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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.

Spring Horror Series 2022
We hope you are enjoying our Spring Horror Collection series – it’ll grow on you…

Imagine, if you will, a world in which every individual’s name must be completely original and unique, where they cannot be repeated under any circumstances. Growing in numbers, how do you address the Naming Ceremony?…

In the Maternity Ward

Raynala gazed at the newborn cradled in her arms.  What could she possibly name the little girl?  This was the most stressful decision for any mother, for if she chose a name that had already been given the child would wither away, shriveling to dust instantaneously.

For no two persons could exist by the same name as it confused the Gods and was thusly forbidden.  So any time this happened would result in the immediate death of the baby by divine interventions.  Sure, there were safeguards in place in order to minimize the likelihood that a mother would decide upon a name that had been taken already, but even that was not a guarantee.

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From a far room down the hall of the maternity ward, Raynala heard a woman shriek and then burst into a fit of uncontrollable crying.  Apparently she had chosen poorly and had suffered the loss of the baby as a result.  Her resounding sobs echoed throughout the corridor reminding all of the other mothers of their possible fates.

The sound of the Naming Cart grew louder as it approached from that direction, wheel squeaking as it slid across the polished tile floor.  The Recorder of Names entered the room in his hooded evergreen robe pushing a metal trolley with incense and candles burning in a circle around the tome in which all persons were recorded.  He rocked gently back and forth and chanted softly to appeal to the Gods to bestow a worthy name unto this young mother for her newborn child.

He slowly and methodically wheeled the cart to the foot of the hospital bed while continuing his chanting and swaying.  As he came to rest in the proper position, he stopped suddenly and fixated his gaze upon Raynala.  The time had come for the Naming Ceremony to occur.  It was up to her now.

Raynala gasped and emitted a hollow shrill sigh before finding her nerve and her voice.  “May I call upon the Gods and hope that this pleases them, this child’s name shall be Aryanalarayna,” Raynala proclaimed through clenched teeth as she winced.  She had stuttered in the Naming Ceremony and, although she had recovered, she desperately hoped that the misspoken moment would not cost the baby girl her life.

The Recorder of Newborns pressed the tip of the pen to paper in the giant book on the cart before himself.  A faint glow emanated from the page and then faded away as he traced over the letters.  Nothing happened.  He looked up and gazed at the young mother smiling.

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“So it is written, so it shall be,” the Recorder of Names exclaimed.  “You have chosen wisely.”  He rose from his perch overseeing the hospital bed where the young woman lay with the infant.  He turned and wheeled the cart with the tome recording all living and dead persons out of the room and down the hall towards the next uneasy new mother’s room, chanting and swaying.

A bronzed baby bootie fading away into a field of luminous pink flowers
Fading Away
Pink cherry blossoms fading away into light
Pink Flowers Fading Away

You can find more of Jennifer Weigel’s horror stories, reviews and art here on Haunted MTL and check out more of her writing on her website at Jennifer Weigel Words.

image of the writer with crow headdress and dark makeup, backlit by the sun
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

Jennifer Weigel is a multi-disciplinary mixed media conceptual artist residing in Kansas USA. Weigel utilizes a wide range of media to convey her ideas, including assemblage, drawing, fibers, installation, jewelry, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, video and writing. You can find more of her work at: https://www.jenniferweigelart.com/ https://www.jenniferweigelprojects.com/ https://jenniferweigelwords.wordpress.com/

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. J.M. Faulkner

    March 22, 2022 at 12:37 pm

    “Russian Roulette” with children – a terrifying prospect

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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 Series

Nightmarish Nature: Komodo Dragons

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This time on Nightmarish Nature, we are considering Komodo Dragons.  These awesome lizards are the largest in the world and are native to Indonesia.  The lizards don’t get to be full-sized without feasting on a lot of meat and are known to prey on animals notably larger than themselves, even including deer and water buffalo.  But honestly, they pretty much eat anything they can get a hold of, including smaller Komodo Dragons.

Tongue-tied Komodo Dragon drawing by Jennifer Weigel
Tongue-tied…

Beyond Bad Breath

If you’ve ever wondered just how far really bad oral hygiene can take you, then look no further.  Although the Komodo lacks the bite strength to employ strangulation as an attack strategy, like crocodiles do, it is a dangerous and formidable hunter.  Long assumed to be the result of bacterial infection, Komodo bites are outright deadly, and this is in part due to their thick viscous saliva.  It’s all about the spit, ’bout the spit, that trouble. Eat your hearts out, Rottweilers, you ain’t got nothing on this.

And Komodo Dragons rend their victims’ flesh with serrated teeth and saw into the muscle, adding to the wounds’ ability to fester. Because of course they do. If you want to see some horrifying pictures of how this plays out, you can read about it in this NIH National Library of Medicine account of a zookeeper attack and recovery, complete with full color images not for the feint of heart.  Just wow, what a meaty mess…

All about the spit Komodo Dragon drawing by Jennifer Weigel
All about the spit…

Bacteria Versus Venom

It has more recently been shown that Komodos, like other Monitor lizards, actually do possess venomous saliva, and that this can inhibit clotting and cause blood loss, paralysis, and extreme pain, symptoms previously believed to result from bacterial infection.  It’s possible that their bite contains some of both, and in reality the why doesn’t matter so much as the ewww factor.

So regardless of whether there is venom or bacteria at play, a Komodo Dragon’s bite is nasty nasty.  Like you don’t want any part of those so-called love nips, even more so than with sharks.  (Side tidbit: male sharks have a propensity for biting during mating, so female sharks’ hides are thicker to withstand this sort of engagement.  In fairness, sharks use their teeth to explore the world around them, so this comes as no surprise really.)

"Hey baby..." You look good enough to eat shark drawing by Jennifer Weigel
“Hey baby…” You look good enough to eat

If you enjoyed this bite of Nightmarish Nature, please check out past segments:

Vampires Among Us

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Perilous Parenting

Freaky Fungus

Worrisome Wasps

Cannibalism

Terrifying Tardigrades

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Reindeer Give Pause

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Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Reindeer Give Pause

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So reindeer aren’t generally thought of as all that scary, unless you have elafiphobia.  But since it is the holiday season and they are among the most celebrated animals this time of year, here are some fun facts about reindeer and their deer kin that are weird and even a bit creepy.

Female reindeer also have antlers and continue to grow them during Christmastime, whereas the males shed theirs in November.  So the antlered reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh are girls.

Girl reindeer all dolled up and ready to go drawn by Jennifer Weigel
Girl reindeer all dolled up and ready to go

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Some reindeer make a clicking sound as they walk so they can stay together as they travel through adverse weather.  Better than yelling “Marco” (or “Polo” in response) around every bend…

Deer have very good night vision and reindeer can even see ultraviolet light, which helps them to spot predators and find food in the arctic.  Speaking of food, deer have been known to gnaw on bones or flesh (including that of humans) and even eat small animals like birds and mice.

Vampire Deer

Some deer species, like Musk Deer, grow fang-like tusks instead of antlers, making them appear vampirish. They use their tusks like other deer use their antlers, with males fighting one another during breeding season.  Tusks also come in handy when foraging for food and fending off predators.  Plus they really up the deer’s Goth presence…

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"Vampire" musk deer drawn by Jennifer Weigel
“Vampire” musk deer

And if you’re into teeth, upper canines among whitetail deer are rare and have been highly prized.  They’ve even been incorporated into prehistoric necklaces and royal jewelry, ‘cause teeth used as decorative accents are always a bit macabre.

Previously on Nightmarish Nature

So there are some fun, somewhat creepy facts about deer.  If you enjoyed this bite of Nightmarish Nature, please check out past segments:

Vampires Among Us

Perilous Parenting

Freaky Fungus

Worrisome Wasps

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Cannibalism

Terrifying Tardigrades ?

Oh, and in the spirit of the holidays, here’s the reindeer’s top pick for a Christmas song, Must Be Santa as sung by Bob Dylan

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