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Last time, Dani caught up with Alicia and the discussed books and the status of Mary, Alicia’s mother, who is still laid up from a broken leg. This week in the Haunted MTL Original The Dead Life, Dani looks at long-term plans with Jimmy – could a garden be the next step?

This is a serialized novel of post-apocalyptic zombie survival. Learn more about the story and setting at the series hub and take advantage of a complete list of installments.

The Dead Life section break for story about need for a garden

Day 25

“Go ahead and check in on your mom, Alicia. Let her know I am gonna come by in a bit.”

Alicia nodded and, after a brief moment, gave Dani a small hug. Dani initially felt surprised but returned the gesture by squeezing the girl’s elbow. She was a good kid.

Alicia wandered off, gesturing with a wave as she approached her and her mother’s trailer. Dani turned her attention to the units claimed by Jimmy and Edgar. 

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Jimmy and Edgar had opened the four she saw, removed various boxes, and contents had been strewn about in multiple piles, the two still obviously sorting through them. The presence of an overly furry lady’s coat on a coat rack caught her eye for a moment. She had no idea what fur it was, but the fact that Jimmy or Edgar had perceived enough value to hang the coat up was pretty funny. From what she had learned about them, she expected that was a Jimmy gesture, the more reflective of the two.

She made her way down the row, which was the main row connected to the front gate. Sure enough, she saw Jimmy, the slighter of the pair, standing at the front entrance. His hair had grown a bit longer, and he had a tangle of red curls starting to form. He was in sweatpants and a t-shirt salvaged from one of the boxes. As she approached, she noticed the neon-colored graphic of a boat with “Catalina Open ‘92” in stylized letters on the back.

She presumed nobody in their sanctuary had ever been to Catalina before.

“Why is the car out of the way?” she asked as she approached.

Jimmy looked back; his hands were on his hips, intently studying the building across the street. He pointed to them.

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“Edgar is scouting that building, so we’re keeping the gate free to roll open when he gets back.”

“By himself?”

“Believe it or not, that giant is very quiet.”

Giant didn’t even begin to describe Edgar. He was a sizeable Mexican man. While only about 5’9”, by most estimations, he was thick, a seeming combination of muscle and fat. Edgar was like a wall. Dani was glad to have him.

Jimmy was different. He was skinny, and his muscles were ropey. He looked underfed, and his raid hair had not only grown longer at the top of his head, but he was beginning to develop a rat nest for a beard. Dani would need to get him something to trim it next time they were on a supply run.

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He was pretty wired-looking when he first came to the U-Stor-It, but in the time since, he seemed to have mellowed out, seemingly enthused at the company and things to do. He was one of the hardest working people she had met, always up to something to make the location more livable, and the first to assist in projects.

He didn’t even bother hiding his track marks lately. Dani wondered how long ago he’d kicked his habit and if the work helped him manage.

“Any idea what he is looking for over there?”

Jimmy scratched his chin vigorously, and Dani could hear the rustle of hair. “We saw that it is a school district facility or something. I think they make food there, and there could be buses.”

Dani technically lived around the corner, right from the building. She hadn’t paid attention to it at the time. Dani did recall a colorful mural on one of the walls. She supposed she saw some buses there from time to time as well. It was shocking how disconnected she felt from the location across from her apartment of two years.

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“Why are we interested in buses, Jimmy?”

He smiled.

“Well, if we can hotwire them, we can take a couple of them and build a wall around the parking lot in front of us.”

Dani looked at the lot; they hadn’t been able to use it due to the need to reinforce the broken gate.

“We could find a way to make another gate and have two layers of protection here,” she added.

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“Yep. Maybe even park a couple of cars or a truck for supply runs.”

“It could also give us a chance to fix the gate.”

“Yeah. I feel really shitty about breaking it. I swear I’ll fix it.”

Dani took a few steps forward toward the rolling gate and shrugged. “You didn’t know anyone was here, and you’re doing what you can to help. Nobody is mad.”

Jimmy pulled a crumpled pack of cigarettes from his sweats’ pockets and a book of matches from the other. He lit up and began to puff away. Dani watched him for a moment, and soon enough, he nodded at her, plucking the cigarette from his lips and offering her a puff. She enjoyed it. She handed it back.

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“Is he going to be okay by himself?”

“If it were me, you’d be right to be worried. Edgar, though, fucker is built differently. He won’t be long. Besides, I really, really want to get to the parking lot.”

“We have plenty of parking here.”

“It’s the grass. The soil. I think I can get a garden going.”

Dani’s eyes narrowed. “No shit?”

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“No shit. I was 4-H in high school, and my parents shipped me off to a boy’s ranch as a kid. I picked up the knack for growing.”

Danit thought back to the day he and Edgar had crashed the gate of the storage place. Dani and Bob had found marijuana packed up in one of the units belonging to Jimmy.

“So that weed was homegrown, I assume?”

“I can grow potatoes too.”

“I’m sure you can.”

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Jimmy took a couple more puffs and handed the cigarette back to Dani.

“I have some ideas, but I need the supplies.”

“Do tell,” Dani urged.

“Well, I can build some garden boxes, but I need wood, wire, liners… soil bags… seeds; it’s a lot.”

“Makes sense,” she added, “thinking of loading up one of the buses?”

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Jimmy looked over at the truck still parked against the front office’s windows.

“That moving truck would have been perfect. I hope we can salvage that if we close the lot.” He took the cigarette back from Dani. “I am thinking about a lot of supplies because I have a much bigger idea.”

He paused for a moment, perhaps worried he was going to sound crazy or something.

“Dani, do you know what is next to us,” he gestured behind them as he spoke, back toward the southern part of the U-Stor-It, “that area between us at the houses?”

“No.”

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“A drainage ditch for one, and a dirt alley with the railroad tracks.”

Dani remembered that a railway, abandoned, had run through part of Emmett for nearly 60 years, an artifact of the day when the town was known for orange groves. She saw where he was going with this.

“You want to seal the place up and grow back there?” she asked.

“It’d give us a lot more room than some boxes and a strip of grass in front of the office.”

It was a good idea, but the project seemed like a massive pain in the ass, especially given the need to secure the area and move the goods. She understood why Jimy and Edgar were interested in the buses.

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“The problem is,” Jimmy continued, “we can’t risk losing that truck in front of the office yet because we can’t reinforce the window frame. We don’t have anything else that can work to haul around the supplies I need.”

Dani thought about it for a moment. Jimmy offered her the last few puffs of the cigarette, but she politely waved it off, deep in thought. She thought back to the area around them and where they had been in the previous few weeks.

She remembered something about her flight from the apartments where she had lived before the bullshit went down. The place was around the corner and seemed so much further away when she first escaped. Now it offered a tantalizingly close solution.

“I know where we can find a moving truck.”

Jimmy’s eyebrow raised, intrigued. He dropped the cigarette butt and mashed it with the toe of his sneakers.

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“Hell yes.” He beamed. “Fuck yes.”

The Dead Life section break for story about need for a garden

Did you enjoy this installment of the story? How do you think the system they opt for regarding supplies will work out for them? Let us know what you think and what supplies would be your zombie apocalypse necessity.

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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