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“Sweet Tooth” by Tiffany Promise

It didn’t seem that late on Halloween eve—the frothy, mossy stink of recently-scooped pumpkin still permeated the air—but only the goth kids remained outside, bleeding themselves silly in the cemetery. I’d been hoping that a few pretend-witches might clutter my un-welcome mat. Their warts a’bubble, moles stuck with hair, I didn’t know if they were paying homage or mocking; either way, I planned to stick photocopies of my best Hex Stew recipe in their buckets (along with the prerequisite chocolate bat bar, of course). But instead, at the very stroke of midnight, a skeleton dude knocked on my door. He was tall, lithe, a sight for lonesome eyes. And since I still had a bucketful of black licorice left, I opened the door. Wide.

            “Trick or treat.” His voice sounded like it came from somewhere deeper than the dirt.

            “Great costume,” I said, dizzying; the space between his bones seemed to go on forever.

            “Thanks,” he mumbled. “Can I come in?” It had been months since I’d had a real visitor, years since anyone had crossed my threshold. And since ground-up boy-bones are an integral ingredient in most love-spell-banishing brews, I ushered him in. He was all black and bone; a pure, unadulterated nothingness. I forgot myself and gawked.

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            “You’re the prettiest witch I’ve seen all night,” he said, reaching out and touching my cheek. “People always talk about how ugly you are, but they’re wrong.”

            “People are idiots,” I whispered. Pulled into the galaxies of his eye sockets, hooked by the emptiness of his hips, I moved closer.

            “Can I kiss you?” He asked, reading my mind.

            It had been years since I’d been kissed, decades since a little slap-&-tickle, so I closed my eyes and leaned forward. I’m tempting fate, I thought. Nothing good’s ever come from my kind kissing his kind… But I dove in anyway.

            His lips were webbed with sugar and he tasted better than anything I’d ever licked. I generally find it tacky to indulge in foodstuffs that fairytale-witches use to lure innocent kiddies; besides, things like frog’s breath and will-o’-the-wisp blood keep me clear-headed and adept at the intricacies of the darkest arts. But as I pushed my tongue into his mouth, I found little nubs of gummy stuck between his molars. Reaching down his throat, I discovered Fun Dip still fizzing his epiglottis. Suddenly, more pig than witch, drooling for his sweetmeats, I hocus-pocused myself into a wee thing and slipped deep inside of him.

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            Dissolving candy hearts peppered his esophagus while sour worms conglomerated in his tum. A hunk of cotton-spun sugar was wedged in his intestines—still-stiffish, hot pink, and out-of-this-world. I ate him up. I couldn’t help myself. I was risking it all, but I kept on swallowing.

            Until, uh-oh! I caved into a candy-coma on his prickly pelvic floor.

            “You alright?” he thundered.

            “Ughghllgh” I guttered.

xxx

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I’m not sure how long I slept, but I awoke with an achey start. “Hey,” I squeaked, “I’m kinda stuck in here. Mind helping me out?” I’d only meant our interaction to be a quick romp—an hour at most—but I’d gone and slept inside the guy. Stupid witch.

            “Sid Da Kid’s gonna flip when he hears about this,” he said, chuckling. “He bet me fifty that I couldn’t even get a kiss. Wonder how much he’ll cough up now.”

            Wait, what? I was a dare? A measly fifty bucks? “If you don’t let me out this minute, you will regret it forever,” I threatened, feeling my temper quickly rise.

            “Oooh, a firecracker, huh? Me likey.” He laughed. “You got yourself in there, why can’t you get yourself out?”

            I didn’t want to admit that his sugars had sapped my powers. That by acting the part of a spoiled, mortal girl, I’d risked everything. “I will fucking destroy you and everything you love,” I promised.

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            “I’ll help you out if you just admit how much you liked it.”

            “I’d rather eat a razor blade sandwich,” I hissed.

            “I bet it’s been years since you’ve been properly boned. You should be thanking me.”

            Properly boned? Thanking him? Fury filled me up fast. Expanding, ballooning, in only moments I was back to my normal size; his easy-peasy weak sternum strained against the force of my flesh.

             Almost instantly, there was a sharp crack and I hit the floor like a seed. Sticky and sick, I threw up in my hair. It was me or him…him or me, I reminded myself. But slumped against my baseboard, he didn’t look so tough. A walnut shell, a spent cicada skin, a mortal boy that messed with the wrong witch.

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            “What’s Sid Da stupid Kid gonna say about this? I should be the one getting paid,” I spit, summoning my energy for one last abracadabra.

            xxx

Bone Boy’s ashes still sit on my shelf, tucked up next to a bottle of nightshade. Someday soon I’ll sprinkle him into a brew and offer a cup to my black-and-blue-eyed neighbor. Or her sister with the pantyhose runs and lipstick on her teeth. Maybe even that convenience store clerk, the one who never lifts her eyes; the punk girl at the bus stop with brass knuckles tattooed over the deep scar on her wrist.

            Because their stories are my story are their stories are my story—held firm in hardened hearts, silent against a world full of witch-shaming flames, mother-in-law’s tongues, those lovers of racks and screws. We may keep quiet, but we stay vigilant, ever-summoning the powers of Hecate as we build our graham-cracker fortresses, the mortar a mash of our own spit and knucklebone.

The End.

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Tiffany Promise was awarded an MFA in creative writing from CalArts in 2010, and an MA in psychology from California Institute of Integral Studies in 2013. Her stories have appeared in Black Clock, Gingerbread House, Blanket Sea, High Shelf, and the Salt River Review. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize twice, in 2015 and 2019. Having attended Tin House and Sirenland, she’s had the privilege of working with both Eileen Myles and Anthony Doerr on various projects. She spent 2017 polishing her first novel with Francesca Lia Block in Los Angeles, but recently relocated to Victoria, B.C. As a mother, she is particularly interested in exploring mother-child dynamics and the feminization of madness.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. John Combo

    January 26, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    This was a great story by Tiffany Promise. The imagery was amazing.

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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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