The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Naching T. Kassa
“It’s about time you got here,” Rae Morton said as I walked in the door. She tapped the watch on her left wrist. “You were supposed to be here an hour ago, Miss Ming.”
“That’s Sing. Not Ming. I’m sorry. The traffic was murder out there.”
Rae raised an eyebrow. “Traffic? At three in the morning?”
“You’d be amazed how many people go to work at that time.”
“Well, you have an hour left for the photo shoot. You better make the best of it.”
I carried the two bags of equipment into the room and set the shoot up as quickly as I could.
“A white screen?” Rae said, wrinkling her nose. “My employer is very fair-skinned. Are you sure you want to use that?”
“I’ve heard she often dresses in black. White is a good contrast.”
“What about these lights? They’re far too bright. I told you, she has a sensitivity to bright light.”
“I’ll dim the lights when she comes in. Believe it or not, Ms. Morton, I do know what I’m doing.”
“I certainly hope so. My employer is not a patient person in any sense of the word. She does not suffer fools gladly.”
“That makes two of us,” I replied.
I set my first camera on the tripod and began the necessary adjustments. Rae had retreated to a nearby aperture to wait. She watched a fat spider weave a web of gossamer in the corner of the doorway. The next time I looked up, she snatched the spider from the web and stuffed it in her mouth.
“I’m ready,” I said.
“Mmph?” Rae said around the mouthful of spider. She swallowed. “I’ll let my employer know.” She hurried through the doorway and into the gloom beyond.
A moment later, she returned. A woman, clad in a black and slinky dress, trailed behind her. Her eyes, green like those of a cat, bored into mine.
“Sorry, I’m late,” I said, holding out a hand. The woman stared at it as though it were a carp instead of an appendage.
“The Countess does not wish to be touched,” Rae said.
“I do apologize,” I said. I dimmed the lights and led her to the white screen.
“I have heard good things about you,” The Countess said, speaking for the first time. “Elizabeth said you vorked vonders. You made her look a hundred years younger.”
“Ms. Bathory was a challenge. I’m glad she appreciates my work. It’s not easy to capture the vampire form. That’s why I use this white screen. It can make anything invisible to the camera’s eye visible. If you could just stand there. Thank you. Would you like to show off your fangs in this shot?”
“I never show off my fangs.”
“What about a smile?”
“The Countess never smiles,” Rae interjected. “It wrinkles her face.”
“I guess a frown is out then. No resting bitch face?”
“No. No face of the bitch. I prefer this rigid, emotionless expression.”
“I gather you’ve never smiled in the past then?”
“Oh, I have smiled on occasion. Do you remember the last time I smiled, Morton?”
Rae grinned. “How can I forget? It was a hundred and twenty years ago last Friday. Seems like yesterday you killed that old meddler.”
A hungry leer spread across the Countess’ face. I quickly snapped a picture.
“He vas qvite a pain in the neck, vasn’t he, Morton? Always sticking his big nose vhere it didn’t belong. He tried to kill me three times, you know.”
“And you vowed the third time would be the last. Ah, those were the good old days when you could tear an old vampire hunter apart and the police didn’t come looking. We buried him in the old abbey down the road.”
I snapped another picture of the Countess. “Who was this old guy?”
“Van Whoosing, somebody.”
“Van Helsing. Magnus Van Helsing,” Rae interjected.
“Son of the great Abraham Van Helsing?”
The Countess snorted. “Great? He killed Dracula and he gets a big reputation. You know, he vasn’t even alone vhen he did it? He had the help of that Qvincy Morris. He and his big knife.”
“Quincy was pretty hot stuff before they skewered him,” Morton replied. “I wish I could have seen his big knife.”
“Ignore her,” the Countess said. “She has veird crushes. One time, I caught her making goo-goo eyes at Grampa Munster.”
“Dracula vas a nothing,” the Countess continued. “Van Helsing didn’t even try to take us on, did he, Morton?”
“He was too scared.”
“That is right. He sent his kid in his place. Only, when the kid caught up vith us, he was an old man. I svatted him like a fly.”
“Flies,” Morton sighed again. “Yummy.”
“Hey,” the Countess said to me. “Vhat is vrong with your face? You look so mad.”
“It’s my bitch face,” I said, and picking up the tripod, I smashed Rae in the face. Her mouth formed a rather comical “O” before she hit the floor.
“Vhat vas that for?” the Countess cried.
“Do you know my name?”
“Of course, I know your name. You are Ms. Ming.”
“My name is Sing. Xia Sing. My father shortened our name to make us less vulnerable to attack. But I think I’ll use my full name now. It’s Van Helsing. Daughter of Sheamus and Li, granddaughter of Martin, great-granddaughter of Magnus. I’ve been searching for his murderer for quite some time.” I dropped the tripod.
The Countess snarled.
I reached into my bag, picked up the stake and flipped it into the air. A well-placed kick—taught to me by my mother—sent the stake flying. It struck the Countess like a missile and pinned her to the white screen.
“I’ll kill you!” she cried.
“Not if I kill you first.” I flicked the switch and the bright lights came on. She screamed as the ultraviolet light bathed her skin and turned her to so much ash.
Fiction © Copyright Naching T. Kassa
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Naching T. Kassa:
Crystal Lake Publishing proudly presents Arterial Bloom, an artful juxtaposition of the magnificence and macabre that exist within mankind. Each tale in this collection is resplendent with beauty, teeth, and heart.
Edited by the Bram Stoker Award-winning writer Mercedes M. Yardley, Arterial Bloom is a literary experience featuring sixteen stories from some of the most compelling dark authors writing today.
With a foreword by HWA Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Linda D. Addison, you are invited to step inside and let the grim flowers wind themselves comfortably around your bones.
A fantastic story.
I must protest this little tale. It is dangerously close to the truth, as well you know. We don’t like to talk about it. You should be ashamed, Ms. Naching! 🙂
What a great story – fast-paced and fascinating.