The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Naching T. Kassa
“Thank you for meeting with me today, Mr. Barret,” the woman said.
Miles Barret gripped the small, wrinkled hand Sarah Goldstein offered. “My pleasure, Ms. Goldstein.” He motioned to the case she’d been studying. Within the glass lay a square of bronze. Sun rays had been carved into the polished surface and, from the center, a green eye stared.
“Gruesome, isn’t it?” he said.
“It looks real.” Ms. Goldstein replied.
“No. It’s glass. The artist, Paulo Garstan, created it for my father in 1967.”
“Strange thing to see in a lawyer’s office.”
“My father was a strange lawyer. Would you like to sit down?”
“I think I should.”
She sank into the leather chair and Miles crossed to his chair behind the desk. The woman wore a black patch over her left eye and her white hair swept back in an austere bun. Barret put her age at about eighty. He stifled a chuckle. In her white blouse and dark Capri pants, she resembled an elderly pirate.
“My secretary says you wish to make out a Will, is that correct?” he said, opening a new file on his desktop computer.
“Not exactly,” the old woman replied.
Barret glanced up. “Oh?”
“I tried to explain to the girl when I called but she didn’t seem to understand what I wanted, so I called it a Will.”
“I see. What did you really want?”
“You wish me to oversee the legalities?”
“No. I want you to make it.”
Barret frowned. “I don’t do donations.”
“I know. I’ve heard you aren’t into charity.”
“I’m afraid I don’t have time for this, Ms. Goldstein.”
“It won’t take long. Just a few minutes. You owe me.”
“What could I possibly owe you?”
“You don’t remember me, do you?”
Barett grinned. “You’re not someone I’d forget.”
“You were a boy, maybe sixteen. It was long before you attended law school. You ran with a pack of kids back then, bad ones.”
Barett’s smile faltered.
“I was twenty-one the night your friends assaulted me and my fiancé. They say he died of injuries sustained during the attack. Two of your friends, the ones without rich daddies, were arrested and remain in prison to this day. You, Harry Cole, and Jamie Hansen were not charged. Of course, you all had the same lawyer.”
“I only watched.”
She laughed and the sound chilled him.
“You sound like your father. He said the same thing the night he invited me to his office. He even offered me money. Asked me to drop the charges against you and your friends. When I refused, he became…violent.”
“He told me you dropped the charges and left the city.”
“Lawyers are good at lying. I did neither. He killed me and chopped me into little pieces.”
Barett glared at her. “Who put you up to this? Was it Roberts from Accounting? It’s not funny.”
“I don’t know any Roberts.” the old woman replied. “I’ve only come for what’s mine.”
Barret shook his head. “You look very much alive to me.” He reached for his checkbook. “What will it take?”
She lifted the eye patch and exposed the empty socket. “I want the eye.”
The checkbook slipped from between Barett’s fingers and fell to the floor.
“Do you have the key?”
He nodded. He’d lost any attempt at speech.
“Could you get if for me, please?”
Barett rose to his feet and withdrew the ring from his pocket. Together, they crossed the room. His fingers fumbled at the keys until he found the right one. It clicked in the lock and he lifted the glass.
Sarah reached into the case and plucked the eye from the center of the sun. “Oh, good. He preserved it.” She removed the patch and pushed it into the socket. Barett’s stomach lurched.
“I—I’m so sorry,” he said.
The green eye swiveled toward him.
“I’ve watched you and your friends while I pulled myself together.”
“I’ve tried to make it up to you. Tried to be better. I even hoped we’d meet again so I could…tell you.”
She patted him on the shoulder. “I know. Once you got out from under your father’s thumb, you became a fairly decent human being.” She started for the door.
“Are you leaving?”
“Nothing more for me to do here.”
“You don’t want revenge.”
“I’ve had my fill.” She paused. “There is one thing you could do for me.”
“Don’t be so stingy. You’ve got all that money. Put it to good use.”
“Yes, ma’am. I promise I will.”
“Good. ‘Cause if you don’t, I’ll be back.”
She shuffled out the door and Barret returned to his desk. He pulled a bottle of scotch from the bottom drawer.
The cell on his desk buzzed. He picked it up and answered.
“Miles, this is Klaussen. I’m afraid I have some bad news.”
“Cole and Hansen are dead.”
A chill rose over his scalp. “Say that again?”
“They’re dead. The police say it’s murder, both killed in their offices. Jesus, it’s awful. One of my sources said they’d been turned inside out. Organs were missing. It’s a real mess.”
“Miles, are you alright?”
Barett ended the call and consulted his checkbook. He Googled the number of the nearest homeless shelter and quickly dialed.
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.