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?”
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Reanimating Dead Art with Monsters by Jennifer Weigel
Dead art… It’s a thing that happens, sadly. Typically found at thrift and antique stores or dumpster diving or by the side of the road. But art is never really dead, just resting… Here are some reanimated paintings I made by incorporating nail polish monsters into existing art.
Let’s face it – reworking old abandoned artworks with monsters kind of rocks. For awhile they were all over the internet. I admit, it took me a long time to muster up the courage to paint into someone else’s grandmother’s art, but once I started I just couldn’t stop. From top to bottom, left to right we have: Zombies, Unicorn, Siren, Krakken, Harpies, Sasquatch, Alien Invasion, Witch, and Serpent.
The dragon is probably my favorite. All of the shades of red are really vibrant and striking against the green. And dragons are always so classic and grandiose and terrifying, perfect for pairing with a mountain landscape. I love painting with nail polish for the sparkle, even if the fumes do get kind of noxious en masse. (The best subject to paint in this media is Rocky Horror style lips by the way, in case you were wondering.)
And what better way to complete the collection than with a portrait of a Fairy Queen, her icy stare drilling into your soul. She’s up to some sort of magical mischief, that’s for sure.
And speaking of magical mischief, this is the monster painting I made just for me. The original artwork is about 4 feet long and I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted to reanimate it in this exact way for all that this is the last in the series that I did. I even added extra shimmer factor. I’d initially considered adding a sea serpent or a dragon but no, she told me to stop.
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.
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.
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…
March 31, 2022 at 4:39 am
Thank you. I enjoyed writing in this setting