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“Revenge of the Roses” by Linda M. Crate

He called them his roses. The girls that he slaughtered. Their remains were never recovered from the swamp. He only kept the bones of their pointer fingers as a souvenir and these he kept so well hidden that even his wife didn’t know about them.

She was a trucker so she wasn’t always around which made it easier for him to abduct these homeless teens and prostitutes. Especially when he lived out in the middle of nowhere.

He grinned nastily, leering outside at the little pocket of yard he had that wasn’t surrounded by swamp. Devin Cox read in the paper that morning that the parents of his first victim he had taken had just passed on. Wasn’t that a shame? At least they wouldn’t be lonely when they got to heaven, he thought.

Devin had ninety nine roses so far. Today he was planning on make it one hundred.


His wife, however, had surprised him insisting that she was home for the weekend. Devin felt sheer annoyance at this fact, but he hid it well.

Their grown children never came to visit as they were too busy building lives of their own so he was rather used to being alone. He couldn’t understand why Melinda had to screw that up for him.

“You seem upset, is everything okay?” Melinda asked.

“Just a shame. That girl that went missing thirty years ago…her parents died today. I can’t help but think what I would do if something happened to our daughter.”

“Oh, how awful! Maybe they’ll find her…for the sake of her siblings. They seemed rather distraught that she disappeared. It was right when we moved out here, remember?”


“I do,” he answered. “But it’s been thirty years, Melinda. I doubt they’ll find her.”

“Maybe not,” Melinda sighed. “I’m not feeling well, so I think I’m going to spend some time reading, okay, honey? You wouldn’t mind that, would you?” she asked.

“Oh, no. I’ll go to the store and buy something for you…?”

“No, no, I’ll be fine,” she laughed. “I’ll be fine.”

Devin grinned. “All right.”


She mistook his evil grin for a mischievous one. “I said I wasn’t feeling well, Devin. Not now,” she chuckled.

“Of course, I’m sorry,” he remarked, but he wasn’t sorry in the least. Devin thought that there was no more fitting a crown than making his wife his 100th rose. Not his last, of course, because there were so many years that he still had left…but she ought to be remembered in some way, right? To be his hundredth flower was more honoring of a title than to be his first, he thought.

Devin considered waiting until his wife was on the verge of sleep before concocting this horrible cocktail that would end her life. He wasn’t sure what he’d do this time. Sometimes he liked to strangle them but other times he liked to stab, and he never used a gun because it would leave too much of a mess.

He learned that the second time he had gone about this nasty business. He had just narrowly escaped being arrested. They pinned her death on the boyfriend although they’d never found the gun.

Devin made sure they never would, either, when he tossed that gun at the bottom of the swamp.


He sat in his chair as he waited, blinking as he snored himself awake. When had that happened, and what had woken Devin up. He glanced over at an ethereal being who didn’t speak. She just glared at him.

He rubbed his eyes, and she was gone.

Ah, that was nothing. Just a trick of the mind. Well, he’d be damned if that would deter his plans for the evening.

“Devin,” a voice whispered.

It reminded him of that girl that had died thirty years ago.


Now is not the time to be cracking up, Devin, he thought aggressively to himself. He shook his head, clearing his mind of that girl and her blonde hair. The way she had screamed when he bit into her leg hard enough to make her bleed. The way her blood tasted when he licked it off his knife after slashing her throat. He had disposed of her body in a different swamp than the one he was so accustomed to now. No one had ever found her.

She had looked a lot like his wife except her eyes were blue instead of brown. They had the same freckles, the same pale skin, and almost the same smile. The girl had said something to him that had set him off.

Devin could still remember her smug smirk. “Men were just put on this earth to serve women,” she had said. She was just teasing, but it reminded him so much of his wife and her insistence that she was always right that he flew off the handle and he had decided she had to go then and there.

Oh, how she had screamed! He relished it even to this day. She didn’t even know what kind of monster she woke in him, that foolish girl.

Devin smirked again.


“We’re going to knock that smirk right off your face.”

Devin looked around. Who or what was that? He shivered, rubbing his arms. This was getting a little ridiculous. Why was he getting so spooked? Obviously, he was still having some weird dream. He needed to get over it. Otherwise he’d miss his opportunity for his hundredth kill. He wasn’t about to allow that to happen.

He walked into the bedroom where his wife was still sleeping. Devin knew that he had to act quickly.

Any wrong move and she could instantly wake. He wasn’t going to allow that to happen. He looked at the bed-sheets and blankets and thought of a horrible idea. He could smother the life right out of her. Shouldn’t be too hard, right, considering he was stronger than she was.

“Ninety nine roses is far too much for you,” hissed a voice.


He half-expected it to be his wife, but it was not. A pale girl with black hair glared up at him. She looked small enough to be a girl, but she had been a grown woman and a mother. Her only crime was agreeing to get in his car.


“Devin, what’s going on?”

“Nothing, Melinda, just go back to sleep.”

“Are you all right, Devin?”


“I’M FINE!” he roared.

“There’s no need to shout at me for simply asking a question,” Melinda said, grumpily. “Maybe next time don’t walk into a room shouting at yourself if you don’t want people to ask if you’re all right,” she snapped.

“I never asked for your attitude, woman!”

“Nor did I ask you for yours,” Melinda retorted.

“Just ignore him and walk through this door,” came another voice.


“Who, who are you?”

“No one that will harm you. Our business is with your husband.”

“My husband?”

“He murdered us.”

“Murdered?! Devin?!”


“I did, and I’ll kill you, too, Melinda,” Devin shrugged.

“We won’t let you do that.”

“Ninety nine roses is too good for you.”

“Go through the door.”

Melinda disappeared through a door that Devin couldn’t open. He wanted to thunder after her, and get his hundredth rose.



“Somewhere where you cannot harm her.”

“Yes, somewhere where she will never have to fear for her life again,” another woman answered.

He saw that he was surrounded by many ghosts. All of them must of been the women that he had killed through the years.

Devin felt the hair on the back of his arms and neck stand on end. What was going to happen to him?


“We won’t let you die without suffering first.”

“Wait, what? Ghosts can’t kill people.”

“Maybe not with our hands but we can still kill you,” sneered one of the women.

“Yes, we can still kill you,” they crooned in unison.

“No, I won’t be killed by a bunch of women!”


“Why is it so offensive that we’re women? You don’t seem bothered by the idea of us killing you, but the idea that we’re women. You perceive us to be weaker, don’t you?”

“Of course you are! Everyone knows that.”

“We’re the ones that birth the children, deal with periods and menopause, and have to deal with hormonal imbalances whilst expected to be strong as a horse, have the face of a young girl, and be expected to perform in bed whenever our husbands should have want of it. Women shouldn’t still be fighting for their rights!”

“But because of misogynist pigs like you, they are!” chimed in another voice. “Women are people. Not property or objects, and we certainly weren’t put on the earth for your entertainment. We have hopes, dreams, and ambitions of our own.”

“We won’t allow you to collect another rose.”


Devin scowled, glaring at all the ghosts around him. This was some great delusion. It had to be! Yet every time he pinched himself, nothing happened. It was as if he was rooted to this reality even if he didn’t want to accept it was truth. What was going on?

He ran, but one tripped him with his a nail which tore up his sock and caused his foot to bleed. He fell, smacking his face off the hardwood floor.

Another hit him upside the head repeatedly with his wife’s knitting needles.

Yet another ghost whistled so shrilly that he felt as if his ears were about to explode.

“Stop it! Have mercy!”


“We’ll have as much mercy as you showed us: none!”

The horrible cackles that followed afterwards made his ears ring so loudly that it thundered after him as he attempted to crawl out of the room. One of the ghosts knocked over a pitcher of water from his wife’s bedside counter, drenching his hair and face.

Then suddenly there was nothing. Devin blinked. Had they given up on him? Was his haunting finished? He didn’t know.

All he knew was that he must be losing his mind. He used the edge of the bed to pull himself up on, and saw that his wife wasn’t there. The door she disappeared into was gone, as well. Crawling towards his face was a black spider.

He yelped, killing the beast with one of his wife’s shoes that was handy beside the bed stand. It, too, was covered in water, and it was hard to grab onto, but he had managed the feat of smashing the beast. He had always hated spiders. They were gross and creepy no matter what anyone said about their benefits to the environment, he couldn’t abide by them. Bats could eat the insects as far as he were concerned. Blast those confounded creatures!


There was a humming he heard, and he blinked, slowly pulling himself to his feet. He followed after the humming sound hoping it was something that he could make stop because it was making him feel uneasy.

It was coming from the kitchen.

All of a sudden a frying pan came and hit him in the face. As he was falling from the impact of the blow he grappled with the table cloth managing to successfully pull all the contents of the table off as he fell. A chair hit him square in the chest after he had fallen hard on his back.

“Hello, Devin.”

“I think the small potatoes are baked, it’s time to hit you were it hurts.”


Devin blinked catching a knife in mid-air before it could hit him in the groin. These ghosts were no joke.

“I don’t deserve this.”

“Yes, you do.”

“It’s the revenge of the roses for everything and everyone you took from us!”

“You deserve to die.”


He was suddenly reminded of his father who had grabbed him by the scruff of his neck once and uttered those same words.


“No,” was the simple response given by all those voices in unison.

He felt as if his head might explode.

Managing to get back on his feet again Devin ran as fast as he could back to his room, and locked the door. He put his back to the door, panting hard.


He felt the knife slam into his heart from behind, he looked down at his chest where blood blossomed like a flower on his chest. He noticed that it was forming in the shape of a rose.

“The hundredth rose,” one of the ghosts mocked scornfully. “May you rest in pieces but never in peace.”

Their was mocking laughter in his ears. As he laugh dying he felt tears falling from his eyes, but his arms were too heavy to wipe them away. Everything was fading into cold blackness. A void without a name.

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).

Linda M. Crate, author.

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Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Something Rotten, Flesh in Flowers



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…


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.


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


Perilous Parenting

Freaky Fungus

Worrisome Wasps


Terrifying Tardigrades


Reindeer Give Pause

Komodo Dragons

Zombie Snails

Horrifying Humans

Giants Among Spiders


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Original Creations

Dirty Clean Sweep, a Short Story by Jennifer Weigel



Wendell was a germophobe. His obsessions with cleanliness extended far beyond the reach of OCD and even hypochondria, because for all that he was totally infatuated with his own mortality and utterly convinced that he was sick, it was his peculiar obsession with germs that eventually drove him to an insanity that doomed the world to an unexpected and dire destruction. For Wendell was the reason for the Clean Sweep.

When the COVID pandemic happened, it only increased Wendell’s fear, and his germophobia worsened significantly. He started meticulously waxing all of the hair off of his body, even his eyebrows, and would shower several times per day, using an abrasive pumice to slough off any dead skin that might otherwise accumulate and attract mites. As his manners and habits surrounding cleanliness became more and more rigid and involved, he left his house less and less for any reason whatsoever. He began to treat his home environment like a hospital or chemical facility and reworked everything to minimize debris, personally installing air filtration systems that rivaled some of the most sterile industry environments and cleaning everything constantly (he had once worked in HVAC and now no longer trusted anyone else to be involved in his efforts).

He took advantage of all of the delivery services, with packages coming to his back porch once weekly. He had everything on video camera and would scream at anyone who didn’t follow his explicit instructions through a small speaker in the ceiling. If a delivery-person didn’t first sanitize their hands with the supplied wipes and then put on latex gloves and booties before turning the door handle to drop their package on the specified table, they were yelled at and reported, and a bad review was left for whatever service had sent them.

Dirty Clean hand sanitizer out and about
Dirty Clean…

Wendell only order packaged foods, simple soups and cereals that would not come in contact with the world outside of their factory packaged settings. He meticulously researched processing plants to determine what he could and could not consume according to his own standards of cleanliness. When a parcel was delivered, he would leave it where it sat for two to three days time depending on the weather, all the while monitoring it. He would eventually suit up in a tyvek jumpsuit, goggled and gloved, and brave the porch himself in order to extract his needed food and hygiene supplies. Whilst there, he would spray and wipe down the porch, replenish the hand sanitizing wipes and latex gloves, and take everything that might have come into contact with the outside world out with his trash. The cycle would then repeat again a few days later. Every delivery included yet more gear to perpetuate his clean infatuation. More latex gloves, more wipes, more sprays, more tyvek suits… And every time his labors increased…

While Wendell continued to go about his business, ordering life necessities like soap and soup online, a slow and subtle change to his environment began to take over. It wasn’t obvious and, as he never put any distance between himself and his bubble world, he was unaware of the shift. It began because of a spore, well more of an anti-spore like blossoming of suddenly self-aware sterilization. No one really knows where it came from, or how it managed to get such a strong foothold, but perhaps it was because of Wendell’s meticulous cleaning habits. For this strange and unusual being, or beings as it were (for it was hard to tell whether there was a single individual or a number of them all acting under one consciousness), though unaffected by cleaning reagents and the like, had once been highly susceptible to bacteria and rarely survived at length when competing for resources with other species previous to its evolution in Wendell’s abode. But the bereft home was the perfect outpost for it to thrive, and it finally managed to gain a foothold. It grew rapidly and had soon infiltrated most every corner.


As mentioned, Wendell didn’t notice, or perhaps he welcomed the change. For this strange surface skimmer actually looked even cleaner than its surroundings, appearing as an even brighter less dingy white that almost seemed to glow. It embodied cleanliness, at least insofar as we have come to perceive the concept. And the more that it acclimated to its habitat, the more resilient it became, learning to alter its own surroundings to its gain by killing off any and all other life forms that stood in its way. When a small quantity of some bacteria or mite or other single-celled threat was introduced, say on a box surface or embedded in the cardboard, the newly evolved clean critter would attack and annihilate them almost as if it were itself composed of harsh cleansers like bleach and ammonia. It seemed to develop a memory for different organisms and found a way to destroy most everything. It steadily increased in size and became stronger and stronger.

Clean Dirty hand sanitizer out and about
Clean Dirty…

Finally, one day, it had grown large enough to determine that Wendell himself was a threat, for no matter how clean his environment or person was, he still harbored a myriad of organisms required to keep a human healthy and fully functioning. He was inherently dirty and had to be eliminated. And so the creature he had fostered at length, by providing a nearly sterile environment for its incubation, rose up and destroyed him. It did so while he was sleeping and so he had no awareness of what had happened; had he realized a blanket of seemingly sudsy foam was suffocating him he would have panicked thinking it was some sort of bacterial infection or the like. But he blissfully slept through his untimely death, and the aggressive new organism worked to dispel all of the unclean bits and detritus of his being.

After finally taking over the whole of the house, this new creature began to spread, much like a fungus or a rot, dismantling all in its path in order to leave a wake of clean sterile nothingness. Although it has been said that nature abhors a vacuum, somehow this void had become powerful enough to negate that and continued on its path of complete and utter destruction, leaving nothing living in its path. Before too long it had absorbed the two neighboring houses, and then the houses just beyond those, in a sort of reverse infection that defied logical explanation. The local health department and center for disease control were perplexed; these spaces seemed too clean to harbor such a deadly silent killer and yet something was slowly annihilating everything in its path on a microscopic level. It almost acted like a slow progressing chemical spill but yet there was no evidence of such either.

Before long, word had gotten out and samples had been taken and distributed across the globe. One of those samples was eventually leaked intentionally, as a weapon of mass destruction, and was unable to later be contained. The Clean Sweep was upon all and the world began to be disinfected wholly as it spread. Life was literally in the balance, slated to be eradicated and left to a sort of shiny surface devoid of substance. All was being cleansed, slowly but surely. What started with Wendell, whom would never be known or acknowledged as the source of this new terror, had grown to be much larger.

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.

If you enjoyed this tale, here is another creepy story about cleanliness. 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

More Nail Polish Paintings by Jennifer Weigel



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


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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