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Day 14

Danielle Kim sat quietly against the wall, staring at the bloody remains of her neighbors. It had been two days since the broadcasts online had stopped. Yesterday, radio broadcasts about safe zones began to vanish throughout the day. Any broadcasts since were intermittent and only conveyed fears, prayers, and screams for help.

She hadn’t bothered listening to the radio today. At the time she was too preoccupied with the sounds of struggle in the apartment next to her. She didn’t really know her neighbors that well. Now she found herself staring at the blood that pooled around the corpse of… was it Julie? It might as well have been Julie, now. Danielle had spoken to her a handful of times in the five years that they were neighbors. Most of those conversations came after the apocalypse.

After the sounds of screaming and heavy thumps against the wall had suddenly cut out, Danielle left her quarantined apartment. She had stepped onto the walkway and saw the stone steps that lead up to the second floor were still demolished, and that no ghouls had managed to make it up.

The second floor only consisted of two apartments, built above the two apartments below. In a panic a week earlier, after a horde of ghouls caught the woman who lived below her. Julie’s boyfriend, Danielle didn’t really know his name, had smashed the stairs with a large hammer. Julie and Danielle had done their best to fight off the ghouls who attempted to climb up at the time.

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It was far too late for the neighbor below. Between the heavy thuds of the massive hammer striking the stone steps were the bloody, gargling cries of her dying moments. Julie had attempted to climb down, to help, but Danielle held her back. Since then, the three of them had locked themselves away, hiding from the ghouls and hearing the periodic scream until the screams stopped coming.

Danielle turned her attention from the demolished stairs to the other apartment and saw that the door was open. She had knocked lightly but heard nothing from inside. She had decided then to step inside.

Julie was already dead. Her boyfriend was on his knees, his face buried into her face. Sitting here now, Danielle didn’t remember making a noise, but she recalled the boyfriend looking up at the time, his eyes pale and unblinking. Between his teeth was a chunk of Julie’s cheek. 

He had turned. When had that happened? When did he get sick?

It was hard for Danielle to remember now, but she must have stumbled back to her apartment and grabbed something to defend herself. In the present, Danielle looked around the living room and saw the volleyball trophy she had grabbed, tossed away. The marble corner was caked in hair, blood, and brain matter. She turned back to see her handiwork. Next to Julie’s body was the boyfriend; his skull caved in and his arm thrown over Julie. A parody of a sleeping couple.

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Danielle began to sob. Everything had fallen apart. She felt like a fool for not having fled somewhere, anywhere, sooner. He was making arrangements, he said. It was his idea to stay isolated and to get out together “at the right time.” She foolishly followed his idea. Idiot.

The sobbing continued until Julie began to stir. Danielle watched the fingers of the dead woman begin to curl and drag across the carpet. The first stirrings of something horrid being born.

The internet was right. Danielle hadn’t wanted to believe it. The dead were returning to life and attacking the living, forced to wander around in an undead daze.

She rose to her feet and made her way to the trophy. She wouldn’t let that fate befall Julie.

Danielle plunged the corner of the trophy into the temple of Julie’s skull. Soon the rasping moans fell silent, and again, the trophy was discarded across the room.

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It was time to leave the apartment complex.

Next Installment

Thank you for reading the first installment of the Haunted MTL original series, The Dead Life. Please share your thoughts about the story with us.

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. spiritsails

    September 5, 2019 at 5:45 am

    Heck yeah! Looking forward to more. 😀

  2. Deft Beck

    September 6, 2019 at 1:01 am

    Quite a good start, eager for more.

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Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Zombie Snails

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This time on Nightmarish Nature, we will look into zombie snails, because we were having so much with the Whore Snails recently. So this is a lot like the Freaky Fungus except that this time it’s a parasitic worm that is the cause of the horror… Leucochloridium paradoxum, the green-banded broodsac worm, forces snails to be a part of its nefarious plans to take over the world (well, really more just continue on keeping on in its strange and bizarre life cycle).

Hungry birds want nummins
Hungry birds want nummins

This Is What We Get for Eating Poop

The worm, which spends much of its life as a parasite in birds’ digestive systems, is part of a weird cycle that includes both birds and snails, though the snail end is much creepier. It starts when a snail ingests worm eggs in bird droppings. These eggs hatch into worm larvae that eventually turn the poor hosts into zombie snails! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Snails make questionable food choices, but I guess this comes from being where they are on the ecosystem clean up crew...
Snails make questionable food choices, but I guess this comes from being where they are on the ecosystem clean up crew…

The worm larvae work their way up into the snails’ brains and take over, hijacking them on suicide missions to continue their own life cycle. These worm larvae eventually grow large and worm their way into the poor snail’s eye stalks, pulsing and throbbing therein to resemble maggots or other tasty treats.

Zombie Snails
Zombie Snails

Mind-Control

The worms use the zombie snails to get into their bird hosts by mind-controlling them into climbing out of the shady undergrowth where they will be easily spotted by bird predators which will feed on them, ingesting the eye stalks and continuing the worm’s life cycle as it gets into the bird’s digestive tract. The huge, bulging eye stalks are irresistible to birds looking to snatch maggots and other delicious delicacies. Eventually, after the worms are well ensconced in its bird hosts, the bird poops out more worm eggs for unsuspecting snails to ingest, completing the cycle.

Birds love their grubs and maggots and other nummins, even if they are just zombie snails.
Birds love their grubs and maggots and other nummins, even if they are just zombie snails.

You can watch this in action on Nat Geo Wild: World’s Deadliest here, if you dare. Warning, it’s a little gross but not near so much as some of the other topics we’ve covered. If you enjoyed this slimy segment of Nightmarish Nature, please check out past segments:

Vampires Among Us

Perilous Parenting

Freaky Fungus

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Worrisome Wasps

Cannibalism

Terrifying Tardigrades

Reindeer Give Pause

Komodo Dragons

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Original Creations

Snails a Whorl Whirl Whore World…

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So a friend and I made some artsy snails awhile back. Essentially this was in response to her granddaughter proclaiming that her favorite animals are whorl snails. My friend heard “whore snails” and was a bit perturbed that the child would use such a word so nonchalantly, whether or not she knew what it meant. But then again toddler-speak is like that sometimes… Anyway, it stuck.

So we made some whore snails, all glammed up and ready to go. We started with these flat metal snails and then painted and decorated them, to whore them up a bit. I figured this would be apropos after my recent Valentine’s Day posts and that the end results were horrifying enough to appear here.

My friend's whore whorl snail
My friend’s whore whorl snail

This is my friend’s creation. I especially like the David Bowie star and cherry bling to match her cherry red lipstick. The purple shell is a great color on her too. I think my friend went back and decorated her shell more after the fact, but I didn’t see the snail after those changes.

My whore snail
My whore snail

And here’s my whore snail. She’s a bit more of an ice queen with her deceptively lovey-dovey eyes and mouth full of poison darts, like the underwater snails do. I believe I called her a Hoar Whore Whorl Snail as when the discussion first came up I heard “hoar” and thought of hoarfrost. Hence the ice queen take…

And another friend joined us via Zoom just to visit and have fun making art together.

Another whore snail, drawn by our friend over Zoom
Another whore snail, drawn by our friend over Zoom

This little Zoomed in snail is kinda cute, like she’s out on the beach in her bikini… Mixed media on paper.

So if that wasn’t disturbing enough, check out my inappropriate Shrinky Dinks posted here before, or maybe this Eye Candy Peeps Easter basket, both taking some innocuous thing(s) turning into something… else…

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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. Her friends will remain anonymous for now…

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Original Creations

Have a Dystopian Girls on Film Valentine’s Day

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So it’s finally actually Valentine’s Day, and thus marks the final segment of our dysfunctional dystopian romance. So far, we’ve survived both Gen X and Krampusnacht, what else could possibly be in store? Girls on Film…

Valentine's Day card Girls on Film
Girls on Film Valentine’s Day card from Jennifer Weigel

Image description: Video camera umbrella shower succubus stares through the lens at the viewer, surrounded by eerie Cthulhoid horror embellishments with text.

Text reads: Happy Valentine’s Day; lipstick cherry all over the lens as she’s falling; give me shudders in a whisper; take me up ’til I’m shooting a star; (she’s more than a lady)

OK so this Valentine’s Day dystopia ends in a Duran Duran video, because of course it does. If the video doesn’t load properly, you can find it by following this link. Girls on Film.

Duran Duran official video

Here’s the camera eye succubus all by itself, for your viewing pleasure. Actually this is the original original image from an Unselfie performance art piece in the shower before I decided to forego the umbrella. Girls on Film.

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Unselfie performance art video still
Video still

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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