Danielle Kim immediately took several steps from the gate and raised her crowbar into a batter’s stance. She whipped around, scanning the area for the undead. Her breathing grew rapid as she counted them off.
One. Two. Three. Four.
There was one across the street behind her, approaching from the back parking lot of a strip mall. To her left was a pair; one stumbled toward her on the grass and the other was strapped into a car, the seat belt restraining it. The last of them approached from her right, stumbling through a chainlink fence that was partially demolished, meant to seal off a vacant lot. There were at least three that were going to move in on her position from the inside of the complex as well, she had spied them earlier. She had to be fast.
She sprinted across the street toward the ghoul that was furthest out, giving herself a little room from the others in the vicinity. The bastard seemed familiar, but she put that aside and moved a running charge with the crowbar trailing behind her. She took an upward swing within range of the ghoul. The crowbar connected to a fleshy grey chin, knocking it onto his back. Fat, rotten fleshed jiggled and open sores split open. Blood spilled out around the corpse and rot splashed over Danielle’s sneakers and jeans.
Bile wrenched up her throat and she stumbled away, coughing, sick from the smell of the writhing body of the fat, rotten man who was struggling to rise from under his collected weight. Dani turned to see the other two mobile creatures were beginning to move toward her, moaning. It was as though they had only just recognized that she had changed locations.
These things were slow, only having crossed most of the street. She could use that.
She turned back to the fat one and raised her crowbar above her head and she took a few steps towards it. Her momentum carried from her feet to the tip of the crowbar as the forked end wedged itself deep into the eye socket. After a shuddering twitch, the corpse stopped moving. She removed the crowbar with a sickening squelch and turned her attention back to the two ghouls. Shards of bone dislodged from the impact ripped away from the shattered socket.
She marched toward the ghoul toward her right, the one that had worked its way through the fence. What clothes remained on it had been torn on the fence and most of its shirt dangled listlessly off a twig-like right wrist. She opted to repeat her earlier strategy. She hit him in the chest, caving the ribs in and sending him spinning to the ground. Dani took a deep breath and placed the full weight of her foot on the corpse and swung the hooked end of the crowbar into the gnashing head. She struck it three times before it stopped moving.
She stepped over the corpse and turned around to see the last shambler had gained on her surprisingly quickly. She stepped backward, carefully, in order to give herself some breathing room.
She went into a batter’s stance and waited. The creature nearly stumbled over the corpse of its undead compatriot, finally simply stepping on it, sinking into a rotting stomach cavity. When the monster was close enough she took another swing, instantly crushing the skull of what was once a wisp of a woman.
Danielle walked slowly toward the car that had the trapped creature and pulled a screwdriver from her belt loop. She stood a few feet back as the creature gnashed its broken teeth and reached out with gore-caked, shredded hands. Watching the movements carefully, she found an opportunity. She grabbed at matted hair and held the head as still as she could. She nearly retched as she felt loose skin shift on the skull.
Within a moment, the creature stopped moving and hung silent with a screwdriver wedged deep into an eye socket.
Danielle turned back to the gate and hooked her crowbar on the edge. The first of the undead in the complex had rounded the corner and stumbled slowly toward her direction. They were a couple of hundred feet away. No need to panic. She took a deep breath and tried pulling the gate forward, but again, the gate was stuck.
She studied to the gate, looking it up and down, and noticed that the upper wheel was not in the groove. She lifted and pushed it into place and began to laugh as the gate slid along the track rattling slightly. Systematically… that’s how she needed to approach this new world.
Dani flicked some wet gore from her crowbar as she walked back to her car and sat back in the driver’s seat. The engine turned over with little fuss and she drove out.
She stopped the focus and pulled over just outside of the gates to the Oakwood Apartments. Leaving the engine running, Danielle walked over to the ghoul that had the screwdriver still jammed into the eye socket. Crouching, she braced herself on the car and pulled the screwdriver out with a sickeningly wet pop. She flicked away the gore, something she was beginning to feel was instinctual at this point, and walked back to her car. She tossed the screwdriver onto the passenger floorboard and shut the door.
Everything was going as planned. Everything would be okay.
She drove off, taking a last look at her the complex as the only survivor of Oakwood Apartments.
Thank you for reading the third installment of the Haunted MTL original series, The Dead Life. Please share your thoughts about the story with us.
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.
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