The Painted Lady

Posted: January 19, 2014 in Flash Fiction, Horror

The painting whispered to me in a voice so soft only I could hear it. The eyes did not move, the face did not change, just some pallid, stiff-necked woman from another century, but she did have a voice, strange and guttural. I heard it the first day I moved into the house. It said, “Feed me,” just like that stupid plant in Little Shop of Horrors. I ignored it at first, chalked it up to nerves or boredom, but the voice was patient. Sometimes soft, sometimes loud, it only ever spoke to me. Finally, one night the cries of anguish and hunger were too much. I jumped out of bed and ran to the second floor landing where the picture hung between two tall garret style windows. Outside, the grinning skull of the full moon bestowed the radiance of its pock-marked face on a frozen bestiary of statues. The voice was screaming, howling for sustenance. I couldn’t take it any more. With a surge of almost superhuman strength I ripped the giant portrait from wall and hurled it down the stairs. That was when I saw the mouth. Big enough to rip the head from an ox in one bite, knotted and pulsing like a sphincter ringed with shark’s teeth, it was set into the wall as if part of the stonework. Except this mouth was alive and when it opened I could see down a gullet that did not open upon the world outside the windows. “Feed me,” it said in a voice that was no human voice and with the delirious amusement of the mad I hurled myself in head first.

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