The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Stacey Turner
Petra lit a candle and pulled the ancient silver hand mirror from the trunk under her bed. She breathed in and out slowly, mumbling the words she’d memorized centuries ago. She peered into the mirror, scrying for answers. At first there was only white mist, but she stared until her eyes burned, blinking quickly lest she miss something. Finally the fog lifted. What she saw stole her breath. Icy fingers of fear raced along her spine, diving inside to grip her heart. Marcelle was near.
She saw the demon clearly in the hand mirror: his dark cloak, hood pulled down to hide his face, long broadsword, ever present wolf, and those damn crows. She observed him confront a hunter in the woods, and though she couldn’t hear what he said, it mattered not. He’d found her. Her mind raced in circles, voices in her head screaming at her to flee. She needed a plan. The demon was smart; he’d expect her to flee, and he’d be ready for her. There had to be a way out of this.
A banging on her door startled her, and she quickly slid the mirror back into the trunk. The banging came again. She opened the door to find the hunter standing there, sword sheathed, and his hat in his hand. He dipped his head in greeting.
“I’ve been given a message to pass along to you.”
“Aye, I know. Let’s have it then.”
The hunter glanced at her quickly, trying not to meet her eyes. The fear rolled from him in waves, buffeting her. “I met a m-m-man in the woods…”
Petra snorted. “T’was no man.”
The hunter lifted his head and held her gaze this time. “No. It wasn’t. He said to tell you Marcelle is near.” He dropped his head again. She sensed there was more.
“He said you would not be happy.”
She rolled her eyes. “You spoke to a demon, yet I’m the one you are afraid of? Be gone, you fool.” She began to close the door, but then a thought struck her. “I’m not happy, but neither am I mad at the mere messenger. You have an ailing wife, yes?”
“Yes,” the hunter replied. “She has suffered all winter with an ague.”
“And yet, no one in your family has come to me for a cure,” Petra said.
“No, our Gods do not allow us to deal with witches.”
Petra resisted the urge to roll her eyes again, instead adding sweetness to her voice. “I am no witch, only a simple herbal healer. I use nature to help the sick. How can that be unholy?”
He continued looking down as he answered. “I don’t know.”
“Send your oldest daughter to me at sunrise tomorrow. I will make a tonic for your wife, and a blessing amulet for your house. You have been in contact with a demon. You don’t want to take any of his dark residue home, do you?”
The hunter trembled. Obviously this thought had not crossed his peasant brain. Petra held her sigh and continued smiling at him.
“No,” he answered after a moment.
“Then send your daughter, yes?”
“Thank you, Vědma. You are most kind.” Nodding, he scurried away.
Petra closed the door and rested against it for a moment. She had a plan, and much to do before her new body arrived at sunrise. Her laughter drifted through the forest.
Fiction © Copyright Stacey Turner
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from author Stacey Turner:
Morbid Metamorphosis: Terrifying Tales of Transformation
Metamorphosis occurs every day as caterpillars become sweet fluttering butterflies, tadpoles become gorgeous frog princes and chameleons become one with the beauty of nature – but you won’t find any of that here.
The transformations you’re about to witness are unnatural, sometimes gruesome and deeply psychological. They will make you question reality and take your mind places it was never meant to go.
Terrifying Tales of Transformation from Greg Chapman * Roy C. Booth & R. Thomas Riley * Terri DelCampo * Dave Gammon * Nancy Kilpatrick * Rod Marsden * Jo-Anne Russell * M.J. Preston * Stacey Turner * Tina Piney * Suzanne Robb * Franklin E. Wales * Donna Marie West * Suzie Lockhart * Cameron Trost * Daniel I. Russell * Simon Dewar * Amanda J. Spedding * Ken MacGregor * Erin Shaw * Gregory L. Norris * Nickolas Furr