The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by E.A. Black
There were dozens of them – glowing blue like a spent flame. I felt the air against my face as they flapped their wings. Moonlight caught their colors along the edges, and they flickered like phosphorescence on a turbulent ocean.
I checked their bodies. These were not the plump bodies of moths with their fuzzy antennae. They were sleek, slim, off-putting in their frantic flying. I had read of them in local legend but had never before seen them.
Two years ago tonight, 45 townspeople perished in the Pittsfield Mine Explosion. Rescuers spent over a week looking for survivors. The mine was closed down and the town fell into ruin. Only a handful stuck behind. Everyone else was too afraid to remain. I had left town over a year ago, only returning to pay my respects. The mass exit destroyed Pittsfield, leaving the town to the rats and coyotes.
I caught one on my finger. A handsome face covered in coal dust flashed through my mind. He couldn’t have been any older than 16. He smiled. He was missing a tooth. The image faded as the butterfly took to the sky. A second one landed on my arm. My father’s face appeared in my mind’s eye. I tried to call his name but my voice caught in my throat. A frightening sense of suffocation overcame me as all went dark. I heard the shifting of soil and rock as the earth closed in around me. A man’s weak scream. I wanted to call to him, to comfort him, but my voice failed me.
The butterfly flew away and the vision evaporated. As more butterflies approached me, I shook them off and left the area. This was a grave site, not to be tampered with. The butterflies would not allow me to forget. They would not allow anyone to forget. Instead of following in my father’s footsteps, I went to college. It could have been me down there. I shook off futility and depression and turned my back to the butterflies; my neighbors, my friends, my father.
I vowed to never return.
Fiction © Copyright E. A. Black
Image courtesy of Nina D’Arcangela
More from E.A. Black:
Nature. Filled with wonder, beauty, majesty and mystery. Also filled with things that want to kill us. Normal things, little ordinary things. Things that creep and crawl. Things that fly, swim, scuttle and slither. Things that you might expect and be rightfully phobic about … as well as things you may have never imagined as a threat. Individually, maybe they wouldn’t be. But that’s just it. They aren’t coming for you individually. They’re coming for you in swarms, in flocks and hordes, in masses and multitudes. They’re coming for you by the thousands. They are … TEEMING TERRORS.
A darkly poignant story, and one that resonates.