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Day 17

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!”

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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.

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“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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“Sorry.”

Dani shrugged.

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.

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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.

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Original Creations

Goblins, a Short Story by Jennifer Weigel

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Revisiting the creepy faux fingernail art, I made a couple of goblins… They then ransacked my house. This is their story, as told by myself, Jennifer Weigel.

More faux fingernail art from Jennifer Weigel, featuring wide smiling mouth with red sparkly lipstick and faux fingernail teeth on textured green goblins background
More faux fingernail art from Jennifer Weigel

So it finally happened. My art came to life. And of course it couldn’t be one of the cute pretty pictures, like the sparkly unicorns or the cat drawings. No it had to be the faux fingernail goblins… Ugh. I first encountered them in the bathroom.

I see England.
I see France.
I see someone’s underpants!

Of course you do, it’s the bathroom. That’s totally the room for that. Remind me again why I decided to paint these little green monsters. Ugh. From there, they moved on to the kitchen.

We so tricksy.
We so sly.
We eats all the cherry pie!

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Did they have to eat ALL the cherry pie? Like seriously. But what can I expect, they’re goblins and they’re in the house. Ugh. And honestly they’re just plain gross.

I pick my friend.
I pick nose.
Just whose nose, do you suppose?

Get away from me you obnoxious, vile creatures! I can pick my own nose on my own time, thank you. Ugh. Oh, great, now they’re tearing up the living room.

We be goblins.
We be green.
We be making quite a scene!

No, not the sofa! Now there are little bits of fabric and stuffing flying everywhere. I can see you’re all too pleased with yourselves. Nasty critters. Ugh. Why can’t you just leave?

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I do mischief.
I do bad.
This best party ever had!

I did NOT agree to host your little shindig. Stop tearing up my house! All I know is, it’s about time you moved on to wreak havoc elsewhere. Ugh. Just get out – NOW!

We scare the cat.
We scare you.
We scare all, we care not who!

I may have brought these dreadful disgusting demons into being seeing as how I painted them, but I have no idea what brought them to life or why. What kind of cosmic miscalculation caused this? I need to know so I can avoid it in the future. Ugh. Goblins… need I say more?

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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Original Creations

Faux Fingernails Art by Jennifer Weigel

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So I had some faux fingernails leftover from a costume based modeling session, from posing as Cruella De Vil for the figure drawing group… Here’s a teaser from that modeling session, before the horrible creepy art generation in the aftermath. If you zoom in tight enough, you can see my tiger fingernails, which kept trying to fall off constantly, reminding me why I hate trying to wear the things and why they (d)evolved into art.

Cruella De Vil modeling for figure drawing
Cruella De Vil modeling for figure drawing

My version of Cruella De Vil channels Glenn Close or the original animated character more than the recent Emma Stone variant, but they’re all delightfully devilish.

Anyway, I made this series of “Tiger Sharks” prominently featuring the same tiger faux fingernails, including those used in the Cruella De Vil costume. These “Tiger Sharks” also incorporated some pirate fingernails, because sharks and pirates are tight.

Pirate skeleton hand with faux fingernails
Pirate skeleton hand with faux fingernails

I couldn’t think of a better use for the pirate fingernails than adding them to this skeletal hand. I never actually wore these, they were too hard to come up with something to go with. But I do love the Beetlejuice vibe with the stripes…

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.

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Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Something Rotten, Flesh in Flowers

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This time on Nightmarish Nature we will again explore some of the more fetid fungi and plants, this time focusing on those that imitate rotten flesh in order to attract flies. Among the best known of these are the Stinkhorn and the Corpse Lily or Corpse Flower. The Language of Flowers be damned, literally…

Fungi

Many of the fungi in the Stinkhorn family erupt in mushrooms that reek of rotten flesh and sprout from a white sort of egg sac in various forms, the common type being a phallus like structure with a white body and olive head. The Beefsteak fungus resembles, well, a cut of beef oozing blood. And some mushroom bodies of the Clathrus genus bloom in elaborate lattice structures or devil’s tooth and devil’s fingers that resemble terrifying alien beings. These odoriferous fetid fungi grow in decaying wood material and use their stinky attributes to attract flies and other insects which will then spread the spores from their fruiting bodies. They truly look like something out of an outer space or aquatic nightmare.

Some various fungi that can reek of rotten flesh, drawing by Jennifer Weigel.
Some various fungi that can reek of rotten flesh.

Plants

Some plants also utilize pungent putrid odors to attract flies and other insects, in part to aid in the pollination and dissemination but also to attract insect matter for their own needs, to absorb the insects for valuable nutrients that they cannot otherwise obtain. The largest flowers in the world bear many of these characteristics, also being among the stinkiest. And some pitcher plants mimic rotten flesh to attract flies upon which they “feed”.

The Titan Arum of Sumatra and Indonesia is a plant that over time produces a huge flower somewhat resembling a calla lily but larger as the plant body stores enough energy to do so. While Calla Lilies are often used to symbolize rebirth and resurrection and can be associated with death, often in a funerary setting, the huge Titan Arum does more than that, strongly mimicking decaying flesh in order to attract flies. These flowers can grow to almost 8-feet tall and bloom for only about three days before wilting; they are a huge draw at botanic gardens when flowering because of the rare nature of the event and the remarkable presence that the flower has, in both size and smell. The US. Botanic Gardens has a page devoted to this plant here, where you can even track previous blooms.

Titan Arum flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.
Titan Arum flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.

Another noteworthy flowering plant is Rafflesia, a parasitic flower native to Indonesia and Malaysia that feeds on the liana vine and grows from a sprouting body bud into a huge flower over the course of five years. Its flowers, once finally formed, can grow to almost a meter across and resembles something out of a horror film. These too smell of death and decay to attract flies in order to cross-pollinate. You can learn more about these unusual plants on this video from Real Science here.

Rafflesia flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.
Rafflesia flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.

If you’ve enjoyed this segment of Nightmarish Nature, feel free to check out some previous here:

Vampires Among Us

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Perilous Parenting

Freaky Fungus

Worrisome Wasps

Cannibalism

Terrifying Tardigrades

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Reindeer Give Pause

Komodo Dragons

Zombie Snails

Horrifying Humans

Giants Among Spiders

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