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“The Popobawa” by J.P. Roquard

“Where’ve you come from?”

“Up river.”




“Then where?”

“Past Churchtown.”

“Ain’t much past Churchtown.”


The hunter considered this.


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?”


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



“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.


“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.”


“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?”


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


“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?”



“For the rest of your life?”


“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.”


“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.”


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 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 Creations

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?

Charlie Daniels Band, Devil Went Down to Georgia, Live

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.

primus, devil went down to georgia, animated

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.

The Devil Went Down to Georgia Revisitation art by Jennifer Weigel, nail polish on found thrift store painting by L. Harady
The Devil Went Down to Georgia Revisitation art by Jennifer Weigel, nail polish on found thrift store painting by 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…

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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