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The Perfect Self by Kristina Spears

The perfect body before him will soon be his. He just has to figure out how he should dispose of his own. The window is open with the curtains pulled back allowing for the cool evening light to shine through into the single room apartment. The sound of passing cars and the chatter from passing strangers make up the hum of the city. William leans back in his plastic chair musing at the weapons spread out neatly on the white folding table. The perfect body and his soon to be new self sits peacefully nude in the other chair across the table. It sits in silence seemingly asleep with a plastic smile. It is younger with thick dark hair and has sharp features with broad shoulders. Best of all it has a six-pack. William had always wanted a six pack and now he is finally be getting it. Sometimes he imagines The Perfect Self, as he has been calling it, agreeing with him. It too agrees that indeed, it, The Perfect Self is far more superior compared to him. William does not mind his new companion’s cockiness because he is sure that his Perfect Self is right. He knows by now that it has a slightly improved likable personality that surely others would enjoy. By their late interactions The Perfect Self may even be smarter, though he suspects The Perfect Self to be cheating when it came to card games. Rubbing at his protruding dark veins on his forehand William thinks back to the recurring nightmares. The dream is fuzzy with somebody unknown. The death was always out of his hands. The feeling of powerlessness always lingers past the point of waking but things are different now that he has The Perfect Self.

“The process will be like a caterpillar changing into a butterfly.” The man says, disrupting the silence in the shadowing room. The evening light glows and shifts over the body making it appear to shrug at the statement. Despite The Perfect Self’s disinterest William continues to add another example to the process. “Think of it like this. A Phoenix. It dies and in a blaze of fury it is reborn.”

“Maybe”, speaks his Perfect Self thoughtfully with a deep, husky voice compared to the William’s own gravely, shrill voice. “Snakes, did you know, they shed their old skin and becomes like new.” Hell, thinks William. He fucking hates snakes. The lighting lowers to the body’s shoulder making it appear the body is moving forward to examine the tools before him.

            “How about the knife?” William imagines the Perfect Self say. “It could be fun.”

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            “You think?” He questions pulling at the bits of his own stubble until a place of his chin becomes raw. William imagines this place on his face becoming infected and then spreading across his body after his death, leaving nothing behind but a pile of yellow festering pus.

            “Yeah. Just picture pregnant Jenna finding you in the morning. Her big swollen breast bouncing about as she panics about losing her chance to bed you one last time.” William laughs at this and it only becomes worse as he thought of The Perfect Self playfully pretending to be cupping imaginary breasts.

            “Is it yours?” Questions The Perfect Self. The room collapses to dead silence. William moves forward placing his weight against the table. His index finger tapping the blade until it makes a deep enough cut to draw blood. Of course it was, William thought. Whose else could it be?

            “This method could be painful.” William admits, thinking about laying in the liquid of his own blood drowning.

            “I guess you’re right.” The tone of voice The Perfect Self returns to its usual playful tempo.  “Plus you could end up with bathrobe Joe coming in instead. Just think you could have his testicles dangling over your head if you somehow fall onto the floor.”

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            “Stop.” The man responds swiftly, feeling his face crawl with the idea that ball sweat could be dripping onto his face as he lays hopefully dead so not to be able to smell the salty musk. “Who knows, maybe it’s Bathrobe Joe.” The Perfect Self says, not changing it’s smiling expression.

“What? The baby?” Questions William. Joe? Bathrobe Joe? Hell no. That man can’t utter a word without it becoming a stutter and his looks despite him being younger, let’s face it, has a close resemblance to a dried up tanned manatee. And he’s always wearing a fucking bathrobe. No woman would touch that.

Luckily the shine off the revolver brings back Williams thoughts to the greater task at hand. “In one of my dreams.” William said. “ I was shot. I don’t know about the gun either.” 

            “Why do you have it as an option then?” Asks The Perfect Self.

William shrugs not certain himself, but he figures The Perfect Self deserve some kind of response. “I like the idea of having the option.” With that, the only other option on the table is the rope.

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            “It could be a quick death.” Encourages The Perfect Self, with a tone that almost seems to have too much interest by the idea of William swaying off the ground with a rope gripping tightly around his neck.

“I have heard that people piss themselves during this kind of death.” William responds, wavering from the idea. The mental image of him being soiled with saliva dripping down of his face does not sit too well with him. “I can hear them now talking at my funeral, William, I knew him well. He smelt of piss.”

            “You know, no one would have to find your body.” Reassures The Perfect Self like a true friend. “I could just hide it. I will just tell people I-you had plastic surgery. Took vitamins. Did some exercise. We will continual living like nothing ever happened.”

            “Maybe. Maybe- The dream you know-” The man pauses feeling foggy. “Sorry. I have been having trouble thinking lately.” William stutters feeling something growing in the back of his mind and he starts to laugh to some unknown joke. It could be about Jenna or Joe. Was it about The Perfect Self or was it about him? William jerks, and forces himself to sit silently in his chair.

            “That’s okay. I am here now,” The Perfect Self responds still holding its plastic smile. The evening has almost faded completely, save for some streams of blue light that shifts across The Perfect Self’s body making it appear that it was moving closer. William doesn’t move as The Perfect Self pushes itself over him with its hands spread gently across his throat. William allows himself to lean back in his chair still trusting that The Perfect self will give him a dignified death like any true friend would.

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“It’s okay.” The Perfect Self repeats. “It’s okay.” I know thought William. It’s okay.

            Blood oozes from his throat as The Perfect Self dug its thumbs inside. For a brief moment William struggles in The Perfect Self’s grasp, forgetting that this was what he wanted.

In the blacken silence of the room, The Perfect Self whispers to itself, “Hello, I am William.”  

Kristina Spears, author

Kristina Spears grew up in a small town in Ohio where she enjoys spending most of her time outside even if that means taking her laptop with her. She attended Miami University and graduated from the writing program. Kristina has a love for writing fantasy and science fiction. With an obsession in the supernatural, horror, and messed up stories, these themes tend to make their way into her writing. 

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Original Creations

Goblins, a Short Story by Jennifer Weigel

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Revisiting the creepy faux fingernail art, I made a couple of goblins… They then ransacked my house. This is their story, as told by myself, Jennifer Weigel.

More faux fingernail art from Jennifer Weigel, featuring wide smiling mouth with red sparkly lipstick and faux fingernail teeth on textured green goblins background
More faux fingernail art from Jennifer Weigel

So it finally happened. My art came to life. And of course it couldn’t be one of the cute pretty pictures, like the sparkly unicorns or the cat drawings. No it had to be the faux fingernail goblins… Ugh. I first encountered them in the bathroom.

I see England.
I see France.
I see someone’s underpants!

Of course you do, it’s the bathroom. That’s totally the room for that. Remind me again why I decided to paint these little green monsters. Ugh. From there, they moved on to the kitchen.

We so tricksy.
We so sly.
We eats all the cherry pie!

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Did they have to eat ALL the cherry pie? Like seriously. But what can I expect, they’re goblins and they’re in the house. Ugh. And honestly they’re just plain gross.

I pick my friend.
I pick nose.
Just whose nose, do you suppose?

Get away from me you obnoxious, vile creatures! I can pick my own nose on my own time, thank you. Ugh. Oh, great, now they’re tearing up the living room.

We be goblins.
We be green.
We be making quite a scene!

No, not the sofa! Now there are little bits of fabric and stuffing flying everywhere. I can see you’re all too pleased with yourselves. Nasty critters. Ugh. Why can’t you just leave?

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I do mischief.
I do bad.
This best party ever had!

I did NOT agree to host your little shindig. Stop tearing up my house! All I know is, it’s about time you moved on to wreak havoc elsewhere. Ugh. Just get out – NOW!

We scare the cat.
We scare you.
We scare all, we care not who!

I may have brought these dreadful disgusting demons into being seeing as how I painted them, but I have no idea what brought them to life or why. What kind of cosmic miscalculation caused this? I need to know so I can avoid it in the future. Ugh. Goblins… need I say more?

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

Faux Fingernails Art by Jennifer Weigel

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So I had some faux fingernails leftover from a costume based modeling session, from posing as Cruella De Vil for the figure drawing group… Here’s a teaser from that modeling session, before the horrible creepy art generation in the aftermath. If you zoom in tight enough, you can see my tiger fingernails, which kept trying to fall off constantly, reminding me why I hate trying to wear the things and why they (d)evolved into art.

Cruella De Vil modeling for figure drawing
Cruella De Vil modeling for figure drawing

My version of Cruella De Vil channels Glenn Close or the original animated character more than the recent Emma Stone variant, but they’re all delightfully devilish.

Anyway, I made this series of “Tiger Sharks” prominently featuring the same tiger faux fingernails, including those used in the Cruella De Vil costume. These “Tiger Sharks” also incorporated some pirate fingernails, because sharks and pirates are tight.

Pirate skeleton hand with faux fingernails
Pirate skeleton hand with faux fingernails

I couldn’t think of a better use for the pirate fingernails than adding them to this skeletal hand. I never actually wore these, they were too hard to come up with something to go with. But I do love the Beetlejuice vibe with the stripes…

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.

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.

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Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Something Rotten, Flesh in Flowers

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This time on Nightmarish Nature we will again explore some of the more fetid fungi and plants, this time focusing on those that imitate rotten flesh in order to attract flies. Among the best known of these are the Stinkhorn and the Corpse Lily or Corpse Flower. The Language of Flowers be damned, literally…

Fungi

Many of the fungi in the Stinkhorn family erupt in mushrooms that reek of rotten flesh and sprout from a white sort of egg sac in various forms, the common type being a phallus like structure with a white body and olive head. The Beefsteak fungus resembles, well, a cut of beef oozing blood. And some mushroom bodies of the Clathrus genus bloom in elaborate lattice structures or devil’s tooth and devil’s fingers that resemble terrifying alien beings. These odoriferous fetid fungi grow in decaying wood material and use their stinky attributes to attract flies and other insects which will then spread the spores from their fruiting bodies. They truly look like something out of an outer space or aquatic nightmare.

Some various fungi that can reek of rotten flesh, drawing by Jennifer Weigel.
Some various fungi that can reek of rotten flesh.

Plants

Some plants also utilize pungent putrid odors to attract flies and other insects, in part to aid in the pollination and dissemination but also to attract insect matter for their own needs, to absorb the insects for valuable nutrients that they cannot otherwise obtain. The largest flowers in the world bear many of these characteristics, also being among the stinkiest. And some pitcher plants mimic rotten flesh to attract flies upon which they “feed”.

The Titan Arum of Sumatra and Indonesia is a plant that over time produces a huge flower somewhat resembling a calla lily but larger as the plant body stores enough energy to do so. While Calla Lilies are often used to symbolize rebirth and resurrection and can be associated with death, often in a funerary setting, the huge Titan Arum does more than that, strongly mimicking decaying flesh in order to attract flies. These flowers can grow to almost 8-feet tall and bloom for only about three days before wilting; they are a huge draw at botanic gardens when flowering because of the rare nature of the event and the remarkable presence that the flower has, in both size and smell. The US. Botanic Gardens has a page devoted to this plant here, where you can even track previous blooms.

Titan Arum flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.
Titan Arum flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.

Another noteworthy flowering plant is Rafflesia, a parasitic flower native to Indonesia and Malaysia that feeds on the liana vine and grows from a sprouting body bud into a huge flower over the course of five years. Its flowers, once finally formed, can grow to almost a meter across and resembles something out of a horror film. These too smell of death and decay to attract flies in order to cross-pollinate. You can learn more about these unusual plants on this video from Real Science here.

Rafflesia flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.
Rafflesia flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.

If you’ve enjoyed this segment of Nightmarish Nature, feel free to check out some previous here:

Vampires Among Us

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Perilous Parenting

Freaky Fungus

Worrisome Wasps

Cannibalism

Terrifying Tardigrades

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Reindeer Give Pause

Komodo Dragons

Zombie Snails

Horrifying Humans

Giants Among Spiders

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