The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The Nightmare Eater
by Melissa R. Mendelson
The walls were painted black. Only the table was dimly lit, a small red table set between two chairs, and in one, he waited. As he waited, he held the box up to his eye. He took in the room, but he couldn’t see anything. There was nothing to process, and then right on cue, she appeared. And he was shocked to see that she had both her eyes.
“You’re a Nightmare Eater, right?”
“I am.” She sat in the seat opposite him. “What nightmare plagues you?”
“The one where people are just staring at me. They’re not saying anything. When I close my eye, I see them, and they see me.” He pressed the box against his eye, scanning her, trying to absorb her data, but there was nothing to read. She was blank. “You’re like a ghost,” he said.
“I eat ghosts, so would you want me to eat yours?” She stared at the box, not hiding her disgust. “Twenty bucks.”
“That’s it?” He laughed, pulling a twenty from his pocket, but when he laid his hand on the table, she touched it, sending a cold shock through his body. “What was that?”
“Tell me. How do you see the world?”
“What do you mean? I see it like this.” He looked around the room with the box pushed against his eye. “Why do you have both your eyes? Don’t you want a box?”
“I don’t need a box to see.” She held her left hand up, and her right eye vanished. It appeared on the back of her hand. “I see your nightmares, and I eat them.” Her eye blinked. “You can go now.”
“Were you expecting Tarot Cards or crystals?” She lowered her hand, and her eye returned to its socket.
“No. Whatever.” He moved away from her. “If I have any nightmares, then I want my money back.”
“You won’t have nightmares when you sleep,” she said.
“What does that mean?”
“Lower the box from your eye, and look outside.”
“Whatever.” He stormed outside.
A moment later, she heard him scream. She smiled to herself as her eye returned to her hand. Every time he lowered that box from his eye, he would see the haunted faces of those people that he feared. They would stare at him, follow him with empty eye sockets and hollow screams.
Fiction © Copyright Melissa R. Mendelson
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Melissa R. Mendelson:
I got a one-way ticket out of hell. All I need to do is drive across country with a body in the trunk and run miscellaneous errands, but a lot of those errands come with a heavy price. And if I lose the body in the trunk, then I have to go back, and I’ll be damned if I return down there. I will fight to stay here, even if there is no rest for those wicked.
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Very macabre and wonderfully written.
Thank you so much! 🙂
This feels so fresh and original – it works well as a short story but I’d love to know more – about the boxes, what they do, why they’re so widely used, what science/magic allows her eye to rove – it’s fascinating – I do hope you expand this idea and publish a longer version one day.
The Nightmare Eater is definitely an interesting character. Next time Sirens Call is looking for horror stories, I might expand this one to show more about her and her world. Thank you. 🙂
Awesome! By my reckoning Siren’s Call will be open for submissions soon.