The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Lori Safranek
Calvin swore if this didn’t put some money in his pocket, he’d kick Denny’s ass up into his shoulder blades.
“We’re there,” Denny said, stopping so abruptly that Calvin ran into his back. Calvin gave him a push.
“Stupid, warn me when you’re gonna stop,” he growled.
“Anyway, we’re here. It’s right over there,” Denny said, pointing to the object of their night’s work.
The flashlight beam lit up a rusty, heavy looking heat radiator. If they could get it out of here, Calvin knew they’d make a pretty penny selling the huge piece of iron.
“How old’s that thing?” Steve asked. It would take all of them to drag the heavy iron radiator out of the building.
“No idea, but I remember my Grandma had something like it when I was a kid,” Denny said.
“You think we can get it out?” their friend, Steve, asked.
Calvin grabbed the flashlight out of Denny’s hand and walked up to the radiator. It was solid, for sure. They may have bitten off more than they could chew, he thought. He moved the flashlight beam over the length of the radiator, and squatted down to look under it.
The heat coming off of it felt good after the long cold trek to the vacant building.
“Hey, how’s this thing hooked up?”
“It’s not hooked up, man, this building’s empty.” Denny’s voice echoed. He shuffled a little closer. “No electricity or gas, no water, nothing.”
“Well, there’s heat coming off of it, dummy, so it’s hooked up somehow,” Calvin said.
“No way, man,” Denny crouched down beside him and looked under the register. He stood and moved to the other side of the radiator.
“Dude, there is no hookup. I can’t find anything,” he said.
Calvin sighed. He should have known better than to do business with this idiot.
“I thought you looked this over. You didn’t notice it’s putting out heat?”
“Cal, I don’t feel any heat. Maybe you’re having a hot flash,” Denny said, laughing a little. Calvin thought he might punch him.
“Let’s tip it over and see if we can figure it out,” he said.
The three men put on heavy work gloves they’d brought along.
“It looks too heavy for us,” Steve said, moving into position. “I guess tipping it will give us some idea if we can carry it out.”
They bent at the knee and each grabbed a section of the radiator. With howls of pain, Calvin jumped away from the hunk of iron shaking his hands to cool them off.
The other men stared at him, eyes wide, still gripping the radiator. How could they hold onto that thing? They must have better gloves than he had.
“I about burned my hands off,” he grumbled as he moved back into position. He grabbed the radiator again.
It took a minute for the pain to really hit him. By then, his gloves had melted away. His palms were stuck to the iron. His screams had startled Denny and Steve and they’d moved away.
He pulled and pulled but his hands were stuck to the radiator and now he felt like he was being pulled forward. His forearms were touching the hot iron, his screams ignited again. His friends grabbed him around his stomach and tried to pull him away from the radiator but he was stuck.
Denny yelled at Steve to let go of Calvin when he saw the man’s face moving closer and closer to the hunk of metal they’d planned to steal.
“Let him go, man,” he shouted. “He’ll pull us in, too.”
Steve stumbled back, and that seemed to be all Calvin needed. His arms collapsed and his legs moved him forward. His face hit the radiator and the front of his body was in complete contact with the scorching metal.
The screams had stopped, but Calvin’s body continued to jerk against the radiator. Denny leaned over and lost every bite of food he’d eaten that day.
All that remained was a blackened skeleton, leaning against the rusted radiator. The smell in the air gagged both men and tears ran down their faces from the smoke, the stink and their fear.
They flattened themselves against a rusty piece of metal leaning against the basement wall. It made a horribly loud clanging sound and they both jumped. Steve looked at Denny, his face pale and sweaty.
Denny looked back at the radiator. The bones were breaking now, snapping into pieces and falling to the ground as ashes. His stomach tumbled again, but he managed to not vomit this time.
He turned to Steve and nodded his head toward the exit.
“Go,” he said, voice raspy and desperate. “He’s gone. Let’s go.”
Steve hurried to leave and stumbled on a piece of metal on the floor. With horror, Denny saw him falling right onto the radiator. He shouted at his friend to stop.
Steve’s hand grasped the cool iron and he avoided falling down. He stood up and looked at his own undamaged hand.
“What the hell, Denny?”
“Just go,” Denny said. He wasn’t smart anyway and this was something for minds greater than his. “Run. We need to run.”
Fiction © Copyright Lori Safranek
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Lori Safrenek:
Freak Show is a collection of short stories based on the adventures of performers from Steiners Freak Show, a traveling circus side show. Steiner carefully selects his freaks so that they are genuinely blessed with real talents, none of his performers are fakes! From the lovely young Snake Charmer to the Tattooed Man whose tattoos fade away and relocate themselves on his body, every single one is the real thing! And Steiner’s family of freaks run into some frightening adventures that bring them near death! This isn’t some barker’s come on, folks, this is the real thing. Come to the freak show and see what happens after the sideshow closes!