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

September 2020 Ladies of Horror Picture Prompt Challenge: When the Skies Turn Black | @LydiaPrime

The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!

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When the Skies Turn Black
by Lydia Prime

When the skies turn black,
I won’t look back
to see the stampeding hordes.

I’ll raise up my arms
and sound the alarms,
while the blood of humanity pours.

I won’t just give in
to mortal sin,
as the world crumbles to ash.

I’ll keep out of sight,
from celestial light—
paranoia spills out with a splash.

The smell of decay,
as they stumble away,
will do nothing to calm my nerves…

Alive, but just barely—
I will try to carry
the enchanted tome of lost words.

Hands to the sky,
I’ll look out and cry;
a witness to all it consumes.

It feasts and it lurks,
yet my magical quirks,
won’t slow the creeping doom.

So, when the sky’s torn,
the planet will mourn;
my hands will weave through the air—

I’ll mumble goodbyes,
while everything dies,
trying to vainly escape my despair.

Fiction © Copyright Lydia Prime
Image courtesy of Christina Sng

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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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Pop, Pop, Pop!

Pop, pop, pop!
I love to get inside your head
And spin my silver spider webs
Until your brain cells cease to fire
And your mind goes –
Pop, pop, pop!

All those bright red painful hives
Clawing through your skin with knives
Leading to your itchy eyes
As blood trickles from the skies
So you can: pop, pop, pop!

Tumble down and fall away
You won’t see another day
Wasted time almost up
Garish bitter cover-up
It’s now or never –
Pop, pop, pop!

All the bones crack like aged rolling stones
Innards sizzle from dying fires of your own
The ones you tried to snuff out long ago
Those embers that you barely know
Slowly going: pop, pop, pop!

Say goodbye
Don’t even try
Raspberry gashes overflow
With crawler insects that glow
Scratching you from deep within
Because you are wrought with sin –
Pop, pop, pop!

Monstrous face in deep decay
As the wormies wriggle away
And the gases expanding your eyes
Release you from your mortal ties
That is when they: pop, pop, pop!

∼ Lydia Prime

*Originally posted on Pen of the Damned.
© Copyright Lydia Prime. All Rights Reserved.

July 2020 Ladies of Horror Picture Prompt Challenge: Niran | @LydiaPrime

The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!

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Niran
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

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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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Damned Words 43

 

skeleton_grin_resized

Fate
Nina D’Arcangela

Jabba-jaw, raking claw, with haste to the frenzy you did make.
The fray engaged, you are quick to slay any beast brought to slaughter.
Fierce clashing, teeth snapping, bones split beneath hammering rage.
Yet fleet of feet, it has you beat, as it fells your carcass to ground.
The battle fought, fury spent naught; your grin the jester’s call.
With placid lips and eager sips, it sups where you did fall.


The Bones of Her Earth
Charles Gramlich

Her name at ten was Melody. She lived amid the avocado green woods on Millstone Mountain in Arkansas, near a town called Liberty. Melody had hair like a thicket of weeds and eyes no one ever looked into. She had thoughts no one offered a copper penny for, and all her words she kept in her mouth so they couldn’t be slapped away by Mama.

Her name at twelve was Holly, after the necklace and wristlets of red berries she always wore. Most days, she spent in the woods, eating hickory nuts and wild cherries in season, eating other things no one ever thought to name. She caught tadpoles and carried them in her pockets until they dried hard and dark as rabbit turds. Then she buried them and made wishes over their graves. The wishes never came true.

At fourteen, her name was Harmony. She’d learned to sing the pain of her bruises through the heat of the summer like the cicadas. She would lie in the creek and place flat stones on her belly. The smooth weight comforted her scars. Sometimes she slept out under a roof of cedars and stars and dreamt of flying through the trees like dragonflies. She always awoke before she grew wings.

At sixteen, she threw away her names. That was the year she found the jawbones, white on the ground amid frost-killed leaves. She prayed to them as Gods. They answered. Carrying them in her fists, she returned to the house she’d never called home. The bones were no longer white when she was finished with Mama.


Wednesday
Marge Simon

Today is Wednesday, the day the Beast people come for the dying. The grown-up’s call them ghouls. Once, the Beast people lived deep in the earth and ate dead bodies. But now they came up to stay here. They wear long, hooded cloaks and their breaths rattle as they move. It’s like the sound his father made when he was so sick. Papa coughed all night, even in his sleep. On a Wednesday, the Beast people came and took his father away. Now Mama is very sick too.

When the sun passes to afternoon, he is worried about her. If he stays in the house, they’ll come in. They’ll hide in the shadows and wait for Mama to die. That’s what they did when his father got so sick. He’s sure they want her too. Two miles up the road is the cemetery. He decides he will lure them away from Mama.

When he sees them coming, he goes outside and runs as fast as he can all the way to the cemetery. He is out of breath, but first he walks around, searching the gravestones. One of them has to be his Papa’s, but he can’t remember where it is. He’d come with Mama to put flowers on it last week, but there are no graves with flowers and he can’t read. Exhausted, he sinks to the ground, bumping into a peculiar shape. The headstone creaks, the ground gives way and he falls in. When his eyes adjust to the dim light, he sees the cavern is filled with long skulls and old bones. The skulls have the Beast people’s faces.

Above, he hears the rattle of their breathing coming closer. This must be their secret burial place. There’s nowhere to hide. He starts to cry.


In the Forest
A.F. Stewart

Shall I tell you a story, little one?

No, no, wait, don’t back away. Stay here, with me, and listen. I’m sure you will find it fascinating. My tale is about this forest, you see.

They say this woodland is haunted, don’t they? Well, they’re correct. Spirits move past the trees, within the wind, and worse, the ravenous dead walk here, among the bones.

Can’t you hear their murmuring voices growing closer?

They’re hungry. Always hungry.

I think you understand now, why the villagers told you not to come, not to hunt here. This forest kills everything that enters, and nothing ever leaves.

They’re here now. Can you see them, those pitiful skeletons, gnashing their jaws? You can run if you like, but you’ll be dead soon whatever you do. The forest takes us all.

We all remain.

Until we are nothing but bones.

And cursed souls.


New Friend
Lydia Prime

As little Melanie burst through the back door, curtains flew and the screen-door slammed shut. Mommy yelled for her to stop, but she was going so fast in her slippery shoes that she skidded halfway across the room. She could see her mother eyeing the mud on her new lace dress. With hands on hips, and a scowl on her face, Mommy’s pinched lips said everything her mouth didn’t need to.

Melanie started to protest before Mommy could speak, but one quick snap of the towel she always wore over her shoulder was enough to silence the child. As mother’s hand reached out for what Melanie was hiding behind her back, a pot lid rattled on the stove. Mommy turned thinking it was boiling over, but it wasn’t. Melanie took a step backwards.

Focused on her daughter once again, mother reached out and gestured, but Melanie didn’t want to hand over her prize, it had told her not to.

As Mommy took a step forward, she heard something rattle in the ‘fridge. Melanie was slowly sliding backwards into the hallway as she watched her mother open the icebox. The eggs were tipped and fell to the floor with a smash! Mommy bent down to clean the mess, and when she did, the large, glass milk bottle began to jiggle.

Melanie quickly turned and brought her new friend up to her face, panic flashed in her eyes. The chuckle that ran through her sent a shiver down her spine.

Watch, the voice slithered through her mind.

Melanie turned as the heavy jug crashed into Mommy’s skull and split it in two. Now put me in the puddle to feed, the bones intoned. With little choice, Melanie did as she was told. She was, after all, a good girl.


Mask
RJ Meldrum

Cody heard the truck. Pop was back from hunting. He parked in front of the house. Pop had been successful. A buck. Pop climbed down.

“I want this dressed. Skull needs to be bleached, I want it in my trophy room.”

That was where he kept his skulls and stuffed heads.

“I was gonna go swimming.”

His father’s face went dark. He grabbed the scruff of Cody’s shirt.

“I didn’t raise no pansy, I raised a man, one who can see to his own meat.”

“Yes, pa.”

“Now, get working, while I grab a beer.”

Cody went to the back of the truck to see a bloodstained deer on the truck bed. He got to work.

It took hours. His hatred for his father grew. Every day he was forced to ‘man up’. Forced to play sports he hated, crushed by boys twice his size. Forced to shoot helpless animals. Forced to cut them open, cleave their flesh, rip out their bones for display. He hated it all and he hated his father.

He stared down at the skull, boiling in the huge pot on the outside gas burner. After a couple of hours, he removed it from the water and scraped all the meat off. Cody stared down at the eye sockets. What had this creature felt, just before it died?

He knew what he had to do. He had to avenge the deaths of all the slaughtered creatures. He had to avenge himself.

Later, after sunset, he stood on the threshold of his father’s bedroom. Cody had split the skull in half and reattached the two parts with leather straps. He was wearing it, his face obscured. He was no longer Cody, he was nature. He held Pop’s favorite hunting knife.

The moon emerged. It was time.


What Remains
Mercedes M. Yardley

“Hey. Hey. Marissa.”

She ignored it, ignored the way that it chattered and teased and always called her by the wrong name. She walked past it resolutely, a discarded piece of bone nipping at her heels as she strode by.

“Hey. Melanie. Just pick me up. Take me home. Let’s play together. There are so many different ways to play together.” The animal skull grinned at her. Funny how skulls are always forced to grin. She didn’t believe being dead was as much fun as the living were led to believe.

She pulled her laundry from the line and spun around quickly, avoiding the snapping of the skull’s jaws as it lurched at her feet. She hopped over it and headed home.

“Wait. Wait,” it called after her, and she closed her eyes as she heard it whimper and snarl. It buried itself under the leaves and debris, crafting a safe little home for itself until she passed by again in the morning.


Offering
Mark Steinwachs

The streak of sunlight across the bone makes the situation seem worse. The gods illuminating what I could plainly see. Not a scrap left. I crouch down and take the lower jaw, turning it over, hoping there would be some bit of flesh. Clean. My fingers trace the scratches left in the bone. I shudder and set it down. I lift the upper jaw, not wanting to turn it over. Like the piece before, its clean. The teeth marks in this one etched deeper in bone, its hunger not satiated. I stop myself before throwing the bone across the forest. What good would that do? I did the best I could, and my offering wasn’t good enough. I stand up, remove my shirt, and draw my knife. I slowly run the sharpened blade across my chest, blood oozing.

No animal makes a sound. The wind rustling dried leaves stills. I join nature in stillness, my last moments. Silence. A sharp, hissing breath from behind me followed by searing pain. My last vision is its unholy darkness and razor, white teeth.


Apotheosis
Scarlett R. Algee

Find me, the bones had whispered. Find me. Feed me. Let me protect you.

I’d discovered them by accident last night as I’d crunched through the snow blanketing my backyard: the two damaged halves of a jaw, lying in a cocoon of dead leaves atop the powder. What they were, I didn’t know, except that they were too white and too gleaming: scraped clean.

And that they were exactly what I needed.

Now I lay them, still reverently cradled in my gloves, on my laboratory table, apart from all the other pieces I’ve gathered in the past year. Ribs. Vertebrae. Limbs. Teeth. All of them had whispered to me, little indistinct murmurs, little urges of wanting to be again. None had spoken clear words until I’d found the jaws last night.

Find me. Feed me.

Some sort of intelligence resting in the bones. I shake out the rest of my tools: hammer and chisel and screws, lengths of wire and leather thongs. Enough to bind these shards into something whole, because the urge to be is strong.

Listen, the bleached jaws whisper, and I bend my ear to their words and begin to work. First the bones, then skin, then blood.

Listen, I hear again, and I know that whatever I’m creating this night, it will be enough.


Unburied
Lee Andrew Forman

Soaked in crimson, its feasts had been legendary. Limb from body, head from torso, sinew and organs consumed; yet its appetite never fully sated. Memories that live deep within the remains of a banished soul. Unwritten from scripture, cast from history, forgotten by time; these bare, arid bones wait for the caress of the unsuspecting. A taste of copper-tang that will bring about its awakening.


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

RELEASE: Graveyard Smash: Women of Horror Anthology Volume 2

I’m super pleased to announce that my story, “South Dakota,” is included in this tremendously horrific anthology!

GRAVEYARD SMASH
WOMEN OF HORROR ANTHOLOGY
VOLUME TWO
KANDISHA PRESS

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 Baca
Demi-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)

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

GoodReads

Apple Books/iTunes | Kobo | Barnes and Noble |

The Ladies of Horror Picture Prompt Challenge June 2020 {[All Authors]}

This amazing Picture Prompt challenge has been hosted for the last 3 years by our lovely, Nina D’Arcangela. She selects four pictures and distributes them out to all the women authors who sign up to play along. Check out everyone’s work here:

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June 20th – The Far Shore by Marge Simon

June 22nd – One, Two, Three by Mary Ann Peden – Coviello

June 24th – Demon Night by Christina Sng

June 26th – At the End of the Day by Kendra Hale

June 28th – Hiding from Monsters by Angela Yuriko Smith

June 30th – Sundown by Kim Richards

Image_002_June_2020

June 20th – The Reverend by Kathleen McCluskey

June 22nd – Write Drunk, Edit Sober by Sonora Taylor

June 24th – Ink by Alex Grey

June 26th – Irises by Michelle Joy Gallagher

June 28th – Ink in the Glass by Rie Sheridan Rose

June 30th – Saturated by Melissa R. Mendelson

July 1st – Poison Prey by Asena Lourenco

Image_003_June_2020

June 21st – I Hunt the Giant by Elaine Pascale

June 23rd – Gates to Hell by A.F. Stewart

June 25th – Black Autumn by Anna Davis

June 27th – Immortals by Sheikha A.

Image_004_June_2020

June 21st – The Katana by Naching T. Kassa

June 23rd – What We Have Become by Linda Lee Rice

June 25th – Best Left Hidden by K.R. Morrison

June 27th – Maleficium by Josie Queen

June 29th – Rebirth by Ela Lourenco

Mental Anesthetic

Smoke swirling overhead, I lay on the cool filth covered ground, ashing in front of my face. A particularly crisp piece of dried wallpaper lights from the dropping embers. Night is nearing, the shadows cast upon the walls aren’t dancing nearly as much; I won’t be alone when the sun drops beneath the horizon. They are coming, as they always do.

I flick the butt of my cigarette and allow more pieces of detritus to smolder and pull my limbs in tighter to a fetal position. It’s easier this way, to just rest on the ground and wait rather than try with futility to hide; the past few weeks have taught me that.

The wind howls as thin branches scrape against the weakened glass, I shiver and light up another. Within minutes, the cherry of my cigarette is the only light left. A door opens a few floors below and hurried footsteps rush the stairs. I count each foot fall, there are more this time. Facing the wall and finishing my nicotine delight, the door behind me slowly slides open. My heart doesn’t quicken; the nerves I used to feel have all but been replaced by a mental anesthetic.

“Miss us?” One of the creatures questions; I don’t reply.

“Of course he did,” says the other, tapping my shoulder with its toe. My body rocks back and forth as they get into position.

I close my eyes as their teeth sink beneath the surface of my flesh. They lap from my open wounds, savoring the taste of a metallic iron liquid. The grotesque slurping and gargles wrap my stomach in knots but I know better than to fight back.

“What a shame, looks like this one’s tamed.” I hear, my head becoming fuzzy.

“Perhaps another? His daughter?” They’re taunting me, covered in my blood and snickering. My pulse quickens, not from fear but anger. “Definitely his daughter, his adrenaline is starting to rev.” These wicked beasts cackle and I stay silent, nothing I do will help me now.

“D-D-Daddy? I’m scared.” A faint cry from the hallway. It’s her.

“There we go!” Blood pressure springing through the roof, my lesions gushing while the freaks continue their feast.

I try to get up, to fight them off, but all I can do is mumble, “Youuu-bazztir…” As the silence and darkness consume me.

∼ Lydia Prime

*Originally posted on Pen of the Damned.
© Copyright Lydia Prime. All Rights Reserved.

Return from… Where?

Aside

clock-2535061_1920.jpgAh man, I’m pretty awful at keeping my own posts updated. I’m working on being better at that…

In the meanwhile, since the last update anyone seems to have seen from me was the #Release from #KandishaPress for: Under Her Black Wings: A 2020 Women of Horror Anthology (Volume 1), new and exciting things have been in the works. There is actually a Volume 2 on its way out to all your horror-hungry eyes! Stay tuned, it should make an appearance very, very soon. 👀!

Additionally, while you’re itching for that terror fueled fix – hop over to Pen of the Damned and check out what everyone’s putting out for #FREE!
If the somber, angst filled dark fiction of The Damned is a place you’re not yet ready to tread, perhaps one might consider,  Spreading the Writer’s Word, to check out the latest pieces from the Ladies of Horror Picture Prompt Challenge! A lot of new names in the last few cycles. If you’ve been waiting for something to read, something you can sink your teeth into, seek no further! 😉 Nina D’Arcangela has been graciously hosting this challenge on her blog for several years now. The prompts and pieces just keep on packing punches! (Also #FREE, who doesn’t love free?🤔😲!)

I’m hoping my, shall we say, “unplanned” break from Lapsed Reality will be the last. I intend to keep everyone updated on all these amazing projects and hopefully much more. 

Also, I just created an actual Facebook Author page! If you feel so inclined, come give it a like, eh? Author Lydia Prime

Thank you for sticking with me! ❤

RELEASE: Under Her Black Wings: 2020 Women of Horror Anthology

I’m super excited to announce that my story, “Sadie,” is included in this wicked anthology!

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UNDER HER BLACK WINGS
2020 WOMEN OF HORROR ANTHOLOGY
Kandisha Press

– A glamorous actress whose very flesh is reanimated by a beloved Hollywood icon

– A Boy Scout Troupe encounters a frightening mythological creature in an American forest

– A lonely woman finds a home among a group of lost-and-found souls, all cared for by a tentacled sea-creature called Mother

– A Faceless Woman attacks like a virus and takes on the identities of her victims

– A post-apocalyptic battle for survival rages between human and insect

– A Shadow Woman leads the spirits of the murdered to take revenge in the desert

These are just some of the stories nineteen women came up with when tasked with creating their own Women Monsters. Step inside and experience tales of bloodsucking entities in the jungles of Southeast Asia, Cuban river goddesses, an Aztec bruja, werewolves, mermaids, soul-stealers, obsessive lovers, furious spurned wives, bloody murder in Gothic manors and on Southern plantations… and so much more…

With Foreword by Brandon Scott (Author of Vodou and Sleight, Devil Dog Press)

Featuring:

Christy Aldridge

Carmen Baca

Somer Canon

Andrea Dawn

Dawn DeBraal

Michelle Garza

Sharon Frame Gay

Jill Girardi

Alys Hobbs

Tina Isaacs

Stevie Kopas

Marie Lanza

Melissa Lason

Malena Salazar Macía

Charlotte Munro

Lydia Prime

Paula R.C. Readman

Copper Rose

Yolanda Sfetsos

With cover art by Corinne Halbert

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

Available on Amazon

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

GoodReads