by Willow Hart
A short story in the fantasy/gothic genre.
|I always knew there was something not quite right about her. The girl. Her. I remember her glossy cosmic blue, yet black as ebony hair down her back, her bright white teeth bared. Her smile was pleasant at the best of times. The startling look of her drove everyone crazy. Yet, she was crazy herself, calling herself the Gaunt Slayer. No-one at school believed her. I did, but in secret. I knew things about her.
I remember her parted lips as she clawed her hand ready to kill me. Then there was a screech and a ripping swoop; that was the end of me. I will never forget the look on her white powdered face, her glittering eyes, like knots of black electrical tape. Not ever shall I forget. Even though this is ever. I am dead. She killed me. This is the afterlife. Though I don’t believe in it. I’ve been a bit ragged by afterlife since the Egyptian-Transylvanians project. I’m easily frightened. Meredith Gaunt is no exception. She frightens everyone, even without trying.
I am trying my hardest not to remember my killing, but it is hard. Maybe it would be best to tell my story here, though I doubt it will be a pleasurable experience. This is my own experience of Meredith Gaunt’s powers.
It was cold November at the time. The pavement was wet with gloom and the trees were limp and winded. I only had my jacket on so I was quite cold. Our house is opposite a cemetery, which is the worst possible place to live. All day and all evening you see people going to the cemetery. They stand forlornly in front of the gravestones, some of the older ones shaking their heads. I never, ever, ever liked living in front of OldHill Cemetery.
I was walking along quite content with myself. Perfectly normal. It was pitch black with no stars and a almost-full moon, and the only light came from orange floodlights marking the sides of our street. After a while, a wind picked up. It wasn’t cold, exactly, but the wind was icy, like a ribbon of ice was trying to tear you down. It straggled my hair, lifting it up around my head as though a fan was in my face. Apart from the wind, everything was deadly quiet. This I though odd. It is never quiet in OldHill. There is always some sort of hustle and bustle around, even if it’s just a gang of alley-cats mewing and whining by the bins. As I walked down the rather lonely street, I noticed the worksite were workmen had been building for several months now. I felt odd, walking alone. There didn’t seem to be anyone, anything, around. The pneumatic drills and jackhammers and cement mixers were all there, but caged in like animals in a zoo. They stood like marble statues, only rough and often hurt, alone.
A light flickered somewhere behind me. I looked round quickly, so as to not miss anything. One of the streetlamps had gone out. It flickered on, and off again. This made the whole scene look dark and lonely. I put my teeth over my bottom lip to stop them chattering. I was unusually cold. I hoped I wouldn’t get hypothermia.
I tapped round the pavement in my boots, looking left and right, hoping to see something. But I didn’t. There was no-one there. I was rooted to the spot. I couldn’t walk home because I was too scared. What if something came to get me? I imagined a shaggy dog lurking in the bushes; a driven alley cat waiting to streak out and pounce. The whole idea of the thing was frightening. I couldn’t help it. Not any more. My lip quivered. My whole body shivered with cold. My fingers were icy. I looked around once more. It was too frightening now. My heart was panicking, pumping louder and louder in my chest. Something bad was going to happen; and I knew it.
A tear rolled down my cheek. And another. And another. My lips protruded. My eyes were wet and crusted with sleep. That’s when I noticed. Someone was talking. It was a long, terrifying hiss. It made a wave of shock rush down my spine. I wondered if the voice was talking to me.
“H-hel-lo?” I called, voice wobbling. I was utterly rooted to the spot and icy with terror. The voice spoke.
“Aah, yes! Just what we-I- have been waiting for. Yes. This will do just fine!”
Then came a loud, ringing laugh and something pounced against my chest. I screamed out, wanting help. Something was happening to me. I was being pushed against the metal fence of the building site, but there was no-one holding me. My chin was stuck into my chest. I hoped I’d go into a little ball and wake up next morning with it all being a dream.
“Don’t be scared, now. I sure you this won’t hurt a bit”
I felt a long, talon nail scratch my chin. The white finger it belonged to lifted my jutting chin up. I was forced to look. I raised my eyes and saw the patronising figure of Meredith Gaunt standing right in front of me. Her red lips were clamped together, but in a smile. A smile of trickery.
She drew her finger away from my chin, scratching it furiously as she did. It hurt, but I didn’t want Meredith to think me weak.
I lifted my shoulders boldly. Meredith tossed her glossy cosmic hair and laughed loud again. Her hands were curved round her hips, the great glittering emerald buckle on her belt standing right in front of me. I saw her deep red, velvet dress, soft and warm. But there is nothing warm about Meredith Gaunt, oh no. Meredith sighed pathetically. Her lips stretched slyly. Her eyelids fell down slightly, half covering her black bead eyes. Lined with crushed orange kohl, it wasn’t a happy feeling to be looking at her.
She took a step forward. Her right hand drew backwards, long, deft fingers straight like pokers. She was ready to strike. She was ready to strike me.
She drew her hand forward. Her curved black nails were clawed as talons. She turned her hand, her nails just inches from my chest. Blue sparks came from her nails. She twisted her hand. I yelled. It was like my heart was being frozen into stone. I couldn’t breathe. Her hand still clawed, she dragged across the left of my chest. My heart was still there-but my body had gone. My soul had gone. My eyes half-closed, I slumped against the wire. Then, even though no longer in existence, I felt a cold, but warm breath pass through my mouth. This breath got to my soul, and got rid of the good spirit. I was left with only bad spirit. My eyes folded, and they were shut. My head fell lower against the wire.
I was gone forever.