This flash prompt came with rules. It was an October prompt from 2015 based on a photograph I took at Oakwood Cemetery in Montgomery, AL. The red color on the slab (I believe) comes from a type of mold/fungus in the area. It made it creepy and I dearly wish I’d had a better camera when we were there so I could have taken a dozen pictures.
Word limit: 666 (as one does)
Forbidden word(s): fear, copper
Required word(s): shiver (any form: shivers, shivering, shivered, etc)
Descent Into Madness
“How many more?”
Her hoarse scream rolled over the barren field and startled several crows from their leafy perches. The returning echoes taunted her with the illusion of an answer: many more, more, More! She dropped to her knees and wrapped her arms around her shivering body as deep sobs wracked her small frame.
She shouldn’t cry. She’d wanted this, asked for it, begged for it even. Her tears left bloody tracks down her cheeks as so many had before. She’d been a fool–a fool to wish to be with him forever and an even bigger fool to believe he possessed a heart, much less one that loved only her. Yes, she was a fool, but her will was too weak to end her suffering and her love too strong to cease dreaming he would return for her.
“Malachi.” The whisper fell from her lips to disappear on the wind.
He appeared in the fall of 1850 amidst rumors of an inevitable war. Beautiful and elegant in word and deed, he turned the head of every girl in their small southern town. How thrilled she was when he chose to bestow his attention upon her. Her, a simple milliner approaching spinsterhood. She basked in his favor and gave him her heart, her innocence, and her everlasting soul.
He laughed when she realized the truth of her existence, lapping at her tears with his evil tongue and stirring hunger in more than just her belly. She loathed and loved him in equal measure. He was her teacher, her lover, and her master. She chafed at the chains that bound her to him, but held onto him with fearful desperation.
And then he was gone. No note. No trace. No promise he would return to salvage her shredded reputation and unraveling sanity.
Each crimson drop slipped from her cheek and into the puddle on the stone. So much blood. On her hands. In her mouth. Feeding her. Sustaining her. Taken from those whose hearts still beat and whose skin glowed with health; taken from the one who yet dangled from the overhead branch. A branch quickly filling with eager black bodies.
A murder keeping watch over a murderer. How apropos.
She ran her fingers through the crimson liquid. It was getting cooler. Soon, it would be too cold to be useful. As cold as the grave it stained. But it wasn’t just any grave. Oh no, it was her grave and she was just dying for a drink.
She laughed then, the manic laughter that dances on the border of madness. And wasn’t she? Mad, that is. Perhaps. Did she care? She swirled the blood on the slab while her turbulent thoughts swirled in internal debate. Flicking her fingers at the hovering crows, she decided she didn’t care. Not anymore. She hadn’t in more than a century.
Madness held more honor than evil, did it not?
Satisfied with her apathy of her impending insanity, she sketched the profane symbols with her victims blood. Each year, she wept over the death and the blood. Each year, she swore to her forsaken god that she’d stop the killing and end her hellish existence. For over a hundred years, she had faltered, because she was still a fool. Deep in her heart, that lifeless organ that only beats at the moment of the kill, remained a feeble thread of hope. Her foolish desire to see her Malachi again–to hold him, kiss him, curse him, and love him–guided her hands and gave voice to the infernal words.
Tomorrow, she would renew her laments and regrets. Today, she drew in an unneeded breath and enjoyed the scent of the crepe myrtles on the gentle breeze. She ignored the blaring of a passing car radio to listen to the crows shuffling closer to the swaying body. Tomorrow would bring her one step closer to madness, but in this moment, she was through with the suffering, the pain of her broken heart, and her unending longing for the beautiful, evil demon who had damned her. As she scooped up a handful of the congealing blood and raised it eagerly to her mouth, she caught a glimpse of a raven-black hair and heard her beloved’s mocking laughter just around the corner.
Perhaps next year… Perhaps…