The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Lydia Prime
Guards of bone struggled as they pulled a wispy spirit from within its holding cell. A short journey between buildings, but the creature wiggles tirelessly trying to avoid being chained. With a clever fake out, one of the captors secured it, allowing his cohort to start towards the door. The small structure was nothing short of a sardine can that all unfortunates wallowed in prior to their hearings. However over crowded it seemed, somehow more always managed to be squeezed in; centuries would pass and more were always held rather than seen.
The guard’s bony hand (held together by who knows what) clanged against the iron gate as he opened it for his company to pass through. In front of them was a massive stone crypt, a home for long deceased elders; those who’d stalked the darkness as scaly beasts began to crawl out of the sea. The metal door opening created a slight breeze within the stale room. Dual lanterns wavered against the damp enclosure, their dim flicker barely illuminated the features of the waiting immortals.
A single ghoul jittered restlessly in his undersized cage; munching on scraps of stubborn muscle that clung to the child femur he’d been able to snatch. Banging echoed from behind the walls – the undead were infamous for their bloodlust. The building shook, the aging stone threatened to buckle from their force.
As the guards held their vaporous prisoner in place with iron chains, the soul eaters of the group perked up, mouths watering from the explosive energy. The mistreated ghoul growled and snarled at them as they passed.
“Niran, of the Phi Pop. Criminal act: exposing the existence of your kind.” A chorus of gags, boos, and curses reverberated around the surprisingly tight chamber.
“Order! Order!” demanded the shadowed speaker, “have you anything to say for this act of gross negligence?” Its long slender fingers rapped against a casket that laid before it.
Niran’s form burned from the sacred iron, but he would not grant them the satisfaction of knowing. He drifted before the court and raised his arms. “The Phi Pop are a proud race. Possessing humans and devouring intestines. Hell, it even takes an exorcism of dancing fools to rid the flesh host of us.” Low murmurs from the back sprinkled over the room’s tense atmosphere.
“Of course, someone would gain proof of our being – how could they not with a rule like that? I ask you, is that truly a crime that I am to be punished for? Would it not make more sense, your dishonorables, to allow me to correct the matter?”
Niran was slick. He always knew exactly what to say in order to get what he wanted. The guards tugged at his chains, callously pulling him back towards them. A heavy silence filled the room, one could almost hear the sound of dust gathering upon the cobwebs.
“Niran, your point may be valid, however an example must be made. You are guilty and let this be a lesson to all Phi Pop; sloppy mistakes will not be tolerated.” The banging started again, the names and dates that marked the walls chipped. Low chanting buzzed through the darkness, dark silhouettes phased in and out of the lantern light. The decomposing representative who spoke for the council stood, opening the coffin he’d been using as a desk. A freshly extinguished human body laid within; bloody streaks still trickling from its eyes, mouth and nose. Its soul was missing, only the meat remained. “You know what to do.” He rasped as he waved his hand over the carcass and towards the skeletal beings.
Niran felt terror, an emotion he’d only ever been able to experience during possession of a human. He tried to resist, but their grip was absolute. He was abruptly forced into the corpse, his limbs immobile, though he could still hear, still see. The festering prison was a toxin to Niran’s very being. Although in a rapid state of decay, the eyes dashed frantically around the room, trying desperately to see what would happen next.
The horde of fists beat from behind the walls, growing louder and more intense. All manner of creatures howled and clapped as they bore witness. The representative instructed another guard to release the ghoul for some exercise and laughed with such a deep foul humor. The room quieted, all spectators on the edges of their seats.
Slowly and carefully the guard moved the crate near Niran; the cage door quickly removed. Instantly the ravenous ghoul chowed down on the body Niran was occupying. He shrieked in pain as it tore through his chest, working its way to his face. The ghoul bit down on Niran’s tongue, slurping it down while his hands ripped out his vocal chords. The room remained hushed; the wet splashes of sinew hitting the ground and muted gurgles echoed in the chamber.
When it was finished, Niran was trapped inside a half devoured cadaver; his anguish was only beginning.
Stomach protruding, the ghoul climbed back into its crate, happily satisfied with its meal.
“An example: sloppy work will not be tolerated – by any race.” The speaker intoned. “Now bury him beyond the cemetery lines.”
All those in attendance gasped, being buried outside hallowed grounds meant never being able to return in any form. Obediently, the guards picked up the pine box and carried it out of the mausoleum. The speaker returned to his seat and gestured for a recess, he’d grown hungry after that last case.
Fiction © Copyright Lydia Prime
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from author Lydia Prime:
Women of Horror Anthology Vol. 2
Step through the prettiest cemetery gates you’ve ever seen and experience tombstone raves and widow’s dances, Japanese snow-spirits, Aztec bruja and temple goddesses, vengeful ghosts, djinn and cannibals, vampire hunters, plague bearers, graverobbers, and terrors beyond reason. Read through the night as the dead rise from boneyards all around the world!
#FRIGHTGIRLSUMMER recommended reading!
Featuring chilling tales from:
Carmen BacaDemi-Louise Blackburn
Michelle Renee Lane
Paula R.C. Readman
Edited by Jill Girardi
With foreword by Doc Holocausto (Evilspeak Magazine, Harvest Ritual, Creepy Crawls)