The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by R.A. Clarke
For every ripe soul
Each neck that I break
What essence remains
Claims a spot on my face
I lurk. They don’t see me, of course. I am a whisper in the shadows. Mythic. Danger incarnate. Some say I’m a god, while others cry demon. I let them guess. It amuses me. Regardless of useless titles, everybody cowers if I come to call. Each sinewy fibre and diamond hardened bone housed within this lithe frame is formidable. I am an efficient weapon.
But I can be so much more.
My nimble feet move with ease down the dark cobblestone alley. As I pause in urine-stained alcoves or flatten against crumbling brick walls, I match my quarry’s leisurely pace—waiting for the perfect moment to claim my prize. A drunkard and a floozy—all I require to complete my ritual. I’ve reserved prime spaces for their souls.
They halt, their breaths hot and frantic as they wrap around each other beside a rancid dumpster. How romantic. My lips curl with disgust as I listen to their moans.
Enough of this.
Without sound, I materialize behind their unsuspecting and quite vigorously engaged forms. The woman sees me mid-quiver and her hooded eyes widen. In one swift motion, my hand grasps the back of the man’s neck. The drunkard wails, prying at my iron fingers as they squeeze. I ignore his plea for mercy and twist until his grey, bloodshot eyes stare into mine. His last breath leaves the stench of whisky in my nose, while the sweet crackle of bone gets drowned out by the floozy’s scream.
She disengages from her dead lover–tries to scramble away, but my free hand darts out like a toad’s tongue to impale her chest. My fingers curl around her beating heart, the movement accompanied by wet sucking sounds. It spasms in my palm. Her face twists with pain as her eyes bulge in shock and terror. “Mine,” I whisper. With one powerful clench, the fragile organ collapses, pulverized tissue squishing out between my digits like a handful of mud. The floozy shudders and fades away.
I chant low and fast. The power fuelling the words rolls off of my tongue to permeate each sacrifice, and within seconds, the distinct and delectable throb of transformation saturates the entire alley. I breathe it in and taste its savoury flavour.
Lying the bodies down, I smile as glowing fragments of light slither inward from the human’s frail extremities, gathering into a shimmering mass at each of their cores.
I bend and hold out my hands. “Come.” The balls of shimmering light lift, still quaking with fear, firing jagged arcs of energy in the space between them. I gently scoop them from the air and cradle their radiance against my chest like newborn twins. They’re warm.
Using the heightened focus I’d mastered through years of painstaking collections; I compress the photonic balls until they’re no larger than a pea. In that moment, I realize my entire body vibrates with equal measures of anticipation and victory. Steadying my shaking hands, I raise the morsels to my face. With methodical precision, I press each essence into the bare patches of skin remaining upon my cheeks. The pain is scalding, my flesh sizzling as they melt protective cavities for themselves. But it’s worth it.
The countless glowing orbs marking my entire body pulse in tandem and tiny streams of caustic light burst forth to whitewash the alleyway. The fabric cloaking my trembling frame chars and disintegrates. Molten streaks fire like lasers in all directions. Then all at once, the light vanishes and I collapse to the grimy cobblestone, panting.
My vision blurs and voices echo from the street. Footsteps run towards me, drawn to investigate the bizarre display.
I inspect my arms and legs, but can’t see the glow of my essences anymore. My limbs are sluggish, weak—this can’t be what immortality feels like. Did the ritual fail?
The footsteps skid to a halt several feet away. I know what they see. Two bodies, dead and bloodied, and me, a blinded woman, naked and shivering from the cold. My attempts to call forth my power flounder. I’m alone, and still very much human.
“Call the police,” a man says as he inches closer to me. “Miss? Are you alright?”
His hand touches my arm and I flinch, my killer instincts overtaken by an unfamiliar panic. But there’s something else there too. It broils just beneath the surface.
“Touch me again,” I whisper.
He wraps a blanket around me. “Help is on the way.” His fingers brush my skin.
All at once, a sense of power explodes from within and my vision clears. I see everything with violent vibrancy. Every fibre, every molecule. I look up and marvel at my reflection in the man’s glasses. My skin is translucent with an otherworldly luminosity. My eyes shimmer with unhindered voltage.
“What the—?” The man’s expression twists in shock, recoiling. But not fast enough.
My hands lash out, grasping him. Jolts of raw energy surge through my hands. He screams as his fragile body fries from the inside out. Smoke wafts from his singed hair as black char mars his complexion. Only when blue fire sparks from his nose and mouth do I let go.
Bystanders flee, crying for help. Sirens wail mournfully in the distance.
I lick his beautiful essence from my fingertips as his remains sag to the ground. The ritual worked. With a smile, I breathe in the scent of countless lives waiting to be harvested.
As a serpent of living energy slithers across my skin, I rise, immortal.
Fiction © Copyright R.A. Clarke
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from author R.A. Clarke:
Oh, That’s Good…
Plucked from the mind of multi-genre short fiction author R.A. Clarke, these original speculative fiction prompts are sure to inspire and spark your creative flame. From dark to light, quirky to horrifying, there’s a little something here for everybody. You’re cordially invited to sift through the pages; take your time, pick and choose… or, if you’re feeling brave, take the 52-Week Challenge. Just spin, switch, expand, elevate, and transform these concepts into your own, then jot down those shiny new plotlines in the handy note sections provided. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun while you’re at it. So, are you ready to dive in and write that next great story?
Such a well-written story. I love the concept and the writing is gorgeous.
“Each sinewy fibre and diamond hardened bone housed within this lithe frame is formidable.” – this was my favorite passage.
That’s great – such a taut and chilling thriller.
A wonderfully superb story.