The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
A Bottle From the Sea
by A.F. Stewart
Calls from the dead shouldn’t be answered.
A twisted, citrus-scented breeze blew in from a deep ocean storm, stirring malevolent powers best left drowned. The fish fled, the crabs scuttled into holes, but a harbinger deposited itself on the beach, waiting for…anyone really. Crusted glass and seawater, crumbling paper and skeletons of sea bugs all buried in wet sand. Cursed flotsam washed up on shore, an echo of the far forgotten lost. I knew when I saw the bottle, but Danny didn’t.
I loved the man, but he never saw the right things, only the shiny superficial things. I tried to teach him, but he didn’t take to it; too much stark reality in his soul. I’d been holding on out of… dreams maybe, or his smile. Whatever the reason, today was the day it would end.
I knew that the minute he touched the bottle.
The paper fragmented in his hand, and the broken edge of glass sliced his palm. The scream came first, his or hers, I don’t know. Then the spectre rose, like smoke from a beach bonfire, charcoal soot and ember hot, from the dusted pieces of the soul spell now caught in the wind and headed back to sea.
None of that mattered to Danny.
She seared him, like a thick burned steak in butter, until he was nothing but char and bone. She had no choice; that’s how cursed souls like her get free. She vanished to whatever hell or heaven would take her, and I buried Danny, with the bottle, above the tide line, under the proper warding. Couldn’t have him stirring from his grave and spreading the curse. I’ll miss him, but he was bound for a bad end with him being such a fool.
As I said, calls from the dead shouldn’t be answered.
Fiction © Copyright A.F. Stewart
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from A.F. Stewart:
Visions and Nightmares
Tragedy spares no one… and takes no prisoners.
In the twilight shadows, secrets are revealed past the whispers of madness.
Wander into the realm of the old gods with Elenora, where humanity and marriage are a prison.
Step through a looking glass of dark horrors with an Alice you never knew.
Join with Zenna to seek the truth as her death by magic grows closer.
Journey with Olivia as she crosses paths with a monster of the forest and runs for her life.
Watch Isobel summon the faerie to solve her problem of an unwanted husband.
Shiver as Doctor Killbride experiments with corpses to create life from death.
All that and more await within the pages.
Ten stories. Ten women.
Who will survive? Who will fall? And who will succumb to their inner evil?
Find out in Visions and Nightmares.
Warning: This book contains disturbing scenes that may be upsetting to some readers.
Another excellent flash, Anita! Brava! I had this prompt too, but took it in a different direction.
Really enjoyed this – your prose is so contained yet portrays the scene so vividly – your narrator’s voice – so authentic, so chilling.