The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Naching T. Kassa
The signs began during the funeral.
Cora Matthis saw the first in the blood-red sky. The billowing clouds from the nearby smokestacks formed strange shapes, and one reminded her of the letter “P.” It held her eye until the wind tore it asunder.
Cora glanced down into the dark grave Grampa Matthis now occupied. When her turn came, she grasped a handful of cemetery earth and tossed it on the casket. It formed a perfect letter “O,” before the next mourner’s handful covered it. She stepped away, the dry leaves whispering beneath her feet.
Her sister, Elizabeth, met her at the cemetery gate. She pressed a handkerchief against her colored cheek as a black tear slid from her painted eye. The tear skipped across an imperfection in her skin, and Cora read a lower-case letter, “i.”
Together, they left the cemetery and headed for the car.
Rain had washed the streets the night before, and the earth had grown wet and muddy. It sucked at Cora’s pumps as she approached the vehicle. When she opened the door and slipped inside, mud-stained the carpet. It curved into the letter “S” before her very eyes.
Cora didn’t speak as her sister took the wheel. Elizabeth was a mercurial being, given to great shifts in mood and manner. One moment, she was the soul of sorrow. The next, the life of every party. The partygoer took her home.
When they arrived, Cora left the car and her sister behind. She entered the kitchen through the back door and paused near the table. Death robs a house of sound just as it robs a man of life, and silence deafened as she searched the table for something to eat. Someone had brought a box of donuts for the grieving family and Cora selected a round ring. When she discovered the significance of the symbol, she dropped the donut on the table, and took the backstairs to her room.
Beams of sunlight filtered through the tree outside her window as she entered. They formed the letter “N” across her carpeted floor.
There had been many terrible moments since Cora’s grandfather had died, but this moment of realization was the worst. The question she’d put to the universe the night he’d died had been answered. She left her room and descended the stairs.
A mélange of chemical and organic scents greeted Cora as she opened the garage door. She made her way to the planter’s table and found the instrument of death upon it. Using her sister’s gloves, she picked three leaves off the Fox Glove plant. Then, she returned to the house.
Her sister didn’t look up when she entered. Her eyes were on the new checkbook, her lips on the edge of a wineglass.
Cora found the wine bottle in the kitchen. She stared at the uncorked and narrow mouth. One leaf could end so much pain. One leaf could avenge.
She reached out, but her fingers bumped the bottle instead of catching it. The bottle spilled words across the table, and Cora read them.
NOT LIKE HER.
A lump rose to her throat and her vision blurred. She picked up the phone and dialed.
The leaves never touched the wine…
Cora never saw Elizabeth again.
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.
By gosh that IS an “S” in the red smoke (actually the time of the photo). I like what you did with the idea, Natching!
Very suspenseful and creepy.
Terrific! And yes–there is nothing as silent as a house after a death.