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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 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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