The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Below the Surface
by Michelle Joy Gallagher
Ida watched the man in black as he placed her lifeless body into the wooden cart. She felt her body jostled as he dragged the cart over the cobblestones of the back alley toward the river. Her feet and hands were bound, and he weighted her jacket with rocks. When he tipped the cart, spilling her lifeless body into the water, she tried to scream but nothing came out. He’d stopped her screaming for good when he’d surprised her with a knife on her way home from the shops. The river was a short trip from the apartment he’d rented for just this purpose. There were others before her: as her body sank, she recognized others there in the silt. The blue dress of the barmaid from the tavern down the road, the cornsilk hair of the tailor’s daughter. She knew there’d be others after her. He was piling them up like garbage. No one noticed or cared. He wore fine clothes and paid for everything in advance. No one questioned a thing.
When she hit the bottom, darkness drew around her in a silt curtain. As it settled, she lay there transfixed by the moonlight at the surface. It was so beautiful, refracted in the waves. She wanted to reach out and grab it. She felt motion in her fingers and discovered she was slowly regaining the ability to move. She didn’t know how any of this was possible. She was dead. She should have been like the others. The water currents tugged and pulled at the flaps of skin where he’d carved into her. She felt nothing now, but the pain had been white hot and blinding.
Day after day she tested her strength and range of movement. The water carried her closer to the other bodies, creating a sort of vortex of misery. Fish fed on her mindlessly. She tried batting them away but was still too weak. On the 4th day below the surface, she saw a disturbance and realized with horror it was another woman’s body being tossed in with the rest. He had continued to kill, unchecked and no one was looking for her.
As her ability to move returned, the bodies started to pile up on and around her. She fought a whole day to dislodge herself from under a sweet-faced girl with a jagged cut deep in her throat. An intense anger began to bloom inside of her. When she felt she’d gotten satisfactory movement back in her legs, she pulled herself up on top of some of the poor women’s bodies and found purchase on the rocks lining the riverbank. As she pulled herself to the surface, through the mess of flayed and rotting flesh of her face, her eyes spoke only of revenge. She waited on the edge of the water for the sun to set. When she heard the sound of the wooden cart and the man’s heavy footsteps, she smiled.
Fiction © Copyright Michelle Joy Gallagher
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from author Michelle Joy Gallagher:
Blackhawk: Volume 2
Welcome to Blackhawk, Colorado. Blackhawk has always been strange. Natural disasters. Disappearances. Murders. High strangeness is a part of daily life. We can’t hope to explain it, but we can chronicle its past. Learn from it. Fear it. Blackhawk is an experimental fiction series set in a shared universe, written by a variety of talented authors. It is the brainchild of David M Brown (Plague Doctor, Modern Animals) and Carl D Smith (Moleb the Giant, Darkness Out of Carthage). Each story will contribute to an organic, evolving mythology as diverse as the voices behind its tales. For fans of True Detective, Lost Highway, Twilight Zone, and The Terror. This is Volume Two of the series and contains five stories by five different authors, each in tune with the specific strangeness Blackhawk has to offer. NOTE: For fans of Lake Lord Publishing’s prior horror titles, be warned that Blackhawk will contain content that is perhaps more disturbing and mature.
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