The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The Chapel in the Clearing
by Terrie Leigh Relf
Snowfall came early that year. So, too, did the rumors that the old chapel had been sighted again. As the story went, there had once been a chapel in the clearing, but it, with the local priest inside, had burned to the ground. Some believed that the villagers themselves were responsible; others, that the priest knocked over a candle and lost his life attempting to put out the flames with snow. Then there were the ones who believed that the priest practiced the dark arts and this was his penance. Who’s to say what the truth was or is, as it had supposedly happened over a hundred years ago.
Despite the community’s fascination with the sighting, it was just that. No one would venture out into the frigid night to approach the chapel, must less go inside. So on a dare, I did —and there, illuminated against the night, the old chapel rested on a mound of soil. It was odd how the surrounding snow had melted away. Perhaps it was due to the heat radiating through the open doorway.
As I was about to step over the threshold, an old priest appeared before me, his face beaming with pleasure. “Welcome, child.”
“Thank you, Father,” I murmured, backing away from his outstretched arms.
“Please come in out of the cold, child.”
While my first instinct was to step inside, I hesitated. What harm could possibly await me?
I took another step back as the old priest’s eyes began to lose their luster, his friendly smile now a sneer.
“Come in now, child!”
“No!” I yelled, backing further away.
Mesmerized, I watched as flames began to rise within the chapel, engulfing the priest. Smoke, flames, and a horrendous stench billowed through the door and windows as the chapel spun ’round-and-’round before disappearing as if it were never there. His laughter followed me as I ran across the snow toward home, his laughter, and the nightmare of my new reality.
Fiction © Copyright Terrie Leigh Relf
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from author Terrie Leigh Relf:
For thousands of Earth years, the Transgalactic Consortium has had a quiet interest in this planet and its inhabitants, the Haurans. While the Sisterhood of the Blood Moon works together with the Consortium and Haurans to maintain balance in the universe, the Blood Moon is fast approaching. The power of this moon reveals untold secrets . . . including a sacred covenant with the Mora Spiders. There is an ancient pact that needs to be honored—but at what cost and for whose purpose? The world may come to an end. But will there be a chance for a new beginning?