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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.”

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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.”

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“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.

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“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.

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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.

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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-”

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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.”

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“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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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 Creations

More Nail Polish Paintings by Jennifer Weigel

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Well, seems I’m at it again, with more nail polish paintings into found thrift store art. Why so many flowers this time…? Well a friend sent them and I just couldn’t help myself. They are so perfect for creepy fairy paintings. And for those of you who think fairies aren’t scary, you haven’t read much about the fey now have you?

More Revisitations nail polish paintings by Jennifer Weigel
More Revisitations nail polish paintings by Jennifer Weigel

Top left: Blue Fairy, originally painted by M Wadorf

Top right: Pegasus, originally painted by Edie Babb

Bottom left: Unicorn, originally painted by R Lovelace (After I painted this I realized I missed the opportunity to do a troll with a bridge and so I hope to do another along those lines in the future.)

Bottom middle: Fairy, originally painted by SD Janz

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Bottom right: Dragon, original signed FZ, very sparkly with black-light sensitive eyes

And the most horrific of the bunch this time is this mermaid, who started as a weird bucket painting by Helen Miller… So, what’s in the bucket, Helen? Body parts? Fish? Plants not yet in bloom? I envisioned a trapped mermaid waiting to ensnare some unsuspecting land-goer, because no one would expect to find a mermaid there…

Mermaid in bucket, original by Helen Miller
Is this mermaid trapped in need of help or just trying to lure you close?

So I broke down and redid the unicorn to a troll. Apparently the troll was hungry… Anyway, here is the result. I am happier with it now.

Troll with toll bridge, original by R Lovelace
Hungry troll wants bridge tolls after eating innocent unicorn.

You can find more of my Revisitations art on Haunted MTL here, including links to even more nail polish paintings…

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 Creations

Bloody Mary or More Doll Costuming by Jennifer Weigel

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So I came upon a Liv doll with no wig and decided to make her a mourning ensemble. The result was so reminiscent of this Bloody Mary music video based on the Lady Gaga song, by Ruben Samuel Cortez for his film school final (not the Wednesday TikTok remix, though that is also fun) that I simply had to share.

Costumed Liv doll to Bloody Mary by Jennifer Weigel
Costumed Liv doll to Bloody Mary by Jennifer Weigel

The outfit is made up of really fancy thick black lace leftover from a skirt I decorated for a party and an old translucent black handkerchief. It really reminds me of the table dancers in the music video but black instead of white (though it also alludes to some of the other outfits too, and Wednesday’s dress from the TikTok remake).

Close up of Bloody Mary doll's face
Close up of Bloody Mary doll’s face

I love the detail on the eyes on these Liv dolls, which are embedded and not painted on.

Closer still...
Closer still…

The Liv dolls’ eyes are just so lifelike. I think this is what attracts me to the Rainbow High dolls too, and why I had to turn the Makeover Failfix 2Dreami into Lady Amalthea of The Last Unicorn…

Failfix 2Dreami as Lady Amalthea from The Last Unicorn (not scary but one of my all time fave movies and I love how this doll turned out so I'm posting her here anyway)
Failfix 2Dreami as Lady Amalthea from The Last Unicorn (not scary but one of my all time fave movies and I love how this doll turned out so I’m posting her here anyway)

If you want to check out more of my altered dolls, I have posted several to Haunted MTL here:

Fashion Zombies

Heartbreak Hotel

Mummy Dearest

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Catharsis

Fairy Wands

She Wolf

Queen of Everything

More Altered Dolls

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Krampus

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.

Oh and here’s a bonus photo of the skirt that I got the lace for originally, titled Kiss My A$$.

Portrait of the artist, dressed for a Blue Jeans and Bling party
Portrait of the artist, dressed for a Blue Jeans and Bling party

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Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Giants Among Spiders

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So, as you may have noticed, we have a special fondness for spiders here on Nightmarish Nature.  Well, they are kind of the spokes-critters for horrifying animalia, perhaps because they are so freakishly different from us.  Or maybe it’s because I find them a little disconcerting for all that I try to take the “you mind your business, I’ll mind mine” approach, at least if they stay outdoors. Or just because I really like to draw spiders for all that I prefer not to find them sharing my home (though I’ll gladly take spiders over other bugs or mice or larger critters who didn’t get an invite).

Anyway, this segment is devoted to the largest Giants Among Spiders, as if you didn’t have enough to worry about already.  And the top place is contested based upon body mass or leg length.  Most of these are tarantulas, which globally take top place among the large arachnids.

Goliath Birdeater Tarantula
I’m hungry… I bet you are…

Goliath Birdeater Tarantula

The Goliath Birdeater Tarantula of South America is the biggest brute of spiderdom, weighing in at over 6 ounces.  They build funnel burrows and are known to eat birds (although rarely), mice, lizards, frogs, and snakes, but largely any big insects including other species of spiders.  They have urticating barbed hairs that they fling at would-be attackers as an irritant to escape.  And people even eat them after they singe the bristles off. Here’s a National Geographic video showing this spider in action, in case you wanted to see a giant spider take out a mouse.

Giant Huntsman Spider drawing by Jennifer Weigel
Creepy crawly at it’s worst…

Giant Huntsman Spider

And with the longest legs, we have the Giant Huntsman Spider of Laos, with a leg-span of 12 inches.  Their legs have twisted joints and they move in a crab-like manner, which furthers their impressive appearance. ‘Cause they’ve got legs, and know how to use ’em.  They prefer to live in underbrush and cave entrances.  These are like the big relatives of their Australian cousins, which we’ve all seen online and developed a healthy aversion to.

Everything's cuter when it's fuzzy, right? tarantula drawing by Jennifer Weigel
Everything’s cuter when it’s fuzzy, right?

Brazilian Salmon Pink Birdeater & Brazilian Giant Tawny Red Tarantulas

Next we have two more South American species: the Brazilian Salmon Pink Birdeater, which boasts one-inch fangs, and the Brazilian Giant Tawny Red, believed to be the longest-lived spider with a lifespan of up to thirty years.   Both are in the tarantula family and have urticating hairs, a word you probably never read much before today unless you are in the hobby.  So apparently South America is not the best travel destination for you if you struggle with arachnophobia, though I suspect you’d figured that out already.  (I wouldn’t recommend Australia or Southeast Asia either.)

Face Size Tarantula drawing by Jennifer Weigel
Face-Size, sorry no Face or Face Hugger for scale

Face Size Tarantula

And finally the Face Size Tarantula, which has a very terror-inducing name reminiscent of the Face Huggers of Alien-glory.  Anyway, these spiders have an 8-inch leg-span and live in India and Sri Lanka.  They look kind of like big hairy wolf spiders with stripey legs, sometimes with pink and daffodil coloring.

If you enjoyed this eight-legged segment of Nightmarish Nature on Giants Among Spiders and their larger than life kin, please check out past segments:

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

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