The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
It came at dawn. It came quite literally across the horizon, the toes, the foot, the giant attached to it. It blocked the sky, snuffed the sun, crushed every living thing to runny pulp that dribbled off corn and bunion. There was word that whole cities had been leveled. It was legend made real: a being so tall and monstrous all anyone saw were its feet, often only one foot because it’s stride was so vast.
And then people didn’t hear from those cities anymore, or those towns, or that relative. A killer giant, death by foot – it was laughable, until it was real.
The small rural town held its breath. It was worried, of course, but it had read the old stories, polled all the ancient, half senile geezers gathered in homes or locked in attics for the most outlandish tales of yore. The course of action was clear, obvious even.
They found the most put upon child, the least likely hope of salvation, the most teased and tormented – a little girl – and put her right in the giant’s path on the outskirt of town, well before the city limits, before even the really good farmland (they could sacrifice the mediocre). They sent the scrawniest, most awkward, most looked down upon child. The one stuck in her head, maybe half in another world, who also happened to have the talent of song.
It wasn’t really them being cruel, they reasoned. She volunteered. It worked out. The underdog always comes out ahead in stories after all, especially the musical ones. And if it didn’t work, well, they’d all die anyway, her included.
The earth trembled so hard the girl nearly bounced off the hill where she’d been left. She looked up at the cruddy, splintered nails, the limp, squished bodies flailing between the toes, the film of building and forest decay on the sole. And she sang.
It was a little off-key and quiet, but amazingly, the beast stopped. Maybe there really was something magical about an underdog’s vocal ability. Maybe they had some secret link. The giant paused long enough for the girl to climb right onto the gnarly hangnail quivering over her head, for her to scamper up, singing all the way.
Sure, she was afraid, but what did she have to lose? It was the only opportunity she’d get, take it or leave it. She held her purpose dear, hung on for dearer life, and kept singing.
The whole county breathed a sigh of relief, for the giant stayed frozen, transfixed at whatever words came out of the mouth of someone no bigger than a tick clawing up its massive ankle.
At some point, it lifted her high above the trees between two monumental fingers – it was wonder she stayed alive.
Magic, the elders assured. The uppity cities would have to believe the country folk now! Magic.
Songs from a downtrodden heart can make the biggest beast listen. This is a fact.
It was also a fact that the first thing the girl said to the giant when he plopped her into his pocket, words that he somehow heard from his massive height, was “Kill them all and make it hurt.”
Her second was “I want to watch.”
The screams didn’t reach her height (or her ears weren’t keen enough to pick them up). The bloodshed wasn’t as spectacular as she’d hoped. She couldn’t actually see familiar faces twisted in agony, but the overall effect was nice enough and she figured she’d get to see more of the same til the giant forgot about her.
It was the highlight of her short life so far. It was also why yes, you can listen to elders, but sometimes they aren’t wise enough to realize the whole town may be the villains to some, and aren’t old old enough to know to be wary of volunteers and even warier of a girl with a bone to pick.
Fiction © Copyright Selah Janel
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Author Selah Janel:
Like many young men at the end of the 1800s, Bill signed on to work in a logging camp. The work is brutal, but it promised a fast paycheck with which he can start his life. Unfortunately, his role model is Big John. Not only is he the camp’s hero, but he’s known for spending his pay as fast as he makes it. On a cold Saturday night they enter Red’s Saloon to forget the work that takes the sweat and lives of so many men their age. Red may have plans for their whiskey money, but something else lurks in the shadows. It watches and badly wants a drink that has nothing to do with alcohol. Can Bill make it back out the shabby door, or does someone else have their own plans for his future?