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.
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.
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!”
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.
“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?”
“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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
“Hey, Dalibor? Are you in there?”
Nightmarish Nature: Zombie Snails
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).
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.
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.
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.
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:
Snails a Whorl Whirl Whore World…
So a friend and I made some artsy snails awhile back. Essentially this was in response to her granddaughter proclaiming that her favorite animals are whorl snails. My friend heard “whore snails” and was a bit perturbed that the child would use such a word so nonchalantly, whether or not she knew what it meant. But then again toddler-speak is like that sometimes… Anyway, it stuck.
So we made some whore snails, all glammed up and ready to go. We started with these flat metal snails and then painted and decorated them, to whore them up a bit. I figured this would be apropos after my recent Valentine’s Day posts and that the end results were horrifying enough to appear here.
This is my friend’s creation. I especially like the David Bowie star and cherry bling to match her cherry red lipstick. The purple shell is a great color on her too. I think my friend went back and decorated her shell more after the fact, but I didn’t see the snail after those changes.
And here’s my whore snail. She’s a bit more of an ice queen with her deceptively lovey-dovey eyes and mouth full of poison darts, like the underwater snails do. I believe I called her a Hoar Whore Whorl Snail as when the discussion first came up I heard “hoar” and thought of hoarfrost. Hence the ice queen take…
And another friend joined us via Zoom just to visit and have fun making art together.
This little Zoomed in snail is kinda cute, like she’s out on the beach in her bikini… Mixed media on paper.
So if that wasn’t disturbing enough, check out my inappropriate Shrinky Dinks posted here before, or maybe this Eye Candy Peeps Easter basket, both taking some innocuous thing(s) turning into something… else…
Have a Dystopian Girls on Film Valentine’s Day
So it’s finally actually Valentine’s Day, and thus marks the final segment of our dysfunctional dystopian romance. So far, we’ve survived both Gen X and Krampusnacht, what else could possibly be in store? Girls on Film…
Image description: Video camera umbrella shower succubus stares through the lens at the viewer, surrounded by eerie Cthulhoid horror embellishments with text.
Text reads: Happy Valentine’s Day; lipstick cherry all over the lens as she’s falling; give me shudders in a whisper; take me up ’til I’m shooting a star; (she’s more than a lady)
OK so this Valentine’s Day dystopia ends in a Duran Duran video, because of course it does. If the video doesn’t load properly, you can find it by following this link. Girls on Film.
Here’s the camera eye succubus all by itself, for your viewing pleasure. Actually this is the original original image from an Unselfie performance art piece in the shower before I decided to forego the umbrella. Girls on Film.