Dani placed a finger to her lips and pulled her hand away from Sandy’s mouth.
“Sandy, I need you to help me here.” She turned to look out the door, in the direction of the rest of the facility. “Can you go to the fence at the end of the units there, and make a lot of noise? We can pull them away.”
Sandy looked shaken. “But what if they climb over?”
“They can’t climb. They’re not smart enough for that, have you seen them walk and stumble around?”
Sandy nodded. Dani pulled a screwdriver from the hip loop of her jeans and handed it to her.
“Take this just in case. A quick jab to the eye socket should work, especially if they are tangled in the fencing.”
Sandy held the screwdriver in her palms, noticing the sticky, dry bloodstain on it. She wiped her hand that touched the metal tip on the edge of the counter.
Dani turned her attention back to Bob who was still on the ground exhausted from his tussle with the ghoul. She began to edge toward the door to grab him but turned her gaze back to Sandy.
“Aim for the eyes.”
She dashed out the door.
Bob was getting far too old for this shit.
He laid there on the warm concrete in the evening sun. It would have been a beautiful sunset, for sure, but he was far too concerned with his heart pounding its way out of his ribcage.
Beside him lay the corpse of what used to be a human. The stench was horrific, but not unfamiliar. He’d found himself in close proximity to the corpses of actual people back in Vietnam. Presumably good people, when he thought back to it in his bitter, painful dreams.
The smell of death was nothing new for Bob Aaron Clark.
He lay there panting, staring up toward the darkening sky, when Danielle Kim jogged up and stood over him.
“Bob, get up, let me help you.”
He grunted as he rose onto his ass, holding out his hand. From there, she was deceptively strong in helping him to his feet.
“What’s wrong, baby girl?” he coughed.
She began to pull him toward the building but glanced back behind her. Her eyes showed fear. Familiar fear. The sound of clanging metal filled the air.
He turned his head as he stumbled towards the door noticing two of the undead bastards only a dozen feet away.
Back inside the door, Dani grabbed the bloody letter opener from Bob’s hand. Before he could protest she said, “Grab your gun.”
He cursed his old age as he jogged up the stairs to the apartment to find his gun. He should have carried it with him in the first place.
He was getting too goddamn old.
Her forties had slowed her down tremendously and Sandy Gunderson was not having it. She jogged just past the fence, seeing the young girl, Danielle, help Bob up from the ground. Behind them were two approaching monsters.
Sandy jammed the tip of the screwdriver between the spokes of the fence and let the metal of the tool collide with each and every metal bar. The sound of clanging was loud and sure enough, it seemed to draw the monsters in her direction.
Her stomach grumbled from the stress. The kid had put her in danger.
Dani stood just out of sight from the shattered glass door and watched as Sandy did her part. Sandy rapidly ran out of fencing and vanished behind one of the first storage units that made up the northern wall. Things were silent for a moment and Dani shifted uncomfortably in her position as the ghouls began to search for signs of the living. They did not immediately turn toward the doorway, which was of a little comfort.
Then Dani heard the banging and rattling from further away down the property. It sounded as though Sandy were kicking at the doors. Soon she was yelling.
Each “here” was punctuated by the rattle of the sliding doors. Dani ducked behind the doorframe again as the ghouls began to turn. One let out a raspy moan. The ghoul’s stiff body shuddered and accelerated toward the source of the sound, the second ghoul stumbling after moments later.
They rounded the outer corner, following the sounds. Dani watched them go out of sight just as Bob wheezed his way down the stairs, his shotgun in hand.
The plan made Bob nervous, especially because Danielle was the one who would need to park the moving truck. He intended to protest but Danielle pointed out that he had the gun. He’d have her back.
He accepted that.
He started the generator just as she turned the ignition on the moving truck. The gate clanked open, making a tremendous amount of noise, and Bob drew his firearm, waiting for the return of the rotten bastards.
The moving truck bounced as it rolled over the gate track. He watched, almost helplessly as Dani drove the truck into the street and made a sloppy three-point turn.
She should have just backed it in.
He watched Danielle back into the lot and caught her grim expression and she gunned the gas just enough to get the truck onto the curb in front of the building. For a moment his breath was caught up in his throat as it looked like the truck might tip over, but it did not. With the truck safely in proximity, Bob turned his attention to the corner where the rotters had disappeared. Sure enough, the sounds of the gate and truck had lured them back. The two stumbled from around the corner as Dani continued to reverse the truck.
“Danielle, hurry the fuck up!”
The stumbling gaits of the ghouls were slow and Bob took steady aim with the shotgun. It was no good from this distance, but he felt relieved to have the weapon.
At least until the gate began to close.
Sandy could not believe that Bob had left the gate wide open and she quickly set about closing it like it should have been. Danielle would have no problem going in through the shattered glass door anyway.
What was needed was to make sure none of these things could get inside.
Bob grabbed at the gate and shook it violently. He looked angry.
“Sandy, what the hell are you doin’?”
“Closing the gate. We can’t let those things inside.”
“What about Danielle?”
“She can go through the door. Squeeze behind the truck.”
Bob stared at her as he opened the gate again. Sandy took a few steps back, nervous about the gate. The plan seemed to be working, but a lack of a barrier was not ideal.
“Don’t open the gate, Bob. They might get in.”
“Fuck off, Sandy,” he muttered.
With the truck finally parked as flush to the building as she could manage, Dani lept out from the passenger side, keys in hand, and slammed the door shut. There were three ghouls now, one had arrived from a cluster toward the main drag of the town. She paused for a moment. They were very close. Their lolling gates seemed so non-threatening – almost absurd to watch.
“Get the hell over here!”
Dani looked at Bob, who had his shotgun at the ready, violently jerking his head back over his shoulder.
Dani got the hell over.
Back inside the shopfront, moments later, the trio stood, staring at the shattered door with a moving truck parked out front. Bob had already blown the heads off the three ghouls once the gate was shut. Dani had offered to get them with the screwdriver, but Bob insisted. Sandy said nothing. For now, the immediate threat was handled.
For the long term, though…
“What if they crawl under the truck?” Sandy asked, her voice a hoarse whisper.
Dani shook her head. She’d been watching the ghouls for a while since the first ones were wandering the town. They weren’t smart. Bob seemed to sniff and cast a pointed glance at Sandy, who shrunk under his brief gaze.
Bob was the first to speak. “They’re too dumb for that. I don’t think we need to worry about that. We need to worry about one wedging itself in from under.”
Dani ran her sweaty palms through her black hair. “Our best bet is to seal up the window and lock up the building for now, just in case,” she added.
Sandy grunted. Dani saw her about to raise a protest, but it seemed that she agreed.
“Well, I am going to pack a few essentials if I am giving up the apartment.”
Sandy vanished up the stairs. Bob was already approaching a small, unused display area where the moving supplies were stored for sale. Dani followed. After about twenty minutes they had managed to tape up the windows and the shattered glass door with cardboard boxes. They had double-layered the cardboard over the door. For good measure, they moved a desk from the office to a position in front of the doorway as well. It wasn’t a great barrier, but if no ghoul needed to poke around, they would be fine.
As far as they had guessed, if no noise came from behind the cardboard-covered door, the ghouls wouldn’t approach.
Seemingly content with the handiwork, Bob whistled and put a reaffirming hand on Dani’s shoulder. Sandy came downstairs with a pair of suitcases.
Bob scratched his chin. “We have a couple of RVs that were being stored here, I can open them up for you two. Sound good?”
Sandy shrugged. Dani nodded. Bob handed Dani the shop keys.
“I think you daddy left his gun in that safe in the office.”
Dani looked puzzled. “I thought he kept it in his unit?”
Sandy shrugged. “I have no idea. I assumed so, but yes, your father did have a safe in the office. I don’t know the combination.”
Sandy and Bob stepped out through the side door into the storage facility. Dani made her way to the office, opened the small closet, and knelt down to access the safe.
The combination was her birthday. Lucky.
She pulled out a small 9mm, unloaded. She tucked it into the waist of her pants. She grabbed the small box of bullets that had been locked in with the gun.
In less trying times that would have been a bad idea. She was thankful that her father had done something so foolish.
The RV seemed comfortable enough. The air was stale and there was a layer of dust, but it was generally clean.
Dani sat on the step, smoking. Bob was kind enough to give her a little something to take the edge off of the day. She wasn’t really much of a smoker but had dabbled here and there. It seemed now was the perfect time to take it up again.
The year 2000 had been an absolute clusterfuck so far. The Y2K thing? Total horseshit. The dead rising – who had even considered that?
She let out a cloud of smoke into the chilly night air. The sun was gone now and her eyes had gotten quite effective at adapting to the dark. The RV was parked near the southern edge of the property, in an open area, accompanied by the other trailers and the boats she saw earlier.
Over the fence, just past the old train tracks, there were some track homes. She stared at them, noticing movement in one of the windows in the dark. It was a tacky tan two-story with fake green slats built around the window.
She stared hard into the window doing her best to make out some sort of detail. After a while, the figure moved close enough to the window for her to see that it was long dead and walking. She took another puff and noticed the ghoul had stopped moving. Soon, thin, greasy hands began to slap the glass. The rattle was audible.
She stamped out her cigarette, took one last look at the window, and shut the RV door.
She threw herself onto a dusty bed and curled up into the fetal position. Soon the tears came and she buried her face into the pillow.
Thank you for reading the sixth installment of the Haunted MTL original series, The Dead Life. Please share your thoughts about the story with us.
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.
Movies n TV
She Wolf, Art by Jennifer Weigel
So this isn’t a review but more just some thoughts…
I have to admit that I actually like the She Wolf music video by Shakira.
Maybe partly because my Zumba group back in the day used to dance to it with all of us cautioned to not to look up the music video for fear it would be too risque or something… (The Zumba dance to this was one of my favorites, and I loved our group of mostly 60+ year old retirees for all that some of them did act surprised at these things, whether or not they actually were.) Or maybe partly because it reminds me of Madonna’s Express Yourself, or by extension the famous dance scene in Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang.
It’s a guilty pleasure.
The ways these things evolve and stay the same over time fascinates me, especially how the messaging and movement change, and yet stay the same.
Anyway, I created this artwork based upon the She Wolf video and song, incorporating a Hazelle puppet head atop a modern Barbie doll body. I don’t recall what happened to Barbie’s actual head though I’m pretty sure I needed it for another project. (Technically I needed the body for another project too, and this was just a stopover.) Years ago this piece found itself part of the Women’s Caucus for Art website as one of the chosen artworks for the year. I was going to try to write something to go with it for Haunted MTL but instead I thought I’d share it as a lead up to my revisitation of my werewolf story from St. Patrick’s Day last year.
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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