The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Michelle Joy Gallagher
Greta had come into the world watching. Wide eyed and inexplicably wise. So too had her sisters. And what had they to watch? They knew without knowing for sure. While the river of time teemed beneath them, one eon indistinguishable from the next, they waited with an infinite patience and a silent knowing between them. They watched as the river brightened and darkened, while it rushed past over jagged rocks and while it trickled almost down to nothing. Once they even thought their watch was over, never having fulfilled any purpose. Greta bit her fingernails nervously and suddenly felt watched herself and she felt the gentle tug of her sister Heba’s voice right outside of her thoughts on the edge of her mind.
“I want to sleep.”
Her voice was as a melodic hymn that cascaded and echoed within her.
Greta had never slept. Greta knew what sleep was. She’d watched a multitude of creatures sleep. Creatures that breathed hydrogen and creatures made of silicon and carbon, creatures that lived in the toxic clouds surrounding hellish planets. It was one of the things that creatures did best and when they did, they’d dream, and she could hear their dreams reverberating on the surface of the river below. A living thing that breathed and asked and loved and wept and died a thousand times a night. Her sister had never slept either. She knew they weren’t meant to. They were meant to watch.
“No.” Greta sent the word back to Heba with an edge of finality but not unkind. What was Heba made of that she would even desire it? Greta had never felt tired, never bored or scared or listless.
Selen was the oldest and she had never spoken before. They had been here together an incalculable amount of time. They were outside of time. Suddenly, Selen slipped her legs over the edge of her perch and sat down. She’d never sat.
“I want to sleep too.”
Greta closed her eyes for the first time in a millennium. She repeated the word for Selen, feeling fear bloom in her chest.
Suddenly, Heba stepped into the empty air in front of her perch and plummeted into the stream below. The surface flashed with a blinding white light, and roiled, before pulling her under. She never surfaced.
Selen did the same, without another whisper, leaving Greta entirely alone outside of everything. The only being untouched. She watched the waves consume her, too, in a detached way that one does when they are not quite alive, not quite real.
Greta stranded in the stars, never strayed from her duty. The only safeguard left in the universe bit her lip and suddenly knew what it was to want to sleep.
Fiction © Copyright Michelle Joy Gallagher
Image courtesy of Christina Sng
More from author Michelle Joy Gallagher:
This collection of twelve stories and artwork by women is truly a collection of the macabre. Make a reservation for terror and get ready to delve into the deepest, darkest fears of some of the best writers and artists in the fiction game. Leah McNaughton Lederman has collected an anthology of the truly strange… a tome of the weird. Take a seat and order a cup, you’re dining at Café Macabre!