The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Sonora Taylor
Carmen walked down the cobblestone streets in the rain, careful to not slip on the rocks. She’d left her umbrella at home, and of course the taxis had all disappeared with the first splat of rain on a windshield.
Carmen ducked under an awning, then saw a wooden sign with a teapot swinging in the wind. Must be new, she thought as she walked through the door.
Warmth wrapped around her body as water dripped from her coat to the floor. An old woman stood behind a counter with an expectant smile. “Hello,” she said in a cracked voice.
Carmen nodded as she walked inside.
“Would you like a cup of tea?” the woman asked.
“Very much, yes.” Carmen sat at the first empty table. She realized when she sat, though, that all the tables were empty.
“I recommend our blooming tea,” the woman said. “You’ve never seen such a beautiful sight.”
“Sure, whatever.” The woman left, and Carmen looked around the tea house. Rain and grey splattered the sky light above, casting the dimly-lit room into shadow. She smelled must, tea leaves, and iron.
The woman returned a few minutes later with a teapot and a glass cup. “We’re new,” the woman said as she set both down on the table. “We specialize in blooming teas like this one,” she said as she pointed at the cup. Inside was a wound ball of tea. “Watch.”
The woman poured hot water over the ball. Carmen sat as patiently as she could, but wished the woman would leave her alone with her tea.
The green tendrils began to bloom and expand. The water turned yellow, then faintly green. A flowering vine began to emerge from the buds, and the tea turned red.
Carmen had to admit the sight was quite beautiful. “So is it jasmine and hibiscus?” she asked.
“Watch.” The vine emerged through the red and floated to the top. Pink and yellow buds unfolded into a beautiful flower.
A tea-soaked, bloody eye sat in the flower’s center. Carmen screamed, then gasped as the woman clasped her wrist.
“We take pride in our teas,” the woman said as she lifted a knife. “And we just love to serve our customers.”
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.