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Day 16

The noise generated by the rolling door of the storage unit was enough to tighten anyone’s ass given the situation. The storage facility made the sound louder and more sustained, thanks to an echo, and Dani winced each time a unit was opened up. It felt like every ghoul in the area would hear each sliding door and make their way to the Family Storage. Every open shutter would be like a dinner bell.

Bob peered into the unit for a moment and then stepped inside. Dani followed suit. It was a mess. The work of documenting the contents would have been much faster with Sandy’s help, but she had volunteered to keep an eye on the front office from the caretaker’s apartment above after they had sealed the shattered door with something more than cardboard.

It was not like Sandy would have approved of going into each unit, however. She somehow still believed that help would arrive any day now. Dani had no such illusions.

Dani’s gaze drifted from box to box in the unit, looking for some indication of the contents labeled on them. Most of them had no handwriting or sign of what was actually inside.


Bob was already deep into the contents of one box. He had assembled a hasty stack of books that continued to grow the deeper he dug. Bob had been particular about finding books all day.

It made sense. There had to be something else besides hiding from rotting, walking carcasses. Reading could pass most of the daylight hours. As for the night… well, there was sleep, Dani figured.

She turned her attention to a stack of boxes, uneven and haphazardly assembled. She grabbed the topmost box and moved it to a smaller stack. She pried it open and began to rifle through.

“Anything good?” Bob asked.

Dani held a handful of old letters in her hands.


“Not in this box unless you want some letters to read.”

“Might as well hold onto ‘em. It’s all that’s left of some folks. Might make for good reading.”

She tucked the letters back into the box and folded the flaps shut. She set herself to another smaller box. When she opened it she saw tangled piles of extension cables and Christmas lights.

“I found some cables and lights.”

Bob walked over to her and peered inside the box. He handed her a fat black marker.


“Might as well label it and pull it out of the unit. Might be able to connect them to the generator and give us some night lights if we need them.”

“Fair enough,” Dani said.

Dani labeled the box and set it right outside the unit. She turned her attention to the larger box that made up the bottom of the stack. So far most of these units had been uneventful but she had hoped some bounty was lurking within the over 200 units. So far 20 of them had been a bit of a bust.

But there were at least some books, thankfully.

She tried to shift the larger box but noticed it was very heavy. She peeled the tape that kept it sealed up and pried it open. She found herself staring at a box full of prepackaged nails and staples.


“Bob, we aren’t gonna be hurting for nails to build up the wall in the office…”

He stepped over and stared into the box and whistled.

“Well, let’s label it. We’ll grab it later.”

Dani scribbled “nails” onto the side of the box and on one of the opened flaps.

She peered around the unit. Bob was still engrossed in his books.


“Do you think we might stumble on more tools here? That is a lot of nails.”

Bob shrugged, he didn’t seem to be paying much attention.


Dani rolled her eyes. He was too far gone into perusing the collection he’d made.

Curious, she stepped around odd piles of junk, toward the rear of the unit. Just past a stack of boxes was a makeshift alcove. There stood a rolling tool chest and some gallon buckets filled with various tools.


Dani looked them over.

“Whoever had this unit must have been a contractor,” Bob chimed in right behind her.

Dani just about jumped out of her skin.

About an hour later they had hit their 23rd unit. The tools were the first of the more useful finds. So far it had been clothes, books, and paperwork in unit after unit. Fortunately, however, one unit contained a bunch of automotive supplies and parts. Neither Dani nor Bob knew if they’d be useful right away, but if something needed to be patched they hoped something in the collection would help. At least the two metal gas containers would be really helpful for later.

“Alright, we probably got one more unit before we should call it for the day. Gettin’ tired.”

Dani nodded.


Bob leaned over the lock and used his bolt cutters to cut it. The now useless combination lock hit the cement with a dull thud. Dani bent down and grabbed the latch at the bottom of the rolling door, and as gingerly as she could, she rolled the door up. Again, the sound made her wary. It was just too damn loud.

At first, the unit seemed oddly sparse. Just some card tables and some boxes resting on top. Dani and Bob looked at each other, shrugged, and stepped inside.

Bob leaned against the wall of the unit, a bit winded. He seemed very tired. It made sense given his age and circumstance. Dani took it on herself to check the boxes.

Her eyes grew wide.

“What? What is it?” Bob asked.


Dani pulled out a wax-paper-wrapped package. The smell of marijuana wafted through the unit, overlaying the musty air.

Bob did a slow blink.

“Is that… is that dope?”

Dani smiled.

“Like, a lot of it. At least three more of these packages in this box. Who knows what is in some of these other boxes?”


“Holy shit,” Bob whistled.

Dani opened the package. Sure enough, it was weed.

The celebration was cut short, however, with the sound of the front gate rattling.

No, not rattling. Violently shaking.

Something was trying to get in.


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Thank you for reading the seventh installment of the Haunted MTL original series, The Dead Life. Please share your thoughts about the story with us.

David Davis is a writer, cartoonist, and educator in Southern California with an M.A. in literature and writing studies.

Original Creations

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.

Found paintings with nail polish monsters by Jennifer Weigel
Found paintings with nail polish monsters by Jennifer Weigel

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.

Found painting with nail polish dragon by Jennifer Weigel
Found painting with nail polish dragon by Jennifer Weigel

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.)

Fairy Queen Monsters Portrait by Jennifer Weigel
Fairy Queen portrait by Jennifer Weigel

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.

Last Unicorn monster nail polish reanimated painting by Jennifer Weigel

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.

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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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.

Broken Doll Head, secured in her own glass case with new moss accents
Broken Doll Head, secured in her own glass case with new moss accents

Again, if you want to learn more about the V-Day movement, please check out their website here.

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

The Way Things Were, story by Jennifer Weigel



Revisiting my last St. Patrick’s Day post, what’s a wolf to were?

Howling at the Moon digital art Reversals werewolf by Jennifer Weigel
Howling at the Moon digital art Reversals werewolf by Jennifer Weigel

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…

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.

Check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s writing here at Jennifer Weigel Words.

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