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.
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?
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.
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.
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…
Cravings Part 2, story by Jennifer Weigel
If you missed the beginning of this pregnancy horror story by Jennifer Weigel, you can catch Part 1 here.
Jayden’s stomach turned. Who or what was this creature standing before him, and what had it done with his wife? Claire proceeded to eat more than half of the jar of eggs in a fury of consumption; Jayden finally retreated to the office alone unable to watch any more. He heard a sloshing sound as she finished the jar and proceeded to drink the brine before retreating to the bedroom and crashing into their bed, presumably to pass out. Again. Later that night, he crept in to find her sleeping, clammy and sweaty, nervously twitching. Her body made the most abnormal guttural sounds as her internal systems groaned and sputtered. It was definitely getting worse. Jayden resolved to call Dr. Randolph the following morning; this had gone on for far too long already.
The next day, Claire awoke with a start from another bad dream that she couldn’t remember. Crying uncontrollably, she clutched her swollen belly, still ripe with child, and hurriedly exclaimed, “Blood sausage! I must have blood sausage!”
Jayden woke from his curled-up safe haven beside her and muttered, “Wha… What is that? I’ve never even heard of such a thing.”
“Go!” she snapped. “I’m starving. Go now! Return with blood sausage.”
Jayden staggered over to the dresser, threw on some clothes, shuffled into his waiting shoes, and gathered himself to duck out the door in the well-practiced gesture he’d become so accustomed to. “I’ll stop on my way home from work, I guess,” he mused, making his own plans. Claire seemed to settle down a little as she woke further, but it was little consolation.
“Thank you Sweetcheeks,” she said. “You’re the best.” She blew him a kiss.
While at work, Jayden managed to secure an appointment with Dr. Beth Randolph, Claire’s primary physician since before he had known her, for later that day. He took off early and rushed home to gather his unwilling wife. She was going in, whether she liked it or not.
He opened the front door and peered inside. The house was dark and quiet, as he’d come to expect. He crept in and stole upstairs to the bedroom to rouse Claire from sleep. He’d tell her where they were going once he got her in the car, no sense in making this even more difficult than it already was. Unsurprisingly, there she was, a shadowy form hunched over in the bed, her back to him with the covers pulled up over her eyes. He peeled away the comforter and blanket to reveal a tangled mess of white knitted yarn; Claire was nowhere to be found. He looked around, trying to focus on the darkness of the bedroom that enveloped him. That unsettling feeling had returned, like he’d had at Maresh’s shop, sinking into his gut. Claire was here idling, watching, waiting; he could sense her presence sizing him up as if she could read his mind and was on to his plan. But why was her company so disconcerting? This was still their house, their home, their lives intertwined… Jayden felt his trust ebb, spine tingling sensing danger.
“Hey there Sweetcheeks,” Claire’s voice echoed from the darkness of the closet. “Do you have something for me?” She emerged into the room, her eyes wide, frothing slightly at the edges of her mouth. Tiny bubbles of drool burst forth from her quivering lips and trickled down onto her chin.
“I couldn’t find any… blood sausage… whatever that is,” Jayden lied through his teeth. He hadn’t even gone to the store. Claire should never have expected him back at this hour; apparently she didn’t even know what time it was. But that seemingly wasn’t a concern. She wasn’t herself. Something about her fragile frame, the way she rocked from side to side, reminded him of that crazy old witch doctor Maresh. He finally managed to connect the two; it was as though she were possessed. It was imperative that she saw Dr. Beth Randolph as soon as possible, if for no other reason than to sever ties to that crazy old hag and hopefully start to snap out of it. He simply had to get her to that appointment.
“No blood sausage!” Claire shouted, becoming more and more agitated. “No… blood… sausage!” Her breathing became less regular and her body shivered all over as she hulked towards him. “I am sooo hungry!”
She lunged towards him, stumbling into his arms and collapsing towards his feet laughing maniacally. Jayden reached for her instinctively, to lower her to the ground gently, and felt something sticky and warm envelop his hand. Feeling lightheaded, he glanced down as he fell to the floor beside her. Protruding from his gut was a long silver thread, no something pointedly metal and hard, oozing thick oil sludge all around. Not oil, blood. His blood. Claire continued laughing, her lightning-fast fingers quickly and methodically ripping their way into his tattered shirt and worming around within his wounded frame to pull forth bits of viscera, which she wrung in her hands and smeared up and down her arms and torso. As Jayden passed out, she mouthed each of her fingers in turn, sucking the precious liquid off of them one at a time, before she began to feast on his entrails.
Claire’s belly was finally full. The baby developing within squirmed and settled, as if finally satiated. She swiped a stray bit of flesh from her bosom, licked it off of her fingertips, and heaved a sigh of relief. Miracle Madame Maresh Meliasma was right; she just needed to get to the root of her cravings.
Cravings, a Pregnancy Horror Story by Jennifer Weigel
Here is Part 1 of Cravings, a pregnancy horror story considering darker cravings and changes in contrast to the glow that comes with the all-too-often toxic-positivity focus of carrying a child.
“Honey, I’m home,” Jayden’s voice echoed through the house like a bad 50s sitcom rerun for all that he didn’t watch those kinds of shows. The callout seemed equally rehearsed and hopeful but harbored a hint of fear in the way his voice cracked that didn’t bespeak Mayberry or the like. He waited for his wife Claire to greet him at the door. The house was still and cold with all of the heavy drapes drawn and no lights on anywhere. He glanced towards the dark bedroom where she must be napping, like the day before and the day before that, for weeks and months on end now.
Honestly, Claire hadn’t been the same since she’d finally conceived, following that witch doctor Miracle Madame Maresh Meliasma’s advice after years and years of trying to get pregnant. Now Claire was lethargic and succumbed to migraines, nightmares & morning sickness that kept her bedridden much of the time, screaming bloody murder because of her headaches if anyone so much as flicked on the lights. And she had barely even gotten into the second trimester. Jayden had read that it was supposed to get better but there didn’t seem to be any improvement; if anything she seemed to be getting worse. He tried to get her to see her doctor about it but she snubbed the idea. “After everything they put us through, all those years of fertility treatments, the invasive procedures, the bills… No way. To Hell with modern medicine,” Claire had retorted.
So now here they were, readying themselves for their first child. Maresh had foreseen that Claire would birth a healthy baby boy, and with all of the card readings, spiritual advice and herbal concoctions, Claire had fallen right in line, hanging onto the witch doctor’s every word. Jayden was still frustrated she wouldn’t consult with her normal doctor, but she instead visited with Maresh every day through Instachat online for about an hour and even invited the creepy old woman into their home once a week on Thursday mornings to supply fresh herbs, massage her aching joints and swelling tummy, and call forth healing realigning energies with elaborate candlelit rituals. Claire could focus on only one thing: anticipating the pending home birth and natural delivery of their firstborn child, still several months away.
Jayden wished his wife had never set foot in that weird alternative new age spiritual center, something about it had just seemed off. It wasn’t the crystals or candles or psychic energy books that seemed to line every surface; he wasn’t into any of that mysticism crap but it seemed pretty innocuous. He recalled small figures made of sticks, straw and mud, and giant Mason jars boasting exotic herbal remedies, and the lingering scent of something sickly sweet decaying, all of which was genuinely unsettling, but it wasn’t really that either. There was something decidedly sinister about the place that he couldn’t quite put his finger on, more caught up in the air surrounding and within the space itself. It settled into his gut like that feeling you get when you know you’re being watched by some unseen far away presence or when you meet someone you know deep down has ill intentions. And Maresh herself was just as disturbing; she only ever addressed Claire and had not uttered a single word to Jayden in the entire time. In fact, she acted as if she looked right through him without even seeing him.
As days turned into weeks into months, Claire became more withdrawn and more obsessed about the baby. She never left the house, locking herself away in the gloomy stagnant nest and occupying herself with the remedies, rites and rituals that Maresh suggested. Oh, and knitting. Jayden hadn’t realized that Claire knitted since he had never seen her do so before, but her hands were a frenzy of motion, whipping silver needles back and forth and pulling soft white yarn between them like a growing umbilical cord tethering her to the circumstance at hand like some sort of strange pregnancy lifeline. The so-called blanket she was producing grew larger and larger every day.
Jayden snapped out of his reverie to see his wife eyeing him from the hallway. She studied him up and down slowly, staring longingly at his body. She inadvertently bit her lower lip in anticipation, teeth striking flesh to cut forth a small droplet of blood. Her tongue eagerly danced across her pursed mouth and lapped it up before withdrawing again.
“Aw, what’d you bring me this time, Sweetcheeks?” Claire smirked; eyes alight with flame like a cat readying to pounce
She had been ravenous throughout the pregnancy so far, and her cravings kept getting stranger and more bizarre as time passed. The other day, Jayden had fetched boiled shrimp, and she had devoured over 2 pounds of the mud-bugs in less than an hour’s time, shell, tail and all, their little legs matted together like thick wet whiskers. Today she had requested pickled eggs, the kind that they import from Europe or Dutch-country Pennsylvania in those big almost gallon-sized jars, stained pink with beet juice vinegar. Jayden procured the giant jar of eggs from the paper bag in his arms. Claire lunged at him and grabbed up the prize, prying the lid off in one fell swoop. She reached in, pulled out a pink rubber-looking egg still dripping with brine, and shoved it in her mouth whole. She hadn’t even bothered to chew it before she grabbed another to meet the same fate. And another.
I hope you have enjoyed the first part of this story. Part 2 will air next time here on Haunted MTL. In the meantime, feel free to follow your cravings and order up some midnight munchies, or listen to this lullabye.