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Day 17

Dani watched carefully as Jimmy rattled the sliding gate. The two of them had managed to get the crooked and bent gate back fully onto the track but it was uneven and rattled terribly. The metal was fatigued and out of balance. The supports were heavily bent by the front fender of the Cadillac the day before.

“Can we fix the frame?” she asked hopefully.

Jimmy took a step back to study the entirety of the gate mechanism. His red hair and beard were looking particularly vibrant in the morning sun. It was amazing what a solid night’s rest could do for anyone’s appearance, even if they were still covered in filth from who knows how many days on the run. Then again, the chance to get some rest without the fear of being eaten by the living dead seemed to be as good as it got these days.

“Well, if we could dismount the entire sliding section and set it on the concrete I think we could at least make it a little less… shitty.” He turned and smiled sheepishly. “Sorry, this was our fault. I really shouldn’t be joking.”


Dani shrugged. “Sure, but I don’t blame you two. I don’t know about Bob, though. You guys had no way of knowing anyone was here. What were the odds?” 

She tapped the box of padlocks with the toe of her sneakers. She watched the locks shift slightly.

Jimmy took another step back and scratched at his beard. “Well, I think this gate is too risky to use right now. I’d really like to brace it. At least you have that side entrance.”

Dani peered into the parking lot that sat outside the gate. The moving truck was parked tightly against the front office’s shattered door. There was glass everywhere and she has still not finished reinforcing the temporary barrier to her liking. Now she had the front gate to contend with as well. So far, staying here had proven to be one setback after another in the worst possible time in history for setbacks. She sighed.

“I had a thought on that, actually.” Dani pointed to the parking spots inside the facility, just to the left of the gate, near another moving truck parked in one of the slots. Her own car, the Focus, was parked next to it. “I’m not planning to go anywhere immediately, maybe we can chain the gate up in a couple more spots and use my car to brace it. At least for now.”


“What about the truck?” he asked. “That’d be a bit sturdier, right?”

Dani shook her head. 

“I’d rather save the truck for a possible run on supplies later, you know?”

Jimmy nodded. “That’s not a bad idea. That truck could hold a whole hell of a lot.” She could see the gears were turning in his head. “Let’s focus on the gate for now. We’ll see what Big Ed and Bob bring back.”

As though they were summoned, a golf cart rounded the corner from between the E and I rows of the facility, dragging behind it a small trailer. Edgar pulled up and parked the cart just off to the side of the entrance. Bob rose from the passenger seat and made his way to the trailer.


“Me n’ Edgar here combed through that contractor’s unit. Got some materials” Bob wheezed.

“Any chains,” Dani asked.

“Got evening plans, chica?” Edgar smirked.

Dani extended a middle finger toward the giant man.

“Gonna pretend you didn’t say that there, ‘Big Ed,’” Bob growled.


Edgar shrugged.  “Just joking, man.”

“Big Ed” was apt. Edgar was a tall man and heavyset, but not quite fat; a burly Mexican in his early 30s. His head looked as though it was normally shaved, but given the light growth of hair on his scalp now he was unable to keep up with it. Dani understood why.

Bob’s dark, wrinkled hands dug into the trailer and pulled out a couple of lengths of chain. “These good enough, kiddo?”

“Perfect, we’re gonna need to chain this gate up nice and tight for now.” She took the chain from Bob and handed it to Jimmy. He started wrapping it around the bottom corner of the entrance slider and the frame.

“I was planning on moving my car here to block it off a bit,” she added.


Jimmy had finished wrapping the chain and fished for a padlock from the box Dani had brought out. He locked up the gate and stood back up. “Edgar and I can move the Caddie over to the exit gate, here,” he said as he approached the trailer.

“The fuck we are,” Edgar interjected, “why would we do that? We’re outta here in a bit.”

Jimmy shook his head. “We owe them, man.”

“And we’re fuckin’ helping them.”

“Look, Dani and I talked it over and I was thinking we could stay-”


Dani raised an eyebrow. “When did we talk about this?”

“I was just about to bring it up,” Jimmy beamed.

“You makin’ plans without me, Jimmy?” Edgar sounded indignant.

Bob had already taken a seat in the golf cart again, as though he expected a long discussion. Edgar stepped closer to Jimmy. He was a head shorter than Jimmy, who was strikingly tall, but Edgar was most definitely more solid. They were an odd pair. She wondered how they came into each other’s lives.

“Look, Red,” Edgar started, tightening his fists to his side and tensing his arms, “we had a plan. We’d get the weed and head to San Diego. I already lost some of it to pay them back.”


“It’s good stuff,” Bob chimed in.

Edgar stared daggers at the cart. He turned back to Jimmy. “Why do you want to stay here? Got a crush on Lucy Liu over there?”

“Fuck off,” Dani growled.

Jimmy turned to Dani and gestured toward her with his shoulders raised and hands pointing to his friend. Dani shook her head.

He turned back to Edgar. “Look, dude. You saw how many of those things were just around here, how many d’you think are gonna be on the fuckin’ way south? The freeway down there goes through some goddamn mountains.” Jimmy scratched the back of his head. “It’s a goddamn deathtrap in there,” he muttered.


Bob seemed to take notice of Jimmy’s choice of words because he had turned around in his seat to stare at the tall redheaded man. He said nothing but watched with interest.

“Yeah, but we had a plan, man,” Edgar almost sounded upset.

“The plan was shit, dude.”

Edgar lost the tension in his arms and shoulders and slumped slightly. He crossed his arms and set his eyes across the street, not looking at his friend. “You fuckin’ know why I want to get out of here, man. Don’t make me go alone.”

“We could be safe here, man.” Jimmy spread his arms and twisted his body to point out the area. “This place has some nice walls and we wouldn’t be… alone. We can come up with a plan.”


Edgar still didn’t look at Jimmy. “You don’t even know if we can even stay here, man” Edgar said quietly.

“As long as Dani and Sandy are good with it I am too,” Bob chimed in again from the cart.

Jimmy smiled and lightly punched his friend in the shoulder.  “See, man, this is where you gotta be charming. We gotta win them over and you bein’ a bitch ain’t gonna help.”

Dani shook her head.  “There is a woman standing right here, asshole. Expand your vocabulary.”

Bob laughed. Jimmy didn’t respond. He just stared at Edgar. Finally, Edgar turned his attention to Jimmy, uncrossed his arms, and shrugged. “If they’re cool, I guess we can stay for a bit and draw up some plans or whatever, man.”


Jimmy turned to Dani and Bob and threw them a cheesy grin and a thumb’s up. “Fuck yeah.”

Next Installment

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

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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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