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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 (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.

To All a Goodnight - with deer and moth in background

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. 

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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. 

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Except one. 

Not even a holiday-themed date. 

A mothman. 

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.

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Finally he replies to the mothman. 

text message that reads: so you looking for a lay, slay, or both?

Thankfully, it doesn’t take long to get a response back.

Text: A conversation. Thoughts. Moon. Snow. Maybe blood. But connection.

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.

Text: Your profile said you're looking for something more than the norm.
Test: something beyond labels and conceptions. I seek this, too.

Shifting uncomfortably, he types back.

Rude's text: waht do u have in mind?
Text: Sitting in the bleak night. Watching the moon rise.
Text continues: Feeling the air on our skin and howling into the darkness.
Dots like he's thinking (the mothman)
Text continues: maybe drinks or parcheesi

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?

Rude's text: Let's meet now. Where?

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.

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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. 

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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.”

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“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. 

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“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.

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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?”

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“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?”

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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. 

When not ravaging through the wilds of Detroit with Jellybeans the Cat, J.M. Brannyk (a.k.a. Boxhuman) reviews mostly supernatural and slasher films from the 70's-90's and is dubiously HauntedMTL's Voice of Reason. Aside from writing, Brannyk dips into the podcasts, and is the composer of many of HauntedMTL's podcast themes.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jennifer Weigel

    December 18, 2022 at 8:58 pm

    I love this series. I love how it speaks to longing and how the monsters are more human than we ourselves are at times.

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Original Creations

Goblins, a Short Story by Jennifer Weigel

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Revisiting the creepy faux fingernail art, I made a couple of goblins… They then ransacked my house. This is their story, as told by myself, Jennifer Weigel.

More faux fingernail art from Jennifer Weigel, featuring wide smiling mouth with red sparkly lipstick and faux fingernail teeth on textured green goblins background
More faux fingernail art from Jennifer Weigel

So it finally happened. My art came to life. And of course it couldn’t be one of the cute pretty pictures, like the sparkly unicorns or the cat drawings. No it had to be the faux fingernail goblins… Ugh. I first encountered them in the bathroom.

I see England.
I see France.
I see someone’s underpants!

Of course you do, it’s the bathroom. That’s totally the room for that. Remind me again why I decided to paint these little green monsters. Ugh. From there, they moved on to the kitchen.

We so tricksy.
We so sly.
We eats all the cherry pie!

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Did they have to eat ALL the cherry pie? Like seriously. But what can I expect, they’re goblins and they’re in the house. Ugh. And honestly they’re just plain gross.

I pick my friend.
I pick nose.
Just whose nose, do you suppose?

Get away from me you obnoxious, vile creatures! I can pick my own nose on my own time, thank you. Ugh. Oh, great, now they’re tearing up the living room.

We be goblins.
We be green.
We be making quite a scene!

No, not the sofa! Now there are little bits of fabric and stuffing flying everywhere. I can see you’re all too pleased with yourselves. Nasty critters. Ugh. Why can’t you just leave?

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I do mischief.
I do bad.
This best party ever had!

I did NOT agree to host your little shindig. Stop tearing up my house! All I know is, it’s about time you moved on to wreak havoc elsewhere. Ugh. Just get out – NOW!

We scare the cat.
We scare you.
We scare all, we care not who!

I may have brought these dreadful disgusting demons into being seeing as how I painted them, but I have no idea what brought them to life or why. What kind of cosmic miscalculation caused this? I need to know so I can avoid it in the future. Ugh. Goblins… need I say more?

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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Original Creations

Faux Fingernails Art by Jennifer Weigel

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So I had some faux fingernails leftover from a costume based modeling session, from posing as Cruella De Vil for the figure drawing group… Here’s a teaser from that modeling session, before the horrible creepy art generation in the aftermath. If you zoom in tight enough, you can see my tiger fingernails, which kept trying to fall off constantly, reminding me why I hate trying to wear the things and why they (d)evolved into art.

Cruella De Vil modeling for figure drawing
Cruella De Vil modeling for figure drawing

My version of Cruella De Vil channels Glenn Close or the original animated character more than the recent Emma Stone variant, but they’re all delightfully devilish.

Anyway, I made this series of “Tiger Sharks” prominently featuring the same tiger faux fingernails, including those used in the Cruella De Vil costume. These “Tiger Sharks” also incorporated some pirate fingernails, because sharks and pirates are tight.

Pirate skeleton hand with faux fingernails
Pirate skeleton hand with faux fingernails

I couldn’t think of a better use for the pirate fingernails than adding them to this skeletal hand. I never actually wore these, they were too hard to come up with something to go with. But I do love the Beetlejuice vibe with the stripes…

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.

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Original Series

Nightmarish Nature: Something Rotten, Flesh in Flowers

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This time on Nightmarish Nature we will again explore some of the more fetid fungi and plants, this time focusing on those that imitate rotten flesh in order to attract flies. Among the best known of these are the Stinkhorn and the Corpse Lily or Corpse Flower. The Language of Flowers be damned, literally…

Fungi

Many of the fungi in the Stinkhorn family erupt in mushrooms that reek of rotten flesh and sprout from a white sort of egg sac in various forms, the common type being a phallus like structure with a white body and olive head. The Beefsteak fungus resembles, well, a cut of beef oozing blood. And some mushroom bodies of the Clathrus genus bloom in elaborate lattice structures or devil’s tooth and devil’s fingers that resemble terrifying alien beings. These odoriferous fetid fungi grow in decaying wood material and use their stinky attributes to attract flies and other insects which will then spread the spores from their fruiting bodies. They truly look like something out of an outer space or aquatic nightmare.

Some various fungi that can reek of rotten flesh, drawing by Jennifer Weigel.
Some various fungi that can reek of rotten flesh.

Plants

Some plants also utilize pungent putrid odors to attract flies and other insects, in part to aid in the pollination and dissemination but also to attract insect matter for their own needs, to absorb the insects for valuable nutrients that they cannot otherwise obtain. The largest flowers in the world bear many of these characteristics, also being among the stinkiest. And some pitcher plants mimic rotten flesh to attract flies upon which they “feed”.

The Titan Arum of Sumatra and Indonesia is a plant that over time produces a huge flower somewhat resembling a calla lily but larger as the plant body stores enough energy to do so. While Calla Lilies are often used to symbolize rebirth and resurrection and can be associated with death, often in a funerary setting, the huge Titan Arum does more than that, strongly mimicking decaying flesh in order to attract flies. These flowers can grow to almost 8-feet tall and bloom for only about three days before wilting; they are a huge draw at botanic gardens when flowering because of the rare nature of the event and the remarkable presence that the flower has, in both size and smell. The US. Botanic Gardens has a page devoted to this plant here, where you can even track previous blooms.

Titan Arum flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.
Titan Arum flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.

Another noteworthy flowering plant is Rafflesia, a parasitic flower native to Indonesia and Malaysia that feeds on the liana vine and grows from a sprouting body bud into a huge flower over the course of five years. Its flowers, once finally formed, can grow to almost a meter across and resembles something out of a horror film. These too smell of death and decay to attract flies in order to cross-pollinate. You can learn more about these unusual plants on this video from Real Science here.

Rafflesia flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.
Rafflesia flower as drawn by Jennifer Weigel.

If you’ve enjoyed this segment of Nightmarish Nature, feel free to check out some previous here:

Vampires Among Us

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Perilous Parenting

Freaky Fungus

Worrisome Wasps

Cannibalism

Terrifying Tardigrades

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Reindeer Give Pause

Komodo Dragons

Zombie Snails

Horrifying Humans

Giants Among Spiders

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