The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The rail running through Lost Acre Wood has been abandoned for ages. They quit running trains through there in the 70s. So, when Carter Essex pulled me aside after Spanish class and said, “Listen, dude…you’ve got to come to the Wood with me. I have something amazing to show you,” I thought why not?
“Sure. When do you want to go?”
It was Thursday, and I had a test the next day, so I kinda forgot about the whole thing until he called me Friday night.
“We’re still going to the Wood tomorrow, right?”
“I said I’d go.” I was trying to hide the impatience. When I said I would do something, I did it.
“I’ll be there to pick you up at 8:00.”
“Why so early?”
I sighed. Great. Saturdays were the only chance I got to sleep in, and now, I wasn’t even going to get that. “Okay. I’ll be ready.”
At exactly 8:00 the next morning, Carter pulled up in his clunky old jalopy. I could almost see the excitement radiating off him. His black hair fell over one glittering eye, and his fingers were drumming on the steering wheel. He was wearing a long-sleeved white shirt with a red vest and black slacks.
“What’s with the get-up? You look like a cartoon villain.”
“All part of the surprise,” he murmured, leaning toward me. “You’ll love it.”
It made the rest of the ride rather awkward. I didn’t really like Carter at the best of times, and he was really starting to creep me out a bit.
“Don’t look at me like that, Sarah. This will be awesome.”
He stopped the car and reached into the back seat. “Here, put this on.” He handed me a long pink dress.
“You have got to be kidding me.”
“You’ve gone a bit gonzo, Carter.”
“Just put it on, Sarah, please.” There was a naked pleading in his eyes that really surprised the hell out of me.
“Oh, all right.” I pulled the dress on over my jeans and T-shirt.
The minute I acquiesced, Carter’s face resumed its characteristic sneer. He reached out and grabbed my hand. “Let’s go.”
Trekking through the woods is hard enough at the best of times. He was making me do it in a long dress that caught on every fallen twig.
“Much further?” I was beginning to pant from the pace he was setting.
“Nah. Here, sit a minute. I have snacks.”
He gestured to a blanket spread on the ground. There was a picnic basket to one side, and a small cooler. Had he come out here at the crack of dawn to set this up?
I sat down on the blanket, and Carter handed me a glass. He made a great show of opening a bottle of soda and pouring it into the glass. The cooler had done its job, and it was very refreshing after the hike out here.
“My mom made cupcakes.” He passed one over.
The cake was delicious, red velvet—my favorite.
“You know, I really liked you, Sarah. And then, you turned me down for prom.”
My arms and legs were heavy. Moving was becoming harder and harder to do.
“Lie back, Sarah. Rest. I know it’s early.”
I couldn’t help but oblige. As I fell backward across the blanket, my head connected solidly with something. Something that was vibrating. I heard a faint “clackety, clack” noise, coming closer.
I tried to sit up, but my body wouldn’t obey me.
Carter reached into the basket and pulled out two lengths of clothesline. “I’ve always been a fan of melodrama,” he remarked casually, bending to tie my ankles, and then pulling my hands over my head to do the same. “Things are always so simple in melodrama. There are villains, and damsels in distress…and, in your case, no hero to get in the way.”
The clackety, clack was getting closer.
“So, I found some interesting facts in the library. Did you know that the last train to travel these tracks went off the rails in a fiery collision with a boulder that had fallen off that hill.” He pointed behind me. “The boiler exploded, the cars caught fire, everyone died.” He leaned in close again, his eyes glittering maniacally. “They say the ghost train still comes through here—and it does, I’ve seen it. Today, there will be another bump in the tracks.”
He laughed—I swear, he must have been practicing his evil villain cackle—and swept away towards the car.
I can feel the tracks vibrating even stronger now, and I think I just heard a whistle over the clackety, clackety, clack…
Fiction © Copyright Rie Sheridan Rose
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Author Rie Sheridan Rose:
“I have always preferred the supernatural in tales of horror, the knot between life and death. Rie Sheridan Rose’s Skellyman is cool and creepy. Her first horror novel is a chilling read.” — Charlee Jacob – Stoker winner, Best novel, “Dread in the Beast”
Brenda Barnett is trying to cope with raising her four-year-old daughter all alone after an accident tore her family in half. As she and Daisy go for a much-needed treat, the little girl spots a Skellyman on the corner.
This pivotal encounter leads to a wave of mounting terror as Brenda’s life begins to come undone around her. Who is the Skellyman? Why does he keep appearing? Can the sympathetic policeman Brenda turns to stop the madness before it is too late?
And why does Daisy insist that her dead brother is trying to tell them something important?