July 2019 Ladies of Horror Picture Prompt Challenge: Next Meal @LydiaPrime

The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!

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Next Meal
by Lydia Prime

“Hello?” Whimpering from the darkness startled cautious visitors; their footsteps came to a standstill. “Is, is someone there?” The voice asked weakly.

Twenty feet from the opening, they huddled close together, not sure where the voice had come from. A summer breeze blew through the open room, wafting the scent of fear and sweat toward the damp chasm.

“I can hear you, please, help me,” the voice pleaded and the feet crept closer, certain a little girl was calling to them. Heel to toe, they made it to the edge and peered down, their flashlights just barely able to penetrate the darkness; perhaps a trick of the light, but one was certain something skittered across the ground from one corner to the other.

“Hurry, please!” She called out again; her voice was beginning to sound impatient and less distressed. The men looked at each other before deciding which one of them would go down there and save the girl. With a heavy sigh, the smaller of the two began his descent into the darkness.

CRACK. CRUNCH.

“Help me!” He shouted to his friend. The sound of flesh tearing from bone echoed through the cavernous pit; a scream from below drove right through the man trembling above. Hesitantly, he shined his light below and saw his friend scattered all over the floor and walls. His breath caught in his throat, Where was the … thing that did this!?

Rapid scraping against metal; it was coming. His mind blank, his body failing to remember how to move, to scream; helpless and frozen he stayed as a white creature exited the concrete opening. It had the horns of a stag and the face of a decomposing ram; its slender body turned, showing the butchery that covered its matted fur. Tears began to well in the man’s eyes as it showed off knifelike claws, tapping them together and watching as the crimson bits dribbled from each one.

“Delicious, but still…” came the warbled female voice, as its red eyes locked on its next meal.

 

Fiction © Copyright Lydia Prime
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

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Voyeur

My mentor had done this procedure countless times but he was getting on in years, it was now my turn. As we entered the room, I turned to be sure he’d noticed. The subtle scent of overly ripe fruit in a room with no such dressings;  the aroma of an expiration past due.

I walked over to the patient and examined her pale clammy skin. Her pulse weakened, her breath shallow. No wonder Death visited this room. I gulped and returned to my mentor’s side.

Our patient let out a faint whimper that neither of us could decipher. At the word of my aged tutor, I began administering treatment. An injection of morphine to calm her, ease her into bliss, followed by several well placed leeches to suck out the monster who held her soul captive.

***

“Quickly, quickly now!” His harsh whisper scratched through my ears.

“But… she just… and…” I managed to stammer.

“Yes, yes. A horrible tragedy all that, a grievous state.” His head hung low for the briefest of moments until his hands found their way back to tidying up. I couldn’t move, just watched while he placed the tools back into his bag. “Don’t just stand there boy!” His raspy voice coached me. I grabbed up the blood-soaked sheets and tossed them into my own bag…

“Get the leeches boy, the leeches!” His voice rang in my head. I turned, knocking my bag to the floor. The leeches had grown fat, too fat, as they continued their suckling while the patient withered. Plucking the engorged creatures off her tore sheets of wallpaper flesh from the desiccated carcass. I glanced at my guardian through terrified eyes; he himself shook at the horror before us. This wasn’t the way it was meant to be.

I ran to the wooden basin and flung them in, foolishly assuming I’d have time to dissect them later. Before I could blink, they swirled through the cracks, found each chink to slither through. No! No! No!  With bare hands, I tried pulling them back but they were already gone.

Exhausted from the struggle, I turned from the useless pail only to find a figure standing behind my mentor. I tried to warn him but my voice escaped as quickly as the leeches had. I watched as it sliced through his torso, dropping meat haphazardly to the wooden floor. I wept as it devoured our patient one glutinous gulp at a time. I howled with fear as the figure turned its attentions toward me.

Perhaps Death wasn’t only a visitor but a voyeur…

∼ Lydia Prime

© Copyright Lydia Prime. All Rights Reserved.

Damned Words 40

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Sunrise
A.F. Stewart

Some said we would never see the sunrise, but there it shines in the morning sky. As we huddle within the church, I can hear people weeping, from a relief at being alive or in mourning for those dead, I cannot tell. I will shed no more tears. Mine already fell for those I lost in the carnage.

Voices murmur and I turn to glimpse the vicar passing food to those with appetites, and cups of water. At least we can be grateful for that. We will not have to worry about provisions for a while yet. The church has its own well, and donations from a food drive in storage.

It is silent outside, with the daylight hours, but we know it will not last. With night they will return. They will surround the church with their footsteps, with their growls. They will scratch at the ground and howl, fraying nerves, making it impossible to sleep. Memories will flood back, of blood, of teeth, of running while others died. And we will sit here among the pews knowing this holy place is the only thing that keeps them out. It will be the same tonight, as it was last night, and the night before that. Once again we will wonder if we will see the sunrise.

We are trapped here. Praying, surviving. Waiting for our inevitable end.


Ash Wednesday
Charles Gramlich

At midnight the police began to disperse the dense French Quarter crowd. The partiers didn’t want to stop the festivities but reluctantly gave way, breaking into twos and threes that gradually streamed off toward homes or other celebrations. Fat Tuesday was over. Lent had begun.

As the crowd split, a cold, hard gust of wind swept over the Quarter. It gathered other gusts to itself, swirled across the Faubourg Marigny and up Bourbon and Royal streets like a dust devil. It carried a mélange of beads and other Mardi Gras trash. It picked up the stench of sweat-soaked people, the stale odors of alcohol, urine, vomit. It gathered the thoughts and feelings of the revelers—their joys and rages, laughters and sobs, lusts and sins.

And when the wind had all that in its grasp, it struck the roof of the cathedral. The steeple shook; a dirty shadow enveloped it, then shrank, took darkling form. For a moment, a long-armed man squatted like a clot of evil on the roof. Then the figure leaped down and faded into the dispersing crowds as if it had never been.

The first deaths came within an hour.


The Order of Sanctification
Marge Simon

The church bells tolled for many hours after they caught the latest resistor and slit her throat. Pytr had been chosen to carry the infant cut from the womb. They marched through the streets, chanting in clipped unison. The newborn squalled, its limbs still slippery with blood. Pytr tucked it closer inside his furs to shield it against the cold. When they reached the Temple of Free Souls, he gave the infant to a waiting orderly. Shivering, they kept formation until the Grand Priest appeared.

“Who brings this babe?”

“We of the Righteous, Sector Five.”

“Who carries the babe?”

“I, Holy One.” Pytr stepped forward.

“And your name?”

“Pytr, zero five zero two. Sworn by birth to the genetic cycle evermore.” He was careful to keep his voice in a cadence. It would have been blasphemous to do otherwise.

“Ah, Pytr, I recognize you. You were,” the old man smiled, “one of my favorites. And not long out on your own, either. Very well, excellent.” He rubbed his hands together, his fingers stained with a garish orange dye. “And what say the rest of you?”

“We are the children of Sanctification. We copulate no more. We bow to the sperm bank and Ovum of White. Pure is the Ovum. Pure are the Righteous born.”

The presentation ended, Ptyr joined the others as they formed lines to march homeward. He smiled to himself. He’d done his part to ensure the purity of one small soul. Babies must be protected from sin. Future generations of the Righteous would be produced and raised in the Sanctified Laboratories, as the currently popular Supreme Holiness decreed.


The Good Book
R.J. Meldrum

The book was found in the hundredth year after the war. It was buried beneath the ruins of a pre-war building. The scouts were looking for tinned food, but because they’d never seen such a thing before they picked it up. The wise men, the ones who had been taught to read, recognised it for what it was, although none of them had seen a complete book before. They analysed and discussed the words. After due deliberation, they proclaimed the book a miracle and claimed it was the word of God, written by his prophet. By following the doctrine outlined in the book, they too would achieve immortality.

Sermons were held every week.  The priest intoned the holy words.

“The prophet requires a gift of blood for his Lord, to assure eternal life.”

“We shall obey,” intoned the faithful.

A girl was brought forward to the sacrificial altar.

“What are you called, my child?”

“Mina.”

The congregation murmured its approval of her name.

Compliant, she exposed her neck.  The priest, his canine teeth filed to sharp points, bent forward to collect the blood sacrifice that would satisfy their Lord.


Scarlet Milk
Lee Andrew Forman

Hooded faces lined up in the abbey to drink divine milk; they waited with reserve to wrap anxious lips around the papilla of the six-breasted obelisk. Its scarlet liquid dripped for ages, kept the cabal well-fed. Its sweet blessing held their souls within preserved bodies, entombed behind reverent, ever-young eyes. Sustenance from the fleshless bust of the ancient lord was their only indulgence. They observed all outside their congregation reach for the heavens; ages, generations—all seen, all judged. When the bosom of life dried up, they knew the lord’s decree was to be fulfilled.


Abandoned
Lydia Prime

As the sun slowly began to dip beneath the horizon, the colors danced across the pews and paint chipped walls, releasing something more insidious to the building. Footsteps echoed in the distance, slow at first but their pace quickened as a single set became several.

The stranger raced through the nave hoping to make it to the massive oak doors without incident. Voices swirled around the empty cavity though he couldn’t make out what they were saying. As he reached for the rusted latch he noticed the glass was no longer full of colorful images. He yanked on the latch as hard as he could, but couldn’t get it to budge. The other sets of footsteps caught up to the exploring man. They stood in the shadows and whispered unintelligible nothings to one another. His heart beating through his chest, he pounded on the wooden barrier before him and pleaded to see another day.

As the creatures drew closer an unearthly chill rattled through his bones. One of them moved into the light, it had no features of anything he’d ever seen, but its mouth bore rotten needle-sharp teeth; Its tentacle-like appendages edging near him. They made no noise as they leaned in and he screamed for his savior.


Perfection
Nina D’Arcangela

I’ve watched him fall before, The Morning Star. He’s been falling for millennia it seems, but then it always does. This world, these creatures, they lose fear, tell tales; forget fate is coming for them. I remember, I always remember for I am their reminder. I’ve watched it unfold myriad times. The clock resets, he is granted entrance, my reward—to be forsaken.

The rabble are born anew. Creation they hark as they build; or rebuild as it were. They know nothing of the former that perished among the rubble, their blood feeding a new world, their crushed bones the foundation this ground is laid upon. They eat the bread, drink the wine; expect absolution for debauchery’s lure. They seek a second coming while I walk quietly amongst them watching as the star falls yet again on perfection.


Light and Dark
Mark Steinwachs

My skin is the battle ground for the sun in the cloudless sky and the crisp fall air. Two steps and I will be out of its rays. Sun to shade. Light to dark. “I gave them light. I gave them everything,” I say, not looking back at the seven others. “And this is how they repay me; ornate structures with false prophets inside. They twisted my words and teachings, picking out whatever scriptures they needed at that moment. I love them and they cast me aside.”

A man in a tailored suit walks out the door, “It’s time to move along, gentlemen. We can’t have you loitering while service is going on.”

“Not even an invitation into my own home,” I say as I cross into the shade. “I can pick and choose scriptures too.”

The man’s eyes go wide as wings unfurl from the seven. Fear radiates in his soul where there should have been love. I snap my fingers and his neck twists at a grotesque angle before he crumples to the ground.

“Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the lord.”


Sleeper
Scarlett R. Algee

She wakes to the darkness she expects, and the silence, and the gnaw of hunger deep in her belly, toothy and raw.

She strokes the rough inner surface of the sarcophagus’ lid, splintering her overgrown fingernails, before putting palms to stone. The lid moves a fraction—in the face of the hunger, her strength is always slow to stir when she wakes from the long sleep—but it moves; that’s enough to let in a peep of blue-tinged sunlight, not direct enough to harm but sufficient to keep her uncomfortably awake. No matter; in this place of sienna brick and cobalt-stained windows, she’s been deemed a saint. Of course someone will come.

The pain of the light dulls until she can almost doze again, but a noise catches her attention: low shuffling footsteps, brisk scrape of a broom on a stone floor, quivery low-pitched hum.

That human music makes her gut knot and her teeth ache, but she swallows her slaver and forces her hands to relax. The sweeping musician sounds old and slow, but the footsteps are dragging closer. The intruding sliver of sunlight is ebbing away.

She can be patient a little longer.


 

Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright

OPEN SUBMISSIONS: The Sirens Call – issue 46 ‘Summer Nightscares’ | #Horror #OpenCall #ReprintsWelcome #fiction @Sirens_Call

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For the forty-sixth issue of The Sirens Call eZine, we’re looking for works of horror and dark fiction.

We’ll be accepting short stories, flash fiction, drabbles, and poetry provided they fit within the horror/dark fiction genre. We welcome reprints as long as you hold the copyright to the piece.

Your piece can be scary, sullen, emotive, freaky, elegant, bizarre, have a dark-humor edge to it, or be flat out creepy as hell!

The basic rules:

  • Write the piece well.
  • The piece must be primarily horror/dark fiction.
  • Don’t break our set-in-stone taboos – NO pedophilia, NO bestiality, and NO descriptive rape scenarios.

We’d like to mix it up and have some pieces that speak to the title, and some that are just damned good dark writing, so be creative, be bold, show us what you’ve got, and if it fits our criteria, we’ll offer it up to our readership of about 35,000!


REPRINTS ARE WELCOME

Submission Deadline: July 31, 2019

Circulation: Approximately 35,000

Short story word count: 1,000 – 2,500 (limit of one submission per author)
Long flash fiction word count: 500 – 1,000 (limit of one submission per author)
Short flash fiction word count: 200 – 500 (limit of three submissions per author)
Poem length: minimum 10 lines; maximum 50 lines (limit of five submissions per author)
Drabbles: 100 word prose (limit of five submissions per author)

Reprints are acceptable as long as you currently hold the copyright.

Full page/single book cover ads for individual authors are available at $10 per ad.
Please contact Nina@SirensCallPublications.com for advertising information.

All story, flash, and poem submissions MUST be submitted to:
Submissions@SirensCallPublications.com for consideration.

Please visit our web site for further details:www.SirensCallPub.com

June 2019 Ladies of Horror Picture Prompt Challenge: Decision @LydiaPrime

The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!

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Decision
by Lydia Prime

He stands before us, judged not by a jury of his peers but that of the high counsel. We watch the screen replay the despicable act he’s accused of, some snicker while others shake their heads. I hear the ticking, the effervescent metronome of my mechanical mind; I know it’s almost time.
The man, now on his knees, tears and pleads for mercy. I’ve seen everything, past, present, and future – this wouldn’t be his last act. The counsel listens, watches the man cry and beg, though his sniveling face and empty notions of never doing it again fall on deaf ears.
We resign and leave him sitting in his home-made puddle of regret. I watch the others deliberate, unable to ignore the constant noise of the mechanism in my head. The tick-tock-ticking finally stops and I know what’s next. The others stand and I follow suit; upon entering the court room once more we see our accused no longer crying. Now, cross-armed and smirking, he’s let his true self appear.
“Mr. Habert,” the judge with a television head begins, “we have made our decision.” The man stands and walks toward the counsel, looking each of us over with hate and rage in his eyes.
“Mr. Habert, it is of our opinion that to simply punish you for this…” another judge, this one with a galaxy floating around him, trails off, disgusted for a moment, “would not be true justice.”
“You will be forgotten, your name stripped, and you sir,” I say, “you, yourself will be erased.”
I watch the man’s lips curl as he begins to laugh, he shouts obscenities and demands that we’ll regret this. Though, the final judge, a female made entirely of timber, reaches out to him. She slowly peels off layers of bark from her own limbs and lays them out carefully; each piece containing a story, a retelling of his life in print. Our guards hold him back as he tries to snatch them in a frenzied madness.
I twist some knobs through the clockwork on my head and watch as he painfully ages in front of us. The guards let him drop to the floor, weak and brittle. He peers up at the counsel, through sickly eyes, and cries out for mercy; this time his pleas are genuine.
“Any last words?” Asks a judge through ever changing faces on a fuzzy screen. The man shakes his head, all fight lost. The wooden judge locks the strips of his life into a furnace.
“So be it,” chimes the judge whose galaxy is now in over drive; every star and planet zipping around him as if it might explode. “Your atoms will be spread across the universe.” He smiles as the fear in the old man’s eyes grows.
We all watch as the now elderly convict slowly breaks away into a shimmering sort of dust, inch by agonizing inch. He screams, and we smile as the show has only just begun.
Fiction © Copyright Lydia Prime
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

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The Sirens Call Issue #45’Distant Screams!’ | #Horror #DarkFic #FREE #eZine @Sirens_Call

Sirens Call Publications is pleased to announce the release of the latest issue of

The Sirens Call

The 45th issue of The Sirens Call eZine features eighty pieces of dark fiction and horror prose from seventy different authors and poets. It also features an interview with, and twelve monster/creature images by, our featured artist NOISTROMO. This month’s spot-light author, Tim Meyer, schools us on why ‘Fear Is Fun’ and also offers an excerpt from his short novel, The Switch House!

Click on the cover for your #FREE download!

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Visit the web site to check out the other The Sirens Call issues!
www.sirenscallpub.com

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