The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
She had to wait. That was all Paula remembered, and it wasn’t such a small thing to ask, was it? After all, the others were beseeching something so ancient downstairs on her request. Time was all she wanted. She was still barely over twenty and to be told there may not be that much left for her…
She could wait just a little longer. She knew she could. Besides, she had the clock for company. The ticking was steady, soothing. Not irritating at all. Not. At. All.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
She could do this. She could sit on the bed and wait, just like when she was in time out as a child. She could be a good whatever if it bought her just a little more time.
If she listened closely, she could hear the chanting. Hope twined with anxiety in her chest and she tried not to bite her nails. No. No, I can do this. It was a condition of the ritual: stay out of sight, stay silent, stay in the room. The last wasn’t that hard – they’d locked her in just to be safe. Fidgeting, she went back to the bed, her long ceremonial gown reminiscent of the nightdress of a Victorian heroine.
She could wait, even if she didn’t have much time to wait with.
YOU AWAKE ME FOR PETTY DEMANDS?
They’ll work it out. Adrian and Gala and the rest. They have to. They promised.
She could barely make out the sounds of pleas, the use of her name, arguing.
YOU KNOW NOT WHAT YOU ASK!
Tick tick tick.
The boom was so loud the walls shook and the windows shattered.
I can do this I can do this I can do this. She clenched her eyes shut and squeezed her palms together.
Tick tick tick.
She waited. For minutes. For hours. She wasn’t sure at what point she realized it had been days.
Or at what point she realized she hadn’t eaten – hadn’t needed to. Or sleep. Or other things.
She opened her mouth to call below, got up then remembered she couldn’t get out, anyway.
Isn’t this what you wanted? A smug voice purred in her mind.
She tried to voice her question, but her voice was gone.
The price for more time is steep. But now you have all the time in the world, if you remember that I like quiet and obedience.
The voice was not as nice now, not the soothing feeling she’d always associated with their practice, not the feeling of power. This was something darker, something scheming.
Now you’ll live forever as long as you stay just as you are, the perfect little supplicant. That’s what you wanted, isn’t it? To not take responsibility? To be told what to do? That’s all you mortals ever want.
Paula couldn’t even scream or yell her indignation. Shame burned hot on her cheeks, and yet…
At least I’m still alive.
It wasn’t a bad room, considering. Maybe she could write something for a while. Something to keep from going mad. And she had the clock for company. It wasn’t so bad, now that she thought about it. Rhythmic, steady, like a heartbeat. Almost as if someone was there to keep her company. Maybe she could name it.
And then, as she listened and relaxed, since she wasn’t able to sleep now, the ticking slowed and the clock died.
And time stretched on and on.
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?
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