The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
First, Last and Deposit
by Naching T. Kassa
I think I’m going crazy. At least, I hope I am. It’s far better than the alternative.
Do you see that tree over there? Look at the shadow beneath. Do you see what I see? Yes,
it’s the shadow of a woman. The dark reflection of a body which doesn’t exist.
You see it too, don’t you? Oh, God, it’s worse than I thought. If you see it, then I’m not
crazy. It’s real. It’s all real!
Come over here. No, keep your voice down. We have to pretend she’s not there. If she
thinks we’ve seen her, she’ll kill us both.
Let’s stand here, there aren’t any shadows here. She won’t follow us. She doesn’t like the
light, especially sunlight.
I’m taking a risk telling you about this, but I have to tell someone. No one else will
It all started three weeks ago, after Mrs. Kline passed away. Yes, that’s right, the old lady
in 2C. The one with the great apartment.
Yes, I’m the one who got the apartment. You’ve been wondering how, haven’t you?
Well, unlike the others, I actually had first, last and deposit. That’s why the board chose me. I
moved in last week.
The first three days were wonderful. And then, on the fourth day, all hell broke loose.
Shh! Did you hear that? You didn’t? Someone just called my name. Just a second. Stay
here and I’ll be right back.
Sorry it took me so long. I was wrong. There aren’t any shadows here in this part of the
Where was I? Oh, yeah. The fourth day.
I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. My new apartment had two
bedrooms and when I passed the second, I saw something in the doorway. There were no lights
on in that room, it was completely dark, but I thought I could see a figure. A shape which seemed
blacker than the darkness of the room.
Now, I’m not psychic, I don’t even believe in that stupid shit. But, I swear, that shape
hated me. I don’t think I’ve ever felt such malevolence. That thing wanted to ambush me—I
know it! It wanted to draw me into that bedroom, and once it had me there, it would cheerfully
tear me to pieces.
I ran by that room, just as fast as I could, and took shelter in the well-lit bathroom. There
I stayed until morning. The shadow had vanished with the first light of day.
I know it was the old woman. It had to be. That was the bedroom where she was
No, it wasn’t natural causes. Didn’t I tell you that? I didn’t? I’m surprised you haven’t
heard. It was in all the papers. The police said she was strangled with a silk scarf while she slept.
Of course, they said that. It was in all the papers! Why would I make something like that
Please! Don’t go! I’m sorry. I just haven’t slept very well. The old woman keeps coming
to me at night. She can’t get to me with the lights on, so she stands outside my room and
whispers my name. She does it every time I close my eyes and drift off.
Uh-oh. The sun’s moved again. We have to go with it, get away from the shadows. She
uses them to travel. Let’s head for the park benches over there.
Yes, she moves using the shadows. Anywhere there’s darkness, she can appear. One
time, she showed up in a movie theater, a few seats away from me. I could feel her watching me
the whole time, waiting for me to head for the aisle. I waited until the lights came on before I
No, you’re the first person I’ve told. I don’t dare mention it to anyone else. I’m not stupid
enough to think they’d believe me. You, on the other hand, you wanted the apartment too. I’m
pretty sure you’ll understand.
Tell me something. When did you first see the old lady’s ghost? You went as white as a
sheet the minute you saw her shadow. You didn’t even argue with me about seeing her. Was it
after you put the application in for the apartment? You withdrew it pretty quick.
Look! She’s out there among the trees. See! Right over there. You can just make out her
face. She looks hungry, doesn’t she?
I saw you that night, you know. Saw you leaving her apartment. You left the door open,
so I went inside. She wasn’t dead. You started the job, but you didn’t finish it. Funny thing is, I
don’t think she knows which one of us killed her.
No, I don’t want to blackmail you. I just want to be left alone. And there’s only one way I
can do that.
There! Handcuffed you to the bench. Yeah, yeah, scream all you want.
It won’t matter after dark.
Fiction © Copyright Naching T. Kassa
Image courtesy of Rie Sheridan Rose.
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.
Love the twist at the end.
Very smooth and nasty ending, totally satisfying!
So clever – I was totally drawn in by your MC’s voice and that unexpected ending
That was a perfect end…and unexpected! Great story!