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Day 17

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.

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“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.

“Alicia, right?”

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“Yeah?”

“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.

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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-“

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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.”

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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?”

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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.

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“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.

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The Dead Life is a Haunted MTL original fiction series.

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

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Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Zombie Snails

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This time on Nightmarish Nature, we will look into zombie snails, because we were having so much with the Whore Snails recently. So this is a lot like the Freaky Fungus except that this time it’s a parasitic worm that is the cause of the horror… Leucochloridium paradoxum, the green-banded broodsac worm, forces snails to be a part of its nefarious plans to take over the world (well, really more just continue on keeping on in its strange and bizarre life cycle).

Hungry birds want nummins
Hungry birds want nummins

This Is What We Get for Eating Poop

The worm, which spends much of its life as a parasite in birds’ digestive systems, is part of a weird cycle that includes both birds and snails, though the snail end is much creepier. It starts when a snail ingests worm eggs in bird droppings. These eggs hatch into worm larvae that eventually turn the poor hosts into zombie snails! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Snails make questionable food choices, but I guess this comes from being where they are on the ecosystem clean up crew...
Snails make questionable food choices, but I guess this comes from being where they are on the ecosystem clean up crew…

The worm larvae work their way up into the snails’ brains and take over, hijacking them on suicide missions to continue their own life cycle. These worm larvae eventually grow large and worm their way into the poor snail’s eye stalks, pulsing and throbbing therein to resemble maggots or other tasty treats.

Zombie Snails
Zombie Snails

Mind-Control

The worms use the zombie snails to get into their bird hosts by mind-controlling them into climbing out of the shady undergrowth where they will be easily spotted by bird predators which will feed on them, ingesting the eye stalks and continuing the worm’s life cycle as it gets into the bird’s digestive tract. The huge, bulging eye stalks are irresistible to birds looking to snatch maggots and other delicious delicacies. Eventually, after the worms are well ensconced in its bird hosts, the bird poops out more worm eggs for unsuspecting snails to ingest, completing the cycle.

Birds love their grubs and maggots and other nummins, even if they are just zombie snails.
Birds love their grubs and maggots and other nummins, even if they are just zombie snails.

You can watch this in action on Nat Geo Wild: World’s Deadliest here, if you dare. Warning, it’s a little gross but not near so much as some of the other topics we’ve covered. If you enjoyed this slimy segment of Nightmarish Nature, please check out past segments:

Vampires Among Us

Perilous Parenting

Freaky Fungus

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Worrisome Wasps

Cannibalism

Terrifying Tardigrades

Reindeer Give Pause

Komodo Dragons

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Original Creations

Snails a Whorl Whirl Whore World…

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So a friend and I made some artsy snails awhile back. Essentially this was in response to her granddaughter proclaiming that her favorite animals are whorl snails. My friend heard “whore snails” and was a bit perturbed that the child would use such a word so nonchalantly, whether or not she knew what it meant. But then again toddler-speak is like that sometimes… Anyway, it stuck.

So we made some whore snails, all glammed up and ready to go. We started with these flat metal snails and then painted and decorated them, to whore them up a bit. I figured this would be apropos after my recent Valentine’s Day posts and that the end results were horrifying enough to appear here.

My friend's whore whorl snail
My friend’s whore whorl snail

This is my friend’s creation. I especially like the David Bowie star and cherry bling to match her cherry red lipstick. The purple shell is a great color on her too. I think my friend went back and decorated her shell more after the fact, but I didn’t see the snail after those changes.

My whore snail
My whore snail

And here’s my whore snail. She’s a bit more of an ice queen with her deceptively lovey-dovey eyes and mouth full of poison darts, like the underwater snails do. I believe I called her a Hoar Whore Whorl Snail as when the discussion first came up I heard “hoar” and thought of hoarfrost. Hence the ice queen take…

And another friend joined us via Zoom just to visit and have fun making art together.

Another whore snail, drawn by our friend over Zoom
Another whore snail, drawn by our friend over Zoom

This little Zoomed in snail is kinda cute, like she’s out on the beach in her bikini… Mixed media on paper.

So if that wasn’t disturbing enough, check out my inappropriate Shrinky Dinks posted here before, or maybe this Eye Candy Peeps Easter basket, both taking some innocuous thing(s) turning into something… else…

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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. Her friends will remain anonymous for now…

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Original Creations

Have a Dystopian Girls on Film Valentine’s Day

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So it’s finally actually Valentine’s Day, and thus marks the final segment of our dysfunctional dystopian romance. So far, we’ve survived both Gen X and Krampusnacht, what else could possibly be in store? Girls on Film…

Valentine's Day card Girls on Film
Girls on Film Valentine’s Day card from Jennifer Weigel

Image description: Video camera umbrella shower succubus stares through the lens at the viewer, surrounded by eerie Cthulhoid horror embellishments with text.

Text reads: Happy Valentine’s Day; lipstick cherry all over the lens as she’s falling; give me shudders in a whisper; take me up ’til I’m shooting a star; (she’s more than a lady)

OK so this Valentine’s Day dystopia ends in a Duran Duran video, because of course it does. If the video doesn’t load properly, you can find it by following this link. Girls on Film.

Duran Duran official video

Here’s the camera eye succubus all by itself, for your viewing pleasure. Actually this is the original original image from an Unselfie performance art piece in the shower before I decided to forego the umbrella. Girls on Film.

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Unselfie performance art video still
Video still

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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