The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Holli Walker
This is it; I have been searching for this temple my whole life. And finally, my team and I are almost at the doorstep. “Aminah!” Called my business partner David “The guides will not go any further. They say we will anger the Gods that are here if we keep going.” He said, his face flushed red from the heat and the aggravation. “Well, at least they lead us to the right path in the woods, at this point I guess we are on our own guys. Thank the god’s for machetes and lamps!” I said cheerfully as my team gathered around. “What if the guides are right? You know people disappear in this forest; they always have.” Said Clarence, the lead of my team, he was an anxious little man, but he was excellent at ferreting out lost treasures.
“Don’t worry, we will stick together. And remember, we are supposed to be here, no harm will come to us. I can feel it, this will be amazing. All right, lamps on! You two with the machete’s get out in front and hack away but remember to stay cautious. “I said as the clearing became illuminated with their lamps, shining off the blades of the machetes, it was blinding. The guides agreed to wait for us at the mouth of the path, though they would go no further, if we never made it back, they couldn’t get paid.
“Come on, we have a way to go.” I said as we started making our way slowly into the forest. It was slow going, the tree roots and vines had grown up over the path during the centuries since it had been used. We marched for what felt like hours. A few of the team began to grumble, I assured them we were on the right path. I could feel it, pulling me like a string. I have been drawn to the Chimu people my entire life. And finally, I was in Peru, looking for their famed sacrificial temple.
After two days of combing through the forest, we started seeing large boulders on the sides of the path we were on. They gradually got bigger and bigger. Until finally we came to a small clearing, and there it was. The sacrificial temple. A cheer went up through our group. “Just what, exactly are you hoping to find here?” David asked me as we took our backpacks off and sipped from our canteens. “Well, a lot of things, but I would love it if I could find an intact executioners’ knife. Complete with the rattle on the end.” I told him
“A rattle? What are you talking about?” he asked curiously. “Well the knife that the executioner would use for the sacrifice had a bulb on the end, that had seeds in it, so it rattled. Before he sacrificed the victim, he would shake the knife and the rattling would call the specific God to the temple.” I explained, as I talked, I noticed the rest of my team and stopped moving and was listening to me. Okay guys, that’s enough of a break. Let’s look around.”
We started looking around the temple, there was an opening in the middle of two pillars and on either side of the pillars were carvings: covered in vines and vegetation, Part of my team was examining the carvings. As they set about to work, I put on a headlamp and ventured into the temple. “Don’t go in by yourself!” yelled David as I entered the temple. I waved him off, I was supposed to be here. The pulling feeling I had while we were going through the overgrown forest was stronger than ever. It was like it was pulling me into the temple. I looked around the inside of the temple, there were pieces of broken pottery strewed here and there. No jewels as David had hoped, he will be disappointed. I stopped walking and stood still, I had heard something, I don’t know what it was. It was very light but sounded familiar.
Shrugging it off I kept walking deeper into the temple. These hallways went on forever. Eventually I should come to the rooms where the victims were kept until it was their time. Slowly I became aware that I was growing more and more tired. Our walk through the forest had taken more out of me than I thought it did. There was an outcropping of rock to my right. I sat down to rest for a minute.
As I put my head back against the wall and closed my eyes for a minute. I heard that noise again. Only this time it was louder, it was a slow rattle. I drifted off to sleep only to be violently jerked awake by a hand grabbing my arm. They pulled me through the hall, it was so dark, I couldn’t see anything. My head felt fuzzy, like I had drunk too much wine. I saw a light coming in the distance, suddenly there was light all around and I could see!
There were people everywhere in front of me, hundreds of people. I heard a scream to my left, I looked over and there was a man decked out with gold bracelets holding a still beating heart in his hand. He held it up for the crowd to see. They cheered as he showed each section of the crowd the heart. Blood dripped down his arm.
Then I noticed the woman right beside him, blood dripped down her torso, her head was slumped on to her chest, which was split open showing her ribs and other internal organs. Blood kept oozing down her lower torso. Two men came forward and slowly took her down off the podium and carried her carcass back into the temple.
The hand around my arm grew tighter, “Your turn my dear.” As he dragged me to the podium “No, you don’t understand, this is not for me!” I tried to say, but no words would come out. They strapped down my arms as I heard the rattling, it came closer and closer, I saw the glint of the blade in the sun, and then…
I had found my rattle.
Fiction © Copyright Holli Walker
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More about Holli Walker:
Holli Walker was born and raised in Indiana. She is a member of the LGBT+ community and loves to write about things that move her. She has a wonderful son and is close to her family.
Please find more of her work here!