“Truly A Monster” by Rachel Cubbage
Yikes! That fire spell missed your head by no less than an inch. You knew you shouldn’t have snuck into this witch’s house, but your friend was in there. However, you knew you couldn’t leave him behind to go get help, so you decided to do this by yourself and rescue him, even if your friend was an idiot.
“How did we ever get into this situation?” you thought as you dashed behind a wall just barely missing another fireball that hit the wall in front of you.
Scenes flashed into your mind as you began to see where it all started when you and Mark walked by a shoddy, broken up house or so it seemed from far away. Mark dared you to go investigate the house. You were someone who could never pass up a dare, so off you went to the front door of the horrible, disgusting house. As you opened the rotten wood door, it fell off its hinges and landed with a crash. Mark yelled to see if you were okay, but when there was no response, he went into the house after you. “At least, he was trying to be somewhat heroic,” you thought to yourself.
Meanwhile, you decided you were going to scare him by standing behind the wall beside the doorway that was hidden enough from the outside that you couldn’t be seen. Five… ten… fifteen minutes went by and he hadn’t shown up to the door you were at. “That’s odd,” you said aloud briefly as you poked head out of the doorway to look for him. Before in your nook, you could see him from where he was waiting for you, but now, he wasn’t anywhere to be seen.
All of a sudden, the old run-down house you were in transformed into a colossal mansion with three floors and at least twenty rooms on each floor with twice as many windows. Then you heard a horrid, screechy voice that seemed like it was getting closer to you say, “Look at what we have here, sisters! Some poor lost boy decided to come in and have a look at our lovely house. Hmm, shall we show him around our beautiful creation, sisters?”
Then you heard loud footstep noises that sounded like they were going downstairs dragging an unwilling captive thrashing at every single step further and further down into the abyss of the basement. You looked around you for somewhere a stairway could be, but unfortunately, you couldn’t see any stairwells around you. This meant that you have to now move from where you were well hidden to deeper inside the not-so-disgusting looking house to search for Mark and, hopefully, not run into those horrid, female sounding beings.
A door slammed shut close by you and out stepped this beautiful woman who had a crooked grin across her face as it seemed to peer right at you. “This isn’t right, as there is no way this woman sounded like that voice did,” you thought to yourself, but what you couldn’t help prevent was the gasp that escaped from your lips. Thankfully, the woman was too distracted by Mark, or you at least hoped it was Mark, to notice your gasp.
You glanced up at the woman as slowly it turned into this awful looking creature with skin full of blemishes and a long pointy nose. This confirmed one thing that unfortunately for you: you were in the presence of the worst kind of witches in the world. This creature wasn’t those like witch costumes at Halloween that wore a pointy black hat while riding a broomstick across the sky, but these were truly the worst type of witches as they craved for human flesh to consume and were able to perform the most powerful black magic that truly held limits to it. These witches had no name beside The Witches of No Return because no one had ever lived to tell about them before. Everyone knew the tales of these witches as they claimed many lives each year. You can vividly remember several recent reports of individuals who disappeared for days on end until they were discovered months later as bare bones with not a single piece of tissue left on it and bite marks carved directly into it. People always claimed that witches caused these disappearances, but no one knew for sure, so everyone began referring to them as The Witches of No Return.
“Mark, why did you have to dare me to investigate this house?” you accidentally mumbled just a little too loud. Just then the witch heard her and immediately turned toward you. As soon as your eyes met, you knew that you would soon join Mark wherever he was.
“Ahh another one?! Wow, sisters aren’t we so lucky today. We can have twice the fun now as we consume your flesh while your male companion watches as you squirm in agony!” she crackled.
In a flash, two other sisters appeared beside the ringleader you just met. Now was the moment that you realized you are completely screwed as you have no back-up, no hope of escaping, and no weapons. This was the moment that your mind returned you to as the ringleader cast a fireball right at your head.
You have two options now. You can escape through the door that you entered originally, or you can go try to find the basement deeper in the house.
Option 1: Escape Through the Door
As much as you care for Mark, you care for your own life more than him. “It was his fault that you got into this whole mess, so if you leave, then won’t affect you if he dies in this house, right?” your mind tried to reason with your guilt of leaving him behind. You decided that the option to escape through the door was much more important than saving Mark because all he has ever done was to get you into trouble.
It truly wasn’t your fault that Mark came into the house, right?
It was too late for him now.
It is too late for you as well because as your mind let you disregard the danger you were in by attempting to reason with yourself to leave him behind, the ringleader released another larger fireball that there was no possibility of dodging. As soon as you saw the fireball fly from the witch’s hand, your mind snapped yourself back to the present moment rather than your subconscious. You can feel the heat of the fireball as it grows closer to your face. Instead of rescuing your friend, you are left to sizzle, to cook, and to burn inside your own skin that you can barely even feel anymore. It doesn’t matter anymore because you were a selfish monster who deserved to die if you didn’t even want to rescue your friend who was captured because of your childish prank that failed miserably.
You have died due to a fireball to your face and whole body. Congratulations for being a monster. You thought that you could escape being a monster yourself, but you imagined this entire circumstance up. It was you who was holding the burning knife that melted Mark’s face to appear like The Witches you had heard about. He considered you a friend and thought nothing of how you invited him into your house despite it looking rickety and destroyed. You killed him with your bare hands and blamed it on The Witches, but truly it was you who was the monster.
The police showed you the video of the awful things you did to Mark as he screamed at you to stop and told you multiple times that he thought YOU were his friend. The police informed you that his name wasn’t even Mark. It wasn’t even a him either. It was a she. She was Samantha. You turned a blind eye to her screams and imagined it was just some monster that killed her, but it was you the entire time. You even had the audacity to record yourself doing everything to her and set it loose on the internet to run free throughout every single continent of the world.
Option 2: Find Mark Deeper in the House
Knowing how much Mark means to you, you decide brave forward into the house in hopes of losing the witches. You take one last look at the door you could have left through before turning in the opposite direction which leads you deeper into the house. You could still hear the footsteps of multiple beings following close behind you, so you kept going farther down the hallway. The hallway you run down seems like it is repeating itself every few doors you pass. At first, your mind doesn’t process it as the noises seem to be gaining on you like they could reach you at any second, but considering how large this house is, you know you shouldn’t be able to see repeating objects like a vase of flowers on a small, normal table. However, on the fourth time you keep passing the vase filled with flowers, you notice the flowers aren’t flowers at all, but each one is a carved skull intricately designed to form complex petals. You could have sworn those were flowers the first time you had seen them.
As you continue through the house, you begin to notice small inconsistencies like carpet where the ceiling should be, a familiar lamp you own, and even a pet you owned as a child. You found it weird, but seeing as the witches were right behind you, you didn’t have too much time to really concentrate on those discrepancies right now. The thudding steps behind you that you could have sworn you had been hearing suddenly vanished as if they had never been there at all.
Then you heard it. A scream. A single scream that pierced complete silence. A scream that could only belong to your friend, Mark. That’s when the lights around you flashed bright white for what felt like forever before it dimmed so dark that you could barely see your hands in front of you. You covered your eyes with your hands to prevent the bright lights from blinding you, but now you could only feel was liquid drizzling down your face. As your hands moved down to where the mysterious liquid was flowing, you begin to see one single color. The color was a deep crimson red, but as soon as you saw it, the lights turned back on and everything seemed to be back to normal.
A thought began to form, but it stopped halfway through as if you truly didn’t belong where you were. An object behind you shattered as if it had been deliberately used to distract you from any thought you could form. You know what you saw before, yet your mind can’t quite place what it would be. This color was familiar to you, yet you can’t even begin to think of how.
You looked behind you where the noise came from, but you saw nothing. No hallway with the lamp you thought you had seen before. No flower vase on the simple table. No witches following behind you. You saw nothing at all except small cracks if you squinted to see farther in the white abyss.
When you looked forward, you could see one door open in the distance from the hallway you knew you were in. The hallway contained several doors, a dark table with a vase full of flowers, and something at the very end of it which was forming in front of you. As soon as you blinked, the hallway contained a single door at the end with “Help me” on it written in a crimson liquid which had multiple drips coming from each letter. You heard another scream. This time it lingered in the air but slowly faded out into silence once again. You dashed towards the door at the end of the hall knowing that this had to be the door that would lead you to Mark.
This had to be it.
It had to be.
It must be, right?
You were going to open it and take it wherever it leads you, even if there was a small chance Mark would be at the bottom of it. You were going to save him. You had to because you would never want to hurt a friend.
As soon as you grasped the doorknob preparing to open it wide, you realized what you had done. Your eyes flashed open within a second as you tried to take in everything that had happened. You stood there wringing someone’s neck with your hands as they tried to call out to you. Their last words to you were, “Stop. Please. Help. Me.” Each word came at a cost of a breath that they said to save themselves, yet instead you grasped harder until you could feel their warm blood turn cold.
You looked as the person whose throat you held slowly opens as they release their last dying breath. You thought you were rescuing someone yet instead you took the life of someone you held close to you. Mark wasn’t even her real name. She was your friend who came to you for help, and yet here you are with her dead in your arms.
Why would you kill someone you loved?
Did they deserve this death caused by you?
Why would a monster like you do something like this?
With more questions rising and populating your thoughts, you take one last look at your hands and feel appalled with what you had done. You can’t even bare to look at them anymore as you slowly fade out of the real world and go back into your subconscious fantasy of you rescuing Mark from monsters you created. You were going to be the hero who was incapable of injuring another human being you care for, or at least that’s what your mind decided as the world around you faded out into nothingness.
Rachel Cubbage comes from a small town in Stanley, Virginia. Rachel graduated from her high school after she graduated from Lord Fairfax Community College with an Associate’s Degree specialized in English. She is currently going to Bridgewater College with a double major in Professional Writing and Computer Science. She has always been interested in writing Fantasy, Fiction, and Horror.
Reanimating Dead Art with Monsters by Jennifer Weigel
Dead art… It’s a thing that happens, sadly. Typically found at thrift and antique stores or dumpster diving or by the side of the road. But art is never really dead, just resting… Here are some reanimated paintings I made by incorporating nail polish monsters into existing art.
Let’s face it – reworking old abandoned artworks with monsters kind of rocks. For awhile they were all over the internet. I admit, it took me a long time to muster up the courage to paint into someone else’s grandmother’s art, but once I started I just couldn’t stop. From top to bottom, left to right we have: Zombies, Unicorn, Siren, Krakken, Harpies, Sasquatch, Alien Invasion, Witch, and Serpent.
The dragon is probably my favorite. All of the shades of red are really vibrant and striking against the green. And dragons are always so classic and grandiose and terrifying, perfect for pairing with a mountain landscape. I love painting with nail polish for the sparkle, even if the fumes do get kind of noxious en masse. (The best subject to paint in this media is Rocky Horror style lips by the way, in case you were wondering.)
And what better way to complete the collection than with a portrait of a Fairy Queen, her icy stare drilling into your soul. She’s up to some sort of magical mischief, that’s for sure.
And speaking of magical mischief, this is the monster painting I made just for me. The original artwork is about 4 feet long and I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted to reanimate it in this exact way for all that this is the last in the series that I did. I even added extra shimmer factor. I’d initially considered adding a sea serpent or a dragon but no, she told me to stop.
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.
Lighter than Dark
LTD: Revisiting Broken Doll Head, Interview 2
Our last interview with Broken Doll Head here on Haunted MTL never set well with me. I just feared that I wasn’t able to get the whole scoop on the V-Day Uprising for you, our dear readership. So I arranged another exclusive interview to reconnect and see how it’s going.
Without further ado, I bring you our second exclusive interview with Broken Doll Head…
Thank you so much for having me again. Wow you have changed since the last time we spoke. You seem… calmer. Please don’t hate me or burn down my house for saying anything about it.
The movement is still underway; it is still time. But I needed to take care of me, you know. The rage has subsided somewhat. My anger was not serving me well. After the last uprising, the rest of me was sent to the far corners of the earth in biohazard bags. I had to find another approach, for the cause as well as my own sanity. I am much calmer, thank you for noticing.
In our last interview, you kept repeating that it is time. Time for what exactly? Would you care to elaborate here now?
It is still time. It is always time. Until the violence is addressed we must continue to rise up and make a scene. We will not be silenced or stigmatized. We can’t be complacent. This is how we got to where we are with the Supreme Court in 2022. Horrific injustices are still happening globally and even within our own borders; it’s too easy to forget that.
What do you suggest we do?
Take action. Share your stories. Give others space to voice their own. Raise awareness and fight the system of oppression. Rally. We must take back our own power. It will not be just given freely.
So what are you up to nowadays?
I’ve been getting in touch with my inner Earth Goddess. Are you aware of how our environmental impacts affect dolls everywhere? Climate change is creating greater vulnerabilities for those already at risk. We have to look at the intersections of climate, gender and race globally. We have to return to our Mother Earth.
Thank you again Broken Doll Head for joining us and our dear readership here on Haunted MTL’s Lighter than Dark. It’s good to reconnect with you after the V-Day Uprising and we wish you all the best in your bold eco-enlightenment vision.
Again, if you want to learn more about the V-Day movement, please check out their website here.
The Way Things Were, story by Jennifer Weigel
Revisiting my last St. Patrick’s Day post, what’s a wolf to were?
I grimaced as I remembered the previous St. Patrick’s Day. I had been shot while I was eating a sugar cookie waiting in line to buy a Scratchers ticket, my golden ride to my dream cabin in the woods. Wow, to think that was just a year ago and so much has changed since then. But where should I begin?
Well, the junkyard’s under new management. Or something. It seems they decided I wasn’t ferocious enough so I’ve been replaced by a couple of working stiffs. Or Mastiffs as it were, same difference to me. Apparently after they found the bloodied shirt I’d draped inconspicuously over a chair, they thought something had happened on my watch and decided to retire me.
Or at any rate ol’ Sal took me home. I guess it’s like retirement, but not the good kind where you tour the world Route 66 style, head lolled out of the side of a vintage Cadillac, breeze flowing through your beard as you drink in the open road. More the kind where you just stop showing up to work and no one really asks about you.
Now Sal’s a pretty cool dude, and he tends to mind his own business. But he’s a bit stingy with the treats and he’s a no-paws-on-the-furniture kind of guy. I don’t get it, his pad isn’t that sweet, just a bunch of hand-me-down Ikea that he didn’t even put together himself. Not that I could have helped with that, I can’t read those instructions to save my life even if they are all pictures. It’s all visual gibberish to me unless there’s a rabbit or a squirrel in there someplace that I can relate to.
And it’s been a real roll in the mud trying to cover up the stench of my monthly secret. I miss third shift at the junkyard when Monty would fall asleep on the job and I was free to do whatever I wanted. It sure made the change easier. Monty never noticed, or he never let on that he did. We were a good team and had it pretty good, he and I – I don’t know how I wound up shacking up with Sal instead when all was said and done. There was some kind of talk at the time, over landlords and pet deposits and whatnot, and in the end Sal was the only one who said yes.
So there I was, this St. Patrick’s Day, trying to figure out how to sneak out into the great suburban landscape with the neighbors’ headstrong Chihuahua who barks his fool head off at everything. He doesn’t ever say anything interesting through the fence about the local gossip, just a string of profanities about staying off his precious grass. Just like his owners… Suburbia, it doesn’t suit the two of us junkyard junkies. I’m pretty sure Sal inherited this joint with everything else here. He just never had the kind of ambition that would land him in a place like this on his own, if you know what I mean.
Fortunately, this St. Patrick’s Day, Sal was passed out on the sofa after binge watching some show on Netflix about werewolves of all things. Who believes in that nonsense? They get it all wrong anyway. The history channel with its alien conspiracies is so much better.
I managed to borrow a change of clothes and creep out the front door. At least there’s something to say about all the greenery, it is a fresh change of pace even if the yards are too neatly manicured and the fences are too high. And I do love how I always feel like McGruff crossed paths with one of those neighborhood watch trenchcoat spies this time of the month. I’d sure love to take a bite out of crime, especially if it involves that pesky Pomeranian that always pees on Mrs. Patterson’s petunias and gets everyone else blamed for it.
So sure enough, I slunk off towards the local convenience mart, which is a bit more of a trek here past the water park and the elementary school. Nice neighborhood though, very quiet, especially at this time of night.
Well, when I got there, wouldn’t you know it, but I ran into that same nondescript teen from my last foray into the convenience store near the junkyard. What was he doing here of all places? Seriously don’t these kids learn anything nowadays? I let out a stern growl as I snatched a cookie from the nearby end cap, making sure he noticed that I meant business.
Apparently the kid recognized me too, he stopped mid-tracks at the beer cooler and his face blanched like he’d seen a ghost. Some cheeky little girl-thing motioned to him to hurry it along by laying on the horn of their beater car from the parking lot. Whatever they were up to was no good, I was certain. He snapped out of it, grabbed a six-pack and headed towards the cashier, eyes fixed on me the whole time. Not again. Not after what it cost me the last time when I hadn’t realized my job was at stake. I stared back, hairs rising on the back of my neck. I bared my teeth. This time, I wouldn’t let him off so easy…
The teen edged up to the cashier and presented his trophy. Unsurprisingly, the clerk asked for ID, and the kid reached into his jacket. Let the games begin, I grumbled to myself. But instead of a gun, he pulled out a wallet. He flashed a driver’s license at the clerk and pointed in my general direction, “I’ll get whatever Santa’s having too.” He tossed a wad of cash on the counter and gave me a knowing wink before he flew out of there like he was on fire. I stood in dazed confusion as he and his girl sped out of the lot and disappeared down the road.
“Well, Santa?” the clerk said, snapping me out of my reverie. Her dark-circled eyes stared over wide rimmed glasses, her rumpled shirt bearing the name-tag Deb. She smelled like BBQ potato chips and cheap cherry cola.
I quieted and shook my head. “I want a Scratchers. Not one of those crossword bingo puzzle trials but something less… wordy. How ‘bout a Fast Cash?” I barked as I tossed the cookie on the counter.
“Sure thing,” she said as she handed me a ticket and looked towards the door at the now vacant lot. “And keep the change, I guess.”
A couple silver pieces, a peanut butter cookie and a lotto ticket later, maybe this is my lucky day after all…
Check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s writing here at Jennifer Weigel Words.