The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
In the Dark
by Florence A. Marlowe
She opened her eyes to utter darkness. She fought panic as she stared into what seemed like an endless depth of inky blackness. The pungent odor that assailed her nostrils clawed at her throat as she struggled to sit up. The dark was like a heavy blanket, closing in on her, trying to envelope her/ And what was more alarming, was the silence. The complete absence of sound sucked at her. She felt as if she would fall head first into that vast well of quiet until it engulfed her.
The darkness seemed to drift apart, and her eyes were able to focus. It was like a cloud of shadows parted, She knew that if she simply remained calm her vision would clear. It was confusing and yet it was a knowing. She glanced around her and felt an odd sense of peace spread within as she was able to see her surroundings.
She could also see that she wasn’t sitting or even standing. It was more like floating. It was as if her body had become a soft, misty fog that spread itself out on the gentle breeze wafting in the darkness. She could feel the cool air all round her and through her. As her vision cleared, she realized she was outside and yet sheltered. I was the fetid odor of damp wood and moldy straw that told her she was inside an old shed or barn. Instead of being frightened she was curious. She had no memory of entering the building. In fact, she had no memory at all. If she concentrated hard, she knew she latched onto bits of information that held some meaning to her, but her mind wandered. What was this place? It wasn’t familiar to her.
As she scanned the walls around her, she could see the grain of the wood, old and weathered. The lack of light was no longer an obstruction. If she really concentrated she realized she would be able to see the tiny crevice in each concentric ring of the lumber, the tiny insects burrowed within the pulp and even the infinitesimal atoms that gathered to make the very construct of cellulose and grime that made up each individual plank. But another object below caught her attention. This was something she vaguely recognized, something she struggled to identify at first, to verbalize what she was seeing.
No surprise registered as she realized she was looking at what had once been in her body lying among the debris on the barn floor. She pulled herself closer and suddenly she was mere inches from her own face. How small her body looked, helpless and disheveled. Long, dark hair tangled in a ropey nest amid dead twigs and dry leaves. Her white shirt had been torn, soiled by common dirt. Her arms and legs were twisted in what she was sure was an unnatural position. She could see dried blood smeared on the fingers of one hand and what she found most intriguing was that as her body lay on its back, her once blue eyes stared sightlessly at the ceiling. Only then did she assume she was dead.
She took in the torn clothing that still clung to her broken body and tried to remember what had happened to leave her in such a sorry state. The black pants and white blouse were her uniform. That’s right, she had been a waitress. How odd that this memory hadn’t been available to her right away. Yet she could barely remember performing the act of waiting on tables or even what had occurred before that, who she was or even her own name.
Hovering above her slight corpse she could suddenly hear sound. It was a familiar, mechanical sound. It’s a car she thought with great delight. She felt herself rise on the air and her vision broadened. Through the open door of the barn a slice of warm light appeared and bobbed as it moved towards her. A flashlight beam illuminated the darkness, and she could see the man holding it as he entered.
A brutish figure, large and unwieldly lumbered into the barn, casting a light on the crumpled figure lying on the ground. The barn lit up as if it had filled with daylight and she could clearly see the stranger as he bent over her body.
He was unknown to her. A film of dirt seemed to coat his face and she could clearly see the red furrow of nails raked across his stubbly cheek.
Oh, he’s the one who killed me, she thought.
A flash of terror and a cacophony of sound shocked her senses for a brief moment. She could smell the gassy odor of beer and the stank of his meaty hand over her mouth as the scant memory of only seconds before her death came back to her. He rifled through her torn clothing and the dim sensation of revulsion pierced her mind as she saw him fondle her cold flesh.
“You’re mine, now, bitch.” His voice was thunderous, and she pulled back from him. “You’re my little doll.” His voice was thick with a greedy oiliness. “Mine to play with all I want.”
Helpless, she watched as he cupped her breast and pulled it from her filthy blouse. Unable to do anything to stop him, she stared in horror as his thick fingers played with her nipple. She was physically unable to feel a thing, but deep inside her a rage boiled. She whispered a horrified, “no!”
The man stopped allowing his hand to fall limp at his side like a child caught red-handed. He glanced about the barn, aiming his flashlight into the darkness. She realized then that to him, the surroundings were still murky. She could see him clearly, but to his eyes it was a dark abyss outside the arc of his flashlight beam.
She propelled herself closer. He seemed not so sure of himself as he crouched next to her tiny corpse. Studying his face, she willed herself to remember, but there were no details she could recall. A new emotion welled within her. A deep loathing of this person who she could not remember. He had taken her life in a brutal and heartless way. It had been a brief life; she had been young, and she began to mourn the loss.
A wordless howl of despair escaped her and her murderer jumped to his feet. His shook as he waved the light at the walls.
“Who?” He gasped as he searched the darkness. She found the fear in his eyes delicious.
He slowly began to pedal backwards, unwilling to turn his back on the formidable darkness. The rage filled her again. She rushed forward and her lack of tangible extremities did nothing to stop her from striking him in the chest and shoving him backward.
His bulk was considerable, and she was unable to move him, but the effect it had on him was striking. He shrieked, stumbling over his heavily booted feet, dropping the flashlight. He wailed as the barn plunged into blackness.
But she could still see him. His eyes were wide with terror. He searched his jeans pocket until he fished out a pocketknife. Fumbling to unfold the blade, he continued to stare into the dark. An ugly mewling sound escaped his lips as his eyes darted from one corner of the barn to the other, searching for his unseen assailant.
Rage and hate billowed inside her and she rose above the cowering man who blindly waved the unsheathed knife, cutting through the air. She could sense her own blood on the edge of that blade. He had used it to kill her. For a moment she could feel the cold steel as it sliced through her vulnerable flesh and she unleashed a blood curdling roar of fury.
Her murderer wailed, dropping the knife in the litter as his bladder failed him. He fell back and scrambled on all fours, trying to escape.
She was unwilling to let him go. She lunged at him, the mass of her incorporeal body blanketing him. She could feel his terror. It was sweet. It sang as it permeated her essence and filled her soul. She reveled in his pain.
Gasping and whining, he struggled to his feet. He hurled himself towards the open barn door and escaped into the cold moonlight. She watched as he ran towards the rusty pick-up he had left near the barn, its parking lights still glowing.
She felt a greedy need to follow him, to drink in his luscious panic, but she was loathe to leave behind her body. She hovered in the doorway, content to watch the truck careen as he sped away. When he was out of sight, she turned back to the damaged remains and stared down at her own pale face.
It came to her. Magda. Her name had been Magda. No flood of familiar memories came with this knowledge, but it was enough for now. She floated protectively above the violated corpse. She had plenty of time to recollect as she guarded what had once been hers. She looked forward to savoring the fear of anyone who dared disturb her again.
Exquisite and terrible…! Thank you!
Wow! Love how you engage our senses and keep a steady pace as the terrible events unfold.