How are you all enjoying ‘Women in Horror Month’? I am really enjoying celebrating women writers, directors and more, as well as having my socks scared off daily! As part of my daily challenge, here is my ghostly short story ‘Reborn’.
He tried his best to contain his excitement as the small bundle was pushed into the cave, but the little squeal that started deep in his stomach burst past what passed for his lips, alerting the others. Soon, seven little ghosts were looking at the dozing baby, wrapped in thick woollen blankets to stave off the chill of the cave.
‘A baby,’ whispered one of the ghosts, slowing stretching one of her rainbow coloured tentacles towards it. She screeched as the stinger of one of her companions penetrated the tentacle. The rainbow colours rapidly dulled to black and it hung uselessly against her gelatinous body.
‘Don’t touch that child,’ her attacker warned. He was shaped like a foot, with three large toes, each with a sharp stinger on the end.
A third ghost moved between them, his two frilled antennae gently separating Rainbow and Toes. The antennae were attached to a spherical, clear body in which bobbed an ever watchful eye. The Watcher spun his antennae gracefully upwards, mindful not to touch the dripping walls of the cave.
‘Now, we must not disturb the child until the decision is made.’ His eye spun and one of his antennae whipped out at one of the ghosts who dared get too close to the child.
A bell-shaped ghost edged towards the group. He rippled as he spoke, the oily surface of his skin reflecting what little light penetrated the cave, ‘But which of us is it to be?’
Rainbow swatted the Watcher’s antennae away and drifted closer to the child, the others ready to pounce on her if she touched the pink, warm skin. ‘It should be me. My son needs me,’ she said, her voice breaking a little.
Bellringer pulsed as he laughed, ‘Your son’s been dead for generations, you stupid witch. Your pathetic attempts at magic were no more effective than that fools attempt to kill a god.’
The antennae folded around the Watcher. ‘I would have killed him, had I have had more men,’ he huffed.
A worm-shaped ghost with a spotted crest inched closer. ‘Your army was washed away by the same god you were trying to kill.’ Her crest quivered as she giggled.
‘His plan was no more ludicrous than taking a life just so you can keep your bath filled,’ a small, furry ghost muttered.
The Worm writhed angrily. ‘You mock me? I was trying to keep my youth. You were taking body parts to try to rebuild your deceased mother. That’s ludicrous,’ she shrilled.
The ghosts froze as the walls of the cave shifted, dislodging stones, dust and salt residue that the dripping water left behind. Several of the ghosts cried out as the salt hit them, causing their skin to sizzle and peel.
‘Be quiet,’ hissed a diamond-shaped ghost, the small spikes which covered his body clicking in agitation. ‘Any more loud noises will kill us all.’
The ghosts watched in silence as the dust slowly floated down, each all too aware of the nature of their prison. Only when the constant dripping of the water from the walls had resumed and the last particles of dust had hit the floor did they dare to speak.
‘The child is mine,’ proclaimed the Watcher, ‘I have had time to realise my mistakes and will not make them again.’
‘Which mistake is that? Attempting to kill a water god by stabbing the water?’ mocked Bellringer.
The Watcher snorted. ‘No. I need more men. Then, I’ll kill the water gods.’
Toes flexed his toes and flicked out his stingers. ‘Pah! You talk of killing a god. I plan to resurrect one! I was one kill away from my thirteenth and then my dark lord would have arisen from his fiery pit.’
‘It should be me,’ said the Worm. ‘I meant no harm, merely to bring beauty to the world. My beauty.’ Her crest rippled, the spots reflecting the dull light.
The hairs on Fuzzball bristled. ‘No! I should go. Mother needs me,’ he whined. The Watcher slapped Fuzzball with one of his antennae, sending him spinning dangerously close to the salt-covered walls. Fuzzball hissed in anger but dared not move closer to the group.
‘I had ‘em running scared, those filthy whores. Let me go back so I can finish the job. I can still remember the feeling as my knife gutted ‘em. Gotta cleanse the streets. Vermin they are, running around spreading disease every time they spread their legs. I’ll slice ‘em up real pretty with my knife.’
‘Please, you don’t understand. My son is at war and I need to keep him safe. If I continue making the sacrifices, he comes home to me,’ begged Rainbow.
The ghosts huddled together, arguing. Their movements causing a blur of colours until it was difficult to discern one from the other.
A short, sharp whistle brought them all to a stop and they turned to see Diamond-spike floating near the dripping wall.
‘You pathetic creatures. You argue and fight for the right to be reborn, for your petty beliefs or desires. You all want a chance to return and continue doing whatever ridiculous thing it was that got you sent here. But me? I was born evil they said, never had a chance to go topside.’
‘You mean, you’ve never….’ Rainbow trailed off.
‘If you’ve never been up there, then what right do you have to claim the child?’ demanded Toes.
Diamond-Spike spun lazily, his spikes grazing the wall but he didn’t flinch as the salt burned his skin. A slash of a grin appeared on one side of his body. ‘I seen a lot of your types come and go. All have their reasons for killing, for pleasure, for pain, their gods to serve or sacrifice. Some got ideas about purifying their race, others about keeping loved ones alive. But me?’ Diamond-Spike let the question hang in the air between him and the other ghosts. The others drew closer to him, eager to know his reasons for being sent to the cave. Diamond-Spike’s grin grew larger.
‘But me?’ he repeated, ‘I got a plan.’
He spun, flinging the droplets of salty water which had accumulated on his spikes at the other ghosts. They all howled and screamed as their bodies began to smoke.
Diamond-Spike floated down to the baby who had begun to stir with all the noise. The child gazed at the tiny speck which bobbed in front of its eyes. However, it let out a scream as Diamond-Spike forced himself inside its nose. The child thrashed its chubby arms around as a small droplet of blood dribbled from its nose and across its face. As quickly as it had started crying, it stopped, its blue eyes turning to black with tiny blood-red flecks. A thin grin spread across the baby’s face and it disappeared leaving the other ghosts in complete darkness.