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Welcome to the sixth and final story in the Spring Horror Collection for 2022, where Haunted MTL’s writers craft original tales of terror with the fresh scent of grass. Enjoyed Sawn Asunder and want more? Stave off your Hay Fever, slip between the corn rows and leaf through the five previous amazing stories!

For more original stories, check out Haunted MTL’s Original Creations.


“Sawn Asunder”

In a piddling village scoffed at by pedlars and highwaymen alike, a cockerel shrilled alarm at first light, awaking Dalibor from a restless sleep. The shuttered window stood ajar, breathing cool air, and the sawmill’s thatched roof opposite whistled with birdsong. Smoke puffed from the chimney, so Mr. Tesařík was already about business.

Yawning, Dalibor rolled onto his shoulder and discovered himself fastened knuckle-to-knuckle, every digit, with his twin brother Ludvík.

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He batted his eyelids, washed the sleep smudging his vision, but couldn’t unsee the listless hands coupled there on the blanket.

And he could imagine nothing worse than being bound to Ludvík, who picked on smaller boys and hurled stones at scampering dogs; Ludvík who dangled little Gita Pecková over the village well, threatening to drop her into the abyss and bring the bucket down on her head, until Dalibor and Gita had cried themselves crimson.

He made a fist, as though to reel back and punch his brother–the attached palm leapt to his and clapped. At the sound, Ludvík’s eyelids whipped wide open.

A scream rose in Dalibor’s throat–they really were joined at the first knuckle, near the fingernail, like five arrows splitting as many dowels, skin encroaching like lichen on bark–and a matching terror reflected in his brother’s eyes.

Ludvík threw out his free hand and snagged Dalibor’s lip. “Get off me!”

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Downstairs, Grandma Irma sprinkled more grain in the quern stone, her forehead moist despite the morning cool. Her turning arm bulged under her sleeve, dense as a rock. In another hour she’d have flour, and the boys, having slept through the daily grind, could celebrate their twelfth birthday by kneading dough and baking bread.

A bang on the ceiling. One of the twins screamed…

By the time Irma waddled upstairs and untangled them, the damage had been done. The twins had kicked, scratched and clawed themselves bloody with their free limbs. The bed was upturned, furniture broken, and enough feathers littered the floorboards from their pillows that she actually looked for a plucked goose. Panting, she stood over the boys, who lay exhausted, ugly and inseparable. A trickle of blood dribbled down her chin, the price of intervention.

“The devil taken you, boys?” She swooned, faint suddenly. “If your mother could see you… What sin? W-wh… What wicked sins of the flesh?”

It had been some fifty years since her heart had been disturbed into beating so fast. Her brother had tied two cats together by the tail, sacked them, and slung them under her sleeping blanket while she drowsed. The wailing cats, the cackling of her tormentor, sent her flying from the house. She wept behind the drinking well, raking the hair from her scalp until her mother swept her off the grass.

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“Are you cursed?” Irma wiped the blood from her chin. “God’s punished you!”


The adults were whispering among themselves, but Dalibor didn’t have to strain to hear them. Their state of agitation didn’t permit them to speak below an emphatic hiss.

“Could be another month before the physician visits.” Mr. Tesařík tipped his cap and rushed his fingers through his fringe.

“If he visits,” said the seamstress, Ms. Irglová. She was the quietest of the three, and Dalibor didn’t like her tone, like he and his brother were already a lost cause.

“Then what do we do?” Irma blubbered. “Pray? I’ve prayed all morning, and now the boys are joint up to the wrist. Praying, I could hear the skin growing, like cloth tearing–where will it stop? At the elbow? Shoulder?”

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“Mrs. Fibichová… Irma, if I may–” He glanced at the boys, then stepped closer to their grandmother. Ms. Irglová leaned in, and this time the talking was quiet but no less animated.

“I don’t like it,” Dalibor said.

Ludvík grinned. Grinned! “Afraid I’ll be the dominant hand?”

“How can you jape at a time like this? Don’t you see what they’re going to do to us?”

To the left of where they were seated lay a wooden bed of sorts. A small building stood at the foot of it, housing a series of cogs in different diameters; one the width of a stallion. The village stream sloshed behind the building. At the head of the bed, among the great beams and levers, menaced the vertical, serrated saw Mr. Tesařík used for cutting lumber.

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“It’s for their own good,” Mr. Tesařík said, a lump in his throat. “D’you have your needle ready?”

Dalibor shut his eyes while the carpenter spoke. The seamstress said nothing, but Dalibor imagined a tremulous nod.

Ludvík pulled the joined arms. “No, you can’t do this to us.” A scrape on the ground ahead. “Come near me grandmother and I’ll bite you.”

The women grabbed Dalibor, and Mr. Tesařík seized a kicking, teeth gnashing, foaming at the lips Ludvík.

“We’ll be sawn asunder. Fight, Dailbor–we’ll bleed out.”

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They tied the boys either side of the saw bed, the joined arms stretched across it, and Dalibor could but shiver.

Mr. Tesařík pulled a lever, bang. Behind the building, the water wheel started to life, and the saw began a languid bob.

“I’ll kill you,” Ludvík shrieked. “Send you all to hell!”

Irma glanced at the carpenter doubtfully. “Are you sure about this?”

The saw lurched.

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The cockerel crowed at first light, and Dalibor awoke from a restless sleep. His grandmother snoozed in an armchair beside the bed, a bubble blowing from her lips. Last thing he remembered, he had fainted away, blood everywhere. Wailing.

But now he had two, fully-formed hands on his lap. Was it all a nightmare? He fancied he had heard the skin growing in his sleep–the tearing his grandmother described. Whatever, now he only wanted to embrace her.

But he couldn’t move, nor could he speak.

Nana? Nana!

And then his fingers twitched, unprompted. His jaw hinged open below bulging, incredulous eyes. He heard a mean, weaselly little voice inside that turned his blood ice cold.

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“Hey, Dalibor? Are you in there?”


A picture of a water powered sawmill in Spain.
A Spanish water powered sawmill.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Jennifer Weigel

    March 28, 2022 at 10:15 am

    Interesting and eerie take on reabsorption. Love the backwoods setting and family history , kind of makes you wonder if this sort of thing has happened before and again…

    • J.M. Faulkner

      March 31, 2022 at 4:39 am

      Thank you. I enjoyed writing in this setting

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Original Creations

Goblins, a Short Story by Jennifer Weigel

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Revisiting the creepy faux fingernail art, I made a couple of goblins… They then ransacked my house. This is their story, as told by myself, Jennifer Weigel.

More faux fingernail art from Jennifer Weigel, featuring wide smiling mouth with red sparkly lipstick and faux fingernail teeth on textured green goblins background
More faux fingernail art from Jennifer Weigel

So it finally happened. My art came to life. And of course it couldn’t be one of the cute pretty pictures, like the sparkly unicorns or the cat drawings. No it had to be the faux fingernail goblins… Ugh. I first encountered them in the bathroom.

I see England.
I see France.
I see someone’s underpants!

Of course you do, it’s the bathroom. That’s totally the room for that. Remind me again why I decided to paint these little green monsters. Ugh. From there, they moved on to the kitchen.

We so tricksy.
We so sly.
We eats all the cherry pie!

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Did they have to eat ALL the cherry pie? Like seriously. But what can I expect, they’re goblins and they’re in the house. Ugh. And honestly they’re just plain gross.

I pick my friend.
I pick nose.
Just whose nose, do you suppose?

Get away from me you obnoxious, vile creatures! I can pick my own nose on my own time, thank you. Ugh. Oh, great, now they’re tearing up the living room.

We be goblins.
We be green.
We be making quite a scene!

No, not the sofa! Now there are little bits of fabric and stuffing flying everywhere. I can see you’re all too pleased with yourselves. Nasty critters. Ugh. Why can’t you just leave?

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I do mischief.
I do bad.
This best party ever had!

I did NOT agree to host your little shindig. Stop tearing up my house! All I know is, it’s about time you moved on to wreak havoc elsewhere. Ugh. Just get out – NOW!

We scare the cat.
We scare you.
We scare all, we care not who!

I may have brought these dreadful disgusting demons into being seeing as how I painted them, but I have no idea what brought them to life or why. What kind of cosmic miscalculation caused this? I need to know so I can avoid it in the future. Ugh. Goblins… need I say more?

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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Original Creations

Faux Fingernails Art by Jennifer Weigel

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So I had some faux fingernails leftover from a costume based modeling session, from posing as Cruella De Vil for the figure drawing group… Here’s a teaser from that modeling session, before the horrible creepy art generation in the aftermath. If you zoom in tight enough, you can see my tiger fingernails, which kept trying to fall off constantly, reminding me why I hate trying to wear the things and why they (d)evolved into art.

Cruella De Vil modeling for figure drawing
Cruella De Vil modeling for figure drawing

My version of Cruella De Vil channels Glenn Close or the original animated character more than the recent Emma Stone variant, but they’re all delightfully devilish.

Anyway, I made this series of “Tiger Sharks” prominently featuring the same tiger faux fingernails, including those used in the Cruella De Vil costume. These “Tiger Sharks” also incorporated some pirate fingernails, because sharks and pirates are tight.

Pirate skeleton hand with faux fingernails
Pirate skeleton hand with faux fingernails

I couldn’t think of a better use for the pirate fingernails than adding them to this skeletal hand. I never actually wore these, they were too hard to come up with something to go with. But I do love the Beetlejuice vibe with the stripes…

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.

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.

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Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Something Rotten, Flesh in Flowers

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This time on Nightmarish Nature we will again explore some of the more fetid fungi and plants, this time focusing on those that imitate rotten flesh in order to attract flies. Among the best known of these are the Stinkhorn and the Corpse Lily or Corpse Flower. The Language of Flowers be damned, literally…

Fungi

Many of the fungi in the Stinkhorn family erupt in mushrooms that reek of rotten flesh and sprout from a white sort of egg sac in various forms, the common type being a phallus like structure with a white body and olive head. The Beefsteak fungus resembles, well, a cut of beef oozing blood. And some mushroom bodies of the Clathrus genus bloom in elaborate lattice structures or devil’s tooth and devil’s fingers that resemble terrifying alien beings. These odoriferous fetid fungi grow in decaying wood material and use their stinky attributes to attract flies and other insects which will then spread the spores from their fruiting bodies. They truly look like something out of an outer space or aquatic nightmare.

Some various fungi that can reek of rotten flesh, drawing by Jennifer Weigel.
Some various fungi that can reek of rotten flesh.

Plants

Some plants also utilize pungent putrid odors to attract flies and other insects, in part to aid in the pollination and dissemination but also to attract insect matter for their own needs, to absorb the insects for valuable nutrients that they cannot otherwise obtain. The largest flowers in the world bear many of these characteristics, also being among the stinkiest. And some pitcher plants mimic rotten flesh to attract flies upon which they “feed”.

The Titan Arum of Sumatra and Indonesia is a plant that over time produces a huge flower somewhat resembling a calla lily but larger as the plant body stores enough energy to do so. While Calla Lilies are often used to symbolize rebirth and resurrection and can be associated with death, often in a funerary setting, the huge Titan Arum does more than that, strongly mimicking decaying flesh in order to attract flies. These flowers can grow to almost 8-feet tall and bloom for only about three days before wilting; they are a huge draw at botanic gardens when flowering because of the rare nature of the event and the remarkable presence that the flower has, in both size and smell. The US. Botanic Gardens has a page devoted to this plant here, where you can even track previous blooms.

Titan Arum flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.
Titan Arum flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.

Another noteworthy flowering plant is Rafflesia, a parasitic flower native to Indonesia and Malaysia that feeds on the liana vine and grows from a sprouting body bud into a huge flower over the course of five years. Its flowers, once finally formed, can grow to almost a meter across and resembles something out of a horror film. These too smell of death and decay to attract flies in order to cross-pollinate. You can learn more about these unusual plants on this video from Real Science here.

Rafflesia flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.
Rafflesia flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.

If you’ve enjoyed this segment of Nightmarish Nature, feel free to check out some previous here:

Vampires Among Us

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Perilous Parenting

Freaky Fungus

Worrisome Wasps

Cannibalism

Terrifying Tardigrades

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Reindeer Give Pause

Komodo Dragons

Zombie Snails

Horrifying Humans

Giants Among Spiders

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