The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The Hogs Ate Ashes
by Elaine Pascale
“The hogs ate ashes,” Sidney said, clutching her teddy bear to her small chest as they sat in the basement, awaiting the storm.
It was true: the drought had been particularly bad, and all the animals hunted unsuccessfully for plants and roots to gnaw on. While the horses and goats grew razor thin, the hogs remained plump.
“The hogs ate ashes,” the girl repeated. They must have been eating something. They did not whine from hunger as the cows did. Or, as the people did.
They sat in the basement, the group of them. They had been gathered by the well-meaning counsel that felt the town hall was the soundest building and the safest spot for them. They were banded together by fear, but honestly had little concern for each other.
“The hogs ate ashes,” Sidney was looking at Ellie even though her mother had asked her not to. Everyone avoided Ellie. They knew she was capable of black magic. They had heard she had made a pact with the Devil.
Before the storm, during the drought, children had disappeared, and they blamed Ellie. They claimed she held sacrificial ceremonies. They thought she made a pact for rain. She needed her crops to grow more than anyone. She was widowed and no one in town wanted to do business with her because of her relationship with the Devil. She needed to be able to ship her crops out; she needed the rain. They blamed her while the children continued to disappear until, finally, Ellie’s own daughter had disappeared as well.
“The hogs ate ashes.”
A few people “shushed” the girl as they felt the storm growing closer.
Someone had suggested that Ellie’s daughter had been taken in retribution. After the girl had disappeared it had rained. It had rained for so long that they began to curse it. Now that the storm was coming, they longed for days of just plain rain.
“The hogs ate ashes.” Ellie nodded at Sidney when the girl said this. Ellie understood; she closed her eyes and breathed deeply, and the storm picked up.
Then the rest of them understood. Sidney wasn’t saying “ashes.”
“The hogs ate Ashley,” she was saying, staring at the woman whose eyes remained closed. She was confessing, putting into words what she had witnessed, what they had done to the woman’s daughter. The girl was confessing in the hopes of stopping the storm.
Fiction © Copyright Elaine Pascale
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Elaine Pascale:
The Blood Lights
They victimize all…
Jezzie Mitchell is in anguish; with her brother’s murder still on her mind, she’s noticed strange behavior among the girls in the residential treatment center where she works. Is there a connection between the contagion on Cape Cod and the deadly Bahamas vacation that changed her life?
Jezzie reaches out to former lover Lou Collins, a scholar who has chased proof of the lights for decades. Will he be able to solve the mystery of the lights in time?
Intensely competitive, reporter Bridgette Collins knows the lights are a way to secure fame in her career. And while it’ll put the final nail into the coffin of her ex-husband’s career, she vows to know the secrets of the lights. Even if it means unleashing a world-wide epidemic…