The track she was following curved and swerved through ancient trees and undergrowth, muffling the sound of a gurgling stream until she passed a gap. Pushing through tangles of brambles, she glimpsed sunlight sparkling on water and slid down the bank in her haste to reach it. A river coursed through the forest and, just around the next bend, a stone bridge appeared to leap across it. Stumbling along the muddy bank, dodging slyly needling nettles and more overt bramble thorns (oh, for a sword like Sleeping Beauty’s Prince!), she made her way towards the edifice.
On the nearside of the bridge, crouching in the water like a giant toad, was a rusted car wreck. It must have been there for years, a carbuncle on the landscape. She was surprised that nobody thought to get it removed. She rolled up her jeans, removed her shoes and stepped gingerly into the water, wading duck-like towards the monstrosity.
The skeleton sat in the driver’s seat, its fleshless fingers still gripping the steering wheel, the jaws of the skull angled into a scream that silently penetrated her mind. The birds stopped singing, the trickle of water froze, and the forest held its breath.
She would have to let the authorities know; someone was alive somewhere, perhaps not far from here, wondering why their wife, husband, lover, child didn’t come home, where they might be. She felt the gaze of the eyeless orbs, tried to blank them as she pulled a mobile phone from her jeans pocket and waded to the rear of the wreck to identify the registration number, which was raised above the lever of the water, while the front was wedged into the river bed. The plate had rusted but a number and three letters were legible: 2 HELL.
Kim M. Russell, 1st September 2019
Magaly’s back with another Pantry of Prose. She whet’s our interest with a piece of dialogue regarding students on a Gothic fiction class course, a discussion about whether Gothic fiction relies on traditional tropes, as in such classics as The Castle of Otranto, Dracula and Wuthering Heights, or can be modern, as in The Thirteenth Tale, ‘The Yellow Wall-Paper’ and We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
Magaly invites us to write short Gothic stories (in 313 words or fewer), setting our tales wherever we please, with our characters wearing whatever they like! As a secondary option, we can take an old poem, which fits this week’s theme, and turn it into a new story (of 313 words or fewer).