The curtains had already parted and the blackened room was silent. There was no Maestro leading an orchestra to fill the deafening reticence. He was pushed forward onto the stage and he sat in the still, invisible air, straining to hear any signs of movement or shallow, clandestine breathing. The scraping sound of the rusting pulley system startled him as the curtains were drawn closed behind him.
Although he was not bound to his chair, he was unable to move. The bright stage lights abruptly came to life and blinded him, etching his likeness into the velvet material behind him. He could not see the crowd that sat only yards away from him but he could feel them. He could feel their hatred and the anger in the myriad pairs of eyes burning into every fiber of his being.
The energy in the theater rose to a climax and the chanting of the crowd became almost ritualistic. The three-dimensional quality of his body seemed to dissolve under the pressure of their angst. His tortured screams filled the hallowed space. They came to reap what he had taken from them. They wanted their souls back. One by one he felt the energies being ripped from his body and his cries slowly muted into whispers. His physical body became lifeless and transparent and his screaming could no longer be heard.
His own soul had been the last to leave his body. His mouth is forever open, frozen in a scream of repentance and regret.
7, January 1655
“Do you believe any of that, Marcus?” Danielle continued to read the information in the tour brochure.
The tickets to the historical theater are sold for $10.00 each. Those who really want to impress their friends say they can still see his shadow on the curtain but those who come looking for their lost soul can still hear him screaming, fighting to get back the essence of the souls he had taken.
Marcus shrugged and didn’t know what else to say. “Maybe Pope Innocent X wasn’t so innocent after all.” He subconsciously rubbed his fingers on his ears to silence the sound of the more than century-old screams.
Written for the 2nd challenge at Grammar Ghoul Press. I love that this new challenge is greasing my writing wheels! The challenge was to write a story based on the above picture and the following word prompt:
Receive (something, especially something beneficial) as a consequence of one’s own or another’s actions.
Fantastically creepy. I love the theatrical, historical pull from the picture. I don’t know about your couple, but I believe…
Thank you so much. I appreciate that!
Another fantastically creepy tale! I love the staged setting and the way you brought that painting to life. I particularly love “the deafening reticence” and the way Marcus rubs his ears at the end. Very nice touches. 🙂
Aw, thanks so much! I really enjoyed writing this one. That painting really spoke to me. 🙂
This seemed to me to be an exceptionally difficult set of prompts. You made it look easy – superb job.
Wow….thank you so much!
Nice job on bringing the creepy! Eerie to imagine a tortured spirit still haunting the place.
Thank you very much. 🙂
I enjoyed the historical aspect of this story, and I liked the way it was written in the two sections as a tour brochure and dialogue between the couple 🙂
Thanks so much – I appreciate that!
A great story. I particularly enjoyed the scene you set in the theatre, so creepy. Especially those last two lines -“His own soul had been the last to leave his body. His mouth is forever open, frozen in a scream of repentance and regret.” Now that’s a scary image.
Thanks Mike! Thankfully scary pictures lead to creepy stories.
Great story, and I think the painting would have lent itself to stories that are very loud/bold even without the screaming mouth of Pope Innocent X depicted — there’s something obviously quite tortured about it. Among other lines, I really like the authentic ring of this part from the last section: “Those who really want to impress their friends say they can still see his shadow on the curtain but those who come looking for their lost soul can still hear him screaming, fighting to get back the essence of the souls he had taken.”
Thanks Leigh….much appreciated!
You write “creepy” really well! I think you did an especially fine job of creating a believable character within the confines of “ghost story.” Nicely done and very enjoyable to read!
Thank you so much! I truly appreciate that.