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“Monsters” by Linda M. Crate

Judy breathed in heavily. She hated that the council had decided she was the one to do this. When she had become a monster slayer, she never imagined that she would ever have to do anything this difficult.

How did she know that her father would be bitten and turned by a vampire, and become one of the most vicious and dangerous villains in the whole of their village? She remembered the last time she had seen him as a human. He had told her that he would always love her, that she could always count on him, that everything was going to be all right.

The first person he had killed was the vampire that turned him. Her tortured face looked up at Judy from the snow, even still. The contorted features, the eyes forever staring in the heavens in horror.

How a fledgling could kill his master was beyond her. Most fledglings weren’t that strong. She must have been a powerful vampire, and underestimated the strength of the one she had turned.

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The second person he had killed had been her mother. She couldn’t imagine the terror her mother must’ve felt when the man she loved turned out to be a brutal murderer who cared more about his blood lust than anyone else he had once known.

He hadn’t even tried to fight it as some vampires did. Some of them banished themselves from their own families in an attempt to save them, but not her father. He had embraced and accepted the blood sucking demon and become intimately involved with him.

Judy knew he deserved to die for all the harm he had done. But why did she have to do it?

Why did the council need her to prove her loyalty to them this way? She had already killed hundreds of monsters: vampires, werewolves, harpies, banshees, dark elves, dark fae, gorgons, evil dragons, and countless others.  She was very good at what she did.

But they insisted that her thousandth kill had to be Bernie.  The man whose hazel eyes were her own, the man who taught her how to walk and how to hold a spoon, the man who had first taught her to use magic, the man who had always been her safe harbor. She had always been a daddy’s girl. She had loved her mother…but they had never been close the way she and her father had.

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How hadn’t he fought the beast he had become? How dare he just succumb so easily to the darkness?!

Judy breathed in sharply again, and more importantly, just how was she supposed to do this? Judy thought she might have a mental breakdown then and there, had there not been a louder voice inside of her insisting that she had to prove herself worthy of the council so she could finally have more independence. If she managed this then she wouldn’t have to work with any of the fledgling slayers, anymore, she could work with someone more advanced and learn whatever magic they were willing to teach her.

The young witch sucked in another breath. Her mother had been a healer, but she was a slayer. Perhaps, she and her father had been monsters all along and his vampirism just exacerbated what he was always capable of becoming.

She felt torn. She knew the village needed protected from these monsters, and yet she felt guilty.She wasn’t so sure this was the right choice, and yet she told herself she couldn’t be weak. The council wouldn’t have put her on this task if they hadn’t believed Judy was strong. And so she sucked in another deep breath and looked at the weapons in her cloak: a stake, a potion that immediately turned to flames when the glass broke, and blades that were made by stringing sunlight and magic together with metal which would slow a vampire but wouldn’t completely kill them unless one hit them in the heart.

Judy didn’t bother bringing garlic. She knew that if he smelled garlic that he wouldn’t come.

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She wasn’t so sure that he would come to begin with, but Judy had sent a letter out with a carrying pigeon. The pigeon hadn’t returned.

“Hello, Sparrow.”

Judy felt her heart leap in her throat. She had just barely arrived at the place she had asked her father to come. She saw her shocked face leap up at her in the glass window of the bakery, and her feet nearly lost their footing on the cobble stone street as if there were ice on the ground. There wasn’t, as it was mid-summer, but she was really surprised he had come.

“Didn’t mean to scare you, Sparrow.”

Her father had been calling her Sparrow since she were a child, she always fought back insisting she were more fierce a bird. But that old nickname was a ploy, she was certain, to make her lose her guard. She wouldn’t. She was aware of the monster he was.

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Judy glared at him. “Hello, father.”

“You’ve come to kill me,” Bernie said, with a dark smile. “Go on, then.”

Judy looked around her at the deserted street. Using magic she closed off the sector they stood upon. She pulled out her weapons. “Any preference?”

Bernie snorted. “Do you always ask those whom you kill how they want to die?”

“Don’t make me sound like a monster, you’re the monster.”

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“We’re both monsters, darling, even if we don’t share the same fangs.”

Judy threw the potion where Bernie had been standing, the vampire jumped out of the way but not before the flames grabbed onto his cloak and it was a fast moving fire that consumed him. “The council’s using you just like they used your mother. One day, Sparrow, you’ll see the truth.” And then he was gone.

Judy scattered the ashes before she flung herself at the ground, sobbing. She had killed her father, but at what price? She watched the wind scatter his ashes.

Linda M. Crate, author.

Linda M. Crate’s works have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She is the author of six poetry chapbooks, the latest of which is: More Than Bone Music (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, March 2019). She’s also the author of the novel Phoenix Tears (Czykmate Books, June 2018) and two micro-poetry collections. Recently she has published two full-length poetry collections Vampire Daughter (Dark Gatekeeper Gaming, February 2020) and The Sweetest Blood (Cyberwit, February 2020).

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Original Creations

More Nail Polish Paintings by Jennifer Weigel

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Well, seems I’m at it again, with more nail polish paintings into found thrift store art. Why so many flowers this time…? Well a friend sent them and I just couldn’t help myself. They are so perfect for creepy fairy paintings. And for those of you who think fairies aren’t scary, you haven’t read much about the fey now have you?

More Revisitations nail polish paintings by Jennifer Weigel
More Revisitations nail polish paintings by Jennifer Weigel

Top left: Blue Fairy, originally painted by M Wadorf

Top right: Pegasus, originally painted by Edie Babb

Bottom left: Unicorn, originally painted by R Lovelace (After I painted this I realized I missed the opportunity to do a troll with a bridge and so I hope to do another along those lines in the future.)

Bottom middle: Fairy, originally painted by SD Janz

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Bottom right: Dragon, original signed FZ, very sparkly with black-light sensitive eyes

And the most horrific of the bunch this time is this mermaid, who started as a weird bucket painting by Helen Miller… So, what’s in the bucket, Helen? Body parts? Fish? Plants not yet in bloom? I envisioned a trapped mermaid waiting to ensnare some unsuspecting land-goer, because no one would expect to find a mermaid there…

Mermaid in bucket, original by Helen Miller
Is this mermaid trapped in need of help or just trying to lure you close?

So I broke down and redid the unicorn to a troll. Apparently the troll was hungry… Anyway, here is the result. I am happier with it now.

Troll with toll bridge, original by R Lovelace
Hungry troll wants bridge tolls after eating innocent unicorn.

You can find more of my Revisitations art on Haunted MTL here, including links to even more nail polish paintings…

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 Creations

Bloody Mary or More Doll Costuming by Jennifer Weigel

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So I came upon a Liv doll with no wig and decided to make her a mourning ensemble. The result was so reminiscent of this Bloody Mary music video based on the Lady Gaga song, by Ruben Samuel Cortez for his film school final (not the Wednesday TikTok remix, though that is also fun) that I simply had to share.

Costumed Liv doll to Bloody Mary by Jennifer Weigel
Costumed Liv doll to Bloody Mary by Jennifer Weigel

The outfit is made up of really fancy thick black lace leftover from a skirt I decorated for a party and an old translucent black handkerchief. It really reminds me of the table dancers in the music video but black instead of white (though it also alludes to some of the other outfits too, and Wednesday’s dress from the TikTok remake).

Close up of Bloody Mary doll's face
Close up of Bloody Mary doll’s face

I love the detail on the eyes on these Liv dolls, which are embedded and not painted on.

Closer still...
Closer still…

The Liv dolls’ eyes are just so lifelike. I think this is what attracts me to the Rainbow High dolls too, and why I had to turn the Makeover Failfix 2Dreami into Lady Amalthea of The Last Unicorn…

Failfix 2Dreami as Lady Amalthea from The Last Unicorn (not scary but one of my all time fave movies and I love how this doll turned out so I'm posting her here anyway)
Failfix 2Dreami as Lady Amalthea from The Last Unicorn (not scary but one of my all time fave movies and I love how this doll turned out so I’m posting her here anyway)

If you want to check out more of my altered dolls, I have posted several to Haunted MTL here:

Fashion Zombies

Heartbreak Hotel

Mummy Dearest

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Catharsis

Fairy Wands

She Wolf

Queen of Everything

More Altered Dolls

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Krampus

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.

Oh and here’s a bonus photo of the skirt that I got the lace for originally, titled Kiss My A$$.

Portrait of the artist, dressed for a Blue Jeans and Bling party
Portrait of the artist, dressed for a Blue Jeans and Bling party

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Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Giants Among Spiders

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So, as you may have noticed, we have a special fondness for spiders here on Nightmarish Nature.  Well, they are kind of the spokes-critters for horrifying animalia, perhaps because they are so freakishly different from us.  Or maybe it’s because I find them a little disconcerting for all that I try to take the “you mind your business, I’ll mind mine” approach, at least if they stay outdoors. Or just because I really like to draw spiders for all that I prefer not to find them sharing my home (though I’ll gladly take spiders over other bugs or mice or larger critters who didn’t get an invite).

Anyway, this segment is devoted to the largest Giants Among Spiders, as if you didn’t have enough to worry about already.  And the top place is contested based upon body mass or leg length.  Most of these are tarantulas, which globally take top place among the large arachnids.

Goliath Birdeater Tarantula
I’m hungry… I bet you are…

Goliath Birdeater Tarantula

The Goliath Birdeater Tarantula of South America is the biggest brute of spiderdom, weighing in at over 6 ounces.  They build funnel burrows and are known to eat birds (although rarely), mice, lizards, frogs, and snakes, but largely any big insects including other species of spiders.  They have urticating barbed hairs that they fling at would-be attackers as an irritant to escape.  And people even eat them after they singe the bristles off. Here’s a National Geographic video showing this spider in action, in case you wanted to see a giant spider take out a mouse.

Giant Huntsman Spider drawing by Jennifer Weigel
Creepy crawly at it’s worst…

Giant Huntsman Spider

And with the longest legs, we have the Giant Huntsman Spider of Laos, with a leg-span of 12 inches.  Their legs have twisted joints and they move in a crab-like manner, which furthers their impressive appearance. ‘Cause they’ve got legs, and know how to use ’em.  They prefer to live in underbrush and cave entrances.  These are like the big relatives of their Australian cousins, which we’ve all seen online and developed a healthy aversion to.

Everything's cuter when it's fuzzy, right? tarantula drawing by Jennifer Weigel
Everything’s cuter when it’s fuzzy, right?

Brazilian Salmon Pink Birdeater & Brazilian Giant Tawny Red Tarantulas

Next we have two more South American species: the Brazilian Salmon Pink Birdeater, which boasts one-inch fangs, and the Brazilian Giant Tawny Red, believed to be the longest-lived spider with a lifespan of up to thirty years.   Both are in the tarantula family and have urticating hairs, a word you probably never read much before today unless you are in the hobby.  So apparently South America is not the best travel destination for you if you struggle with arachnophobia, though I suspect you’d figured that out already.  (I wouldn’t recommend Australia or Southeast Asia either.)

Face Size Tarantula drawing by Jennifer Weigel
Face-Size, sorry no Face or Face Hugger for scale

Face Size Tarantula

And finally the Face Size Tarantula, which has a very terror-inducing name reminiscent of the Face Huggers of Alien-glory.  Anyway, these spiders have an 8-inch leg-span and live in India and Sri Lanka.  They look kind of like big hairy wolf spiders with stripey legs, sometimes with pink and daffodil coloring.

If you enjoyed this eight-legged segment of Nightmarish Nature on Giants Among Spiders and their larger than life kin, please check out past segments:

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

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