“The Body In The Middle” by Meera Dandekar
On a gloomy night, Alice woke up in a dark room, placed neatly in a chair, as if she had dozed off to sleep while working. The chair creeped as she lifted herself up and shuddered at the sound of the thundering storm outside. The ceiling was out of reach, like in a Victorian house. She looked around and observed that the only window in the entire room was on the roof. She kept looking around the room. There was an operating table, placed right in the middle, with something on it, covered with a white sheet. She walked away from the thing.
The lightning outside occasionally illuminated the room with bright white light. She walked alongside the walls, trying to find a switch for the lights that hung lowly from the roof. Her hand fell on the doorknob instead. She tried to twist it but it didn’t budge. It rattled loudly in the silent room. She finally gave up and walked around to see if she could find anything useful to break the door down. She tried to stay calm about her situation. She knew that if she panicked now, she’d never find a way out. The rain was hitting on the window so harshly that Alice thought it might break the window at some point. She tried to recall how she had gotten here but nothing came back to her.
She wanted to get out before her curiosity ate her. She desperately wanted to lift the sheet to see what was underneath it. The walls were made up of stones that were cemented in place, which cooled down the temperature in the room. It was almost freezing. Alice tried to warm herself up.
As she walked around the room, she felt around a handle and flicked it on. She thought that it could be a switch but no lights came on. She refused to give up as she felt the big machine that stood behind it. It looked like some sort of a generator with an air compressor at its side. When the lightning struck, she could see the numerous dials on the machine, all pointing to zero. She flipped all the switches on.
She walked to the other side of the room, looking at the massive cupboards, the metal knobs felt colder than its wooden body. She timed her search to the thundering so she could see what she was touching. She glared at the painting that hung above her head, the name reading “Dr. Frankenstein.” She stepped back to look at it. The lightning struck again and she saw the face of the madman. The electricity wizzed but Alice did not hear it. She was distracted by the painting.
She had heard about the cases that followed in the footsteps of Frankenstein, but this was a shrine. She had heard about the murders that had taken place in different parts of the town. Usually, some body parts were missing like, only a hand or a leg and in one case, the head. It seemed like that person was gathering all the parts. She looked back at the table with the body.
She needed to find the key. She looked for it in the cupboards and drawers but no trace. Someone had locked it from the outside and taken the key with them. She huffed air as she gave up.
Suddenly, the Thing on the table moved which grabbed her attention. She could feel her heart racing against her chest. It was alive. She ran towards the door and banged and on it. There was no one to listen to her. She was doing exactly what she wasn’t going to—- panicking.
She looked intently at the body to see if there was another movement. It didn’t move. She sighed in relief. She must’ve imagined it or it could’ve been a dead reflex. She was getting more and more curious now. She wanted to lift the sheet to see underneath it. She did.
The sheet stayed near the abdomen, revealing a half naked body. The stitches felt fresh. It was too difficult to see properly so she waited for the lightning to strike. The thunder shuddered louder this time and caused the generator to jump to a start. Alice jumped back in surprise. Her back was touching the far end of the wall, horrified to see that the body was sitting up straight. She could hear the slow grunts it was making. The lightning gave enough light to reveal a sewed up face. Its eyes were now open but it didn’t move, it just sat upright.
Alice tried to slide her way towards the door. She did it slowly so It wouldn’t notice her in the room. It kept looking at nowhere in particular when she reached the door. She tried to turn it slowly. Lightning illuminated her but It didn’t take notice. She thought that It might be brain dead. Then she saw it, the key. It was around Its neck.
Emotions rushed into her as she tried to formulate a plan. She started to step towards It. She was almost behind it when the thunder lit up the generator and It grunted to life, again. It was still sitting there but now had a sense of life in it. She stared at it in horror when It noticed someone in the room and it turned its head around to face her. Its body did not move a bit.
She could feel the sweat trickling down her face but stayed steady. She thought she could blend into the background and it wouldn’t take notice, but It did. It started to put its legs down from the table, one at a time and lifted itself up to stand. It wobbled as it started to walk towards Alice. Alice started scramming to the farthest point. She slid between the two cupboards, placed remotely close to each other, just enough to fit her. It took a long time to walk towards her and stuck its hand between the cupboards to grab her. She squeezed herself into the wall. It was leaning closer, its head trying to fit into the space. She saw the key dangling around its neck.
She tried to find the courage to rip it off. She took a book that she found lying and threw it in the other direction. Something toppled over which grabbed Its attention. It wasn’t looking at her anymore and she took her chance. As she ripped it off, it grunted in pain. The force had created the stitches to loosen and it was starting to bleed. It started taking careful steps to back away but fell when it couldn’t control its balance.
This was it. This was her open window and she needed to take it. She ran towards the door and the door clicked open, but wasn’t her who turned it.
A man stepped into the view. The thunder striked and illuminated his face. A scar on his eyebrow gave him a deadly look. She tried to back away but she realised that It was right behind her. The man locked the door behind him.
“All right, now that you’re awake, I’m going to need your organs.” His face grew into an evil smile as he started walking towards her with his sharpest knife.
Meera Dandekar loves to explore the fictional worlds that show the magical realm of being. You can befriend her by offering her some coffee, she loves it. She wants to visit the scariest place in the world, Derry, Maine. She’s currently living in Mumbai, India.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
Queen of Everything Mother’s Day Wishes
Happy Mother’s Day to the Queen of Everything… nothing gets by you.
Artwork description: A Happy Mother’s Day card featuring a picture of a Nefertiti doll with swooping hair, glitter makeup, and elaborate gold and blue headdress and evening gown.
Image text reads: Happy Mother’s Day! You are the Queen of Everything and you shimmer brighter than the twinkliest star in the sky. Stay sparkly and shine on in your magnificent glitter bombasticness. You ARE truly everything everywhere all at once and you’ve seen and heard it all. Eyes in the back of your head and superpowered hearing mean we can’t get away with much no matter how hard we try. So Queen on and rule over home in sparkly sentinel.
And may this be a testament to why us kids shalt never get you out of bed too early or run amok while you are getting ready to start your day… Because being the Queen of Everything takes planning and preparation…
Feel free to check out this Mummy Dearest Mother’s Day card from 2021 here on Haunted MTL.