The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
To Serve Them All Our Days
by Rie Sheridan Rose
I was but four the first time they led me to the machine. I was awed by the sight of it. Tiny for my age, I had to stand on my toes to peek into the bins. Click, shunk, click…the product falling in thick red lumps to the belt and moving toward the light.
That didn’t stop them putting me to work. They threw a length of cloth over the lever and taught me to pull it down with all my might to release the product into the machine then ease up on the tension so it would reset.
The stench of the place was awful. The product sliding down the chutes and into the bins released a stink that clung to your clothes and skin no matter how many limes you washed—and water was not that easy to come by. Soon, you stopped noticing.
I was seven when my straining fingers could first reach the lever without the sling—so excited to graduate from being a “baby.” As my arms had lengthened, so did my hours, and I stood before the machine from dawn to dusk. Click, shunk, click… Over and over, all day long.
By the time I was twelve, I began to realize that this would be my life till the end of days. No friends, no family, no fun. There was no use complaining. My family had worked this line for generations.
I was twenty when my father didn’t come home one night after his shift. Mother cried, but said it was the way of the world… When she didn’t come home the next year, I began to suspect.
I was proven wrong about family when the line boss told me I was to be married to Peter down the line. After all, my family had been supplying workers as long as anyone could remember, and I was the last left. I must produce the next generation.
I didn’t hate Peter, if he was a bit sullen. I grew quite fond of him in time. But soon after my daughter was born, he didn’t come home.
Now, my child is old enough to work the line. I’ve had the misery in my lungs. I am all but certain that my time is coming to disappear from Anna’s life as all have done before…and become the product falling into the chute…click, shunk, click…
Fiction © Copyright Rie Sheridan Rose
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Author Rie Sheridan Rose:
“I have always preferred the supernatural in tales of horror, the knot between life and death. Rie Sheridan Rose’s Skellyman is cool and creepy. Her first horror novel is a chilling read.” — Charlee Jacob – Stoker winner, Best novel, “Dread in the Beast”
Brenda Barnett is trying to cope with raising her four-year-old daughter all alone after an accident tore her family in half. As she and Daisy go for a much-needed treat, the little girl spots a Skellyman on the corner.
This pivotal encounter leads to a wave of mounting terror as Brenda’s life begins to come undone around her. Who is the Skellyman? Why does he keep appearing? Can the sympathetic policeman Brenda turns to stop the madness before it is too late?
And why does Daisy insist that her dead brother is trying to tell them something important?