The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The day the boats came back by themselves was the day the whole village stopped going into the water. It was a hardship, of course, but not totally unexpected. Things happen, after all, especially when things are going well and the causes for that going well decide they want to be remembered and appreciated.
Sadly, no one was left who remembered why their ancestors used to fear the water. There were stories, oh yes, but there are always many reasons for stories. The wildlife and storms alone were reason only the bravest men took to the water in that part of the world. There may have been something else that sometimes sat on the tips of tongues, on the edges of thought, the barest hint of a long-forgotten memory. It wasn’t important, though. If it was important, surely someone in the village would have remembered.
It was a hardship, but the village got by. Travelers walked or used horses and carts. Hunters left for the forests and farmers farmed. Life went on with the children looking askance at the rotting boats during their comings and goings and shuddering a little, but save for that and the whispers under covers during the darkest nights and the loss of tradition, life adapted and went on. They were lucky, after all, to be in a part of the world with so many resources. They didn’t have to depend on just the water, so why had they ever been so foolish to begin with? Imagine if they’d been diversifying from the start!
They were pleased with themselves, proud even. The failing of mortals, that and short lives that make them forget what’s come before.
One night, the rains pelted down and the sea levels rose. Even then, even then most of the village were tucked away in their houses and huts, dry and relieved save for those that lived closest to shore.
Their screams weren’t heard under the thunder, nor were the squelching, rhythmic footsteps that trod through the narrow village streets. Indeed, all the villagers really heard was rain pelting the windows, rattling on the roof, rain and more rain, rain enough to drive one mad. It just didn’t quit, not for days, it felt like.
In the middle of all that, just as water began to pool under the doors of those on higher ground, in the thick of all that saliva-warm, drenching, get-everywhere rain late, late into the night – so late it was right during the devil’s time –
It wasn’t a knocking, per say, but a demand for entry, a demand for recognition, a demand for appreciation, a demand for knowing.
Whether the villagers opened their doors or not, whether they faced down the storm or hid, the things from the sea came in anyway.
And only then did the villagers remember, though it took much blood and pain to revive those ancient, long-forgotten thoughts.
Fiction © Copyright Selah Janel
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Author Selah Janel:
Like many young men at the end of the 1800s, Bill signed on to work in a logging camp. The work is brutal, but it promised a fast paycheck with which he can start his life. Unfortunately, his role model is Big John. Not only is he the camp’s hero, but he’s known for spending his pay as fast as he makes it. On a cold Saturday night they enter Red’s Saloon to forget the work that takes the sweat and lives of so many men their age. Red may have plans for their whiskey money, but something else lurks in the shadows. It watches and badly wants a drink that has nothing to do with alcohol. Can Bill make it back out the shabby door, or does someone else have their own plans for his future?