Melinda paused at the last tall, thin window of the tower, mere feet below its crown. The sun was slowly descending below the horizon, its fiery arms stretched along what some had once believed to be the edge of the world, where light and life fell away into the black depths of nothingness. A sob caught in her throat and she could taste the bile of regret on her tongue.
Past the window, the stairs curved away into shadow, and she followed, each step becoming harder to take as her heart grew heavy, hardened with the acceptance of what she had done, what she allowed to be done to her, and what she was about to do.
When she’d found out she was pregnant, part of her—the weak part—was elated. But fear and the truth of things slowly grew over it like a scab, smothering the innate motherly love she first had felt for her unborn child. That love soon grew to hate.
In time, her body showed signs of change. Her stomach bulged just below her waistline; her appetite increased, and she discovered a fondness for odd food pairings, like pretzels dipped in Pepsi and cottage cheese straight from the container. She loathed these changes, felt as if yet another part of her was being taken over, stolen away in the night. She beat her stomach into a raw mess of red, which then turned purple-black, a sickly yellow at the edges of the bruises, and it disgusted her, reminded her of her father’s semen after he had pulled out of her, telling her, “Now be a good girl and rub it in; it’s good for you.”
But now his seed grew inside her, the demon he thrust and thrust and thrust deeper within continued to claw at her insides. And it would be unleashed soon, bringing a hell she couldn’t fathom with it.
She remembered how she had held the steak knife to her womb, standing in the kitchen of the house she'd grown up in, the one place that she had always felt safe but that had become a nightmare when she turned 14, she stood there in the mid-afternoon light pouring through the window, revealing the one secret she refused to share with anyone but the Devil himself, and pressed the blade into her flesh until blood blossomed from the wound. She watched it trickle down the obscene curve of her belly into the waistband of her shorts, where it widened and spread like wings.
And then the demon inside her kicked, as if knowing it was about to be released to wreak havoc on her life. She dropped the knife to the peeling linoleum floor, pulled down her shirt, and ran from the house. Ran through the woods, across the open field she used to run through as a child hoping to catch fairies, and in through the broken-down door of the tower she now found herself in.
The tower had been given to the town as a gift from an old church that had once shared its ground before it burned down over a century ago. The tower had fallen into disrepair, its walls covered in graffiti—lies and promises and teenage territorial markings on the rough walls where God had once shined down upon.
Melinda reached the landing before the hatch that opened to the roof. She pushed at it and its rusted hinges creaked in the darkness, a sliver of twilight appearing before her. She strained with its weight, pushed harder, harder, harder, until something inside her shifted. Pain exploded within her. She screamed and crumpled to the floor, the darkness enveloping her. She continued to scream, the sound of her wails swirling within the tower. She felt fire flush between her legs, a wetness too thick to be anything but one thing...
She cried, unable to move, the pain wracking her body as a new demon slowly made its way into the world. From darkness, it would be born into darkness.
The shadows closed in around her.
Thoughts: I wrote this last night for the Shock Totem flash fiction challenge. We host a bi-weekly challenge on the forum where one person (typically the previous "winner") posts a prompt and those participating have one hour to write something in a thousand words or less.
Last night's prompt was this image.
The photo inspired a lot of suicide stories, as well as plays on that theme, which mine clearly is. Odd how that happens. I had come up with nothing by 8:30 PM, so I just started writing. I had no idea where it was going, and I'm kind of disturbed by some of the things that came out, especially the part with the father. I've read stories like that before, but I've never written anything like it.
Anyway, it's not the best story I've ever written, but I kinda dig it for what it is: 30 minutes of flurried writing. Good enough for the blog.