The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
“I dunno,” Tina whispered. “This place looks weird.” She turned on her heel and pointed across the road. “Those berries are in the sunlight, and they look good and ripe.”
Melissa shook her head. “No, Tina. Too many cars go by here—do you want to consume their exhaust? Those berries are fair swimming in it.”
Tina’s eyes fixed on the dilapidated old house in front of them, and shuddered.
Melissa sighed and patted Tina on the shoulder. “Maybe no one actually—”
Her words were cut off by the sound of a screen door slamming.
The girls exchanged worried glances, then continued toward the house.
Their reluctance was understandable. The old place was once the groundskeepers’ cottage for the mental hospital that had lorded it over these acres. Now it sat by itself, lonely and neglected, its reason for existence torn down by bulldozers and wrecking balls. It gave off a certain creepiness that most people avoided.
An old man hailed them from the porch. “What’re you two doing here?” His tone was not friendly, but it wasn’t angry either.
Tina dropped back, but Melissa forged ahead. “Hi! We want to ask your permission to pick blackberries on your land.”
He grunted and half-turned back toward the front door.
“Go ahead. Ain’t my land anyway.”
Melissa smiled. “Oh, thank you!”
She touched Tina on the sleeve. “Come on. Let’s go!”
She saw a small path on her right. “Let’s go that way, and—”
The old man cut her off. “Just a sec, young lady.”
He leaned over the porch railing and pointed a finger at Melissa. “Stay on the path and pick your berries. Then leave. Under no circumstances are you to go making your own trail through the vines.”
“Oh. Oh, sure. Certainly.” Melissa turned to Tina and mouthed, “Nutcase.”
“I mean it!” he said loudly. He walked back into the house, and the screen slammed shut behind him.
With a shake of their heads, the girls headed toward the berry vines. Soon they had penetrated quite a ways in and had filled their buckets.
“I am so done,” Tina said. “I’m not sure which has more berries in it—my container or my belly!”
Melissa agreed. “Okay, let’s go. Nothing to see here anyway.”
She stood on her tiptoes and moved slowly around in a circle, checking out what she could see over the tall bushes. “But just to be…sure…”
Her voice died away, and her jaw dropped.
“What?” Tina asked, hurrying to Melissa’s side. “What do you see?”
“That.” Melissa pointed to a dark shape that Tina could only just make out.
“What is—oh, wait!” Tina crept closer to the edge of the path. “Yep. It’s the old swim center that Mom used to take me and Cam to when we were kids.”
Melissa’s eyes widened. “Cool! And it’s stuck way back here?”
Tina nodded. “Yep. Something happened there, no one really knows, and they had to close it. That was even before the nuthouse got closed down and demolished.”
And just like that, Melissa was gone—straight though the blackberry vines toward the abandoned building.
“Melissa!” shouted Tina. “You’re not supposed to go out there! It’s off the path!”
She sighed and took off after her, being much more careful to dodge the thorns and brambles. She imagined that her cousin was probably pretty torn up by now, having rushed headlong into such sharp vegetation.
Melissa was nowhere around when Tina got to the broken concrete that surrounded the building. Her heart pounding in her throat, Tina crept up to the partially-open front door and peered inside.
“Melissa?” she whispered. Then, more loudly, “Melissa!”
She could hear movement inside, so she pulled the door open just wide enough to squeeze in.
“Oh, this is such a bad idea…”
There was a short hallway that led to the pool area, and the walls were still hung with old notices and posters. Here and there a framed picture still remained, although the glass surfaces were cracked and marred with…
Tina looked closer, and drew back with a gasp. As she looked around, it was clear to her that everything had the same substance on it.
Not fresh, thank heavens, but still…
Tina stepped sideways to avoid something lying in the hallway, and stumbled. She fell against the wall, and when she righted herself, she found out something terrible.
The blood was fresh after all!
“Well, Missy was probably all scratched up. If she fell against this wall too, that would explain it.” Tina sighed with relief at the thought.
She walked into the pool area, and stopped in shock.
Melissa was sitting on the edge of the empty pool, staring down into its depths.
No answer. Something in the pool’s depths had caught her cousin’s attention, and she seemed mesmerized.
Tina edged closer, then looked into the gaping hole. The sight almost made her throw up.
Bodies. Dozens of them! They were all in varying stages of decay, which told Tina that these had built up over the years, and wasn’t just one mass deathbed.
“Melissa, we gotta go…”
“I wanna go swimming.”
Tina approached her cousin. “Missy?”
Melissa slowly looked up, and the look in her eyes made Tina jump backwards.
“Let’s swim.” Melissa’s voice was low and raspy—nothing like it was normally.
Then she scrambled to her feet and dove head-first into the vacant hole.
“MISSY!” Tina screamed as she ran to the pool’s edge.
Her cousin lay still at the bottom. At least for a moment.
Suddenly her limbs started twitching, and Tina’s heart leaped. She was alive!
And another limb twitched. Not Melissa’s though.
Tina froze in fear as the bodies came alive, drawing life from the blood that flowed from Melissa’s smashed skull.
Back at the house, the old man grunted at the sound of screams. He shook his head and stood up stiffly. He reached behind his front door and retrieved a scythe, then headed out the door.
“They never do listen.”
Fiction © Copyright K.R. Morrison
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Author K.R. Morrison:
Lydia’s faith in God is strong – at least on paper. But what happens when that faith is tested? Turned into a vampire by the worst – Vlad Drakul – she feels that God has abandoned her. But the opposite is true. God rescues her from a fate worse than death, and brings her into the plan He has for global redemption. With the help He sends, she feels like nothing can stop her. But when Vlad torments her again, and then her family, the temptation to run and hide is almost too strong to resist. Her answer to God’s call is the deciding factor in the battle that pits the angelic powers of God against the demonic powers of Hell.