The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Naching T. Kassa
I am in the subway when they attack.
The creatures walk on two legs, and their grey skins shine under the fluorescent light. Wide, grinning mouths display small, triangular teeth. Teeth they use to rip, rend, and tear into my fellow travelers. Shrieks of anguish fill the air.
An elderly woman and a young boy dash by, pursued by three monsters. I rush to their aid, but my feet slide on the blood-slick concrete and I fall hard. Pain shoots through my ankle.
I look up as one creature falls upon the old woman. She screams at the boy, telling him to run. He hesitates, then obeys.
The monsters tear the woman’s arm from her body. They swarm her, choking off her screams. I turn away.
The boy darts into an archway which leads to the stairs. He doesn’t see the creature which follows. I limp after them.
Dim light reveals a series of steps and concrete walls. A maw of darkness waits at the top. Footsteps echo.
I grasp hold of the railing and use it to pull myself up the stairs. The sounds of flight have ceased. The silence grows deafening. Still, I climb.
Within a few minutes, I reach the top. Outside the shadowy archway, a smear of blood marks the wall. Whether it belongs to the boy, I don’t know. I pause before the blackness, my ears attuned to the slightest sound. Looking back, I see nothing. No monster has trailed me.
In another life, I’d been a hunter of men, my talents purchased by dollars wired to my Swiss bank account. But the blood on my hands ended that time, compelling me to forsake those skills. Now, they’ve returned to me, like echoes in the dark.
I have no weapon. I must find one.
My pockets yield little. Eighty-five cents in change. A lighter. Cigarettes. A few jelly beans. A small bottle of spray-on hand sanitizer. It’s not the arsenal I need.
The hollow repeat of a strangled cry sounds before me. Time has slipped through my fingers and I must use what I have. I plunge into the dark, the lighter in hand.
The flame flickers as fresh air washes over me. The city lies in darkness. To my left, the light bathes naked grey skin. The creature growls as it struggles to reach into the space behind a soda vending machine. The boy screams.
I pull the sanitizer from my pocket and add a scream of my own.
The beast turns on me, forgetting the boy. It charges.
I brace for the attack.
When it reaches me, I spray the face and thrust the lighter toward its mouth. It isn’t as good as hairspray, but it does the job. The thing ignites.
It falls to the ground, howling in pain. The creature has become a bonfire, its skin a natural accelerant. The light it casts reveals what waits in the dark. Hundreds of snarling and tooth-filled faces.
My ankle prevents my running.
The boy peeks out from behind the machine. I keep my eyes focused on him as the creatures surround me, their circle growing tighter and tighter.
In the boy’s face, I see the echo of every life I’ve ever taken. I hope—I pray—one life will equal many.
They take me as he melts into the darkness.
Fiction © Copyright Naching T. Kassa
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Naching T. Kassa:
As technology takes over more of our lives, what will it mean to be human, and will we fear what we’ve created? What horrors will our technological hubris bring us in the future? Join us as we walk the line between progressive convenience and the nightmares these advancements can breed. From faulty medical nanos and AI gone berserk to ghost-attracting audio-tech and one very ambitious Mow-Bot, we bring you tech horror that will keep you up at night. Will you reach the Kill Switch in time? Edited by Dan Shaurette and Emerian Rich, with authors Chantal Boudreau, Garth von Buchholz, Bill Davidson, Jerry J. Davis, Dana Hammer, Laurel Anne Hill, Naching T. Kassa, Tim O’Neal, H.E. Roulo, Garrett Rowlan, Phillip T. Stephens, and Daphne Strasert.