Spectrum of color
Ushers in beautiful death
Wearing autumn’s mask

– Written for Haiku Horizons Week 138. Prompt was “mask.” Image from Pixabay.



The Ritual

Darkness surrounded her along with all manner of foreboding sounds.

The Shaman told her the ritual would rid her of the dark spirits clinging to her aura. So, she drank the bitter liquid, put on the headdress and repeated the incantation. He took her hand and ran a sharp blade across her palm then squeezed her clenched fist causing blood to drip into the fire. The flames surged. Heat and smoke engulfed them.

The smoke cleared and she regained her bearings. She realized she was standing ten feet away looking at her body sprawled beside the Shaman’s fire.

“If you outrun the spirits by dawn, you will be free.” He spoke loudly then laughed an eerie sound that filled her mind.

His voice mingled with the shrieking specters to which she’d grown accustomed. She pressed her hands hard against her ears. It never helped, as the screams seemed to come from within. The Shaman’s words rang in her head and she felt the overwhelming need to run though she didn’t know to where.

She ran.

Darkness surrounded her along with all manner of foreboding sounds. She contemplated giving up. Her legs burned and her feet were heavy, but she pushed on. She wandered the woods all night.

She reached a stream. Leaves and twigs decorated her hair. She had mud on her knees, scratches on her arms and dried blood on her face. A combination of various animal bones and two large white feathers set atop for ears made up the ghoulish rabbit headdress she still wore.

Staring up at the jagged splinters of sunlight cutting through the clouds, she realized the Shaman’s camp was near. She was exhausted, yet hopeful. Her weary legs gave out and she fell to the ground as she approached the remnants of the fire. She closed her eyes.

She awoke and noticed there was no hint of warmth in the fire pit as if not used in quite some time, or any sign of the Shaman. She briefly considered the whole thing was a dream until she saw the rabbit headdress made of animal bones staring up at her with empty sockets.

– Written for The Angry Hourglass: Flash Frenzy Round 101 Photo Prompt. WC 348
Photo by Ashwin Rao.


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