The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Lori R. Lopez
A rickety Caravan of growls and creaks, grumbles,
tin-whistle wails, parading common lanes
like a patchwork show contrived to entertain young or old
with an air of derelict shady grandeur . . . a sense of
importance that belies the shabby impression.
Halting on a mudfield, a plain expanse
both moodful and mopey, highly visible, yet away
from scrutiny. Ideal for nefarious deeds.
Thirteen wagons unload, their colors and murals
painted on panels long faded or chipped.
Sinister as the promise in the greasy grin of Fate;
the lips of a Carnival Barker inviting, enticing
an unsuspecting populace to part with their
Piggybanks or final coins, saved up for sealed eyelids
on a rainy unspectacular day, a somber gray future,
a sordid demise that none could predict.
“It’s your funeral!” promises the gruff swarthy
Pitchman as he winks and peels back
a weathered flap to beckon, offering secret access
to the Tent Of No Return. “Enter at your own risk!”
Booming laughter echoes on and on. Lights dim,
spun in circles, strung in spirals surrounding
a Ferris Wheel, a Funhouse, games and rides.
A row of dreary sagging canvas huts.
The Carni-Val awaits, drooling and starved,
gaudy and gay on the surface, rabid and rotting
underneath; between sputters and gutters of illumination,
the strobes of lurid festering gothic appetite.
Welcoming small-towners who flock for miles
to gander an eve of atrocious acts fit only for the bravest,
the most depraved. Here would their nightmares
unfold in the flesh, lovely and bizarre.
But it is what they cannot view from outside that
draws some to gawp in disbelief at a Midnight attraction,
a Late Side-Show of creeps and creatures:
half-person, half-beast. Misshapen combinations of
man or woman and Wolf; of Bear, Elephant, Tiger.
Reptile Boy, Piranha Girl, Arachnid Baby, Crocodile Lady.
The wormlike form of a Human Slug. A pool of
posing Vampire Mermaids. A flock of Bat People.
The Squid-Man is the star, at first a Ringmaster
of the weird, the uncanny and arcane. Transformed to
a monstrous Magician. His booming voice sings Opera
while a tentacle beard dances. Writhing, hypnotic,
burly strands keep the audience enthralled as he performs
a magic feat: vanishing a volunteer. “Step right up,
who will be next?” Mister Squid bids the loneliest soul
to come forth — one who would not be missed.
Then bows to mesmerized mechanical applause . . .
never needing to bring back the disavowed, disenchanted,
the disappeared for approval. Tragic and lost,
these wretched languish till after the festive trappings
dim — their awful cries unheard, pleas and prayers
unheeded — when crowds have dispersed
and only the animal mouths of predatory men and women
remain. A garish company, beast and carnivore,
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.