The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Tiffany Michelle Brown
When Caroline rounded the corner, she gasped in delight. On the opposite wall of the once-beautiful-now-ramshackle suite, hulking, rusted doors hung heavy on weathered jambs. The doors hung lazily open, as if someone had pushed through them and then didn’t bother to close them as they left. The metal was thick, solid, sturdy. The type of structure meant to keep people out—or to keep things in. Beyond the metal lay nothing but dark, dark, dark—as far as Caroline could tell.
“Jackpot,” Caroline whispered, fishing a new lens out of her camera bag. She secured the lens, staked out a spot in the middle of the room, and squatted down on her haunches. She spent the next few minutes shooting the doorway from afar, documenting it from a variety of angles and distances. The sharp staccato of the Nikon’s shutter echoed throughout the empty room as Caroline worked.
When she’d shot her fill, Caroline rose, slung the camera around her neck, and approached the doorway for a closer look.
A smile painting her lips, she reached out to touch one of the doors. She expected the metal to be cool, but it was preternaturally cold. She pulled her hand away, her skin burning from the contact. Caroline rubbed her fingertips against her jeans, willing warmth into her extremities.
A sudden shot of adrenaline rushed through her, and Caroline was filled with an instinctual desire to get away from this house as soon as possible. She’d gotten her shots, she reasoned. It had been a successful day. It was time to get out and let the house be.
But as Caroline began to turn, she glimpsed a shock of orange behind the doors, a bright spot in an ocean of black. Raw curiosity splashed through her limbs, momentarily eclipsing her impulse to flee.
Caroline peered into the darkness and squinted. Flat metal drawers that resembled cold, unyielding gurneys decorated the space within.
A morgue? Caroline thought. On the top floor of a Victorian mansion? And in a bedroom, no less. Weird.
On one of the metal drawers, the spot of orange again drew her attention—but it was pushed toward the back, and she couldn’t tell what it was exactly. She had to get closer.
Caroline took a step into the dim. She grasped the handle of the drawer on which she’d seen the flicker of orange. Strangely, the handle was warm, as if someone had been gripping it just before she’d arrived, imbuing the metal with body heat.
She gave the drawer a sharp jerk, and it screamed as it shot toward her, making Caroline wince. There on the cold surface was a scrap of clothing the color of an Arizona sunset. Every ounce of warmth drained from Caroline’s body as she stared at the fabric.
She recognized it.
She recognized it, because it was the very color she was wearing. Caroline glanced down at her tank top, and near the hem of the shirt, she saw that a piece was missing.
With a start, Caroline dropped the scrap of fabric, but instead of landing on cool, dark metal, the material fluttered down to drape over the gaping mouth of a fresh corpse. A corpse that, despite its mangled flesh, looked exactly like Caroline.
Caroline shrieked and moaned and scrambled out of the dark. Cold metal be damned, she heaved her full weight against the doors, coaxing them shut with a reverberating thud.
In the silence that followed, Caroline’s labored breathing was the only sound in the room—until she heard heavy, deliberate footfalls on the staircase.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com