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Day 14

Danielle rose to her feet and walked to the bedroom of the now-dead couple. She saw a pile of blankets strewn across the bed and floor and reached down to grab a bundle. Peering around the room, blankets piled into her arms, she saw a dark object wedged between the side of the bed and a bedside table. She’d come back to check on it after the immediate work was done.

Back in the living room, she layered two blankets over the remains. Blood began to soak into the fabric creating small spots of blotchy red, but for now, the horrid sight of the remains was gone. For good measure, she tucked the trophy under the blanket as well. She couldn’t handle the chunks of hair and brain matter coating the gold-colored plastic.

She didn’t know why, specifically, she had aimed for the head. Maybe she had heard something during one of those harried evening broadcasts of instructions, over shoutings of studio and radio crew. Maybe it was just that the skull was the source of all thought. All she knew was that so far that it had worked out for her, twice.

Aim for the head.

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It was obvious now that she needed something more effective than a trophy if she wanted to get anywhere safely. She needed a gun and she knew exactly where her dad had kept it. But getting there would require something else to defend herself in the meantime. A kitchen knife would work in a pinch, but there had to be something else… She snagged a knife from a drawer in the kitchen. A knife would be light, but not a lasting solution. It had best be something she should get used to holding for a while but still fairly heavy.

She searched around the neighbors’ apartment. There was little of practical use, but she mulled over the possibilities of each and every bludgeon, poker, or blade she stumbled on. So many things that were part of everyday life that she never would have thought of as weapons were now game… each one would be ranked by their effectiveness as she moved from space to space in the cramped two-room apartment.

She returned to the bedroom of Julie and her unknown boyfriend and checked under the bed, seeing nothing but shoeboxes. Pickings had been slim thus far. She sat down and leaned against a cheap cabinet that sat against the wall, staring at her haul of coat hangers, kitchen knives, and sporting goods. Remembering earlier, she turned her gaze to the bedside table and saw something red tucked between the bed and the table. Danielle reached her hand between them and grabbed at something heavy. 

A crowbar.

The weight was reassuring. The crowbar became the first step in the plan. She needed a gun, but rather than search apartment after apartment for one, she needed a sure thing.

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Her family’s storage building was exactly where she would need to go.

She stepped out of the apartment with one heaping backpack weighing her down and digging into her shoulders. It was a hiking backpack she rarely used and had always griped about the cost, much to the annoyance of her friends. It only took the fucking apocalypse to make the backpack worthwhile. 

The backpack had a pair of aluminum rods along the spine, connected by a plastic handle where she strapped her sleeping bag. Over her shoulder, she had a messenger bag that used to carry her school books, but now carried whatever food she could scrounge up. Across her other shoulder, she had two gallon bottles of water, strapped together with a belt drawn tight. The belt loop was wrapped with a dish towel for padding, but it did very little to ease the burden of the weight. She also has a small collection of luggage and bags at her feet, ready to be put into the trunk of her car, if it still ran.

She took some sheets and used them to lower her extra supplies to the floor below, as the stairs were demolished. Each deposit of cargo was done as silently as possible to not alert any Ghouls in the area. Supplies staged below, she lowered herself from the demolished stairwell and peered around, wary of any movement. Safe, for a moment, she took a look at her apartment that loomed above her, next to the makeshift tomb of her unlucky neighbors.

It was time to go.

Her car was not blocked in, thankfully, and she had not encountered a single ghoul on her two trips to get her supplies to the car. The back seat of the Focus was jammed with what she had brought and she slid her hiking pack into the passenger seat. She opened the driver’s side door, took a deep breath, and turned the ignition.

The car sputtered but didn’t turn over. She almost began to cry in frustration but she straightened in her seat and tried again. After a couple of tries, the engine rumbled to life. 

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She laughed, nearly startling herself with how loud she had been. She’d been quiet for what felt like weeks. It felt strange to make a noise above a loud whisper.

Her tank was still relatively full, thankfully. It was more than enough to get her to where she needed to go, only a couple of blocks away. She would drive down, break into the office, grab the gun, and get back into the car and drive the fuck out of town. It was the best plan she had and it seemed effective enough for now.

She took the Focus into reverse, then to drive, through instinct. She rounded the corner of the cross-like lane that divided the apartments, dotted with parking spots, abandoned cars, and a few grim remains. Ahead she saw the gate that opened to Acacia street was a mess; a couple of cars were piled up against an ambulance. It would be too much to move them.

She noticed a pair of figures awkwardly wedge themselves between the detritus and start moving toward her. She kept calm and reversed, noticing a single ghoul in her rear-view mirror. Taking a breath, she reversed back into her lane where she had come from, and instead made a right, rolling past the decomposing creature. The clumsy shambler bounced off the corner of the Focus and fell to the ground in a heap. She made another right to the other exit that led to Howard street and was relieved to see no cars were blocking it. The gate, however, was partially torn down and leaning into the apartment complex. It would be dangerous to drive through. It had to be moved.

The ghouls behind her were still shambling awkwardly in her direction as she rounded the corner. She rolled the Focus forward enough to park. Danielle took in her surroundings again, and not immediately able to identify any of the undead around her, stepped out of the Focus, crowbar in hand.

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The young survivor made her way to the gates and hooked onto one end with the crowbar and began to pull at it, trying to pull it out toward the grass outside, like opening a door. The metal creaked and buckled, but the gate was being stubborn. Frustrated, her temper got the better of her and she pulled hard enough to rattle the gate loudly. She stopped, panting, angry, and nervous.

She heard the moans of approaching ghouls from behind.

Next Installment

Thank you for reading the second installment of the Haunted MTL original series, The Dead Life. Please share your thoughts about the story with us.


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David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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Original Creations

More Nail Polish Paintings by Jennifer Weigel

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Well, seems I’m at it again, with more nail polish paintings into found thrift store art. Why so many flowers this time…? Well a friend sent them and I just couldn’t help myself. They are so perfect for creepy fairy paintings. And for those of you who think fairies aren’t scary, you haven’t read much about the fey now have you?

More Revisitations nail polish paintings by Jennifer Weigel
More Revisitations nail polish paintings by Jennifer Weigel

Top left: Blue Fairy, originally painted by M Wadorf

Top right: Pegasus, originally painted by Edie Babb

Bottom left: Unicorn, originally painted by R Lovelace (After I painted this I realized I missed the opportunity to do a troll with a bridge and so I hope to do another along those lines in the future.)

Bottom middle: Fairy, originally painted by SD Janz

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Bottom right: Dragon, original signed FZ, very sparkly with black-light sensitive eyes

And the most horrific of the bunch this time is this mermaid, who started as a weird bucket painting by Helen Miller… So, what’s in the bucket, Helen? Body parts? Fish? Plants not yet in bloom? I envisioned a trapped mermaid waiting to ensnare some unsuspecting land-goer, because no one would expect to find a mermaid there…

Mermaid in bucket, original by Helen Miller
Is this mermaid trapped in need of help or just trying to lure you close?

So I broke down and redid the unicorn to a troll. Apparently the troll was hungry… Anyway, here is the result. I am happier with it now.

Troll with toll bridge, original by R Lovelace
Hungry troll wants bridge tolls after eating innocent unicorn.

You can find more of my Revisitations art on Haunted MTL here, including links to even more nail polish paintings…

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 Creations

Bloody Mary or More Doll Costuming by Jennifer Weigel

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So I came upon a Liv doll with no wig and decided to make her a mourning ensemble. The result was so reminiscent of this Bloody Mary music video based on the Lady Gaga song, by Ruben Samuel Cortez for his film school final (not the Wednesday TikTok remix, though that is also fun) that I simply had to share.

Costumed Liv doll to Bloody Mary by Jennifer Weigel
Costumed Liv doll to Bloody Mary by Jennifer Weigel

The outfit is made up of really fancy thick black lace leftover from a skirt I decorated for a party and an old translucent black handkerchief. It really reminds me of the table dancers in the music video but black instead of white (though it also alludes to some of the other outfits too, and Wednesday’s dress from the TikTok remake).

Close up of Bloody Mary doll's face
Close up of Bloody Mary doll’s face

I love the detail on the eyes on these Liv dolls, which are embedded and not painted on.

Closer still...
Closer still…

The Liv dolls’ eyes are just so lifelike. I think this is what attracts me to the Rainbow High dolls too, and why I had to turn the Makeover Failfix 2Dreami into Lady Amalthea of The Last Unicorn…

Failfix 2Dreami as Lady Amalthea from The Last Unicorn (not scary but one of my all time fave movies and I love how this doll turned out so I'm posting her here anyway)
Failfix 2Dreami as Lady Amalthea from The Last Unicorn (not scary but one of my all time fave movies and I love how this doll turned out so I’m posting her here anyway)

If you want to check out more of my altered dolls, I have posted several to Haunted MTL here:

Fashion Zombies

Heartbreak Hotel

Mummy Dearest

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Catharsis

Fairy Wands

She Wolf

Queen of Everything

More Altered Dolls

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Krampus

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.

Oh and here’s a bonus photo of the skirt that I got the lace for originally, titled Kiss My A$$.

Portrait of the artist, dressed for a Blue Jeans and Bling party
Portrait of the artist, dressed for a Blue Jeans and Bling party

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Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Giants Among Spiders

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So, as you may have noticed, we have a special fondness for spiders here on Nightmarish Nature.  Well, they are kind of the spokes-critters for horrifying animalia, perhaps because they are so freakishly different from us.  Or maybe it’s because I find them a little disconcerting for all that I try to take the “you mind your business, I’ll mind mine” approach, at least if they stay outdoors. Or just because I really like to draw spiders for all that I prefer not to find them sharing my home (though I’ll gladly take spiders over other bugs or mice or larger critters who didn’t get an invite).

Anyway, this segment is devoted to the largest Giants Among Spiders, as if you didn’t have enough to worry about already.  And the top place is contested based upon body mass or leg length.  Most of these are tarantulas, which globally take top place among the large arachnids.

Goliath Birdeater Tarantula
I’m hungry… I bet you are…

Goliath Birdeater Tarantula

The Goliath Birdeater Tarantula of South America is the biggest brute of spiderdom, weighing in at over 6 ounces.  They build funnel burrows and are known to eat birds (although rarely), mice, lizards, frogs, and snakes, but largely any big insects including other species of spiders.  They have urticating barbed hairs that they fling at would-be attackers as an irritant to escape.  And people even eat them after they singe the bristles off. Here’s a National Geographic video showing this spider in action, in case you wanted to see a giant spider take out a mouse.

Giant Huntsman Spider drawing by Jennifer Weigel
Creepy crawly at it’s worst…

Giant Huntsman Spider

And with the longest legs, we have the Giant Huntsman Spider of Laos, with a leg-span of 12 inches.  Their legs have twisted joints and they move in a crab-like manner, which furthers their impressive appearance. ‘Cause they’ve got legs, and know how to use ’em.  They prefer to live in underbrush and cave entrances.  These are like the big relatives of their Australian cousins, which we’ve all seen online and developed a healthy aversion to.

Everything's cuter when it's fuzzy, right? tarantula drawing by Jennifer Weigel
Everything’s cuter when it’s fuzzy, right?

Brazilian Salmon Pink Birdeater & Brazilian Giant Tawny Red Tarantulas

Next we have two more South American species: the Brazilian Salmon Pink Birdeater, which boasts one-inch fangs, and the Brazilian Giant Tawny Red, believed to be the longest-lived spider with a lifespan of up to thirty years.   Both are in the tarantula family and have urticating hairs, a word you probably never read much before today unless you are in the hobby.  So apparently South America is not the best travel destination for you if you struggle with arachnophobia, though I suspect you’d figured that out already.  (I wouldn’t recommend Australia or Southeast Asia either.)

Face Size Tarantula drawing by Jennifer Weigel
Face-Size, sorry no Face or Face Hugger for scale

Face Size Tarantula

And finally the Face Size Tarantula, which has a very terror-inducing name reminiscent of the Face Huggers of Alien-glory.  Anyway, these spiders have an 8-inch leg-span and live in India and Sri Lanka.  They look kind of like big hairy wolf spiders with stripey legs, sometimes with pink and daffodil coloring.

If you enjoyed this eight-legged segment of Nightmarish Nature on Giants Among Spiders and their larger than life kin, please check out past segments:

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

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