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In 2020, Haunted MTL brought you the 13 Days of Krampus. Now we offer another exclusive series of holiday horror stories: The Twelve Nightmares of the Holidays. It’s day three of 12 Nightmares of the Holidays. If you missed it yesterday, check out Nicole C. Luttrell’s yule terror!


He had been sitting in his blind for about three days now. The quarter-moon beamed soft light onto the surface of the fresh snow. Earlier, a light dusting had come through, masking all signs of activity on the ground. The hunter took a swig from his canteen and sighed quietly, his focus beginning to waver a bit from the exhaustion.

His mind wandered slightly, back to before setting out for the hunt. Packing his equipment onto his sled, his cherubic wife hurried out from the warm orange comfort of their shared workshop. She draped a large white overcoat around his broad shoulders, claiming it would help him hide in the snow. She kissed him on his cheek, handed him a thermos full of piping hot chocolate, and lastly, sent him on his way.

All of a sudden his consciousness snapped back to the present moment as he noticed a large, dark shape stride into the clearing. He quietly leaned forward and stared, laser-focused on the shape as it carefully moved into the dim moonlight. It continued to paw and sniff at the ground, until moving into the clearing and looking at the sky.

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There was no mistaking it. Caribou. And it was massive. Simultaneously, the hunter’s stomach did a small jump and his clutch tightened around the edge of his stool. The hunter quietly, but urgently grabbed at his rifle and a coil of rope moving swiftly from behind the blind.

The moonlight outlined the nightmarish shape. Patches of black hair jutted out sideways, resembling enormous quills. Thick, mucousy sludge fell from its lips between large clouds of breath. Dotted across its body were bleached white bone fragments, whether caught in its coat or piercing out from under its skin. It was too dark to tell. Its legs were thick and pulsing with muscles as if it planned to dash away – or towards – any slight provocation. The antlers sticking out of its head were twisted and jangled like a bunch of broken fingers.

Its’ terrible eyes scanned the nearby area, gradually changing from a deep red to a bright white glow as they moved. It stomped its front foot into the slow and whipped its large head into the air and let loose a bellow that echoed for miles.

The hunter moved into position, behind a tree out of the beast’s eye line while clutching the rope. Indeed, the best way to take this monster alive would be to wrap its antlers and drag it down. The rifle is only for if things go bad. Straightaway, he tied several knots in the rope while moving himself around to behind the trees. Luckily the large white coat was doing a lot of work hiding him from the fresh snow.

Carefully, and quietly, he moved into range and prepared to launch his assault on the monster. His boot slipped on a rock hidden under the snow and scraped against the ground. He saw the monster’s leg muscles tense up into giant knots as it swung its huge head around in his direction. He held his breath as the caribou looked directly into the trees and overgrowth where he was standing. Eventually, the caribou began to look away, deciding that there was no danger present.

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In one swift motion, the hunter threw his massive arms. He launched several lines of rope that landed across the caribous’ enormous shoulders and antlers. With a start, he bucked up and bellowed so loud it knocked snow out of some nearby pines. The hunter quickly yanked on the ropes, pulling the caribou’s head down toward the ground. Antlers grazed against the snow, leaving large gouges in the fresh powder.

In retaliation the caribou swung its entire body around in the opposite direction, jerking him out of the brush line. He stood there, momentarily stunned as the caribou turned to face him. Their eyes met. The caribou lowered its head and pawed at the ground, snorting madly. The hunter quickly fumbled for his rifle, shakily aimed it at the caribou, and clicked the safety off. He knew what was about to come.

The caribou pushed off the ground and threw itself at the hunter, heading towards him at an impossible speed. The hunter popped a shot off his rifle, but his aim wasn’t true – it grazed the caribou’s left shoulder but didn’t slow him down. The caribou seemed to glide across the snow with incredible ease and there was no time to reload the rifle. He held the rifle out in front of him as the caribou pulled its antlers up and a loud CRACK echoed across the forest.

The hunter was thrown backward against a tree and slumped to the bottom. The caribou managed to run a deep cut against his left shoulder. Crimson blood was beginning to soak out of the wound and into the coat. The hunter looked up. The caribou was standing over him, staring directly into his eyes undoubtedly daring him to make the first move. He finally could get a good look at this enormous beast. His head and shoulders were crisscrossed with all kinds of wounds and scars. Its huge figure shuddered with every breath. The glancing blow from the rifle shot seemed to have done more damage than initially thought.

A silhouette of a caribou creature howls at a hunter, grasping his injured left shoulder.
The Caribou confronts an injured hunter

The rope he had managed to land into the antlers was still there. Other bits of rope and netting from others who had tried before dangled in the cold air. He noticed there might be enough rope left over that he could make one last-ditch effort to break this animal. Launching himself at a loose rope by the beast’s side, he swiftly rolled out of the way. The antlered head took a massive swing at his location and smacked hard against the tree.

The caribou was stunned and the hunter took his opportunity to grab the loose rope and drag it into submission. The animal bucked wildly, left and right, shaking its head and honking loudly at the hunter. With every shake of its mighty head, the beast would sling another loop around its antlers, slowly constricting its movement with every wild buck.

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The hunter finally got the beast tied down enough to control it easily. He placed his mittened hand on its nose, shushing it into quietness. It was now under the hunter’s control, fully respected as the winner of their battle of strength. He climbed to his feet and gently adjusted the rope around his neck so he could lead him to his new home.

“You sure gave me a struggle there, lad!” he exclaimed. He winced as the sharp gash in his shoulder suddenly reminded him of its existence. He took the rope in his hands and began to guide the caribou off out of the clearing.

“The wife is going to let me hear it about ruining her new coat,” he chuckled as they both began to walk out of the clearing. “but maybe she’ll change her mind when she sees what a strapping buck will be joining our family. And a quick one too! I’ve not seen one move as fast as you before! Perhaps I will call you… Dasher…”

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jennifer Weigel

    December 17, 2022 at 8:20 am

    This explains oh so ho ho much….

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Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Zombie Snails

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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).

Hungry birds want nummins
Hungry birds want nummins

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.

Snails make questionable food choices, but I guess this comes from being where they are on the ecosystem clean up crew...
Snails make questionable food choices, but I guess this comes from being where they are on the ecosystem clean up crew…

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.

Zombie Snails
Zombie Snails

Mind-Control

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.

Birds love their grubs and maggots and other nummins, even if they are just zombie snails.
Birds love their grubs and maggots and other nummins, even if they are just zombie snails.

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:

Vampires Among Us

Perilous Parenting

Freaky Fungus

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Worrisome Wasps

Cannibalism

Terrifying Tardigrades

Reindeer Give Pause

Komodo Dragons

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Original Creations

Snails a Whorl Whirl Whore World…

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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.

My friend's whore whorl snail
My friend’s whore whorl snail

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.

My whore snail
My whore snail

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.

Another whore snail, drawn by our friend over Zoom
Another whore snail, drawn by our friend over Zoom

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…

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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. Her friends will remain anonymous for now…

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Original Creations

Have a Dystopian Girls on Film Valentine’s Day

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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…

Valentine's Day card Girls on Film
Girls on Film Valentine’s Day card from Jennifer Weigel

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.

Duran Duran official video

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.

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Unselfie performance art video still
Video still

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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