The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Terrie Leigh Relf
Despite the recent warnings of an impending snowstorm, there was just a fine icy mist swirling around their campsite. When Evan cranked up the radio an hour or so later, all they heard was static and white noise.
“Maybe we should head back down the mountain,” Sara said, holding her hands over the camp stove. She’d lost her best pair of gloves on the hike up, and no one else had brought an extra pair.
Ty nodded, reached into his backpack for an energy bar and a bottle of water, which he added to the kettle on the stove. “It’s going to be dark soon. Even with the snow tires, I don’t want to be heading down that steep road. What if someone else is driving up?”
“It’s decided, then.” Evan tore open a pack of cocoa, dumped it into his mug, added hot water from the kettle. He swirled the sweet cocoa around with a finger, then licked it with a smack. “The weather could shift before we’re even halfway down the mountain. Let’s just stay here for another night.”
“Why don’t we move camp to that cave? It’s just about a quarter of a mile back up the trail. You remember the spot, right? Where the trail veers off.”
“Good idea, Ty. Let’s warm up a bit. Emily, you should have some cocoa or something.”
Emily’s lips were chapped, so she offered her best imitation of a smile. “Do you have any more of that brandy?”
“Not until after we move all our stuff.” Evan drained his cup. “Unless you want to sleep in the van tonight, we should get going.”
Fortunately, the cave went a bit deeper than they first believed, so they set up their tents toward the back. It wasn’t so cold that they needed to bundle up together.
While Emily dug a small pit, surrounding it with rocks she scrounged from the cave, Evan and Ty went in search of twigs or anything else they could burn before the snowstorm set in. It was about dusk when they returned with enough kindling and chunks of wood to warm up the cave.
“Hey! Look what I just found!” Emily brandished a pair of gloves with just a few dark smudges on the fingers. “I think they’re wool-lined, too.” She slipped them on, and closed her eyes, savoring the warmth.
“That’s great. Where’d you find them? In the bottom of your sleeping bag?” Ty chuckled, as Emily was always losing stuff and finding it in odd places.
“No. Here in the cave just below that outcropping. Someone probably set them there and didn’t realize they’d fallen.”
While they warmed themselves around the fire, Evan brought out a bottle of brandy. “This is the good stuff, guys, so savor it,” he said, pouring.
Emily scratched just underneath the cuff of her new gloves. Strange. Wool didn’t usually make her itchy. She flashed on the possibility that a spider had bitten her, shrugged. After finishing her brandy, she held her cup out. “Just a bit more, please? I’m heading to bed.”
Emily climbed into the sleeping bag still wearing the wool-lined gloves. During the night, she startled awake several times, her hands alternately itching and burning, but she couldn’t get the gloves off.
In a feverish haze, Emily wriggled out of the sleeping bag, nearly collapsing her tent. Evan and Ty’s snoring, which usually annoyed her, didn’t even register as she stumbled through the cave’s opening into a bank of snow. She clawed at the fresh snowfall until an opening finally appeared, revealing a full moon in the night sky.
While she still couldn’t pull the gloves off, her thermal pajamas stiffened with the freezing temperatures, cracking into slivers of bloody ice-covered fabric. She leaned forward, roaring with agony as her bones, sinew, muscles, and flesh were reconfigured . . . blood seeped out of her pores, sizzling as it dropped onto the icy path.
She howled again, staggered back, before looking down at her hands, which were no longer trapped within the gloves Where once her left hand had been, a fur-covered claw. Her right hand, however, still appeared human, with long-tapered fingers that began to transform before her eyes. Shaking the snow off her back, what remained of Emily reached out for Evan and Ty to no avail.
Just before sunrise, what had once been Emily shielded her eyes before clawing through the icy bank that lead into the cave. Despite the chill air, her sense of smell prevailed. She leaned forward, then to the left and the right, snuffling. Her stomach growling, she bared her teeth.
Enough fresh meat to last through winter…
Fiction © Copyright Terrie Leigh Relf
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from author Terrie Leigh Relf:
For thousands of Earth years, the Transgalactic Consortium has had a quiet interest in this planet and its inhabitants, the Haurans. While the Sisterhood of the Blood Moon works together with the Consortium and Haurans to maintain balance in the universe, the Blood Moon is fast approaching. The power of this moon reveals untold secrets . . . including a sacred covenant with the Mora Spiders. There is an ancient pact that needs to be honored—but at what cost and for whose purpose? The world may come to an end. But will there be a chance for a new beginning?