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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 Creations

Ppppfffftttt, an RPG story by Jennifer Weigel



Poised Potion Poison Potential, an RPG story by Jennifer Weigel

(There – I finally said it! Second time’s the charm. Can we move along now?)

Pop Pop Fizz Fizz, boy what a relief it is...  Skylanders style
Pop Pop Fizz Fizz, boy what a relief it is… Skylanders style

So I think Barbarella is losing it.  Like she’s been sneaking healing potions.  We never did manage to get to an alchemist before she downed one of those unmarked flasks we got off the goblins when we took their lair.  Yeah, we all know they’re healing potions but I can’t help but think the goblins weren’t getting their goods legit.  I mean, they are goblins, ‘nuff said.  And I’ve heard some of the black market varieties have other weird properties too, so I fear maybe she’s gotten a bad one or something.

Anyway, she’s been acting strange, spending a lot of time by herself.  And not working out, like usual, but rather rifling through the treasure trove.  Not that she’s at all sneaky about it.  I mean c’mon, it is Barbarella after all.  She’s kind of the polar opposite of discreet.  She’s always been more of a don’t-tread-on-me and mess-with-my-buddies-mess-with-my-war-axe kind of a girl.

It’s making Squidge suspicious.  Yeah I know, Squidge is a bit edgy anyway, but they’re acting even more so now.  They seem to have an even tighter grip on whatever things they’ve stashed away all up in that cloak of holding or whatever it is that they never take off and that makes it hard to remember much of anything about them.  Hell, I don’t even know what gender they are, not that it matters anyway. I don’t concern myself with what Squidge is or isn’t up to so I don’t really care; generally the best is to assume the worst and move on.  Nosing around in Squidge’s business is like begging for a stab wound to the back in your sleep, if you know what I mean.  But they’ve been acting even more paranoid than normal, so I think they’ve noticed that something is off too.

You know, it’s been a long time since I’ve even had to down a healing potion; I tend to stay in the far back and let the other two hack n slash, it’s safer that way.  And health elixirs aren’t my cup-of-probiotic-smoothie-protein-tea (it’s all too snake oil salesman fad craze diet antioxidant stuff for me).  I’m more of a freewhellin fireball flingin kind of spell-slinger.  The healing arts magics are a bit too… mushy gushy lovey dovey for me.


We aren’t a goody-two-shoes fixer-upper team, more of a nice-fill-in-the-blank-I-think-I’ll-take-it kind of ensemble.  You know the type.  #thuglifeforever.  But times like this do make me wish we had a paladin or a cleric or even a druid to tag along.  Where do you find the moral high grounders when you need them anyway?  Sure, I guess I could go to a church or something, but some of the lesser evil critters I’ve wagered pacts and bargains with may not take too kindly to that.  And the nature nice guys are all save-the-treants which generally doesn’t mesh with the whole fireball jive.

I guess Squidge could ask someone, but they only really talk to The Guild and just in that you-don’t-stab-my-back-I-don’t-stab-yours kind of sense, so we don’t have anyone to consult with on these kinds of things.  It’s certainly not worth seeking out a 100 gp pearl for a wizened old wizard to snort for further clarity, even if the relative scarcity and exchange rate has made them significantly smaller and easier to haul around at this juncture, assuming you can find them at all.  I swear, if the alchemists didn’t need to get high to get anything done it’d be a whole lot easier for everyone.  And don’t even get me started on the Oracle, that nympho dominatrix bitch.  Suffice to say I will NOT be going back there anytime soon, for ANY reason.

So here we are.  Maybe whatever it is’ll pass on its own.  But I noticed a couple more of those goblin healing potions have gone missing.  We all know they don’t work if you aren’t hurt.  And I swear I saw Barbarella take her own axe to the shin before she downed one when she thought I wasn’t looking during my nightly séance with the campfire flames.  My cohorts don’t realize I can actually do more than it seems from my ritual state.  The demonspawn that grant me my powers aren’t always all-engrossing, especially if I’m channeling things I’ve done a bajillion times already and not trying to harness something new.  Frankly sometimes it’s best to tune the spirits out since they pontificate at length for no reason, but I suppose I’m not one to talk.

Conversing with Fire Demons, RPG story art by Jennifer Weigel
Conversing with Fire Demons, RPG story art by Jennifer Weigel

I keep coming back to this thought though.  Why would Barbarella hurt herself just to chug a stupid goblin potion anyway?  Usually those dares go the other way.  Goblin potions taste like bad grog two days following a dwarven ale upchuck hangover, and that’s if you’re lucky.  Often they’re worse.  And they’re not even that good as far as healing elixirs, mending maybe a minor flesh wound at best.  They’re crappy, no getting around it, and a last resort at best.  Why would she deliberately go out of her way to drink that shit?

You know, there’s a whole stash of the things left, and I am a bit down on health myself.  Maybe I should try one to see what the allure is.  Perhaps the camaraderie and shared experience could help me get Barbarella to sober up and leave the toxic sludge alone.  Or at the very least, maybe I’ll understand what she sees in them.  Perhaps they’re new and improved, but I seriously doubt it seeing as how they’re still just ill-obtained swag we got off some low-level goblins.  You know, no one ever really gives goblins anything worth having unless they’re trying to exploit them in some way, and even then it’s really not worth it, seeing as how the goblins don’t have anything anybody wants to barter…

I swear those potions were in this satchel here; we had like over 100 of the things.  Oh, here’s one, way down in the bottom of the bag having fallen under some of the other crap we looted that wasn’t worth much of anything.  Wow I really had to dig deep to fish that out, and it’s only been about a week since the goblins’ lair…  In the light looks like the same ol’ ordinary purple black pink tinged sludge we normally find, a tad more sparkle factor but not enough to care.  Now why are Barbarella and Squidge both looking at me like I’m holding the golden goose egg of everlasting mana and fingering their weapons?


If you enjoyed this RPG story by Jennifer Weigel, perhaps you will want to see some art from previous campaigns or read the Twilight saga, both on Haunted MTL here.

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.

Check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s writing here at Jennifer Weigel Words.

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Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Vampires Among Us



This is the kickoff to a new series exploring nature that is kind of horrifying, at least in ways. Our first subject is Vampires Among Us. There are lots of animals named for vampires, sometimes due to folklore and sometimes for their appearance (like the Vampire Squid), but most of these animals don’t have blood sucking tendencies.

Bats & Birds

There are legit vampire leaf-nosed bats in Central and South America that drink blood. They feed on mammals and are often shown to feed on livestock. They’d be kinda cute if they weren’t so creepy. There are also vampiric birds: some finches in the Galapagos have developed the taste for blood of other birds, mainly seabirds that flock to the islands to raise their young.

Vampire Bats
Vampire Bats

Leeches & Lampreys & More

And then you get into leeches and lampreys and other denizens of the water that are known to attach themselves to larger creatures and drink their blood. Leeches were even believed to have medicinal value (and still are in certain circumstances). And there are also numerous plants that are known to be parasitic and feed on other plants, wrapping their roots or vines around others to steal nutrients.

Lamprey Teeth
Lamprey Teeth


Now I’m going to drift off into the realm where this becomes truly horrific. Spiders. Now, spiders aren’t vampires per se, seeing as how they actually kill their prey – they don’t just feed off of it while it remains living and wanders about its business. But because of their structure, they cannot eat solid foods, so they have to inject their prey with enzymes to liquefy it so they can slurp it out like a protein shake. That’s sort of vampirism on steroids if you ask me, just the kind that no one is coming back from.

Spider Eating
Spider Eating

Bloodsucking Bugs

But let’s get back on topic. Now let’s consider mites and ticks and fleas and mosquitoes and the like. Some drink blood for their survival; others do so as part of their reproductive cycle (like mosquitoes which otherwise eat fruit and nectar but need the extra protein from blood to grow their eggs).

Ticks need to feed on blood once at every stage of their life cycle and can pick up diseases along the way (like Lyme Disease) but don’t always do so. Different ticks are more likely to come in contact with different things and often humans are not their preferred meal but they are opportunistic and will feed on whatever is available when necessary. Symptoms of illness from tick bites may take years to develop and can have really weird side effects (like the allergy associated with Lone Star Ticks which makes a person unable to consume mammalian flesh).


Anyway, here are some brief glimpses of vampirism in nature. Thank you for joining us for Nightmarish Nature and may you avoid getting bitten by any true vampires among us… And I still think spiders take first place in the creepy eating category here, even if they aren’t technically vampiric.

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Original Creations

Buried Treasure by “Dread Pirate” Jennifer Weigel



This story came to me in a sort of roundabout way from a rather unusual source. So I thought I’d share it with you, dear readership, and see if you can make heads or tails of it. – Jennifer Weigel

Spanish Moss on Live Oak limbs, marker drawing by Jennifer Weigel
Spanish Moss on Live Oak limbs, marker drawing by Jennifer Weigel

Dread Pirate Rum Tum Tugger could tell this was the right spot.

The site, beneath the sweeping limbs of the Live Oak, Spanish Moss swaying gently in the breeze, was a perfect match to the crude map he had bought off that soothsayer Deuteronomy.

The earth moved easily, as if it had been excavated previously. He dug in with greater fervor with each swipe. The sandy soil gave way to reveal something hard. He scooped and smoothed the remaining detritus from the surface as he uncovered a box.

The carton was simple.

No markings; no ornamentation; no writing. Just a plain cardboard crate, brittle from having been buried for so long but still sturdy. He hoisted it from its burrow.

“Ha HO!” he shouted to the passing breeze, rousing a small cloud of birds that erupted from a nearby thicket. They captured his attention for a moment, but he quickly refocused and returned to his task.

The box was locked but no difference.

Any self-respecting ruffian like himself could pick a lock in seconds. And he did so with panache, as was his way. He pried the lid open and licked his lips.


Inside was the legendary Kernel of Eternal Life, a small sparrow’s heart, still beating.

Promotional Poster for Dread Pirate Queen Miss Kitty performance art by Jennifer Weigel
Promotional Poster for Dread Pirate Queen Miss Kitty performance art by Jennifer Weigel

Artwork description: Myself as Dread Pirate Queen Miss Kitty wearing black bell sleeve shirt and black vinyl skirt with strapping leather belt over leopard print shirt and tights, with strapping leather boots, pirate head wrap and leopard cat ears.

Image text reads: Purr! Avast ye mateys, Dread Pirate Queen Miss Kitty invites ye to check out her booty stash and dig ye up a dungbie prize. Seek ye some buried treasure! Just grab ye a plastic litter scoop and dig… dig… dig… to ye heart’s content.

I created this image for a promotional poster for a performance piece in a charity art show in which I, as Dread Pirate Queen Miss Kitty, hawked a carnival sideshow style sidewalk installation. For a mere $5 donation to the animal shelter the show supported, gallery goers could dig around in a kiddie pool full of litter to find a prize: a cheap plastic trinket from the dollar store. I had some takers, including one kid who seemed to really enjoy the digging and whose parents were all in, saying “You know, you can totally do that at home too.”

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.

For more cat antics, we invite you to read C-2747’s logbook here on Haunted MTL. 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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