Misty slipped between the bent bars of the spillway grate. It was becoming a tight fit; another year and she would be too big to pass through. Careful as she was, her school dress got smeared with rust.
It couldn’t be helped. When he called, she had to obey.
The sewer’s foul sweetness helped erase her worries, as did the singing. The acapella’s volume neither rose nor fell no matter the tunnel she choose convincing her that he was singing directly into her head.
The King could do that.
She walked over the mostly dry concrete plank-ways that sidled the sludge trench. However, where the fecal gunge had crested, or some amphibious sewer creature surfaced to shake off its filth, the fetid puddles hidden in the gloom seeped into her shoes.
Bad day to wear her cute sneakers.
Misty turned through the oft-branching labyrinth without much thought. Follow your heart, he said. And so, she did.
Bathing in the slivers of broken sunlight that bled in from the storm drain above, she found him. He was propped upright, his excrement laden military uniform snagged on some exposed rebar. She wondered how his waterlogged girth had been hoisted there. Perhaps, the other girls…
A wonderful putrescence overwhelmed the sewer fragrance in the King’s chamber. His face was horribly burnt, lips peeled off exposing yellow teeth and white bone and charred gums. He smiled at her this way, loving voids for eyes drinking her in. His throat was torn open, a feast for some gutter beast, but it didn’t stop the singing.
Oh, such a beautiful voice!
He would turn her red. But not today. He only sung for her today.
For now, he bid another farewell. As always, he asked for a kiss goodbye.
She was only too happy to oblige.
Author Note: This story was submitted to Zero Flash’s (https://zeroflash.org/) March 300 word horror story contest, which it received an honorable mention. This is a companion piece to another Red Girl story that can be read here: THE RED GIRLS. Find out how the King got his smile.
Oh, and more ‘Red Girl’ Mythos coming soon…