The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Suzanne Madron
“Your love is as cold as death in the night. It is empty and frozen like a wasteland.”
“We are almost there.”
Sister Lucinda squinted against the windswept shards of snow. They were sharp as razors to her frostbitten cheeks. She saw nothing before them but the unending darkness of the sky and the unforgiving white of the land. “We will die out here.”
The priest turned toward her, at last looking at her. “We have been promised sanctuary, Sister, and we must have faith that sanctuary awaits us.”
“Perhaps if you carried some of the weight of my burden, Father, I would be able to lift my faith from the depths of my despair.”
Father Michael smiled without humor and continued on his way without removing any of Sister Lucinda’s heavy bags, filled as they were with his religious artifacts and vestments. She had one bag of her own and it held one habit, her rosary beads, her well-worn Bible, a single wool blanket, and some food for the journey that she had hidden from the priest.
The night grew darker and colder around them, the wind harsher. The priest urged her on with promises of sanctuary and warmth. She no longer remembered how she had ended up in the middle of nowhere with this madman, carrying his luggage and listening to him speak endlessly of his own worth. She no longer felt her feet, only pain where her feet had once been. Her hands were frozen inside the woolen gloves, her fingers curled into stiff claws. Ice clung to the ends of her eyelashes and she felt an overwhelming urge to curl up in the snow and sleep.
Father Michael’s voice drifted out of the darkness somewhere ahead of her and Sister Lucinda realized she had stopped following him some time ago. A stab of fear settled into her stomach for the briefset moment until she realized that, with or without him, they were both lost in this night.
She scanned the horizon and saw a glimmer of light in the distance. With a cry of relief, she dropped the priest’s bags and ran toward it. It was a small structure with crosses positioned outside and along the roof. The windows were lit by an orange glow and Sister Lucinda’s tears of gratitude froze to her cheeks as she gazed upon the miracle of the tiny, out-of-the-way church.
She opened the door and felt the warmth before she saw the shadow in the corner. It rose to its feet as she stepped across the threshold of the little chapel and then it was all around her. Sister Lucinda gasped for breath as the shadow overwhelmed her and pushed her out of its way to escape into the night. She fell to the floor with a cry, then turned over to stare up at the open doorway.
For the first time, she noticed the brass plaque adhered to the door’s wooden surface. She stood and traced the words inscribed in the metal and felt her heart sink when she realized what she had just unleashed upon the world.
Fiction © Copyright Suzanne Madron
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Suzanne Madron:
The house across the street seems to go on the market every few months, but this time nothing about the sale is normal, including the new owners. No sooner has the for sale sign come down and the neighborhood is thrown into a Lovecraftian nightmare and the only way to find out is to attend the house warming party.
An intriguing and chilling story.
I love the characters that you have portrayed here – som much told in so few words. It works really well as a flash piece but it has a cinematic quality which would bear expansion. Great work.