The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Mary Ann Peden-Coviello
“Fortune-tellers aren’t legit, Bradley.” Tiffani, lovely and popular from babyhood, clung to the well-muscled arm of her current “true-and-forever-love.”
“It’ll be fun. We’ll go in and get our fortunes read, see if we’re fated to be together.” Bradley smiled down at his perfect darling.
Tiffani’s left eye twitched. Bradley’s sappy streak tweaked her nerves sometimes. “All right, baby. If you really want to.”
The two teenagers entered the fortune-teller’s tent. Set a few yards away from the hurly-burly of the Halloween Dayz Fun Times Faire, it was partially hidden by a booth boasting “See the Amazing Snake Woman! She Dances! She Slithers on the Floor!”. An unobtrusive sign promised Madame Esmeralda, Fortune-teller Extraordinaire, was available to tell futures for a mere five dollars.
“Ah-choo!” Incense tickled Tiffani’s nose. “It stinks in here. And it’s so dark! Papa says these gypsies are all frauds anyway. Let’s go, Bradley.” An unpleasant whine slithered into Tiffani’s voice.
A swish of the bead curtain and a fluttering of scarves and multi-colored skirts heralded the entrance of Madame Esmeralda. Her face, indistinct in the darkness, was obscured by shadows. “Greetings, my dears,” she purred in an unidentifiable accent. “Please, sit. Sit. I shall tell you all.”
“I don’t believe in this baloney, Miss Emerald. I’m only here because my boyfriend insisted.”
“Indeed? Perhaps I shall change your mind.”
“Nope. My mind’s all made up.”
“If you will . . . ” A pale hand emerged from the scarves, scarves that fluttered constantly in a non-existent breeze.
Reluctantly, Tiffani complied. Esmeralda’s forefinger trailed across the girl’s palm.
“You are a Taurus, yes? Your life will be an interesting one. It will transform in the night.”
Tiffani jerked back her hand and dashed from the tent. Esmeralda smiled enigmatically, waved away Bradley’s fiver, and shooed him out of the tent.
That night, Tiffani slept fitfully, tormented by odd dreams. She woke before dawn with a copper taste in her mouth. Stumbling to the bathroom, she put a hand to her lips.
At the mirror over the sink, she slowly raised her eyes.
Not a human scream.
From her cheekbones up, lovely Tiffani stared back. From nose to throat, she was a bull, complete with nose-ring. Taurus the Bull.
Somewhere in the darkness, Madame Esmeralda laughed.
Fiction © Copyright Mary Ann Peden-Coviello
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Mary Ann Peden-Coviello:
Women write horror and have written it since before Mary Shelley wrote FRANKENSTEIN. This anthology is to highlight the fact women write great horror and to kill the fallacy that they aren’t in some way up to standard. They are. Read here stories by Elizabeth Massie, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Lucy Taylor, and a plethora of other great writers as they work on your nerves, get inside your head, and bang out some of the scariest tales written today. I’m proud to present these women for your consideration, as Rod Serling might say, as I ask you to step into FRIGHT MARE. Lock the door and windows, put on a light, and remember, it’s not real. It’s not real. Midnight awaits, monsters scheme to take you away, the strange and weird wait in the shadows, but it’s not real. Is it?
Edited by Billie Sue Mosiman, the author who brought you the SINISTER-TALES OF DREAD collections and her latest suspense novel, THE GREY MATTER.