The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The mad race did not end well.
Nor did it begin as a competition or duel,
A breathless voyage to the finish,
Straight into a wall of resistance —
That solid unshifting margin of impact
Lying at the edge of an ocean,
Unyielding as brick whether
Rock or sand.
Who in his heart so devil-may-care?
What captain to risk the devastation of
A vessel, an entire company of shiphands?
Only the vainest most hardheaded
Might engage such derelict rashness;
Plow inward having lost all decency,
Or surge forth directionless,
To commit the worst folly at sea!
To steer blind on an overcast night
Without navigation. Abandon reason,
Tools and charts, every nautical rule
And follow instinct or whim.
’Twould be the direst of errors,
Aside from challenging a fierce tempest,
Provoking a Kraken.
Neither salt had a wish to die.
Both leaders men of grave honor,
However roughly chipped and hewn.
Yet the boundless Brine is vaster than
Any man’s soul, more perilous and treacherous
Than the wilds of any land,
And from her womb could raise the fiercest of
Misbegoths — tentacle-sprouted and tailed,
I cannot recite ye for certain
What transpired out in the woolly tides
To cause their haste and peril,
Ignite a precipitous volley of speed.
What sent two bows carving a parallel course
Through foam and current until they
Ran aground side by side, battered yet whole,
Terminus matched by dead heat.
One thing alone I could wager:
A wet grimace, a leviathan maw and ring of fangs
In a forest of thrashing clawed appendages
Stirred by a vicious gale — that could rip or pummel,
Crush or mangle! A mysterious spawn of the Deep,
Swimming fathoms to surface and wreak
Unholy bestial terror. Snatch morsels of
Mariners for a greedy banquet.
What else would inspire this deuce of
Captains to sail against better judgement —
Sacrifice the life of each swab, each mate
Above and below their decks?
Master and Helmsman obeyed the orders,
Followed the commands of lunatics!
Only a risen monstrosity might convince
Level minds to surrender their grasp.
Behold the result! These wooden hulls
Left dry and high to roast in the sun,
A pair of beached whale carcasses
Driven ashore. Stranding themselves
In a wild dash, a flight of wreck and ruin.
Whittled by sand and time
To skeleton crews. Long ago plundered,
Stripped of every last dignity.
The tales they might tell
If their anguished grins could speak.
Fiction © Copyright Lori R. Lopez
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Lori R. Lopez:
A rich gathering of poetry with a dismal twilight atmosphere, a brooding nature, an eerie tone . . . DARKVERSE: THE SHADOW HOURS encompasses such pieces written by Lori R. Lopez between 2009 and 2017, collected in three of her Poetic Reflections volumes along with humorous and serious verse. This ample compendium allows a more focused reading experience and mood — presenting poems that share speculative themes, flashes of horror, glimpses of madness.
Lori is the author of THE DARK MISTER SNARK, LEERY LANE, MONSTROSITIES, AN ILL WIND BLOWS, THE FAIRY FLY, CHOCOLATE-COVERED EYES, JAR BABY, SAMHAIN, 3-Z, and SPIDER SOUP, among other tales. She has been called a storyteller, whether composing verse or prose.
The aim of her DARKVERSE series is to offer a chilling trek through unlit stretches where all manner of creeps and kooks may lurk; where graveyards and bogs and full-moons abound. The pages of THE SHADOW HOURS illuminate those morbid uncanny perils and dreads that inhabit drab corners, the known and unknown terrors of the night. Vivid and distinct, her voice echoes our worst fears then delves beyond, exposing hitherto unimaginable frights.
Prepare to confront a motley array of ghouls and menaces that might just move under your bed.
Look for an Illustrated Print Edition with quirky art by the author.