The drive to Walman’s Pharmacy was quiet and uneventful. Whatever instincts motivated the ghouls to wander in and out of a given area Dani had no clue about, but she was thankful it had worked in their favor this time around. Looking down Leon avenue, past the highway that served as the main street through town, she could make out movement. Idle wanderings. As long as she and the guys kept the noise low and got in and out then there wouldn’t be a need to worry about those ghouls.
The turn into the parking lot of the pharmacy was cut off by two cars that had collided. Jimmy braked and looked it over. The car idling made Dani nervous. Any engine was like a dinner bell these days.
“Maybe we can squeeze in beside them” Jimmy asked.
Edgar shook his head and scowled. “Just go over the fucking curb, man.”
Jimmy stepped off the brake and the car crept forward. “Let’s just try around the corner” he said.
Dani leaned over to the middle of the space between the front seats. “I don’t think we should love any closer to Orange than we are,” she tried to get a glance ahead as she spoke, “I see some of those things down the road, who knows how many may be on the main street here.”
Edgar snorted. “Do you want to get out and move them?”
“No, I think we should just park on the street here. Put some distance between us and the shop if anything goes wrong.”
Jimmy parked the car. “Good idea. We won’t be stuck in a parking lot.”
Edgar opened the passenger door and stepped out.
Dani and Jimmy hopped out and grabbed some weapons from the back seat. Jimmy had found a heavy wrench in a storage unit and carried that with a dulled knife he had found in one of the units, tucked into a belt loop. Edgar held an aluminum bat. Dani had grabbed an old fireplace poker and had her gun tucked into the waistband of the jeans. She didn’t want to risk calling anything over with a gun if she could help it. She also had her screwdriver from her escape from the apartments. The familiarity didn’t feel quite good, but it felt like something she got used to having on her.
The trio stepped away from the car and onto the grassy divider between the sidewalk and the parking lot. Already a little over two weeks without water and the lawn had rapidly dried up. Dani heard the crunching of dried blades with each step.
Water was going to be something important to consider for the long-term, she thought.
Dani and Jimmy were already a few feet from the front door of the pharmacy when they noticed Edgar had not kept up. He was hard to miss, given his size. They saw Edgar staring into a car that was parked in a space. The window remained rolled up, but the movement inside the car seemed louder given how quiet the streets were.
“Edgar, man, what’s up?” Jimmy’s voice was a hoarse whisper.
Edgar stood near the car, watching a ghoul slap at the window from inside. The window rattled with each strike.
Edgar looked over to Jimmy and Dani. “I think she went to my high school…” His voice has started loud but softened as he trailed off.
Dani glanced over at Jimmy. His brow furrowed and he walked over to Edgar. She stood near the entrance of the pharmacy, peering around, wary for any other motion.
The entrance consisted of three doors; the one-way entry, the one-way exit, and a doorway that was used for the shopping carts. The glass across all three doors had been shattered and well-trod shards littered the tiled entryway inside. This place had been hit before, she reasoned.
Daylight was still bright enough that the interior was illuminated, but just barely. She saw no movement inside, but that didn’t mean the pharmacy was empty.
It’d be risky. Anything was risky anymore.
Jimmy had stepped up to Edgar and the parked car. “You think?” he asked.
“I mean, it’s hard to tell because that was a few years ago and she’s dead, but… yeah. I think I fooled around with her once.”
Jimmy peered inside the car. The ghoul was, at one point, a blond woman with delicate features. Now her skin was leathery and sliding off in places, discolored with rot and moisture from the inside of the car, a small hatchback.
She was held in place by a belt but her repeated motions ended up dragging the fabric deep enough into her flesh that her torso seemed to have deep grooves that bled through her worn clothes. She wore a black tank top with sparkling stones, dulled by rot and grime. A large chunk of her right arm seemed to be missing near the elbow.
Jimmy looked through the rest of the car. It wasn’t packed with supplies or any sign of an attempt at escape. There was a plastic bag in the passenger’s seat. It was unclear what was in it.
In the back, he saw a baby seat, stained brown, and a thin, discolored blanket draped over it. The seat looked like it had been pried from where it was meant to be and it had fallen to its side. A tiny, desiccated hand peeked out from under the blanket and twitched slightly.
At least what seemed to be left of a hand.
“Jesus Christ,” he whispered.
Edgar looked over at him and followed his gaze. “Goddamn.”
The two men stood in silence. What could be done? Jimmy put a hand on Edgar’s shoulder and tilted his head toward the store. It was time to move.
Edgar continued to stare into the car. “Should we… I dunno. Handle them?”
Jimmy shook his head. “They’re… fine where they’re at. We need to get the stuff and get out of here.”
Edgar looked a little more tired than usual. He looked pained, Jimmy thought.
“But leave her like that, man? She deserves better.”
“Everyone did, dude. Everyone.”
Edgar trudged away from the car. Jimmy took a position just behind him.
Dani watched the men approach. “What was it?” she asked.
Edgar shrugged. “Thought I knew her… in the car.”
Jimmy said nothing.
Edgar stepped up to the entrance of the pharmacy, swinging the baseball bat over his shoulder.
“It’s not us. Let’s keep that up.”
And that was that.
The Dead Life is a Haunted MTL original fiction series.
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.