The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
A man wearing a crimson robe in front of a table, knife blade gleaming in the flickering light.
Snow-white fur stained with red.
Faceless people in black hooded robes.
A cup trimmed with gold thrust in front of him.
“Drink this, Robby.“
“I don’t want to! It’s gross! It came out of the bunny!”
The cup is forced to his lips; he chokes on the blood and cries. It dribbles from his mouth, splashing his Mickey Mouse shirt.
Rob shot up, drenched with sweat and breathing heavily. The clock showed 4:35am. He glanced over at Maddie, but she was still asleep. He slid out of the sheets and walked to the bathroom, making sure his feet were quiet on the hardwood floor. He tossed cold water on his face, his expression grim in the mirror.
“This has to stop. Maybe it’s time to go back to therapy. I can’t go through these dreams again.”
“Honey, what’s wrong?”
“I’m sorry, Maddie. I had another nightmare.” He rubbed her swollen belly. “You should go back to sleep.”
“I have to get used to not sleeping! Only a few more weeks.” She smiled, kissed and cheek, and went back to bed. He joined her, spooning her as they both drifted off.
“So tell me about the dreams, Rob. How long ago did they return?”
“Just the past few weeks.”
Dr. Maven scribbled on her steno pad. “Do you know why they came back? Did something trigger them?”
“I saw my mother at the mall when Maddie and I were shopping for a crib. I was shocked to see her there; I had no idea she lived nearby.”
“You’ve been estranged from her for a long time, haven’t you?”
“Yes, I broke off contact with her fifteen years ago. After my father died, she became crazy religious and started dragging me to weird gatherings in the middle of the night. The people did scary stuff there. I was just a kid, but I remember creepy singing, crying babies, fire…”
“But your mother – Debra, right?—denied those things happened, didn’t she?”
“I was having horrible nightmares about what happened at those meetings. But she told me I was imagining things. Told me I watched too many horror movies that put crazy ideas in my head. I knew those things were real, though. I can still taste the blood in my mouth when I wake up from a nightmare.”
“I’m sure your previous therapist talked to you about false memories? Like the “Satanic Panic” in the 80s. Kids were certain they had been abused in cult rituals, but it was proven the children had been influenced and not abused.”
“And that is why I am estranged from my mother – she told me I was a victim of the “Satanic Panic,” and to get over it. But I know it happened.” Rob clenched his fists. “I couldn’t trust her nor forgive her for exposing me to such horrific sights. I never will.”
“Okay, Rob. I think it would be a good idea if we discussed this further, try to get to the root of your nightmares –“
He slapped Dr. Maven’s desk. “Weren’t you listening? I know why I have the nightmares! My mother was in some kind of freaky cult and put me through hell!”
“All right. So why exactly are you returning to therapy?”
“I need the nightmares to stop. My wife is due soon and if I don’t get some sleep, I won’t be able to support her.”
“Then for now, I will prescribe a sleep aide so you can get some rest before the baby is born. We can decide how to proceed in a month or two.”
Rob sighed. “Thank you.”
“I’m glad you went to therapy today. You actually seem a little more relaxed.” Maddie handed Rob a glass of Merlot, curling up next to him on the couch.
“I guess it helped a little. At least I know I’ll get some sleep tonight. Thanks for picking up the prescription today.”
“I had an OB/GYN appointment anyway. Oh, my midwife – Peggy – said I could go into labor any day now! My cervix is dilating.”
“TMI!” Rob laughed. “But that is great news. I can’t wait to finally meet Little Rob.” He downed his wine. “Are you nervous about giving birth?” Rob yawned. “Oh, sorry! I guess no sleep is finally catching up with me. Maybe I don’t even need the meds tonight.” His eyes fluttered and the glass fell from his hand.
“I’m not worried about giving birth at all. I’m looking forward to it, actually.” Maddie kissed Rob’s head, then nudged him with her shoulder. He rolled onto the floor, out cold from the mixture of wine and Ambien.
Heat on his face woke Rob up. He looked around with blurred vision and tried to move, but realized he was tied to a pillar. In front of him was a marble table, Maddie naked and spread eagle upon it, her belly huge and tight.
Rob struggled against the rope. “Maddie! Oh, my god! What’s happening? Are you okay?”
Maddie turned her head to face him. She smiled. “Our baby is coming, Rob.”
“Maddie?” A group of people dressed in black robes approached the altar, chanting in low voices. “Maddie? What is going on?” His wrists burned as the ropes slid against his skin.
A person dressed in a red robe stopped in front of Rob and removed the hood. She touched the tip of her knife to his throat.
“You were always a disappointment, Rob. I could have given you everything, but you wouldn’t embrace us.”
“Mother?” Rob whispered.
“You have done one thing right – you’ve provided me with a grandson. And I couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful woman to be his mother. Her sacrifice will be legendary.”
“No, please! Let her go. Leave my son alone!”
“Please, Robby. Have some dignity.” She turned to Maddie and plunged the knife into her chest. Maddie had no time to scream. Blood poured off the edge of the table and several black-robed members rushed to catch it in chalices.
Carefully, Debra cut the baby from his mother’s body, and cradled him in her arms. She turned to Rob. “Look at your son, Robby. He will be everything you never were.” The baby began to cry and Debra rocked him, hushing him in a quiet tone.
“I’m not going to kill you, Robby. How would you know the glory of your son’s future?” She nodded at two of the members. “Take him to the basement. That is his home now.”
“NO! NO!” Rob yanked and twisted against his restraints. One of the men cut the ropes with a knife. Together they forced Rob to the basement, ignoring his screams and resistance.
Debra held the newborn boy above her head.
“Behold! Our savior is finally here!”
The congregation got on their knees and crossed their arms across their chests. “We welcome you!”
Debra cuddled the baby to her body and smiled.
“We welcome you,” she whispered.
Fiction © Copyright Sheri White
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Author Sheri White:
Sacrificial Lambs and Others is Sheri White’s first collection. From quiet horror to bloody violence, these flash fiction pieces and short stories are chilling and emotionally visceral. You will find people teetering on the brink of sanity, dark farms, creepy carnivals, weird kids, and Armageddon. These stories will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.