The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Michelle Joy Gallagher
Full dark. Do you know the meaning of full dark? There are places inside of you that know it. Ventricle of heart, lobe of lung. The inside of the inside. This is where Yanti was born, in the indifferent womb of full dark. Sometimes there were sounds: A deep hum that reverberated through her, a low and steady thrumming that was more like infrasound. But there were long stretches of nothing. She was encapsulated by the dark like a tumor waiting to be discovered and excised. When light finally arrived, she didn’t know it. Her mind did that silly flip it does when seeing something it never has before. In a lot of ways, the light felt just like the dark. Indifferent. But then there were colors and she was bathed in them. They were so intense she could perceive them on her skin in warm and cold. Without knowing what warm and cold were, she grew very afraid. Without knowing what fear was, she became overwhelmed and slept. The light cradled her as she did, and the colors danced around her. When she awoke, she was greeted by the thrumming she’d heard in the full dark, but this time it was woven inside of whispers. A heartbeat and a voice, becoming clearer and clearer. Her heart swelled. The voices sounded melodic and happy. She didn’t know what happy was, but it felt like tendrils of smoke all inside her and tears rolled down her face. She opened her mouth, but no sound came out. She held it open, hoping her own voice would greet her there in the new world surrounding her. A stuttered breath and then a laugh, jagged and mechanical, but real and present with her. The voices again, from outside the outside.
“Ok so, where do we want this woman to come into the story? Does he meet her in the café, or will it be later than that?”
Yanti’s heart skipped. The thrumming, the melodic voices, were they talking about her?
“No, no, no… I think the best part about our protagonist is that he’s a loner. We have him meet someone and… I don’t know, I think it’ll take something away from his character development.”
The light and the colors vanished in an instant. The full dark no longer felt indifferent, but malevolent. And the space around her, the place where she dwelled for however long before this, it started to shrink. Soon it was as if she was dipped in pitch. She couldn’t move or breathe. She thrashed and fought against it to no avail. It continued to shrink, squeezing and contorting her body in painful ways.
“Ok, fine. Lets put that on the back burner then. Maybe he meets her at the end, you know a little light at the end of the tunnel. People like that shit, they’re comforted by happy endings.”
The squeezing stopped and she could feel the broken places inside her from all the pressure throbbing the nerve endings she didn’t know could fire, were screaming in pain.
“Alright, but I’m telling you right now, I’m not feeling it.”
The full dark, the tar pitch, the pressure, collapsed further in on her, crushing her into an unrecognizable mass, and then nothing remained.
Fiction © Copyright Michelle Joy Gallagher
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
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!
Oooooo!! Michelle, this is a winner! You have the reader clutching their chest, starved for air — building suspense until the end — such a great release! Simply excellent! I am still gasping!
Thank you so much!! 🖤