Day 2 – Christina Rosso

by | Oct 18, 2020 | Dean Cleaning Two | 12 comments

Prompt 1

 

Evil is tangible; it stinks in the air, warm and rotting. 

 

In many stories, inflicted villages are shocked when it arrives at their door. But evil isn’t hidden, not truly, not ever. The darkness seeps toward the light, tonguing its borders for weaknesses. 

 

When the woman in red came to the village, the air paused, holding its breath. The leaves ceased rustling. The livestock laid down or hid in the barn. Evil was upon us, if only we would have paid attention.

 

Her maroon skirts ruffled as she glided through our town, her movements graceful. She stopped at the inn and asked for a room. She was just passing through, she said. Thought this looked like a quaint little town. One of godfearing folk. 

 

Stella, the innkeeper, recounted this that evening at the pub, her fleshy cheeks the color of rubies. Already the woman in red was infecting the women of the town.

 

The next morning, Stella was bedbound. They said with a sudden sickness. I could smell the copper when I walked by her house; it was thick with the scent of rust and unholiness. 

 

It happened in a long, silent wave. By the next day, every woman in the town was confined to their beds with the same sickness infecting Stella. Every woman but the woman in red. 

 

The town stunk of copper. No one dared utter the word, yet we all knew it was blood. She remained in her room during the day, only surfacing once the sun had set and the sky was cloaked in gray and black. 

 

Some tried to follow her, of course. Mysterious women are always seen as a threat to our community like ours. Yet they always lost her around a bend in the road or at the creek’s edge. The only thing beyond the babbling brook was the woods, the naked trees twisting into monsters with claws and fangs in the darkness. No one from the village dared pass that boundary. We have always been a people of superstition and fear. 

 

The next day, the women appeared miraculously cured. The smell had subsided, and the sun even shined brilliantly on our village. Perhaps the worst was over. God had blessed us many times before. 

 

At dusk, however, everything changed. Before witnessing such perversion, I had only read about it. Bodies contorting into unnatural shape, claws and fangs extending from nail beds and gums. Cries that could only be described as feral. The women were unrecognizable. 

 

The townsfolk hid behind barred doors, pitchforks and guns in trembling hands. I stood in the shadows outside of the inn, waiting. I knew she would emerge. This was her doing, after all. I was certain of it. 

 

Blue light shined above me. I looked up at the moon, so full it seemed ready to explode. I wondered, what will the moon birth? 

 

The door to the inn swung open, the woman in red’s face bathed in lantern light. She strode past me, in the direction of the woods. I followed, my steps careful and quiet. I knew this land better than anyone. Howling and mewling surrounded me as we neared the creek and the forest’s edge. 

 

The woman in red was driving the women of the town to the woods. Was it sorcery or female instinct? I’ll never be sure.

 

I stepped timidly on slick rocks to cross the water. I dropped to my hands and knees and crawled the rest of the way to the trees, my fingers and toes flexed like a beast’s. 

 

I paused at the opening to the woods, its mouth opened wide, inviting. Do not give into temptation, I chided myself. 

 

The moon’s light trickled down the trees in spurts. It was all I needed to see. The women, naked, crouched as blood ran freely from their womanhood. Their lips stretched wide in grins. Their flesh flushed red. They cried out, echoing one another. Were they laughing? Was that glee? The woman in red kneeled in the middle of them, arms into the dirt. Her eyes white orbs reflecting the full moon.

 

With care, I retraced my every step. Sometimes it is our duty to vanquish evil, to try to tear it to shreds. Sometimes, however, all we can do is run.

12 Comments

  1. Roberta Beary

    Love this take on monthly menses, how the colour red and its variations links all the women.

    These images are all wonderfully drawn. The bystander-narrator works well.

    I especially liked: Blue light shined above me. I looked up at the moon, so full it seemed ready to explode. I wondered, what will the moon birth?

    Also like as a title: What Will the Moon Birth

    Well done, Christina!

  2. Gay Degani

    This is amazing. A sophisticated fairy tale. Reminds me somewhat of that book “The Red Tent” in style and substance. This line I love: “Mysterious women are always seen as a threat to our community like ours.” A universal female theme and so timely I think as we ponder what will happen with the Supreme court. And “Their lips stretched wide in grins. Their flesh flushed red. They cried out, echoing one another.” I hope so.

  3. Tommy Dean

    Evil as a character! Yes, love this! “tonguing its borders for weaknesses.” love how it moves, becomes sentient!

    “Already the woman in red was infecting the women of the town.” Love, love this! Love how you make new fairytales! Nothing feels derivative, it all feels fresh, welcoming, but eerie!

    “Every woman but the woman in red. ” Love how this creates plot, and now we’re in a fresh allegory category again!

    “Sometimes, however, all we can do is run.” Love this ending! I love this whole thing, like a fairy tale version of The Crucible! This is epic and I was enthralled!

  4. Constance Malloy

    “The darkness seeps toward the light, tonguing its borders for weaknesses.” This is one of those lines you could put in so many different pieces of writing, taking each piece in so many different directions. Love the fairy tale quality to this piece. I just jumped on board at the beginning and let you lead me by the hand. Great job!

  5. Didi Wood

    A chilling tale! I wondered about the narrator – why they weren’t affected (not female? too young?). Sad when anything/anyone unfamiliar is perceived as evil, and all too common in the world even now. Loved the phrases “tonguing its borders” and “What will the moon birth?”

  6. Trent

    So cool, Christina!

    I hope this leads to something serial-like. As mentioned, the narrator could be a gateway to more stories.
    Do they seek out help; do they manage to find a weakness. Or, is this even the catalyst to them being able
    to combat this threat, later on?

    Really solid work~

  7. Chelsea Stickle

    “Sometimes it is our duty to vanquish evil, to try to tear it to shreds. Sometimes, however, all we can do is run.” This is very true and it’s nice to see a sensible hero! Not every dragon can be slayed and not every dragon can be slayed by the first person to see it. There are some great descriptions in this. This one happened to be my favorite: “I looked up at the moon, so full it seemed ready to explode. I wondered, what will the moon birth?” I’ll never look at the full moon the same way again.

  8. Kella

    Christina, I absolutely adore this premise and personification of evil. Someone else (Gay, I think) mentioned The Red Tent and I absolutely concur re: the style and beauty you have going on in this provocative and compelling piece. From the first gorgeous sentence till the end, I can’t wait to keep reading (the tension and movement are *chef’s kiss*). Lovely work & I cannot wait to see this in the near future in someplace like Fairy Tale Review or here: https://thebookstewards.com/fairy-tales-wanted-a-list-of-places-to-submit-to/

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