The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Suzanne Madron
He scowled at the fresco and tilted his head to the side, trying to wrap his head around what he was looking at. Something about the fresco unsettled him, something beyond the odd subject matter that was unlike anything he had ever seen. Hands were the main subject, with no faces or context. The hand closest to the front of the fresco suddenly turned, the fingers reaching as if sensing his presence. Other hands began to shift, the movements groping toward the edge of the fresco as if the hands were independent of the people they should have been attached to. He stepped backward, away from the wall and those detached extremities, and the fresco became still once more.
He tried to convince himself the movement he had seen in the muted colors had been merely a trick of the light and that the reaching hands within had not pushed through into the third dimension. He tried to convince himself they were not trying to grab him and pull him into their flat and long-dead world buried in ruins and ashes.
“I call it ‘Helping Hands’.”
He started and turned. A man in dusty dig gear stared proudly at the fresco and crossed his arms as if he himself had painted the awful scene. After an uncomfortable moment he held a hand out. “I’m John.”
“Steve.” He shook the offered hand. “This will sound crazy, but I swear I saw it move.”
“Trompe l’oeil,” said the dusty man. “It is an excellent example, perhaps the oldest example to date.”
“No. I know trompe l’oeil and this was… different.” He shook his head and chuckled. “I need to get some sleep, maybe. My eyes have been playing tricks on me.”
The man who called himself John smiled and gave a nod of sympathy. “Of course. We’ve been on this dig for what seems like forever.” He moved closer to the wall and ran his fingers over the ancient plaster. Fingers reached out of the fresco and grasped his outstretched hand. “But when you are ready, I believe you will find our friends really are quite helpful.”
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.