The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Sonora Taylor
Oh the weather outside is frightful …
Carl grunted as he shoveled snow. That stupid song had been in his ears for days. He heard it at the mall, on the radio, at his office as his coworker Martha sang it at the top of her lungs.
“I just love the season,” she’d said with a smile as he walked by her desk, even though he’d made it a point to avoid eye contact. “I just want to wrap it in a box and gift it to myself.”
“Probably the only way you’d get a gift,” Carl muttered.
“What?” she asked in a tone that said she’d heard him clearly.
Carl sighed and sipped his coffee, but he could still feel Martha’s grin and gaze drill into his back like an icicle.
But the fire is so delightful …
Heat moved up his arms and legs. The snow was knee-deep, and it wasn’t getting better. At least it wasn’t ice. Carl remembered walking across the icy parking lot at his office the day before. He’d fallen and hit his head on a patch that wasn’t salted. He’d felt pain so sharp it felt like fire.
“Oh, you poor thing!” Hands touched his shoulders, and through the throbs of pain Carl realized the voice belonged to Martha. “You gotta watch out for those patches of ice!”
Helpful, Carl thought with disdain. He was in too much pain to speak, and he didn’t want to waste his precious energy on Martha, of all people.
“Let me help you,” she said. She tried to steady him on his feet. The last thing Carl remembered before he passed out was that she hummed a Christmas carol under her breath while she lifted him.
But since we’ve no place to go …
Carl couldn’t get relief from the snow. He couldn’t go inside. The house beside him was cardboard. Cardboard. The bitch couldn’t even give him a gingerbread house.
He laughed. It was as bitter as the cold, and as shrill as Martha singing beside his prison. He was in a dark room lit only by Christmas trees. Glass walls surrounded him, all the better to insulate him in cold air. A contraption blew snow into his prison, a fact he discovered when he woke up buried in flakes.
When he’d woken up, he’d shot up, dusted himself off, and ran head first into a wall of glass.
“Careful!” Martha had called. “You don’t want to make your concussion worse!”
“Why am I here?” Carl asked. “Let me out!”
“You need some holiday cheer. I decided to wrap you up and give you a gift. Merry Christmas!”
“Let me out!” Carl’s hands were already red from the cold, and his legs felt like ice thanks to the growing mounds of snow.
“Not until you get into the spirit. And I’d start shoveling if I were you – that snow will only get worse, and men have suffocated in smaller drifts than what that box can hold.”
Martha had laughed and turned away. Carl held out as long as he could, then picked up the shovel and started to snow.
He’d shoveled snow all night and most of the morning. Martha came down eventually, but not to let him out. She sat beside her Christmas tree, wrapping presents and singing to herself as Carl dug and dug.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Fiction © Copyright Sonora Taylor
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Sonora Taylor:
Little Paranoias: Stories
Is it a knock on the door, or a gust of wind? A trick of the light, or someone who’ll see what you’ve done?
“Little Paranoias: Stories” features twenty tales of the little things that drive our deepest fears. It tells the stories of terror and sorrow, lust at the end of the world and death as an unwanted second chance. It dives into the darkest corners of the minds of men, women, and children. It wanders into the forest and touches every corner of the capital. Everyone has something to fear — but after all, it’s those little paranoias that drive our day-to-day.