by Adele Griffin
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
“Please, explain this,” said Alice. “You’re were-whats?”
“Were-ghouls,” the creatures answered in unison. Truly, they were two of the more frightening apparitions Alice had ever seen since The Fall. Their crippled limbs were entwined, their atrophied backs hunched, on one side it appeared that their hipbones had fused to a distorted knot of bone. The wet rags of their clothing lay in strips like loose skin on their bodies. Blackened, rotting teeth exposed dark gums when they spoke. Alice stepped back—the horror of their flesh was nothing compared with the rotting stench of their breath.
“What happened to you?” she asked, knowing that this question might be indelicate, but feeling brave for having spoken up at all.
“We jumped together,” spoke the smaller were-ghoul. Judging by her voice and features, she appeared to be the “female” of the pair.
Alice shivered. She really ought not have left the croquet game to venture down to this wharf, but she’d only meant to be away a minute. She’d wandered out of the garden and all the way to the edge of the pier before she’d overheard the whispering and muttering beneath. Curiosity had gotten the better of her as usual—she’d removed her shoes and striped stockings and picked her way down to the rotten pilings, where she’d found these grotesque, decaying creatures, and both of them were far too gleeful for her timid company.
“Our lover's leap.” The were-ghoul boy stepped closer, extending the skeleton of his hand to the bridge on the horizon. “Must be eighty, ninety years. A gray day.”
“A very gray day,” hissed the girl, as she nudged more deeply against her beloved. Clawed and burrowed within the girl’s matted hair, a rat’s red eyes fixed on Alice. “My mother, Aunt Jane, Mr. Werrick—none of ’em believed we’d really do it,” the girl continued. “The tragedy was in all the papers.”
“We was famous for a time.” The boy pulled out a tooth and let it drop at Alice’s foot. “More than three hundred, they say, came to the funerals.”
“Pity we couldn’t go see.” The girl began to cry, tears dribbling down her decomposing face. “We’ve been stuck here for ever so long now.” Suddenly, she twisted to face the boy, and her voice was shrill with accusation. “It was your fault! I hadn’t quite decided yet! You grabbed me as—”
“Hushup, Emily,” spat the boy. “It was all years and years ago. Who can remember who pushed, and who got pushed?”
“I remember!” cried Emily. “And now it’s too late, and we're doomed to eternity under this pier. And I never even got to see my own funeral.” Her eyes entreated Alice. “They didn’t find our bodies, and they reckoned we’d been carried out to sea. But we’re here, washed up right under their noses. Except it's been years since anyone’s looked for us." Her smile was a thing of nightmares. "Till you.”
“Oh, dear, oh, dear. It’s all just dreadfully sad,” said Alice, who was feeling very uncomfortable now, “and I do wish I could stay longer but I wasn’t exactly looking—oh. Oh!” For the two were-ghouls had advanced and were now plucking at her hair, her sleeves, her chin and neck, dragging their icy fingers along her arm.
“Stay with us,” Emily whispered. “Malcom and I are wretchedly lonely. We listen to the world come and go above our heads. But you’re so young and fresh, and you’ve been up there. You've breathed the air and seen the sights. Now you can tell us all about it.”
“Tell us everything,” said Malcom. “Tell us all about your adventures.” The were-ghouls had pressed in on her now like bookends, like bread, protecting this fresh new treat of Alice on both ends. No, no, not protecting her at all, she realized. Because, in fact, they were driving her farther to the back of the pier, and deeper into the sucking sludge. Croquet feels very far away indeed, she thought ...
by Adele Griffin
~-~-~-~-~ guest ~-~-~-~-~
Alice Meets the Were-Ghouls
Were post created for October Trix-n-Treatz by Adele Griffin
© 2010. All rights reserved.
by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown
Leave a comment here for an extra point to go towards the
Alice prize pack giveaway
* image source from the Strangeling
* hey, don't forget to signup to win a Strangeling print here