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Last time on Feeding Frenzy

Lucille returned to her room to prepare for her departure.  She bolted the dead bolt behind her and took inventory of her belongings to see what might be useful.  She had the sickle, hand axe, a spool of dental floss, toothbrush, travel size toothpaste, shampoo, and hairspray, mid-length bridesmaids dress with formal sash, pantyhose, undergarments, and other summer clothing…  Dismayed that she didn’t have a normal leather belt or heavier-duty clothing (damned low-key summer travel), she decided to rip the side seams of the bridesmaid’s dress to create a sort of armored bodice so that she could utilize the sash as a belt, since the sash was built in and she was afraid she would compromise it if she tried to rip it out.  Thank goodness this isn’t a floor length dress and the resulting movement is reasonable, Lucille breathed a sigh of relief.  I can do this…

She wrapped the handles of the sickle and the hand axe in dental floss to cover the grimyness and improve the grip, working in a tiny bit of shampoo to smooth over the floss so that it wouldn’t chafe so badly and made a more even surface.  She then fashioned two belt loop holsters using pantyhose and more dental floss to secure the sickle to the sash at her right hip and the hand axe to her left.  She shouldered her purse like a satchel to limit its movement and keep it close.  She nestled the travel-size hairspray bottle, cap off, in the front of her bodice between her breasts like a can of mace, ready for action.  She rummaged through her other belongings and decided that there wasn’t anything else she really cared much about.

She stood at the mirror studying her movements as she unsheathed each of the weapons in turn and swung them about to get a sense of their weight and her speed and accuracy with them. She practiced drawing and aiming the hairspray, careful not to actually spray it so she wouldn’t waste any.  Just in case.

Lucille lost track of time as she outfitted herself, and the sun settled into the horizon as the afternoon made way to dusk to evening.  She was startled out of her preparations by the sound of swirling shuffling feet working their way up the path; a sense of impending doom lumped in her throat as her heart raced full of dread and anticipation.  She had intended to leave sooner…

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As Lucille crept to the window to peek out, she made out the sounds of a scuffle outside.  From the folds of the dingy drapes, she watched as the tall man shoved the bearded man into the desk clerk, who shoved him back into the tall man with enough force to nearly knock him off his feet.  The smaller man from the flea market slunk behind them a slight ways off, snaking back and forth in the shadows at their backs.  Her stomach sank as she realized that Tom Jones was not with the entourage.

“C’mon out,” the bearded man started to call towards her door as the desk clerk smacked him upside the head with a hissing,”Ssshhh!”

The tall man shoved him again, shouting, “Nota’gain.”  The desk clerk ssshhh-ed him also and thrashed towards him as if to make her point even more heartfelt.

The bearded man and the tall man glared at each other as if fueled by their rivalry and dismay at the turn of events of the night before.  The desk clerk stepped between them, glowering with her pinpoint black eyes.  She gestured towards the door.

This is it, thought Lucille.

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A crash came through the underbrush and Tom emerged following the same fetid brown deer-like creature that she had seen both nights prior.  The stench was even worse than the night before and Lucille nearly threw up a little.  The animal, if it could even be called that anymore, was shedding bits of fur and flesh as it heaved itself up onto the parking lot.  The areas beneath the rotting surface gleamed a sickly pearly pallid gray color that seemed half decayed and yet vibrantly alive.  Although it was in far worse shape than the night before, the beast actually moved with more grace than it had previously, its head snaking back and forth daring Tom to come closer.  It’s once terrified brown eyes were now just dark black pools, deep and distant.

            The contingent of pale hollow-gazed figures slid towards the fray from Lucille’s door as they sized the creature up and gathered as if to bowl it over again.  Lucille slowly opened the motel door behind them and slunk out along the outer wall.  She gently nudged the door shut behind her.  The desk clerk flared a large nostril and shot a harsh glance in her direction but continued to take her place among her comrades.

Instead of hobbling awkwardly in their midst, the once-deer-like animal lunged and thrashed at them.  Its muzzle wound around the tall man as it ripped into his head with unnerving agility, tearing open the flesh where the bulging vein had been so visible only the day prior.  His skin oozed grey and melded over it, leaving the pulsing vein exposed again, throbbing at his temple.  The man threw up his arm to block the creature’s descent only to be trampled instead.  Once he was downed, the beast began ripping into his arms with rows of jagged teeth as he threw them up to protect his face.

Lucille continued to sneak along the wall.  She had crept her way past Room 2 now and was almost to Room 1.  Halfway there, she thought to herself.  Just a little more ways to go.

            Tom leapt upon the creature from behind and dragged it down the shallow slope as they slid down into the ravine, trailing mud and grass.  The diminutive hunchbacked man followed after him, eyes alight and mouth wide, sharp teeth gleaming.  The tall man lay on the ground in a haphazard mess of flesh and bones jutting out at all sorts of unnatural angles.  Yet, despite the apparent damage he had sustained, he began to rise, jerking his body back into orientation and stretching and cracking his jaw and joints back into place.

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            The bearded man and desk clerk had remained.  Lucille had just made it to the door of Room 1.  The desk clerk elbowed the bearded man and motioned towards Lucille with a quick jerk of her head.  Lucille bolted for the car as they turned and lunged towards her with lightning reflexes.  Their eyes were wide and vibrant, fixated upon her with a terrifying dark brilliance that she hadn’t witnessed directly before.  Their nostrils flared wide and their lips curled, their mouths agape revealing a horrifying vortex of three rows of razor sharp pointed teeth curved inward.

Lucille managed to grab the hairspray from her bodice and sprayed the desk clerk fully frontal in the nose and eyes.  The desk clerk withdrew, scratching at her eyes with her thick fleshy hands, as the bearded man continued his approach.

Lucille was at the ready with the hand axe and struck him in the shoulder as he thrust himself at her.  The force of his assault threw her down on the pavement next to the white Cadillac and she lost her grip on the axe, which slid out of her reach towards VENDING.  The bearded man crumpled beside her, his shoulder oozing silvery pearlescent pus.  His nostrils flared, his eyes refocused, and he lunged at her again, grabbing onto part of her dress that had billowed out from under her as she shoved herself out of his path.  She struck him in the face with the sickle, tearing a large gash across his right eye and ripping open his wide nostril, and he toppled clutching his face.

Lucille threw the Cadillac door open and jumped into the car, grabbing the keys and trying to fit them into the ignition.  The bearded man rolled over and began to claw towards her, gaining momentum as he hefted his body forward.  Lucille turned the key in the ignition as she slammed the door shut, almost in one sweeping motion.

The white Cadillac lurched into being, as if animated by some unseen bolt of lightning.  The radio was blasting static and the lights were on bright, shining like beacons against the wall.  She shifted into reverse and backed into the desk clerk, who had regained her footing just in time to be bowled over by the automobile as it sprang into action.  Lucille wished the thud and crunching sound were more satisfying, but it just made her feel sicker to her stomach.  She shifted into forward and drove over the bearded man with a resounding bump-a-thump as she pulled out of the parking lot and turned towards town, gaining speed.

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She flashed through town, jolted every which way by the uneven pavement, trying to forget the images etched into her memory of the grisly figures, their black eyes, their jagged teeth, and the deer-like animal that seemed to become like one of them.  She just kept driving, unsure of where she was or how fast she was going as the evening replayed itself over and over in her mind, cringing every time she heard the crunching sound as she backed over the desk clerk.

portrait of the artist and Great White Shark breaching a pool of blood
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: https://www.jenniferweigelart.com/ https://www.jenniferweigelprojects.com/ https://jenniferweigelwords.wordpress.com/

Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Something Rotten, Flesh in Flowers

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This time on Nightmarish Nature we will again explore some of the more fetid fungi and plants, this time focusing on those that imitate rotten flesh in order to attract flies. Among the best known of these are the Stinkhorn and the Corpse Lily or Corpse Flower. The Language of Flowers be damned, literally…

Fungi

Many of the fungi in the Stinkhorn family erupt in mushrooms that reek of rotten flesh and sprout from a white sort of egg sac in various forms, the common type being a phallus like structure with a white body and olive head. The Beefsteak fungus resembles, well, a cut of beef oozing blood. And some mushroom bodies of the Clathrus genus bloom in elaborate lattice structures or devil’s tooth and devil’s fingers that resemble terrifying alien beings. These odoriferous fetid fungi grow in decaying wood material and use their stinky attributes to attract flies and other insects which will then spread the spores from their fruiting bodies. They truly look like something out of an outer space or aquatic nightmare.

Some various fungi that can reek of rotten flesh, drawing by Jennifer Weigel.
Some various fungi that can reek of rotten flesh.

Plants

Some plants also utilize pungent putrid odors to attract flies and other insects, in part to aid in the pollination and dissemination but also to attract insect matter for their own needs, to absorb the insects for valuable nutrients that they cannot otherwise obtain. The largest flowers in the world bear many of these characteristics, also being among the stinkiest. And some pitcher plants mimic rotten flesh to attract flies upon which they “feed”.

The Titan Arum of Sumatra and Indonesia is a plant that over time produces a huge flower somewhat resembling a calla lily but larger as the plant body stores enough energy to do so. While Calla Lilies are often used to symbolize rebirth and resurrection and can be associated with death, often in a funerary setting, the huge Titan Arum does more than that, strongly mimicking decaying flesh in order to attract flies. These flowers can grow to almost 8-feet tall and bloom for only about three days before wilting; they are a huge draw at botanic gardens when flowering because of the rare nature of the event and the remarkable presence that the flower has, in both size and smell. The US. Botanic Gardens has a page devoted to this plant here, where you can even track previous blooms.

Titan Arum flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.
Titan Arum flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.

Another noteworthy flowering plant is Rafflesia, a parasitic flower native to Indonesia and Malaysia that feeds on the liana vine and grows from a sprouting body bud into a huge flower over the course of five years. Its flowers, once finally formed, can grow to almost a meter across and resembles something out of a horror film. These too smell of death and decay to attract flies in order to cross-pollinate. You can learn more about these unusual plants on this video from Real Science here.

Rafflesia flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.
Rafflesia flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.

If you’ve enjoyed this segment of Nightmarish Nature, feel free to check out some previous here:

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

Giants Among Spiders

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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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Original Series

AI journey: Little Red Riding Hood, Part 3 Final

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So here is our last installment of our AI journey exploring the idea of Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad wolf being one and the same. All of these are based upon the AI generated art and prompts using NightCafe and then created as posters in Canva. Feel free to check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this exploration if you missed them.

Forget this talk of sheep, it isn't helping..., Dark Fantasy style, Aug. 1, 2023
Dark Fantasy style, Aug. 1, 2023

A non sequitur I know, but I couldn’t resist. If you picked up where we left off you’ll get it.

So what about Little Red Riding Hood as a wolf?, Dark Fantasy, Aug. 1, 2023
Dark Fantasy, Aug. 1, 2023

Seriously?! Again with the cropped off head cop out…

Little Red Riding Hood as a wolf, seriously we want to see her face!, Artistic Portrait, Aug. 1, 2023
Artistic Portrait, Aug. 1, 2023

Finally! That was a journey. And not even worth the result, in my opinion.

Anyway, here is a bonus montage I made out of a bunch of additional Red Riding Hood prompts for an article that never happened…

Little Red Riding Hood AI art montage, Nov. 4, 2023
AI art generated Nov. 4, 2023

Prompts for Montage:

1.) What if Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf were one and the same being?
2.) Her wolf face peering out of her red cloak, fangs dripping with the blood of another victim, lost in the forest and never found.
3.) Little Red Riding Hood closes in for the kill, lunging from her red cloak, her wolf fangs dripping with blood.
4.) I am Little Red Riding Hood. I am the Big Bad Wolf. I am coming for you.
5.) Howling within, the rage sears forth from the red cloak, discarded in the deep woods. Red Riding Hood succumbs to the lycanthropy.
6.) Heaving breaths. Dripping blood. Red Riding Hood is not what she appears. She is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
7.) Her red cloak masks the fangs hidden below the surface.
8.) It starts with a long sighing breath. Waiting. The wolf within stirs.
9.) Red Riding Hood trembles. She succumbs to the lycanthropy.
10.) The wolf bursts forth from within. It takes over Little Red Riding Hood’s mind, her body, her being.
11.) Red Riding Hood howls. She is ravenous with hunger for blood. The wolf within has taken over. Mind, spirit, body. She feasts on the blood of the moon.
12.) Big Bad Wolf Red Riding Hood ravenous blood moon feast
13.) Blood moon beckons. I. Little Red Big Bad Riding Hood Wolf. Freedom howling night curse.
14.) Beware. Bewolf. BeRedRidingHood. Betwixt. Beyond.
15.) I pad quietly as the forest dissolves around me. Red Riding Hood and Wolf, one and the same.
16.) Wolf within howling dark recesses of the mind, Red Riding Hood lost
17.) Red Riding Hood HOWL wolf bane true existence polymorph within-and-without.
18.) Red howl Riding Wolf dark existence brooding within

So thank you for joining us on another AI art journey. You can still catch the last AI art journey on Haunted MTL here.  To see more such devolutions into AI generated art, check out the Will the Real Jennifer Weigel Please Stand Up? blog.

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