In 2020, Haunted MTL brought you the 13 Days of Krampus. Now we offer another exclusive series of holiday horror stories: The Twelve Nightmares of the Holidays. Here’s our very own Jennifer Weigel kicking it off with Insatiable.
He was a jolly old soul with an all-consuming appetite for winter festivities and seasonal accoutrements. Well, at least those focused on one particular holiday at any rate. The other celebrations of the season sort of shrank into baffled silence in the background, whispering murmured concerns amongst one another while shaking their heads. Trying not to draw attention over the spectacle and to hush… Hush…. HUSH!
Every year, the festivities grew. It was innocuous at first. The celebration just crept into the previous occasions, edging its way over a month ahead into traditions under the premise of spreading more joy while the family was together. Everyone seemed so grateful to gather but really needed more to do, so why not start decking the halls and go shopping? It seemed like a good enough bonding activity, and all of the sales and consumerism were supposed to keep the economy going stronger and bigger, so best go ahead and buy… Buy… BUY!
But as time passed, even that just wasn’t enough. There were simply too few fruitcakes and carolers and peppermint scented candles, too little mulled apple cider and eggnog and evergreen flourishes… There was just not enough time to watch all the movies and hear all the music and taste ALL the cookies… The white powder shimmer snow needed to glisten for longer in all of its faux finery, like magic dust to call forth the beauty and majesty of the coming season, yet to be unleashed upon the eagerly anticipatory crowds. The houses needed to be brighter; their blinking lights signaling to all that they were a part of the larger outpouring of joy… Joy… JOY!
But there was still so much room for growth; there just had to be more. So as his appetite grew larger, the jolly old soul loosened his belt buckle another notch and began to eye the next holiday over yet again, although that occasion was all about spookiness and the unexpected, considering death and decay and dread. But surely there was plenty of space for more baubles and bling and yard ornamentation… Oh sure, everything started out a little spookier, but then the overlap began to really take hold and slowly the change began. Stores morphed the two occasions together into all sorts of shopping opportunities and pumpkin spice became king. Even the eerie began to consider the solace and beauty of the coming winter season, the calm and solitude it brings. Because we all know that skeletons need peace… Peace… PEACE!
Yet, even that was not enough, and the jolly old soul began to edge his way earlier and earlier into the year. July seemed like a reachable goal, for we all know that those who like to craft things need an early enough start to get all their projects in order. Especially if they are making gifts for their parents and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and nephews and nieces and cousins and second cousins and friends and coworkers and mailmen and garbage collectors and kids teachers and bank tellers and acquaintances and so on… And for those who don’t make things, shopping was becoming an even larger and more pressing need, starting earlier and earlier to be sure that all could disperse as many presents of trinkets or baked goods or money as possible, to shower upon all of those aforementioned, in order to show their goodwill… Goodwill… GOODWILL!
And now the jolly old soul’s minions are everywhere, making sure that everything is running smoothly. Keeping watch over all, whether they are being particularly nice or naughty at any given time, whether they remember to leave out extra milk and cookies, to deck the halls, to trim the trees… Earlier and earlier they come, bells jingling, reindeer hooves click-clacking over the rooftops… With rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes, smiling wider and wider… Bearing mistletoe and poinsettias and gingerbread houses and cinnamon spiced nuts and visions of sugarplums and hot cocoa with marshmallows and Charles Dickens and chestnuts roasting over open fires and brightly colored ribbon tied up in bows and paper-wrapped packages and huge feasts with all the trimmings and music and blinking lights and shiny round baubles and plastic icicles and glitter and sparkle and merriment and more… More… MORE!
Nightmarish Nature: Komodo Dragons
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.
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…
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.)
If you enjoyed this bite of Nightmarish Nature, please check out past segments:
Nightmarish Nature: Reindeer Give Pause
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.
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.
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…
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:
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…
Nightmarish Nature: Terrifying Tardigrades
OK so I lied. The dust hadn’t fully settled in Cozmic Debris, the space opry I’d written over the course of this month (you can catch up here with Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). In fact, it’s blown over into Nightmarish Nature for one last final huzzah…
The Last Chapter of Cozmic Debris
Kara-2-6000 had just signed on with the Voyager probe and was eagerly engaged in her first mission, en route to Mars with more components for the terraforming effort. It seemed like a pretty simple gig, cleaning up the space dust that accumulates on the vessel after landing on the red planet. She had been trained to keep her eye on her work and pay attention to details, that the dirt tended to collect in unusual ways in strange places, and that it was critical she contain and seal all of it to keep the spacecraft in proper working order. She entrusted the computer to keep the vessel on track, as it was preoccupied with doing and never engaged otherwise. No matter. She’d never been to space before and the newness of it had her rapt attention. What stories she would have to tell once she paid off her student loans and got her human body back, for surely Mars must be an exciting place…
And now for Nightmarish Nature…
So, this time on Nightmarish Nature we’re visiting Terrifying Tardigrades… Wait, seriously who comes up with this stuff anyway? Tardigrades are actually kinda cute, at least in the nerd fandom sense, and are remarkable in their ability to survive and withstand crazy adverse conditions. For all that the AI art generator doesn’t seem to have much of a clue what their anatomy is like, they really don’t do anything that scary, unless you’re a yummy little single celled critter that lives in moss in which case pretty much everything has it out for you… Oh, I see that the Cozmic Debris space opry usurped this segment. May as well run with it then.
So what’s so terrifying about tardigrades anyway?
So I don’t actually have much to say about tardigrades except that they started this whole crazy journey here on Haunted MTL. A Facebook friend posted a link to the Ze Frank True Facts video on them (linked here if the below video doesn’t load), and I was instantly hooked. It’s a great series and is part of the inspiration behind Nightmarish Nature here on HauntedMTL. So if you like learning about all kind of crazy animal facts and nature weirdness, feel free to check it out. I will mention, the show contains adult themes and is designed for (im)mature audiences, so keep that in mind as you foray into the freaky side of nature, literally.
To more of my Haunted MTL series on Nightmarish Nature about things that are a bit more terrifying, please feel free to revisit previous segments here: