The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The Gathering Gloom
by Suzanne Madron
It had been hours since they had entered the Forbidden Forest. Within twenty minutes of beginning their adventure, every turn and every trail, every bit of familiarity seemed to double back on itself until they found they were moving in circles. The scraps of fabric and small pebbles they had left to mark their path through the trees disappeared almost as quickly as they were placed, and no one in the small party could explain it. The compasses they had brought as backup to their zero signal phones hadn’t pointed proper north in hours, and the sun was behind clouds. They were lost.
“We shouldn’t have come here. This was a bad idea.”
Laurence sighed and ground his teeth. It was the tenth time John had voiced his concerns, and Amanda was losing her patience, which meant Laurence would be stuck in the middle playing referee again.
“Shut it. We’re here, and there’s not much we can do about it now. Keep moving, night will be here soon.”
As the two men began to move once more, Amanda stood still, frozen. She stared off into the trees with a look of desperation.
“What’s wrong, ‘Mandy?”
“I heard something,” she whispered.
They all paused, and then the sound came again. It was in the distance, but it was a welcome sound. Without a word, they all began to run toward it, and one by one they all fell to the forest floor as they got near.
“What the hell?” John rubbed his ankle and stared in confusion at the undergrowth.
Rusted metal rails poked out of the layers of fallen leaves, and rotting ties littered the forest floor. Laurence let out a groan and got to his feet and brushed himself off.
“But, we can follow them out of here,” Amanda said.
As the trio moved down the tracks the sky grew darker. They quickened their pace until they were practically jogging, letting out a cry of relief when they caught sight of the outskirts of a small town.
The main street was quiet except for the sounds of their footfalls over asphalt. They hurried along, searching for a light in any of the dusty windows. When they reached the town hall, the darkness they had feared began.
It started at the lopsided doorway, then poured down the steps like ink, tendrils of blackness reaching for them as they stared in horror. They ran back to the woods and the darkness followed, swallowing everything behind and around them until all that was left was a pale shimmer of light that illuminated a path through the trees.
The trio ran towards the light and passed the bones of those who had gone missing before them. The darkness played with them, nipping at their heels and tugging at their backpacks as they ran.
When they reached a clearing, they saw themselves. Their bodies lay sprawled on the earth at odd angles and the mushrooms they had eaten out of desperation frothed from their open mouths. The darkness swallowed the empty forms, howling as the light engulfed them.
Fiction © Copyright Suzanne Madron
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Suzanne Madron:
The house across the street seems to go on the market every few months, but this time nothing about the sale is normal, including the new owners. No sooner has the for sale sign come down and the neighborhood is thrown into a Lovecraftian nightmare and the only way to find out is to attend the house warming party.
Issue #40 of The Sirens Call – As Summer Leaves, Autumn Falls
Stories of disaster influenced by horrific intent.
Whether it be Mother Nature’s wrath or a devilish ghoul, a sprite most wicked or a stumbling fool, tell us a tale of disaster that happens as summer ends and autumn begins.
We are looking for stories, flash fiction and poetry of horrific happenings that take place in the summer months that lead into fall. As long as the piece is primarily horror/dark fiction, we’d love to see it!
Your piece can be creepy, sullen, emotive, freaky, elegant, bizarre, have a dark-humor edge to it, or simply be flat out scary as hell!
REPRINTS ARE WELCOME
Submission Deadline: August 10, 2018
Circulation: Approximately 35,000
Full page/single book cover ads for individual authors are available at $10 per ad. Please contact Nina@SirensCallPublications.com for advertising information.
All short story, flash, and poem submissions MUST be submitted to: Submissions@SirensCallPublications.com for consideration.
Visit our web site for more details: SirensCallPub.com