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 (coughcoughcough) of 12 Nightmares of the Holidays. If you missed it, check out the others so far: here for Jen’s, here for Nicole’s and here for Phil’s.
This story takes place in the same universe as my other story, Meat Cute, but with new characters. I hope you enjoy.
Rude hated this time of year and also, hypocritically, loved it. He grew up loving it. The snow. The cold. The silence. The dark. The peaceful blinking of lights on pure, fresh mounds of snow. The way that blood would steam in the cold air, just like breath.
Christmas is a magical time.
It’s also the time where he feels the loneliest.
He really isn’t like these other two-bit serials out here on MONSTR – the dating app for the vile, the diabolic, and the creatures who go hump and bump in the night. And sure, he even had dated a few killer Kringles over the years.
But they were so egotistical and never had room or time on their slay-sleighs for Rude.
Rude was on his own.
Two weeks ago he had a horrible Yeti date that ended with a broken table, a few normies 6-feet under and a lifetime ban at Bennigans. It stung his pride, especially when the Yeti roared it should have eaten him for dinner instead of the overcooked steak, if he wasn’t such a freak.
Rude sighs, looking through the dating app. The people who are trying to get with him are abysmal. Bottom of the barrel. All Santas at the end of their rope or looking for an ironic kill.
Not even a holiday-themed date.
Rude pauses. He’s into Yeti, sure. They have a lot of bulk, lots of fur. Even though the Santa body-type does drive him a bit wild, especially with a real beard to pull- hoo, boy.
But the profile seems a bit mysterious and Rude is starting his descent into desperation.
Finally he replies to the mothman.
Thankfully, it doesn’t take long to get a response back.
Rude reaches up to touch a pointed antler on his head in thought. He’s not sure. Sounds pretty hippy-dippy. Pretty pathetic. Chewing on a carrot, he considers his next steps, but then another ping alerts him.
Shifting uncomfortably, he types back.
It sounds…weird. Rude checks the clock. 8 P.M. on Christmas eve. And he’s alone.
His nose does that weird thing it does when he’s worried or excited, that flutter of life. Red and jittery like Morse code.
Fuck it. Life’s too short to be moping, right?
Directions were promptly sent.
The mothman is huge. Much bigger than Rude imagined. And built. Like, must do bench presses and sit ups every day – completely shredded.
And at first, Rude can’t help but be a bit disappointed by that. He likes, well, bellies that wiggle like a bowl full of jelly. He likes red and white – mothman is a deep black. He likes soft and round – mothman is sleek and gaunt. He likes a gay little twinkle and a loud, “Ho, ho, ho, you’ve been a very bad boy this year!”
Mothman is quiet, stoic. Still and solid like a wall, keeping the cold breeze off of Rude.
But the way mothman’s eyes glow red, hypnotic almost, like dual hearts beating in the empty sockets of his eyes…well, it’s a bit endearing, Rude admits.
They sit together in the woods.
Rude has no clue what’s going on.
He looks around for victims to kill, like maybe there’s a trap somewhere close by, but it seems like it’s just them. Them, the snow, the woods, the wind…and the moon.
A buttery, full moon which makes everything look pallid and sharp.
“You…are human?” Mothman asks, in very slow rumbling words.
“Oh.” Rude pauses. He usually doesn’t get this question from Santas. They understand it. Or maybe not. Maybe just act like they do. Maybe don’t care enough to understand it. “I was part of a genetic experiment. I was human. But now, I’m…not. I’m a freak hybrid.”
Mothman reacts in surprise. “No…you are you.”
“Oh, like, I meant that as a ‘let the freak flag fly, man.’ I don’t mind. In fact, I kind of signed up for it. I always wanted to be a part of Christmas, part of the whole naughty and nice. Who lives and who dies kind of thing. I just got the reindeer genetics, not the jolly fat man genetics. The down side, not the upside.”
Mothman tilts his head, a little like a dog trying to understand. “I don’t think Christmas…is about death…?”
Rude chuckles. “You’re grossly misinformed then. It’s all about life and death. About baby murder and the baby that was going to be murdered later on…plus, you know, my own folks. It just happens.”
He shrugs and his nose does the nervous flutter. It does that whenever he thinks about his parents, murdered on this very night, so many years ago.
“Oh, nose!” Mothman is transfixed.
“Yeah, that’s a side effect from the mutations, unfortunately. Weird glowing nose.” Rude is starting to realize it’s easy to talk to the mothman. He seems mellow. Live and let live, which is unusual for a monster. Usually Rude’s used to monsters like the Yetis, who yell and throw their weight and power around. But here’s the mothman, sitting beside him on a fallen tree, hunched over to be closer to Rude. Sheltering him from the cold like a gentleman.
“Nice…nose glow.” Mothman quietly murmurs and Rude’s nose shines brighter from that.
“Ha, ha, um…yeah. So, you like to kill for sport, leisure, pleasure?” He tries to change the subject, very aware of his nose now.
“I eat…nothing more…Blood comes from Earth…becomes Earth again. No more.” Mothman says quietly, and the rumble of his voice sounds like the movement of snow under your boots. Soft and constant. Lulling.
“Ah, yeah…” Rude says awkwardly, usually excited for the thrill of the hunt with other serials. But. But maybe this is fine, too.
He looks up at the moon, his breath curling into a mist. He’s never had a Christmas like this – slow, quiet, and thoughtful. The last few were an utter bloodbath of rage and testosterone. Of trying to find himself into places he didn’t fit and into relationships where he didn’t belong.
“I think I was angry for a while,” he offers, “Maybe I still am. I’m angry a lot at other people. How they can put away their serial clothes and be normal people. How monsters have their own community. I don’t have that. I just have myself, you know?
“And this time of year is always hard. I just keep looking for something, you know? When does Rudolph get his Christmas? When does he get to say, ‘I told you assholes so’? When do I get to be happy when everyone does it so easily-”
He doesn’t even realize Mothman creeping closer and closer until there he is, right there – one claw held up. And very carefully, with that outstretched claw, Mothman takes it and gently pokes the glowing red nose on Rude’s face. A soft, unexpected boop.
It’s such a silly and random gesture, Rude’s besides himself. Wide-eyed, he looks to the mothman, utterly bewildered. “The hell?”
“Nice…shiny nose.” Mothman murmurs softly. Shyly.
Oh…maybe…maybe Mothmen are drawn to lights?
Rudolph can’t help but laugh, the noise gliding over the bare trees and smooth snow of the forest. The mothman tilts his head again at the sound and he doesn’t smile, perhaps can’t, but there’s warmth there.
A warmth Rude hasn’t felt for…maybe most of his life.
“Hey,” he says with a chuckle, ”after we howl into the darkness, you want to get some hot chocolate and you can teach me Parcheesi?”
Very gently, the mothman touched his frozen claws to the warm human hand besides him and nodded slowly. His red eyes avoiding Rude’s gaze shyly.
And that Christmas, there were no missing children (although perhaps a few missing stray animals because one must eat), but a bond was formed. And hot chocolate was drunk. And Parcheesi was played poorly by two unlikely monsters on what started out as a lonely evening for both of them.
LTD Tripped Out Motivational Posters
Tripped out… in case you just couldn’t get enough of Everything Everywhere All at Once and the return of the infinite bagel with EVERYTHING on it…
Artwork description: kaleidoscopic image of pink hairy horror (This is actually a fink fuzzy frond plant not unlike a Cockscomb but with longer thinner flowering feelers rather than the fuller protuberances you see on a full-bodied Cockscomb plant. I have no idea what it was, but it was very odd so I had to snap a photo.)
Image text reads: Mixing Magic Mushrooms & Peyote Just remember: once you open that Pandora’s box, you’re never going to get the pink hairy tarantulas back in it…
Artwork description: kaleidoscopic sunflower backlit by the sun with text and rainbow eye overlay
Image text reads: Eye See You Eye See All (in circle text so you can start and end reading wherever). In an ideal context this would be printed in the bottom of your tea mug or on a record that can slowly spin.
For more crazy tripped out fun, check out Weird Al’s post on Craig’s List…
The Elves Reunion, a short story by Jennifer Weigel
I had heard tale that The Elves dwell in these woods. Many underestimate The Elves; they have a fondness of heart for Tolkienesque Middle Earth fantasy stories and tales where Elves are the most highly civilized, virtuous and intelligent. They forget that those are just myths, save for The Elves being cunning. Remember that the Pied Piper was an Elf, and the children he took were not destined for such a glorious fate.
My sister lost her firstborn to The Elves. She hadn’t noticed the Changeling until it was too late. Her baby had already long since been stolen away. She was so distraught she refused to eat or speak. She locked herself in her room. Or my family locked her into it as she succumbed to the madness. Such are the ways of the family, for all of our protection. We never question but follow as expected, as a means of self-preservation. It has kept us all alive.
But I couldn’t get the sinking feeling out of my stomach; the grief became too overwhelming. That is why I came here. I know I will not be able to rescue the child, nor my sister. But I seek to avenge their meaningless deaths. To ensure that it doesn’t happen again. My family will never act. I am tired of the Village Elders just shrugging these things off in hushed whispers and badly shrouded secrets. It happens time and again. We are all expendable. They never do anything.
So here I am, in the Elven wood. Alone. As soon as my family figures out that I’m here, they will disown me. They probably already have. Again, it is for our own protection. I’ll be just another casualty of The Elves. Everything is so structured, so regimented. Anyone who dares act in opposition to the rules vanishes. We are all so afraid.
I lay in wait. It’s just a matter of time before the portal appears. The Elves use the portals to travel across time and space. They appear where and when they wish. But this time, I will go through first. I know not what is on the other side, just that the portals allow only one to traverse in each direction. We will trade places, if only for a moment until another portal forms. Hopefully that will be enough time.
The trees shift and morph. Falling leaves drift slower and slower towards the ground. There is a stillness that I cannot fully express. My breath hangs heavy in the silent air. There is no sound, no smell, no taste. It is time. The hairs on the back of my neck and arms rise. I can sense the opening forming. There is an uncanny familiarity in this moment, as if I have been here before.
As soon as the portal opens, I dash through. But something isn’t right. No one came through from the other side. Or did they? I cannot tell. I am alone, in limbo between states of existence. The world spins around me. I can feel the drift. Is this what death feels like? Cold unbroken silence? I feel distant eyes upon me everywhere, all around me, in the trees, the clouds, pinpoints of light that shimmer through.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. Maybe this is all according to plan. But who was orchestrating the exchange? My idea was only half formed in those passing pensive moments I am able to think for myself, few and far between. My family, the Village Elders… no one allows time for freeform thought. I hadn’t considered what would happen after the portal exchange. I never really got past step one.
A voice greets me from the trees. It is hauntingly familiar but seems only a distant memory.
“I’ve been expecting you.”
The world slowly comes into focus. Clarity restored, the leaves circle me in an embrace. My sister emerges, her dark eyes smiling. She cradles the baby in her arms.
“You made it. You escaped,” she sings.
“I didn’t see anyone,” I retort, skeptical. I hadn’t recalled having seen any Elves, dark nightmarish fiends that they are, wild, unkempt, uncouth. Savage beasts like Pan or Krampus. Is this an illusion? My sister seems so lifelike, so much herself. She is the joyful young mother I had known her to be. Filled with love and laughter. Light dances about her, and she shimmers.
“Not in passing,” my sister clarifies. “You have been living among them your whole life. I had done so as well until the baby was stolen. My heart broke; I had to follow after. That was when I learned the Truth.”
“Why do you think we are so sheltered? Why are we forbidden to do anything? They do so to protect us from the Truth about who and what we are,” she continued. “We’ve spent our lives evading that which we truly know ourselves to be. We were the stolen ones, not the other way around…”
I notice that the portal I came through is still open, reinforcing my idea that no one had passed through the other way. It is as if the portal was opened specifically to call me through. My sister extends her hand, beckoning me to join her. There is a gleam in her eye I cannot pinpoint. She seems happy, but something still isn’t quite right. I’m still uncertain why I am here, in this time and place, as if destined to be present in this moment, in this decision.
The Village has fallen away to the woods. There are no breadcrumb trails to follow home. The idea of home itself seems distant like yet another illusion. Nothing makes sense anymore. I am unsure whether I am coming or going. Two paths lay open before me. Which shall I take?
Eye Candy Jewelry by Jennifer Weigel
I have been getting ready for a jewelry show in February and thought I’d share some of the fun eye candy necklaces I’ve been working on. Do they thwart or attract the Evil Eye? I think that depends largely on the wearer’s intentions… Each is hand-beaded and features a spooky printed eyeball pendant as its focus.
And the piece de resistance… A RAINBOW Evil Eye necklace with magnesite stone skulls! I love these happy little deadheads – they are just too spoopy… I have seen these beads ranging in size from very small to huge and I love all of them.
I love using eyes in art in weird and unusual contexts in my art. They have so much presence and symbolism. They also bring a sort of surreal atmosphere to any artwork, which bears just a hint of spookiness regardless of context.
Other artworks & graphics by myself that prominently feature eyes have appeared here on Haunted MTL in Insomnia, Indecision, Illuminati, Carriage Factory art installation, The Watchers, The Red Key, and Shaman Sticks.