Sunday, August 1, 2021

After a while you could breathe again, if you were so inclined. I was not.

I was not alone. I could sense another presence.

When at last I mustered the will to blow the gravel off my eyelids and force them open, the first thing I saw was sandals. Diamond-studded sandals, no less. 

Never before had I seen such an elegant design in our village—not even at my own wedding some years back, when Job could still afford spoiling me. At the time he had been considered a good catch. Rich beyond belief, and as healthy as an ox, he had not been known for being blameless or righteous until much later. Some wicked fun we had! And to please me, he would pour coins into my purse—what a delightful jingle!—so I might buy the most exotic fabrics for my dresses, and the most expensive footwear, imported by Babylonian merchants traveling through the Kingdom of Edom on their way to Egypt. 

How I had been pining lately for his attention, or—failing that—for the luxury of going on a shopping spree! It would have been a pleasant distraction from all my suffering. 

If only I could go, one last time, and buy some brand-new designer clothes, or better yet, shoes...

But now, these sandals—right there at my eye level—were sleek, but also quite strange. Their tar-black, impossibly high heels were cutting with a twist into the freshly dug earth; which at once, seems to scare away a host of worms. 

Naturally, I tried to squirm away—but could not move a muscle.

And look: inside these two contraptions were the ugliest feet I had ever seen. Toes crooked, nails spiked, with an irregular, cracked outer edge—yet they were painted quite liberally with some blood-red smear. 

Sigh. I closed my eyes. Was this a joke, or a bad dream? With such a sloppy manicure, this bitch—whoever she was—must have been even more impatient than I ever was. 

I wished that—for a spell—I could take a peek, just long enough to compare our feet. Mine, you see, are so much prettier! And what’s more, they had been cleaned the night before by the village women, washed once with water from the local well, and a second time with tears. 

But now, even without casting a look I could tell, by the chill on my skin, that under this shroud my feet were utterly bare. No  boots, no shoes, no sandals. 

Which made me envy her. 

Through the skin of my closed eyelids I could sense a sudden change. Blocking the sun, her shadow came crawling upon me, until suddenly it stopped. Which was when—with no warning, and no respect for the departed, either—she gripped my arm, rolled me aside and to my surprise, hopped in.

Unfortunately, there was no mistaking her smell. I used to think it was the dirt caking, layer after layer, on her bare feet. Yes, that must have explained it! But somehow it reeked even worse now, perhaps because these elegant straps of leather grazed into the dirt, peeling it from her heel. Oh hell, I croaked, wishing I could turn away. 

Not now, go away, Leila. 

I could hear the heavy flapping of her breast and at once, the ground under me shook. It opened—by God, the ground split open under her sharp, pointy heels, and scream! My hair was flying straight up, my jaw dropped open... 

Within a second, the earthen walls grew immensely higher, they were vaulting over us and there we were—there in my grave—in a free fall— 

Rising, somehow, to a shaky stand I popped my eyes open. Still, all I could see in the mounting darkness is the quick flash of her teeth. She bared them in a smile. 

I turned my gaze away, noting the walls around us. I had seen an elevator once, when Job had taken me to a hotel, the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. He had booked the honeymoon suite up there at the very top, knowing it would impress a simple village girl like me. But now, this here was like no elevator I had ever seen before. 

How can I begin to describe it to you? Space was tight. In distress I looked up—perhaps by force of habit—to cry, to say a prayer. Stones, torn roots, autumn leaves, most of them already rotten, even tiny lizards and worms were soaring over us in a big swirl, bouncing from time to time off the walls, and then being blown up and away with a big spit, straight off the top of this thing. 

After a while you could breathe again, if you were so inclined. I was not. In the shadows, if you dared brush your fingers around you, you might feel the mud slipping upward along the walls as we went on falling. 

 Love Horror? Treat yourself to a thrill 



Paperback  Hardcover 


"This trilogy of short stories were a mesh of Twilight Zonish crazy that just made my day. The reveals were fun and unexpected. The narrator gave it that extra build-up to the 'aha.' "
Dee, Audible listener

No comments:

Post a Comment