As the last of the ghouls had begun to round the corner, Edgar and Jimmy dropped low to the roof, out of sight of the wanderers. From their vantage, the two men could see the rooftops of a nearby RV park. Aside from the sound of scuffling feet and low moans the area was silent.
Jimmy hadn’t got used to the silence yet.
“Christ, these things are dumb. I’ve had dogs smarter than them,” Edgar whispered.
Jimmy shrugged. True, the ghouls had no real smarts, as far as he could tell. They just kind of wandered toward whatever caught their attention. But they were still winning the numbers game. That was the fucked up part of all this.
“Let’s get back down the ladder,” Jimmy whispered.
“Yo, old man. What’s going on with the ladder situation” Jimmy asked.
Bob looked up at the two men on the roof of the row of units. “The name’s Bob and I want to be sure you’re cool.”
Dani leaned on another row of units across the lane, the ladder leaning up against the structure. She observed the situation with caution. Bob’s play was risky.
“The hell? What’s not cool, Bob? This.” Edgar gestured to the edge of the roof with a flail. “Not fucking cool, Bob.”
“We just want to know why you were trying to break down our gate, that’s all,” Dani chimed in.
Edgar looked dumbfounded. Jimmy stepped forward. “Edgar had a unit here, we just wanted to grab something. We didn’t know anyone was still here.”
“What unit?” Bob stepped forward, “what unit was your unit, Edgar?”
Edgar stepped closer to the edge of the roof. “Don’t see how that’s any business of yours, Bob.”
Jimmy watched Edgar step closer to the edge and reach his right arm behind his back. His fingers grazed the pistol tucked into his waistband.
Jimmy made his way over to Edgar and placed the back of his hand against Edgar’s chest, gently pushing him back. Jimmy glanced and Edgar, eyes wide in frustration, shaking his head slightly. Too slight for the two people below to notice, he hoped.
“Let’s be honest with them, man,” he whispered.
Edgar’s brow furrowed.
“Nobody needs to die today,” Jimmy continued, “play it friendly.”
Edgar looked down at Bob. “K34. That’s the unit. It has our weed. We were going to haul it out and use it to negotiate for some supplies elsewhere on our way out of town.”
Bob nodded. “That’s fair, but we cleared this place and locked it down. You nearly cost us our safety.”
“Sorry about that,” Edgar said through gritted teeth. He stepped forward. “We didn’t know anyone was here.”
Sandy wandered out of the office and stood near the door. She was peeking out, observing the scene. Dani noticed how stiff and rigid she was. Clearly, she was upset. Then again, when wasn’t she?
Bob gestured to Dani. Dani grabbed the ladder and carried it over. She leaned it against the units and the pair began to climb down.
Bob tucked his revolver into his pants. “Could you spare some dope to make it worth our while?”
Dani stood outside the unit and Edgar and Bob negotiated over the marijuana bundles. Jimmy stood just inside the entrance.
“How long have you been here?” Jimmy asked.
“Me? Just a couple of days. Bob and Sandy have been here since the start.”
“What, like, you just joined up with them?”
“I was isolated in my apartment for a couple of weeks, had to leave when…” An image of Dani’s now dead neighbors flashed before her and she felt slightly disoriented. She shut her eyes tight and took a sudden sharp breath.
“You okay?” Jimmy asked.
Dani rubbed the back of her neck with her wrist. She glanced over at Jimmy, who seemed genuinely concerned.
“I’m fine. Sorry, not sleeping much lately,” she murmured.
“No shit,” he said. Jimmy laughed.
Dani smirked. She walked a bit closer to the unit’s entrance, leaning on the frame. “Anyway, I, uh, ran out of supplies. Came here because my Dad kept a gun here when he was running it.”
“Oh shit, this place is yours?”
Dani shrugged. “I mean, not really? Not sure what good owning a business does for you these days. He paid the bills. Paid for Bob and Sandy to work here. I haven’t really been here in… god, like, two years?”
Dani looked at Bob and Edgar. Bob appeared to be haggling over a second plastic-wrapped bundle.
“If anything the place is Bob and Sandy’s. They’re just kind enough to let me stay. I dunno how long I’ll be staying, though,” she added.
“Seems like a pretty good place, honestly.” Jimmy sighed. “Edgar and I were trying to find a larger pool of people somewhere, maybe closer to San Diego. Figured we could barter some essentials with some weed, y’know?”
Dani sat on a cardboard box. “A sound plan as any right now I guess.”
“Is it?” Jimmy asked. He didn’t seem to be asking her as far as she could tell.
Bob and Edgar shook hands. It seemed like the trade was done. Edgar carried several bundles in his arms. “Yo, Jimmy. Let’s get going.”
Jimmy scratched at the patch of red hair on his cheeks. It was a weak growth. “Actually, I’m thinking maybe we ask to stay here a bit, to just kind of rest up.”
Bob stepped forward, rubbing his chin. “How long are you thinking, kid?”
“Honestly, could we just stay for, like, the night?” Jimmy gestured over to the fence that they had hit repeatedly with Edgar’s Cadillac. “I’d be happy to help you reinforce the gate tomorrow before we leave.”
Edgar brushed past Jimmy. “Dude, are you kidding me with this shit? What about San Diego?”
Jimmy shrugged. Edgar looked angry.
“Look, man, we had a plan,” Edgar said. “We can get down there and find someone to exchange with.” He held up one of the six packages he was holding and waved it in front of his friend. “We had a plan.” He tapped Jimmy’s forehead with the bundle for good measure.
Jimmy looked around the storage facility. The grey concrete had begun to take on an orange hue from the encroaching sunset.
“I… don’t think San Diego is worth it, man. All those things… the city would be full of them.”
“That’s a solid point,” Bob said. “We got completely overrun here. Imagine a big city.”
Dani stepped in. “You two can take an RV for the night if you want. That’s fair, right, Bob?”
“Can’t imagine Sandy is going to be thrilled, but I don’t mind if we’re all cool about it.”
Dani started off toward the RV area. “You two coming,” she asked.
Jimmy and Edgar stared at each other, shrugged, and followed, with Bob right behind them.
Sandy wasn’t happy about the strangers staying the night, but she was outvoted. How she was outvoted in her own home was beyond her. She wasn’t sure why Danielle had any sort of say. She was leaving soon, anyway. The only compromise made to put her at ease was that she would hold onto the stranger’s car keys so they wouldn’t escape in the night and leave the gate open. Everyone had retired to their various RVs, and she to her apartment, locking their doors behind them.
Sandy sat in her chair in the living room. She had turned it toward the window to keep an eye on the world outside of her domain. There was smoke in the far distance. Maybe it was a wildfire. Maybe it was something else.
She sipped at her tea. She was running low on the mix. She wasn’t a fan of cold tea, but heating anything had been a problem, so all her tea was at room temperature. She hated that there was still no power. Bob suggested the power might never come back. Sandy was not so sure. She had a brother in the military. Surely he and the whole would be on their way to save her. It made sense. This was all just a little societal blip. The government would cure the sick and restore order in no time at all.
The apartment was dark and there was no glare on the window. She could sit comfortably on her seat and stare out the window toward the hills toward the west, past the outskirts of the city of Emmett. In the distance, she saw what looked to be some sort of light flashing. She approached the window, setting down her glass of tea. After a brief time, the lights faded.
How odd, she thought. I hope they don’t come this way.
Thank you for reading the tenth installment of the Haunted MTL original series, The Dead Life. Please share your thoughts about the story with us.
Reanimating Dead Art with Monsters by Jennifer Weigel
Dead art… It’s a thing that happens, sadly. Typically found at thrift and antique stores or dumpster diving or by the side of the road. But art is never really dead, just resting… Here are some reanimated paintings I made by incorporating nail polish monsters into existing art.
Let’s face it – reworking old abandoned artworks with monsters kind of rocks. For awhile they were all over the internet. I admit, it took me a long time to muster up the courage to paint into someone else’s grandmother’s art, but once I started I just couldn’t stop. From top to bottom, left to right we have: Zombies, Unicorn, Siren, Krakken, Harpies, Sasquatch, Alien Invasion, Witch, and Serpent.
The dragon is probably my favorite. All of the shades of red are really vibrant and striking against the green. And dragons are always so classic and grandiose and terrifying, perfect for pairing with a mountain landscape. I love painting with nail polish for the sparkle, even if the fumes do get kind of noxious en masse. (The best subject to paint in this media is Rocky Horror style lips by the way, in case you were wondering.)
And what better way to complete the collection than with a portrait of a Fairy Queen, her icy stare drilling into your soul. She’s up to some sort of magical mischief, that’s for sure.
And speaking of magical mischief, this is the monster painting I made just for me. The original artwork is about 4 feet long and I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted to reanimate it in this exact way for all that this is the last in the series that I did. I even added extra shimmer factor. I’d initially considered adding a sea serpent or a dragon but no, she told me to stop.
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.
Lighter than Dark
LTD: Revisiting Broken Doll Head, Interview 2
Our last interview with Broken Doll Head here on Haunted MTL never set well with me. I just feared that I wasn’t able to get the whole scoop on the V-Day Uprising for you, our dear readership. So I arranged another exclusive interview to reconnect and see how it’s going.
Without further ado, I bring you our second exclusive interview with Broken Doll Head…
Thank you so much for having me again. Wow you have changed since the last time we spoke. You seem… calmer. Please don’t hate me or burn down my house for saying anything about it.
The movement is still underway; it is still time. But I needed to take care of me, you know. The rage has subsided somewhat. My anger was not serving me well. After the last uprising, the rest of me was sent to the far corners of the earth in biohazard bags. I had to find another approach, for the cause as well as my own sanity. I am much calmer, thank you for noticing.
In our last interview, you kept repeating that it is time. Time for what exactly? Would you care to elaborate here now?
It is still time. It is always time. Until the violence is addressed we must continue to rise up and make a scene. We will not be silenced or stigmatized. We can’t be complacent. This is how we got to where we are with the Supreme Court in 2022. Horrific injustices are still happening globally and even within our own borders; it’s too easy to forget that.
What do you suggest we do?
Take action. Share your stories. Give others space to voice their own. Raise awareness and fight the system of oppression. Rally. We must take back our own power. It will not be just given freely.
So what are you up to nowadays?
I’ve been getting in touch with my inner Earth Goddess. Are you aware of how our environmental impacts affect dolls everywhere? Climate change is creating greater vulnerabilities for those already at risk. We have to look at the intersections of climate, gender and race globally. We have to return to our Mother Earth.
Thank you again Broken Doll Head for joining us and our dear readership here on Haunted MTL’s Lighter than Dark. It’s good to reconnect with you after the V-Day Uprising and we wish you all the best in your bold eco-enlightenment vision.
Again, if you want to learn more about the V-Day movement, please check out their website here.
The Way Things Were, story by Jennifer Weigel
Revisiting my last St. Patrick’s Day post, what’s a wolf to were?
I grimaced as I remembered the previous St. Patrick’s Day. I had been shot while I was eating a sugar cookie waiting in line to buy a Scratchers ticket, my golden ride to my dream cabin in the woods. Wow, to think that was just a year ago and so much has changed since then. But where should I begin?
Well, the junkyard’s under new management. Or something. It seems they decided I wasn’t ferocious enough so I’ve been replaced by a couple of working stiffs. Or Mastiffs as it were, same difference to me. Apparently after they found the bloodied shirt I’d draped inconspicuously over a chair, they thought something had happened on my watch and decided to retire me.
Or at any rate ol’ Sal took me home. I guess it’s like retirement, but not the good kind where you tour the world Route 66 style, head lolled out of the side of a vintage Cadillac, breeze flowing through your beard as you drink in the open road. More the kind where you just stop showing up to work and no one really asks about you.
Now Sal’s a pretty cool dude, and he tends to mind his own business. But he’s a bit stingy with the treats and he’s a no-paws-on-the-furniture kind of guy. I don’t get it, his pad isn’t that sweet, just a bunch of hand-me-down Ikea that he didn’t even put together himself. Not that I could have helped with that, I can’t read those instructions to save my life even if they are all pictures. It’s all visual gibberish to me unless there’s a rabbit or a squirrel in there someplace that I can relate to.
And it’s been a real roll in the mud trying to cover up the stench of my monthly secret. I miss third shift at the junkyard when Monty would fall asleep on the job and I was free to do whatever I wanted. It sure made the change easier. Monty never noticed, or he never let on that he did. We were a good team and had it pretty good, he and I – I don’t know how I wound up shacking up with Sal instead when all was said and done. There was some kind of talk at the time, over landlords and pet deposits and whatnot, and in the end Sal was the only one who said yes.
So there I was, this St. Patrick’s Day, trying to figure out how to sneak out into the great suburban landscape with the neighbors’ headstrong Chihuahua who barks his fool head off at everything. He doesn’t ever say anything interesting through the fence about the local gossip, just a string of profanities about staying off his precious grass. Just like his owners… Suburbia, it doesn’t suit the two of us junkyard junkies. I’m pretty sure Sal inherited this joint with everything else here. He just never had the kind of ambition that would land him in a place like this on his own, if you know what I mean.
Fortunately, this St. Patrick’s Day, Sal was passed out on the sofa after binge watching some show on Netflix about werewolves of all things. Who believes in that nonsense? They get it all wrong anyway. The history channel with its alien conspiracies is so much better.
I managed to borrow a change of clothes and creep out the front door. At least there’s something to say about all the greenery, it is a fresh change of pace even if the yards are too neatly manicured and the fences are too high. And I do love how I always feel like McGruff crossed paths with one of those neighborhood watch trenchcoat spies this time of the month. I’d sure love to take a bite out of crime, especially if it involves that pesky Pomeranian that always pees on Mrs. Patterson’s petunias and gets everyone else blamed for it.
So sure enough, I slunk off towards the local convenience mart, which is a bit more of a trek here past the water park and the elementary school. Nice neighborhood though, very quiet, especially at this time of night.
Well, when I got there, wouldn’t you know it, but I ran into that same nondescript teen from my last foray into the convenience store near the junkyard. What was he doing here of all places? Seriously don’t these kids learn anything nowadays? I let out a stern growl as I snatched a cookie from the nearby end cap, making sure he noticed that I meant business.
Apparently the kid recognized me too, he stopped mid-tracks at the beer cooler and his face blanched like he’d seen a ghost. Some cheeky little girl-thing motioned to him to hurry it along by laying on the horn of their beater car from the parking lot. Whatever they were up to was no good, I was certain. He snapped out of it, grabbed a six-pack and headed towards the cashier, eyes fixed on me the whole time. Not again. Not after what it cost me the last time when I hadn’t realized my job was at stake. I stared back, hairs rising on the back of my neck. I bared my teeth. This time, I wouldn’t let him off so easy…
The teen edged up to the cashier and presented his trophy. Unsurprisingly, the clerk asked for ID, and the kid reached into his jacket. Let the games begin, I grumbled to myself. But instead of a gun, he pulled out a wallet. He flashed a driver’s license at the clerk and pointed in my general direction, “I’ll get whatever Santa’s having too.” He tossed a wad of cash on the counter and gave me a knowing wink before he flew out of there like he was on fire. I stood in dazed confusion as he and his girl sped out of the lot and disappeared down the road.
“Well, Santa?” the clerk said, snapping me out of my reverie. Her dark-circled eyes stared over wide rimmed glasses, her rumpled shirt bearing the name-tag Deb. She smelled like BBQ potato chips and cheap cherry cola.
I quieted and shook my head. “I want a Scratchers. Not one of those crossword bingo puzzle trials but something less… wordy. How ‘bout a Fast Cash?” I barked as I tossed the cookie on the counter.
“Sure thing,” she said as she handed me a ticket and looked towards the door at the now vacant lot. “And keep the change, I guess.”
A couple silver pieces, a peanut butter cookie and a lotto ticket later, maybe this is my lucky day after all…
Check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s writing here at Jennifer Weigel Words.
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