The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
When she was a child, Katherine had seen faces at her windows. They came only at night, right before she fell into slumber. They were monstrous things, things that mouthed words without sound, things that waited for her on the other side of the glass.
Her parents had always brushed it off as her imagination, or night terrors, something with an explanation.
She hadn’t thought about it in years, had stopped seeing them ages ago once she’d hit puberty, save maybe during a serious bout of flu or something. Fever dreams. The dreams of the afflicted. That’s what she’d decided they were.
The storm had come up suddenly and early – she wasn’t used to snow in October, not even as north as she was. She still had gas, and as fast as it was piling up, she just couldn’t remember if it was better to leave the car or stay.
The evening light faded, the song on the radio didn’t quite reach her ears – not as much as the cold reached her bones, anyway. She shuddered at the creeping shadows, turned off the ignition – she could always turn it on when she got too cold. Wasn’t that how it worked?
Why hadn’t she paid more attention?
She wasn’t afraid, though, not really. She always had a feel for when she’d get through a situation. A gut feeling, a knowing. It was there now, small, but reassuring. She’d get out of this.
It wasn’t until she drifted and woke up, suddenly, for no reason, that she began to feel afraid.
The faces were there.
Outside her windows – not just the windshield, but the driver’s side, passenger. She craned to see the backseat, and despite the darkness and the piling snow she could see the press of noses, the glow of inhuman eyes.
“I’m inside. They can’t get in.” Her whisper sounded strange, too loud for the quiet. She fumbled with the ignition, but the engine wouldn’t start. “Stupid.” Her feelings were soft and muffled. There was fear, there was anger at herself – but they were buried under something, just like the snow was burying her.
The thing drifted down in front of her driver’s side window. Its eyes were points of light, its face a skull poking from something fluffy – not quite feathers, not quite a snowflake. It was a star waiting to guide her to something terrible, just like it had tried so many times before. It was calm despite its cool malevolence. Curious. Patient, because they had her now. Somewhere she knew she was panicking, somewhere she could feel that her knowing had slipped away into a different type of knowing.
It wasn’t that Katherine would be safe no matter what…it was that it was her time, so there wasn’t anything she could do about it anyway.
The thing opened its mouth and laughed with recognition, though she couldn’t hear it. It knew her. She knew it. It had waited a long, long time to be seen again, for whatever reason.
Katherine shivered in her coat.
The thing grinned. The others heaved with soundless chuckles, bobbing around her car.
“They can’t get in. They can’t get in. I’m safe I’m safe I’m safe,” she whispered, the same chant she’d invented long ago as a child when they’d first come. She was inside. They were out. There was glass. She was going to be okay.
Outside, for the first time, the feather-skull in front of her stretched and extended. A body trickled down, and arms, presumably legs.
With one touch the door unlocked.
She knew what would come next, yet she couldn’t quite be terrified. At least she was with old acquaintances.
The doors opened all at once and the faces came in.
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?