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Day 17

The darkness within the building, even with the daylight pouring in through the windows, was intimidating.

Edgar took point, carefully stepping on the layer of broken glass in an attempt to muffle as much of the crunching as he could. There was little to be done and he paused, frustrated. He finally gave up and made his way toward the carpeted floor, wincing at the sound of glass beneath his heavy feet.

The store had the scent of mold and mildew. Edgar watched a light cloud of spores and dust puff into the air as he stepped onto the carpet. Dani and Jimmy entered and the three of them overlooked the darkened store. Many of the shelves were bare from a combination of looting or spillage onto the aisles.

Jimmy grabbed one of the carts and wriggled it from the collection between the entrance and exit doors. The sound of clashing metal gave everyone pause. They all held their breath, wary of any telltale moans of the undead, but heard nothing in response. Jimmy shrugged and grabbed another two carts from the tangled rows.


He rolled the cart slightly, making sure the wheels weren’t jammed. He looked at Dani and Edgar. “I figure we can load up everything we can, fill the car, and then stash these elsewhere. Sound good?”

“That can work. Just grab anything helpful,” Dani added.

Edgar took one of the carts which looked overly small compared to him. Not that he was incredibly tall, but his thick frame tended to dwarf anything near him. He began to wheel his cart away but turned back to Dani and Jimmy.

“I’m going to hit the food area. See what canned stuff is left.”

Jimmy nodded. “I’ll go to the pharmacy and see what is left.”


Dani began to roll her cart down one of the aisles. “I’m going to poke around in the stockroom, then. Maybe that didn’t get hit as hard by scavengers.”

“Wish we had some walkies or something,” Edgar added.

Dani nodded. “There may be some in the back. We’ll see.”

The three survivors wheeled off in search of supplies.

Jimmy grabbed everything he felt was potentially useful from the shelves leading toward the pharmacy itself. It was mostly off-the-shelf supplies and medications. He weighed the importance of antacids in his mind, shrugged, and threw the few remaining bottles into the cart. He had also found a pair of canvas totes in the seasonal aisle on the way and had them slung over his shoulder. He could stand to carry a couple of bags of goods if the cart proved too full.

Given the state of the store that was unlikely. Pickings were slim. Bandages, cough medicine, and typical cabinet supplies were certainly diminished. Painkillers were virtually non-existent. He did manage to find a couple of bottles of aspirin and some ointments. Anything at this point was a stroke of luck.


He paused for a moment, looking over the meager haul. What Jimmy hoped was that he could convince Edgar of the plan to stay in Emmett. The idea of heading to San Diego was a lost cause. It had to be. Maybe enough supplies would convince him to stick around.

He stopped pushing the cart when the wheel hit a metal shelf that had been pried from the shelving unit. The clang made him wince, but he heard nothing after. He bent down to clear the shelf and caught a glimpse of a feral cat resting on a bottom shelf, hiding between a couple of bottles of hydrogen peroxide.

“Hey, how are you, little guy?”

He set the loose shelf against the unit and turned his attention back to the cat. “You gonna help me out?”

The cat’s eyes were wide. Clearly, the world had not been kind to it since the dead rose. Jimmy wondered if the ghouls were eating animals. He hadn’t seen anything like that, yet, but it was always possible.


He shook his head. He didn’t want to consider it.

He thought for a moment about trying to take the cat with him. There was no point, not now. Maybe he’d bring a towel and a plastic carrier from the storage units next time he came back to the store. Not that there’d be a guarantee the cat would be there, though.

He sighed, clicked his tongue, and gently reached for a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. The cat yelped and hissed, swiping at his hand but missing. Jimmy instinctively retracted his hand. There was no sense in dipping into the peroxide, yet. 

He extended his sneaker out toward the bottle and knocked it onto the ground. The cat lept out from the shelf and darted down the aisle with a dramatic howl, knocking down a wire rack as it rounded a corner. The rack clattered loudly as it hit a shelf and then the floor.

“Goddamn it.”


He shrugged and grabbed the peroxide bottles, placing them in the cart.

Edgar dutifully grabbed whatever dented can he could find. Any box, plastic bottle, crinkling package, and aluminum case found its way into his cart. And yet his cart was maybe half full by an optimistic estimate. Still, it was more food he had seen in days, and if most of it was good they’d eat well with a little rationing. Not that he had intended to stay all that long. He’d already begun earmarking his haul for stuff he could take with him on the road.

Jimmy was adamant about sticking around town; San Diego was a “kill box,” he argued. Edgar wondered what the skinny redheaded fuck knew about “kill boxes.” Edgar’s Papá had been in Desert Storm. He’d seen some real shit. Edgar knew more about the idea of a kill box second-hand than his tweaker friend ever did.

Edgar peered down at a burn-mark on his hand. He knew a lot about the results of a kill box, he thought. His papá’s anger was an example. That was why San Diego was important. Papá was there, with Mamá, Ttía, Abuela, Angel, Mari, Maria… La Familia. They were around. Papá had to keep them safe. He was a tough son of a bitch.

Edgar grabbed a couple of likely stale single-serving bags of tortilla chips from a pile of broken bags and loose chips. A nearby rat squeaked as he ripped the bag away. Edgar snorted. “Good times for you, eh?”

The rat did not respond.


He wheeled his cart further into the next aisle, which seemed to be sodas and drinks. There weren’t many cases and bottles left.

Edgar agreed that there was some sense in Jimmy’s plan. The storage facility had proven pretty safe and there was certainly room enough. The plan to reinforce it also seemed like a good idea. But that was fine for everyone else. They didn’t have their own people waiting for them.

Edgar paused for a moment, staring at a can of soda that was standing alone on a shelf, a thin layer of dust dulling the shiny aluminum top. What was it about the soda? He stared at the can a moment longer and realized he had seen it just a few minutes ago in the car. It had tumbled out of the bag in the passenger seat and onto the floorboard. It remained there, undisturbed for weeks next to the thrashing, undead mother.

He thought about the car, what the woman’s final moments must have been like, and the baby in the back. He could have sworn he’d seen something move under the overturned child’s seat. Edgar’s breath caught in his throat for a moment and he let out an ugly half-choked gasp. He felt tears coming on and quickly wiped his eyes with his massive forearm. He punched himself in the side of his head for good measure.

“No llorar.”


The stockroom seemed mostly untouched. Most of what was inside were still packaged as it had been when they arrived. Dani was excited about the potential of it all. They could come back with one of the moving trucks.

The small forklift also seemed promising. Maybe that could be useful. She had no idea if it ran on gas or electricity, but the ability to move large things around might make it easier to build a reinforced wall at the storage yard. This trip turned out to be a lot more successful than she had hoped. It was just a matter of planning.

The thunk of a cardboard box onto the concrete floor broke Dani’s concentration. She spied the box, slightly bent and battered, and looked up the high shelves that made up the wall of the storeroom. On the second tier, maybe about eight feet from the ground, she spied the source of the disturbance. A wide-eyed woman and a teenage girl stared at her. The girl’s brow was furrowed in concern while the mother’s eyes were shockingly wide and bloodshot.

Dani raised her hands up in a peaceful gesture, but did not release the poker. “Holy shit, are you two… okay?”

Neither responded. Dani looked into the mother’s eyes and tried to follow her gaze. Dani hadn’t noticed anything alarming until she felt the weight of the fireplace poker in her own hand.

“Oh, right,” she whispered.


Dani bent down, placing the poker on the ground and scooting it ahead of her with her foot. The scraping of the metal on the concrete was uncomfortable in the echoing stockroom. “Look, I am just here on a supply run. Do you need help? Do you have someplace to go? My name is Danielle, but you can call me Dani.”

Dani waited for a response. The girl looked at her mother for a moment, who sighed and finally blinked.

The girl spoke first, her voice was low and hoarse. “We’re trapped here. There’s one of those things in the store and my mom’s leg is really hurt.”

Dani glanced around the stockroom. “I haven’t seen anything? Maybe it wandered off? How long have you two been in here?”

“I think about an hour,” the woman replied.


Dani kept her distance, not wanting to intimidate them. She raised her hands up in an open gesture like she was surrendering. “Where did you last see it?”

“There’s an office, around the corner,” the girl whispered.

Dani peered behind her and saw the corner that led to the presumed office. She turned back to the two women and held her finger to her lips to signal them to keep quiet. She picked up the poker from the concrete as carefully as she could. She was worried about the noise that she had already made, surely if something was there, it was alert by now.

She sighed and started toward the corner. The loading doors ahead rattled slightly, probably from the wind. Or maybe a ravenous ghoul just on the other side.

It was hard to tell these days.


The Dead Life is a Haunted MTL original fiction series.

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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.

Broken Doll Head, secured in her own glass case with new moss accents
Broken Doll Head, secured in her own glass case with new moss accents

Again, if you want to learn more about the V-Day movement, please check out their website here.

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.

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Original Creations

The Way Things Were, story by Jennifer Weigel



Revisiting my last St. Patrick’s Day post, what’s a wolf to were?

Howling at the Moon digital art Reversals werewolf by Jennifer Weigel
Howling at the Moon digital art Reversals werewolf by Jennifer Weigel

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…

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.

Check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s writing here at Jennifer Weigel Words.

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Movies n TV

She Wolf, Art by Jennifer Weigel



So this isn’t a review but more just some thoughts…

I have to admit that I actually like the She Wolf music video by Shakira.

Maybe partly because my Zumba group back in the day used to dance to it with all of us cautioned to not to look up the music video for fear it would be too risque or something… (The Zumba dance to this was one of my favorites, and I loved our group of mostly 60+ year old retirees for all that some of them did act surprised at these things, whether or not they actually were.) Or maybe partly because it reminds me of Madonna’s Express Yourself, or by extension the famous dance scene in Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang.

It’s a guilty pleasure.

The ways these things evolve and stay the same over time fascinates me, especially how the messaging and movement change, and yet stay the same.

Shakira She Wolf
Madonna Express Yourself
Metropolis dance scene

Anyway, I created this artwork based upon the She Wolf video and song, incorporating a Hazelle puppet head atop a modern Barbie doll body. I don’t recall what happened to Barbie’s actual head though I’m pretty sure I needed it for another project. (Technically I needed the body for another project too, and this was just a stopover.) Years ago this piece found itself part of the Women’s Caucus for Art website as one of the chosen artworks for the year. I was going to try to write something to go with it for Haunted MTL but instead I thought I’d share it as a lead up to my revisitation of my werewolf story from St. Patrick’s Day last year.

She Wolf digital art by Jennifer Weigel
She Wolf digital art by Jennifer Weigel

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.

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.

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