501 Prompts is my attempt of tricking my brain into actually finishing a story.
Here’s how it works: prepare an idea, write for 20 minutes, edit, upload it and move on to the next. It’s open to all genres, topics and experiments with storytelling.
I was torn if I should post this story or skip a week. The concept turned out way darker and gorier than I thought it would. If you’re not into that, you should probably skip this one.
Illustration by slightly_overwhelmed
To everyone venturing on: enjoy this week’s prompt!
Dead men don’t speak.
Three nights ago, Lena’s life had taken an unexpected turn when her husband George left her for good. She had called her brother in tears, and he came over the same night. “You mustn’t tell anyone!” he had implored her. “It would be the end. You know how much we need this. I can make it all disappear.”
Lena wanted it all gone that very night, but he insisted that they had to get rid of it in parts to not raise any alarms. Her stomach turned when she closed the shutters in the kitchen to put on the apron and the long latex gloves he had brought her. Minutes that felt like hours passed as she stared at the basement door and struggled to bring herself to go downstairs.
The smell of rot and decay greeted her when she finally entered the basement. Every other step creaked under her weight, but no one was around to take note it. Lena pulled on the cord to chase the darkness away, and the light bulb sprang to life, illuminating the room in a sterile light.
Her husband was lying on the old sofa with the leopard print that his parents had given them when they first moved in together. Lena had never liked the furniture and was glad to get rid of it once everything was over.
George looked like he was sleeping, except he was wrapped in a tarp instead of a blanket. She pulled the cover off and forced herself to look at the deep crimson cut across his throat, then the stumps where his legs had been. Her breathing was flat, but she would get used to it once she got into the work.
Lena grabbed the cleaver off the small side table, aimed, and buried it with a strong strike in his left shoulder.
“Get it out! It hurts!” The corpse came to life and screamed at the top of his lungs. Lena had expected him to pull something like that— again. Still, she flinched, and his screams turned into his usual laughter. “Got you again!”
“Not funny,” Lena grumbled through clenched teeth before hitting him again in the same spot.
“That’s all you got? Come on, the dead don’t feel a thing, silly.” George didn’t move, watching her and condemning every move. He sounded just like he did in life if it wasn’t for the occasional gurgling that erupted like a geyser from the hole in his throat.
“Dead men don’t speak, either.”
“I take what little entertainment I can get. Being dead isn’t exactly exciting, you know?”
“Shut up, George. Maybe—” The next strike jammed the knife in his bone, and Lena had to put one foot against his side to pull it free again. “Maybe if you had been a better husband, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”
“We definitely wouldn’t be if you hadn’t killed me.”
“It was an accident.”
“Was it, though? Killed by the blade of an ice skating shoe sounds like cold intent to me.”
Lena threw the cleaver to the side, panting from the labor and stress. “Get yourself together, girl,” she told herself, staring at the unmoving corpse.
The last three nights had been a never-ending nightmare, and the stress and insomnia were wearing her thin. She couldn’t afford to get caught up in her delusions.
Her hands were shaking as she went through the shelve on the far wall where she kept a pack of cigarettes and a lighter hidden. Two failed tries until she finally lit it, and the soothing smoke filled her lungs.
It calmed her nerves for what she needed to do next. The bone saw bit deep into George’s humerus, right beneath the shoulder joint. The ghastly sound filled the room and drowned out any thought while it lasted. Just as she finished, George spoke again.
“You got your choreography down?”
“Getting better every day.”
Somehow his dead voice carried satisfaction and mockery at the same time. “Good. You’ll need it. Maybe if you lose a few pounds, you might have a shot at qualifying.” It was the same old gauntlet that he had put her through since forever.
“I do my best. That’s all I can do,” Lena repeated her lifelong mantra.
“I don’t doubt that. But tell me, when was the last time that was enough?”
Lena bit her tongue and took the cleaver up again, but George went one, just as he always had. “The others go above and beyond. On and off the ice. THAT’s why they all pull ahead of you. You wouldn’t believe how hard Sharon is working to make it.”
“Did she tell you before or after fucking you?”
“Well, that’s not the point. If you’re lucky, you get to watch the Olympics on TV when you end up in prison for what you’ve done to me.”
“What I’ve done to you?” Her voice grumbled low like a distant thunder warning against the rapidly approaching storm.
George didn’t take the hint. “Yes. Killing me, cutting me up and feeding me to the pigs. All that, you know.”
“What I’ve done to you?!” She repeated, screaming at the corpse. “My entire life, I put up with other’s expectations. Always fighting and struggling to make it right. And for what? To get put down in the end. But that’s it. I’ve had it, George!”
Furious, she drove the cleaver’s edge into his flesh, again and again, missing her aim more often than not until the arm came off. Lena took it up and waved the severed limb in his face. “You can’t tell me anything anymore. Not you, not anyone. Now it’s finally my turn.”
Deep down, Lena knew that soon everything would look up for her. It just had to. George’s face was just as motionless in death as it had been in life. He didn’t answer, nor did he speak ever again.
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