“The Eyes Have It” By Victory Witherkeigh
“He’s watching me again,” said the little girl to her father.
Her father rolled his eyes. It was the same story every night for the past week. He and the kids sat down for a family dinner at the rickety, dining table with matching chairs and upholstery that was peeling away. Then came homework before he sent the kids off to get ready for bed. The little girl brushed her teeth, put on her white pajamas, and climbed into bed with no problems. After one in the morning, her father woke up to find a navy blue sleeping bag on the floor of their room.
The first time she showed up on the floor, her father almost stepped on her going to the bathroom.
“What are you doing on the floor?” he hissed.
“Someone is watching me from the window, daddy!” she cried hoarsely. She was so distraught, he rushed down to pull her in his arms to stop her from crying out.
“Honey, that’s not possible. We’re on the second story of the house…” replied her father as calmly as he could at two in the morning, “Your window only has a tiny ledge over the front door. No one could stand on that without falling over.”
“I swear daddy!” she cried, “It’s a pair of red eyes, and they’re watching me…”
Grumbling to himself, night after night, he got out of bed and took her back to her room.
He slowly flicked the shades up and down and pointed to the window.
“See!” he said, “There is nothing out there but the streetlight and the stars. No one is watching you. I promise…”
The man was beyond exhausted. He worked almost six days a week at the plant. As a lead manufacturing engineer, the time taken for product testing was extensive. If things kept failing at the plant, at this rate, he would be lucky to have a nap at the office.
The little girl pulled the covers to her chin as her dad flipped the light switch off again.
She closed her eyes and tried to focus on the sound of her breathing. Rolling into a fetal position and away from the window, the little girl settled into a comfortable rhythm – inhale, exhale, inhale, etcetera. Drifting off, the smell of the fresh scent from the laundry detergent cocooned around her, warmed her lungs. The snores from her brother’s room echoed down the hall, masking the sounds of the girl’s window creaking as a dark figure once again set its red eyes on her pretty face.
The weeks continued this way until the father lost count of the little girl’s incessant cries of the “watchful red eyes.” He could not remember the last time he slept more than an hour at a time.
I just need a break, he thought, Just a moment to relax… A bit of silence… is that too much to hope for?
The only other time he felt this tired was when his son was still nursing in the early months after his wife passed away. Sighing to himself, he tried to get a nap before dinner. It appeared he barely closed his eyes before the sounds of an argument pricked his ears.
“Stop touching me!!,” yelled his son, “Dad… Dad! She won’t leave me alone!”
“He’s lying!” screeched the little girl, “I was trying to watch my show, and he took the remote. I just took it back!”
“No! You’re the liar! We all know you’re the liar… Just like how you lie about the red eyes watching you.”
“SHUT UP!,” yelled the father. “Both of you! Go to your rooms now. I don’t want to hear another peep from either of you until I call for dinner. Is that understood?”
The children stomped upstairs, pouting and scowling at one another as they reached their end of the hall. Both slammed their respective room doors as hard as they could, rippling their sense of indignation that dad had punished both of them. Rubbing his bloodshot eyes with a sigh, the man slowly walked down the stairs to the kitchen to boil the water for the pasta dish he had planned for their meal. Setting the timer on the stove, he opened the pantry door to pull out the pasta sauce when a loud thud crashed over his head.
Damnit, he grumbled. What are they doing now?
Barreling up the staircase, the father saw the little girl’s door was open while her brother’s door was shut. He did not hesitate to barge through the door, yelling before he finished opening it, “What did I tell you two about being QUIET until I called for dinner?”
He was stunned by what he walked into.
His son appeared knocked out on the ground next to his dresser, the girl crying next to him, gently prodding him.
“I’m sorry! Daddy, it was an accident! I didn’t mean it! He wouldn’t let go of my book, so I let go first, and he fell…” the girl cried.
She did not finish that sentence before her father grabbed her arm and yanked her up off the floor.
“I am SO SICK of your crap,” he screamed at her, shaking her in his arms, “Why can’t you just be good and shut up?”
In a flash, he threw her aside, missing the crack as her head collided against the white walls, chipping the drywall. He knelt to check on his son and started compressions on his chest as he leaned his ear against his nose and mouth. Small movements of air worked against the stubble on his chin.
Ok, he thought, he’s breathing…
Gently, he lifted his son and placed him on his bed of Bob, the Builder. Turning, he realized what else he had done. The dark pool of liquid underneath the girl was soaking through the beige carpet.
“No…no… Not again…” he scrambled down to the floor, avoiding the sight of the unnatural angle of her head against the floor.
What should I do? How did I do this last time? he thought.
The smell of copper hit his nostrils, setting off a wave of nausea and dizziness. Flashes of a memory threatened to overtake him – another mistake he had pushed to the recesses of his mind.
The air seemed to disappear from his lungs as he began to look around for a towel or something to stop the bleeding.
Gotta move, gotta move.
It was all that flooded his mind as he started frantically covering the girl’s body.
“I told him you were here…I told him I wasn’t lying…” said the little girl’s ghost, eyes glowing a bloody red like the stains being cut from the carpet beneath her cold body.
“I know, sweetie,” replied the dark figure next to her, “I always told your dad he needed to be careful of his temper. It’s one thing we always fought about…”
“Who are you?” asked the little girl.
“Oh, honey…” the ghost said, kneeling to be eye level with her on the roof of their house, “I’m your mom…”
The little red eyes widened in shock, “Daddy said you went away to heaven!”
“Oh, no, sweetie! I would never EVER leave you if I had a say…” said the mother, “Your daddy was a bad man and took you and your brother away from me… I’ve been looking for you all this time…”
Their red eyes drifted back to the scene in the room as her little body was being dragged away.
“I don’t want to go away…” she whispered.
The mother reached around with her specter of an arm and pulled her closer. “Don’t worry, love. We will make sure your brother comes with us.”
The father came back to his son’s room, carrying a spare rug he found in the garage.
He was just about to set it over the hole of the missing carpet when he saw them, the red eyes his little girl had told him about all these weeks.
His body froze, lungs incapable of drawing breath as the memory flooded back – those same eyes accusing him of scaring her, of scaring the children.
Those eyes that told him he needed help, counseling after his stint in Afghanistan, that he wasn’t the same man when he got back.
Those eyes that once loved him.
Those eyes that filled with blood as the vessels popped when he squeezed her throat, shutting her up when she said she was leaving with the kids.
The same blood-red as he buried her under the foundations of the old house and took off.
He couldn’t even scream as the eyes were an inch away from his face now.
“Honey,” she said with a wolfish grin, “I’m home.”
Victory Witherkeigh is a new upcoming female Filipino author originally from Los Angeles, CA. She is based in the Pacific Northwest and is finishing her first novel. Victory has short stories published in literary magazines, Allegory Ridge titled, “HysterSister,” Bad Bride, titled, “Catherine de Medici,” and Thought Catalog titled, “I Didn’t Believe in Soulmates, But Here He Was,” respectively. She has her debut publication in a horror anthology, The Hollow Horror Anthology Book #3, for sale beginning May 2020 containing her fiction short story, “Passion,” under Breaking Rules Publishing.
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.