Prickings by R.L. Summerling

Tiny faces. Shy smiles on tiny faces. Sharp claws protrude from tiny hands on bodies that emerge at twilight. 

You’ll know it’s time when the letter arrives. Look out for a messenger who travels across the half-lit valley. You’ll be living in a farmhouse, stone divided into quarters by broken windows. That’s where tiny faces, fogging glass, will watch you from the gloaming. How they’ll smile so shyly when they see you burn the letter. In a cursive hand it will say that someone knows what you did to Susan. Sharp knife on tiny throat. Mouth twisted into grinning rigor mortis. Don’t ask me what will happen to Susan. I won’t be there. I do not smile shyly in the dying light of day.

Slippery dreams that smell of sweat and whiskey and fog on the hills.

You’re going to ask me what comes next. I’ll tell you, but I’m not sure you want to know. They’ll scratch on the window with those sharp claws. Then, one by one, they’ll slither through the broken pane. A viscous trail over half-drunk bottles. You won’t stop them, you’ll think; how shy, how tiny, until they get closer and you see it. There’s going to be a sour feeling rising from the depths of your gut. On their skulls they’ll wear wigs made from Susan’s pale hair, matted with her blood. They’ll speak in her voice, divided into many. Please stop hurting me.

Wriggling, squelching, clawing forward. 

Oh, that’s when you’ll know the prickings are about to begin.


R.L. Summerling is a writer from South East London. In her free time she enjoys befriending crows in Nunhead Cemetery. She has stories in Seize The Press, Interzone, Northern Gravy and more. You can find her at and on Twitter @RLSummerling