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Here I am, kicking off a new series for October 2022 in celebration of fall. Last year, you were invited to join us for Total Monster Makeover. This year brings yet another adventure, this time hosted by none other than the Devil himself… Enjoy this short story and additions over the course of the month.

It was an uneventful autumnal Thursday.  I was raking for the third time that season to clear the tendrils of brittle plant detritus that kept sidling over from my neighbor’s knee-deep leaf pile of a yard.  A gaunt silhouette of a bearded man wandered by, walking a dapper white Westmoreland Terrier.  The dog circled three times and pooped before proceeding to bury the evidence by flinging yet more leaves onto the steaming pile with rapid sweeping motions of his hind feet in a grandiose orchestrated dance.  As the dog-walker bent over to scoop up his spoils, the dog stared at me intently and winked, amber eyes gleaming from behind his furry facade.  It was not a friendly kind of a wink, mind you – more one of those somewhat sinister I-know-something-you-don’t winks.  Then the dog opened its mouth and addressed me.

“My dear Jonathan Menkhir, it is a pleasure if I dare say so myself.”

Taken aback, I stared at the dog.  The gaunt man stood unmoving like a statue, caught perpetually in his hunched position firmly gripping his unappealing prize, eyes staring unblinkingly ahead.  The dog cocked its head to the left quizzically and spoke again.


“Surely you heard me, fellow Jonathan.  What, have you never seen a talking dog before?”  The Westie’s yellow teeth flashed an unnervingly wide toothy grin.

“You… you can talk…” I muttered, letting loose my grip on the rake handle.  The rake fell to my side releasing a spurt of leaves upon its pillowed landing.

“Why yes, my dear lad, and so much more…”  The dog’s eyes twinkled.  “Allow me to introduce myself.  I am Beelzebub Lord of the Flies, Abaddon the Destroyer, Lucifer the Shining One…”

I just stood there, motionless and unresponsive, soaking up my circumstances.  I can’t believe I’m talking to a dog, I thought.  The words the dog spoke fell haphazardly along the wayside of my mind because they were meaningless in comparison to the messenger, at least in that moment, and they didn’t fit my image of how the devil would appear.

“You would probably best know me as Satan.”  The dog sat pointedly and smiled, eyes still fixated on me.  He had a proper air about him and seemed almost noble but in a forced snake oil salesman kind of way.  At least, insomuch as a Westmoreland Terrier could seem both gentlemanly and conniving.


I finally found my voice buried deep within my throat and coughed up a response.  “Oh, OK, I guess.  So what brings you to these parts, um, Satan?”  It wasn’t the best-articulated thought, but given that I had suddenly found myself talking to a somewhat prim and proper small purebred dog claiming to be the devil, that wasn’t surprising.

The dog stood and wagged its tail.  “I wanted to make you an offer, my dear Jonathan.  ”

“I am not interested in bargaining with the likes of yourself, Satan,” I retorted, surprised by how clearly the words fell from my lips and how quickly I seemed to adjust to the fact that I was talking to the devil as a small white dog as if it were nothing extraordinary and this was just another mundane Thursday afternoon.  I guess I was better rehearsed in this comeback than I’d expected, having neglected the faith in my adult years after leaving many of my childhood fears behind.

“Come now, I know your heart’s desire, and that would be to see your dear Chloe again.”  The devil dog wagged his tail again.  “I can make that happen, you know.”

Chloe, my mind flooded back to the love of my life, my high school sweetheart, my college pen pal, my beautiful bride who had died nearly two years ago due to complications with the pregnancy.  We had met through theater, having played opposite one another in Fiddler and becoming inseparable after.  We had only been married for a little over a year after finishing college and moving into this house together when she had become pregnant with our first child, a little girl we had planned to name Abilene.  It should have been the happiest time of my life, but it had been ripped from me prematurely.  There wasn’t a day that passed without my thoughts returning to my beloved Chloe, I missed her with all my heart and soul.


 Seemingly reading my thoughts as they overflowed my eyelids and trickled down my face, the dog grinned again.  “Why yes, dear Jonathan, you can be with your beloved Chloe again.”  His tail wagged even more feverishly.

Shaking my head, I spoke.  “No.  That you cannot do.  Do not tempt me with your lies.”

“My reputation is unearned, my dear fellow.  I mean you no ill intent.”  The devil dog cocked its head to the left again.  “If you wish to see your dear Chloe again, all you need do is come with me.”

“What, to Hell?” I asked, offended at the mere implication that my precious Chloe was doomed to such a dreadful place.  “What do you take me for?”

“Not to Hell, my dear Jonathan, to Purgatory,” the dog stated matter-of-factly.  “It hasn’t been that long since her passing and the decision is still being weighed, as one might expect.  We request your… input… on some matters.”

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.

Jennifer Weigel is a multi-disciplinary mixed media conceptual artist residing in Kansas USA. Weigel utilizes a wide range of media to convey her ideas, including assemblage, drawing, fibers, installation, jewelry, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, video and writing. You can find more of her work at:

Original Series

Into the Deep Woods 1, an October AI journey with Jennifer Weigel



I am embarking on an AI journey using NightCafe to illustrate this graphic story based on a dream I had awhile back. I am also using Canva, so here’s to learning more online systems of image dissemination and propagandizing…

I will include some of the original AI generated images with each piece along with a bit of the dream that inspired it. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

Into the Deep Woods Part 1, AI art journey through Canva with Jennifer Weigel

Artwork description: Overall layout: Lightning strike through the corner into obscure clouds and map-like graphic in gray tones sets the mood for Into the Deep Woods.

Part 1, Art: AI generated image of a girl with reddish hair dressed in a robe of some sort and holding a staff. A similar girl in soldier garb fades behind her. Edited in PhotoShop.

Part 1, Text: 1.) Two sisters entered the woods, one a soldier and the other a witch. Only one lived. 2.) The young witch had picked up a bit of magic as she and her sister fled into the deep woods to seek the old witch… They were tired and alone, this was their one and only chance… 3.) The war raged on all around as the Nazis drew closer…

AI art of soldier sister
AI art of soldier sister

Prompt (Horror): Portrait of soldier girl sister

AI art of witch sister
AI art of witch sister

Prompt (Horror): Portrait of witch girl sister (Evolved from soldier girl)

AI art of soldier sister, version 2
AI art of soldier sister, version 2

Prompt (Horror): Soldier girl sister hit by lightning (Evolved from soldier girl)

As mentioned this series is based on a dream that I had awhile back. The two girls first enter the woods to escape the Nazis. In my dream there were initially more soldiers with them who perish due to the war or hazards in the woods. It wasn’t unlike Pan’s Labyrinth but on a much smaller and more intimate scale.

It had been awhile between having the dream and creating this story to share with you. And I quickly learned that the term “Nazi” is prohibited by the AI art generator interface. So there are some changes that have been made, but hopefully you can still follow along. The time and place are not as relevant to the overall anyway.

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Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Cannibalism



Let’s return to explore more Nightmarish Nature, shall we? This segment focuses on cannibalism, as we generally find it icky / taboo and because it’s more common than you might think. There are many different reasons that different creatures engage in cannibalistic practices. Energy waste doesn’t last long in nature; gaps are filled as things evolve to utilize whatever resources are available to meet their own needs. C’est la vie (light up another cigarette). In any case, the challenge to the cannibal lies in determining kinship and not accidentally erasing their own line or progeny, thus decreasing their likelihood for survival over generations. Oh, and in avoiding those pesky prion diseases…

Resource Driven Cannibalism

Monkey cannibalism, staring at you, smiling wide and thinking about Brains...
Drawing of monkey cannibalism, thinking about Brains…

Resource driven cannibalism can occur when competition for resources is high. This may be due to scarcity, with individuals taking to eating each other to avoid themselves starving to death (with those consumed either still alive and killed to this end, or eaten after death of other causes). Or it may be outside of the cannibal’s control, considering the spread of Mad Cow Disease from feeding beef meal harboring the prion disease (and parts from other mammals like sheep) to growing cattle to save money, ’cause it’s not like the cows were allowed to order whatever they wanted. Or it may be due to direct conflicts with other groups of the same species, either due to competition for resources, mating rights and/or territory. These behaviors have been noted in mostly male chimpanzees raiding other groups, which have even been documented as all out wars against other males in neighboring bands, campaigning to eradicate all outside of their ranks.

Social Demonstration

African Wild Dog cannibalism, tongue lolling out
Drawing of African Wild Dog

Thinking about chimpanzees, males are also documented to gang up on alpha males seen as too controlling or sadistic, with groups of younger males attacking and rendering the alpha male to pieces, often consuming his flesh and blood in the process. This can upend established hierarchies to replace them with new structures, for example with a new male taking on the role of leader. But cannibalism can also be used to reinforce existing hierarchies, as seen in African Wild Dogs wherein the dominant pair will kill off any offspring that other dogs may have birthed so that the pack will focus on raising only the alpha pair’s pups, thusly reestablishing and enforcing social structure while ensuring the best survival chances for the pups raised by channeling all resources to the one brood.

Infanticide & Filial Cannibalism

Tom Cat calling out "Here kitty..."
Drawing of Tom Cat calling out “Here kitty…”

Like African Wild Dogs, other parents may also eat their offspring, or better yet their rivals’ offspring. Stillborn or unhealthy offspring may be consumed, or just any that they can get their hands on at birth. (Again with the young male chimpanzees…) Some creatures enter into cycles wherein smaller individuals are more vulnerable to predation by larger ones both within and outside of ones own species, as is seen among many fishes with eggs and smaller fishes playing an important role as prey to larger ones. Other creatures may engage in these practices to reduce competition (for themselves and/or their offspring) and/or increase opportunities to mate. Male cats are notorious for killing kittens that are not their own in order to bring females into heat again sooner, potentially increasing the likelihood of mating with said females themselves while decreasing future competition. Win-win! Female cats must take great care to hide their kittens in order to protect them from males as much as other predators, and can have kittens by different fathers within the same litter in order to increase their kittens’ overall survival as a group with father cats more willing to accept kittens when their own kin are present.

Sexual Cannibalism

Cannibalism in spiders: 'cause spiders eating just about anything is terrifying, and they eat just about anything
Drawing of spider yelling “More spiders”

Mantids and spiders are especially known for sexual cannibalism, with larger females consuming males during copulation, but this is not always linked to vast size differences and does not appear in every species. Females who engage in this practice may have healthier eggs in larger clutches, thus increasing the survival likelihood of more of their offspring. Sometimes the risk to the male suitor of being mistaken for another species by an aggressive would-be mate is high, and various rituals have developed within certain species to help avoid such mistakes and entice the female to mate. Male spiders are known engage in elaborate dances, movements, tapping and silk spinning rituals to avoid being eaten pre-copulation or at all. It’s a hell of a lot more involved than a good pick up line and a well-timed drink, as you can see here.

Peacock Spider mating ritual

If the above video doesn’t load, you can find it on PBS YouTube here.

Thank you for joining us for another exciting episode of Nightmarish Nature. If you enjoyed this, please feel free to check out these previous segments:

Vampires Among Us


Perilous Parenting

Freaky Fungus

Worrisome Wasps

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Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Worrisome Wasps



This time on Nightmarish Nature we are examining wasps. Wasps are truly terrifying, and not just because some of them sting or are aggressive, though those are often the first ones we think of because we as humans come in conflict with them more directly. No, wasps are extremely varied and some are just outright bizarre… stinging doesn’t even begin to touch on the worst horrors they can inflict.

Two wasps terrorize a spider with though bubble "Truly terrifying"
Wasps terrorize a spider

Now many wasps are actually very helpful to us humans. They act as pollinators and keep pests under control. But if you are another insect, especially a large or fleshy one bulking up, watch out. An encounter with the wrong wasps can mean an untimely and horrible death. A few wasp species will disassemble and eat insects bit by bit but that’s just the start of it, others do even more sinister things.

There are parasitic wasps that will lay their eggs in or on a host insect, like a large beetle, a cicada, a spider or a big juicy caterpillar – there’s pretty much a wasp for everything… A female may sting said insect to subdue it while she acts out her nefarious plans for the next generation (I once watched a spider hanging out in an outdoor potted plant whose fate was sealed, unaware of the horror that awaited it as a female wasp flitted on and around it, stinging and laying eggs before flying off again). Different wasps have different host insects and strategies for this, but the result is pretty much the same. Essentially, when the wasp’s eggs hatch, the larva will eat the creature from the inside out, either saving its vital organs for last or waiting until the time is right.

Wasp stinging spider with thought bubble "This can't be good..."
Wasp stinging spider

Caterpillars are especially susceptible to this in all stages of development: egg, caterpillar and pupa. Some species of wasps will lay eggs among caterpillar eggs, others will lay them within the caterpillar eggs, and still others will target the caterpillar itself, or even its pupa. Most build upon the host’s voracious appetite and ability to grow in mass so quickly, waiting until the opportune time to engage in their own frenzy of consumption. Some wasps will even target other wasps that target caterpillars, and this can go like four layers in – it’s like Inception level consumption from within.

Caterpillar says, "I am BIG and JUICY"

And weirder still is the mutualism found between fig trees and very small wasp species. Both are dependent upon one another for their reproductive cycle to be complete. It’s very complicated and I won’t do justice to the cycle trying to explain it, so I recommend that you check it out here on the US Forest Service site.

Anyway to make a long story short, eating figs can even result in eating wasps. Crunch. Crunch. It isn’t actually all that terrifying though; the fig breaks down much of that matter (especially from the original female insect) to use itself as it ripens. And honestly a lot more foods contain insect parts than you may be comfortable with already, they’re pretty much in everything… So that horror aside, the coevolution of figs and wasps that has gotten them to this point is really quite remarkable.

Thinking of figs... and wasps... and cookies...
Thinking of figs

Wasps are truly extraordinary. Many species are super specialized in their life and reproductive cycles. There are over 900 species of fig wasps alone, each dedicated to a different species of fig tree. And the parasitic wasps are also very specialized, with different species targeting different hosts at different stages of their development.

Wasps swarming or something, there's like five of them all flying around

If you have enjoyed reading about wasps here in Nightmarish Nature but missed previous segments, feel free to check out Vampires Among Us; Perilous Parenting; and Freaky Fungus.

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