Kyle opened the fridge to grab a beer. “Hey, bro. How could you?”
“What, man?” Darius hollered towards the kitchen from the living room, still engrossed in his WWII Flying Aces game, his fingers dancing rapidly over the controller as he shot down enemy planes.
“You ordered pizza without me!” Kyle retorted. “And the last piece has mushrooms… you know I hate the fungi, bro.”
“What pizza?” Darius asked, still focused on his game as he leaned left with the wing of his aircraft as it tilted to avoid a retaliatory strike.
Kyle sauntered into the living room, beer in hand. “What pizza?” he quipped as he rolled his eyes. “The one in the fridge in the Pie Shack box with the last lonely fungi-ridden piece of crap in it…” he jeered.
“I didn’t get a pizza, man,” Daruis shrugged as he flew into a tailspin and crashed to the ground, struck down by enemy fire. Again. “You’re breaking my jive, man,” he said as he tossed the controller to the cluttered coffee table and got up to investigate. He walked purposefully but nonchalantly to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator.
Sure enough, there was a Pie Shack pizza box there, on that weird mid-level shelf that’s too short to hold much of anything useful (like beer), above the well-stocked sea of Brew-skee Lowball Lager below, which took up the entire bottom shelf. Darius opened the box to find a single piece of thin crust pizza bearing cheese, onions, peppers and mushrooms. But no sausage. He’d have ordered sausage.
“I dunno, man,” he replied as he grabbed a beer and popped the can tab. “Pie’s not mine, no sausage…” He returned to his game.
Kyle wandered down the hall shaking his head and mumbling, “Whatever, bro.”
The next morning, there were two slices of pizza in the box where the one had been the night before, both the same kind smothered in cheese, onions, peppers and funky wrinkled up black mushrooms. Kyle smirked and grabbed a half-gallon jug of white liquid that was supposed to be milk out of the fridge door. He unscrewed the cap, gave it a sniff, and put it back. He grabbed the pizza and dissected it, removing the offending fungi and flicking them into the box lid before he stuffed the rest of the slice in his mouth. After devouring both pieces, he tossed the box and mushroom bits in the trash and left. Darius was still crashed out in his room.
After work, Kyle returned to find a new pizza box on the mid-level shelf above the Brew-skee. The text on this box was greasy and obscured and almost appeared to read Pi Shaq.
“Who’s using our fridge?” he yelled down the hall.
Darius moaned. “What?!” he shouted back from behind his closed door.
“Someone’s using our fridge, bro,” Kyle hollered as Darius stumbled down the hall and into the kitchen, scratching his head.
“Really, man?” Darius shrugged and popped his shoulders. He overflowed a bowl with Captain Crunch cereal and opened the fridge. “Where’s the milk?”
“I dunno. It should be in there,” said Kyle. “There’s another pizza…”
They opened the Pi Shaq box to find a half of a large pizza, thick crust with red sauce and unappetizing green tentacles. As the dim yellow warmth of the kitchen overhead light radiated over them, the tentacles appeared to almost… move… Darius massaged his brow and shook his head as they closed the lid on the box, returning the tentacles to their dark comfort, and put it back in the fridge.
“It’s gotta be those guys Brad and Marcus from 4B effing with us,” he said as he dumped half the remaining pot of coffee on his cereal and proceeded to shovel it into his mouth with what would have otherwise been a serving spoon.
“Fine,” retorted Kyle. “I’ve got the tech – we’ll set ‘em up, Candid Camera style…”
“Whatever, man,” Darius replied as he retreated to his room, his bowl of coffee Captain Crunch in tow.
Kyle set up the webcam later that day, aimed and timed perfectly so that the motion sensor would set it off anytime anyone opened the refrigerator door. But the only footage he got was of Darius grabbing a beer later that afternoon.
Yet, that evening when they returned from a Chinese run to the Red Devil up the street, they opened the fridge to find that the Pi Shaq box with the green tentacle pizza was gone. And now there was a tripped out head in a jar in its place, shoved into the back right hand corner of the fridge on the top shelf. Darius turned it around towards the corner, “so it’ll stop staring at us, man.”
Kyle dropped off his leftover Kung Pao Chicken and closed the refrigerator door. He tweaked the webcam, tied up the trash with the first Pie Shack pizza box, and took it out to the dumpster. Darius returned to his WWII Flying Aces game, beer in hand.
Later that night, Kyle opened the fridge to find that his Kung Pao Chicken was gone and the head jar was facing forward again. A platter of what appeared to be sushi filled the mid-level shelf where the pizza boxes had appeared. The overstuffed sushi rolls were filled to the brim with the same green tentacles, which writhed slowly when exposed to light. Bulbous fish eyes in the middle of the tentacles seemed to follow their every move.
“Bro, check this out,” Kyle called to Darius. Darius paused his game, wandered into the kitchen and had a look. Together, they stared at the wriggling mass in silence.
“I don’t think it’s Brad and Marcus,” Darius finally spoke. “What is it, man?”
“I dunno,” Kyle exclaimed.
“Well then, what should we do with it?” Darius asked.
Kyle grabbed the head jar and the platter and heaved them both into the trashcan, which was outfitted with a fresh new bag from after he’d taken out the previous Pie Shack box earlier. They landed with a soft thud as they hit the empty bottom of the plastic bin. He tugged the bag off of the edges of the trashcan, tied it off in a haphazard knot, and handed it to Darius. “Your turn, bro,” he said.
Darius dragged the mess to the dumpster and hoisted it in. When he returned they opened the fridge and stared.
It was completely empty. There was no pizza, no milk, no Kung Pao Chicken, no sushi, no head jar… Even the empty glass butter dish that had come with the fridge was gone. But, most notably, the sea of Brew-skee Lowball Lager had vanished – there was no more beer to be found!
The refrigerator found itself on the curb beside the dumpster that very same night.
Ppppfffftttt, an RPG story by Jennifer Weigel
Poised Potion Poison Potential, an RPG story by Jennifer Weigel
(There – I finally said it! Second time’s the charm. Can we move along now?)
So I think Barbarella is losing it. Like she’s been sneaking healing potions. We never did manage to get to an alchemist before she downed one of those unmarked flasks we got off the goblins when we took their lair. Yeah, we all know they’re healing potions but I can’t help but think the goblins weren’t getting their goods legit. I mean, they are goblins, ‘nuff said. And I’ve heard some of the black market varieties have other weird properties too, so I fear maybe she’s gotten a bad one or something.
Anyway, she’s been acting strange, spending a lot of time by herself. And not working out, like usual, but rather rifling through the treasure trove. Not that she’s at all sneaky about it. I mean c’mon, it is Barbarella after all. She’s kind of the polar opposite of discreet. She’s always been more of a don’t-tread-on-me and mess-with-my-buddies-mess-with-my-war-axe kind of a girl.
It’s making Squidge suspicious. Yeah I know, Squidge is a bit edgy anyway, but they’re acting even more so now. They seem to have an even tighter grip on whatever things they’ve stashed away all up in that cloak of holding or whatever it is that they never take off and that makes it hard to remember much of anything about them. Hell, I don’t even know what gender they are, not that it matters anyway. I don’t concern myself with what Squidge is or isn’t up to so I don’t really care; generally the best is to assume the worst and move on. Nosing around in Squidge’s business is like begging for a stab wound to the back in your sleep, if you know what I mean. But they’ve been acting even more paranoid than normal, so I think they’ve noticed that something is off too.
You know, it’s been a long time since I’ve even had to down a healing potion; I tend to stay in the far back and let the other two hack n slash, it’s safer that way. And health elixirs aren’t my cup-of-probiotic-smoothie-protein-tea (it’s all too snake oil salesman fad craze diet antioxidant stuff for me). I’m more of a freewhellin fireball flingin kind of spell-slinger. The healing arts magics are a bit too… mushy gushy lovey dovey for me.
We aren’t a goody-two-shoes fixer-upper team, more of a nice-fill-in-the-blank-I-think-I’ll-take-it kind of ensemble. You know the type. #thuglifeforever. But times like this do make me wish we had a paladin or a cleric or even a druid to tag along. Where do you find the moral high grounders when you need them anyway? Sure, I guess I could go to a church or something, but some of the lesser evil critters I’ve wagered pacts and bargains with may not take too kindly to that. And the nature nice guys are all save-the-treants which generally doesn’t mesh with the whole fireball jive.
I guess Squidge could ask someone, but they only really talk to The Guild and just in that you-don’t-stab-my-back-I-don’t-stab-yours kind of sense, so we don’t have anyone to consult with on these kinds of things. It’s certainly not worth seeking out a 100 gp pearl for a wizened old wizard to snort for further clarity, even if the relative scarcity and exchange rate has made them significantly smaller and easier to haul around at this juncture, assuming you can find them at all. I swear, if the alchemists didn’t need to get high to get anything done it’d be a whole lot easier for everyone. And don’t even get me started on the Oracle, that nympho dominatrix bitch. Suffice to say I will NOT be going back there anytime soon, for ANY reason.
So here we are. Maybe whatever it is’ll pass on its own. But I noticed a couple more of those goblin healing potions have gone missing. We all know they don’t work if you aren’t hurt. And I swear I saw Barbarella take her own axe to the shin before she downed one when she thought I wasn’t looking during my nightly séance with the campfire flames. My cohorts don’t realize I can actually do more than it seems from my ritual state. The demonspawn that grant me my powers aren’t always all-engrossing, especially if I’m channeling things I’ve done a bajillion times already and not trying to harness something new. Frankly sometimes it’s best to tune the spirits out since they pontificate at length for no reason, but I suppose I’m not one to talk.
I keep coming back to this thought though. Why would Barbarella hurt herself just to chug a stupid goblin potion anyway? Usually those dares go the other way. Goblin potions taste like bad grog two days following a dwarven ale upchuck hangover, and that’s if you’re lucky. Often they’re worse. And they’re not even that good as far as healing elixirs, mending maybe a minor flesh wound at best. They’re crappy, no getting around it, and a last resort at best. Why would she deliberately go out of her way to drink that shit?
You know, there’s a whole stash of the things left, and I am a bit down on health myself. Maybe I should try one to see what the allure is. Perhaps the camaraderie and shared experience could help me get Barbarella to sober up and leave the toxic sludge alone. Or at the very least, maybe I’ll understand what she sees in them. Perhaps they’re new and improved, but I seriously doubt it seeing as how they’re still just ill-obtained swag we got off some low-level goblins. You know, no one ever really gives goblins anything worth having unless they’re trying to exploit them in some way, and even then it’s really not worth it, seeing as how the goblins don’t have anything anybody wants to barter…
I swear those potions were in this satchel here; we had like over 100 of the things. Oh, here’s one, way down in the bottom of the bag having fallen under some of the other crap we looted that wasn’t worth much of anything. Wow I really had to dig deep to fish that out, and it’s only been about a week since the goblins’ lair… In the light looks like the same ol’ ordinary purple black pink tinged sludge we normally find, a tad more sparkle factor but not enough to care. Now why are Barbarella and Squidge both looking at me like I’m holding the golden goose egg of everlasting mana and fingering their weapons?
If you enjoyed this RPG story by Jennifer Weigel, perhaps you will want to see some art from previous campaigns or read the Twilight saga, both on Haunted MTL here.
Check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s writing here at Jennifer Weigel Words.
Nightmarish Nature: Vampires Among Us
This is the kickoff to a new series exploring nature that is kind of horrifying, at least in ways. Our first subject is Vampires Among Us. There are lots of animals named for vampires, sometimes due to folklore and sometimes for their appearance (like the Vampire Squid), but most of these animals don’t have blood sucking tendencies.
Bats & Birds
There are legit vampire leaf-nosed bats in Central and South America that drink blood. They feed on mammals and are often shown to feed on livestock. They’d be kinda cute if they weren’t so creepy. There are also vampiric birds: some finches in the Galapagos have developed the taste for blood of other birds, mainly seabirds that flock to the islands to raise their young.
Leeches & Lampreys & More
And then you get into leeches and lampreys and other denizens of the water that are known to attach themselves to larger creatures and drink their blood. Leeches were even believed to have medicinal value (and still are in certain circumstances). And there are also numerous plants that are known to be parasitic and feed on other plants, wrapping their roots or vines around others to steal nutrients.
Now I’m going to drift off into the realm where this becomes truly horrific. Spiders. Now, spiders aren’t vampires per se, seeing as how they actually kill their prey – they don’t just feed off of it while it remains living and wanders about its business. But because of their structure, they cannot eat solid foods, so they have to inject their prey with enzymes to liquefy it so they can slurp it out like a protein shake. That’s sort of vampirism on steroids if you ask me, just the kind that no one is coming back from.
But let’s get back on topic. Now let’s consider mites and ticks and fleas and mosquitoes and the like. Some drink blood for their survival; others do so as part of their reproductive cycle (like mosquitoes which otherwise eat fruit and nectar but need the extra protein from blood to grow their eggs).
Ticks need to feed on blood once at every stage of their life cycle and can pick up diseases along the way (like Lyme Disease) but don’t always do so. Different ticks are more likely to come in contact with different things and often humans are not their preferred meal but they are opportunistic and will feed on whatever is available when necessary. Symptoms of illness from tick bites may take years to develop and can have really weird side effects (like the allergy associated with Lone Star Ticks which makes a person unable to consume mammalian flesh).
Anyway, here are some brief glimpses of vampirism in nature. Thank you for joining us for Nightmarish Nature and may you avoid getting bitten by any true vampires among us… And I still think spiders take first place in the creepy eating category here, even if they aren’t technically vampiric.
Buried Treasure by “Dread Pirate” Jennifer Weigel
This story came to me in a sort of roundabout way from a rather unusual source. So I thought I’d share it with you, dear readership, and see if you can make heads or tails of it. – Jennifer Weigel
Dread Pirate Rum Tum Tugger could tell this was the right spot.
The site, beneath the sweeping limbs of the Live Oak, Spanish Moss swaying gently in the breeze, was a perfect match to the crude map he had bought off that soothsayer Deuteronomy.
The earth moved easily, as if it had been excavated previously. He dug in with greater fervor with each swipe. The sandy soil gave way to reveal something hard. He scooped and smoothed the remaining detritus from the surface as he uncovered a box.
The carton was simple.
No markings; no ornamentation; no writing. Just a plain cardboard crate, brittle from having been buried for so long but still sturdy. He hoisted it from its burrow.
“Ha HO!” he shouted to the passing breeze, rousing a small cloud of birds that erupted from a nearby thicket. They captured his attention for a moment, but he quickly refocused and returned to his task.
The box was locked but no difference.
Any self-respecting ruffian like himself could pick a lock in seconds. And he did so with panache, as was his way. He pried the lid open and licked his lips.
Inside was the legendary Kernel of Eternal Life, a small sparrow’s heart, still beating.
Artwork description: Myself as Dread Pirate Queen Miss Kitty wearing black bell sleeve shirt and black vinyl skirt with strapping leather belt over leopard print shirt and tights, with strapping leather boots, pirate head wrap and leopard cat ears.
Image text reads: Purr! Avast ye mateys, Dread Pirate Queen Miss Kitty invites ye to check out her booty stash and dig ye up a dungbie prize. Seek ye some buried treasure! Just grab ye a plastic litter scoop and dig… dig… dig… to ye heart’s content.
I created this image for a promotional poster for a performance piece in a charity art show in which I, as Dread Pirate Queen Miss Kitty, hawked a carnival sideshow style sidewalk installation. For a mere $5 donation to the animal shelter the show supported, gallery goers could dig around in a kiddie pool full of litter to find a prize: a cheap plastic trinket from the dollar store. I had some takers, including one kid who seemed to really enjoy the digging and whose parents were all in, saying “You know, you can totally do that at home too.”
For more cat antics, we invite you to read C-2747’s logbook here on Haunted MTL. 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.