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“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.

Lighter than Dark

LTD Tripped Out Motivational Posters

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Tripped out… in case you just couldn’t get enough of Everything Everywhere All at Once and the return of the infinite bagel with EVERYTHING on it…

Tripped Out motivational poster
Tripped Out motivational poster

Artwork description: kaleidoscopic image of pink hairy horror (This is actually a fink fuzzy frond plant not unlike a Cockscomb but with longer thinner flowering feelers rather than the fuller protuberances you see on a full-bodied Cockscomb plant. I have no idea what it was, but it was very odd so I had to snap a photo.)

Image text reads: Mixing Magic Mushrooms & Peyote Just remember: once you open that Pandora’s box, you’re never going to get the pink hairy tarantulas back in it…

Tripped Out seeing eye god sunflower
Tripped Out seeing eye god sunflower

Artwork description: kaleidoscopic sunflower backlit by the sun with text and rainbow eye overlay

Image text reads: Eye See You Eye See All (in circle text so you can start and end reading wherever). In an ideal context this would be printed in the bottom of your tea mug or on a record that can slowly spin.

For more crazy tripped out fun, check out Weird Al’s post on Craig’s List

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

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Original Creations

The Elves Reunion, a short story by Jennifer Weigel

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An Elven portal in the woods, emerging from stone and forest floor.
An Elven portal in the woods, emerging from stone and forest floor.

I had heard tale that The Elves dwell in these woods.  Many underestimate The Elves; they have a fondness of heart for Tolkienesque Middle Earth fantasy stories and tales where Elves are the most highly civilized, virtuous and intelligent.  They forget that those are just myths, save for The Elves being cunning.  Remember that the Pied Piper was an Elf, and the children he took were not destined for such a glorious fate.

My sister lost her firstborn to The Elves.  She hadn’t noticed the Changeling until it was too late.  Her baby had already long since been stolen away.  She was so distraught she refused to eat or speak.  She locked herself in her room.  Or my family locked her into it as she succumbed to the madness.  Such are the ways of the family, for all of our protection.  We never question but follow as expected, as a means of self-preservation.  It has kept us all alive.

But I couldn’t get the sinking feeling out of my stomach; the grief became too overwhelming. That is why I came here.  I know I will not be able to rescue the child, nor my sister.  But I seek to avenge their meaningless deaths.  To ensure that it doesn’t happen again.  My family will never act.  I am tired of the Village Elders just shrugging these things off in hushed whispers and badly shrouded secrets.  It happens time and again.  We are all expendable.  They never do anything.

So here I am, in the Elven wood.  Alone.  As soon as my family figures out that I’m here, they will disown me.  They probably already have.  Again, it is for our own protection.  I’ll be just another casualty of The Elves.  Everything is so structured, so regimented.  Anyone who dares act in opposition to the rules vanishes.  We are all so afraid.

I lay in wait.  It’s just a matter of time before the portal appears.  The Elves use the portals to travel across time and space.  They appear where and when they wish.  But this time, I will go through first.  I know not what is on the other side, just that the portals allow only one to traverse in each direction.  We will trade places, if only for a moment until another portal forms.  Hopefully that will be enough time.

The trees shift and morph.  Falling leaves drift slower and slower towards the ground.  There is a stillness that I cannot fully express.  My breath hangs heavy in the silent air.  There is no sound, no smell, no taste.  It is time.  The hairs on the back of my neck and arms rise. I can sense the opening forming.  There is an uncanny familiarity in this moment, as if I have been here before.

As soon as the portal opens, I dash through.  But something isn’t right.  No one came through from the other side.  Or did they?  I cannot tell.  I am alone, in limbo between states of existence.  The world spins around me.  I can feel the drift.  Is this what death feels like?  Cold unbroken silence?  I feel distant eyes upon me everywhere, all around me, in the trees, the clouds, pinpoints of light that shimmer through.

I can feel The Elves eyes upon me everywhere.  In the leaves, in the trees themselves.
I can feel The Elves eyes upon me everywhere. In the leaves, in the trees themselves.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Maybe this is all according to plan.  But who was orchestrating the exchange?  My idea was only half formed in those passing pensive moments I am able to think for myself, few and far between.  My family, the Village Elders… no one allows time for freeform thought.  I hadn’t considered what would happen after the portal exchange.  I never really got past step one.

A voice greets me from the trees.  It is hauntingly familiar but seems only a distant memory.

“I’ve been expecting you.”

The world slowly comes into focus.  Clarity restored, the leaves circle me in an embrace.  My sister emerges, her dark eyes smiling.  She cradles the baby in her arms.

“You made it.  You escaped,” she sings.

“I didn’t see anyone,” I retort, skeptical.  I hadn’t recalled having seen any Elves, dark nightmarish fiends that they are, wild, unkempt, uncouth.  Savage beasts like Pan or Krampus.  Is this an illusion?  My sister seems so lifelike, so much herself.  She is the joyful young mother I had known her to be.  Filled with love and laughter.  Light dances about her, and she shimmers.

“Not in passing,” my sister clarifies.  “You have been living among them your whole life.  I had done so as well until the baby was stolen.  My heart broke; I had to follow after.  That was when I learned the Truth.”

“Why do you think we are so sheltered?  Why are we forbidden to do anything?  They do so to protect us from the Truth about who and what we are,” she continued.  “We’ve spent our lives evading that which we truly know ourselves to be.  We were the stolen ones, not the other way around…”

I notice that the portal I came through is still open, reinforcing my idea that no one had passed through the other way.  It is as if the portal was opened specifically to call me through. My sister extends her hand, beckoning me to join her.  There is a gleam in her eye I cannot pinpoint.  She seems happy, but something still isn’t quite right.  I’m still uncertain why I am here, in this time and place, as if destined to be present in this moment, in this decision.

The Village has fallen away to the woods.  There are no breadcrumb trails to follow home.  The idea of home itself seems distant like yet another illusion.  Nothing makes sense anymore.  I am unsure whether I am coming or going.  Two paths lay open before me.  Which shall I take?

The Elves portal remains but the path is unclear.
The Elves portal remains but the path is unclear.

The trees are full of Elven magicks… 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

Eye Candy Jewelry by Jennifer Weigel

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I have been getting ready for a jewelry show in February and thought I’d share some of the fun eye candy necklaces I’ve been working on. Do they thwart or attract the Evil Eye? I think that depends largely on the wearer’s intentions… Each is hand-beaded and features a spooky printed eyeball pendant as its focus.

And the piece de resistance… A RAINBOW Evil Eye necklace with magnesite stone skulls! I love these happy little deadheads – they are just too spoopy… I have seen these beads ranging in size from very small to huge and I love all of them.

Eye Candy Necklace by Jennifer Weigel with rainbow Evil Eye and magnesite stone skulls
Eye Candy Necklace by Jennifer Weigel with rainbow Evil Eye and magnesite stone skulls

I love using eyes in art in weird and unusual contexts in my art. They have so much presence and symbolism. They also bring a sort of surreal atmosphere to any artwork, which bears just a hint of spookiness regardless of context.

Other artworks & graphics by myself that prominently feature eyes have appeared here on Haunted MTL in Insomnia, Indecision, Illuminati, Carriage Factory art installation, The Watchers, The Red Key, and Shaman Sticks.

You can check out some of my Hauntings jewelry on Haunted MTL here, and more jewelry is featured on my website 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.

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