Now I know, because I’m not twelve years old anymore, but a highly functioning 25 year old, and this cesspool still feels like a crypt of demons.

I remember Frank telling me he had a “cool” place for us to hang out after school one day.

“Nobody knows about this spot,” said Frank.  “It’s behind the subdivision, going towards the warehouses, where they keep all the rusty pipes.  When the ground slopes down, the place is invisible from all sides.  A crazy optical illusion, man.” And he was right, it was a private place, ignored by most people.  Happy, bright eyed, normal people would no doubt just go around this place, without even thinking about it, the way you step around dog poop, instead of stepping right into it.

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“But it stinks here,” I had said.  “Smells like dead rats or dog crap.”

Yet, he was so proud of the hideaway that I said okay, and we started going there to play hooky or just to hang out.  One day it really reeked, and I walked up to the spot gagging.  But there was Frank, laying on his side, reading a MAD magazine and eating a Snickers bar.  It was then that I noticed the dead possum, only about ten feet from Frank.  It was covered with buzzing green flies, the flies that only show up when something is dead.

“Jesus, Frank!” I called, covering my mouth and nose with my shirt collar.  “What the hell, man.  It smells horrible.”

“He looked up, continuing to chew his Snickers bar, and started sniffing the air.  Sniffing!  Like he was trying to catch the subtle odor of distant wood smoke.

“I guess so,” he said skeptically, then kept reading his magazine.

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That’s how it started.  The place was a stinking, festering hole, but Frank didn’t seem to notice, and slowly he began to change.  Instead of shooting soda cans with his BB gun, Frank began shooting birds.  One day he started torturing a large box turtle we had caught.  I told him to stop and we argued, shoved each other, and then he killed the turtle.  I left in disgust.  His cesspool (a crazy optical illusion man) seemed satisfied somehow.  It buzzed with flies and pukey little green shimmering beetles.  Looking back, I think the diseased little pimple of dirt and bushes infected Frank with something dark and ugly. 

That summer between seventh and eighth grade, I didn’t hang out much with Frank.  But sometimes I saw him walking back to his house from the old hangout.  I couldn’t understand why he would go there alone, to that haunted, boil of a place.  Two events convinced me that Frank killed Little Joe that summer, although everyone else thought it was a terrible accident.  Joe was a 6 year old, snotty nosed little brat, and I loved him.  Everyone loved Little Joe – everyone except his big brother.  I visited Frank’s house the day before it happened, because Frank had called me on the phone and invited me over to see the new color television his dad had bought.  So I was there when Frank’s dad put the old TV up on the hallway shelf.  I saw him carefully tape the electrical cord into a coil and tuck it away.  So how come the police and neighbors all said that Little Joe had pulled the cord and caused the TV to fall on his sweet little head.  Everyone wondered how anyone wouldn’t know better than to create such a safety hazard.  There was a lot of anger directed at Little Joe’s dad.  But I saw something else the morning it happened.  I saw Frank climb out of his bedroom window and run towards his cesspool of a hideaway.  Soon after, there had been frantic movement around the house, police sirens, a fire rescue unit.  Little Joe was dead, his skull fractured by a falling Zenith television.

Why did Frank climb out the window?  Why not use the door?  And the look on his face as he started running for the hideaway, it was the look of a thing that enjoyed death – tongue sticking out from one corner, eyes too bright and lustful.  I don’t know if Frank just unwound the electrical cord and hung it so Little Joe could reach it (here little buddy, want to play?  Pull the pretty rope Little Joe) or if he pulled down the TV himself.  But I know he did it. 

Suddenly, I feel like a dumbass for coming here.  What did it matter anyway?  So what that my best friend had turned out to be a sadistic monster.  Or more likely, it was just a freak accident, because that careless, screw-up of a dad put a busted television on a high shelf.  Maybe if I see Frank’s and Little Joe’s screw up of a dad in town, I’ll bust his face before I leave.  Yeah, I’m a dumbass for coming back here, just wasting time and money.  I wasted my money on that flea bag of a motel where I rented a room.  If that arrogant little punk of a clerk is on the desk when I get back, I think I’ll slam his head on the counter bell – just bounce his face up and down so the bell rings again and again and again!

Bryan Fontenot, author

Bryan has written short stories, now and then, during the past ten years, and is working on a longer story. His favorite book is “The Pickwick Papers”, but also enjoys mysteries, science fiction, and lots of horror stories. He lives near San Antonio, Texas.

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Original Creations

Goblins, a Short Story by Jennifer Weigel

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Revisiting the creepy faux fingernail art, I made a couple of goblins… They then ransacked my house. This is their story, as told by myself, Jennifer Weigel.

More faux fingernail art from Jennifer Weigel, featuring wide smiling mouth with red sparkly lipstick and faux fingernail teeth on textured green goblins background
More faux fingernail art from Jennifer Weigel

So it finally happened. My art came to life. And of course it couldn’t be one of the cute pretty pictures, like the sparkly unicorns or the cat drawings. No it had to be the faux fingernail goblins… Ugh. I first encountered them in the bathroom.

I see England.
I see France.
I see someone’s underpants!

Of course you do, it’s the bathroom. That’s totally the room for that. Remind me again why I decided to paint these little green monsters. Ugh. From there, they moved on to the kitchen.

We so tricksy.
We so sly.
We eats all the cherry pie!

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Did they have to eat ALL the cherry pie? Like seriously. But what can I expect, they’re goblins and they’re in the house. Ugh. And honestly they’re just plain gross.

I pick my friend.
I pick nose.
Just whose nose, do you suppose?

Get away from me you obnoxious, vile creatures! I can pick my own nose on my own time, thank you. Ugh. Oh, great, now they’re tearing up the living room.

We be goblins.
We be green.
We be making quite a scene!

No, not the sofa! Now there are little bits of fabric and stuffing flying everywhere. I can see you’re all too pleased with yourselves. Nasty critters. Ugh. Why can’t you just leave?

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I do mischief.
I do bad.
This best party ever had!

I did NOT agree to host your little shindig. Stop tearing up my house! All I know is, it’s about time you moved on to wreak havoc elsewhere. Ugh. Just get out – NOW!

We scare the cat.
We scare you.
We scare all, we care not who!

I may have brought these dreadful disgusting demons into being seeing as how I painted them, but I have no idea what brought them to life or why. What kind of cosmic miscalculation caused this? I need to know so I can avoid it in the future. Ugh. Goblins… need I say more?

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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Original Creations

Faux Fingernails Art by Jennifer Weigel

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So I had some faux fingernails leftover from a costume based modeling session, from posing as Cruella De Vil for the figure drawing group… Here’s a teaser from that modeling session, before the horrible creepy art generation in the aftermath. If you zoom in tight enough, you can see my tiger fingernails, which kept trying to fall off constantly, reminding me why I hate trying to wear the things and why they (d)evolved into art.

Cruella De Vil modeling for figure drawing
Cruella De Vil modeling for figure drawing

My version of Cruella De Vil channels Glenn Close or the original animated character more than the recent Emma Stone variant, but they’re all delightfully devilish.

Anyway, I made this series of “Tiger Sharks” prominently featuring the same tiger faux fingernails, including those used in the Cruella De Vil costume. These “Tiger Sharks” also incorporated some pirate fingernails, because sharks and pirates are tight.

Pirate skeleton hand with faux fingernails
Pirate skeleton hand with faux fingernails

I couldn’t think of a better use for the pirate fingernails than adding them to this skeletal hand. I never actually wore these, they were too hard to come up with something to go with. But I do love the Beetlejuice vibe with the stripes…

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.

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Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Something Rotten, Flesh in Flowers

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This time on Nightmarish Nature we will again explore some of the more fetid fungi and plants, this time focusing on those that imitate rotten flesh in order to attract flies. Among the best known of these are the Stinkhorn and the Corpse Lily or Corpse Flower. The Language of Flowers be damned, literally…

Fungi

Many of the fungi in the Stinkhorn family erupt in mushrooms that reek of rotten flesh and sprout from a white sort of egg sac in various forms, the common type being a phallus like structure with a white body and olive head. The Beefsteak fungus resembles, well, a cut of beef oozing blood. And some mushroom bodies of the Clathrus genus bloom in elaborate lattice structures or devil’s tooth and devil’s fingers that resemble terrifying alien beings. These odoriferous fetid fungi grow in decaying wood material and use their stinky attributes to attract flies and other insects which will then spread the spores from their fruiting bodies. They truly look like something out of an outer space or aquatic nightmare.

Some various fungi that can reek of rotten flesh, drawing by Jennifer Weigel.
Some various fungi that can reek of rotten flesh.

Plants

Some plants also utilize pungent putrid odors to attract flies and other insects, in part to aid in the pollination and dissemination but also to attract insect matter for their own needs, to absorb the insects for valuable nutrients that they cannot otherwise obtain. The largest flowers in the world bear many of these characteristics, also being among the stinkiest. And some pitcher plants mimic rotten flesh to attract flies upon which they “feed”.

The Titan Arum of Sumatra and Indonesia is a plant that over time produces a huge flower somewhat resembling a calla lily but larger as the plant body stores enough energy to do so. While Calla Lilies are often used to symbolize rebirth and resurrection and can be associated with death, often in a funerary setting, the huge Titan Arum does more than that, strongly mimicking decaying flesh in order to attract flies. These flowers can grow to almost 8-feet tall and bloom for only about three days before wilting; they are a huge draw at botanic gardens when flowering because of the rare nature of the event and the remarkable presence that the flower has, in both size and smell. The US. Botanic Gardens has a page devoted to this plant here, where you can even track previous blooms.

Titan Arum flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.
Titan Arum flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.

Another noteworthy flowering plant is Rafflesia, a parasitic flower native to Indonesia and Malaysia that feeds on the liana vine and grows from a sprouting body bud into a huge flower over the course of five years. Its flowers, once finally formed, can grow to almost a meter across and resembles something out of a horror film. These too smell of death and decay to attract flies in order to cross-pollinate. You can learn more about these unusual plants on this video from Real Science here.

Rafflesia flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.
Rafflesia flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.

If you’ve enjoyed this segment of Nightmarish Nature, feel free to check out some previous here:

Vampires Among Us

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Perilous Parenting

Freaky Fungus

Worrisome Wasps

Cannibalism

Terrifying Tardigrades

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Reindeer Give Pause

Komodo Dragons

Zombie Snails

Horrifying Humans

Giants Among Spiders

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