The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The window banged, its shutter
Flapping in a midnight chill.
A shadow leaned to secure the board.
Fog spilled like milk upon the street
And the figure paused, ashiver,
Glad for a snug garret to toil . . .
Where a candle’s glow warmed panes
Sealed from the Moon’s white stare.
He preferred a simple taper,
Age-old trappings, to the modern
Ease of manmade sorceries.
Conveniences they were called.
The ancient ways could not be
Replaced by false magic and show!
A student of the Black Arts,
The Necromancer in secrecy plotted
Occult orchestrations, manipulations,
With time-tested charms and potions.
High above the lanes and gutters
Where ordinary persons flocked,
He plied illicit practices,
Traditional methods and means of
Achieving vain goals, ulterior motives,
Mischief and purposeful mayhem.
This was his calling. His devotion.
Though he could not soothe his own
Misery, the loss that tormented
Bosom and soul. That would be evil.
And yet, and yet, how he yearned
To cast a single selfish spell.
Eyes closed, his blood throbbed
Within a strong but slender form,
Pulsing to an unbearable need that
Consumed flesh in a fiery gluttonous
Appetite ⸺ for retribution.
“I will have it,” breathed he.
How lovely the night; an excellent eve
To conjure. Hunched at his desk, the gent
Drew an inked out-of-fashion pen
Then scrawled a poem, an arcane rhyme.
Laboring on a phrase, he glibly uncorked
A bottle of foul dark liquid.
As if wine, he tipped a few sips,
Blackening lips. The scratches resumed,
Crafting lines of nebulous verse
Inspired by Poe, whose macabre words
He read to drown his sorrow.
To keep the vengeful spirit in!
Guided as well by the yellowed
Pages of another classic: a grimoire.
The witch’s tome he would study
In flickers of austere light, absorbing
Its powers and wisdom. Its warnings.
Now he had no mind for caution . . .
His heart uncorked. A satisfied
Grin crossed a thin masculine mouth.
The handsome Diderot eyed a wet
Formula, drafted in spite.
Composed lacking composure.
Articulating a fey command.
With the stealth and swift grace
Of a breath-stealing cat chase,
The sweep of a pendulum’s axeblade,
Exit the casket! Claw earth like a spade!
Haul your steps to my threshold ⸺
But wipe your feet, or return to the cold.
He lifted a sinful scrap of parchment
With trembling hand. The rogue stood
To invoke a wicked behest, addressed
To the spirit of a long-lost rival who
Taunted his dreams, never haunting him
Fairly, in the hours awake!
A wearisome interval of anguish he paced,
Anticipating, hating a revenant, a wraith,
Both enemy and friend. The door creaked ajar;
Cemetery frost rolled in. A ghoul dented
His Welcome Rug: dirt-shod, invited,
Glowering with a surly mug.
“Why did you bring me back?”
A coarse sneer disturbed the ear.
“We have unfinished business, Max.”
The angry challenge a feeble whisper.
Five skulls clacked teeth on shelf and
Table, a gruesome clatter.
“Don’t mock me!” the proud one bade
A watchful simpering peanut-gallery.
“Witness while I settle an overdue score!”
The knave stomped face to face with
A detested cretin. “I shall take what is
Mine. You will plague me no further!”
The corpse gave a smirk. “Time will tell.”
Aghast with fury, the Necromancer fumbled
To search a deadman’s clothing; in the pockets
Of jacket and pants. Naught was discovered
To console his passion. “Where is it,
You devil!?” Bare hands clasped a throat.
“I’m gone already. Can’t harm me now!”
Maxime’s dire grimace inspired a rage.
Fingers throttled the neck. “Give it back!!!”
A madman’s scream caused a gloating cadaver
To pale ever more and reach between
Umbral lips. He pulled out a silver chain . . .
A pocketwatch dangled; a pendulum swung.
“You stole it from my grandfather!”
Diderot snatched the timepiece, a family
Heirloom. “It was my grandfather’s too.
Why didn’t you just rob my grave?”
A wrinkled visage scowled unblinking.
The Necromancer remembered digging.
Or was it a vision? Cracking open the coffin,
He could not find its treasure.
“You were my Great-Uncle. I wanted to
See you again. It’s better this way.”
He struck a match and threw it at rags.
Fiction © Copyright Lori R. Lopez
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
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