The cruiser screamed past the corner where they had paused. Dani had no way of knowing if the driver had seen her group, but she felt uncomfortable about someone knowing where she was… someone she didn’t know.
The moans behind them had grown louder. Edgar had slowed to a crawl at this point to keep the ghouls on the car. Now the car was practically swarmed. Dani couldn’t make out how many ghouls had begun to scramble over the surface. All she saw was a tangle of gooey, flailing limbs.
Jimmy had already begun to dash across the street. His gaze was planted to his right, down the street, Toward the other group of ghouls converging on their location. Dani pushed her cart forward toward the side gate of the U-Stor-It. She just pulled up after Jimmy had already begun pounding on the gate.
“Bob! Bob, hurry up!”
Bob was rattling the chains that held the gate shut. “Hey Jim, what the hell was that? Was that a fuckin’ cop car?”
Jimmy stood at the cart, his knuckles white from his grip on the bar. Bob was still fumbling with the lock and chain.
“Yeah, guy buzzed us twice, and we’re pulling deadies. We gotta get Edgar in quickly with the car.”
“It’s really close, Bob,” Dani added.
The chain came loose, and the gate began to open slowly. Jimmy stepped away from the cart and pulled hard to assist Bob. Dani had already rolled her cart inside and to the right, just past Sandy.
“Where’s the car? Did you lose the car?” she asked.
Dani rolled the cart forward and ran back to the gate, pushing Jimmy’s cart in as he finished moving the gate back. Sandy had approached and glanced out toward the street, looking worried.
“Where’s the car?”
Jimmy snapped, “it’s coming along with a dozen of those dead fucks.”
Sandy glared at him for a second and then took several steps back, creating distance between herself and the gate.
Dani stepped back out onto the sidewalk and waved down Edgar. He accelerated slightly, shaking loose a group of the ghouls, who tumbled onto the ground like wet sacks of meat. Edgar turned the Cadillac to drive into the storage facility, but Dani stepped right in front of him, slapping the car’s hood.
She glanced at the two groups rounding the corner and approaching them.
“Ed… you gotta lead them away.”
Edgar threw his heavy frame through the driver’s side window and glared at her. “What? You’re kidding…”
Dani shook her head and slapped the hood again, pointing at the growing crowd. “That cruiser screwed us. There are too many for this gate.”
Edgar grunted and then slapped the roof of the car. “Shit. Fine. Stay low.”
He reversed the car and began the slow drive down the road. Dani dashed back past the gate and helped Jimmy slam it shut. She threw on the chain and closed the padlock.
Dani and Jimmy stood away from the gate. Jimmy turned to Sandy and Bob and gestured at them to stay quiet.
The ghouls began to pass in front of the gate as they followed the car. The gate, thankfully, had a green screen of woven plastic fiber to keep the group out of sight.
A couple of the ghouls, the closest ones, had slapped and rattled the gate, but the distant sound of Edgar’s horn pulled them away.
The wait was tense. The last of the ghouls, the ones from the second group, had finally wandered by after what seemed like about forty minutes.
Sandy was the first to say anything. “They’re gone, now, right?”
Dani shrugged. “Seems like it.”
Bob was sitting in a lawn chair a few units down, reading a book. Jimmy paced back and forth between periodically unloading goods from the shopping carts. All the while Dani had been at the fence, breathlessly observing the horde of ghouls in silence. Their movements were clear, even seen obscured by the green fabric – jerky, uncoordinated, unnatural.
What were they?
Dani had lost track of time. The ghouls were long gone except for a few stragglers along the street. There was no sign of Edgar, Mary, and Alicia last time she had climbed up to the roof of a row of units. She was worried.
She had found another lawn chair and set it up near the gate. Jimmy was still messing with supplies, arranging them into different piles and groups. Bob continued to read. Sandy had wandered off to another unit and was going through boxes of clothing.
The sound of an approaching car echoed in the concrete canyon of the U-Stor-It. Dani rose to her feet and peeked out through a small gap between the fence and gate, and saw the white Cadillac.
“Hey, let us in,” Edgar yelled, “I couldn’t shake them all.”
Jimmy had already dashed away from his piles of supplies and unwrapping the chain from the gate. She helped him slide the gate open.
The car rolled in, stained with grimy, bloody marks from ghoulish hands, but all the passengers intact. Dani felt a sense of relief but lost that the moment she spied a group of the approaching undead. It seemed to be about ten or so.
Dani pushed the rolling gate with all her strength as Jimmy pulled at it. Within moments the gate rattled shut against the pole, and Jimmy looped the chain around it as quickly as possible, slamming the padlock shut.
Dani and Jimmy both stumbled back as the first crash of the ghouls smashed against the fence, rattling it. Torn fingers wrapped around the exposed metal rods, and through the green woven plastic dark red blotches spread unevenly across the surface.
In moments, gore had washed over the green cover with a sickly brown color.
Bob was already helping Mary out of the car into his golf cart. Each of her steps was labored. Sandy stood by awkwardly, not helping, as was her typical state.
Alicia came stumbling out of the back seat and moved close to her mother. Dani noticed a slight sneer on Sandy’s face, no doubt annoyed and having strangers in her midst again. And a child no less, Dani thought in mock horror.
Dani felt Jimmy grab her hand and pull her to the side, away from the gate and into one of the open units. She glanced at him, and he nodded toward the Cadillac, which Edgar began wheeling into position in front of the gate, backing into the unit. He retracted his hand quickly.
After the car was parked in front of the gate, Edgar stepped out, his gun wedged into the band of his pants. Dani walked out of the unit and gave him a knowing look. Jimmy followed along. Edgar shrugged and handed the gun over.
“Sorry… must have slipped my mind that I had it on me.”
Dani smirked. Edgar smiled back. She turned to Jimmy, who looked nervous, still.
She tucked the gun into the back of her pants and walked toward Bob and Mary in the cart. The moans of the ghouls were heavy in the air.
“Hey, Bob. Sandy. Meet Mary and Alicia.”
END of PART ONE
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.