The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Karen Soutar
Shopping in The Street at night wasn’t like during the day. Then, you chose the shops, walked in unasked, looked around, maybe you bought and maybe you didn’t…but you made the choices.
After midnight, everything changed.
Of course, you had to be the right kind of person to do it. If any old Tom, Dick or Harry walked along, all they’d see were the ‘normal’ shops, closed for the night, and the empty, boarded up properties that were unused. Supposedly.
Evie gazed down the narrow, cobbled road – the kind of cobbles that were actually called ‘setts’, here in Scotland. A couple of feeble, flickering street lamps were all that lit her way. Was she doing the right thing?
A roar from the hills outside the town got her moving. To hell with it, she was going ahead. She couldn’t think of another solution.
Evie adjusted her shoulder bag, and set off. Her trainers squeaked on the wet ground. The first few places she walked past, there was no response. Then, a shutter flew up.
‘Ah, my dear!’ The voice was like a rusty saw frantically trying to cut wood. ‘Come here, come to old Cammie!’
It was impossible to tell whether the beckoning figure was male or female. Or even human. It appeared to be clothed entirely in rags, and the claw-like hand gave nothing away. As for the face, that was shrouded in ratty hair or material or maybe both.
‘What do you want, my dear? Need a spell to bewitch a boy, do you? Maybe a love potion? Cammie has ‘em all.’
‘No.’ Evie was glad that her voice came out steady. ‘I’ve…summoned someone. Something. I didn’t mean to. And I need to put it back.’
‘Ahh…’ It was a hiss. ‘So you’re Evie Campbell, the young witch that’s summoned Him. Didn’t they tell you not to play with fire?’
‘What? How do you know that? Who have you been talking to?’
‘Cammie knows, dear. Cammie knows everything. Now, do you want help, or not?’
‘Yes. What’s the price?’
‘Ah, so blunt, so young. Plays with fire, makes a mess, then just says how much to put it right. You have no idea…’
‘Actually, I have.’ Evie rummaged in her bag. ‘I have a book of rare spells. That any good?’
‘Okay…what about the fat of a hanged man?’ Evie took out a small stoppered bottle filled with a hideous pale wax. ‘That’s hard to get nowadays.’
‘No good, not for this.’
‘Well, what then? Surely you don’t want my soul? That’s so predictable…’
‘No, my dear. How badly do you want Him put back?’
Evie hesitated. This wasn’t going the way she’d expected. But He was terrorising the town, had already killed once and was sure to do so again…she had to do whatever it took.
‘I need it done. Can you do it?’
‘I can. But the price is…your future.’
‘My future? What do you mean?’
‘No more chat, my girl!’ The creature before Evie was suddenly urgent. ‘He knows you’re here! You must decide, now!’
The street lamps flickered, and went out. There was a long, low snarl from the end of the Street.
‘Yes, yes, all right!’
The figure stuck out a hand. Evie shook.
The snarl was cut off. Evie tried to release her hand, but was held fast. Her captor began to laugh – a laugh she recognised.
The street lamps came up. The creature had thrown back its ragged hood and nest of hair. Old Evie faced young Evie, ancient claw clutching smooth hand, bloodshot eyes meeting bright gaze, screeching laugh drowning out youthful scream.
Fiction © Copyright Karen Soutar
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com