Dust puffed into the air sending Nina into a coughing fit. “Ugh,” she said, once she found her voice again. “What is this place?”
Regina, wisely tying a handkerchief over her mouth, shrugged her slim shoulders. “I don’t know, but it’s cool, right?” She scrambled over a fallen desk, giving one rusted leg an experimental tug.
“More like creepy. Look at all these statues.” Nina bumped one and yanked her hands away, wiping thick grime off her sleeves. “Who did this garden belong to, do you think? Someone creepy?”
Regina laughed and stuck her head inside a huge shell, the sort Venus liked to lay around in. “I don’t know, but haven’t you always been curious to see inside?”
For years, the abandoned building had sat just steps from the water’s edge. Why such prime real estate was being left to rot in the salty air, when homes just up the beach were in the millions, Nina didn’t understand. A rasping sound caught her attention, and she froze, eyes darting around the disordered room. Leafy behemoths clawed over each other for the weak slivers of sunlight filtering through the dirty glass above. “Do you hear that?” Nina asked, her voice trembling.
“What?” Regina called back. She’d disappeared behind a precarious stack of net-wrapped boxes.
A hand landed on Nina’s shoulder. She could see it from the corner of her eye, the fingers long and gray. The rasping turning to hissing, a rush of sound swelling behind her head. Snakes, she thought. That sounds like snakes.
“Regina?” Nina called, her voice barely a whisper.
“Hello, child,” a soothing voice said beside Nina’s ear. “Can I help you?”
Though she wasn’t sure why Nina kept facing forward, her body thrumming with danger. Something brushed the back of her cheek, and she snapped her eyes shut, hands convulsing into fists at her sides. Don’t breathe, don’t move, she told herself, as the hissing grew louder and angry. It was ridiculous to think it and yet … and yet no matter how much she’d dozed off in English class, she’d never forgotten this story.
The voice laughed, a wet, unpleasant sound. “You can’t stay in the dark forever,” she whispered. “You know who I am, don’t you?” The snakes hissed and snapped at Nina’s cheeks.
“Nina? Where’d you get off to?” Regina called from somewhere far away.
“Open your eyes, girl,” the voice rasped. “Or …” Her voice trailed off, disappearing into the hiss and slither.
“Or?” Nina asked faintly. The slithering sound grew more distant, as did the smell of decay. “Or?” Panic rising, Nina opened her eyes.
Day 8! #wordtober words were ‘frail’ and ‘Medusa’ based on the official Inktober prompts and Holly Dunn’s Greek Mythology list.