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“The Popobawa” by J.P. Roquard

“Where’ve you come from?”

“Up river.”

“Churchtown?”

“No.”

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“Then where?”

“Past Churchtown.”

“Ain’t much past Churchtown.”

“Nope.”

The hunter considered this.

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There were three of them, all squatting around the campfire. The hunter, his friend, and the stranger. The stranger from up river.

The firelight flickered, the stranger’s face half hidden behind a cup of stew. In the stew was a rabbit. The hunter had shot it, the friend had cooked it and they all ate it.

“So what you doin’ up there?”

“Hunting.”

“Ain’t nothin’ much to hunt up there, less you shootin’ crows. You bin shootin’ crows?”

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“No.”

“Then what you huntin’?”

The stranger drained the last of his stew and placed the cup in the dirt. He didn’t look at the hunter, or his friend. He just stared into the fire.

“Outpost up there wrote and asked for guns. They offered money. Said there was something up there, some beast, messing with their livestock, messing with them. What they wrote in their bulletin didn’t really make much sense. Some claptrap about needing a fearless hunter to protect their souls. Sounded like a bunch of frightened goatherds to me, but I figured they’d at least feed me. Might even make some money shooting their beast too. So up I go.

“I get up there and, sure enough, it’s three families of herders. All living in shacks and lean-tos, goats sleeping right in there with them. Real frontier living. But they were spooked. Properly spooked. The first thing that happens when I get there is this man comes up to me and says ‘He got me. He got me and he had his way with me. Now I gotta tell you or else.’ I said ‘Who got you?’ but he just turns around and runs off.

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“Next comes this woman. She comes up and says ‘I’m pregnant. He got me and I’m pregnant, and you gotta know about it mister, you gotta know’. I said ‘Who? Who got you pregnant?’, but she just runs off as well. And that’s how it was, the whole damn village. They each come up to me, one after another and told me about how he got them, how he cut them or had his way with them. Some even showed me scars. And as soon as they tell me they all run off and hide. It wasn’t until they’d all spoken that I finally heard its name. The Popobawa.”

“The Popobawa?” This was the friend. His voice was thin and high like a child.

“That’s what they called their beast, the Popobawa.”

“What the hell kinda stoopid name is that?” said the hunter.

“This old man up there, he’d traveled the world. Merchant navy I think. Said he heard about it in Africa. A beast like a bat that comes at night and attacks you. It’s as big as a man and it’s got one big huge bat eye. The worst thing is it knows when you’re weak and when you’re alone. It knows when you’re frightened or sick, and that’s when it comes and gets you. When nobody’s around to hear, or to help, that’s when it comes. Most say you never even see it. It attacks you, then it’s gone.”

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“How’d they know what it looks like if they never even seen it?” asks the friend.

“I don’t know. That’s just what they told me.”

“What does it do? When it attacks I mean. What does it do to you?”

“Depends. It does what it feels like. Sometimes it cuts you up with its claws or its teeth, seems like it does that mostly. But other times it has its way with you. That’s what that first man was saying to me. It got him and it sodomized him.”

The hunter spat. “Why in hell would he go and tell you about somethin’ like that?”

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“Well, that’s the thing about the Popobawa. If he gets you, you have to tell everyone you meet about it.”

“Why?”

“Or else he comes back and gets you again.”

The fire crackled, the three men watched it. The hunter and his friend contemplated what the stranger was telling them.

“So lemme git this straight. You git got. Then you gotta tell everyone you ever meet about it?”

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“Yep.”

“For the rest of your life?”

“Yep.”

“That’s the dumbest fuckin’ thing I ever heard.”

“Well, it’s worse than that. Everyone you tell about it also gets attacked. That’s why the goatherds kept running away after they told me, they thought I’d be angry.”

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“So did you ever see it, this popo monster?” asks the friend.

“Nope. I never saw it. I stayed there two weeks, ate a lot of goat, then I couldn’t stand it anymore. Those people were driving me nuts. So I came back down the river. And here I am.”

The hunter turned to spit again. He eyed the stranger.

“So it was bullshit? You never saw nothin’ and them herders were all just crazy?”

“They were crazy alright. Crazier than a cut snake. And it’s true, I never saw a thing. But it sure as hell saw me.”

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The stranger stood as he said this. He untucked his shirt and lifted it to show his belly. Red and raw in the firelight were three long scars. They stretched across the stranger’s abdomen, disappearing around his flank. The angry skin glistened in the firelight.

“I’m sorry to do this after you shared your dinner, but I’ve got to tell you. I was attacked by the Popobawa.”

This author has not submitted a photo.

J. P. Roquard is a husband and father, based in Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of the Buckingham Green: An Emperor Donald Tale and believes that puns are the highest of all art forms. His flash fiction can be found in Mura, 365 Tomorrows, Every Day Fiction, and other places.

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Original Creations

Goblins, a Short Story by Jennifer Weigel

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Revisiting the creepy faux fingernail art, I made a couple of goblins… They then ransacked my house. This is their story, as told by myself, Jennifer Weigel.

More faux fingernail art from Jennifer Weigel, featuring wide smiling mouth with red sparkly lipstick and faux fingernail teeth on textured green goblins background
More faux fingernail art from Jennifer Weigel

So it finally happened. My art came to life. And of course it couldn’t be one of the cute pretty pictures, like the sparkly unicorns or the cat drawings. No it had to be the faux fingernail goblins… Ugh. I first encountered them in the bathroom.

I see England.
I see France.
I see someone’s underpants!

Of course you do, it’s the bathroom. That’s totally the room for that. Remind me again why I decided to paint these little green monsters. Ugh. From there, they moved on to the kitchen.

We so tricksy.
We so sly.
We eats all the cherry pie!

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Did they have to eat ALL the cherry pie? Like seriously. But what can I expect, they’re goblins and they’re in the house. Ugh. And honestly they’re just plain gross.

I pick my friend.
I pick nose.
Just whose nose, do you suppose?

Get away from me you obnoxious, vile creatures! I can pick my own nose on my own time, thank you. Ugh. Oh, great, now they’re tearing up the living room.

We be goblins.
We be green.
We be making quite a scene!

No, not the sofa! Now there are little bits of fabric and stuffing flying everywhere. I can see you’re all too pleased with yourselves. Nasty critters. Ugh. Why can’t you just leave?

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I do mischief.
I do bad.
This best party ever had!

I did NOT agree to host your little shindig. Stop tearing up my house! All I know is, it’s about time you moved on to wreak havoc elsewhere. Ugh. Just get out – NOW!

We scare the cat.
We scare you.
We scare all, we care not who!

I may have brought these dreadful disgusting demons into being seeing as how I painted them, but I have no idea what brought them to life or why. What kind of cosmic miscalculation caused this? I need to know so I can avoid it in the future. Ugh. Goblins… need I say more?

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.

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.

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Original Creations

Faux Fingernails Art by Jennifer Weigel

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So I had some faux fingernails leftover from a costume based modeling session, from posing as Cruella De Vil for the figure drawing group… Here’s a teaser from that modeling session, before the horrible creepy art generation in the aftermath. If you zoom in tight enough, you can see my tiger fingernails, which kept trying to fall off constantly, reminding me why I hate trying to wear the things and why they (d)evolved into art.

Cruella De Vil modeling for figure drawing
Cruella De Vil modeling for figure drawing

My version of Cruella De Vil channels Glenn Close or the original animated character more than the recent Emma Stone variant, but they’re all delightfully devilish.

Anyway, I made this series of “Tiger Sharks” prominently featuring the same tiger faux fingernails, including those used in the Cruella De Vil costume. These “Tiger Sharks” also incorporated some pirate fingernails, because sharks and pirates are tight.

Pirate skeleton hand with faux fingernails
Pirate skeleton hand with faux fingernails

I couldn’t think of a better use for the pirate fingernails than adding them to this skeletal hand. I never actually wore these, they were too hard to come up with something to go with. But I do love the Beetlejuice vibe with the stripes…

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 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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