This isn’t my usual fayre. There’s a possibility I might try and participate in a horror anthology based around twisted fairytales. This, using the latest #writephoto prompt as a base, is an early draft of a possibility.
Montague Last walked slowly across the sand. Ahead the crystal river spread its silver stain, enticing him to step out, to embrace its depths, to let it take away the pain. All he craved was to be numb. He smiled and lifted his foot, readying himself to…
‘Monty, wake up. They’re back.’
Reality swamped hope, as Cindy’s gaunt face filled his vision. The brief glance was enough for him to know it hadn’t worked. Which meant they’d want more. Which meant he’d remain in this sweltering hellhole of a prison forever. Knowing he mustn’t show weakness he began to rouse himself, but her hand stopped him. He frowned a question, but her only response was a quick shake.
Curious now, despite himself, he let his gaze drift to the door. The other one – Ella-May wasn’t it? – remained huddled in the corner, rocking metronomically. She’d barely changed her position since she’d arrived, neither eating – not that he could blame her – nor drinking. She didn’t even move when she pissed herself. Once, he’d have felt sorry for her. Nowadays he didn’t have the energy to feel sorry for himself.
The sound of locks sliding back brought him into the present. In moments he was blinking as sunlight streamed in, fracturing the Stygian atmosphere with a parody of freedom. Two guards, bemuscled unsmiling brutes stepped inside and framed the door. There was a pause before a tall man, his familiar silhouette filling the gap. Charmant.
‘Doctor Last, I hear you’ve been sampling product. Hoping to find peace? Redemption?’ The laugh was both cruel and knowing. ‘You don’t think I’d let my magician take such an easy way out, do you?’ His voice changed, a businesslike brusqueness entering it. ‘I have some new recruits for you.’
He stepped back and three more women, girls really were bundled forward, two looking terrified as their eyes darted wildly around the cell, while the third did her best to maintain a semblance of poise. As Charmant stepped across the room, digging out a set of keys, the guards closed the gap left by the open door, forestalling any ideas of escape.
He fiddled with the padlock before pulling open the door on the far side. Stepping inside he switched on the stark overhead light, revealing a complicated set of glass refraction jars, pipes and tubes. ‘There,’ he opened his arms wide. ‘Didn’t I promise you the earth? This will be your very own fairytale. Come, this is where your new reality begins.’
Two long, manicured fingers picked up a transparent tube with a funnel at one end and a globe at the other. ‘All you do is drink from this, your very own crystal slipper and the good Doctor’s super meths will turn each of you from drab non-entities to princesses in your own magical realm. Ask Cindy and Ella there. They both know of the joys that can be bestowed.’
Montague shrank back. The guards hustled the three girls forward, while the other two, broken yet desperate slid towards the door, desperate for another fix, when, if only for a moment their world was transformed.
Part of him knew that bone deep craving, but most of him understood the futilility of this dream. He squeezed his eyes shut and wondered if midnight would ever come to set him free.