October 2020 Ladies of Horror Picture Prompt Challenge: Pallor Mortis | @LydiaPrime

The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!

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Pallor Mortis
by Lydia Prime

“Hearts beat to Death’s rhythm,” that’s what Callie always said. “Life supplied the instruments, content to watch while Death conducted tremendous symphonies of decay. Life, you see,” she’d tell me, “is far more insidious than we’re led to believe.”
I never understood what she was trying to say. It felt like almost completing a puzzle, but the box was missing a piece. Still, I loved to listen to her, no matter what she said—it always sounded smart.
We used to sneak out at night, riding our bikes as far as our legs and lungs would let us. She was my best friend, and when we were alone in the moonlight, I saw her face, the uncensored version. Callie was a sad girl who’d unlocked the secrets of the universe. She had tear stained cheeks and torn up lips that never had a chance to heal.
“Mila, it’s coming soon.” She whispered, “they think I’m almost ready.” A weak smile cracked her sullen face as she held my hand. “But don’t worry, it won’t happen to you.”
Her grip tightened and I tried to speak, but fell short. Although I didn’t know what she meant, and wanted with my whole heart to understand this time, a sudden mourning wrapped us both, and we sat in the tall grass till the sun rose.
I never saw her again. I missed my friend for ages and never stopped thinking about the finality of her last words to me. Each morning I questioned what she was protecting me from, and each night, I’d hope she was happier now. Tonight, was no different. I settled into bed with our childhood memories swimming through my mind.
“Mila.” A hushed voice called through the winds, “Mila.” Flurries of dried leaves blew through my window. It was Callie, I knew it was.
“The grass,” more whispering.
I raced to the window, breath caught in my throat, hoping I wasn’t imagining things. A woman stood on the sidewalk, her back to me. “The grass,” the woman pointed toward the thicket before her. She never turned to look at me, but I’d recognize those jet-black locks anywhere. Her voice carried gently in the chilly autumn air, “Milaaaa.” She headed for the wood, not waiting for a reply.
Goosebumps tingled as they formed over my body—something was wrong. I didn’t know what exactly, but something rotten was coming from the young girl I used to know.
I took a chance, throwing on whatever shoes were nearest and sprinted after her. She called my name again as she disappeared between the trees. She was guiding me to the place we’d last seen each other. While I knew where she was going, the path seemed darker than it used to. I held my arms close to my chest and stepped carefully, doing my best to avoid the littering of twigs and dried leaves. Making noise now felt wrong.
When I reached the meadow, I saw her standing impossibly far off. Her complexion lacked any pigment, as if she’d become translucent. Her frosted blue eyes glistened in the moonlight. They pierced through me, penetrating my mind. Callie didn’t speak, she didn’t move. My head felt fuzzy while she added the missing puzzle pieces.
Her talks became clear: all the warnings and sorrows.
I saw her nervously return home, greeted by her family who immediately whisked her to their self-made basement. They left her there, without food or drink for several days. My heart wretched; her panic consumed me. I listened while she sobbed, begging and bargaining for reprieve.
As the final morning arrived, they granted it. Her parents and siblings stood around her. Limbs tied and over extended with strange symbols drawn above them. They chanted in guttural tones, calling to sacred unseen forces. When Callie pleaded for them to stop, they chanted louder. Her face was beet red and drenched in sweat, she struggled against the binds to no avail. Hopeless, she simply wished for Life to let go. And let go, it did.
No more struggling, just quiet. The family’s erratic behavior stilled; they watched with baited breath while Callie’s chest ceased expanding. The youngest untied her wrists as he’d been told, while her sister released her ankles. Quickly they returned to their places among the others, continuing to await their master.
Callie’s fingers twitched; her light eyes flicked open.
I gasped, overwhelmed by the unfolding nightmare.
Her body rose, head hanging limply against her chest. “You called?” Different octaves of her voice sounded in unison.
Her father started to speak, he intended to be the first to address their Lord, but before he could utter a single syllable, he was cut off.
Callie spoke again, answering herself, “Ah, yes. I see. Consider yourself relieved.” Her neck snapped, jerking her head upright. Crystal eyes aglow and streams of blood leaked from the corners of her mouth.
The circle that surrounded her realized their mistake—they had been forsaken. Her mother was the first to attempt an escape, she was also the first to scream. One by one, they each cried out in pain—in fear, it didn’t matter anymore. Callie reveled in her shrieking chorus. Life had excused her from the torment she was undergoing, but Death, well, Death was ready for a new song.
Flayed alive; layers removed in coils, stripping the meat from their bones. They watched. They begged. They created new sounds that Death had never fathomed, and Death had heard them all. When there were no other ghastly chords to extract from the participants, Callie vanished. Her family left to decompose in their dank cellar; spoiled cadavers trapped with eternal screaming.
The smell of wet grass thrust me back to the wood. Callie was closer now; I could see her flesh cracking, and smell the odorous sludge as it dripped from her festering maw. She grimaced; her jerky movements frightened me. “Callie?” I murmured.
She gripped my shoulder tight, her slender fingers dug deep into my bones. My eyes watered from the sting.
“Callie, please.” I whimpered.
My friend had been gone a long time; it seemed Life and Death were craving another melody.
Fiction © Copyright Lydia Prime
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

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More from author Lydia Prime:

GSanthoebook

Graveyard Smash:
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:
Christy Aldridge
Carmen BacaDemi-Louise Blackburn
R.A. Busby
V. Castro
Dawn DeBraal
Ellie Douglas
Tracy Fahey
Dona Fox
Cassidy Frost
Michelle Renee Lane
Beverley Lee
J.A.W. McCarthy
Catherine McCarthy
Susan McCauley
Ksenia Murray
Ally Peirse
Janine Pipe
Lydia Prime
Paula R.C. Readman
Yolanda Sfetsos
Sonora Taylor

Edited by Jill Girardi
With foreword by Doc Holocausto (Evilspeak Magazine, Harvest Ritual, Creepy Crawls)

Available on Amazon!

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Faulty Advice Friday | Jake

Welcome to Faulty Advice Friday! This is the place to get your toughest questions answered.


Lydia,

I loathe both political parties and want to secede from the union. How should I go about extricating my small spread from the insanity that has taken over the country?

Jake

Happy Cabbage Night (day?) Jake! 🎃
I have to admit, this is quite the loaded question, but if not now, when?

Wanting to secede from the union isn’t all that uncommon actually. Many have done it before, believe it or not, and you can too! If you’re like me, you may not have been aware that seceding from the union doesn’t actually mean that you have to get your whole state involved. Secession can be a group of like minded beings who bounce on the traditional to make a new territory.

Now that we’ve covered the finer details, I have to admit that it took me a moment to find the most proper way to help you. Initially, my instinct was to help you achieve the impossible pre-pubescent teenage boy’s dream: become invisible. In theory, you would be able to live happily and quite free, with the added bonus of getting to venture through locker rooms for your own enjoyment. Unfortunately, I realized that if you aren’t actually part of that super elite 1%, you’re already rocking a cloak of invisibility. (No worries though, me too, and we look daaaamn good, potato sack and all!)

I’m sure at this point we’re probably preeeettty eye to eye on what my next thought HAD to be, “Man, assassination attempts are seriously under utilized in today’s society. Ho-hum.”

And if you weren’t, well, Jake, if that is your real name, I don’t even know who you are anymore! Let’s just be honest here, who in this country is NOT addicted to massive tragedies that are followed up by life long conspiracies?

Exactly. I hear those crickets just as loud as you do. I mean, look, you’d not only have a family legacy that stalks your lineage for generations (infamy is like chlamydia, the gift that keeps on giving), BUT! You’d escape the hum drum of today’s ridiculousness.

As ill advised as that might be… No, no. We seriously cannot.

After a period of inner reflection, I realized you had the power all along! What can you do to successfully pack up your things and get outta dodge? Drugs.

You’re going to need to locate your local rave children and hoodlums; my best guess during our trying time, check out the COVID party. I hear they’re often held on the second floor of the Chicken Pox party, and the Polio Pirate’s Hide Away. (Take a left a Blockbuster, you can’t miss it.)

Several of them should have access to the gallons of PCP you’ll be needing. Everyone has their own taste however, so it doesn’t have to be PCP, dealer’s choice!

Once you’ve blown your life savings on the party favors, you’re going to make your way over to the area’s largest water tower and get to mixin’! It may take a few moments to completely blend, but once you can see your future, eh, you’ve done enough.

This is the best method one can use in order to not only save yourself, but also, your friends and neighbors. Believe-you-me, they’re going to be a bit too busy hiding from their imaginary reptile trespassers to worry about all those political reptilians.

And just like that, the entire province will have seceded into their own minds, and since you’ve used an obscene amount of hallucinogens, that should be p e r f e c t .

Just slip into something more comfortable (not a come on Jake, you’ll be thanking me later for advising some sweat pants). Designate a safe place for when the freak outs begin (preferably near an abundance of lava lamps).

Consider yourself extricated. 😎

Happy Independence Day, Jake-donia!😍


Advice given in this post should not be followed and is purely for comedic value.
Lydia Prime is not responsible for any person(s) who choose to do so and/or any damages incurred.
© Copyright Lydia Prime. All Rights Reserved.

RELEASE: Itty Bitty Horror Bites by Lydia Prime | @Lydiaprime #Horror #Collections #DarkFiction

I’m super pleased to announce the release of Itty Bitty Horror Bites, a collection of my short stories and poems!

IttyBittyHorrorBites_Demo_08

Itty Bitty Horror Bites

By Lydia Prime

Unknown worlds, monstrous beings from nightmarish visions, and even a look at the darker side of life. Brace yourself as you dive into this chilling forty-six piece collection of bite sized horror—you might just end up leaving with more than you bargained for…

Are you sure you want to turn off that light?

Click the image above to be directed to Amazon or check out the links below:

Available on Amazon in Kindle and Paper Back

US | UK | Canada | Australia | Germany | France | Spain | Italy | Japan | Mexico | Brazil |India | The Netherlands

Faulty Advice Friday | rottnblossm

Welcome to Faulty Advice Friday! This is the place to get your toughest questions answered.


Lydia,

My dad just started dating again, and his new girlfriend is the pits! How can I break my dad and his girlfriend up?

rottnblossm, Florida

Greetings rottnblossm!

Navigating the awkwardly uncertain seas of someone else’s love life is a tricky task. If you feel up to the challenge, let’s quit wasting time.

If you happen to be lucky enough to go to a lush af summer camp only to discover your long lost identical twin, stop reading here. There’s an entire movie (and remake) with step by step guides on how to make your dad’s girl run for the hills. On the more probable chance that you aren’t an unrealistic character with incredibly bizarre and unlikely situations arising throughout your life—I offer you the following:

As all of us know by now, Stacy’s mom has got it goin’ on. Unless this woman has a daughter named Stacy, I’m fairly confident your father will be able to escape the succubus’ vile and despicable wiles. (To all those with Stacy step-siblings, we salute you 🤤. Just deal with your new kink and keep it moving.)

Consider letting this halftime hussy know how adorable your father thinks her crow’s feet are— just to weaken her defenses. Once her quivering lip and attempts at hiding the cracking of her voice, tell her all about the other girlfriends/flings/one nightstands he’s had in the last week. If she’s new enough that you can get away with mixing up names, bonus points.

That should be enough to get her panicking and send those daddy issues into hyper drive. When she confronts your father and tries to drag you in as her defence, deny, deny, deny. Accuse her of being irrational and ask your dad if he’s going to allow this woman to call you a liar.

9 out of 10 dad’s won’t want to deal with another crazy (like he’s always said your mother was before the change) and she’ll be on the street before you can say, “Jumpin’ Geehosofat!”

That being said, 9 out of 10 ladies won’t be fooled by this act of chicanery. The above has only been proven to work on the more weak and somewhat… off kilter types. That won’t stop you though! As Daddy always said, “If at first you don’t succeed, try double homicide!”

You’ve got no choice left, but to kill her parents.

Killing her parents shows you mean business and aren’t afraid to take out people you don’t know just to make a point. Yes, yes, Mr. and Mrs. So-N-So are theoretically fantastic humans. Possibly some of the most loyal God fearing red blooded Americans out there—but really, how great can they be? She is their daughter after all. It’s their fault, you didn’t want to kill anyone, they made you do it.

Your father’s first inclination will be to console his grieving lady friend. Completely right to do so, of course! In your case, rottnblossm, you’re going to need to taunt your unwanted pest. Allowing your dad to fulfill his duties as you begin to leave subtle hints for her. Clues that can’t fully confirm or deny your involvement, but make her think not twice but three or four times. For your act to not be done in vain, she needs to question her sanity. If she’s not tearing her hair out in front of a mirror, wearing 4 day old ice cream stains on her ill fitting pajamas (that definitely fit better 4 days ago), while messing up the words to some random nursery rhyme, then you’re not doing enough.

Things you can do to step up your game include (but are not limited to):

  • Appear behind her in a mirror, or write cryptic messages.
  • Break some of her favorite knick knacks.
  • Nothing says “get the fuck out,” better than the old bugs-in-her-pillows-and-clothes-pockets gag.
  • A cardboard cut out of yourself with reflective tape on the eyes to make it seem like you’re everywhere at once.
  • Pro tip: if you do this, make sure you come back to clean it up before she can show anyone else.

In a matter of days this would-be step-mother can be reduced to a wobbly unstable plate of gelatin.

The final step: call on the men in white coats. Let your father think it’s his idea to call in some professionals. He’ll think he’s doing the right thing and Silly Sally will be too concerned trying to figure out what you are to put up a fight.

Happy hunting, rottnblossm!😍


Advice given in this post should not be followed and is purely for comedic value.
Lydia Prime is not responsible for any person(s) who choose to do so and/or any damages incurred.
© Copyright Lydia Prime. All Rights Reserved.

Faulty Advice Friday | UnfocusedFrUsTrAtIoN

Welcome to Faulty Advice Friday! This is the place to get your toughest questions answered.


Lydia,

How can I get out of a conversation with a coworker that I can’t stand?

UnfocusedFrUsTrAtIoN, Utah

Happy Friday UnfocusedFrUsTrAtIoN!

This is a great question, one everyone has had to figure out at least once. It’s typically those poorly timed situations where we get cornered in the break room by that one person who effortlessly makes our skin crawl! The amount of material they seem to contain is, honestly, pretty astounding. Their superb banter about belly button lint, favorite candidates, strange rashes they just have to show you—it’s a wormhole of never ending discomfort. You may not hate this coworker, but, you still don’t want to hear about the horse shoe crab measuring contest and how the guy down the hall forgot to remind them to go…

One of the best ways out is through. YES, you heard me right! I’m saying you need to participate in this trainwreck of a conversation, and I don’t just mean actively listening until an escape route presents itself. You’re going to have to out weird that fantastically absurd beast.

If they’re telling you (in excruciating detail) about mumsie’s bunions peeling crusty skin bits after bath time—gag—your very next statement must be an offer to provide them with a mason jar to collect the flakes and bring them on for you. The more enthusiasm, the better. Don’t fret, you needn’t offer a reason for such a request, in fact, managing to keep up a mysterious caginess should work in your favor. Few and far between will your creep be a person who delights from such a request, ready and willing to appease. Almost 90% of the time they’ll start hunting for an escape route from you!

However, if you do happen to be unlucky enough to work with one of those super intense 10 percenters, we have ways to get away from with them too. MUAHAHHAHAHA *cough, cough* Ahem. So sorry. Anyway—

One tried and true method is to entrap someone near you. Somewhat more of a temporary solution, (as you may not always be able to beckon someone over) this is when you introduce the intern/new guy/unfortunate passer-by to your esteemed colleague and twirl your evil mustache while you gleefully walk away. It’s a right of passage for every employee, so who are you to deny this unsuspecting victim—uh—new comer, of their turn? Besides, you’ve paid your dues! Scurry away and find some old burned coffee to celebrate.

In today’s world, many of us have been working from home, navigating the waters of video chat meetings and marathon phone calls. You know that mug that says, “This meeting could’ve been an email?” Yeah…

The thing about all our fancy gadgets is: they don’t always work properly. From dropped calls, to frozen web cams—a little creativity goes a long way.

Don’t be afraid to hurt someone’s feelings, go for the jugular if you must. What’s the worst that can happen? You create the world’s next serial killer? Ehhh. You’ll be fine.

Oh, there is actually one other option. Slowly, (and I mean like slugs in molasses riding turtle back on a package you ordered from a sketchy website when drunk kind of slow) start removing bits and pieces from their space. Unnoticeable things at first, things they would just scratch their heads about and carry on. Work your way up to the big stuff. I once received a call from a colleague asking where their water cooler went… So… The slower you move, the more amusing it’ll be when they do notice.

Now, go out there armed with your newly acquired avoidance strategies. Escape the halitosis humbug, emerge as the blissfully cocooned caterpillar you always wanted to be. Social butterflies are overrated anyways.

Enjoy your coworker free weekend (hopefully) UnfocusedFrUsTrAtIoN!😍


Advice given in this post should not be followed and is purely for comedic value.
Lydia Prime shall is not responsible for any person(s) who choose to do so and/or any damages incurred.
© Copyright Lydia Prime. All Rights Reserved.

Faulty Advice Friday | NewlyNeurotic

Welcome to Faulty Advice Friday! This is the place to get your toughest questions answered.


Lydia,

My anniversary is coming up, what should we do to celebrate?

NewlyNeurotic, Pennsylvania

Well, congratulations for the anniversary you’re celebrating, NewlyNeurotic! I’m sorry to say, however, that we won’t be doing much of anything… as we’ve only just met, but I think I can help you come up with something memorable anyway. No matter what you’re celebrating or who you’re with, you can pretty much break out this bad boy for any occasion.

Let’s start with the basics: you’re going to need some food, refreshments, decorations, and of course your closest friends and family (without going over this week’s max COVID occupancy limit). Take a stroll over to the local dollar store and snag whatever catches your eye.
Pro tip: you can’t go wrong with dollar store cheese slices. You can hold a flame directly on ’em and they’ll never melt ;). Thank me later.

An absolute MUST are those teeny tiny spongy pill things, that when dropped into water grow into big ol’ dinosaurs. (They’ll definitely make sense later, now’s not the time for more questions, Neurotic!)

If you’ve never investigated what’s available here, start by walking through the aisle of misfit toys for some creative ideas. Even if you don’t get anything from that aisle, at least the knock off amputee version of those popular pony toys will give you a chuckle.

Anywho, since you’ve got your Chernobyl proof cheese, you’re finally ready to get home and decorate. Hang the streamers, clean the room, spike the drinks if that’s what you’re into-cyanide or booze, dealers choice-and anxiously await your guests!

Once everyone has arrived, grab your drink and make a toast of gratitude. One thanking everyone for not only coming, but for being with you to witness this momentous event. With everyone on the edge of their seats, here’s where you inform them that you’ve finally gotten up the nerve to start this amazing journey. Drop down to one knee, take your partner by the hand, and look deeply into their eyes. If you can see the look of absolute shock and happiness on their face – you’re ready.

Hold out your hand, revealing the spongy pill and ask if they would grow some dinos with you.

One of two things will happen, you’ll get a dino growing partner, OR you’ll get to grow ’em all on your own and enjoy your social status of extinction with your real friends.

Fingers crossed for ya, NewlyNeurotic! Be sure to let me know how it goes 😍!


Advice given in this post should not be followed and is purely for comedic value.
Lydia Prime shall is not responsible for any person(s) who choose to do so and/or any damages incurred.
© Copyright Lydia Prime. All Rights Reserved.

Damned Words 44

Five-fingered Footprints
Lee Andrew Forman

Blood draws my story on the agate floor. Fresh ink covers dried layers with the repetition of time. My five-fingered footprints scatter across my canvas, for within the cold box there is no room to stand. My freedom, nothing more than an arm’s length in any direction. Slight rumbles shiver the enclosure; new paint will be added soon. I’ve never seen the thing that keeps me here. Only felt its scathing, intimate touch on my naked flesh. The floor tells me it will soon be time. My body trembles as I await the inevitable approach of the stippler.


Witness
Nina D’Arcangela

As he adjusted the range, the minute clicks were barely distinguishable from the constant drone. I could see the look of shock and something akin to terror on his face as he stepped back and stared at me as if to question his own understanding. He picked up another tool; resumed his examination. A rush of air whirled through the cavity and sent them into a maddened frenzy. The pounding became relentless, nearly unbearable as the thrum increased to a deafening level. Overwhelmed by what he’d witnessed, he nearly fell to the floor missing the stool that stood just inches away.

He began to speak, paused to clear his throat and opened his mouth again; no words issued from his dry, swollen tongue. I understood. They’d been there for as long as I could remember. I rose from my seat, asked if what he saw were faces. He blanched even further and replied that no, they were not faces, they were hands–hands that pushed against the tympanic membrane. I nodded, gathered my belongings to leave. A gentle pressure on my arm caused a momentary pause. His face reflected the pain he knew would accompany the tear when the tissue gave way. He looked into my eyes as if he couldn’t comprehend my calm acceptance. My reply to his unasked question was a bare mumble.

“I’ve lived with voices in my head my entire life, Doc. I just didn’t realize that one day, they would demand to be let out.”


A Handy Tale
Marge Simon

“Dammit, Martha! We just got our new cement wall up and smoothed. Now look at the mess some neighbors’ kids have made of it! Hand-prints all over everywhere –up and down and sideways. Disreputable, malicious destruction!”

“Something is going to have to be done,” Martha said. “Every time we move, sooner or later, some malicious little devils show up to make our lives miserable. I’m tired of moving, Herbert. We checked out the area really well before buying this house. There’s just one little brat in the neighborhood this time.”

“Yes, I know. Name’s Billy Harlow” said Herbert. He pinned her with a frown. “You know the cure, Martha.

“I do,” said Martha reluctantly.  Off she went to her kitchen to dig out Mamancita’s commodious book of Haitian spells & recipes. The punishment must fit the deed.

Lunchtime the next day, Billy Harlow sat at their kitchen table. Before him was a plate of Mamancita’s special Bon Bon Amidon cookies, still warm from the oven, and a foaming glass of fresh milk. He made annoying sounds when he drank, and chewed with his mouth open.

“Disgusting wastrel!”

“Shhh, he’ll hear you, Herbert. it’s almost over,” Martha reminded him.

The next morning, Billy Harlow’s screams alarmed the neighborhood. His mother rushed to his bedroom to find him crouched on the floor sobbing, arms around his chest in an odd way. “Mama! In my bed!!” She reached over to shake out a loose sheet. There was no blood, but two fat little hands with dirty fingernails fell out of the covers.


Storm Surge
Charles Gramlich

In pitch black, I awoke—on the couch with a hurricane pummeling my house. The TV was off. It had been on when I fell asleep, but the electricity must have failed. Feeling around for my phone, I activated the flashlight app. The room brightened around me but everywhere else the shadows congealed and clung.

I loved my little shack in the woods but at night it could be scary. Needing more light, I went into the kitchen for candles. The rain had stopped. I couldn’t hear it on the roof. But the wind hadn’t faded. It pressed and rubbed at the house like an unwanted caress.

After firing up my biggest candle, I turned off my cell to preserve the battery and walked over to the glass doors opening onto my deck. No wind moved the trees in the backyard. The hurricane had passed. Then what made the sounds I heard?

Sliding the back door open, I stepped outside. I lived near the Gulf of Mexico, with my house elevated against storm surge. That’s the water pushed inland by hurricane winds. Wooden steps led up to the deck from the ground below. On that ground, in the mud, stood hundreds of dead children. All were rotted, with seaweed in their hair as if carried onto my lawn by the surge. Their hands scratched and scritched at the wooden stilts supporting my home.

Screaming, I leapt back inside, slamming and locking the door. But the children heard. They came single file up onto my deck to press their faces and little hands against the glass. They pressed harder, harder, harder. The glass spiderwebbed with cracks.

I blew out the candle. Better not to see. Better to let them find me in the dark.


Burned Out
Lydia Prime

Flesh sizzles upon touching the hematic shale. Dainty hands ignite dancing flames across the arms of the conditionally pre-deceased. Prophesied terms embossed in stone detail the arrival of a beast who won’t feel heat. General consensus is unanimous: they await its birth. No one ever thinks it might have always lived among them. Its existence couldn’t be copacetic—couldn’t manage to stay undetected… Could it?

Shared ignorance protects the man who discovered the slab and lead the charge to find the predicted creature. Blanket delusions curtail questions as he watches over every trial, every tearful family parting. He glows while their skin chars to nothing but ashy outlines. His head bobbing minutely to the screams as they warble to unintelligible echoes. He bites his cheeks—an act required to conceal delight—then calls to the town’s unwittingly damned participants to bring about the next.


Handprints
RJ Meldrum

He’d hated her for years, had carefully planned the perfect murder so many times, but never had the courage to go through with it. In the end, he simply lost his temper. He slashed out at her with a kitchen knife; the first cuts landed on her hands and arms. She escaped and staggered down the hallway, leaving bloody handprints on the pristine white walls. She collapsed by the door where he finished her off.

He spent a whole day carefully cleaning and repainting the wall, removing the last traces of her. Once the walls were restored to their original white, he was content. She was gone and no-one would ever suspect she was dead.

But of course, he was wrong. Her family and friends suspected foul play; they knew the history between the two. The police were called. An officer interviewed him in the front hallway. He was smug, confident; he brushed off the questions.

Just over the detective shoulder, a bloody handprint appeared on the white wall. Then a second and a third. He suddenly stuttered, his cockiness gone. A fourth and fifth handprint appeared; they followed the stumbling route his wife had taken.

The cop noticed he wasn’t making eye contact and instead stared past him. The officer turned. A row of bloody handprints ended at the front door mat, where a pool of blood had formed.


The Wall
A.F. Stewart

The imprints remain on the wall; years of rain and sun could not remove them. The red chalk outlines burned into stone, reflecting the colours of bone and blood. The echo of a human civilization gone mad.

I watch them, the new citizens, as they pass the wall. Some ignore it; others touch it for luck. No one understands. No one knows the truth. They will soon. They will know the fate of those razed into the wall.

We are back. Ready to purge the filth from our city, to take back what they stole. We come to cleanse, to sweep clean with our machines. We will rain fire from the skies and burn away the contamination.

We will add more outlines to the wall.

Until every brick is burned with the death of those who oppose us.


Choiceless
Mark Steinwachs

Colored sunlight from stained glass windows bathes the room around me. I stand in the grand foyer, designed to hold the multitude of people that make their weekly pilgrimage to this house of worship. Its on display, lit perfectly from the lights above. Almost as if it was hiding from and trying to stand above the natural world all at once. Even if it wasn’t here, this place would still make my skin crawl. But it sits on its custom frame, stretched taught, a giant piece at six feet by four feet. I can feel the hands that made it pressing against the thin canvas, as if it were skin. A modern masterpiece of horror held up in honor.

Choiceless. Pastor Jonathan Neils.

I scoff. They have the ability to choose. They were given that. And yet they constantly try to take it away from one another.

“Beautiful isn’t it,” a man says as he steps alongside me. “While I’m honored you’re enjoying my work, this building is closed to visitors right now.”

Closed to visitors? I cringe. “I will always champion those who bring honor to my name. This,” I motion to the painting, “do you truly believe you trying to force your choices on others is what I want?”

“You want? I don’t know what you want, or who you are,” he replies. “It’s what God wants, protect his unborn flock.”

“I want people to praise my name not weaponize it. You’ve made your choices and they were wrong. Nahum 1:2, The Lord is vengeful against his foes; he rages against his enemies.”

I snap my fingers and the pastor’s eyes go wide as in his death he sees me for who I am and realizes where he is going.


Prints
Scarlett R. Algee

I can’t help but think you’re fascinated by that wall, the way you keep staring. No, no need to struggle; you won’t be spitting that gag out. Scream? There’s no one out here to hear you if you did.

I do admit it’s a little bit strange, all those hand-shaped negative spaces outlined in red and black and brown, but I think it looks good against the plaster. I tell the kinfolks it’s a mural, ‘cause I was always a little creative. Amazing what you can do with just some paint and a sponge stick.

Hands are unique, you know. Hands are intimate. Recognizable. So this is what I do with ‘em before they have to go. A little press against the wall, a little dab of color around, and then it’s bonemeal for the roses and flesh for the tomatoes. My roses are the envy of the county garden club, and my tomatoes have won blue ribbons at the fair for five straight years.

It’s the only part I take, too. The part that’s special, that identifies you. The rest I leave here and there; the local wildlife has to eat, after all. But think of it this way—at least I’ll remember you.

Twenty-nine pairs on this wall. I like how they’re starting to overlap. How the colors blend into each other. But my mural needs to grow, and thirty’s a good round number.

Now. Let me see those hands.


Held to Account
Ian Sputnik – Guest Author

The moaning and giggling from the next room made him laugh. It amused Carl that his landlady seemed to entertain ‘guests’ on a regular basis; especially as she appeared to be such a prim and proper lady of a certain age.

He waited for her to leave for her weekly game of bridge before breaking into her apartment. The lock on the old safe clicked and its hinges creaked as the door opened. He routed around inside and removed anything of value. He stuffed jewellery and cash into his pockets. Suddenly, he was pulled backwards with incredible force. He spun around, fists clenched, but no one was there. His legs were then grabbed in a vice-like grip and his arms stretched out so that he resembled a church painting of the crucifixion. Out of the darkness, ghostly hands appeared. They tore at his clothes pulling them from his body as they clawed at his skin, ripped through it and tore the flesh from his bones. Cold fingers forced themselves into his mouth and down the back of his throat muffling his screams. When the ghostly apparitions had finished their work, all that was left of Carl was a pile of gore.

The landlady returned. She gasped at the scene which lay before her; then the phantoms returned. They swarmed around her like bats in a cave before they gently caressed her face and worked down the rest of her body as they stripped her bare. She giggled and groaned in delight as they gently massaged blood into her skin. As they did so the slight traces of wrinkles on her face began to fade away. “My, you have been busy tonight,” she cooed as they lifted her over to the bed and continued their work.


*Originally posted on Penofthedamned.com

Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright 2020

Faulty Advice Friday | BORiNGhorsePARADE

Welcome to Faulty Advice Friday! This is the place to get your toughest questions answered.


Lydia,

What’s a good hobby to get into?

BORiNGhorsePARADE, Oklahoma

Hey there BORiNGhorsePARADE!

First of all… What the hell is a boring horse parade, and where have you seen such a thing? Is it like a horse race where they’re all trapped in a k-hole, trying to hide from a T-Rex? Do tell. Do, tell.

Although, I kinda feel like that actually might not be boring to watch…

Anyways, let’s get to it: a hobby by definition is something you do in your free time for pleasure. Honestly, this question is a little on the subjective side, that being said, I’ll do my best.

Sometimes hobbies are most fun when done in groups. A lot of people find their missing pieces when they come together with people who enjoy the same things they do. If that sounds like you, perhaps you would prefer chanting a passive aggressive mantra while dancing naked around a fire, sacrificing small children and selling your soul to they who must not be named. Finding the right commune for you might be a bit of a struggle, but you always know once you find your shepard. Your people are waiting my friend, consider looking into former pop punk frontmen and going from there. Maybe watch a few documentaries first though…

Group activities aren’t for everyone though, which is completely understandable. If you’re more of an independent type of pastime, maybe something that won’t cost much and welcomes any skill level, give parkour a try.

No need to work your way up to build strength, stamina, agility, or even balance: go all in. You know what they say: go big or go home! Take a look around, find the tallest building in your area and head to the roof.

Since this is probably about to be the most wickedly awesome thing you’ve ever done, invite everyone you know to watch AND stream it live through various social media platforms, of course.

Your adrenaline will go into overdrive, palms might be a tad sweaty, but don’t worry—unless you just had some of your mom’s spaghetti… No, no, still no need to worry. This, this is your moment. Wipe those hands off on your skinny jeans and take a deep relaxing breath.

It’s so, SO, important that you get a running start. Better to back up as far as you can, then sprint to the end of the roof. Just before you run off the edge, kick off and spring across the gap toward the roof of the building next door. I’m sure you’ve seen videos on the internet, cartoons, movies; the absolute rule here, is don’t look down. You’ll stay in the air as long as you don’t look down.

Whatever you decide to do; be it communal activities with new friends who dress alike and sing songs about the end of days, or learning why man was never meant to fly—do it with a smile.

Hope you find your thing, BORiNGhorsePARADE! 😍


Advice given in this post should not be followed and is purely for comedic value.
Lydia Prime shall is not responsible for any person(s) who choose to do so and/or any damages incurred.
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