The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Michelle Joy Gallagher
“I watched the light leave my mothers eyes at a train station when I was just 7 years old. A man bludgeoned her with a fire extinguisher he’d ripped off the wall because she refused to give him change. She told me to run but I’d only gotten as far as the stairwell when her screams filled the station then stopped. I couldn’t help but watch.
No one looked up. No one helped her. I ran up the stairs and into traffic, cars screeching to a halt around me. That’s it. That’s the worst day of my life.”
“Objection your honor!” An overweight district attorney spat, his face growing more red with each word. Ruth had forgotten his name. “The purpose of the telling phase of any trial is to adequately select the day in which the criminal must relive as appropriate punishment.”
The judge stared at the DA blankly. “Sustained. Ma’am please try and refrain from emotionally illicit language during this phase. Counsel?”
The court appointed defense wore an ill fitting suit jacket. He was young and still passionate but he looked like a kid playing dress up. Ruth flinched anytime he spoke.”
“Your honor, I feel the selection of this memory would be considered cruel. There are a few more-“
He was abruptly cut off by the judge.
“Ms. Sama has been convicted of murder in the first degree and desecration of a corpse. You’re arguing cruelty?”
Her attorney nodded. “Yes sir. And the man she killed?” She patted his hand. “It’s alright.”
The judge had had enough. “Is he here to defend himself? What he did in life is inconsequential. Ms. Ruth Sama is hereby sentenced to 10 years memory replay without incarceration. I hope your decade of being haunted by your mother’s last breath sobers you.”
She was whisked out of the courtroom surrounded by what seemed like the entirety of the San Diego Sheriff’s department.
They drove her to a lab that was unmarked. An imposing cement edifice with no windows. Inside the smell of antiseptic made the back of her throat itch. She was seated in a reclining chair with an attachment that reminded her of the dryers at the salon. It was lowered over the top of her head, while an attendant clacked away on a keyboard, the monitor out of sight.
“You’ll hear a slight buzzing sound and then a click. You might have a metallic taste in your mouth for a few days, but it will fade.”
Ruth only nodded. There was a buzz and a click and her mouth tasted like copper, but then a searing pain shot through her skull and a hot white light filled her vision. He hadn’t prepared her for that. She groaned in pain and he smirked. He got off on it. Her face felt sunburnt and she couldn’t tell if it was from the procedure or anger welling up.
Then she heard it. A panicked voice that echoed around the room and shot through her: “Ruthie baby, RUN!”
She couldn’t see her mother, but the man who killed her stood behind the lab tech, fire extinguisher in his hands. He raised it over his head and brought it down onto her mothers head. Blood spattered onto the lab tech’s jacket and onto the counter behind him. He didn’t react. The procedure had been a success.
Fiction © Copyright Michelle Joy Gallagher
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from author Michelle Joy Gallagher:
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.