Three corpses hung in the humid closet, wrapped in the damp flesh that hung loosely around their bones. Abandoned marionette puppets, emotionless expressions decaying on their face. Their dark silhouettes swayed to the tick of the grandfather clock, the rope around their necks creaking under the weight.
The old women hobbled to the window, hesitant to crack the blinds, deciding to light the single candle on the nightstand instead. Her nostrils no longer pulled in the musk of decomposition, and the smell of her wardrobe had slowly blended into her day to day life until it had become as much of the house as the molded wallpaper that clung to the rooms by its corroded adhesive.
“Margret! Margret!” her hand operated the mouth of the first body.
“Why yes? What is it?”
“Me! Pick me!” the corpse said.
Margret scratched her chin. “Tempting… Tempting.”
“No, me!” the next corpse said.
She gazed at the rotted figure, silently contemplating her options.
“I suppose you would like the chance as well?” she asked, directing her attention to the last body. It didn’t speak.
“Well?” she asked.
Still nothing. The corpse eyes remained closed, unanimated, and unwilling to speak. She sidestepped in front of it, allowing the dim candle light to fall over her shoulder. “You haven’t spoken in a while Aldus. Tell me your thoughts.”
Aldus slowly spun on his rope, turning away.
“Aldus?” she asked.
The grim silence filled the room, and her breaths quickened. “Aldus!” she said once more.
The old women raised her hand, preparing to strike the uncooperative corpse, when the sound of the downstairs front door creaked open. The bodies stopped moving, and the slow, careful thuds of heavy boots knocked against every step. The candle light vanished as the bedroom door opened, allowing a man wider than all the three combined enter the room.
Breathing heavily, he slumped onto the stained bed, kicking his boots into the corner, grimacing at the odor that followed. The candle was relit, and his glossy eyes danced to the closet, examining his collection. He grunted, and rose to his feet, trudging to the open door.
“Margret?” He bent down, grabbing the rope that lay free on the floor. “How’d you get out?”
Fastening the rope around the beam he smiled at her, then lay back on his bed, watching in silence as the four bodies swayed in the shadows.
Michael Sutton’s published stories can be found in Hellbound Books, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Ashtales and Augora Wolf. For more information about Michael or his work please feel free to visit his website at darkroadfiction.com.