Welcome to the third story of the Spring Horror Collection for 2022, where Haunted MTL’s writers craft original tales of terror that’ll grow on you. Check with us all week for new stories.
For more original stories, check out Haunted MTL’s Original Creations.
My favorite jacket, a jean jacket I bought years ago that I have since decorated with patches and pins and printed fabric, is the first thing to catch my eye when I slide open my closet door. The weather is warming up and I haven’t worn it in months, but I love to touch it, explore all the different pieces of art sewn onto the lapels and pockets. It reminds me of the rainy overcast days on which I wore the jacket.
One of those days in particular was in April last year, when I went hiking with my friend Jackie. The trail was difficult, the kind littered with rocks and soaking mud puddles. It was actually a rather horrible day to go hiking, but Jackie insisted and I’d been needing to get some fresh air after a few weeks of being a recluse.
The worst part about hiking in these specific mountains is not the steep, slim, rocky trail, nor the ankle-deep mud, but the snakes that pop up out of their little holes in the mountain sides. They’re essentially harmless, meaning they’ll bite but their venom isn’t poisonous to humans. Nevertheless, they’re sneaky enough to catch you off guard when they jump out at you from their little hiding spots.
About an hour into the hike, it started to rain and the path became so slippery and muddy that we had to take baby steps. I took a knife out of my pocket and held onto it, just in case.
“Jackie,” I said after half a mile. My voice echoed across the mountains. “This is ridiculous. Can we please look for cover or just go back?”
“But we’re so close to the top.”
“This is dangerous! We need to do something.”
Jackie sighed and nodded her head. “Fine, let’s find cover.”
But it turned out that looking for cover became just as difficult as climbing up the mountain. On one side was a massive hill, and on the other side was a steep slope that ended in an abyss of trees.
There was nowhere for us to go.
“I don’t care anymore,” I said. “I’m heading back whether you come with me or not. I’m sorry Jackie, but it’s just not worth it.”
I started inching my way back down. I could feel Jackie stare daggers into my back, as she does when she’s pissed off. But after I took a few more steps I heard her let out a large huff and follow me down. I kept digging my knife in the hill and watched the mud crumble down.
Suddenly a snake flew in front of me and I couldn’t stop myself from screaming and jolting back in shock. Everything happened so fast that, until it was too late, I didn’t realize how close Jackie was behind me. She rear-ended me, which caused her to fall. I whipped around to see her laying on the ground, her head on a rock, blood pooling her face, my knife piercing through her eye.
I screamed her name, tried to see if she could breathe, but there was nothing. She was gone, and I didn’t know what to do. It would be impossible to carry her back. I should’ve run down the mountain and called for help as soon as I had service again. But another part of me was angry. None of this would have happened if she had listened to me earlier and we just went home as soon as it started raining. And why was she so close behind me anyway? You need to give people you’re behind a little space no matter where you are, especially on a mountain as steep as this.
I shoved down the idea that this wasn’t Jackie’s fault, that her wanting to try hiking a little further didn’t mean she deserved to die, that we both should have been more conscious about the snakes, that it wasn’t her fault that nature acted against our expectations. I had to shove all that down, and still, to this day, I swallow those thoughts. Otherwise how would I be able to live with the fact that, out of sheer hatred and anger, I pushed Jackie’s dead bleeding body down the steep mountain and into the abyss of pine trees? I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I realized my anger had, once and for all, gotten the best of me.
After I pushed her, I watched her roll. Her body slammed into trees, hit rocks, she just kept going and going. I walked down the mountain, grateful for the emptiness of the trail and that no one seemed to want to try hiking on this obscure mountain in this terrible weather.
When I reached the end, I called 911. I cried that I left my friend after she refused to go back home with me. I told them I didn’t want to risk my life and I needed to do what was best for me. The dispatcher was very calm and collected, proving their experience with tough situations. They didn’t find her that day, and the search and rescue team told me to go home because there wasn’t anything more for me to do.
When they finally found her body two weeks later, it was rotting and molded, moss-ridden and covered in ants. I was never suspected of foul play, not that I ever thought I would be. Jackie was my best friend, one of my only friends. I wish I had a better reason for doing what I did. I’m sure she would have wished I had a better reason, too.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
March 23, 2022 at 4:02 pm
Nice prose and character work
March 28, 2022 at 9:57 am
Those pesky snakes always get the best of us, especially the ones that lurk within our minds later… Love the focus on the jacket and the dark reminiscence.