The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Fin de Siècle
by Mary Ann Peden-Coviello
The speaker stood, gripping the podium, and looked out into the room. The ballroom of the Hôtel des Damnés, the Hotel of the Damned, seemed simultaneously impossibly small and stuffy and infinitely large and echoing. The speaker himself was the ultimate bureaucrat, dark grey hair conservatively styled, medium grey suit, muted tie; the only sign that he might not be your run-of-the-mile human bureaucrat was the brilliant, patent-leather shine on his cloven hooves.
The speaker tapped the microphone. “If I might have your attention. For those who might not know me, I am Grbsyxniz, the new Administrator of the Department of Centenary Oblations. The former Administration in its entirety has been recalled to Headquarters, as I’m sure you are all aware.” A shudder of horror ran through the assembly. “No one in attendance wishes the same fate to befall us. The previous Administration failed miserably with their Y2K idea, and the normal workings of the universe have gone completely awry ever since. Wars, plagues, political upheavals, climate disruptions. But His Eternal Wrathfulness has been unable to enjoy any of the fruits of the resultant human despair.” Grbsyxniz glared at his audience. “This has made conditions at Headquarters most unpleasant. You and I are here to ensure that the Oblation is reinstituted. When the Oblation is restored, the order of the universe will be as well.”
A murmur of assent worked its way through the crowd of demonic bureaucrats.
“You will spread throughout the city. Your targets are only those humans who can perceive our hotel. To most human eyes, this hotel is a dilapidated diner. To those who are primed for sacrifice, the hotel looks as if it is an intriguing building from the previous century – whatever that century might be. It will be the fin of their siècle, shall we say?” Grbsyxniz waited for laughter. When he didn’t get it, he snarled. “That was a joke.”
The audience promptly broke into giggles, snorts, snickers, howls of sycophantic glee.
“Now go forth and find those who are suited. Remember, only those who, when you return with them to this hotel, see the building are spiritually suited. If they see an all-night diner, let them go, no matter how tasty they might seem to be.”
The demons shuffled out of the ballroom, shifting as they went from drab, bureaucratic grey and beige to glittering, sexually enticing creatures of the night, ready to enthrall whatever humans were able to perceive the Hôtel des Damnés rather than the Waffles 4 U.
Fiction © Copyright Mary Ann Peden-Coviello
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Mary Ann Peden-Coviello:
Women write horror and have written it since before Mary Shelley wrote FRANKENSTEIN. This anthology is to highlight the fact women write great horror and to kill the fallacy that they aren’t in some way up to standard. They are. Read here stories by Elizabeth Massie, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Lucy Taylor, and a plethora of other great writers as they work on your nerves, get inside your head, and bang out some of the scariest tales written today. I’m proud to present these women for your consideration, as Rod Serling might say, as I ask you to step into FRIGHT MARE. Lock the door and windows, put on a light, and remember, it’s not real. It’s not real. Midnight awaits, monsters scheme to take you away, the strange and weird wait in the shadows, but it’s not real. Is it?
Edited by Billie Sue Mosiman, the author who brought you the SINISTER-TALES OF DREAD collections and her latest suspense novel, THE GREY MATTER.