The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Written in Ink
by Karen Soutar
He headed down the stairs as he’d been instructed. He’d never been in this studio before, but he was excited, as always, at the prospect of a new piece of artwork. So many now, each commemorating a different event. Soon he would run out of space.
Pushing open the door and stepping through, he inhaled as he took in the scene before him, and the stench – oh God. He knew it well, but the door slammed and no amount of tugging would move it. His efforts were cut short by the sibilant laughter behind him.
‘You won’t get through. No-one does. You’re here now, so you might as well get what you came for.’ Shuffling footsteps as – someone – something – crossed the floor. Then a buzzing sound that was oh-so-familiar.
He had to turn then. For the first time in his life, he muffled a scream of his own. A creature that might once have been a man stood by the chair in the centre of the room. Black lines swirled and chased each other all over its skin. Was it his fear, or were the lines moving, changing, forming images and then dissolving into others? He couldn’t help himself as he moved closer, fascinated.
‘Look closely,’ the thing hissed. ‘See anyone you know?’
He bit back a cry as faces formed on the being in front of him, wide eyes staring, pleading, open mouths cursing, shrieking. The thing pushed him down into the chair. He was paralysed, powerless to do anything except mumble, ‘No, no…’
‘’No’ didn’t stop you,’ whispered the creature, tearing through his T-shirt with clawlike fingers. ‘Screaming and crying didn’t stop you. Do you really think it will stop me?’
He flinched as the thing’s fingers stroked the ink covering his body.
‘You’re proud of these, aren’t you?’ it whispered. ‘One for each. So many. But not really a reminder. Too still, too…dead. I can change that.’
The creature raised the tattoo machine. He could see it clearly now. The needle looked – wrong. Too big, too sharp. And the ink in the tube shifted and danced just like the tattoos on the being’s skin.
He whimpered as the buzzing got closer. ‘Is this Hell?’
‘This is your Hell. For them – retribution, revenge, who knows? I’m just here to draw.’
‘How – how long will it take?’
The creature shrugged, a final human gesture, before applying the machine.
He could barely hear its reply over the buzz and his own screams.
Fiction © Copyright Karen Soutar
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com