The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Eyes in the Back of Her Head
Little Terry swung her legs as she sat on the very-high stool and waited for her mom to get off the phone.
“Okie-doke. Hope you get better,” Mom said into the receiver. “No problem. I’ll just have her stay with Mom.”
Terry stopped swinging her legs.
Gram? I’m going to Gram’s?
In a way that excited her, but in another way it scared her. She had never been alone with Gram and Gramps, although they had been over many times. But she had never been to their place.
Terry toyed with her Cheerios and thought about things. Because she was watching the O’s float, she missed the look of consternation on her mother’s face as she dialed another number.
“Nadine? Hi, it’s Nella. I…yes, I’m fine, thanks. I’m wondering—could you watch after Terry today? My usual sitter has a cold, and…oh, you will? Thanks so much.”
Terry caught the waver in her mom’s voice as she spoke to Grams. She didn’t know why the air became so tight whenever Mom talked to Grams, but it always did. When Grams and Gramps came to visit, Terry always felt as if she was breathing glass. She never knew why, and she didn’t think of asking. After all, she was only six years old, and not expected to understand things.
Mom ended the call and put on her adult-smile face.
“Darling,” she said, addressing Terry, “you’ll be going to Grams and Gramps’ house today. Nina is not feeling well.”
“Okay.” Terry didn’t care, as long as she could watch “Purple Penguins” and eat peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.
Grams bustled around in the kitchen, wearing a blue-checked dress that reminded Terry of the girl in “The Wizard of Oz.” That was her favorite movie. Her Gramps was slumped beside her, wearing overalls and very weary eyes.
“So, dumpling,” Grams said with a strange smile on her face, “what would you like to do today? I have some baking to do, and I can show you how to make…cookies.”
Gramps shot up, surprising Terry. She didn’t know he could move so fast.
“I’d like Boo-Boo to help me in the yard, if that’s all right with you?” he asked, a tremor in his voice.
Grams frowned, and the room seemed to get a little darker. Finally she said, “As long as she’s back in time for dinner.”
Terry was confused. Usually she was home way before dinner. But maybe they ate early here—she wasn’t accustomed to old peoples’ habits.
Gramps leaned over and whispered in Terry’s ear. “Ya gotta watch her. She has eyes in the back of her head.” He smiled and winked, but the smile seemed, to Terry, to be made of old cheese.
“Pardon?” Grams asked, whirling from whatever she had been doing. Terry thought it involved an awful lot of knives and grunting.
“Oh!” Gramps moved away quickly, en route to the outside door. “Nothing, my dear. Just an inside joke.”
She gave him a look. Terry didn’t know what to make of it, but it made her stomach hurt. It made Gramps rush out to the outdoors.
“Grams? I think I’ll go help Gramps outside with…whatever he’s doing.”
Grams had turned back to whatever she had been preparing. “Go ahead, little mite.”
Then she whirled abruptly, and Terry saw a look she didn’t want to ever remember. “But get back here in time for dinner.”
“Yes ma’am,” she whispered. She was out the door before the last part of her statement could fade away on the air.
Outside she took in a huge lungful of air, then went to find Gramps. He was in the garage, and was in the process of opening a small blue canister.
“Come here, Boo-Boo,” he said as he started to sprinkle the contents. “I want you to sit in my car.”
Terry was only too delighted to do so. Gramps’ car was really old, and smelled like dead cows, but she loved the cushy bench seat and the frilly covers over the windows. He had called the vehicle a “hearse,” which she had never understood, and no one had bothered to explain to her. But she didn’t care—after all, she was only six years old, and not expected to understand things.
That night, with the circle of salt around the car and Gramps’ protecting arm around her, Little Terry began to understand all too much.
She understood that Grams was not who she seemed to be. This was made all too real when, in the evening, Grams came out of the house with her head on backward. She still had on the blue-checked dress, but somehow Dorothy had become the Wicked Witch. The jolly face Terry had known was now gray and lifeless, and the back of her head, now strangely the front, showed a skull’s grimace as Grams fought against the circle of salt. Terry’s nerves, along with her innocence, disintegrated as the thing that had been Grams threw itself against the protective circle.
“Dinner!” it shrieked over and over. “My…dinner!”
Little Terry cowered in the arms of her Gramps the whole night. Together, in the front seat of the car that smelled like dead cows, the two of them waited until dawn’s light weakened the old lady’s energy enough for them to escape.
This time Lilith would not get away with her schemes. Gramps would make sure of that.
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.