The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by A.F. Stewart
The old woman kept mementos of her life, small treasures tucked away in boxes and trunks, neatly stored in the attic. She’d often regale her nephew of her adventures in faraway places and the valuables she brought back.
“I found opals once in Australia,” she crowed, or, “I bought the sweetest pair of earrings in India.”
Her nephew would smile, and nod. He found it hard to believe her stories were true, knowing how little she ventured from her home. Still, he wondered about those trunks and boxes in the attic and their contents. Curiosity nibbled at the edge of his brain.
What does she store in those trunks? Junk? Old clothes? Jewelry? Money?
He hoped it was money, enough that his sticky fingers could liberate a few dollars and pay off his gambling debts.
I just need the opportunity to steal her keys and take a look. It wouldn’t hurt to look.
So one afternoon, a sedative found its way into the old woman’s tea and with a jingle of her keys, he snatched them from her pocket and went to the attic.
Dozens of trunks filled the space, but his gaze fell on a small one tucked in a corner, nestled against a backpack.
“I’ll start with you.”
He ran through stolen keys until he unlocked the trunk, lifting the lid in giddy anticipation. He stumbled backward, gagging.
Instead of money or junk, the trunk held bones, human bones. A skull grinned at him from atop the pile. As he recoiled in shock, a floorboard creaked behind him. He whirled and saw the old woman standing there.
“How did you…?” His surprise eased into self preservation and he hastily tried to placate her. “Hey, don’t get mad. I won’t tell. I can keep a secret. We’re family, right?”
“No. We’re not. Not true blood kin.” She smiled, her teeth suddenly pointed and sticking out at odd angles. “I told my sister not to adopt you. I could feel the wrongness of you, even then. Still, I’m glad she didn’t live to see this.”
She moved like a hurricane wind and the last thing he saw was her razor-sharp teeth before they ripped into his throat.
Fiction © Copyright A.F. Stewart
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from A.F. Stewart:
Hell’s Empire: Tales of the Incursion
A unique anthology of two thrones at war as the forces of Hell assault an unsuspecting Victorian Britain.The cry went out to theologians and engineers, to artificers and antiquarians, to every name which could be named. By telegraph where lines were still intact, and by volunteer riders where they were not; smuggled along the coast in fishing smacks, semaphored from hill-tops. It came without royal sanction, issued jointly by the Lords of the Admiralty and Marquess Lansdowne, the new Secretary of State for War:”In God’s name, help us. We are losing.”