The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
A distressed woman fled,
Heels rapping stone,
Labored breaths panting.
Echoes from all angles
Sharply ricocheted like the
Screams of a carnival attraction,
But the castle was closed for the
Night. She was locked inside
With its horrors.
The late tour from a shuttle-bus
That rumbled up the mountain
Between village and citadel
Three times daily had been led to
Another room. Bette lingered,
Scrutinizing the deep eyes of
A Count. Very dramatic. Almost
Hypnotic. Displayed in cheesy
Horror-film fashion, fangs exposed.
One of the extravagant props
For the castle’s “authentic”
Atmosphere. “The real deal,”
Their guide was fond of stating
With a hammy accent.
She had questioned, “Aren’t vampires
“The vampire is universal.”
“Like the movie studio?”
“The first film was German.”
“The first major film.
Based on folklore and literature.”
“This is a local legend.
Count Von Schreck.”
She nodded and hung back,
Wanting to study the exhibits
And elegant trappings at her speed.
Unrushed. Certain the vampire’s orbs
Followed her, Bette waved a hand
To test whether he blinked.
Her group could be heard
Rustling and clomping as they
Descended a staircase toward
The Exit. She wanted more time,
Stalling. They wouldn’t depart
Without her, surely; the guide
Would take a headcount.
There’d be a search, easy to evade
Till she was good and ready to go.
This was her element . . .
A bat flew at brown tresses,
Screeching. Bette swore the teeth
Felt genuine, nipping her shoulder.
“Wow, that’s a little too far, guys!”
Probably came in a window
And was trapped.
She hoped it didn’t have Rabies.
A bass chuckle reverberated.
The Count seemed closer.
Did he move?
The girl watched him,
Suspicious. Then, peering about,
Poked the statue’s chest.
“He’s wax. Cold and stiff.
Anyone can see that.”
A sigh clouded air. Just effects.
Part of the show. Fanning vapor,
She blinked. The Count was
Gone. How did he do that?
Mirrors? An escape hatch?
“Okay. This is fake. Obviously
A funhouse cuckoo-clock magic trick.
I’m not falling for it.”
Time to rejoin the others,
Find her group. Bette wheeled.
Von Schreck lurked behind her.
“Whoa. That’s really —”
He still didn’t blink. Not once.
Silence. Both stood frozen.
Wings assailed from every corner,
Flapping off, an abrupt bat-storm.
Bette staggered in reverse,
Tumbled through a secret door
To a dusty chamber.
A coffin slanted, more like a mummy’s
Tomb than a vampire’s sanctum.
“This one’s for you.”
A suave voice. Emotionless.
Beside her, the Count’s semblance
Deteriorated. Features warped
To a depraved being neath the veneer.
Sunken orbs; abundant bizarre teeth;
A crumbled nose, papery flesh.
Two henchmen and a woman appeared.
Groundskeepers. A staff member
Glimpsed earlier when she
Stepped off the bus.
Males seized her arms. A stern female
Opened the casket.
“We trade a life for a death.”
Von Schreck’s tone resonated.
“Each coffin we fill,
Another empties, and our family
Returns from the grave,
Inhabiting its halls by night . . .
Hiding, biding within its walls by day.
Soon we will all be together,
Under one roof.”
The Count gestured, inviting.
The guest drifted forward in a trance.
“Villagers send visitors so we do not
Exchange their families for ours.
When the humble
Are no longer of service,
They can be served . . . for dinner.”
A cacophony of howls, eerie guffaws
Rang along tunnels.
Bats swooped. Undead relatives,
His clan, leered out of shadows.
Bette fought her own feet,
Ushering her to the yawning box.
Then remembered the pocket-size can
An old lady sold her on a street
To ward off vampires.
A souvenir; a novelty item, or so
She assumed. Groping for the
Repellent, hands still obeying,
Bette sprayed it at her host.
A slight whiff stung
Her eyes, breaking the spell.
She ran — but where could she go?
There were no Exit Signs on the
Other side of walls. And plenty of
Creeps to block her escape.
Fiction © Copyright Lori R. Lopez
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Lori R. Lopez:
Have you ever kept a secret from even yourself? On one rainless electric night, Frieda Noff will learn the truth about her past, her relationship with her sister, and her hometown’s darkest secrets. It is All Hallows again, twenty years after she went down that fateful gauntlet of haunted houses as a Trick-Or-Treater. She’s finally back, perhaps to stay this time.
A young woman is confronted by the ghosts of her demons when she must return to Leery Lane, the dead-end where she lost an important piece in the puzzle of her past. She and her sibling haven’t spoken in two decades, since that terrible Halloween when Frieda borrowed something that belonged to Francine without permission. She feels that she needs to remember what it was and find the object of contention, somewhere in a row of decrepit Victorians, to repair the rift between sisters. But some secrets are better left buried. A witty blend of Gothic Horror, Humor, Supernatural and Mystery, Leery Lane is a ghost story to curl up with and savor. Take a walk you won’t be able to forget on the creepy side of town . . .
Look for an Illustrated Print Edition with macabre artwork by the author!