The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Lori R. Lopez
The Butterflies are back.
In waves of thick silent menace, on wings
of dusty brilliant hues they dive. And we rush
for cover, dreading them more than
most of the mutants. Changelings we call them.
Evolution, survival, a deranged unnatural
ecosystem modified species to adapt,
while others died off. Insects, almost extinct,
rebounded. We are now more vulnerable.
Society collapsed in the wake of countless
disasters and threats, a series of plagues. I fear
these bitter skies will never be friendly again . . .
After the Butterflies descend for a meal,
they transform to rugged Killer Beetles,
and those are a dozen times worse.
Huddled in an old building,
an abandoned cityscape, my group
peers through large grime-encased windows
attacked by a famished swarm battering
the glass with incessant thirst
and fish-tooth fangs. Roaming scouts
caught our scent and sounded a telepathic alarm,
a pulse of electricity ringing the Dinner Bell —
bringing a dense cloud
of paper-thin wings out of the sky.
In one fell and frenzied swoop they are
driven to feed, an astonishing sight . . .
The Flutterbys have this cunning deceptive
beauty, hypnotic and disarming. Duping us to
look in rapt wonder. Until they strike
and the blood begins to spill, turning to
red mud beneath our feet. Those of us who
still can flee must stagger to the nearest shelter,
arms fanning, palms smacking flesh,
swatting air in horror and chaos.
Scrambling to escape their latest assault,
a distant scene had surfaced,
unwelcome, flitting to memory from
a very different age . . .
The ragged annals of Childhood.
Watching a gentle Butterfly land on
my finger as a girl. Innocently awed,
I gazed at the delicate shape.
Needle-fine teeth sank in and I screamed.
My mother swept me up
before a flurry of the devils surrounded us
to feast and drain each drop of fluid
within seconds. I felt on fire, bitten, burning.
A shudder racks me now, decades since.
Just grateful there are no Bees. Glimpsing
a subsequent barrage of bodies . . .
Colliding, falling to lie stunned, less pretty,
less colorful and fragile. Those who fed
twitch and contort, a garish metamorphosis.
Once the flight of vampiric flowers
subsides, dead or altered, it is time to move out,
flee a legion of crawlers. Fatigued and
traumatized, suffering throes of
disorders and syndromes, mental ravages,
we stumble in search of fresh sanctuary,
hoping to hide and catch some winks before
the next time we are tracked or detected.
Found. We gave up everything, our homes,
our pets, to exist as fugitives. There is no peace,
no chance to rebuild or feel safe. We pray
not to encounter fog laden with Mosquitoes . . .
Each new refuge harbors threats,
yielding hazards we could never imagine
during saner days. Our minds
were ignorant to how deadly our world,
this dreadfully warped Greenhouse people helped
construct, might be. Along the road we
gather mushrooms, berries, roots and leaves,
whatever scraps and morsels escape
their jaws. One lesson we learned is how it feels
to be dinner: chased, targeted, consumed.
We prefer not to shed blood, either Pacifists or
paranoid that something would smell it.
Besides, we cannot predict the consequences
of feeding on creatures deformed by human folly.
The chemicals and poisons that pollute air,
water, every living thing on the planet.
We are tainted enough already.
There has to be a point when the balance tips
and cell walls crumble like fortresses,
unable to hold off invasion. It is even
highly perilous to eat plants or fungus,
nuts or seeds. Laced with Arsenic, Lead,
so many terrible ingredients.
The stuff of Pesticides, Industry, Fall-Out . . .
Radioactive, we glow in the dark,
making us easier to spot. Our lives will be
shortened one way or another.
Yet there is a ray of hope. Some of us
have proved resilient as Cockroaches
to these devastating contaminants. To the
mass suicidal tendencies of madmen —
corrupt scientists and businessmen, the leaders
and politicians who doomed us to this
recurrent nightmare by action or inaction . . .
who led us over the brink into an Apocalypse
of climate and crops, fuel and ego . . .
of tinkering with Nature and Elements,
the fundamental order. I wish all of them
could see what they have wrought.
The rest of us are forced to view,
with front-row seats, the consequence —
as strange atrocities unfold.
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.