by Cathy Reilly
The worn groove of the chain was a comfort, a constant of my life. But the lock held no assurance. Someone had been here. When left for the last time I had fitted the chain with a large iron padlock and still wore the key around my neck. Who had been here; who intruded upon my haven?
This place, this crumbling ruin had been my home for countless years. The new lock heralded a change I was not prepared for. I found a crowbar in the ancient carriage house. With it I reclaimed my home. It was mine; my name on the deeds and it was not for sale. Entering the welcoming darkness I breathed in the musty smell. Rat and mice had lived and died here, their smell peppering the air. Underneath though, lay the fustier darker scent of my family. A family long since gone.
I lifted a chair and set it upright, the entrance hall had been partially cleared and still there were signs someone of my lineage had been here recently. A desiccated rat lay on the small table. Weeks had passed since it had died, to feed a hungry child perhaps? I wondered, did my brood still feed on rat blood? I had no idea, I had abandoned them long before quitting this place.
Another sign of intrusion, the cellar door in the kitchen was lying open.
Who could ever have been so careless?
I stepped lightly over the debris. The fusty smell of the cellar growing stronger, more potent and beguiling me. I had given up searching for others of my kind, others not of my line and so this scent was intoxicating.
But no, I had walked away from my family before and would not be drawn back.
A sharp snap came from the cellar, some one or thing still lingered here. I could feel my lips retreat from my sharpened teeth. I could easily trap them down there, lock the door and they would never leave. I put my hand onto the handle, then hesitated, what if it was some innocent, peeking and peering into hidden places. I needed to know.
“Who’s there?” I called in a soft tone, no need to scare them off; and if I were proved wrong? Well it might suit if they thought of me as the victim.
Nothing. There! At the edge of my hearing a quick intake of breath. Someone definitely waited below.
I stepped down the stairs, gingerly reaching out into the gathering gloom. Once the light from the kitchen disappeared I heard the snap again. A light flared, temporarily blinding me. When my vision returned standing below were shadowy figures; only the small white body of a young man visible in the light. He was tied to a table.
From behind I heard the door close, trapped with the remnants of my brood. I could only laugh, caught, and, from their expressions soon to be tied alongside the boy.
“Well, well,” I said. “What it this? A family reunion and no invitation for me. How unsurprising of you.” My heart began to race as their faces changed. Their amorphous shapes strengthening and becoming more detailed as their demonic aspects drew up through their human skin sacs.
“Mother, it has been too long,” One, I had never bothered to name them, hissed.
“Too long,” echoed the others.
A hand at my back forced me down the steps. The struggling boy started crying.
“Oh, enough, your tears will bring you no friends here.” said the leader.
I stepped further in to the cellar, leaving the hand behind me.
“So, why am I here?”
“Why do you think? We grew lonely without you presence, so we sought you out. Are you not pleased?”
“Pleased? To see the spawn of my loins; the creatures who would have devoured me as they tore their way out of me prone body? I think not.”
“Yes, your lack of maternal instinct has left us incomplete. You have denied us life, mother. Give it to us, give us your flesh to feast and grow strong. Fulfil your destiny.’
As it spoke the other creatures had moved to circle us, the perfume that had eluded me upstairs suddenly familiar, hunger. Their hunger for my flesh.
I had ran so long from this fate, this inevitable destiny for decades, seeking another who had abandoned her clutch to have her freedom. Free from impregnation and demise like all the others of my kind. I had dared to dream bigger but to no avail. I would pay the ultimate price and loose this ravening horde upon an already diminished world. Perhaps some other female would have the strength to avoid the siren call of her starving children.
I refused to cry out as they began to feast on my body, forcing me down on to the table beside the boy who would become my final meal, devouring him as they devoured me in turn.
I have been a closet writer for several years. Writing only for myself. I recently joined an active writer’s group and have been inspired by their enthusiasm and skills to try my hand at short stories and competitions.
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