The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Sumiko Saulson
The Earth has grown quiet as the humans have grown ill and fallen dead one by one. The streets, absent of loud motor cars. The hustle and bustle of downtown ceased. It started with their death flu. Next, it exploded into a series of forest fires. Finally, there were the bombs.
Squeak and I would not have survived if we weren’t in the basement of a government lab. The thick cement walls were strong enough to endure the aftershocks caused by the blast. The insulated workspace kept us safe, inside our cages, eating our pellets and grains.
Squeak is my daughter. My name is Whiskers. Our human, Dr. Jones, kept us caged together with three other female mice, none of whom survived the experiment. Telepathy… it occurs naturally, to some extent, between mothers and children. It is not natural between humans and mice. It is very unnatural. Yet, here we are.
The first day after the blast, Dr. Jones’ skin began to bubble. Progressively, these bubbles grew and twisted into tumors. The tumors and boils bled and oozed pus. And the worst part of it, was his constantly communicating to me telepathically as he suffered and eventually died. He communicated with my daughter, sometimes, too. But Squeak is just a child. So she had little to say.
Near the end of his tragic, twisted decline, I reminded him of how little he cared about me or the other mice. He wanted me to sympathize with him, but he’d had no sympathy for us, as my cagemates contorted and died horrible deaths.
The fifth day, something snapped in him, and he recognized me and my daughter for what we are – sentient beings. He opened the cage, and set us free. Moments later, he fell to the floor, never to rise again. I sat by him, comforting him, in those last few moments.
Then Squeak and I walked outside, into this nuclear wasteland. Poignantly beautiful, no matter how dangerous it is. And I smiled at the irony. At last, the meek have inherited the Earth.
Fiction © Copyright Sumiko Saulson
Image courtesy of Christina Sng
About Author Sumiko Saulson:
Sumiko Saulson is an award-winning author of Afrosurrealist and multicultural sci-fi and horror. Zhe is the editor of the anthologies and collections Black Magic Women, Scry of Lust, Black Celebration, and Wickedly Abled. Zhe is the winner of the 2016 HWA StokerCon “Scholarship from Hell”, 2017 BCC Voice “Reframing the Other” contest, and 2018 AWW “Afrosurrealist Writer Award.”
Zhe has an AA in English from Berkeley City College, and writes a column called “Writing While Black” for a national Black Newspaper, the San Francisco BayView.
A terrific story, I enjoyed reading.
Good deal, Sumiko! I enjoyed it!
I really enjoyed this story – very original POV and that last line is perfect.