Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Today I'm posting an original writing for Write..Edit..Publish (WEP) bloghop. This months prompt is  THE END IS THE BEGINNING.

DETAILS: Can be written as a flashback – or as a cascading change, any branching off point can be an end and a beginning.

It’s also the end of the year and next month allows for a new start.

So, the last WEP prompt in October was DARK PLACES, and I was kinda working on a concept, but I did not have time to fully develop it. What I've posted below is the finished and tweaked version for December's prompt. I'm hoping I've satisfied the concept for THE END IS THE BEGINNING. If not; well, at least I wrote something, lol.

Check out the prompt details HERE, and click on the linky list to read more interpretations of the end of year prompt.

word count: 1014
Full Critique Acceptable: note that this is an original writing for WEP and not intended as a prologue, excerpt, or other publication.

Jerome leaned close over the chest of the linen wrapped body. The first he had been allowed to fully tend to on his own. 

“This one is nearly ready, Master.”

Down in the crypt below the mortuary, Dr. Khalid preferred his students call him Master. There were three others besides Jerome; though none had progressed in their training beyond the cleansing and embalming rituals. The oldest Brother had taken the initiative to impregnate one of the chosen girls without permission last year. Jerome had been granted the pleasure of drugging the errant youth and burying him alive.

“I believe you are correct,” Master said over Jerome’s shoulder. He finished buttoning his tuxedo jacket then glanced at the monitors around the table.

Jerome was shaking, he could hardly contain his excitement. The next steps would be the most important to preserve the physical self for afterlife for both the girl – Nancy – and his offspring. He stroked Nancy’s dehydrated fingers with a gloved hand. Tears stood in his eyes, and he wiped them away on the sleeve of his lab coat so the moisture would not drip onto her body.

“She’s so perfect,” Jerome said.

Master put a hand on Jerome’s shoulder and smiled. After a silent moment he sighed, straightened, and strode to the mirror before the crypt door. “I am sorry, Jerome, but you need to prepare Mrs. Daughtry for viewing tomorrow. The family will be in at 8am sharp to insure she is presentable.”

“But –“ Jerome stuttered, gesturing to Nancy. “I should witness her final breath. And I still have to paint her death mask.”

“I know. But the grieving family did pay a ghastly amount to have the funeral expedited.” His face took on a shrewd look; mouth pinched to a line that made his cheeks puff and pulse. “Their haste paid for the casket for Nancy.”

Jerome’s shoulders stiffened. An expense he could not afford as yet, which would have drawn out the eternal process for Nancy and his child. Had he not agreed to the demands of the family, his beloved would have a much longer between-time than necessary.

“I thank you for the reminder, Master,” Jerome said. “I shall attend to Mrs. Daughtry immediately.”

Master placed his palm on the keypad then entered his pass code.  The door chimed to proclaim access granted to the elevator that would take him up to the preparation rooms of the mortuary.

“So close,” he mumbled to himself, not sure if he meant Nancy’s final breath; or his defiance that would make him Master over his remaining Brothers.

After kissing Nancy’s shriveled, dry lips and replacing the resin tea infusion, Jerome headed to the shower alcove to wash the stink of death off his own body. He bathed with the same sodium carbonate, cedar oil, and cinnamon elixir he used to cleanse the cadavers, then dressed in green scrubs and a fresh white lab coat.

Upstairs, he immersed himself into the work of painting Mrs. Daughtry’s purple face into a semblance of the young woman in the provided portrait. Even in his distraction, no other artist could rival Jerome’s lifelike, death makeovers. His skills were in high demand, and more than offset the exorbitant mortuary fees.

Nancy was still breathing when Jerome returned to the crypt. He sat vigil for two days before her chest fell for the last time. He was pleased with her endurance. She had fought for survival every step of the way; from abduction by Dr. Khalid, to rape and torture and final impregnation by Jerome. The rapes and torture had ended on the day Nancy had a positive EPT; but the next phase of starvation and the diet of nuts, berries, tree bark, pine needles, and a resin tea to cleanse the body of decaying bacteria had been as much a battle of wills as the rapes.

Swiftly he started the embalming, adeptly inserted the hook through her nose to liquefy her brain, poured out the contents of her skull, then expertly sliced her left side and removed all her vital organs, except her heart, and filled her empty cavity with sand and rags.

He loved Nancy, and the embryo that would accompany her into the afterlife. Jerome’s immortal legacy was assured with this offering to Ament: lady of the underworld who restored the bodies of the dead so they could live with Osiris in his Kingdom.

The final leg of Nancy’s journey was witnessed by Master and Jerome’s two Brothers as he wheeled her into the chamber under the incinerator. His brothers were dressed in the traditional colors of Osiris; green with white stockings, holding ceremonial hook and flail. Jerome distrusted the dedication of his twin brothers, but dared not brooch the subject with his Master. At least not tonight, as Master slit the beeswax from Nancy’s mouth and eyes, and beseeched Anubis to watch over Nancy and her unborn child, and speed their passage into the afterlife.

Jerome, secretly, prayed to Ament. He hoped the Goddess would see his sigil branded into Nancy’s left foot and reward him for his sacrifice.

“You have done well,” Master told Jerome after the interment was over.

“Thank you,” Jerome acknowledged with a bow of his head. He was so giddy he wanted to happy dance; but restrained his urges to gloat. Master had imbedded within him the lessons of control, and Nancy was his testament to success.

“Your next offering should be a woman of your own choosing,” Master stated without preamble. “You have progressed far within our ranks, and you are ready for your next step in the succession. Brother Ahmed is in need of a dedicated tutor, and I’d like you to take over his tutelage.”

Jerome stopped walking and considered for a moment. Ahmed was impetuous, disorganized, a brut of a man who considered women beneath his attention. Ahmed was more likely to bed a man than implant his seed into a woman. Yet, he had his uses when it came to brutality.

“As you wish,” Jerome agreed, already contemplating the demise of his Master.

Well, tell me what you think in the comments. And if you'd like to read the interpretations of other participants, please click here.


Stacy McKitrick said...

Oooh, creepy story. Good job! My only issue, though, is with the last line. Jerome didn't consider Master as HIS Master (which you state up at the beginning--he just liked to be called that), and I did notice he did NOT say, "As you wish, Master," which is a good indicator that Master wouldn't be Master for much longer (although, would Master have picked up on that slight? Hmmm). And lastly, instead of telling us Jerome contemplated the demise of Master, show us what he's contemplating - making the end the beginning of another story.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That was just twisted. If only people knew what was really taking place there.

Pat Hatt said...

Wow, sure would never want to go through what Nancy did. Never know what goes on inside. Great entry indeed.

Stephen T. McCarthy said...

“I know. But the grieving family did pay a ghastly amount to have the funeral expedited.”

Nice word choice, WILD THING!

~ D-FensDogG
STMcC Presents 'Battle Of The Bands'

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Donna - not sure I wanted to read this just before the Christmas season - some I know would love this story ... what a great read - with amazing descriptions ... I'll hang on to life for now - cheers and do enjoy your festive time and a break I hope for you - Hilary

Olga Godim said...

Gosh, it is so macabre. Hopefully this creep will have his comeuppance soon. With the next woman he would want to rape, I hope.

Denise Covey said...

Hi Donna! You certainly have been thinking on your last story to come up with this new-beaut story. Very macabre. What I didn't understand was why did they impregnate her and then kill her and the baby? What did I miss? Or am I thick?

I like the voice of the protagonist. He's devious and unhappy with what he's ordered to do, so payback is coming for the one who likes to be called the Master.

I'm so glad you're writing again. In a re-read, I might find the answers to my questions.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas! Keep safe on the roads as you travel. Enjoy your family! And I hope we see you continuing to write in 2018! Writing's not finished with you yet.

Denise :-)

dolorah said...

Stacy: "creepy" is the feedback I was hoping for, so THANK YOU :) As for the end, I had a word count to adhere to . . .

Alex: right

Pat: thanks :)

St Mac: Thank you Sir

Hilary: sorry, should have warned readers.

Olga: always a hope that the next one will be the end of the serial killer.

Denise: Glad you liked it. And the answer to your question is in this line (though it may be obvious to only me. The fault is with the writer.):

"He loved Nancy, and the embryo that would accompany her into the afterlife. Jerome’s immortal legacy was assured with this offering to Ament: lady of the underworld who restored the bodies of the dead so they could live with Osiris in his Kingdom."

Elephant's Child said...

Creepy and compelling. That branded sigil was a masterstroke. And one that the 'Master' who will be deposed should have picked up on.

dolorah said...

Thanks EC

DX: well, it looks like I forgot to mention in the writing that what this brotherhood is doing is making mummies of the mother and children. Epic fail on the concept of the end (of life) is the beginning (of afterlife).

Pat Garcia said...

I have to admit that I was a little bit confused about what was happening at the beginning. At the end, I figured it out and I thought, how horrible. My sympathies went out the the women and babies who were being used for mummification

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a successful crossover into 2018.
Shalom aleichem,
Pat Garcia

Liz Leighton said...

An excellent and creepy story. Very well written. The conflict between Jerome and Master is a nice reflection of the relationship between Anubis, the Greek God Master is making sacrifices to, and Osiris, the Greek God to which Jerome secretly sacrificed Nancy.

You did explain that Jerome made the sacrifice to Ament/Osiris so Nancy and the baby would be brought back to live in Osiris' Kingdom. In at least one version of Egyptian Mythology, Osiris was the god of the dead, resurrection, and fertility.

I like the way you used Egyptian mythology in this story and it does fit the theme The End is The Beginning. I enjoyed the story and the layers of it.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Donna. I see it now. Knowing you, I knew it would be in there somewhere. It is obvious once you point it out!

Deborah Drucker said...

It is grizzly and they are a creepy cult. They wanted to embalm their victims alive. It bothers me that women are the victims. I think the women would say that they would rather live in this world than go live with Osiris.

D.G. Hudson said...

A creepy story (I agree) and I gather that if they are sacrificing bodies to the underworld, they must worship the dark side. I'm intrigued by the sigil he left on the woman's body. . .as if the gatekeeper into the underworld checks to see if the body has been 'signed' by the killer/caretaker. Morgues are a perfect place for such grisly activities. . .well done.

desk49 said...

The death of one
for the glory of another
and yet more will come

until at last
death has its way
and there will be none

Keith's Ramblings said...

Like everyone else I too found it creepy - I tried to find an alternative word in my thesaurus to save repetition but none suited your tale better! I read it twice which for me is unusual. Excellent. said...

This is bone-chilling and very well done, Dolorah.

A very Merry Christmas to you!
Thanks for dropping by to wish me the same. Smiles.

dolorah said...

Pat G: glad you figured it out :) *pats self on back*

Liz: yes, it was the Egyptian Osiris (death, resurrection and fertility) I was writing for. Thanks :)

DX: you're awesome.

Deborah: I'm sure you are correct. No one deserves to die like this.

DG: a morgue can be a main character and setting. Thanks.

Desk49: someday technology may end death. Not sure if that would be good or ill.

Kieth: glad it grabbed your attention :) Another commenter said "grizzley".

Robyn: thanks. Have a wonderful christmas :)

Yolanda Renée said...

So macabre. We'll never know what our bodies go through after death, and I've found the rituals of 'normal' preparation just as creepy. Immediate cremation for me. LOL But this was beyond horrific as they also created, after torture their dead! Great tale!
Wonderful job, you've captured the end is the beginning wonderfully. A mystery yet to be solved with no answer for the living. Our own personal journey!

Wishing you the Happiest of New Year's!

Nilanjana Bose said...

Chilling and horrific. This works superbly for both the prompts, Donna. It's dark and deep and an ending and a beginning rolled into one epic horror flash. Your world building is always so detailed and riveting! Kudos!

Though it seems terribly creepy - the preservation and mummification of bodies, it's great evidence for historians to piece together the past. Because Indians traditionally cremated their dead, there is far less archaeological evidence re ancient India, unlike Egypt and the rest of the world where burial was the norm.

Wish you the very best for 2018, in your writing and otherwise. Hope to read more of your flashes at WEP in the New Year.


dolorah said...

Yolanda: Immediate cremation for me too, lol. Thank you for all the compliments.

Nila: Death, and all the preparations for "after life" are not all creepy or macabre. I find the idea of an afterlife intriguing. Its all the weird stuff that happens to a body that make me want cremation.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Donna - I'd have still read the story ... and one could see where it was going - thankfully I'm not the 'worrying' type! Happy New Year to you and yours and all the best for a great time ahead ... cheers Hilary

Sandra Cox said...

Sounds like the makings of a great horror movie.

Cathy Kennedy said...


Just stopping in to wish you a happy new year and sending God's blessings your way for a healthy, happy, and successful 2018! :)

Adura Ojo said...

Definitely an interesting take on the theme, Donna. Chilling too, which is apt for winter time:)
What I enjoy most is the detail you put into your stories.
Hope you had a relaxing time over Christmas. Wishing you a happy 2018.