The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
A Gathering of Innocent Girls
by Sheri White
The girls hid in a secret place under the floorboards and listened to the chaos right above them.
“When is it going to stop, Grace? I’m scared.” Grace cuddled her little sister Anna, trying to soothe her. It was her turn to take care of the five-year-old and keep her out of the way.
“It won’t be long now. When it gets quiet, we can meet the others at the crooked tree.”
“It seems like it’s taking longer this time.”
“There are more of them this time, Anna. There are more and more every time now. I just hope that one day there won’t be too many.”
Anna put her head on Grace’s shoulder and tried not to think about what was happening just a few feet away.
But the screams wouldn’t let her pretend.
“Anna, wake up—it’s over. Let’s go.”
Anna followed Grace, crawling towards the trap door. Grace unlocked it and raised it just enough to make sure it was over and they could leave.
They exited the secret place. Bodies and body parts littered the floor, faces in death frozen in terror and agony.
“You were right, Grace—so many this time. Do you think the others made it to the tree?”
“I hope so. Come on and be careful walking. You can slip on the blood.”
Anna bent down and picked up a cat, tucking it under her arm as they left the old farmhouse.
“Grace, I only see two of them at the tree,” said Anna as they approached it.
“We’ll find out what is going on in a minute, don’t worry.” They ran to the tree, eager to get news of their sisters.
Grace stopped short when she saw the swing. “Oh, Elizabeth. Why?” Tears welled in her eyes.
Margaret and Caroline jumped down from the branches. “Grace, Anna. So glad you are okay,” said Caroline. The oldest at 14 years old, she was the leader of their coven. The four girls embraced each other.
“What happened with Elizabeth?” Grace asked, already knowing the answer, but she wanted to make sure Anna heard and understood.
Margaret glanced over at Elizabeth. The girl was still alive, but would forever be tied to the swing, her arms and legs pulled and twisted. It would take years for her to die.
“She went against us. It was only a matter of time; she hasn’t wanted to join a sacrifice in a long while. Elizabeth knew what would happen to her. Don’t waste any sympathy on her.”
“Do you understand, Anna? It’s almost time for you to join us completely. This is your last chance to leave us before we resume our journey.” Margaret knelt down to make eye contact with the child.
Anna’s eyes were clear, not a trace of fear in them.
Fiction © Copyright Sheri White
Image courtesy of Christina Sng
More from Author Sheri White:
Don’t Turn Out the Lights: A Tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Featuring stories from R.L. Stine and Madeleine Roux, this middle grade horror anthology, curated by New York Times bestselling author and master of macabre Jonathan Maberry, is a chilling tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.
Flesh-hungry ogres? Brains full of spiders? Haunted houses you can’t escape? This collection of 35 terrifying stories from the Horror Writers Association has it all, including ghastly illustrations from Iris Compiet that will absolutely chill readers to the bone.
So turn off your lamps, click on your flashlights, and prepare—if you dare—to be utterly spooked!
The complete list of writers: Linda D. Addison, Courtney Alameda, Jonathan Auxier, Gary A. Braunbeck, Z Brewer, Aric Cushing, John Dixon, Tananarive Due, Jamie Ford, Kami Garcia, Christopher Golden, Tonya Hurley, Catherine Jordan, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Alethea Kontis, N.R. Lambert, Laurent Linn, Amy Lukavics, Barry Lyga, D.J. MacHale, Josh Malerman, James A. Moore, Michael Northrop, Micol Ostow, Joanna Parypinksi, Brendan Reichs, Madeleine Roux, R.L. Stine, Margaret Stohl, Gaby Triana, Luis Alberto Urrea, Rosario Urrea, Kim Ventrella, Sheri White, T.J. Wooldridge, Brenna Yovanoff