The Words on the Wall
Bentham opened the old book to the thirteenth page and began to read the incantation in a voice hoarse with age. Syllables not spoken in centuries filled the air with blasphemies so thick they nearly took tangible form. The man he hired in Old London to carry his baggage shrieked and fell to the ground, his hands pressed hard over his ears.
As he read, his voice gained strength. He traced each word, inked in blood and sealed in pain, with his finger as he read them. They rang in the air like discordant bells struck a great distance away. The air took on a smell of foulness as if a door to a vast, dank mausoleum had cracked open. On the wall in front of him, the strange symbols carved into the living rock began to shift and writhe. As he progressed down the page, the symbols began to form words that glowed a faint sickening purple.
From behind him, Bentham heard a tortured gurgling sound. The hireling, he supposed, had succumbed to the overwhelming pressure of madness. The man was weak. Expendable. He didn’t matter. Nothing mattered except finishing the incantation that revealed the ancient words on the wall.
With a final word that sounded like a death rattle, Bentham gazed upon the phrase with undisguised avarice. His brow furrowed as he read the phrase and asked a single question to the thousand chittering shadows that seemed to laugh at his confusion.
“What in the hell is Ovaltine?”
I’m pretty sure you can tell I had the punchline to this story before I had the story itself. Sometimes the stories write themselves backwards. What can I say? Sometimes, also, the stories look like one kind of story but are another kind of story altogether.
Or are those stories really a little of both? I don’t know. I’m only the messenger here.
Again, if you like these prompts, you can get them from the I Am A Writer group on Facebook or the discord server for the group. We’re a pretty friendly bunch but also a bunch of weirdos. Then again, we’re all writers of some sort or another. You’re bound to get a whole bunch of weirdos in an assembly like that, right? What can you do?
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(Photo Credit: Antima_workshop on Pixabay)