The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
A Deeper Shade of Dark
by Terrie Leigh Relf
Despite the full moon’s light, an eerie violet mist rose from the ancient pool, fed by an underground hot spring. Carved ancestral statues stood sentry, waiting for the rite to begin. The entire site was suffused with the cloying scent of incense and flower petals in various stages of decomposition. There was another scent, barely masked, that affected a few of Professor Anan’s acolytes, and while it was unsettling, I managed to breathe through my mouth to resist the apparent response.
Professor Anan placed a finger over her lips, then motioned to four of her attendants to gather around her as she took a step, and then another, onto the ceremonial dais. They removed her plain cotton robe, to reveal her naked form before us. She titled her head back, raised, and then extended long, graceful arms as if in supplication. A humming began, as if a swarm of bees or cicadas were gathering to descend upon us.
A chill coursed through my body as the violet mist whorled around her body, soon forming a lattice-work of lacy filaments, a cocoon of sorts, that became taut as the moments passed. Professor Anan’s attendants carried her down the steps and then released her into the sacred pool, each one’s hands guiding her to its center—And then without preamble, they pressed down on her until she was totally submerged, thrashing for just a few moments until the maelstrom dissipated.
From the safety of the shadowed grove, I reached out my awareness to the gathered acolytes, listened to their gasping breath, their erratic heart beats, as the water began to churn, turning a deeper shade of dark. They waited for what may have seemed like hours to them, as the night sky began to show its first signs of dawn, the opalescent moon still hanging above them like a watchful eye. As the morning light filtered through the surrounding trees’ heavy foliage, Professor Anan’s acolytes and attendants called out, “It is Her time to rise!”
As Professor Anan rose from the water, shedding the last vestiges of her cocoon, our transformation was complete . . .
As one, we had our fill of her misguided devotees.
Fiction © Copyright Terrie Leigh Relf
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from author Terrie Leigh Relf:
For thousands of Earth years, the Transgalactic Consortium has had a quiet interest in this planet and its inhabitants, the Haurans. While the Sisterhood of the Blood Moon works together with the Consortium and Haurans to maintain balance in the universe, the Blood Moon is fast approaching. The power of this moon reveals untold secrets . . . including a sacred covenant with the Mora Spiders. There is an ancient pact that needs to be honored—but at what cost and for whose purpose? The world may come to an end. But will there be a chance for a new beginning?