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Day 16

The sound of the gate, under some form of duress, caught the attention of Dani and Bob. Within an instant, they dashed out of the storage unit and made their way to the entrance of the facility. Just over the top of her Focus, parked flush against the sliding gate, Dani saw two men. Bob’s revolver, one of his many sidearms, was already drawn as they approached the two strangers. Dani drew her pistol.

“What the hell are you two doing?” Bob yelled.

The two men immediately turned their attention to Dani and Bob. They both stepped back, their hands raised. The clatter of bolt cutters hitting the ground filled the air.

“Yo, yo, hold up,” said the red-headed man. He looked to be in his late twenties or so, dressed in baggy clothes and a hoodie. His face was scruffy. He looked worn out.


“Please, you gotta let us in,” said his companion. He looked Latino and was dressed much the same as the red-head. He was twice his friend’s weight. Dani’s dad would have called them gangbangers. She hated the term.

Dani scanned her pistol in their direction. “Why should we let you in?”

The redhead lowered his guard slightly and turned his head to the street behind him, enough to point behind him without taking his eyes off Dani’s gun. “We’re being followed. Got a shitload of those rotten fuckers on us. You gotta let us in.”

Dani looked at Bob and gestured with her own head. Bob reoriented himself to get a peek through the gate to look down the street.

“I don’t see any of ‘em,” he said.


The Latino man furrowed his brow. “Do you think we’re fuckin’ lying? They’re coming, dude. You gotta help us.”

“Shut up,” Dani barked. She turned her ear to listen for sounds. Sure enough, there was a sustained series of low moans in the distance.

“Bob, I think they’re right.”

“Shit. Alright, plan?”

Dani looked at the strangers and lowered her gun. “Alright, listen, we have a side gate. We can’t risk a bunch of them piling up on this gate here. We want you to go around. Got it?”


The red-head nodded. “Yeah, sure, got it. Promise you’ll let us in?”

“Provided you do your part and help us move that group along, sure.”

The men glanced at each other and nodded.

“Bob, right?” asked the bigger man, “right around the corner?”

Bob lowered his revolver. “Yeah, get in your car and get your ass in gear. I’ll be right there to get it open.”


Alerted by the noise, Sandy finally stepped out of the administrative building holding a baseball bat.

“What is going on?”

Dani gestured to the strangers. “These guys – what are your names?”

“Jimmy,” said the redhead.

“Edgar,” said the other.


“- Jimmy and Edgar here, they need our help, we’re gonna have them come in the side gate.”

Sandy looked incredulous. “Why in God’s name would we do that?”

As if fate, the first of the ghouls made its presence known. It stumbled into view on the street and lobbed its body in lurching motions along the pavement.

“Fuck! Bob, get it!” Sandy yelped.

The ghoul cast a pair of glassy eyes at the gate and let out a moan.


Bob snapped at Sandy, “there’s a bunch more coming.”

He turned to Jimmy and Edgar, “We need to move now. Get goin’ boys.”

Edgar grabbed the bolt cutters from the ground. The pair scrambled to their car, a burgundy Cadillac. They practically dove inside and turned the ignition. Dani and Bob moved towards the office and escorted Sandy out of sight of the gate.

Bob turned to Dani. “Kid, you’re faster, I need you to get to the gate, now. Got it?”

Dani nodded and tucked the pistol into the waist of her jeans. She started running to the side gate, sorting through the keyring she pulled from her pocket.


Bob pulled Sandy into the office and pointed her to the stairs.

“I need you to go up there and keep an eye on how many of those things are comin’. We need to keep as quiet as possible, so I want you to write them down on that little whiteboard, you know the one you use for the schedule?”

“Right, I have it.”

“I want you to write the number you see on that board, okay? Show it to me out the window near the bathroom, right? It’ll keep you out of sight.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I think I have a way to direct those things,” he said. “I just need to know how many there are.”


Dani arrived at the gate with the key in hand. She could hear the engine of the car idling on the other side. The gate was reinforced with corrugated metal, but it was still a sliding gate. There was only so much weight it could bear. She worried that they were substituting one weak gate for another.

She slipped the key into the lock and ripped the chain from the assembly. She pulled the gate open for the car to drive in. As the car entered she wondered if it was already a pile of shit before the apocalypse or if the collected grime and gore was most of what she saw. The car drove down a few units and came to a stop as Dani began to slide the gate closed. She nearly shit herself when she heard the raspy moan on the other side of the metal barrier.

“Damn it!”

She leaned hard against the gate’s end, trying to roll it shut faster but there was no use. The ghoul stumbled into the property. It was a thin man, clothes tattered and stiff and stale. The scent of rot and waste made her gag. She backed off the gate and pried the pistol from her pants as the ghoul turned to her. This was the first ghoul she’d seen up close, within feet, since the day she arrived. She held her pistol up, taking a few steps back to give herself some distance, but all she could see was the face of her neighbor, torn from her memories. She took a deep breath, pulled the trigger, and popped the ghoul in the shoulder. The impact made it stumble slightly, out of sheer force rather than any sense of pain, but it didn’t stop. Dani fired another shot right into the forehead. This time the ghoul fell backward, landing in an awkward crumple. It didn’t get up. Blackened blood and discolored grey matter pooled beneath its shattered skull.

Jimmy and Edgar made their way to the gate. They finished rolling it shut. Gun still in hand, Dani strode over and looped the chain around a couple of times before locking everything down.

The pair stepped away from her, their hands open and raised to show they meant no harm. The red-head, Jimmy, kicked at the ghoul’s tattered hand and looked at Dani.


“Now what?”

Next Installment

Thank you for reading the eighth 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.

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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Movies n TV

She Wolf, Art by Jennifer Weigel



So this isn’t a review but more just some thoughts…

I have to admit that I actually like the She Wolf music video by Shakira.

Maybe partly because my Zumba group back in the day used to dance to it with all of us cautioned to not to look up the music video for fear it would be too risque or something… (The Zumba dance to this was one of my favorites, and I loved our group of mostly 60+ year old retirees for all that some of them did act surprised at these things, whether or not they actually were.) Or maybe partly because it reminds me of Madonna’s Express Yourself, or by extension the famous dance scene in Metropolis directed by Fritz Lang.

It’s a guilty pleasure.

The ways these things evolve and stay the same over time fascinates me, especially how the messaging and movement change, and yet stay the same.

Shakira She Wolf
Madonna Express Yourself
Metropolis dance scene

Anyway, I created this artwork based upon the She Wolf video and song, incorporating a Hazelle puppet head atop a modern Barbie doll body. I don’t recall what happened to Barbie’s actual head though I’m pretty sure I needed it for another project. (Technically I needed the body for another project too, and this was just a stopover.) Years ago this piece found itself part of the Women’s Caucus for Art website as one of the chosen artworks for the year. I was going to try to write something to go with it for Haunted MTL but instead I thought I’d share it as a lead up to my revisitation of my werewolf story from St. Patrick’s Day last year.

She Wolf digital art by Jennifer Weigel
She Wolf digital art by Jennifer Weigel

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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