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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. 


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. 


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.


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.


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. 

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

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?)

Pop Pop Fizz Fizz, boy what a relief it is...  Skylanders style
Pop Pop Fizz Fizz, boy what a relief it is… Skylanders style

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.

Conversing with Fire Demons, RPG story art by Jennifer Weigel
Conversing with Fire Demons, RPG story art by Jennifer Weigel

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.

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.

Check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s writing here at Jennifer Weigel Words.

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Original Series

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.

Vampire Bats
Vampire Bats

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.

Lamprey Teeth
Lamprey Teeth


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.

Spider Eating
Spider Eating

Bloodsucking Bugs

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.

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Original Creations

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

Spanish Moss on Live Oak limbs, marker drawing by Jennifer Weigel
Spanish Moss on Live Oak limbs, marker drawing by 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.

Promotional Poster for Dread Pirate Queen Miss Kitty performance art by Jennifer Weigel
Promotional Poster for Dread Pirate Queen Miss Kitty performance art by Jennifer Weigel

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.”

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.

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.

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