I’m pretty big into Ink (yeah, I said ‘Ink’–deal with it) and have more than a few custom pieces. Even back in the day I would never dream of starting with a full sleeve as Dean MacAllister reminds… – Jim
The Flesh Trade
The Melbourne Royal Exhibition Building was humming on a crisp autumn morning.
Day 2 of the annual Rites of Passage Festival had begun and moments after the doors opened the hall was full of people stalking the aisles between the booths. Nordic heavy metal boomed over the speakers, but before long it was drowned out by a large buzzing cacophony, as hundreds of tattoo guns were put to use simultaneously.
Ferret walked through the foyer doors, a large grin across his face. He had always wanted to attend this event, but his unreliable mates pulled out at the last minute every time. They bailed on him again that very morning, but he’d decided to go anyway. To Ferret, getting some ink was the ideal way to show everybody that he was changing, maturing. That he wasn’t same kid they all thought they knew, but a man.
He walked up to the booth and paid the admission. The girl there smiled at him, her face full of piercings, and attached his fluorescent green wrist band.
“Have a great time today!” she said.
“Cheers. Will do,” he replied. Ferret showed the wrist band to a security guard, who nodded, letting him past into the main building.
His heart pounded with excitement. He chose an aisle and began browsing. Every booth he passed seemed busy. Half-naked customers sat on chairs or lay on massage tables, as the artists outlined their stencils. The variety amazed him, from tribal patterns to Yakuza koi-fish, classic sailor icons to photo-realistic images. Artists from around the globe displayed their flags and pictures of previous works. From Korea to Brazil, Mexico to South Africa, every corner of the world seemed to be represented. The one thing Ferret struggled to find, however, was an empty booth. After some time searching, he spotted a bored-looking woman at a table and nervously approached her.
“Are you free to do a sleeve?”
She looked up at him and sighed.
“Did you make a booking?” she asked, her jaw working some gum.
“I didn’t realise you needed to,” he said, embarrassed.
“So let me get this straight; you just turned up here today expecting a world-class artist to have at least six hours spare to do a piece on you and you didn’t think you needed to book ahead?”
Ferret’s heart sank. He grimaced.
“I guess I didn’t really think this through.”
“Ya think? Good luck with that kid.”
He moved on, shoulders slumped. Each aisle seemed the same, booths occupied by customers that had booked in advance. One or two artists were available for walk-ins, but they were only doing small tattoos; Asian symbols, butterflies and things of that kind. The more booths he passed, the more desperate he became. The more time that passed, the less likely that he would get his ink done.
Ferret walked down the last aisle and noticed that the booths began to evolve. He saw UV tattoos highlighted with black lights. Scarification. Subdermal Implants. The artists were no longer piercing tongues, but splitting them. No longer tattooing arms, but eyeballs.
Then he found it.
A red tent with a sign: Walk-ins Welcome!
He entered and was greeted by a large, tattooed, bearded man.
“Do you do sleeves?” Ferret asked.
“Sleeving? Absolutely! Sit down,” the man said, motioning to a black barber’s chair.
Ferret obeyed. The tent was dimly lit and smelled like disinfectant. There weren’t any photos displayed for him to choose from.
“I just want to get my left arm done. I’m not really sure about style or anything.”
“Leave it to me. Just take off your shirt. That’s it. Do you want it from the shoulder down to the wrist? Yeah? Not a problem. Now I’ve just got to jab you with this. Excellent.”
“Is that for the pain?”
The bearded man laughed.
“There’s no point doing this if it’s painless, is there? No, that’s to prevent infection. You have some cash?”
“Yeah, I brought around a grand.”
“Hmm, that’s a little light, but we can work something out later. Okay. I just have to strap your legs in like this. Good. Now I have to strap your wrists too. And this goes around your chest. Don’t want you moving around during this, do we?”
“Uh, I guess not.”
“Alright, now I’m just going to pop in this ball-gag, like so. Can’t have you making too much noise. We’ll get complaints. I’ll just bring over my tools.”
The man wheeled over a small table. On top of the table was a tray, displaying a wide arrange of scalpels and tweezers. He put on some black nitrile gloves and picked each one up, spraying them with alcohol. Ferret started breathing hard, his eyes opened wide with terror.
A tall, pale, lanky man limped into the tent. He looked at Ferret with surprise. Ferret yelled at him for help, but the gag silenced him.
“What’s this then?” he asked.
“Trevor! Just in time. This little guy is a champion! Not a single piercing or tattoo on him and he wants to jump straight into sleeving. Can you believe it?”
“Serious? Can I watch?”
“Sure, but sit over there. I’m about to start.”
The bearded artist picked up a scalpel and held it to the light. Ferret shook his head and let out a muffled scream.
“Relax young man. I’m a professional.”
He slid a bucket under the armrest with his foot. Holding the scalpel like a pen, he carefully pressed it into Ferret’s shoulder, running it carefully along to the armpit.
Ferret tried to struggle, but was tied down tight. Tears and sweat ran down his face. Blood ran down his arm into the bucket.
“OK. I think we’re ready. I’ll try to do this as quickly as possible, like a band-aid. One. Two. Three!”
The man grabbed Ferret’s skin with two pairs of tweezers and began to peel.
Dean MacAllister is a mammal that lives in Melbourne, Australia. He is a seasoned world traveller, scuba diver and avid lover of writing and reading fiction. He has been previously published in multiple magazines and writing competitions worldwide, including EWR, WWC, Weirdbook and his first novel ‘The Misadventures of a Reluctant Traveller’ is now available on Amazon. For more of his works make sure you check out Deanmacallister.com
Nightmarish Nature: Cannibalism
Let’s return to explore more Nightmarish Nature, shall we? This segment focuses on cannibalism, as we generally find it icky / taboo and because it’s more common than you might think. There are many different reasons that different creatures engage in cannibalistic practices. Energy waste doesn’t last long in nature; gaps are filled as things evolve to utilize whatever resources are available to meet their own needs. C’est la vie (light up another cigarette). In any case, the challenge to the cannibal lies in determining kinship and not accidentally erasing their own line or progeny, thus decreasing their likelihood for survival over generations. Oh, and in avoiding those pesky prion diseases…
Resource Driven Cannibalism
Resource driven cannibalism can occur when competition for resources is high. This may be due to scarcity, with individuals taking to eating each other to avoid themselves starving to death (with those consumed either still alive and killed to this end, or eaten after death of other causes). Or it may be outside of the cannibal’s control, considering the spread of Mad Cow Disease from feeding beef meal harboring the prion disease (and parts from other mammals like sheep) to growing cattle to save money, ’cause it’s not like the cows were allowed to order whatever they wanted. Or it may be due to direct conflicts with other groups of the same species, either due to competition for resources, mating rights and/or territory. These behaviors have been noted in mostly male chimpanzees raiding other groups, which have even been documented as all out wars against other males in neighboring bands, campaigning to eradicate all outside of their ranks.
Thinking about chimpanzees, males are also documented to gang up on alpha males seen as too controlling or sadistic, with groups of younger males attacking and rendering the alpha male to pieces, often consuming his flesh and blood in the process. This can upend established hierarchies to replace them with new structures, for example with a new male taking on the role of leader. But cannibalism can also be used to reinforce existing hierarchies, as seen in African Wild Dogs wherein the dominant pair will kill off any offspring that other dogs may have birthed so that the pack will focus on raising only the alpha pair’s pups, thusly reestablishing and enforcing social structure while ensuring the best survival chances for the pups raised by channeling all resources to the one brood.
Infanticide & Filial Cannibalism
Like African Wild Dogs, other parents may also eat their offspring, or better yet their rivals’ offspring. Stillborn or unhealthy offspring may be consumed, or just any that they can get their hands on at birth. (Again with the young male chimpanzees…) Some creatures enter into cycles wherein smaller individuals are more vulnerable to predation by larger ones both within and outside of ones own species, as is seen among many fishes with eggs and smaller fishes playing an important role as prey to larger ones. Other creatures may engage in these practices to reduce competition (for themselves and/or their offspring) and/or increase opportunities to mate. Male cats are notorious for killing kittens that are not their own in order to bring females into heat again sooner, potentially increasing the likelihood of mating with said females themselves while decreasing future competition. Win-win! Female cats must take great care to hide their kittens in order to protect them from males as much as other predators, and can have kittens by different fathers within the same litter in order to increase their kittens’ overall survival as a group with father cats more willing to accept kittens when their own kin are present.
Mantids and spiders are especially known for sexual cannibalism, with larger females consuming males during copulation, but this is not always linked to vast size differences and does not appear in every species. Females who engage in this practice may have healthier eggs in larger clutches, thus increasing the survival likelihood of more of their offspring. Sometimes the risk to the male suitor of being mistaken for another species by an aggressive would-be mate is high, and various rituals have developed within certain species to help avoid such mistakes and entice the female to mate. Male spiders are known engage in elaborate dances, movements, tapping and silk spinning rituals to avoid being eaten pre-copulation or at all. It’s a hell of a lot more involved than a good pick up line and a well-timed drink, as you can see here.
If the above video doesn’t load, you can find it on PBS YouTube here.
Thank you for joining us for another exciting episode of Nightmarish Nature. If you enjoyed this, please feel free to check out these previous segments:
Revisitations: The Devil Went Down to Georgia
So I’ve been working on more painting into found art (as seen here before) and I thought I’d share a newer one, based on the song The Devil Went Down to Georgia by Charlie Daniels. But first let’s make like my She Wolf post enjoy a couple variations of the song, shall we?
First we have Charlie Daniels, the writer of the song which was inspired by the beautiful poem by Stephen Vincent Benet titled The Mountain Whipporwill. You can read the poem on Your Daily Poem here.
Then we have to watch my favorite version, the animated music video by Primus. I know there are claymation-haters out there who find the effect bit too “uncanny valley” but how can you not just love those chickens?
Anyway, without further ado, here is my painting, incorporated into a found still life, original signed L. Harady.
Here The Devil is defeated, crushed along the lower edge of the artwork beneath the fiddle and lamenting his loss. The bow jabs into his sneering nose as if to add insult to injury, but his eyes still glow, alight with the prospect of coming back for another round. (They actually do glow, I have acquired some blacklight reactive nail polish to use in these pieces now.) I suppose I may go to Hell for this portrayal (or for defiling yet another painting) but alas, such is the price of art sometimes. I guess I’ll add it to the list…
Cravings Part 2, story by Jennifer Weigel
If you missed the beginning of this pregnancy horror story by Jennifer Weigel, you can catch Part 1 here.
Jayden’s stomach turned. Who or what was this creature standing before him, and what had it done with his wife? Claire proceeded to eat more than half of the jar of eggs in a fury of consumption; Jayden finally retreated to the office alone unable to watch any more. He heard a sloshing sound as she finished the jar and proceeded to drink the brine before retreating to the bedroom and crashing into their bed, presumably to pass out. Again. Later that night, he crept in to find her sleeping, clammy and sweaty, nervously twitching. Her body made the most abnormal guttural sounds as her internal systems groaned and sputtered. It was definitely getting worse. Jayden resolved to call Dr. Randolph the following morning; this had gone on for far too long already.
The next day, Claire awoke with a start from another bad dream that she couldn’t remember. Crying uncontrollably, she clutched her swollen belly, still ripe with child, and hurriedly exclaimed, “Blood sausage! I must have blood sausage!”
Jayden woke from his curled-up safe haven beside her and muttered, “Wha… What is that? I’ve never even heard of such a thing.”
“Go!” she snapped. “I’m starving. Go now! Return with blood sausage.”
Jayden staggered over to the dresser, threw on some clothes, shuffled into his waiting shoes, and gathered himself to duck out the door in the well-practiced gesture he’d become so accustomed to. “I’ll stop on my way home from work, I guess,” he mused, making his own plans. Claire seemed to settle down a little as she woke further, but it was little consolation.
“Thank you Sweetcheeks,” she said. “You’re the best.” She blew him a kiss.
While at work, Jayden managed to secure an appointment with Dr. Beth Randolph, Claire’s primary physician since before he had known her, for later that day. He took off early and rushed home to gather his unwilling wife. She was going in, whether she liked it or not.
He opened the front door and peered inside. The house was dark and quiet, as he’d come to expect. He crept in and stole upstairs to the bedroom to rouse Claire from sleep. He’d tell her where they were going once he got her in the car, no sense in making this even more difficult than it already was. Unsurprisingly, there she was, a shadowy form hunched over in the bed, her back to him with the covers pulled up over her eyes. He peeled away the comforter and blanket to reveal a tangled mess of white knitted yarn; Claire was nowhere to be found. He looked around, trying to focus on the darkness of the bedroom that enveloped him. That unsettling feeling had returned, like he’d had at Maresh’s shop, sinking into his gut. Claire was here idling, watching, waiting; he could sense her presence sizing him up as if she could read his mind and was on to his plan. But why was her company so disconcerting? This was still their house, their home, their lives intertwined… Jayden felt his trust ebb, spine tingling sensing danger.
“Hey there Sweetcheeks,” Claire’s voice echoed from the darkness of the closet. “Do you have something for me?” She emerged into the room, her eyes wide, frothing slightly at the edges of her mouth. Tiny bubbles of drool burst forth from her quivering lips and trickled down onto her chin.
“I couldn’t find any… blood sausage… whatever that is,” Jayden lied through his teeth. He hadn’t even gone to the store. Claire should never have expected him back at this hour; apparently she didn’t even know what time it was. But that seemingly wasn’t a concern. She wasn’t herself. Something about her fragile frame, the way she rocked from side to side, reminded him of that crazy old witch doctor Maresh. He finally managed to connect the two; it was as though she were possessed. It was imperative that she saw Dr. Beth Randolph as soon as possible, if for no other reason than to sever ties to that crazy old hag and hopefully start to snap out of it. He simply had to get her to that appointment.
“No blood sausage!” Claire shouted, becoming more and more agitated. “No… blood… sausage!” Her breathing became less regular and her body shivered all over as she hulked towards him. “I am sooo hungry!”
She lunged towards him, stumbling into his arms and collapsing towards his feet laughing maniacally. Jayden reached for her instinctively, to lower her to the ground gently, and felt something sticky and warm envelop his hand. Feeling lightheaded, he glanced down as he fell to the floor beside her. Protruding from his gut was a long silver thread, no something pointedly metal and hard, oozing thick oil sludge all around. Not oil, blood. His blood. Claire continued laughing, her lightning-fast fingers quickly and methodically ripping their way into his tattered shirt and worming around within his wounded frame to pull forth bits of viscera, which she wrung in her hands and smeared up and down her arms and torso. As Jayden passed out, she mouthed each of her fingers in turn, sucking the precious liquid off of them one at a time, before she began to feast on his entrails.
Claire’s belly was finally full. The baby developing within squirmed and settled, as if finally satiated. She swiped a stray bit of flesh from her bosom, licked it off of her fingertips, and heaved a sigh of relief. Miracle Madame Maresh Meliasma was right; she just needed to get to the root of her cravings.