The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Naching T. Kassa
“It’s too dark,” Marie said. “We’ll never find it now.”
“We’ll find it,” Linsey replied.
Quiet filled the shadowed wood as the two women walked. Slivers of moonlight pierced the canopy of trees above them, sending pools of silver light to the forest floor. They found the tree in one such pool, its dead limbs stretching not to the sky, but to the earth below.
“There it is,” Linsey said.
A breeze whispered among the dead leaves which hung in chains along the branches. Linsey pushed one bough aside and stepped through. Marie followed.
They found the nest nestled among the roots. Linsey’s flashlight beam played over the contents and Marie’s scalp prickled. The light revealed a small skeleton, its tiny human arms wrapped around a grey egg. Horns grew from the little skull, and white teeth filled the mouth.
Linsey pulled a penknife from her pocket and pricked her finger with the point. A small drop of blood welled up from beneath her pale skin.
“What are you doing?” Marie asked.
“We have to offer a sacrifice,” Linsey replied. She handed the knife to Marie. “Come on. It doesn’t hurt that much.”
Linsey knelt and held her finger over the tiny skeleton. Marie followed suit.
Two drops of blood dripped onto the tiny bleached skull. Two boney arms released the egg.
“The minute we take the egg, he’ll know,” Linsey said. “But, if we get it to the edge of the wood, we’ll be safe. Are you ready?”
Linsey plucked the egg from the nest. She handed it to Marie, who wrapped it in a bandana and placed it in her jacket pocket.
“Don’t let it break,” Linsey said. “Not until he’s ready to eat the contents. And they have to be raw, not cooked.”
“I can’t thank you enough, Linsey,” Marie said.
Footsteps sounded in the wood. Heavy and distant, they approached from the north. Linsey switched the flashlight off.
“He’s coming!” she whispered. “Run!”
The two women burst from beneath the branches of the dead tree and rushed back down the forest trail. Shadows crowded them as they ran.
Roots and stones rose as obstacles beneath Marie’s feet. She tripped and lay sprawled amongst the detritus which covered the earth. She reached for the egg, fearing the worst, but found it unbroken.
Linsey found her and pulled her to her feet. She shoved her forward as a strange moan filled the air. The footsteps grew closer.
Marie glimpsed a figure over her shoulder. He pounded down the trail behind them, his face revealed in dappled moonlight. The eyes glowed and the teeth gleamed. Clawed hands reached out.
Marie’s legs pumped harder and her feet moved as though wings had grown from her ankles. She broke from the forest, air searing her lungs, Linsey at her heels.
The monster did not follow.
Panting, they slowed to a walk. Grass, slick with dew, brushed their pantlegs. When they arrived at the low stone wall, the cottage came into view. It stood silhouetted against the soft light of the eastern sky.
“Will you stay?” Marie asked.
Linsey shook her head.
“But you can’t go back there,” Marie said. “You can’t go back to him. Not after what he’s done…after what you’ve done.”
Linsey smiled. “I’ve got to go back.”
“He’s a demon. Why go back to hell?”
“For the same reason you risked everything to find the egg.”
Marie fell silent. She nodded. “I’ll miss you, my sister.”
Linsey embraced her. “I’ll miss you too. But I’ll be around. Remember now. Nick has to eat it raw. I’d crack it over his mouth while he’s sleeping.”
“I’ll do that. Thank you.”
Linsey turned away. Marie watched her sister retrace her steps and return to the forest. When she vanished among the trees, Marie hurried into the cottage.
Nick’s soft snore greeted her as she entered. He lay on the sofa, just as she’d left him a few hours before. She hurried to his side and pulled the bandana from her pocket.
The egg slid into her hand. She tapped it on the nearby coffee table and cracked the perfect shell. A gypsy moth stood among the wreckage. It fluttered and brushed its soft, white wings against her skin. She pinched it between her thumb and forefinger.
Marie grasped Nick’s chin and slid the insect into his mouth.
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.
Good story but it seems the Gypsy Moth has healing powers or?? some magic? This is a story that I’d love to see longer! 🙂 Horns & teeth –what or who was the skeleton, etc.
Cool story, very mysterious.
Wonderfully written and so interesting and different, Naching. xxx