The street was desolate except for a few stray streetlamps. There hadn’t been many stragglers around these parts; these back alleys of London didn’t see much traffic nowadays. Not since the murders started anyway. But I wouldn’t know anything about that. Wink.
A wailing shriek erupted through the darkness and the rain. A cop car was either hot on the trail or had a hunch about something. I needed to duck and cover, and fast. I dashed into a dusty old storefront to let the wailing sirens scream off into the distance and to get out of the rain for a bit. The rain didn’t bother me near so much as the commotion.
The smell of moldy books permeated the shop. There weren’t really any wares of note; the place was empty save for a smattering of old bookcases bereft of their contents. Despite the lingering odor, there were no books to be found, or anything else for that matter. There was nobody around to greet me, except for a strange object perched on the front table by an antiquated cash register.
It more or less resembled a baby doll head and other detritus on a metal structure. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen, like some sort of horrific creation by one of those nasty children that harvested all of their sister’s dolls for parts. I grinned as I recollected my misspent youth. Eventually the dolls gave way to a bigger and brighter enterprise – harvested bits can get you a long way, you know. Even a crooked tooth can fetch a pretty penny if you know who’s in the market…
The cop car wailed past, off towards some unseen calling. Good riddance. The cops typically never take much interest in these parts, which is part of why I’d picked this as my stomping grounds. Less attention can go a long way. Smile. Yeah, a couple of vagrants had died here already. And sure, they’d started an investigation. But it wasn’t going anywhere fast, and it wasn’t likely to. No sense in moving on just yet.
The damn doll head continued to drill holes into my psyche. What was even more disconcerting was the fact that I could sense that it was watching me. Not that there was anything to show for it, since the eyes never blinked nor dilated or anything. But nonetheless, it was following my every movement, I was certain of it. I wanted to reach out and smash its head in but something within me dared not draw too close.
Still, the shopkeep would be an easy mark and there was no one to be found out and about given the weather and the recent circumstances. The remaining vagrants had cleared out save for myself. Best not keep my buyers waiting… I ducked behind a nearby bookcase and called out to the empty storefront, “Hello! Anybody here?” A gust of wind outside the window roared in response. I clutched my dagger close under the fold of my coat. Nobody came. I peered out toward the register.
Suddenly, the doll’s eyes flashed a blinding beacon of white light before returning to their vacant stare, as if I had been caught in the flash of a camera. A hollow shrill sound like a mechanical chime echoed forth from within the bizarre creature and was gone again only a moment after. What a creepy security system.
I was most definitely being watched and decided to take to the street again. I had to get out of there. Briskly, I left the dusty vacant storefront and crept out into the rain. I could still feel the doll’s gaze at my rear, causing the hairs on my neck to jolt and prickle from the wayward energies charging the air between us.
I swaddled myself in my trench coat as I turned away from the building to slink into the nearby alley. From there, a flash of light greeted me and I heard a familiar mechanical chime, My heart sunk in my chest. I turned slowly to see the baby doll headed creature a little ways down the alley studying me with those same hollow eyes from atop its metal tower. Only moments before it had been perched by the cash register in the vacant storefront and now here it was in the alley.
My mind reeling, I turned back towards the storefront and picked up my pace, heading for the park across the street. What was that thing? Why was it following me? Who knew? I stopped under a burnt out streetlamp and stared back towards the alley and vacant storefront. Nothing. The rain drummed down in silvery streaks across the street, flickering into and out of focus. I shuffled over to the park bench I knew would be waiting for me. Sigh.
As I glanced over my shoulder at the street, I saw it again. The same creepy baby-doll-head-watchtower-thing. It just stood sentry, offering no clue as to how it had gotten there. My fear gave way to hate, boiling and festering beneath my skin. No one was on to me; I’d covered all my tracks perfectly. Whatever this was, it had to go. Anger welled up in me. I stalked over to the thing and stared at it. It stood there unmoving, staring blankly ahead.
My hand drew back in slow motion, knife in tow. I lunged forward at the creature, intent on smashing it in. The butt end of the knife met porcelain as I made contact with the baby doll head, sinking into the fragile surface as if it were an egg. It gave way, shattering into a million points of light as it emitted one last bright flash and mechanical chime. I recoiled and stared at the scene before me as it came into focus.
“Don’t move,” a cop shouted from the car, hunched behind the driver’s side door like it was a riot shield. Another cop had his sights trained on me from the passenger door, I could feel the weight of his itchy finger at the trigger of his gun. The cop car headlight lay smashed and shattered at my feet, glass strewn everywhere.
You can read another tale of creepy doll head mayhem by Jennifer Weigel on Haunted MTL here.
You can read more of Jennifer Weigel’s writing here on Jennifer Weigel Words.
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.