Edgar entered the stock room, following after the girl pushing the cart. The stockroom was darker than the store was, and it took a moment for his eyes to adjust. When they finally could discern anything, he noticed Dani standing, supporting the weight of a woman who had a limp, bruised, and battered leg.
The teenage girl rolled the cart over the the other women and Dani glanced up at Edgar expectantly.
“Can you carry her?”
Edgar shrugged and made his way to Dani and the woman. Dani turned her face to the woman she had been bearing the weight of.
“Mary, this is Edgar. He is with me, he’s going to carry you, okay?”
Mary seemed apprehensive – likely alarmed by Edgar’s size. She nodded. “Alright. But what about my leg?”
Dani shook her head. “It’s really going to fucking hurt when it dangles, I will splint it when we get back to our camp.”
May grit her teeth and nodded rapidly. Edgar stepped behind Dani and lifted Mary’s arm over his shoulder and the back of his neck and, with a sudden motion, scooped the woman into his arms. Mary let out a sudden scream but covered her mouth with her free hand. Dani took a few steps back and turned to the teenager.
“I need you to push that shopping car in front of the door back there.”
Alicia looked puzzled.
“We need to come back to this place; I want to block off any of the doors with carts, so we know if something came in here later,” Dani explained.
Alicia shrugged and rolled the cart to the back door. Edgar began carrying Mary out of the stick room. Dani hung back so Alicia wouldn’t get separated. Edgar paused for a moment, allowing Mary to track her daughter as she did her task.
The group of four made their way to the front of the store where Jimmy was waiting, somewhat agitated, by two shopping carts of salvaged supplies. He spun around, shocked to see the group had grown by two more.
“Alright, so this is not what I expected out of a supply run” he said.
Dani made the introductions. “Edgar, Jimmy, this is Mary and her daughter Alicia. They were trapped in the stock room.”
Jimmy looked the two new survivors over and turned his attention toward Mary’s bruised leg. He glanced at Dani and was about to say something, but she cut him off. “It’s a break, a nasty one, but we should be able to set it. No cuts or anything.” She made sure to emphasize the “anything” as she spoke – no need to worry about an infection just yet. Jimmy shrugged, seemingly convinced for the moment.
He turned back and gestured to the carts – they weren’t exactly full, but it was still a rather nice haul. “I think we’ve done pretty well… we can stretch this. I am worried about getting back, though.” He pointed across the street, and Dani glared into the distance. About six of the ghouls were wandering a parking lot. Right between them as Dani’s position sat their car… right in the middle of the street.
Jimmy continued, “I think if we are very, very quiet, we can get this stuff loaded into the trunk. It’ll be a tight fit in the cab, but-“
Edgar shifted Mary’s weight in his arms, and she yelped as pain shot through her leg. Every one shuddered, alarmed by the sudden jolt of noise.
“It’s gonna be harder with Edgar having his hands full…” Alicia whispered.
Jimmy turned to the teen and nodded. “Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking.”
“Sorry,” Mary whispered.
Dani shook her head and looked at her, “It’s nothing to apologize for. We just need to think this over.”
Dani weighed their options for a moment. The six ghouls in the parking lot were toward the far end near an abandoned clothing store, a couple of ghouls could also be seen at the gas station kitty-corner to the drugstore and a small strip mall on the right-hand side had motion in the window of a liquor store.
Dani turned back to the group. “I think what we need to do is head out there quietly and open the doors and trunk. We can then have Edgar take Mary and Alicia to the cab, and then Jimmy and I can run the carts out and dump everything into the trunk as fast as possible.”
Edgar shrugged his shoulders, but the motion moved Mary in his arms, and she grimaced from the pain that shot through her leg. He looked at her with a furrowed brow.
“Sorry, Miss.” He turned his gaze to Dani and Jimmy. “That should work,” he added.
Alicia crept toward the entrance. “I can open the doors, if that will help?”
Mary glared at her. “Absolutely not!”
Everyone cast a hard gaze at Mary, chiding her for the sudden burst in volume. She flinched but continued, “I don’t want you out there by yourself.”
Abigail rolled her eyes. “Keys?” she asked.
“The doors are unlocked already,” Jimmy said. He tossed her the keys. “You just need to get the trunk.”
Abigail smiled and crept out the door. Mary began to wriggle in Edgar’s arms, but he held onto her tightly.
“Easy, Mary. Easy. We’ll keep her safe.”
Mary relented and fell limp. Dani and Jimmy rolled the carts into position as the girl made her way down the grass embankment. Within moments she had opened the rear passenger door and unlocked the trunk, ducking back out of sight from the ghouls wandering the lot across the street. She scanned the area quietly and waved Edgar over.
Edgar, ducking slightly to no effect, carried Mary and quickly and gingerly as he could across the parking lot of the drug store and down the embankment. With Alicia’s help, he managed to load Mary into the back seat, but the process was painful. Dani and Jimmy heard her whimper from inside the entrance and glanced at one another nervously.
Mary was loaded in, along with Alicia. Edgar was crouched near the front of the passenger side. He scanned the area and nodded at Dani and Jimmy. He continued to stay crouched, but something nearby was making noise. It grew closer as the other two began to roll the carts out from the drug store, and soon Edgar could tell it was a car.
But the sudden sound a police siren tearing through the air changed everything.
The Dead Life is a Haunted MTL original fiction series.
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.
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.
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.
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.