Welcome to Fiction Fridays! We aim to give you a short bite of fiction every week–something you can enjoy during your lunch hour–but with a twist: You pick the idea for the next installment!
This month we’re bringing you a paranormal story from myself, Golden Heart winner Lorenda Christensen, Susan M. Boyer, Lexi Greene and Jean Willet. PLUS we have a very special guest contributor: The inimitable, RITA-award winning Darynda Jones! I’m thrilled to be in company with these fabulous women. Enjoy this first installment of Pray for Night, and let us know where we should take Marlena next!
Marlena knew she shouldn’t have had that last gin and tonic. Hell, she shouldn’t’ve had the one before that. As she walked down Laurel Lane, it was all she could do not to stumbled on the uneven pavement. But God, it had been worth it. Her first night off in three weeks! Not to mention Chase Montgomery. Those eyes…she giggled and fingered the folded-up cocktail napkin in the pocket of her swing coat. She’d make herself wait to call him. Three days. Maybe even a week.
It was almost four a. m. when Marlena climbed the concrete steps to the two-bedroom flat she shared with her fellow Pie Place waitress Angie. She fumbled in her other pocket for her keys but came up with lint.
“Dammit.” Marly thumped her spinning head on the solid wood doorframe. Her keys, her cell phone, her pepper spray…all in the little red clutch purse she’d brought because it matched her shirt. All sitting under her barstool back at The Tipsy Pig.
No way was Angie going to wake up, not even if she pounded on the door. Her bedroom was at the back of the building. There was nothing for it. Marly turned and headed back down Laurel Lane.
Normally, she would have stuck to the street-lamp-lined main road, but it was late, she was tired, and she had to pee. Halfway down the block, she struck off on a shortcut through the grounds of the old convent.
The place had always creeped her out. The nuns were cloistered, and you only ever saw Father Ellroy and the gardener walking around the landscaped grounds. At night, the crumbling mullions and weather-stained eaves reminded her of something out of a gothic romance: a creepy old castle, a desolate orphanage. She was walking past the greenhouse when she heard it.
Swish swish click.
Marly turned. Nothing behind her but darkness, and to the left, a dirt path winding through a miniature wilderness of pines and dogwoods.
“Hello?” she called.
Swish swish click.
There was no answer. Marly searched her pockets for her pepper spray even though she knew it wasn’t there. She started walking again, faster, and then began to jog. She stumbled over a rough patch of gravel, but she kept going, breathing hard.
Swish swish click. Swish swish click.
Marly rounded the corner of the chapel. Wisteria Lane was just ahead. Street lights. Safety. She broke into an honest-to-God sprint, smacked into something solid and cold and went sprawling.
Marly looked up from the ground. It was one of the sisters. Her habit was rumpled, and in the dark, Marly couldn’t make out her face. A rosary swung from hands hidden in long black sleeves.
“I’m–I’m sorry,” Marly stammered, relieved. “Are you all right?”
There was no answer. The nun took a step forward. Swish swish click. Her habit on the dusty ground, the beads in her hands. Swish swish click.
It was then, as the woman stepped into the light from the street lamps on Wisteria Lane, that Marly got a good look at her hands. They weren’t just gnarled with age. There was something off, something wrong…. With a shudder, she saw that the flesh of the nun’s fingers was decaying, falling away in clumps, and the beads of the rosary were twisted together with pale bone.
Marly opened her mouth to scream.
Swish swish click.
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