In recent months, social networks have been filled with sensationalist clickbait headlines. As with the news, the headline is usually more exciting than the story within, so I often make up my own stories to go with them. I realised that this makes the common clickbait sites like Upworthy a great source for writing prompts, so I’ve decided to use them to practice my short stories. Here’s the first one I wrote.
This Young Woman Dances With Her Soul, But To Some, That Isn’t What God Would Want
We all held hands as the teenage girl at the head of the table began to chant and sway from side to side. Her eyes were closed, revealing large black crosses painted over them with long, splattered streaks. Her hair was big and messy: not flowing, but stumbling down her back, interwoven with tattered ribbons. She looked malnourished.
“They’re coming…” she whispered, “They’re almost here…”
If the rest of the room had dared look up, they would have seen a mist descend on the room, a cold, grey fog that they felt as a shiver, and they would have seen it converge on the young girl and flow slowly but steadily into her ears and eyes and mouth. But they didn’t look up. No-one dared. We all kept our heads down, eyes closed, hands clasped tightly in a circle around the table. We heard the girl gasp, cough, and then she began to speak in someone else’s voice.
“What?!” She cried, sounding like an old American man, “What fresh hell is this?!”
“Relax,” said the man sat next to her, reassuringly, “We’ve just brought you here to ask you some questions.”
“No no no, that’s not why I’m here at all!” the American man replied, “You’ve brought me here to kill me! You’ve killed me!”
“I’m afraid you’re already dead, sir. We’ve brought you here from the spirit world. You died quite some time ago.”
“No no, don’t you think I know that? Don’t you think I know that I’m already dead? Let me go before it’s too late. There isn’t much time. Let me go!”
I opened my eyes and looked up from across the table. The spirit had taken control of the girl’s body completely and shook her like an empty hand puppet. I heard her bones click and crack against each other. Her hair fell over her face as she contorted back and forth. Her hands stayed held tight in the hands of the people beside her.
“It’s ok, sir, just a few questions,” said the master of ceremonies, “Just a moment of your time, if you will.”
“No no no-”
The spirit was cut short by the sound of a gunshot. The woman opposite the girl at the table was standing, smoking gun in her hand, the expelled bullet lodged somewhere in the medium’s brain. A large golden crucifix hung down from the shooter’s neck, splattered with blood. The tiny girl slumped back in the chair. Her painted eyes were closed. Her open mouth began to leak a fine grey mist. We all panicked - some gasped, some screamed, some people ran out of the room. I just sat and stared in disbelief.
“One more dealt with, Mr. Saren”, said the woman, placing the gun back into her robe. “Where are we headed next?”
The man beside her stood and turned to leave. “Oh, anywhere. There are sinners all around us, these days.”