The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Death’s Head Fall
by Naching T. Kassa
If not for Bob’s quick thinking and strong arm, Mark would be dead.
The forest trail near Death’s Head Falls had grown treacherous as they traveled. Mark’s foot had slipped on the damp moss which covered the rock and he’d nearly plummeted into the precipice. He stood at the edge, shaking.
“You ok?” Bob asked.
Mark nodded. He avoided Bob’s stare. “Thanks.”
“No problem. Better concentrate, though. It gets worse from here on out.”
Mark shifted his backpack to one side and followed his friend up the trail. Inside, he cursed himself.
Bob was right, he hadn’t been concentrating. He’d been thinking of Liz.
Liz had come to his hotel room in the middle of the night wearing only a silk robe. When she’d dropped it to the floor and revealed her naked form, she’d taken his breath away. All his reservations had scattered like leaves in the breeze. He had pulled her cool body into his warm bed and—
Regret bit into Mark’s heart. He pushed the thoughts away and forced himself to focus on the trail before him.
Bob led them further up the trail and then halted. The roar of water filled their ears and he shouted above the din.
A huge skull, fashioned from rock, met Mark’s gaze. Water rushed from the mouth into the pool a hundred feet below.
“It’s magnificent!” Mark said.
“Really lives up to the name, doesn’t it? Come on, let’s get to the top.”
Bob hurried along, as sure-footed as a mountain goat. Mark lagged behind, grasping hold of branches and saplings to maintain his footing.
Memories of Liz flooded his mind as he climbed. His name had sounded so good on her lips. She had moaned it many times, all while brushing her wedding ring against his skin. Strange how guilt had deserted him then, how her band of gold had sharpened his passion to a razor’s edge. Mark shook his head. If only she were his and not the wife of his best friend.
“Get your ass in gear, man,” Bob called. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to walk that trail in the dark.”
Mark increased his pace. Moments later, he joined Bob at the top of the skull.
“Look at that view,” Bob said. “Worth the trip wasn’t it?”
Beyond the pool, a carpet of green forest lay at their feet. The roof of their hotel glimmered in the distance.
“Amazing,” Mark said.
The falls thundered beneath them. If someone were unfortunate enough to fall into the chasm, their body would be a shattered wreck before it reached the water below.
“I’ve never shown this to anyone, not even Liz,” Bob said. “But, you’re my best friend, Mark. That’s why I brought you here. I want to share this and all my secrets with you.”
The jagged teeth of guilt bit into Mark once more. He couldn’t raise a word in reply.
“Did you know,” Bob continued, “that I was born with a certain gift?”
“You see dead people?”
Bob laughed. “No.”
“That went out with bell bottoms and disco.”
“I don’t know. What is your gift?”
“The funny thing is, you already know about it. In fact, I think you’re one of the few who’s actually caught on. You used to ask me how I knew things, how I always got A’s on the pop quizzes when I didn’t study. How I knew a girl’s phone number, even though I never asked for it.”
“What? You can—”
“Read minds,” Bob finished.
“But, that’s impossible,” Both men said in unison. “Stop it, man! You’re freaking me out!”
Mark stared at his friend and trembled. “Jesus,” he whispered. “You know?”
“And you still saved my life?”
“I couldn’t kill my friend. I couldn’t kill anyone. Unless…they wanted to kill me first.”
Bob lunged forward. Strong hands hit Mark square in the chest, propelling him into space. He clutched at his friend, but the weight of his pack pulled him over. He fell.
One thought comforted him as he plunged into the abyss.
The bite of guilt had gone.
Fiction © Copyright Naching T. Kassa
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Naching T. Kassa:
Crystal Lake Publishing proudly presents Arterial Bloom, an artful juxtaposition of the magnificence and macabre that exist within mankind. Each tale in this collection is resplendent with beauty, teeth, and heart.
Edited by the Bram Stoker Award-winning writer Mercedes M. Yardley, Arterial Bloom is a literary experience featuring sixteen stories from some of the most compelling dark authors writing today.
With a foreword by HWA Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Linda D. Addison, you are invited to step inside and let the grim flowers wind themselves comfortably around your bones.