The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Naching T. Kassa
I’m far away but I have to save her.
She’s walkin’ down the old dirt road, the stuffed lion clutched in one hand. I see her as clearly. She can’t be more than five.
She’s headed for the old house at the end of the lane. Lord knows where her parents are this time. They’re worshippers of the needle, converts to the poison in their veins. Neither of them have their eyes on the girl. Neither care she’s gone.
The house is old, run-down, and as wretched as the mind of the thing which waits inside. It calls to her with its siren’s song, promisin’ the one thing her parents can’t give. She’s several steps away, but she’ll be there soon.
The thing used to be a man, but time and vice have warped him into somethin’ else. His skin’s gone gray, and his body’s stretched out until he’s thin as a rail. There’s a hunger in him nothing can satisfy. He waits for the girl with slavering jaws.
I can save her. I’ve done it before.
I close my eyes and breathe deep.
The scientists gather round me, adjustin’ electrodes on my head. They’re amazed by my ability, call it “Astral Projection.” I always called it “Spirit Walkin’.” Used it a lot as a kid…and in prison. That’s where they first discovered it.
“Alpha waves rising,” one of them says.
They know I’m going. My body will stay behind but my spirit will leave and walk the earth. I just can’t stay away too long. If I do, I’ll die.
The scientists don’t know where I go. They just know I won’t stay away.
Though I didn’t know her at this age, I’ve known this girl most of my life. When I first met her, she was seventeen, her face deeply scarred. As a boy, I never wanted to let her down. Somehow, I did.
When I open my eyes, I’m at the house. Crickets chirp in the tall grass and the sun’s near dropped from the sky. The lion’s layin’ on the front porch. My heart jumps into my throat.
Someone screams inside. The shriek shatters the quiet, silencing the crickets.
I rush through the open door and bust in on a spectacle I’ve seen many times.
The monster holds the girl in his arms, long talons diggin’ into her skin. She writhes against him, screamin’.
I have no gun. No knife. No weapon. All I have is my body. I use it.
I tackle the monster, knockin’ it to the floor. The girl falls from its grasp. She rolls, lies dazed. The monster reaches for me. I jump to my feet.
Somewhere in my middle, near the back of my belly button, there’s a gentle tug. It’s the first warnin’ my time is runnin’ out. I hurry to the girl and drag her to her feet.
The monster scrambles toward us. I usher the girl out on the porch and put the door between us and it. I lift her in my arms.
Splinters shower us as the monster bursts through the door.
I run. She’s heavy in my arms.
The tug comes again, harder this time, so hard it nearly pulls the breath my body. If I don’t go back to my body now, the next tug will signal my doom.
Never before have I ignored this warnin’. Her future isn’t unknown to me. If I leave, she’ll still live. She’ll be marred for life, but she’ll survive. I can set her down. I can go.
I don’t. I carry her further, further than I’ve ever gone.
Somethin’ slices me across the back. I grit my teeth against the pain, strugglin’ to keep my feet. The little girl seizes me about the neck. “It’s dying!” she cries.
I glance back. The monster has dropped to the ground, its flesh bubblin’, meltin’ under the light of the dyin’ sun. It stretches an arm toward the sky and falls into the dust.
The final tug comes. Agony fills me. I drop the girl.
She looks down on me as I lay in the dirt, her face beautiful, unblemished. She holds my hand.
The breath is leavin’ my body. But there are words to say, even as new memories fill my mind.
“One day…you’ll have a little boy,” I whisper. “He will never let you down.”
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.