Snakes

August 14, 2018

Must have been so many brute
snakes the King slurped up —
but what tender servant wouldn’t
be smitten with concealed strings,
enlarged worms? We have all
indulged in a little tight snake
from time to time, and I have heard
the animals howl only in the night.

So the servant nibbled, found his ring-like hole
after hours
and left the castle with a stallion
who, amazingly, rode mute and sour.
Yet the ants, the fish, the birds — all callous —
chattered unconditionally their love in dour spurts,
the dead horse clinging to his own bones and thick skin.

Then the contest raged, roared like a salty sea
and the prince tested himself for gravity, trying
to remain of this world by being told his prize.
Those lies demand a fortune of the soul, the withering
of those animals curled around the snake, made curses
uncompromising and sure. But always the fruit
grows in the womb and makes the princess come
to lost senses.

Cheryl Chambers

nothing inside…

December 11, 2015

stairs2

Lucy was calling for her from the patio again, and without another word, she turned away from the man and hurried back to the porch stairs. She almost slipped when she got to the top, but she didn’t find Lucy there waiting for her. Instead, there was just the empty darkness of the kitchen beyond the open door.

She stopped at the doorway. Her hands rested on either side of the frame.

Inside, it felt cold.

She knew that feeling.

“Abby?” she called inside. “Lucy?”

At first, nothing and no one responded. And then, she heard someone on the stairs.

She stepped forward, but her body couldn’t seem to follow her foot. She just stood there awkwardly in the doorway of her own house.

Behind her, thunder chuckled.

Where were they?

The enormity of the house seemed to open up in front of her. Six bedrooms, five bathrooms, a study, three different porches, two dens and a living room. She didn’t bother even considering the dining room at the north end of the house, and omitted the downstairs study as well. They might be in the rest of the house, but those rooms were locked tight.

Her bedroom.

Her eyes cut toward the stairs at the corner of the kitchen just in time to see the flicker of candlelight receding up its steps.

Don’t go up there, she wanted to say. She wanted to shout it. But her voice was locked inside her throat.

She didn’t pause long enough to wonder if she’d imagined it or not. Her body had unfrozen, and the bells on her ankle bracelet jingled faintly as she ran across the kitchen and up the stairs.

“Abby!” she shouted, jumping the last stair on to the second floor.

At the end of the hall, her old bedroom door sat wide open.
She should’ve locked it.

Like an open mouth, the room at the end of the hall gasped. Inside of it, she couldn’t see anything. There was only darkness. While lightning flickered in the windows of the other rooms, there was nothing inside that one.

Just darkness.

Her stomach sank down to her knees, making it hard to walk. But she had to. Her sisters were in there, and in there meant they were in danger.

With a curse to herself, she started forward. Instead of feeling her bare feet on the wooden floor, it felt like she had her combat boots on again. That was the last time she’d felt this afraid…Combat and sand and blood and battle.

“What the hell are you doing?” Lucy’s voice snapped between the walls, sharp and annoyed. And coming from behind her.

Nora spun and found Lucy standing at the bottom of the stairs.

When she looked again, the bedroom door was shut.

She staggered backward and almost tripped at the top of the stairs. She caught herself, but just barely. Her hands shook as she clung to the railing, her eyes never leaving the closed door of that bedroom at the end of the hall.

“Nora!” Lucy said again. She took a step up the stairs, but then stopped. She couldn’t leave Abby. She’d barely managed to get her to the couch in the living room. But, when she looked at Nora’s blanched face – so white that it seemed to glow in the darkness of the house – she felt a painful twist in her gut.

How long had it been since she’d seen that look?

Not long enough.

A. Kenley
The Crestview Witches