The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Bailey Hunter
“Never venture into The Outside.” This is the warning that has been handed down for long before I came to be. Our kind was to stay safe in The Inside. Away from prying eyes, and the harm they meant us. We lived below. We built endless tunnels, and lived on dried meat. We picked our teeth with the sinew, and drank from springs gifted us from rock walls.
When we would hear the rumblings above us from the Outsiders coming into our attic, we would retreat into those tunnels until they moved on. They never stayed, they never dug. They never knew we were there on The Inside.
One rare day, when some Outsiders happened on the gate to our home, while the others scurried away, I stayed. I wanted to see them. Wanted to know what I feared. I crawled up and between stone cracks I peered at them as they flashed lights around. They spoke in hisses. Their scent was a strange mix of warm, salty meat and flowers and fruit – but too loud, almost cutting. They were so tall, at least three of me in height. And their flesh was not grey. Not dry. They looked soft and squishy like pale moss.
I knew that day that I would venture to The Outside no matter the warnings. I had to see more.
A ghoul is not a curious creature by nature, but occasionally there will be one of us who defies that nature. Our lives, and deaths, are what the ancient warnings are built upon.
My first step into The Outside was brief. I climbed up into the attic made of stone, and only stuck my head out the door. I was amazed by the tall spirals growing up and out of The Inside. I had only ever seen their roots and could never imagined how high they reached. Invisible fingers brushed against my face, and tugged at my hair. With them they carried so many new smells. Scents of earth but different – sweeter, lighter – faint wisps of The Outsiders travelled on the invisible fingers, and strange woods.
I learned after more adventures that it was wind that touched me that day, and many of the smells it carried became a map of my next destination. I would scurry along the forest’s edge safe from their sight. Too small to be a threat, I passed by their world like a nothing more than one of the animals.
On one of those adventures I found my special place. A place where they lay down the freshest meats. It is paradise. Old, dried meat has no memory. And if it does it is weak, offering only a shadow of a glimpse. But this fresh meat… Ohhhh. It is full of memories. Each bite fills me with knowledge and experiences never known to those on The Inside. It leaves me drunk and wild as I tear in, drinking and chewing such tender flesh.
I went there again tonight, but I gorged and did not see The Outsider. Its eyes were stretched wide when I saw it, then I felt the blow across my hunched shoulders. Luckily for me, ghouls are deceptively strong and resilient for our size. I was able to avoid the second blow, though the noises it made were loud and cutting to my ears. I didn’t mean to hurt it, but its noise was too much and I lunged, knocking it to the ground. I smashed the soft moss of its face into the stone until it went silent.
The quiet was good. The smell of its meat was even better. I had to have a taste. I bit hard in to one of its fingers and it popped into my mouth still warm, the red liquid they are filled with spurted down my throat at first then slowed to a sip. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. All its knowledge flowed into me, spinning my mind up, and up, until I could not focus anymore. Everything it had ever done, or seen, or tasted, or smelled filled me until I was floating.
I dragged the fresh meat into the forest area and dug a hole to save some for later. I may even share a bit with those on The Inside, but only the curious ones like me.
I don’t think I can ever go back to anything but the freshest meat now that I’ve had a taste.
The Outside is dangerous, and very delicious.
Fiction © Copyright Bailey Hunter
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More about Bailey Hunter:
Bailey is a publisher with Dark Recesses Press.
Dark Recesses Press is a publishing house dedicated to providing high quality dark fiction in its many forms to the reader. Our end goal is to impress and entertain, no matter what dark recesses we dare shine our light on.