Horror flash fiction
‘The oracular of aetius’ by Rhea Kinslow
“Come.” Her clear voice bounces off the walls. A faint echo of dripping permeates the silence. She’s just a girl; why am I scared?The moisture in the cavern is cloying. It’s the darkness. Any man would feel uneasy in here. My thighs tremble. The lamb bundled in my arms bleats. I squeeze to silence it.
“I said, come.” The flat demand of her voice pulls me forward. I reach a hand out feeling into the moist blackness ahead of me, stumbling and fumbling with the lamb. Despite my richly dyed robes and new calf leather sandals, I feel unimpressive.
I shuffle closer, my sandals scraping noisily on the slippery rock-hewn floor. At twenty feet, I can make out her shape. She sits on a tall wicker stool with thin spindly legs, like a precariously balanced spider. She leans forward, red robes spilling down her pale skin.
Virgin. Pythia. Oracle.
She tilts her head, her hood shifting. A smile tugs the corner of her generous lips, but it makes me feel less at ease. I already know the answer to my question. Why am I here?
“Aetius,” she draws my name out in a taunt. I amuse her, “You must step closer.” Her smile spreads to show smooth white teeth from under the hood. My grip tightens on the lamb. Shuffle, shuffle. I can smell the sulfuric fumes. Beneath her a slash in the rock encroaches. It sucks the darkness towards it. It’s deep.
At ten feet the smell is overpowering, rotting eggs in sewage. There’s an astringent tang. Alcohol? Her fingers are white knuckled as she clutches the curled chair arms. She’s leaning forward and her head bobs and dips ever so slightly. She’s drunk on the power of Apollo.
“Closer,” barely a whisper. I’m breathing heavily and squeezing the limp lamb to my chest. Five feet.
“Ask,” she says, her white teeth receding into a sneer.
“I…I…” I feel like vomiting.
“Yes?” She’s too relaxed. Does she already know what I will ask? Does that mean she already knows the answer? Why is she smiling?
I inhale and breath out. “I want to know if I will be remembered,” it all rushes out of me but I lose momentum at the end. “If I will be famous,” I finally exhale at the floor.
There’s silence. Then nothing. She’s still peering down at me. Her head still bobs. The humidity of the cavern is making the perspiration drip down between my shoulder blades. Say something! Do something! I begin to look around the darkened room. Is anyone else in here?
I look back to her, but the smile is gone. She’s shaking. Convulsing. The chair begins to rock. I begin to tremble, gripping the lamb like a shield.
The chair can’t hold her, and she tumbles forward, just at my feet. The red robe slips. A rose-pink nipple. The flat of her pale stomach heaves in and out. She’s possessed. A demon is among us!
I’m transfixed by her writhing. She looks to be in pain, but she makes no noise. Her limbs twist and snake, then snap back into position. What is going on? Is she going to answer me? I lean over her.
Snap! Her forearm breaks and the white shard of her bone peeks from her flesh. I jump back. A fountain of blood gushes forth. She screams. I drop the lamb. It thuds softly. Smothered. Lifeless.
“Did you enjoy it? Did you feel powerful?” She’s no longer writhing. She’s panting, head steady with feline predation. What is she talking about?
But I know.
“Do you believe your own lies?” She tilts her head. “Apollo does not. He hears what’s in your heart.” All I can hear is the pounding of my heart. “Murderer,” she says gently.
“No! It was an accident,” my hands go to my throat. She crawls towards me, her dangling arm dragging on the wet floor. Her legs slither and wave like a tail. I’m frozen. She’s possessed me. It is a demon! But it’s not me she wants.
It’s the dead lamb.
She presses her face into its flesh like a rabid wolf, her dark, wavy hair spilling forward. I can hear the ripping of flesh. It was an accident, a mistake! I did not plan it, it just happened. Yes, I am a good person, it’s she who lies, my mind soothes.With her pointed chin caked in wool and blood, she smiles her not-smile. Her tongue works at a little tatter of lamb skin in her teeth.
“You killed the girl!” She shouts. She lunges at me, grabbing my leg.
I urinate, the warmth saturating my robes as I fall backwards.
“No! No! Please!” My voice is high and screechy. I try to pry her off me put I’m repulsed by the stench of her breath. “It was a long time ago! I did not mean it! Let me go!” I can still see that girl’s blue lips, how her face contorted from shock to panic as I squeezed her throat. She refused to do as I said. What was I to do? Everyone would have known.
“The truth, Aetius! You will speak the truth before you earn your fame.” Her face is in my face, the lamb still in her teeth.
“I killed her!” I say. She’s not satisfied. “I felt powerful,” I tremble remembering it. Silence. “I had fantasized of strangling her,” I cry like a child. Satisfied, she releases me.
“You still do glory over it,” she says, spitting out the bit of flesh from her teeth. “You will be remembered for as long as people praise your death.”
About This Horror Flash Fiction
‘The Oracular Of Aetius’ was originally selected as the Horror Category Winner in Lore’s 2018 Launch Writing Contest! Since then it has been published with Lore on Medium, then our blogger website, and now finally our website right here!