From Suzie Mitchell's Secret Diary

The ghosts of the other murdered prom queens, my fellow Sacrifices to Moloch, have been leaving me alone for days now. At least, I think it's been days. I don't have any way of telling how much time is passing here, in this barren windowless cell. There's no furniture except the cot I'm sitting on as I write, with its brown-stained, musty mattress and broken springs that squeal every time I shift my weight. For light there's a bare bulb that's on all the time, inside a little metal cage all its own (why? is my captor afraid I'd break it and cut my wrists on the broken shards?). For personal cleanliness, there's a toilet with no seat and a shower with no curtain, the better for the pervert pastor, my prison-keeper, to spy on me. For torment there's a suitcase full of randomly chosen objects from my previous life, the better to remind me of everything I've lost.

That's where I found this diary, a school composition notebook with a black-and-white gravel cover and water-warped, yellow pages. It was manufactured, according to the tiny print on the inside cover, twenty-five years ago, eight years before I was born, two years before the atomic war led to Moloch's Rising and Joannie Kolver became the first prom queen in Chatham's Forge to sate His monstrous hunger. The quill pen is new, a product of our present blessed age, as is the bottle of ashy ink I dip it into. My life before the prom was short. Nothing much had ever happened to me, until the past few months. Mom was a Punisher, so I lived in a nice house full of things taken from her prisoners, or given to her as bribes by family members hoping to make things easier on their loved ones. Mom always said if the fools wanted to make us rich, she wasn't going to stop them, but she wasn't going to stop doing her duty to Moloch and the Mayor, either.

So I always had the prettiest hand-knit skirts and cardigans, which I'm sure was the real reason I made cheerleading squad - along with the coach's fear of Mom. The other girls and the coach, Mr. Turner, certainly knew I didn't have the sleek looks or the perfect coordination required. They were waiting for me to screw up, to give them the excuse to Slut-Shame me off the squad, and by Moloch, I did it by going out with Amos. A Nice Girl going out with a Nerd, who ever heard of such a thing! They beat me almost to death for it, but I'm the one who has the last laugh. For in a few weeks, I'll be the Bride of Moloch, and an object of worship for the good people of the Forge forever!

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