The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The Castle of my childhood now gray and crumbling,
but still standing on that stony cliff
beside the churning waters of an angry sea.
The scene familiar—and yet,
the damage wreaked by time
rendering its appearance still more sinister.
How long since here I last stood?
Four-score, a hundred, perhaps more years.
I’ve stayed away, unwilling, unable to face the past.
A tour is just beginning, the last one tonight.
I follow inside, and through halls, suffocating with memories.
A portrait, mine, still hangs upon the wall in an upstairs gallery.
Tourists file past, remarking on my beauty.
Lowering my head, I nip my hood closer.
No resemblance is mentioned.
I stand aloof, apart from the crowd—alone.
This castle’s haunted, says the tour guide, all healthy tan and ever-ready smile.
I hate her vitality.
The young countess disappeared one dark and tempest-filled night.
But it’s said her spirit, in these very halls, still strides.
I utter a humorless laugh.
At last we stand in the bedroom of my youth.
Here, where I spent my last night.
How clearly recalled, the play of candlelight on the bed,
on Carlos’s naked shoulders.
Our passion’s heat matched
only by the fury of the Hell-sent gale.
Echoing through my heart—a cry of grief, of loss.
Of longing for lost love, lost life.
The tour ends, people scatter.
I wander to the cliffs, buffeted by ghosts.
Time cascades backward, relentlessly, reminding me.
The wind’s jagged teeth biting through my soaked nightdress,
endless terror clutching at my heart.
To mind springs the eyes of the monster, a daemon from Pandemonium.
With the Hell-spawn’s kiss—all was lost.
I am no longer alive, happy, in love.
Now my world is infinite night.
Nothing but the gray and deeper black of shadows.
Destined to walk alone—hungry.
The light of day a fleeting dream, love, an impossibility.
Aeternum mortuus, aeternum mortiferum.
Forever dead, forever deadly.
Shaking off the fog and specters of the past, I return to the castle.
Goodnight, smiles the tour guide,
her neck a gleaming beacon.
Resisting its siren’s call, I turn away.
Come again, soon, she says.
Not bloody likely.
Fiction © Copyright Stacey Turner
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
A few words from Stacey Turner about her friend and mentor, Rob M. Miller:
I want to thank Rob for everything he’s taught me and the support he’s shown me over the last seven years. And I know he can beat this; he’s got more to teach and more authors to shape. Please support him in his fight.
Rob Miller has been diagnosed with one of the rarest and most aggressive forms of cancer. It began in his thyroid, and has spread throughout most of his body, leaving him fighting for his life. Though he is receiving the best possible care through the VA, there is still a great need to provide for his family and cover additional expenses. Rob is a proud and strong man, he would never ask for help on his own, therefore, a friend of his started this GoFundMe campaign on his behalf.