The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Lori R. Lopez
Squeak. Squeak. Squeak.
Someone should oil that wheel!
Or give her earplugs.
It was disturbing.
Confined to a box, a four-by-four
cell made of cement.
Unable to see anything but
these walls. Drab and gray.
Cold and rough. Yet she could
listen, against her will. The sound
echoed, all she could hear. All she could
think of. Maybe she was going mad.
Squeak. Squeak. Squeak.
If she heard one more squeak —
that would be it. She would snap
and it wouldn’t be a pretty sight!
Wrath and ruin. Utter frenzy.
Maybe she was where she belonged,
hidden, locked away from Society,
for they said she was out of her mind.
What did they know? Condemning her
because she was different.
Because she didn’t conform and had
ideas of her own.
Louder. Instead of ending
or diminishing, the racket grew worse,
stabbing her brain with tiny daggers.
She couldn’t bear it, she really couldn’t.
Two heavy clicks. A meager door
wrenched wide. Here it comes.
She greeted the source of the noise
with fear, loathing. Empty floor,
a blank wall. Silence at last. Too quiet.
She curled into the farthest corner
(a distance of four feet), hugging the rags
she had found herself in hours or days ago.
Did they expect her to crawl out?
Not a chance. She waited, like them . . .
After a moment, a figure stooped,
inspecting her. A long needle appeared in
one hand. The Doctor-Lady smiled,
all lipstick and painted nails. “Aren’t you
a sight? Don’t worry. We’ll make you pretty.”
So that was it. She braced herself.
The Doctor squeezed inside,
then a Nurse. They gripped her arms.
She woke still screaming, flat on a table,
nagged by a persistent droning whine,
far worse than the squeaks.
Metal parts clanked. She began to
ache, a lot of places at once.
Pinpoints of pain, searing torment.
Whatever they gave her wasn’t enough.
Thoughts of escape filled her head.
The Doctor held up a mirror. “Look!”
she invited. “Now you’re perfect.”
Suzabelle gawped at her image,
a Clockwork Woman, barely human!
Too late, she had become normal,
the same as everyone else. An Automaton.
Just another piece of the Machine . . .
Fiction © Copyright Lori R. Lopez
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Lori R. Lopez:
Darkverse: The Shadow Hours
A rich gathering of poetry with a dismal twilight atmosphere, a brooding nature, an eerie tone . . . DARKVERSE: THE SHADOW HOURS encompasses such pieces written by Lori R. Lopez between 2009 and 2017, collected in three of her POETIC REFLECTIONS volumes along with humorous and serious verse. This ample compendium allows a more focused reading experience and mood — presenting poems that share speculative themes, flashes of horror, glimpses of madness.
Lori is the author of THE DARK MISTER SNARK, THE STRANGE TAIL OF ODDZILLA, LEERY LANE, MONSTROSITIES, AN ILL WIND BLOWS, and THE FAIRY FLY among other tales. She has been called a storyteller, whether composing verse or prose.
The aim of her Darkverse series is to offer a chilling trek through unlit stretches where all manner of creeps and kooks may lurk; where graveyards and bogs and full-moons abound. The pages of The Shadow Hours illuminate those morbid uncanny perils and dreads that inhabit drab corners, the known and unknown terrors of the night. Vivid and distinct, her voice echoes our worst fears then delves beyond, exposing hitherto unimaginable frights.
Prepare to confront a motley array of ghouls and menaces that might just move under your bed.
DARKVERSE: THE SHADOW HOURS is an Elgin Award Nominee and a 2018 Kindle Book Awards Poetry Finalist. Look for an Illustrated Print Edition with quirky art by the author.