The cruiser screamed past the corner where they had paused. Dani had no way of knowing if the driver had seen her group, but she felt uncomfortable about someone knowing where she was… someone she didn’t know.
The moans behind them had grown louder. Edgar had slowed to a crawl at this point to keep the ghouls on the car. Now the car was practically swarmed. Dani couldn’t make out how many ghouls had begun to scramble over the surface. All she saw was a tangle of gooey, flailing limbs.
Jimmy had already begun to dash across the street. His gaze was planted to his right, down the street, Toward the other group of ghouls converging on their location. Dani pushed her cart forward toward the side gate of the U-Stor-It. She just pulled up after Jimmy had already begun pounding on the gate.
“Bob! Bob, hurry up!”
Bob was rattling the chains that held the gate shut. “Hey Jim, what the hell was that? Was that a fuckin’ cop car?”
Jimmy stood at the cart, his knuckles white from his grip on the bar. Bob was still fumbling with the lock and chain.
“Yeah, guy buzzed us twice, and we’re pulling deadies. We gotta get Edgar in quickly with the car.”
“It’s really close, Bob,” Dani added.
The chain came loose, and the gate began to open slowly. Jimmy stepped away from the cart and pulled hard to assist Bob. Dani had already rolled her cart inside and to the right, just past Sandy.
“Where’s the car? Did you lose the car?” she asked.
Dani rolled the cart forward and ran back to the gate, pushing Jimmy’s cart in as he finished moving the gate back. Sandy had approached and glanced out toward the street, looking worried.
“Where’s the car?”
Jimmy snapped, “it’s coming along with a dozen of those dead fucks.”
Sandy glared at him for a second and then took several steps back, creating distance between herself and the gate.
Dani stepped back out onto the sidewalk and waved down Edgar. He accelerated slightly, shaking loose a group of the ghouls, who tumbled onto the ground like wet sacks of meat. Edgar turned the Cadillac to drive into the storage facility, but Dani stepped right in front of him, slapping the car’s hood.
She glanced at the two groups rounding the corner and approaching them.
“Ed… you gotta lead them away.”
Edgar threw his heavy frame through the driver’s side window and glared at her. “What? You’re kidding…”
Dani shook her head and slapped the hood again, pointing at the growing crowd. “That cruiser screwed us. There are too many for this gate.”
Edgar grunted and then slapped the roof of the car. “Shit. Fine. Stay low.”
He reversed the car and began the slow drive down the road. Dani dashed back past the gate and helped Jimmy slam it shut. She threw on the chain and closed the padlock.
Dani and Jimmy stood away from the gate. Jimmy turned to Sandy and Bob and gestured at them to stay quiet.
The ghouls began to pass in front of the gate as they followed the car. The gate, thankfully, had a green screen of woven plastic fiber to keep the group out of sight.
A couple of the ghouls, the closest ones, had slapped and rattled the gate, but the distant sound of Edgar’s horn pulled them away.
The wait was tense. The last of the ghouls, the ones from the second group, had finally wandered by after what seemed like about forty minutes.
Sandy was the first to say anything. “They’re gone, now, right?”
Dani shrugged. “Seems like it.”
Bob was sitting in a lawn chair a few units down, reading a book. Jimmy paced back and forth between periodically unloading goods from the shopping carts. All the while Dani had been at the fence, breathlessly observing the horde of ghouls in silence. Their movements were clear, even seen obscured by the green fabric – jerky, uncoordinated, unnatural.
What were they?
Dani had lost track of time. The ghouls were long gone except for a few stragglers along the street. There was no sign of Edgar, Mary, and Alicia last time she had climbed up to the roof of a row of units. She was worried.
She had found another lawn chair and set it up near the gate. Jimmy was still messing with supplies, arranging them into different piles and groups. Bob continued to read. Sandy had wandered off to another unit and was going through boxes of clothing.
The sound of an approaching car echoed in the concrete canyon of the U-Stor-It. Dani rose to her feet and peeked out through a small gap between the fence and gate, and saw the white Cadillac.
“Hey, let us in,” Edgar yelled, “I couldn’t shake them all.”
Jimmy had already dashed away from his piles of supplies and unwrapping the chain from the gate. She helped him slide the gate open.
The car rolled in, stained with grimy, bloody marks from ghoulish hands, but all the passengers intact. Dani felt a sense of relief but lost that the moment she spied a group of the approaching undead. It seemed to be about ten or so.
Dani pushed the rolling gate with all her strength as Jimmy pulled at it. Within moments the gate rattled shut against the pole, and Jimmy looped the chain around it as quickly as possible, slamming the padlock shut.
Dani and Jimmy both stumbled back as the first crash of the ghouls smashed against the fence, rattling it. Torn fingers wrapped around the exposed metal rods, and through the green woven plastic dark red blotches spread unevenly across the surface.
In moments, gore had washed over the green cover with a sickly brown color.
Bob was already helping Mary out of the car into his golf cart. Each of her steps was labored. Sandy stood by awkwardly, not helping, as was her typical state.
Alicia came stumbling out of the back seat and moved close to her mother. Dani noticed a slight sneer on Sandy’s face, no doubt annoyed and having strangers in her midst again. And a child no less, Dani thought in mock horror.
Dani felt Jimmy grab her hand and pull her to the side, away from the gate and into one of the open units. She glanced at him, and he nodded toward the Cadillac, which Edgar began wheeling into position in front of the gate, backing into the unit. He retracted his hand quickly.
After the car was parked in front of the gate, Edgar stepped out, his gun wedged into the band of his pants. Dani walked out of the unit and gave him a knowing look. Jimmy followed along. Edgar shrugged and handed the gun over.
“Sorry… must have slipped my mind that I had it on me.”
Dani smirked. Edgar smiled back. She turned to Jimmy, who looked nervous, still.
She tucked the gun into the back of her pants and walked toward Bob and Mary in the cart. The moans of the ghouls were heavy in the air.
“Hey, Bob. Sandy. Meet Mary and Alicia.”
END of PART ONE
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.
Cravings, a Pregnancy Horror Story by Jennifer Weigel
Here is Part 1 of Cravings, a pregnancy horror story considering darker cravings and changes in contrast to the glow that comes with the all-too-often toxic-positivity focus of carrying a child.
“Honey, I’m home,” Jayden’s voice echoed through the house like a bad 50s sitcom rerun for all that he didn’t watch those kinds of shows. The callout seemed equally rehearsed and hopeful but harbored a hint of fear in the way his voice cracked that didn’t bespeak Mayberry or the like. He waited for his wife Claire to greet him at the door. The house was still and cold with all of the heavy drapes drawn and no lights on anywhere. He glanced towards the dark bedroom where she must be napping, like the day before and the day before that, for weeks and months on end now.
Honestly, Claire hadn’t been the same since she’d finally conceived, following that witch doctor Miracle Madame Maresh Meliasma’s advice after years and years of trying to get pregnant. Now Claire was lethargic and succumbed to migraines, nightmares & morning sickness that kept her bedridden much of the time, screaming bloody murder because of her headaches if anyone so much as flicked on the lights. And she had barely even gotten into the second trimester. Jayden had read that it was supposed to get better but there didn’t seem to be any improvement; if anything she seemed to be getting worse. He tried to get her to see her doctor about it but she snubbed the idea. “After everything they put us through, all those years of fertility treatments, the invasive procedures, the bills… No way. To Hell with modern medicine,” Claire had retorted.
So now here they were, readying themselves for their first child. Maresh had foreseen that Claire would birth a healthy baby boy, and with all of the card readings, spiritual advice and herbal concoctions, Claire had fallen right in line, hanging onto the witch doctor’s every word. Jayden was still frustrated she wouldn’t consult with her normal doctor, but she instead visited with Maresh every day through Instachat online for about an hour and even invited the creepy old woman into their home once a week on Thursday mornings to supply fresh herbs, massage her aching joints and swelling tummy, and call forth healing realigning energies with elaborate candlelit rituals. Claire could focus on only one thing: anticipating the pending home birth and natural delivery of their firstborn child, still several months away.
Jayden wished his wife had never set foot in that weird alternative new age spiritual center, something about it had just seemed off. It wasn’t the crystals or candles or psychic energy books that seemed to line every surface; he wasn’t into any of that mysticism crap but it seemed pretty innocuous. He recalled small figures made of sticks, straw and mud, and giant Mason jars boasting exotic herbal remedies, and the lingering scent of something sickly sweet decaying, all of which was genuinely unsettling, but it wasn’t really that either. There was something decidedly sinister about the place that he couldn’t quite put his finger on, more caught up in the air surrounding and within the space itself. It settled into his gut like that feeling you get when you know you’re being watched by some unseen far away presence or when you meet someone you know deep down has ill intentions. And Maresh herself was just as disturbing; she only ever addressed Claire and had not uttered a single word to Jayden in the entire time. In fact, she acted as if she looked right through him without even seeing him.
As days turned into weeks into months, Claire became more withdrawn and more obsessed about the baby. She never left the house, locking herself away in the gloomy stagnant nest and occupying herself with the remedies, rites and rituals that Maresh suggested. Oh, and knitting. Jayden hadn’t realized that Claire knitted since he had never seen her do so before, but her hands were a frenzy of motion, whipping silver needles back and forth and pulling soft white yarn between them like a growing umbilical cord tethering her to the circumstance at hand like some sort of strange pregnancy lifeline. The so-called blanket she was producing grew larger and larger every day.
Jayden snapped out of his reverie to see his wife eyeing him from the hallway. She studied him up and down slowly, staring longingly at his body. She inadvertently bit her lower lip in anticipation, teeth striking flesh to cut forth a small droplet of blood. Her tongue eagerly danced across her pursed mouth and lapped it up before withdrawing again.
“Aw, what’d you bring me this time, Sweetcheeks?” Claire smirked; eyes alight with flame like a cat readying to pounce
She had been ravenous throughout the pregnancy so far, and her cravings kept getting stranger and more bizarre as time passed. The other day, Jayden had fetched boiled shrimp, and she had devoured over 2 pounds of the mud-bugs in less than an hour’s time, shell, tail and all, their little legs matted together like thick wet whiskers. Today she had requested pickled eggs, the kind that they import from Europe or Dutch-country Pennsylvania in those big almost gallon-sized jars, stained pink with beet juice vinegar. Jayden procured the giant jar of eggs from the paper bag in his arms. Claire lunged at him and grabbed up the prize, prying the lid off in one fell swoop. She reached in, pulled out a pink rubber-looking egg still dripping with brine, and shoved it in her mouth whole. She hadn’t even bothered to chew it before she grabbed another to meet the same fate. And another.
I hope you have enjoyed the first part of this story. Part 2 will air next time here on Haunted MTL. In the meantime, feel free to follow your cravings and order up some midnight munchies, or listen to this lullabye.