The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
My neighbors make noises at night.
It isn’t the usual complaint:
revving engines, blasting T.V. or music,
talking too loud, hosting constant
drunken bashes — whether parties or fights.
None of that. No yelling, and nothing
social. In fact, thinking about it,
I hardly ever hear them speak.
And that seems off,
almost as if they’re too quiet.
the bloodcurdling cries.
I know, I should have phoned the cops.
Most folks would.
But out here, we have a different
set of rules.
We don’t stick our noses
into other people’s business . . .
if we know what’s good for us.
It’s a community of lone-wolf packs
and hermit crabs.
Private. Houses spread apart
by ample yards and fences,
barbwire and gates.
My neighbors carry shotguns,
big hunting knives they won’t hesitate
to use. I don’t talk to or about
my neighbors. It’s safer.
Ones who aren’t doing illicit
highly questionable activities
are trappers. The question is,
what do they trap?
Wildlife’s scarce because they
killed it — them and
families deciding it’d be cheaper
to hunt than pay the grocer;
teens and adults roaming woods
for target practice; white-shirts
from cities bringing contamination.
Every drop of freshwater
poisoned before the plants and factories
shut down or moved.
A few colonies of strays and feral cats
remain free. I put food out, water,
rooting for their survival.
It keeps me awake, wondering
about the shrieks. Chilling. Agonized.
Nearly human. I can’t be sure.
I need to know.
After sunset one day, awkwardly
climbing over a fence, catching my jeans,
losing a scrap of cloth,
I sprinted tree to tree and darted to
a shed. Windowless.
Ducking low, I stole behind
a barn held together by nails and hope
and peeked through gaping
skeletal boards at stalls, cages.
A jail cell with iron bars, a heap of rags.
Axes, assorted blades lined a wall.
Bare light swung in the breeze
from open planks. Skins
dried on hooks. Broad pelts of
what must have been horses.
They raided ranches and stables.
I viewed a metal rack
coated with rust, or body fluids.
What was that for? Aiming my cellphone,
I snapped a picture. Evidence.
Or protection. I tucked the camera in
a back pocket. Along an exterior side
I found a slaughter yard,
muddy red dirt in a corral pocked
by a dance of hoofmarks, bootprints,
larger dents. Shallow impressions
that told a gruesome tale.
I ran all the way home like
a scared little piggy.
But I have to return . . .
They’ve been snooping around.
I discovered boot tracks. A piece of
faded denim in the mailbox.
A cat, among my favorites, unspeakably
maimed. I suspect I’ll be
walking into a trap.
I can’t bear those screams.
And the cat deserves justice.
Not through legal channels. Horse thieves
are no longer hung. Cat-harmers?
Even less of a penalty, if any.
I didn’t own Pretty Kitty. Nonetheless,
the furry snow-white feline mattered.
These skullcapped evil creeps have to pay.
I thought I should write this down.
I might not make it home.
Here’s the photo. Something’s going on.
My neighbors are not up to good.
Monstrous, soulless, blending in.
I believe they also take
women and children. I glimpsed toys
scattered in the barn. A purse.
And a spike-heeled pump. Don’t know
what I can do. Gather more proof?
I cannot just sit here,
listening, frightened that
I’ll be next.
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!