The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Chelle Storey-Daniel
The whole town loves Robert. No one is sure how old he is but if you tried to count the wrinkles on his smiling face it would take you years. He tells off color jokes to other old men and flirts with all the ladies he encounters. Children gravitate towards him even when they’ve never met him before and he treats them all like his own. He spends every holiday volunteering at the homeless shelter and nobody leaves without a hug that lasts just long enough to renew their spirit. The town loves him so much that after he broke his hip hiking through the woods on his property to get to his favorite spot … they not only got together to pave the rocky path, they bought him a gorgeous bench and installed it in the center of the clearing so he can sit and feed the birds.
Robert makes the walk daily, even when his tired old bones creak and protest. It reminds him of the aches and pains that went along with clearing this land after he’d purchased it in his twenties. It makes him feel alive. This spot renews his energy and the peace he finds here allows him to sleep easily each night when he trudges home, using a flashlight to illuminate the path. He figures he will keep making the walk for as long as he can count and recount the reasons this land is so special.
There are one hundred and forty seven bodies sewn deep into the earth in Robert’s special clearing. Some of them, the families of course, he kept together and carefully wrapped their arms around each other in their graves before covering them in dirt. It just seemed like the right thing to do. Robert knows each of the people buried here by name and could tell you in intimate detail what their last words were, how hard they fought to hang onto their lives, and how long it took them to draw their last breath once he set about snuffing it out.
There are no grave markers but Robert knows how he laid them out. The ones he suffocated are nearest the trees. The ones who bled out are to the right. The ones he beat to death are on the left. The children, his very favorite, are all together in the middle. He does want to make the job easier for whoever eventually finds his playthings so he’s included names and dates in waterproof baggies clutched in the hands on those who still have them and tucked into pockets of those who don’t.
The town loves Robert and Robert loves the town enough to never pick from his neighbors. He’s wanted to, of course, but if there is one thing Robert has … it’s standards. No self respecting person would poop where they eat, he thinks.