Jimbo here — Oh boy, do I have one for ya. From my editors, this quote says it all: Do I think we should publish it? Yes. It’s dark and weird as fuck. I loved it. Unique and unsettling. The writer achieves a lot in such a short piece. You won’t forget reading this piece.’
Thyme Well Spent
Inside of an incubator, my child lay. I poked through the holes to rub her soft curls. Her hair, thin and cottony, the color of earth, wrapped around my fingers gently. When I pulled back, a single thread remained on my finger, and I stood, searching for a way to be rid of it. My hand found a solution by placing it on my tongue. I licked my lips.
She wailed. I smiled.
At 6, she decided to be a tree, enjoying how they could touch the sky. To achieve this, she took a brush and slathered paint to her head. I watched her, giggled with her, and even took to painting with her. Her mother was not very pleased with our artwork.
Her hair was curly and spattered with green, the color of thyme I had told her. Whenever she dashed past me or rushed to give me a hug, I had to suppress myself. Every part of me wanted to run my hands through her curls, feel them twine and retract around my fingers, as I pulled them away from her face and let them snap back into their pristine coils. I frequently had to remove myself, giving a brief “I need some air” before exiting the room and sprinting away, wherever to calm myself, lest my excitement show, and her mother remove me from our lives.
One night, however, after the clocks had struck twelve and I had woken from a nightmare of police finding me with the Thyme, I gave myself to such bliss. Knowing that her mother had started to catch on, I snuck to her room and snipped off a lock of her hair, tucking it into my pocket as a keepsake before I needed to flee. I placed my lips on her forehead, knowing I couldn’t stay in this home, not with her here, not how I felt. As I left, I found myself frozen in the doorway and turned to look at her, basked in moonlight. I took the shears and delicately, snipped off another strand, this time holding it to the light. The moonlight, reflecting off of her emerald locks enraptured me, and before I knew it, I had swallowed the entire strand.
When her mother came to get her in the morning, she found her bald, and me, with a mouthful of thyme.
At 16, she was taken from me. Not through a custody battle, after all I had lost my role as her father ten years prior after her mother discovered me. No, her reckless friends, the fools, drove under the influence, taking my darling Thyme with them. I wasn’t allowed at the funeral; not that that would stop me.
That evening, when the sun had fallen and the sky glimmered with constellations, I found her plot and dug. I wasn’t aware of how frantic my digging came until I was three feet below. I needed to reach her. Needed to see my Thyme, in its, her, final state. I needed to see how her cheeks lost their luster and how her hair was desaturating. I needed her, in my system, needed her to remind me of what I had lost by giving into my gluttony and consuming what was in front of me.
I hit her mahogany coffin. The clunk echoed through the night, a sound only I and the nearby crickets could hear.
I brushed off the dirt, digging wildly with my hands, earth staining my nails as I dragged the leftover soil off of her. I pried her coffin open, revealing her face, once again, illuminated by the moon rising above us. I cackled, seeing her hair, my Thyme, spread out across the coffin in messy streaks, and brought my face to it, inhaling deeply. I held the shovel over my head and plunged it down, separating her locks from her head repeatedly. When the shovel couldn’t separate more, I used my hands, digging wildly into her flesh to separate the follicles from her scalp. When my fingers did not suffice, I used my teeth, biting into her skin and yanking off hearty chunks of meat from her skull, to get as close to the source of her thyme. I ate, tendril upon tendril, like a man possessed.
When I had eaten my fill, I looked to the sky, seeing the red and blue flashing lights illuminating the opening of her grave. The officers approached me, and I threw myself on top of her, not wanting strangers to intrude on our moment. Of course, I was pried away; five officers used their combined strength to remove me from her grave. Wildly I screamed, desiring nothing more but to go back, to pet her hair and taste her thyme as only she possessed. My cries reverberated through the night, eerily reminiscent of the wails that occurred on the day she entered the world.
When I peer into her coffin for the final time, my eyes wild with fury and indescribable pain, I saw her face, smiling back at me.
Italia Fields is a playwright, screenwriter, photographer, and aspiring filmmaker. She has a passion for writing horror and comedy – often combining the two. She is a senior at Coe College double majoring in Creative Writing and Film Studies. She currently resides in Chicago, IL. “Thyme Well Spent” is her first fiction publication.
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.