The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Marian stared listlessly out of the bus window as her ride lurched along the rutted forest road. Just one more dull trip home after a dull day at work. She sighed; nothing interesting ever happened to her.
As the bus rattled toward her stop, she noticed that ice was beginning to build up on the outside of the windows.
Odd, she thought. This doesn’t happen this time of year.
Although it was fall, there had been no signs of the coming winter. In fact, it had been unusually warm this year, causing most folks to regret having ever complained about the winter rains.
She shrugged it off and pulled the cord for her corner. The driver applied the brakes, and the ancient machine squealed to a stop.
Marian stood and gathered her coat and purse. As she did so, she squinted out into the forest through which she would soon be walking.
“You’re not actually going out there, are you?” asked someone across the aisle from her.
Marian looked over at the speaker, an ancient woman swathed in bright garments. She gave her a puzzled look.
“Why wouldn’t I? This is my usual stop.” Marian had no idea why she felt that she had to inform this—gypsy?—of any information whatsoever. She’d never seen the old lady before, and doubted she ever would again.
“These woods,” the old lady said as she pointed outside, “are the domain of the great owl Athene. Tonight she is restless, hunting those who would dare to trespass on her grounds.”
“Athene.” Marian shook her head. In a snide voice she asked, “And just who is this ‘Athene’? Someone’s maiden auntie?”
A voice came from behind her. “I’d listen to the old hag if I were you.”
Marian turned her head to see a young man slouched down in his seat. He was almost as colorfully-dressed as the woman. Another stranger. Another gypsy.
She arched an eyebrow. “Oh? And why is that?”
“Granny always knows these things,” he drawled. “If she says Athene is out and about, it’s almost always true.”
Marian looked around, noticing for the first time that practically all of the riders were similarly dressed. She felt as if she had somehow become part of a gypsy caravan. And they were all looking at her with concerned faces.
“What?” she nearly shouted. “I live in these woods, and I don’t know an Athene anybody.”
“Goddess of darkness,” one of the riders informed her. “Greek.”
“Well, this isn’t Greece, so that sort of thing doesn’t hold water with me.” She took one last look around and stormed off the bus.
As it pulled away, the riders stared out the windows at her, alarm in their eyes. Some shook their heads and made some sort of weird sign with their hands. She stared back, then blinked the exhaust out of her eyes. When she looked again, they had all changed—the people were the usual crowd on her bus ride.
She decided that she had fallen asleep and was just now truly waking up. But even if she had been dreaming…still…?
Now Marian’s curiosity was up. She decided that she couldn’t take one more step without checking out this information, so she pulled out her phone.
“To the Internet!”
It didn’t take long to find what she needed to know. It seemed that the owl had had a special place in Greek mythology. From engravings on coins to a position as guardian of the Acropolis, this bird was everywhere.
“Stupid feathered pests,” Marian grumbled. She checked another web page.
“Here’s something interesting.” She read an article on the owl’s association with Lilith, the mythical first wife of Adam, who had refused him and had been cursed to become a vampire.
This appealed to her goth attitude. Oh, to be a creature of the night—minus feathers of course—and to haunt the world for eternity! The idea of it spoke to her in words that made her heart leap.
She heard a dog barking from a long ways off.
“Styx!” she muttered. “Stupid dog. I’m coming already!”
She stalked off into the edge of the woods, wondering why someone in her stupid family couldn’t manage to feed her dumb dog while she was away.
Thoughts of Athene returned, calming her thoughts.
“Here, owlie, owlie, owlie!” she called, only half joking.
Styx’s barking was getting louder. Marian exhaled a sharp, frustrated sigh.
“Athene!” she called out. “I ask you to show yourself! Be quick about it, before my stupid mutt gets here!”
Her own voice sounded stupid—what a dumb thing to do, she thought. There was no Athene, no Lilith—probably some owls, but…
Suddenly there was a whoosh of wings, and Marian found herself falling onto her back. The autumn leaves broke her fall, so at least she wouldn’t have bruises the next day.
She had only enough time to sit up and curse when the wings came at her again.
Athene! She was sure of it!
The owl, which indeed it was, took one last swipe at her and landed gracefully on the ground a couple of paces away. As Marian looked on in wonder, the owl transformed into the most beautiful, voluptuous woman she had ever seen. Even though Marian considered herself definitely planted on the heterosexual side of things, the vision before her made her seriously consider batting for the other team, just this once.
The woman stalked toward her. “You called?”
The voice was a siren song to Marian’s ears, and she rose from her seat among the leaves. “Athene?”
The woman shook her head, and her black tresses waved around her perfect face. “Lilith.”
Marian had very little time to be impressed. Less than the time it took to widen her eyes, Lilith had launched herself at her. In even less time, Marian was a lifeless pile of flesh.
Styx found her that night, and they buried her a few days later.
The night after that, Marian was at her bus stop, waiting for her midnight snack. She bared her fangs in a ghastly smile, knowing that Styx would feed well on the corpses.
Fiction © Copyright K.R. Morrison
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Author K.R. Morrison:
Lydia’s faith in God is strong – at least on paper. But what happens when that faith is tested? Turned into a vampire by the worst – Vlad Drakul – she feels that God has abandoned her. But the opposite is true. God rescues her from a fate worse than death, and brings her into the plan He has for global redemption. With the help He sends, she feels like nothing can stop her. But when Vlad torments her again, and then her family, the temptation to run and hide is almost too strong to resist. Her answer to God’s call is the deciding factor in the battle that pits the angelic powers of God against the demonic powers of Hell.