The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Circles of Light
by Linda Lee Rice
The twisted path before me leads me further and further into the dark place. Vines wrapped around my ankles, trying to trip me and wind me in their embrace. Eyes that glowed from the trees and broken rocks watched me, only blinking when I turned away. I followed the path inward, driven by a need that only the old woman could quench.
I burst through the clearing and past the eerie windchimes of bones hanging from every branch. Her hut stood among the mist, not so much as glowing in the full moonlight as glowering. The door was an open invitation, but I feared to step across the threshold.
Gathering my shrinking courage, I stepped through and into the pungent scent of herbs, ashes…and something else. The old woman shuffled forward, grinning at my discomfort. “I knew you’d come,” she muttered and reached out to touch my arm. “Come and sit by the fire; I have the brew ready for you.”
Still not understanding my purpose for coming here, I sat on the stool and warmed my hands. “I don’t know why I’m here!” The old woman cackled, showing her toothless grin, and dipped a ladle into the contents of the boiling kettle over the fire. She poured it into an earthen cup with strange symbols.
“Drink this, and all will be revealed!” Although I didn’t want to, and my stomach retched at the smell, I found myself reaching for the cup and swallowing half of the contents. The old woman quickly drank the other half and smacked her lips.
The room spun dizzily as I slumped over onto the wall. I could still see the old woman, but she was changing. Bright circles of light appeared on her skin as I felt an answering flash on mine.
I watched in horror as her skin became smooth, beautiful, and wrinkle-free. Then, I felt my skin begin to shift and change. A tooth fell out and onto my lap as I watched her teeth begin to rise in her gums. My eyes dimmed as hers grew bright and luminous.
I struggled to speak, and the voice I heard, I didn’t recognize. “What is happening to me?” The now young witch smiled and crooned, “I have waited a millennium for you to come to my door. I had to wait until the right moment for the bloom of youth to blossom to pluck it. Now it’s your turn!”
She quickly changed into my clothes while she dressed me in her reeking foul ones. Then, she gave me a pitying smile as she turned and went out the door, “It won’t be so bad. You’ll be surprised at how fast a millennium will pass.”
So here I sit, stirring my brew, waiting for a girl to come stumbling up my path driven with an untold need…and I wait impatiently.
Fiction © Copyright Linda Lee Rice
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More about Linda Lee Rice:
Linda Lee Rice aka Ruzicka has poetry published in Twilight Times, Dark Krypt, Fables, Descending Darkness, Writing Village, Spine, and Page, Muses Gallery, Bloodbond, Lycan Valley Press Publishers, Alban Lake, Highland Park Poetry, Rosette Maleficarum, The Siren’s Call, Edify Fiction and the June Cotner anthology, “House Blessings” and “Garden Blessings
She has short stories published in The Grit, and Reminisce, Haunted Encounters: Friends and Family, FrostFire Worlds. Plus, a personal essay at Mamalode. She also has various articles and blogs published online as a freelance writer.